November 25, 2014

Updated Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 13 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 (Week 13 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 13-16):

1. New York Jets (Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson): 20.94 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart): 20.82
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (Le'Veon Bell): 20.63
4. Washington Redskins (Alfred Morris): 20.07
5. Tennessee Titans (Bishop Sankey): 19.84

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Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 13-16):

32. Oakland Raiders (Latavius Murray, Darren McFadden): 14.92
31. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch): 15.31
30. San Diego Chargers (Ryan Mathews): 15.37
29. Philadelphia Eagles (LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles): 16.73
28. Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles): 16.85

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 13 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 (Week 13 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 13-16):

1. Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams): 24.98 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns): 24.71
3. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 24.58
4. New Orleans Saints (Marques Colston, Kenny Stills): 24.53
5. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 24.28

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 13 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 13-16):

32. San Francisco 49ers (Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree): 18.79
31. Philadelphia Eagles (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews): 19.97
30. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 20.33
29. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall): 20.40
28. New York Jets (Eric Decker, Percy Harvin): 20.71

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 13 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 (Week 13 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 13-16):

1. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz): 9.94 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Detroit Lions (Eric Ebron): 9.09
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 9.04
4. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 8.98
5. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 8.93

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 13 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 13-16):

32. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 5.76
31. Baltimore Ravens (Owen Daniels): 6.12
30. Oakland Raiders (Mychal Rivera): 6.47
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Heath Miller): 6.65
28. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers): 6.67

* 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 Waiver Wire: Week 13

The bye weeks are over and there is just one more week before most leagues begin their postseasons. Now is the time to make your final playoff push and/or solidify your seeding.

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

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

QB - Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans (four percent)

Mettenberger has thrown for 263-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in three of his four career NFL starts including his debut as a starter against the Texans in Week 8. Only the Falcons have allowed more passing yards this season than the Texans, who is this week's opponent. After that, Mettenberger gets favorable matchups against the Giants, Jets and Jaguars during the fantasy playoffs.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (36 percent)

Far from the most exciting option at quarterback, Smith has yet to have a top-eight performance this season, but he has finished inside the top-15 in six of 11 games including this week. Averaging just 201.3 passing yards per game with five games of sub-200 yards, he threw a season-high 42 pass attempts for 255 yards against the Broncos in Week 2 and faces them again this week. After this week's re-match against the Broncos, Smith has favorable matchups against the Cardinals, Raiders and Steelers through Week 16. In other words, it's possible that he has a couple of top-12 performances down the stretch.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (seven percent)

After throwing no touchdowns in his first three games and exactly one touchdown in the next four, Bridgewater threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers in Week 12 and rushed for a career-high 32 yards. Bridgewater has favorable matchups against the Panthers and Jets, respectively, over the next two weeks.

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RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (25 percent)

It's unfortunate that a concussion knocked Murray out of the game after only four carries last week, but he did a full game's worth of damage on those carries with 112 yards and two touchdowns. The good news about the concussion is that he sustained the injury on a Thursday instead of a Sunday, which increases his chances of being ready to go for Week 13. Despite his size (225 pounds), Murray is a freak athlete that ran a sub-4.4 forty at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2013.

RB - Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts (23 percent)

It was Herron, not Trent Richardson, that got the "start" against the Jaguars in Week 12. Although T-Rich got the touchdown and had one more carry than Herron, Herron had more touches (17 to 13) and more yards from scrimmage (96 to 42) than Richardson. Regardless of who gets the "start" in Week 13 or going forward, it wouldn't be a surprise if Boom Herron is the most productive Colts running back the rest of the way.

RB - LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (31 percent)

One week after rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns, Jonas Gray and I were tied with zero rushing yards as Blount carried the ball 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. It's unclear how much Gray oversleeping on Friday and being sent home from practice weighed into his Week 12 goose egg. At least for owners that are a glutton for punishment, Blount is worth an add, but it's always anybody's guess on how Belichick will allocate touches among the team's backs.

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32 percent)

Sims had fewer touches last week than Doug Martin, but I still wouldn't be surprised if Sims had more productive games down the stretch than Martin. Then again, Martin, who is averaging just 2.80 yards per carry this season, has set the bar fairly low.

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WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (20 percent)

Ex-LSU teammate and fellow rookie Odell Beckham, Jr. is getting plenty of attention for making one of the greatest catches you'll ever see, but Landry's more highly-touted former college teammate isn't the only one having a productive rookie campaign. Despite having only one game this season with more than 53 yards, Landry has scored four touchdowns in his past four games and has double-digit targets in two of his past three outings. In addition, Landry and the Dolphins receivers have a couple of favorable matchups coming up against the Jets and Ravens in Weeks 13 and 14, respectively.

WR - Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (34 percent)

With Brandin Cooks now out for the season, Stills had eight catches on nine targets for 98 yards on Monday Night Football. Stills has at least 50 yards in four of his past six games and he has a favorable schedule down the stretch. After the Steelers in Week 13, the Saints face the Panthers, Bears, Falcons and Bucs -- all four teams rank in the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (37 percent)

Even with the return of Josh Gordon from suspension, Hawkins had another productive week. Hawkins now has 88-plus yards in four of his past five games. That said, Hawkins had only five targets last week, which was his second-lowest total this season.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (one percent)

One of my favorite "sleeper" receivers in dynasty leagues, Johnson possesses a nice blend of size (6-2, 215) and speed (sub-4.4 forty). Finally getting the opportunity for significant snaps, Johnson had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets in Week 12. Over the past two weeks, he has a total of nine catches on 18 targets. As noted above with Bridgewater, the team has a couple of favorable matchups against the poor pass defenses of the Panthers and Jets.

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (32 percent)

One of the league's fastest wide receivers, Brown had three catches for 61 yards on Sunday and now has more than 60 yards in three consecutive games and in four of his past five. With Larry Fitzgerald (MCL) possibly set to miss a second game in a row, Brown could have an even better outing against the Falcons than he had last week against the Seahawks.

WR - Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (27 percent)

One week after racking up 128 yards and a touchdown, Britt had a more modest 2/37 line on six targets in Week 12. That said, Britt should lead the team's receivers in fantasy production down the stretch and the Rams have a few nice matchups with Oakland, Washington, Arizona and NY Giants through Week 16.

WR - Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (40 percent)

Hunter has not had the breakout season that I (or many analysts) had expected. Few players have his combination of height (6-foot-4) and athleticism (4.4 forty and 40-inch vertical), but Hunter has just 27 catches for 480 yards and three touchdowns on 64 targets. If there is a promising sign, he had 10 targets on Sunday and he also had 10 targets in Week 8 against the Texans, this week's opponent. It's possible that he could see double-digit targets again on Sunday and while he may convert less than half of them into receptions, he has plenty of big-play potential.

TE - Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (15 percent)

Graham has mostly been irrelevant this season, but he had a season-high seven targets on Sunday that he converted into four receptions for 41 yards, which ties a season high. If his involvement in the offense continues to expand, he has some TE-friendly matchups against the Titans, Jaguars and Colts over the next three weeks.

TE - Tim Wright, New England Patriots (16 percent)

The bad news is that Wright has two yards (or less) in six games this season. The good news is that Wright has caught touchdowns in five games this season including two of those games with two yards or less.

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November 23, 2014

Week 12 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 12 picks against the spread:

Cincinnati Bengals +1.5 over Houston Texans (4 units)

The Bengals got back on track by winning convincingly at the Super Dome against New Orleans last week. This week, they travel to Houston to face a banged up Texans team, that most likely will be missing Arian Foster. I really like the matchup of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green going against a Texans pass defense that gives up 278 yards per game and 19 touchdowns. I know the Bengals have been Jekyll and Hyde, but they will win this road contest to keep pace in the AFC North, and I will make this a 4-unit play.

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Green Bay Packers -9 over Minnesota Vikings (4 units)

The Packers have been on another planet recently with their offense, and all signs point to this continuing this week against the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers is playing so well, that he's come out early to give Matt Flynn reps while putting up 55 and 53 points, although the defense did help some. The Packers pasted the Vikings earlier this year 42-10 at Lambeau, and I really just don't trust Teddy Bridgewater against that offense. I will give the nine points, and make this a 4-unit play.

Miami Dolphins +7 over Denver Broncos (3 units)

I think everybody loves the Broncos this week, coming off a horrible loss in St. Louis, while only putting up seven points, and they are at home at Mile High. The Dolphins have played exceptional defense this year, and they also have a nice 10-day break to get their game plan together. The Dolphins are a team that can be a matchup nightmare for the Broncos, as they have the top-ranked pass defense in yards allowed with 208, and they can get after the QB with their four-man rush, as they have 30 sacks on the year. I like this scrappy Dolphins team, and I will take the seven points as this one will be close. I will go with 3 units on this game.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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Week 12 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Overall, it's been a highly successful 11 weeks of picks against the spread (24-12, 66.7 percent) for me this year, but I've had my first losing week (1-2 ATS) in quite a while last week.

While these picks are for entertainment purposes only, it's far more "entertaining" to be right than wrong. Expecting to get back on track after last week's minor blip, I feel much more confident in this week's picks.

With that said, here are my Week 13 picks against the spread:

Indianapolis Colts -14 over Jacksonville Jaguars (3 units)

Not only were the Colts beat down by the Patriots last week, but they suffered a couple of key injuries on offense with Ahmad Bradshaw being placed on IR and Dwayne Allen being ruled out for this week. That said, I expect the Colts to bounce back in a big way this week against the Jaguars.

Even without Bradshaw and Allen, Andrew Luck should have a huge game against the Jaguars, who rank 26th in the NFL in pass defense (261.9 YPG allowed). Luck is on pace for 5,420 passing yards and 45 touchdowns this season. Second behind only Drew Brees' record nine-game streak, Luck has thrown for 300-plus yards in eight consecutive games.

Although the spread is large, the Jaguars rank last in the NFL in averaging scoring margin (-12.4) and seven of their nine losses have been by double digits. In the game following their previous 16 losses, the Colts have covered all but one of those games. In addition, the Colts have a 10-game cover streak versus fellow AFC South foes.

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Tennessee Titans +11 over Philadelphia Eagles (3 units)

Without a doubt, the Eagles are a much better team than the Titans. Even though the Eagles were blown out in the previous game, there is the potential that they get caught looking ahead. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are tied at 7-3 in the NFC East and the Eagles will have to travel to Big D for an NFC East showdown on Thanksgiving.

And while I think the Eagles are a better team than the Titans, as noted above, they have some weaknesses. Specifically, their pass defense is among the league's worst as they have surrendered 263.0 yards per game, 28th in the NFL, and only the Jets (25) and Bears (24) have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Eagles (22) this season.

This could potentially be a garbage-time back-door cover, but I think the Titans keep this game within double digits.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6 over Chicago Bears (2 units)

Last week, I picked the Bears to cover despite several logical factors suggesting an opposite pick. Even with last week's cover, the Bears have covered only two of their past 14 home games and only eight of their past 26 games overall.

That's not good ... unless you've been picking against the Bears.

In a homecoming off sorts for Lovie Smith and Josh McCown, the Bucs have been playing better recently. McCown has thrown for 288-plus yards and two touchdowns in his two games since once again becoming the team's starter. As noted earlier, the Bears secondary can be exploited and Mike Evans has been nearly unstoppable with 21 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns in his past three games.

Although I don't expect them to win the game outright, the Bucs, who have had fourth-quarter leads in six of their past seven games, should be able to keep this game close and get the cover.

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 13 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 13 picks against the spread:

Cleveland Browns +3 over Atlanta Falcons (4 units)

With Josh Gordon coming back, I like Cleveland to make a real playoff push. I think they'll win this one outright.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6 over Chicago Bears (4 units)

The Bucs have slowly been putting things together and Mike Evans has been a beast. I like Lovie to give the inconsistent Bears some problems and cover here.

New Orleans Saints -3 over Baltimore Ravens (4 units)

The Saints losing three home games in a row? They'll have to show me to believe that. I like NO to bounce back and get the W.

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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November 22, 2014

Week 12 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 12 picks against the spread:

Indianapolis Colts -14 over Jacksonville Jaguars (2 units)

The Colts just got smacked at home by the Patriots last Sunday night, but I fully expect them to rebound in a big way Sunday vs. the last place Jags. I believe the loss of Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw will end the Colts hope for a legit shot at the Super Bowl, but they don't need him this week. I smell a monster 400/4 type of game from Andrew Luck. If you are looking for some DFS love, then start Jaguars WR Allen Hurns. Hurns is almost at the site minimum ($3200) on DraftKings. The Jaguars will be behind so I expect double-digit targets headed his way. Colts 41, Jaguars 20.

Dallas Cowboys -4 over New York Giants (3 units)

The Cowboys had an extra week to prepare for this Sunday night clash. I hate playing small road favorites especially in division rivalry games, but I really do think the Cowboys are light years better than the Giants. Eli Manning looked absolutely horrible last week vs. the 49ers and I think he could struggle ahead in this one, especially since I think the Dallas defense will be fresh from pounding the ball with DeMarco Murray. Murray is my hands down No. 1 fantasy player of the week and I think Murray could set career numbers in this game. Dallas big road win, 30-17.

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Denver Broncos -7 over Miami Dolphins (5 units)

Peyton Manning at home after a humiliating loss against the lowly Rams. Sounds good to me! The Broncos are definitely not as good as people think, but neither is Miami. Ryan Tannehill is a pretty mediocre QB in my opinion, and I think early mistakes lead to a big Denver lead. Tannehill and the Miami offense are not the types to come from 14 points behind. Peyton throws five in this one. Broncos 44, Fish 18.

Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco 49ers -- Over 44.0 (3 units)

I'm currently in 5th place in my big fantasy money league. I've gone against the league's high scorer multiple weeks. I've been a 25-point "favorite" and lost twice. It's just been one of those years. What does that have to do with this game? EVERYTHING! My opponent this week has Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis ($3,000 DK), Alfred Morris, and Pierre Garcon. The way my luck has been this year in this league, I fully expect them to blow up this week. Good thing I am running multiple lineups on Draft Kings with these players in it! All joking aside, I really do think Kaepernick and Davis have big games this week. I also believe the 49ers may be overlooking the Redskins since they have a big matchup with Seattle on Turkey Day. 49ers escape the Skins, 30-27.

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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November 21, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 12 Start'em, Sit'em

Raiders second-year running back Latavius Murray had just four carries (like the previous week), but he was doing damage to the Chiefs run defense before leaving the game with a concussion.

Despite getting only four carries, Murray racked up 112 yards and scored two touchdowns for a total of 23.2 fantasy points -- or 5.8 fantasy points per carry. Those were the first two rushing touchdowns allowed by the Chiefs defense this season.

His total (23.2 points) would have been a top-five finish for a running back in each of the first 11 weeks of the season.

Assuming he is cleared from his concussion in time for Week 13, Murray should see a much larger workload and will be a must-start against the Rams.

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

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (vs. TB)

Cutler has too many turnovers (12 interceptions and five lost fumbles) this season, but that hasn't kept him from being a productive fantasy quarterback. While there has been some week-to-week inconsistency, Cutler has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 10 weeks this season and currently ranks eighth in fantasy points at the position. The Bucs have allowed 266.1 passing yards per game, third-worst in the NFL, and 20 passing touchdowns (only three teams have allowed more). Cutler is a top-six option for me this week.

QB - Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI)

The other starter in this game (and for the Bears last year) has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback this week as well. In fact, McCown has now finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks since taking over as the team's starter again. McCown has thrown for a minimum of 288 yards and two scores in each of the past two games and the Bears have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

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

While DeMarco Murray has a great matchup against the Giants, Jennings is a solid RB1 for this week as well. Returning last week from a Week 5 knee injury, Jennings had 22 touches against the 49ers. Although he totaled only 67 yards from scrimmage, the 49ers are one of the league's stingiest defenses to running backs. This week's matchup is more favorable as the Cowboys allow 4.85 rushing yards to opposing running backs. Only the Giants (5.03) and Chiefs (5.00 through Week 11) allow a higher YPC to RBs. Since he can't play his own team and the Chiefs have already played this week, there isn't a better possible matchup for him this weekend on a YPC-allowed basis.

RB - Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

With his strong start to the 2014 season, the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw is a devastating blow to the Colts offense. Bradshaw was averaging 4.72 YPC, 3.8 receptions per game and had a total of eight touchdowns in 10 games. Now the Colts will rely even more on a generally inefficient Richardson, who was already averaging more than 15 touches per game. In a game where the Colts are favored by two touchdowns, however, T-Rich should get a high volume of work with the potential for a few goal-line opportunities.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

By waiving Ben Tate, who was signed in free agency to be the bellcow back, it further (or more clearly) opens more consistent opportunities for the team's two rookie running backs. While Crowell's grip on the top spot on the depth chart is not a lock, he led the team in carries last week and is the most talented back on the roster in my view. Either way, I would expect double-digit carries for both Crowell and Terrance West this week and they have a favorable matchup against the Falcons, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ)

It's crazy that Buffalo has had as much snow as most cities get the entire winter BEFORE Thanksgiving. And while it's unfortunate that the Bills won't be able to play in front their home fans, the move out of the elements to a controlled environment (dome) in Detroit could actually benefit Watkins. Watkins has had back-to-back quiet outings (4/27 and 3/32), but he had a monster 3/157/1 line the prior game, which was the first time he faced the Jets.

WR - Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

Last year, Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the season and ended up leading the NFL in receiving. With a much longer suspension this year, that obviously won't happen again, but Gordon has the skill set that puts him back into the WR1 (top 12) conservation beginning with his first game back. There are a few concerns (not necessarily being in "football shape" and the expectation that he'll play about half of the offensive snaps), but he has dominant physical tools and the team has one of the weakest receiving corps if you exclude him. While better days should be ahead compared to this week, he's still a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 for this week.

[Related: The Browns selected a WR with one of their two first-round picks in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft.]

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI)

It's been a phenomenal three-game run for Evans as he has posted a 7/100/1 (or better) line in each game. Last week, he had more than 200 yards and two scores. Over the past three weeks, no receiver has more fantasy points than Evans in total or on a per-game basis and he has become a must-start option the rest of the way.

WR - Odell Beckham, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

With the exception of Week 6, Beckham has finished as a top-24 fantasy wide receiver in five of his six NFL games. And although he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7, when he scored two touchdowns against this week's opponent, ODB has 21 catches for 357 yards on 33 targets over the past three weeks.

TE - Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

Not only did Dwayne Allen leave last week's game early with an ankle injury, but he has already been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jaguars. That should create more opportunities for Fleener, who finished last week with seven catches for 144 yards, both of which were season highs. The Colts feature the tight end position heavily as no position group has caught a larger share of Andrew Luck's touchdown passes this season. The Jags have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season and Fleener had 4/49/1 against them in his first matchup with a healthy Allen.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

Although he lost two fumbles in the first game against the Cowboys, Donnell also finished with seven receptions for a career-high 90 yards in Week 7. In his past four games going back to the Cowboys game, Donnell has a minimum of six targets in each game and he has scored in two of the past three weeks. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

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

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at NE)

Drafted as a top-six fantasy quarterback in virtually all leagues, Stafford has been a disappointment as he currently ranks 14th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. In the past six weeks, Stafford has finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks four times and was barely inside the top 12 the other two games (QB12 in Week 8 and QB9 in Week 10). In a relatively difficult matchup, Stafford is just outside my top 12 at No. 13.

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. STL)

In the first six weeks of the season, Rivers finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback five times and he was a top-six quarterback four times. Since then, however, Rivers has finished outside the top 12 in four consecutive starts. During that four-game stretch, Rivers has averaged 197 passing yards per game and has posted a mediocre 6:6 TD-to-INT ratio during that span.

RB - Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)

After sitting out last week's game, Jackson will return to the field on Monday, but he's probably better off remaining on your bench. The Jets rank fourth in the league in run defense (83.2 YPG) and only the Lions and Broncos are giving up fewer YPC. In addition, the Jets have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (vs. DET)

What Gray did in Week 11 was amazing! Not only did he rush for 201 yards, but he scored four touchdowns and finished as the week's highest-scoring fantasy running back. Fast forward one week, Gray has a brutal matchup against the Lions, who lead the NFL in rush defense (68.8 YPG). Other factors are also working against Gray this week as the Patriots have brought back running back LeGarrette Blount and Gray overslept and was sent home after showing up late for practice on Friday.

RB - Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at BUF)

Ivory had four consecutive top-24 outings to start the season, but things have been much less consistent since then. In the past six games, Ivory has finished as the RB45, RB58, RB8, RB9, RB50 and RB35. Coincidentally, the RB9 was his first matchup against the Bills, but it's unlikely that he scores two touchdowns like he did in the first matchup. In that game, he carried the ball 13 times for just 43 yards.

WR - Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. BAL)

It's been a hugely disappointing season for Colston, who has just one touchdown on the season. In addition, Colston has finished as a top-30 wide receiver only once (Week 7, WR19). The Ravens have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Brandin Cooks (thumb) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve, but it's difficult to trust Colston as anything more than a flex option this week.

WR - Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (at SF)

Garcon has had plenty of bad games this year, but he had his worst outing last week with one catch for six yards on two targets. Garcon has finished as a WR35 (or worse) in eight of 10 games this season and he has finished outside the top 50 in each of his past three games.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (at SEA)

Dealing with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, Fitzgerald missed all practices this week, but he is listed as questionable for Week 12. If he does play, Fitz should remain on your bench given the injury and difficult matchup. The Seahawks defense hasn't been as stingy as they have been over the past couple of years, but they once again allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. In fact, the Seahawks have only allowed five top-24 finishes to wide receivers this season.

WR - Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (at NYG)

Williams has six touchdowns on the season and he scored in five of the team's first seven games. That's the good news. The bad news is that Williams has two or less receptions in seven of 10 games this season. In fact, Williams scored a touchdown in the first matchup against the Giants, but that 18-yard reception was his only catch and he still finished outside the top-30 wide receivers that week. Williams' odds of finishing with a productive week are pretty slim unless he scores a touchdown.

TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (vs. WAS)

Vernon Davis is like the Adam Dunn of the NFL. He's either going to hit a home run (score a touchdown or two) or strike out. And Davis has been in a deep slump as he is averaging just 2.0 receptions for 18.9 yards since Week 2 with no touchdowns. He has yet to exceed four catches or 44 yards in any game this season. (The only place I might consider starting him is in a tournament like the Millionaire Maker, where he could pay off his $3,000 (position-minimum) salary several times if he scores a couple of touchdowns.)

TE - Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (at HOU)

Even though he had just two catches for 13 yards, Gresham is coming off his best fantasy performance as both of his receptions went for scores. Of course, one of those has received plenty of attention due to the long-time Saints fan that snatched the football intended for a Bengals fan. That said, the Texans have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. In addition, Gresham has finished with 36 yards or less in four consecutive games (A.J. Green returned three games ago).

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 12 rankings:

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2015 NFL Mock Draft - Week 12 Update

The draft order for my 2015 NFL mock draft is based on the inverse order of my 2014 NFL power rankings.

The final 12 picks of the mock draft, however, contain six playoff teams from each conference including a division winner from each division as well as two wild card teams.

With that said, here is my early projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

When you lose 16 consecutive games (until last night's win over Kansas City), it's fair to say that there are plenty of holes to fill and the Raiders could go in a number of directions with the first overall pick including trading back with a quarterback-needy team. Drawing plenty of favorable pro comparisons, Williams reminds NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah of ex-Raider (and ex-Patriot) Richard Seymour as he described Williams as "[t]all, long, athletic, explosive hands and versatile." Others have compared Williams to J.J. Watt and Gerald McCoy. Either way, he has the potential to become a dominant defensive lineman at the next level.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

After ranking last in the league in sacks in both 2012 and 2013, the Jags have been much better at getting after the quarterback this year with 28 sacks, seventh most through Week 11. An explosive and fluid athlete, Gregory had 16.5 sacks in his 22 games over the past two seasons.

3. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Completing 55.9 percent of his pass attempts with a 19:31 TD-to-INT ratio in his first two seasons, the odds of Geno Smith being under center for the Jets' 2015 season opener are slim to none. With exceptional dual-threat abilities, Mariota has posted a career TD-to-INT ratio of 92:12 with 1,991 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. If there's a knock, an unnamed scout wonders (to SI) if Mariota is "too nice."

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

The most polarizing draft-eligible prospect, Winston has been associated with far too many head-scratching and troubling issues off the field. On the field, however, Winston has all of the physical tools to be a successful franchise quarterback and he has engineered several game-winning drives for the Seminoles, who are defending national champions with a combined 24-0 record over the past two seasons.

5. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

An explosive athlete, Ray has 13.0 sacks through the first 10 games of the season. While 15 different Titans have recorded a sack this season, none have more than 4.0 this season and Ray can be a difference-making rusher off the edge. Ray made Bruce Feldman's annual preseason freak list as he was timed at 4.44 in the forty with a vertical jump exceeding 40 inches.

6. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than Washington (20) and no team has fewer interceptions (three). With the versatility to play in coverage and especially support the run, Collins is likely to be the first defensive back selected next April.

7. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Using last year's first-round pick on Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers gave Cam Newton a bonafide weapon on the outside, but surprisingly they didn't select an offensive tackle at any point in the draft after losing Jordan Gross to retirement. Starting left tackle Byron Bell has graded out as the 74th of 76 offensive tackles this season, according to PFF.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Through Week 11, only the Raiders (10) had recorded fewer sacks than the Falcons (13). Last year, only the Jaguars (31) and Bears (31) had fewer sacks than the Falcons (32). Despite his size (6-9, 280), Oakman possesses rare athleticism and an explosive first step and is a step in the right direction towards improving the team's anemic pass rush.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Once a high school quarterback, Scherff may be best at guard, but he's arguably the best the run-blocking tackle in this year's draft class. Gil Brandt tweeted prior to the season that Scherff had No. 1 overall potential and the guy has freakish strength.

10. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

A versatile athlete, Thompson has played running back and defensive back in addition to linebacker. Thompson is a bit undersized (225 pounds) for a linebacker, but he is an outstanding athlete that also possesses good coverage skills.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

It's been a disappointing season for second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has just 28 receptions on 59 targets for 332 yards and a touchdown through 10 games. An outstanding route runner, Cooper may not be the biggest (6-1, 202) or fastest receiver, but he's been the most productive with a national-leading 1,303 yards.

12. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

With excellent height (6-1) for a corner, Waynes has a good chance to be the first corner off the board, especially after Marcus Peters was kicked off the Washington Huskies football team. The Rams have allowed a league-worst 68.6 completion percentage this season.

13. Cleveland Browns -- via Buffalo (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

With long arms and excellent athleticism, Peat has started at left tackle in each of the past two seasons at Stanford. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be a free agent after the 2015 season, but they could also play Peat at right tackle and move Schwartz inside next season.

14. Houston Texans (Draft History): Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Through Week 11, only the Falcons have allowed more passing yards per game than the Texans (278.1 YPG). In addition, Kareem Jackson is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

15. San Diego Chargers (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Only five teams have recorded fewer sacks this season than the Chargers (17.0) and as long as Peyton Manning is in the division, you can never have too many explosive pass-rushers like Beasley.

16. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Having already declared his intention to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, Fowler has a high motor, good athleticism and is one of the most versatile defensive players in next year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

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November 20, 2014

Fantasy Football Week 12: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Week 11 was not pretty, as injuries and poor performances widely struck the players I recommended. I am sure the same hurt many owners in a critical week. These are always tough weeks to swallow, but you have to just keep on moving forward and leave it all behind you. With two weeks left in most regular seasons, now is the time to buckle down and try to make the best decisions you can -- then pray for the best.

Before we move on to Week 12, let’s review the misery of last week's results.

Week 11 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-16.8+11.4-16.0-11.1-32.5
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-28.4+150.9-63.9+31.2+89.8
* Recommended players vs. alternatives
* YTD stats as of Week 5 (my first post)

Best of the week -- Mark Ingram +11.0: Ingram largely struggled on the ground against an underwhelming Bengals run defense, but made up for it by catching all seven of his targets. When Pierre Thomas returns, Ingram will have to pick up the production via the ground game to hold high value, as he will not be catching that many balls out of the backfield.

Runner-up -- Matt Ryan +7.9: Ryan was not overly impressive against a porous Panthers secondary, but put up a respectable 17.8 points on the week. RG3 and Matthew Stafford both struggled in real life, but RG3 actually put together a solid fantasy day. Stafford on the other hand did not. On a completely non-fantasy related side note, this Lions offense is struggling, and the injury excuses are no longer valid with Calvin Johnson back. The O-line is beat up, but a good game plan can help mitigate that issue. There is no way a team with that much offensive talent should be as mediocre as they are (offensively, that is). Joe Lombardi comes from the Sean Peyton coaching tree, but this is a good example that the system isn’t effective without someone who knows how to call plays on game day.

Worst of the week -- Alex Smith -24.7: Ugh. Not much to say other than just a poor call on my part. Dude totaled five points in a game where they scored 24 and beat the Seahawks.

Runner-up -- DeSean Jackson -22: Jackson was a disappointment against what was a fantastic matchup. He was clearly impacted by RG3’s poor decision-making and inaccurate throws. But this +/- has far less to do with Jackson than it does Alshon Jeffery. To be fair, Jackson did outscore Golden Tate, who was my 2nd player to start him over. But the story was Jeffery, who put up an astonishing 30.5 points. He dismantled what had been a very good Vikings secondary to this point in the season. It’s never shocking to see a player of his talent in this offense go off. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mildly surprised given how poor the Bears had been playing.

Let’s get this train back on track and pointed in the right direction in Week 12.

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR: 16

Flacco has appeared multiple times in this article, with mixed success. Believe it or not, I am not a Ravens fan in any way, but he keeps coming up as an underrated option in my model, so I keep plugging him in. His opponent this week is the Saints, who are reeling right now. I mean, they just gave up 220 and 3 TDs to Andy Dalton. They are also coming off of back-to-back home losses, which is about as common as Bill Belichik smiling at a press conference. Surprisingly, they are tied for the lead in the NFC South (technically behind because of the tie-breaker) and are desperate for a win this week to right the ship. As a result, I think this game will be a tight one, but it’s not going to be the defense that gives them a chance to win. New Orleans ranks 28th in overall defensive efficiency. If they want to win, they will need to score points, and I think they will do just that. In order to keep pace, Flacco will be forced to throw a lot. Given the inadequacies in the Saints secondary (NO ranks 26th in defensive pass efficiency and FPA to QBs), he should have the opportunity to post mid-tier QB1 numbers this week.

Consider starting him over:
Russell Wilson: ECR 11
Ryan Tannehill: ECR 13

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
FantasyPros ECR: 20

Hoyer is always a risk for a dud, but he has been a surprisingly effective fantasy QB in recent weeks. Over the past five weeks, Hoyer ranks 14th amongst all QBs in FPPG. It’s no coincidence that his uptick in production coincides with the loss of center Alex Mack, who was a key cog in the Browns effective run game. Since that point, Cleveland has struggled to run the ball consistently and has been forced to pass the ball more. But the reason he is on this week’s list is two-fold. First, the Browns get Josh Gordon back this week. I can’t even explain how big of an upgrade he is over any other receiver on the roster, this kid is obviously a stud and gives this offense a huge boost. Second, Hoyer gets one of the best receivers in the game back against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Atlanta ranks dead last in pass defense efficiency and gives up the 10th-most fantasy points to QBs.

Additionally, this game will be played in the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons offense traditionally plays much better. The Browns may have to throw a lot to keep up with the Falcons in a game that is critical to both team’s playoff chances. I like Hoyer’s chances of significantly outplaying his current ranking.

Consider starting him over:
Andy Dalton: ECR 17
Eli Manning: ECR 18

Running Backs

Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR: 12

Similar to the logic behind Flacco, Forsett will be a big part of what I think is going to be a high-scoring game. Forsett is handling the majority of the backfield work and doesn’t look to relinquish that role anytime soon, coming off one of his better performances this season in Week 10 (Ravens were on bye in Week 11). New Orleans struggles against the run, ranking 28th in efficiency. Additionally, they rank 30th against RBs as receivers, and Forsett is the Ravens passing-down back as well. He should get at least 12-15 carries, but I would expect a handful of receptions as well. Regardless if this is a high-scoring game or somehow turns into a grind it out affair, Forsett will be involved from the get go and has a matchup that he can exploit.

Consider starting him over:
LeSean McCoy: ECR 8
Andre Ellington: ECR 7

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
FantasyPros ECR: 21

Miller has a tough matchup against the Broncos this week, as they are a top-10 run defense by most measures. However, the Dolphins are one of the best run offenses in the league and utilize Miller in a variety of ways. The Dolphins don’t have the firepower to get into a shootout with the Broncos, so I expect them to lean on the run game and play ball control. Miller looked healthy last week and should be good to go for a full workload in Week 12. As a bonus, Miller is a solid receiver out of the backfield and has caught at least one pass in every game this season. However, he has caught at least two in every game that he was healthy and finished. Denver is vulnerable against RBs as receivers and that may actually represent the Dolphins best passing matchup considering the Broncos excel against defending WRs and TEs.

Consider starting him over:
Frank Gore: ECR 20
Joique Bell: ECR 19

Wide Receivers

Malcolm Floyd, San Diego Chargers
FantasyPros ECR: 49

If I did a pick of the week, or ranked my picks in order of confidence, this one would be right at the top. Floyd continues to be undervalued in the fantasy world and I don’t understand why. He may not be a high upside or exciting player, but you would be hard pressed to find someone with a more consistent floor. He has scored a minimum of eight points in every game he has played and averages 11.3 PPG. Again, not mind-blowing numbers by any means, but a guaranteed 8-12 points from your WR3 every week isn’t bad. However, as I mentioned last week, he still has some big-game ability in him. He has hit 14-plus points in three games this season including 14.4 last week. This week, Floyd gets a great matchup against the Rams, who rank dead last in pass efficiency against WR2’s. They have given up consecutive big games to Emmanuel Sanders (in three quarters), Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin. Floyd should be next on that list. For this pick, I am loading up on players to start him over.

Consider starting him over:
Pierre Garcon: ECR 47
Allen Hurns: ECR 41
Mohamed Sanu: ECR 33
Cecil Shorts: ECR 29
Eric Decker: ECR 35
Doug Baldwin: ECR 48

Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
FantasyPros ECR: 15

ODB has been essentially matchup-proof since breaking onto the scene in Week 5. In two straight difficult matchups, ODB has put up over 15 points in each. This week, Beckham gets a much easier ride against the Cowboys. As impressive as the Cowboys have been on defense given their lack of talent, they have their deficiencies as well. Dallas struggles against WR2’s, ranking 31st in defensive pass efficiency against that position. Expect ODB to put up big numbers in what is nothing more than a “pride” game for the reeling Giants.

Consider starting him over:
Roddy White: ECR 14
Jeremy Maclin: ECR 12

Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
FantasyPros ECR: 27

Boldin is another guy who has been on this list a few times recently, and he has yet to disappoint. SF is struggling on offense, but Boldin has been their most consistent weapon and put up big numbers when the matchup is right. Well, this week the matchup is right. The Redskins are a mess in many phases, but perhaps their greatest weakness is in their pass defense. Washington ranks 29th in overall defensive pass efficiency, and specific to Boldin, 28th against WR2’s. Additionally, Washington is actually quite good against the run, ranking 11th in efficiency. As the Niners already struggle to run the ball, I expect Colin Kaepernick to air it out more than usual against this porous secondary.

Consider starting him over:
Andre Johnson: ECR 19
Vincent Jackson: ECR 25

Tight End

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
FantasyPros ECR - 24

Ertz’s inconsistency and maddening lack of usage are well-documented. He simply isn’t utilized as he should be given his talents. But a lot of that was exacerbated when Mark Sanchez replaced Nick Foles, as Ertz was only targeted twice in Weeks 9 and 10, Sanchez’s first two games. Last week, albeit in comeback mode, Ertz saw seven targets and caught four for 55 yards. Given that Sanchez was unexpectedly thrust into the starter's role, perhaps Ertz was forgotten due to lack of familiarity with him. Sanchez was working with the 2nd team and rarely (if ever) saw a snap with Ertz. Jordan Mathews emergence could be explained the same way, as he had more familiarity with Sanchez than any other player in the starting lineup.

Off an encouraging seven targets last week, I think Sanchez is getting more comfortable with the starting receiving options and we could see Ertz’s utilization increase. Given the Titans struggles against the TE position, ranking 25th in defensive pass efficiency, I think Ertz will surprise some people this week. If he is on your bench, the frustration with him may only continue.

Consider starting him over:
Vernon Davis: ECR 22
Jordan Reed: ECR 17

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 12! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.


















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