September 30, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

Here are my Week 5 NFL power rankings:

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 3-0, Last Update: No. 1

Not only were the Bengals on bye in Week 4, but so were the top four teams in our Week 5 NFL power rankings. While it may have little to do with their on-field success so far this season as one of two remaining unbeaten teams, one of the best stories in the NFL this season has been the support given to Devon Still as his daughter Leah battles cancer. There was some positive news over the bye week as she had a successful surgery.

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

Seattle's offense has been especially good in the first half of games compared to their second halves. In the first half of games, they have averaged 6.7 yards per carry (vs. 3.8 in second half) and 10.7 yards per pass attempt with an 81.1 completion percentage (vs. 5.3 Y/A and 60.0 pct.).

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker contest: Win $1,000,000 in Week 5 playing fantasy football (entry is $27).

3. Denver Broncos - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 3

Although Julius Thomas (five) and Demaryius Thomas (one) have a combined six touchdowns to none for Emmanuel Sanders, Sanders has more yards (334) than both combined (301) and he leads the team in catches (25) by a lot — JT is second with 14. Through three games, Montee Ball has rushed for only 165 yards and 3.4 yards per carry and his next three matchups all have stout run defenses — Cardinals, Jets and 49ers, all of whom rank in the top four in the league in rushing defense.

4. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 3-0, Last Update: No. 5

In his stint as the Temple head coach in the 1980's, things did not go well for Bruce Arians. As an NFL head coach, however, he won the AP NFL Coach of the Year award with a 9-3 record as interim head coach during Chuck Pagano's absence. In 19 games as head coach in Arizona, Arians has a 13-6 record (.684) and now has a combined record above 70 percent (22-9, .710).

5. San Diego Chargers - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 7

The Chargers have a history starting slow and finishing strong — examples: 5-5 start in 2007 but won their final six games, started 4-8 in 2008 but won their final four games, etc. In Mike McCoy's first year as head coach in 2013, the Bolts started 4-6 (and won five of its final six games) but this year's version is off to a 3-1 start with its only loss being a one-point road loss to the unbeaten Cardinals.

6. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 4

After three straight 300-yard games, Nick Foles completed less than half of his pass attempts (21 of 43) for just 195 yards. What's most surprising, however, is that LeSean McCoy has only 192 rushing yards — and 2.7 yards per carry — on 70 rush attempts through four games.

7. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 10

Not only does he lead the league in pass attempts (167), but third-year quarterback Andrew Luck leads the NFL in passing yards (1,305) and passing touchowns (13) and four of those touchdowns have been to Ahmad Bradshaw, who has scored in three consecutive games. Luck is on pace to throw for 5,220 yards and 52 scores.

8. Detroit Lions - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 14

Through one-quarter of the season, the Lions rank first in the NFL in total defense (267.3 yards allowed per game). The last time the Lions finished a season inside the top 10 in total defense was 1993 (sixth). In fact, they have finished in the top half of the league in total defense only five times from 1994 to 2013.

9. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 15

Through four weeks, only Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (459) and Atlanta's Julio Jones (447) have more receiving yards than Steve Smith Sr. (429). Facing his former team on Sunday, Smith finished with a line of 7/139/2 and now has three 100-yard games this season.

10. Green Bay Packers - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 12

He told the fans to "R-E-L-A-X," and now they probably will as Aaron Rodgers carved up the Bears secondary for 22-of-28 passing for 302 yards and four touchdowns. The Packers will host the Vikings on Thursday Night Football with a shot to put together back-to-back impressive offensive showings for the first time this year.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 11

After scoring only three points in the second half over three games, the 49ers managed to score 13 second-half points in their come-from-behind win over the Eagles. Meanwhile, Frank Gore had more yards from scrimmage (174) on Sunday than he had in the first three games combined (151).

12. New England Patriots - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 6

Embarrassed on Monday Night Football, the Patriots were beat down 41-14 and the game didn't seem that close. It was the second largest loss in Bill Belichick's tenure as Patriots coach. Through four games, Tom Brady has only 791 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

13. Houston Texans - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 16

The good news is that the Texans have already won more games this year than they have all of last year as they set themselves up for a showdown between two 3-1 Texas teams at Jerry's World. There's no better do-it-all talent on defense than J.J. Watt, who had an impressive 80-yard pick-six on a screen in Week 4.

14. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 3-1, Last Update: No. 19

For the majority of the game, the Cowboys defense stifled the high-powered Saints offense on Sunday Night Football although Drew Brees & Co. have typically struggled on the road compared to their home success. (That said, Brees had thrown for 838 yards, seven TDs and no INTs in his previous two games against Dallas.) While the Cowboys defense is still far from a strength, their ball-control ground game led by DeMarco Murray takes the pressure off the defense.

15. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 9

The story is the same for the Falcons — strong at home and not so much on the road. The Falcons are now 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road as they allowed the Vikings to score 41 points on them in Teddy Bridgewater's starting debut. In addition, Matt Ryan now has five interceptions in two road games this year with none at home. The bad news for the Falcons is that four of their next six games are on the road and one of those two "home" games is in London.

16. Chicago Bears - Record: 2-2, Last Update: No. 8

In four games, the Bears have won two and lost two. Coincidentally (or not-so-coincidentally), Jay Cutler has thrown no interceptions in their two wins and multiple interceptions in their two losses.

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

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Updated Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 5 to 16

Last night, I posted my weekly waiver-wire column, but one of the resources that fantasy owners can use to help make their waiver-wire decisions is our rest-of-season (ROS) fantasy football rankings.

These rankings are based on the expected value of players for the remainder of the season through Week 16, which is typically the week of fantasy football championships in leagues.

Here are our updated ROS quarterback rankings:

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
5. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

Here are our updated ROS running back rankings:

1. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
5. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Here are our updated ROS wide receiver rankings:

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
3. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
4. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
5. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings

Here are our updated ROS tight end rankings:

1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
3. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
4. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
5. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Tight End Rankings

Enter our free Week 5 fantasy football contest and win one of our t-shirts.

My Week 5 fantasy football rankings will be posted later tonight.

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2014 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) 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 5-16):

1. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 11.12 avg. fantasy points allowed among remaining opp.
2. Houston Texans (Garrett Graham): 10.29
3. Arizona Cardinals (John Carlson): 10.11
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz): 10.05
5. Washington Redskins (Jordan Reed, Niles Paul): 9.42

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Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 5-16):

32. New Orleans Saints (Jimmy Graham): 6.45
31. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless): 6.78
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins): 6.83
29. Atlanta Falcons (Levine Toilolo): 7.11
28. Detroit Lions (Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew): 7.12

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) 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 5-16):

1. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 24.79 avg. fantasy points allowed among remaining opp.
2. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 23.71
3. New Orleans Saints (Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks): 23.69
4. Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams): 23.63
5. Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones, Roddy White): 23.37

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Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 5-16):

32. New York Jets (Eric Decker): 19.25
31. Buffalo Bills (Sammy Watkins): 20.16
30. Chicago Bears (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery): 20.34
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Cecil Shorts): 20.40
28. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker): 20.48

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) 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 5-16):

1. Cincinnati Bengals (Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill): 21.82 avg. fantasy points allowed among remaining opp.
2. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart): 21.15
3. Baltimore Ravens (Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro): 21.10
4. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 21.05
5. Chicago Bears (Matt Forte): 20.93

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Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 5-16):

32. St. Louis Rams (Zac Stacy): 15.48
31. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch): 15.60
30. Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis): 15.68
29. Denver Broncos (Montee Ball): 16.24
28. Oakland Raiders (Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew): 16.32

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) 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 5-16):

1. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo): 18.27 avg fantasy points allowed among remaining opp.
2. Tennessee Titans (Jake Locker): 18.19
3. New York Giants (Eli Manning): 18.02
4. San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick): 17.60
5. Arizona Cardinals (Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton): 17.28

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 5 Contest: Turn your $27 entry fee into the $1 million top prize playing one-week fantasy football.

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 5-16):

32. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 15.08
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (Blake Bortles): 15.10
30. New York Jets (Geno Smith): 15.36
29. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 15.46
28. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees): 15.49

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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September 29, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 5

On the same night Derek Jeter was playing his final game at Yankee Stadium, the New York Football Giants were running all over their division rivals in the nation's capital.

In that game, it was tight end Larry Donnell, far off the fantasy radar just a couple of months ago, that scored not one, not two but three touchdowns. Along with Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates, Donnell became the third tight end through four weeks with a three-touchdown performance.

Not only does Donnell lead all tight ends in touchdowns (five), but he ranks third in receptions (25) and sixth in yards (236).

Donnell is worth adding in all leagues, but he won't appear below on our weekly waiver-wire list because he exceeds our self-imposed criteria of only including players owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues or less. (Donnell is owned in 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but he has appeared on this list when he met that criteria.

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

QB - Eli Manning, New York Giants (48 percent)

It looked like it was going to be a long season for the Giants and specifically their passing offense based on the preseason and Week 1. Since then, however, Manning & Co. appear much more comfortable in their transition to the team's new offensive scheme. Over his past three games, Manning has completed 75 of 106 attempts (70.76 percent) for 811 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. And the good times should continue to roll as Manning has three favorable matchups over the next three weeks: Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas.

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (33 percent)

While it's still a bit unclear whether Palmer will return in Week 5 even though he says he'll "definitely" play, the 3-0 Cardinals have a talented trio of wideouts — Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and rookie John Brown — and a talented receiver out of the backfield in Andre Ellington. Palmer and the Cardinals have a nice stretch of matchups through Week 10 as we continue through bye weeks: Denver, Washington, Oakland, Philadelphia, Dallas and St. Louis.

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (18 percent)

The good news is that Bortles completed more than 78 percent of his pass attempts in his debut start, but he threw only one touchdown and two interceptions. Through six quarters, Bortles has thrown for 476 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions and has 54 rushing yards on seven runs. The team's offensive line has struggled and their wide receiver corps has battled numerous injuries, but Bortles has the arm strength and mobility to be a fringe QB1 option through bye weeks when he has favorable matchups.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (13 percent)

Bridgewater played well in his debut as a starter with 317 passing yards as well as 27 rushing yards and a score. Although he was carted off with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, the good news is that the injury does not appear to be serious and it looks like he will play in Week 5 even though the Vikes have a quick turnaround as they face the Packers on Thursday Night Football this week.

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker contest: Win $1,000,000 in Week 5 playing fantasy football (entry is $27).

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (50 percent)

Robinson had just eight carries on Sunday night, but he turned them into 87 yards due to a 62-yard run and added a couple of receptions for 18 yards. The team has a Week 6 bye and Mark Ingram (hand) is expected to return in Week 7, but Robinson and the Saints running backs have a favorable matchup in Week 5 against the Bucs.

RB - Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens (39 percent)

The Ravens sat out Bernard Pierce (thigh) in Week 4, but Taliaferro has now scored in conscecutive weeks and has 33 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns in those two games. It's unclear exactly how the workload will be allocated between Pierce, Taliaferro and Justin Forsett when all are active, but the team has some favorable matchups as they face the Colts, Bucs and Falcons over the next three weeks. And it wouldn't be a shock if Taliaferro eventually carves out the largest role within the team's backfield.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (24 percent)

The former five-star recruit that got kicked off the Georgia Bulldogs football program due to character concerns went undrafted in May, but the gifted rookie is playing his way into an expanded role within the offense. Fellow rookie Terrance West and Crowell saw a lot of action with Ben Tate (knee) out for two-plus games. Tate is expected to return in Week 5, but Crowell has 27 carries for 141 yards — 5.22 YPC — and three touchdowns through three games and got some reps ahead of West during bye-week practices.

RB - Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (16 percent)

Two weeks ago, there was talk that the Vikes could go with the "hot hand" opening up opportunities for McKinnon, but he had just two carries and two receptions, the same as in Week 2. Increased opportunities came in Week 4 for the freakishly athletic rookie, though, and he made the most of them with 135 yards on 18 carries and a catch for 17 yards. Coach Zimmer called McKinnon a change-of-pace back on Monday and mentioned 2015 for him to become the team's every-down back, but that could change based on superior talent over Matt Asiata.

RB - Darrin Reaves, Carolina Panthers (one percent)

By default (i.e., injury), the undrafted rookie out of UAB is likely to start in Week 5 against the Bears. With the team already dealing with injuries in their backfield, DeAngelo Williams suffered an ankle injury in Week 4 and he's considered "doubtful" to play in Week 5.

WR - James Jones, Oakland Raiders (47 percent)

There are only two teams on bye this week and one of them is Oakland, but Jones is the No. 1 receiver on a team that will trail often making him a prime candidate to cash in during garbage time. Jones has 21 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns on 28 targets through four games and ranks 15th among wideouts in yards through Sunday's games.

WR - Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (43 percent)

The Rams were on bye last week and Quick was targeted just four times and had only two receptions in Week 3, but he scored his first touchdown of the season in that game. In his previous two games, Quick had exactly seven catches on nine targets and finished with at least 74 yards each week. In his three games played, Quick has finished as the WR23, WR25 and WR17 in standard-scoring formats in what has the start of being his breakout campaign.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (39 percent)

With double-digit targets in each of the team's first three games, Hawkins has a minimum of six catches and 70 yards in all three games this season. The small but quick receiver has yet to find the end zone, but he's finished as a top-25 wide receiver in PPR formats in all three games.

WR - Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (35 percent)

The all-time leader in receiving in the SEC and cousin of Jerry Rice, the Eagles second-round draft pick has played in at least 63 percent of the team's offensive snaps in three of four games. That said, he has only one game with more than 3.7 fantasy points. It wouldn't surprise me if he becomes the team's No. 2 wideout ahead of Riley Cooper at some point this season, however, and we then see more consistent production from the rookie.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (18 percent)

After leading the team in receiving with 75 and 79 yards in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively, Robinson had five catches for only 38 yards on Sunday. Like with all rookie receivers, there will be quite a bit of inconsistency, but ARob has seen has snap total increase weekly (21 to 32 to 43 to 53). In addition, Cecil Shorts (hamstring) is not expected to play this week.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (15 percent)

Expected to be the team's No. 2 receiver after a breakout sophomore campaign, Jones has been out with a foot injury since early August. Jones had 51/712/10 last season and I would expect the Bengals to ease him back in given Mohamed Sanu's productive start to the season. That said, I expect Jones to finish with more fantasy points than Sanu from Weeks 5 to 17.

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (13 percent)

Brown has yet to catch more than four passes in any game, but he has made the most of his nine receptions this season with a touchdown on a third of those catches. With Floyd and Fitzgerald on the outside, the ultra-quick rookie out of Pittsburgh State is hard to slow down.

WR - Miles Austin, Cleveland Browns (10 percent)

Targeted only three times in the opener, Austin has 12 catches on 17 targets in his past two games and he has scored in each game. That means, he has finished as the WR17 and WR22 in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. As long as his health holds up and Josh Gordon continues to serve his suspension (through Week 11), Austin will have the opportunity for solid production.

WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (five percent)

With Jarrett Boykin out in Week 4, Adams was the team's No. 3 receiver, but it's just be a matter of time before the second-round rookie passes Boykin for good on the depth chart. Adams has played at least 35 snaps in three consecutive games.

WR - Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings (one percent)

Clearly the team's third receiver behind Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, Wright and Bridgewater showed plenty of chemistry on Sunday. Wright had eight catches for 132 yards on 10 targets. Obviously, he won't repeat those numbers on a weekly basis, but he's worth consideration for those in deep leagues.

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TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (44 percent)

Few players in the NFL have greater durability risk than Reed, but he's a solid TE1 when he's on the field and he could be nearing a return. Last week, it was speculated that Reed (hamstring) seemed unlikely to be ready for Week 5, but if he's inactive, a Week 6 return (and hopefully for good) seems much more likely.

TE - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (40 percent)

Through four games, Allen has just 11 catches for 145 yards, which puts him on pace for 44/580. Where Allen is most productive from a fantasy perspective is in the red zone. Allen has caught a touchdown pass in three of four games this season. Through Sunday's games, only three tight ends have more touchdown receptions.

TE - Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (19 percent)

Graham has had three modest performances since sitting out Week 1, but he has a primo matchup this week against the Cowboys. Here are what tight ends have done against the Cowboys this season: (Week 1) Vernon Davis, 4/44/2; (Week 2) Delanie Walker, 10/142/1; (Week 3) Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks, 13/104/1 combined; (Week 4) Jimmy Graham, 8/86/1.

TE - Jace Amaro, New York Jets (one percent)

Amaro has yet to play more than 24 snaps in any game this season, but he has back-to-back games with more than 50 receiving yards. A talented receiving tight end out of Texas Tech, Amaro should see his snap count increase as the season progresses.

Later tonight, I will update my Rest-of-Season (ROS) fantasy football rankings. Additionally, I will post my Week 5 fantasy football rankings on Tuesday.

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DeAngelo Williams is "doubtful" to play in Week 5

With Mike Tolbert on IR and Jonathan Stewart missing Week 4, the Carolina Panthers were already thin on running back depth.

Then DeAngelo Williams suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Ravens and now he's unlikely to play this week against the Bears.

Per Bryan Strickland from the team's website, coach Ron Rivera described Williams as "doubtful" for this week.

With Williams sidelined, Darrin Reaves, an undrafted rookie out of UAB, finished with 12 carries for just 26 yards and three receptions for 11 yards. The team should also get back Fozzy Whittaker, who has missed Weeks 3 and 4.

The Bears have allowed 122.5 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry so far this season.



Cecil Shorts (hamstring) not expected to play in Week 5

Through the first four games of the season, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts has played only one full game. Not only did he miss the first two games of the season, but Shorts left Sunday's game after aggravating a hamstring injury.

Per the team's website, Shorts is expected to miss their Week 5 matchup against the Steelers.

This will be the eighth game that Shorts has missed over the past three seasons due to a variety of ailments.

It's unclear if rookie Marqise Lee, who missed Week 4 with his own hamstring injury, will be able to go this week, but Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will be the starters either way. Meanwhile, Ace Sanders is eligible to return from suspension this week.

The Steelers have allowed 239.5 passing yards per game and seven passing touchdowns this season.



Bucs rookie Mike Evans (groin) expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans left yesterday's game in the third quarter with a groin injury.

Per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Evans will miss the next 2-3 weeks with the injury he suffered yesterday.

Over the next two weeks, the Bucs face the Saints and Ravens and then have a Week 7 bye. More than likely, Evans will return for their Week 8 matchup against the Vikings.

Evans scored his first NFL touchdown yesterday and finished with four receptions for 65 yards on seven targets. Through the first four games, Evans has 17 receptions on 28 targets for 203 yards and a touchdown.

Louis Murphy led the team in receiving yesterday with six catches for 99 yards on 11 targets and while I wouldn't expect those numbers again, the injury to Evans should lead to additional opportunities for Murphy opposite Vincent Jackson over the next couple of weeks.



September 28, 2014

DeMarco Murray gets 100+ yards and TD in fourth straight game

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray entered the day as the leading rusher in the NFL and that's the way he ended it.

In tonight's win over the Saints, Murray carried the ball 24 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns and added a reception for six yards.

Through four games, Murray now has 99 carries for 534 yards — 5.39 yards per carry — and five touchdowns and nine catches for 68 yards.

Murray now has 100-plus rushing yards and (at least) a rushing touchdown in each of the first four games to start the season. The only other players to start a season with as many such games are Jim Brown (six), O.J. Simpson (five) and Emmitt Smith (four).

The Cowboys host the Texans next week. Going into today's games, the Texans were tied for 30th in the league in YPC allowed (5.2).



Week 4 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Here are my Week 4 picks against the spread:

Indianapolis Colts -7.5 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

After two losses against top-notch opponents to start the season, the Colts pummeled the Jaguars into submission that led to a quarterback switch to Blake Bortles, something they planned to avoid until 2015. Behind the 1-2 punch of Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson, the Colts should be able to run effectively against the Titans, who have allowed 134.3 yards per game, ninth-most in the NFL, and four rushing scores. With Jake Locker (who won't play today), the Titans offense has scored only 14.3 points per game — second-fewest to only the Oakland Raiders — and have been outscored 17-59 in their past two games.

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San Francisco 49ers -4.5 over Philadelphia Eagles (2 units)

So far this season, the 49ers have really struggled offensively in the second half (just one third-quarter field goal through three games) and the Eagles have made second-half comebacks routine. At just 1-2 to start the season, I expect the 49ers to control the clock while also having success through the air against an Eagles defense that has allowed eight passing touchdowns through three weeks.

Green Bay Packers -2 over Chicago Bears (1 unit)

Maybe Aaron Rodgers is right and Packer fans should just "R-E-L-A-X," but their offense has not looked sharp early this season against the tough defenses they have faced. The offense has a good chance of getting back on track against the Bears, who rank in the bottom 10 in total defense this year. I'm not usually a fan of going with road favorites especially in divisional matchups, but the Packers are 17-6 against the spread at Soldier Field going back to 1992.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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Week 4 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 4 picks against the spread:

Atlanta Falcons -3.5 over Minnesota Vikings (3 units)

The Falcons have started off fast this year, going 2-1 yet losing to a very tough Bengals team on the road. For the Vikings, it sure seems that almost everything that could go wrong, has so far. The Vikings have lost Matt Cassel for the year, and of course Adrian Peterson's status will be in limbo for quite some time.

The Falcons have been impressive through the air, and they get a great matchup this week, in a Vikings secondary that allows a 70-percent completion rate, and 225 yards per game. Although Minnesota is at home and outdoors, I still like the Falcons over a rookie QB, and I will make this one a three-unit play.

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Philadelphia Eagles +4.5 over San Francisco 49ers (4 units)

The Eagles have been steady so far this year starting a perfect 3-0, while the 49ers have been one of the leagues most disappointing teams by going 1-2 out of the gate. The Niners have struggled with their defense this year, and they have been especially bad at stopping the pass. The 49ers allow 226 passing yards per game, and of course Chip Kelly and the blur offense are the perfect team to take advantage of that. The Eagles also will have history on their side, as they are 4-0 against the spread in their last 4 visits to the Bay Area. I feel that this game will be close, but I really think the Eagles getting 4.5 is a bargain. I am making this one a four-unit play.

New Orleans Saints -3 over Dallas Cowboys (5 units)

Another week, and yet another Dallas controversy, as this time Morris Claiborne left the building for being benched in favor of Orlando Scandrick. This is all the Cowboys needed, as they have struggled against opposing passing games, giving up 250 yards per game. The Saints have quite the high-powered offense to exploit this stat, and you will see a huge night from Jimmy Graham. Dallas has had a bright spot in running back DeMarco Murray, but he will face the eighth-best rushing defense in the league that gives up 101 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. I also love that the Saints have gone 5-2 against the number in their last seven with Dallas. This one has blowout potential all over it, so I am going with a five-unit play here.

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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September 27, 2014

Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast: Week 4 DFS Values

Dan Yanotchko and I recorded another edition of our Fantasy Football Weekly podcast at Blog Talk Radio tonight.

In case you were unable to listen live, here is the archived version of the episode:

Check Out Football Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with EDSFootball on BlogTalkRadio

As usual, we discussed players that we like in DraftKings and FanDuel contests for Week 4. Some of the players that we discussed included Colin Kaepernick, Donald Brown, Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Golden Tate, Michael Crabtree, Antonio Gates among others.

Related: Check out our free Week 4 fantasy football contest to win one of our site's t-shirts.



Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 4 FanDuel Fantasy Football Values

After posting my Week 4 DraftKings fantasy football values yesterday, it's time to turn my attention to Week 4 FanDuel contests.

There will be some overlap in values between the two sites, but that's not necessarily always the case. Both sites assign their player salaries independently and use different scoring (Full PPR for DraftKings and half-PPR for FanDuel).

With that said, here are some FanDuel value plays for Week 4:

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at DAL), $9,200

Typically, the names that appear on this list are both absolute and relative values. Even though Brees is not cheap in absolute terms, he is my top-ranked fantasy quarterback for the week and only the third-most expensive. Brees has faced the Cowboys in each of the previous seasons and has completed 71 of 94 pass attempts for a total of 838 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those two games.

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. PHI), $8,100

With the eighth-highest salary at the position, Kaepernick is my third-ranked quarterback for the week. The Eagles have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year, three top-12 fantasy QB performances and eight passing TDs in those three games. Not only should he post excellent passing stats in such a favorable matchup, but his dual-threat abilities as a rusher really helps to boost his fantasy value. In his past two games, he has 21 rush attempts for 108 yards.

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RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at OAK), $6,900

A disappointment for fantasy owners expecting a breakout last year, Miller has been very productive so far this season with 37 carries for 213 yards, eighth-most in the NFL, as well as 10 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. Through three games, the Raiders have allowed two 100-yard rushers and 158.7 rushing yards per game (second-most in the NFL). Miller has the 14th-highest salary among running backs and he's my seventh-ranked running back for the week.

RB - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at DAL), $6,400
RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (at DAL), $4,900

Based on Vegas lines, only the Chargers are expected to score more points this week than the Saints. While Khiry Robinson will get the majority of the early-down work and likely the goal-line opportunities (even though it was PT last week with the rushing score), Thomas could get 15 or so touches including five or more receptions. Both Saints RBs are nice values this week.

RB - Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (vs. JAX), $6,300

With the injuries in the team's backfield, Brown is clearly the man — at least, for this week and the next few weeks. Against the Bills last week, Brown had 36 touches including five receptions. The Bolts are favored by roughly two TDs, which means that game flow should dictate another heavy dose of Brown this week. The Jaguars have the league's worst-ranked rush defense and have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.

RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN), $6,100

It's surprising to me that FanDuel would price 28 running backs higher than Bradshaw. While Trent Richardson has more touches than Bradshaw, Bradshaw is leading the team in yards from scrimmage (264) and touchdowns (three) and ranks third in receptions (12).

WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (at OAK), $6,500

While Wallace did not extend his touchdown-scoring streak last week and Ryan Tannehill has struggled, Wallace is a nice value as the 21st-most expensive wideout this week. 60 Minutes has at least five catches, eight targets and 56 yards in all three games this season. The Raiders have allowed at least 74 yards to each of their opponent's No. 1 wide receivers through their first three games.

WR - Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens (vs. CAR), $6,100

I believe the loss of Dennis Pitta will lead to a bump in targets for Torrey Smith, who could turn out to be a bargain at $5,000, Steve Sr. leads the team in receptions (18), targets (31) and yards (290). Only six receivers are averaging more yards per game than Smith, who gets a shot to stick it to his former team at M&T Stadium. Twenty-eight receivers have higher salaries than Smith this week.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at NYJ), $5,500

Allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide receivers this year, the Jets have allowed lines of 9/209/1 to Jordy Nelson and 8/105 (plus 13 rush yards) to Alshon Jeffery in the past two weeks. With Megatron returning to the practice field and likely to play Sunday, Tate should see plenty of single coverage and is an excellent value at only $5,500. Yet to score his first touchdown this season, Tate has at least five-plus catches and 50-plus yards in all three games this season. With a 5/50 floor and upside for much more, Tate will be in all of my lineups this week.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at SD), $5,100

Through three games, Robinson has seen his targets rise each week (three to six to 10) and he's led the team in receiving yards in each of the past two weeks. In those games, he's had at least 75 yards and he started opposite Cecil Shorts last week. Considering the large point spread, another 10-target game could be in the cards for Robinson.

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TE - Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (at IND), $5,700

As I noted in my DraftKings posts, it's going to be hard to get me to keep Jimmy Graham out of my TE slot considering the way opposing tight ends have abused the Cowboys defense this season. If you're looking for a more modestly-priced option, however, Walker is a nice value. Walker has been extremely consistent as the team's leader in targets (26), receptions (17), yards (233) and touchdowns (two). Through three weeks, the Colts have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Walker's my third-ranked tight end for the week.

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. NE), $5,200

Kelce had only three receptions for 36 yards last week, but he scored his first NFL (regular-season) touchdown and showed his athleticism as he outsprinted defenders to the pylon. As (or more) importantly, Kelce played 47 (65.3 percent) of 72 snaps after playing just 32.8 and 37.2 percent of the team's snaps in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively.

In addition, check out our site's sortable FanDuel Week 4 cheat sheet.

Also, check out my weekly fantasy football rankings:

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September 26, 2014

Week 4 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 4 picks against the spread:

Dallas Cowboys +3 over New Orleans Saints (4 units)
Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints — Over 54.5 (4 units)

A couple of numbers stand out to me in this game — the underdog is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings and the Saints are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 road games. The Cowboys might not be among the NFC elite, but they did show heart coming back last week from a 21-0 deficit. Their defense will be tested against one of the league's best offenses, so I like the over as well in this one. Cowboys win in prime time, 34-31.

New York Jets +2.5 over Detroit Lions (4 units)

Calvin Johnson returned to practice on Friday so he's likely to suit up Sunday. On paper, the Lions should be able to beat the Jets by 10 points, but that's why they play the game. The Jets secondary was torn apart by Jay Cutler and the Bears Monday Night, but I think Rex has something up his sleeves for the Lions. Matthew Stafford is prone to making mistakes, and I think a pick-six is the difference in the one. Jets 23, Lions 21

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Green Bay Packers -2 over Chicago Bears (5 units)

I absolutely love this game. The Bears are on a short week over confident after a Monday night win, and Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy are off a miserable week vs. the Lions. I think the Packers come out firing on all cylinders and both Rodgers and Lacy have monster games. Packers win big, 37-20.

San Francisco 49ers -4.5 over Philadelphia Eagles (3 units)

I don't think the Eagles can come back again this week against the 49ers. I love Colin Kaepernick this week. He is one of my favorite plays on DFS sites. I also think the 49ers feed a disgruntled Frank Gore as well. 49ers win at home, 27-19.

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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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 4 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

With the vast majority (currently all) of my DraftKings lineups, Saints stud tight end Jimmy Graham is one of the elite players that I'm willing to fork over the big bucks to put in my Week 4 lineups.

As you know or for those new to daily fantasy sports (DFS), it's impossible to fill up a roster with the highest-priced players and still stay under the salary cap. So, in other words, finding some lower-priced options that can be productive is imperative.

This post will attempt to uncover and identify players that are priced at a discount to their expected output in order to help you afford and load up on more of the Graham-type studs.

Back to the topic of Graham, here's a tweet I posted last Sunday about his Week 4 matchup against the Cowboys:

(And Cook dropped a touchdown that he clearly should have caught.)

Graham is never a bad play, but I can see him posting a line of 8/105/2 or something similar this week — not quite Larry Donnell territory, but likely the next best thing at the position this week.

With that said, here are some value plays for Week 4:

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. PHI), $7,600

With the ninth-highest salary at the position, Kaepernick is my third-ranked quarterback for the week. The Eagles have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year, three top-12 fantasy QB performances and eight passing TDs in those three games. Not only should he post excellent passing stats in such a favorable matchup, but his dual-threat abilities as a rusher really helps to boost his fantasy value. In his past two games, he has 21 rush attempts for 108 yards.

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at SD), $5,800

Despite their reluctance to play Bortles this year, the coaching staff was only able to keep him off the field for 10 quarters. In the second half of last week's blowout (and in the preseason), we've seen a glimpse of Bortles' upside. Of course, we will see plenty of inconsistency from Bortles (and all rookie quarterbacks always), he possesses the strong arm and mobility to give the team's offense a spark. As roughly two-TD underdogs in San Diego, garbage time (and the inflated stats that often comes with it) could come early for Bortles and the Jags. The only other projected starters with a lower salary this weekend than Bortles are the other two rookie QBs.

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RB - Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at CHI), $5,600

Lacy owners in season-long formats have undoubtedly been frustrated by his slow start. Week 4 DFS players are thankful, however, for his disappointing performances against three stingy run defenses. Counting running backs from Thursday's game, Lacy is just the 16th-most expensive running back this week. Yet to exceed 13 carries or 43 rushing yards in a game this year, I expect Lacy to deliver the type of performance that we have all expected from him. The Bears have allowed 144.7 rushing yards per game, seventh-most in the NFL, and 5.0 yards per carry. In his last game against the Bears, Lacy rushed for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown.

RB - Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (vs. JAX), $5,400

With the injuries in the team's backfield, Brown is clearly the man — at least, for this week and the next few weeks. Against the Bills last week, Brown had 36 touches including five receptions (DraftKings uses PPR scoring). As noted above with Bortles, the Bolts are favored by roughly two TDs, which means that game flow should dictate another heavy dose of Brown this week. The Jaguars have the league's worst-ranked rush defense and have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.

RB - DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (at BAL), $3,900

It's not often that running backs that I have projected to get 18-20 touches is priced under $4,000 — the position minimum is $3,000. Even though Williams is normally the lead back of the team's RBBC, injuries should lead to higher usage rate than we typically see from DeAngelo. While The Daily Show was a surprise return to the practice field today, I don't expect him to play this Sunday.

RB - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at DAL), $4,500

The Cowboys defense has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs based on PPR scoring, but let's face it — their defense is horrible. Based on Vegas lines, only the Chargers are expected to score more points this week than the Saints. While Khiry Robinson will get the majority of the early-down work and likely the goal-line opportunities (even though it was PT last week with the rushing score), Thomas could get 15 or so touches including five or more receptions. Both Saints RBs are nice values this week.

WR - Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (vs. JAX), $5,300

While the matchups for San Diego's running backs and tight ends are elite, Allen and the team's receivers have a plus matchup as well. With six teams on bye and two having already played, there are still 19 other receivers priced higher than Allen for the remainder of this week's games. Allen is off to a slow start with 12/109/0 on 17 targets and the game flow could lead to fewer targets than Allen owners would like, but the cost is too good to not get him in at least a few of your lineups.

WR - Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (at DAL), $5,300

The Saints have tried to get the ball into Cooks' hands at least eight times every game this season for a total of 27 times — 24 targets in the passing game and three carries. I'd like to trust that Marques Colston ($4,800) will get enough looks to rely on him in this favorable (despite 2014 stats) matchup with a low cost, but I trust Cooks much more this week.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at NYJ), $4,700

Allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide receivers this year, the Jets have allowed lines of 9/209/1 to Jordy Nelson and 8/105 (plus 13 rush yards) to Alshon Jeffery in the past two weeks. With Megatron returning to the practice field and likely to play Sunday, Tate should see plenty of single coverage and is an excellent value at only $4,700. Yet to score his first touchdown this season, Tate has at least five-plus catches and 50-plus yards in all three games this season. With a 5/50 floor and upside for much more, Tate will be in all of my lineups this week.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at SD), $4,400

Through three games, Robinson has seen his targets rise each week (three to six to 10) and he's led the team in receiving yards in each of the past two weeks. In those games, he's had at least 75 yards and he started opposite Cecil Shorts last week. Considering the large point spread, another 10-target game could be in the cards for Robinson.

WR - Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets (vs. DET), $3,500

If Eric Decker (hamstring) doesn't play, Kerley is a must-start at $3,500. Even if Decker does play, it's possible that his hammy doesn't loosen up like on Monday night and he pulls himself out of the game. Kerley had 7/81/1 on 11 targets last week and 59 yards from scrimmage in Week 2 even with the 36-yard touchdown wiped out by the unwanted timeout call.

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TE - Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (vs. JAX), $4,400

Following up his three-TD performance against the Seahawks, Gates had a disappointing 1/8/0 line on one target last week. Set up nicely for a bounce-back week, Gates faces a Jacksonville defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year. In fact, they have allowed four different tight ends to finish as a top-six fantasy TE in their three games.

In addition, check out our site's DraftKings Week 4 Cheat Sheet.

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Week 4 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 4 picks against the spread:

Green Bay Packers -2 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

I'm going to listen to Aaron Rodgers and relax regarding the Packers 1-2 start to the season. This is a critical game for them early in the season, as a 1-3 record and 0-2 in the division is deep hole from which to come back. The Bears have been playing well, but weren't particularly great against the Jets. They got some fortuitous turnovers, and I don't expect Aaron Rodgers to make the kinds of mistakes Geno Smith made. Give me the Packers to win and cover 2.

New York Jets +2.5 over Detroit Lions (3 units)

Calvin Johnson missed practice again on Thursday, and his status for this week's game is unknown. While I'm guessing he'll play, if he's less than 100 percent, that's going to hurt the Lions offense, and I'm just not totally sold on the Lions just yet. The Jets, meanwhile, played a mistake-ridden game on Monday night against the Bears, but I believe they will avoid back-to-back home losses. Take the Jets at home.

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Jacksonville Jaguars +13.5 over San Diego Chargers (3 units)

I hate myself every time I take the Jags to cover a spread because they have just been terrible to start the year. However, with Blake Bortles starting, I think it will give them a spark, and should keep them within two touchdowns of the Chargers. San Diego is a good team, and will be most people's Survivor pick to win this week. I agree that they'll win the game, but I expect it to be closer than 13.5.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings — Under 46.5 (3 units)

The Falcons just put up a 56 spot on the Thursday game last week. Still, they're not the same team on the road. I don't think they'll score at near the same rate this week, against a better Vikings defense. I also expect Minnesota to look to control the clock a bit with Teddy Bridgewater set to make his first start. Forty-seven just feels like too much for this game. I like a 23-17 type of a game — well under the total.

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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September 25, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4


Here are my Week 4 NFL power rankings:

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 3-0, Last Update: No. 3

The obvious goal every week is to score more points than your opponent. One of just three unbeaten teams going into Week 4, the Bengals lead the NFL in scoring differential (+47) with the league's top-ranked scoring defense (11.0 points per game allowed) and sixth-ranked scoring offense (26.7 PPG). One of six teams on bye in Week 4, the Bengals have a challenging post-bye schedule with four difficult matchups: Patriots, Panthers, Colts and Ravens.

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

Bouncing back from their Week 2 loss in San Diego, the defending champs once again held serve at home as Marshawn Lynch secured the overtime win on the first drive of the extra period in a Super Bowl rematch. Lynch now has five touchdowns through three games and third-year quarterback Russell Wilson leads the NFL in passer rating. Counting the playoffs, Wilson is now 19-1 in his 20 career home games.

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

There's no such thing as moral victories in the NFL except when there are moral victories. Ok, bad jokes aside, the overtime loss on the road to Seattle shows that Peyton Manning & Co. can go toe to toe with the 'Hawks after their embarrassing beat down in the Meadowlands. Now if we get a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl rematch again, as is currently the favorite according to Vegas, let's hope that game is close like Sunday's game.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 3-0, Last Update: No. 4

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles entered Week 3 as the only quarterback with back-to-back 300-yard games and he leaves Week 3 as the only quarterback with three consecutive 300-yard games and he leads the NFL in passing yards (978). The Eagles are the only one of our top-five teams in action this week.

5. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 3-0, Last Update: No. 9

It's been next man up for the Cardinals. Despite missing several key defensive players to injury and/or suspension as well as Carson Palmer in their two most recent games, the Cardinals are a surprise 3-0 team as they sit atop the NFC West. On a positive note, it appears that Palmer will be ready to go in Week 5 after their bye.

6. New England Patriots - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 7

The Patriots have the league's top-ranked pass defense, but Tom Brady has yet to throw for 250 passing yards or multiple touchdowns in any game this season. In addition, Brady is completing 58.8 percent of his attempts and averaging just 5.54 Y/A.

7. San Diego Chargers - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 12

The Chargers are a one-point loss on the road to the 3-0 Cardinals from being a perfect 3-0 themselves this season. In fact, they lead for the majority of that game. Although they lost Danny Woodhead for the season and Ryan Mathews is out for a few more games, the good news is their next four opponents — Jaguars, Jets, Raiders and Chiefs — are a combined 2-10 and three of those four games are at home.

8. Chicago Bears - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 10

The Bears have struggled to run the ball (32nd in league) due to difficult matchups and some injuries on their interior offensive line. That said, they have done a great job of scoring touchdowns vs. settling for field goals. Even though they rank in the bottom six in total offense, they are one of only six teams to have scored nine touchdowns through three games. In addition, they have created 10 turnovers — six interceptions and four forced fumbles.

9. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 14

The Falcons have been dominant at home and have scored 93 points in their two home matchups against division rivals. The Falcons lead the NFL in total offense (455.0 YPG) and scoring offense (34.3 PPG) this season.

10. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 1-2, Last Update: No. 11

An 0-2 start may be difficult to overcome in more competitive divisions, but the Colts throttled the Jaguars last week to begin getting back on track. With the best quarterback in the division, the Colts rank third in the NFL in total offense but only 29th in total defense.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 1-2, Last Update: No. 6

There are not 10 teams that are more talented than the 49ers, but they are tied for last place in the NFC West with the Rams at 1-2. Unlike their Week 4 opponent that has flourished with second-half comebacks, the 49ers have struggled mightily in the second half. Here are their point totals by quarter so far this season: 38 (Q1), 21 (Q2), 3 (Q3) and 0 (Q4).

12. Green Bay Packers - Record: 1-2, Last Update: No. 5

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has some advice for us: "R-E-L-A-X." Not only has Green Bay's defense allowed the fifth-most points (26.3 per game), but their offense has scored the sixth-fewest (18.0) just behind the Giants (19.3) and Rams (18.7).

13. Carolina Panthers - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 8

The Panthers allowed not only one 100-yard rusher, but two of them, on Sunday Night Football. Last year, the Panthers allowed only one 100-yard rushing game all season — C.J. Spiller (103 yards on Sept. 15th).

14. Detroit Lions - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 17

Not only are the Lions strong against the run (second in league) this year, but their pass defense currently ranks third. But they will be without linebacker Stephen Tulloch for the rest of the year after tearing his ACL with a sack celebration.

15. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 16

After ranking 29th in total offense last year, the Ravens are currently ninth in the league this year with new coordinator Gary Kubiak. Most significantly, their run offense has improved from 30th to eighth year over year with the trio of Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro.

16. Houston Texans - Record: 2-1, Last Update: No. 13

The Texans won their first two games with a strong run game led by Arian Foster and turnover-free football from Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Foster (hamstring) in Week 3 and Fitz throwing three interceptions, it's no surprise that the Texans got their first loss of the season.

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

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