fantasy baseball top picks

Fantasy baseball: New season

With spring training just two weeks away, fans from all over the world will be tuning in to see their favorite teams hit the diamond, as baseball returns for another season. Some fans will tune to see how the newest team additions will flourish in changes of scenery. Others will just want to see their favorite players and teams return to action.

For those taking part in fantasy baseball, a few other things are on the line, like bragging rights and possibly a cash prize. Many will have their own strategies going to the upcoming draft. Also, questions arise such as which position to pick first. When the player they want is taken off the board, who do they go with?

Every pick and every adjustment will count for those who wish to climb to the top of their leagues. Fantasy baseball can be fun, but also a grind considering the season consists of 162 games.

Let’s take a look at some of the top picks in the draft pool, and some of my own.

top Picks

ESPN.com indicates that Los Angeles Angels outfielder, Mike Trout, is the projected No. 1 overall pick on the draft board. This is surprising to some people solely on the fact that he missed a quarter of the 2017 season due to a thumb injury. But what he accomplished was nothing to sneeze at.

fantasy baseball top picks

Photo from artobaseball.net.

The six-time All-Star finished last season with a .306 batting average, 33 home runs and 22 stolen bases, not to mention he had a career-high slugging percentage at .629.

Following Trout is Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.  The league leader in batting average and American League MVP was an instrumental piece in the Astros’ title run. The 27-year-old has posted at least a .313 batting average in each of his last four seasons. Do not let the 24 home runs fool you. He has messed with the best on the pitcher’s mound.

MLB.com has identified Dodgers ace, Clayton Kershaw, as the top pitching prospect in the fantasy pool, and with good reason. Kershaw has consistently shown the danger he brings to the opponent’s batting lineup, not to mention he is a seven-time All-Star. Kershaw led the NL in ERA in five of the last seven seasons and has won three Cy Young awards in a four-year span at one point.

More High-Profile Names

Another top-five pick to come after before anyone else is Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Although his defensive prowess has landed him in the spotlight, his batting has been catching fire in recent years. The 26-year-old smashed at least 37 homers in each of the last three seasons, and his .309 batting average last season is the highest of his career.

fantasy baseball top picks

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

And how about Arenado’s defense? He has won a Gold Glove award in each of his five seasons, along with Wilson Defensive Player of the Year honors for his position in each of the last three seasons. Must I present further proof?

Another pitcher that should be on everybody’s radar is Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale. The six-time All-Star pitched with the White Sox in his first seven seasons before being traded to Boston in 2017. It is safe to say that he hasn’t lost a step. Sale went 17-8 in his first season in Boston and posted a 2.90 ERA.

Sale still hasn’t won a Cy Young yet, but blink once and you will foolishly miss what Sale can deliver.

Moving Forward

As the draft approaches, here are a few pieces of advise for anyone getting into fantasy sports for the first time.

First, keep an eye on any notifications from the league, specifically for injuries. The sooner you find out any of your players are injured, the sooner you can react and adjust to fill in the ranks.

Second, do not be afraid if you are not very satisfied with your picks. You are not forced to keep all players you picked for the entire season. Throughout the season, you can pick and choose from the hundreds of players still in the pool after the draft has passed.

And with that, I wish the many taking part in the next fantasy season good luck.

 

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Fantasy football awards

2017 fantasy football awards

With the fantasy football playoffs underway, it’s time to recognize some of the best players in fantasy this season. Here are the awards for the players who thrived and to some who were disappointments.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara

The first award for Rookie of the Year is New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara.

Fantasy football awards

Alvin Kamara (Photo from usatoday.com)

It looked as if it could’ve been down to Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. But since Week 6, Kamara has been the No. 1 running back as well as the highest scoring back. In 13 weeks of football, Kamara has over 1,200 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns. The overall stats for Kamara are 606 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, as well as 614 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

He currently ranks second in fantasy points at the position and 15th among overall players.

Biggest busts: Amari Cooper & Terrelle Pryor

In fantasy, there are always players who should do well, but just struggle. These players just don’t meet expectations. This year we have two recipients, and they go to wide receivers Amari Cooper and Terrelle Pryor.

For Cooper, he was a consistent second-round pick, and through 13 weeks, he is currently ranked the 37th wide receiver with 80.3 fantasy points. He only has 42 receptions, 499 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. He only has four games where he scored 10 points or more. In 2016, he finished as the 12th best receiver.

As for Pryor, he was picked right around where Cooper was and went from fantasy potential to fantasy disappointment. In nine games, he only has a total of 30 fantasy points and averaged just 3.3 points per game. This comes after a year when Pryor logged a 1,000-yard campaign with the Browns and finished in the top 20 at the position in fantasy. He is now out for the season and finished WR90 after a bust 2017 season.

Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year: Todd Gurley

Not every player has a great season, but great players can rebound after a disappointing year. In 2017, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley bounced back in one of the leagues’ top scoring offenses.

Fantasy football awards

Todd Gurley (Photo from latimes.com)

Gurley finished the regular fantasy season as the No. 1 running back and seventh overall player. He has averaged 20 points per game this season with 939 rushing yards, 563 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

Last year, he finished as the 20th running back with 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Gurley clearly improved with the new offense under Sean McVay.

Sympathy Award: Aaron Rodgers

In fantasy, there’s that one good player that is the soul of your team. For most, it was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He went down with a broken collarbone in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings. For the fantasy owners of Rodgers, we give you this award to ease the pain.

Through five weeks, Rodgers had 1,367 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. He was on pace for another solid fantasy season where he was the No. 1 overall player in fantasy points. At the time before Week 6, he was the sixth overall player in fantasy and fifth among quarterbacks.

There have been reports he was off the injured reserve and could come back in Week 15. But for some, it’s too late. If you survived without him after his injury, then kudos to you. For most, it was heartbreaking, and we hope next year Rodgers can bounce back again.

Best Kicker: Greg Zuerlein

For some thinking why I included this award, it’s because kickers are players too. Every once in a while, a kicker wins for you when your down by five or less and need that one kick. This year, there was no one as dominant as Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein.

Fantasy football awards

Greg Zuerlein (Photo from turfshowtimes.com)

Zuerlein has accumulated 167 fantasy points. That’s 32 more points than the next kicker Stephen Gotskowski. As an overall player, he is the 25th best player. That’s better than players like Julio Jones, LeSean McCoy, A.J. Green and Rob Gronkowski. He’s even currently outscoring players like DeAndre Hopkins, who is averaging 13.5 points per game to Zuerlein’s 13.9. Thats unheard of. He’s even outscoring running backs ranked fourth and lower, and that includes Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt. That’s incredible coming from a kicker.

It should be noted he is part of a top scoring offense, but he is capitalizing no matter where he has to kick from. He truly should be recognized as a fantasy beast in 2017.

Fantasy MVP: Russell Wilson

Finally, the fantasy MVP award goes to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Through the 13 weeks of football, Wilson has scored 279.4 fantasy points. This season, he has thrown for 3,256 yards, rushed for 432 yards and has 29 total touchdowns. He has contributed 29 of the 30 touchdowns on offense for the Seahawks this season. If that doesn’t convince you, another big component to his success is consistency, averaging 23.3 points per game.

Wilson has finished in the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in eight of 11 games played. Not only is he a prototype player, he is basically the Seattle offense. It’s not just throwing touchdowns that makes him MVP, it’s his ability outside the pocket to create plays.

Other awards

Some other considerations this season include the following.

The best wavier wire player award goes to Robby Anderson of the New York Jets. He went from undrafted in most of leagues to now a top 10 receiver in fantasy. Since Week 6, he has been the third best receiver, averaging 13.8 fantasy points per game.

The next award for a good start to downhill is Kareem Hunt. Hunt exploded for 45.6 points in the Chiefs’ season opener. He followed that up with 25.9, 25.3, 16.1, 14.6, 16.0, and 15.7-point performances in PPR leagues in the following six weeks, making him the No. 2 back through Week 7. Since then, he’s dropped to 38th and hasn’t cracked 11 points in a game since mid-October.

The most memorable week in fantasy this year goes to Julio Jones. He has been a disappointment all year, but in Week 12 against the Buccaneers, he went on a tear with 50 points in PPR. That matchup accounted for more than a quarter of his total points this season.

Finally, the most improved player this year is Adam Thielen. The Minnesota Vikings receiver went from the 29th wide receiver in 2016 to top 10 in 2017. He is on pace to surpass his total points from last year and become the first Viking since Sidney Rice back in 2009 to have 1,000 yards receiving. He doesn’t have a lot of touchdowns, but he’s averaging 88 yards a game, which is fourth among receivers as well as the fourth best receiving yards.

 

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Cam Newton fantasy football

Should you start Cam Newton in fantasy football Week 14?

Cam Newton has enjoyed a bounce-back season from last year. After an abysmal season with 52.9 completion percentage, 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, Newton has been better in basically every category.

His fantasy status has jumped up as well. After finishing last season as the 17th ranked quarterback in standard leagues, Newton has bumped all the way up to the fifth in 2017.

Now he faces his toughest matchup of the year against the great Vikings defense. With fantasy football entering the postseason, it leaves fantasy owners wondering if Newton is worth a start in Week 14.

Case for starting him

Newton hasn’t been perfect for fantasy owners, but he has been good enough to start every week. Arguably the best rusher on the team with 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns, Newton always has a chance to break off a big run and score rushing touchdowns in the red zone.

This will be the key against the Vikings. The Minnesota defense has one of the best secondaries led by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, so the run game will be necessary for the offense to flow.

The part of Newton’s game that fantasy owners reap from the most is his ability to run the football. If he does in fact succeed in running the football against Minnesota, then he’ll rack up the fantasy points for sure.

As for throwing the football and utilizing his weapons, Newton has found much more success recently. Newton has increased his chemistry immensely with Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess, plus this week he’ll be getting Greg Olsen and Ryan Kalil back.

Newton’s success depends on his receivers catch success and his offensive line. The drops have been plaguing Carolina as their inexperienced receiving corps is getting the best of them. With the return of Kalil, it will hopefully provide more stability for Newton and the Panthers offense.

There is a lot of big play ability with Newton, and his rushing ability makes him a viable start on Sunday. However, there is a reason to sit him.

Case for sitting him

Newton may be one of the most frustrating players for fantasy owners. He has the talent and the big play ability to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, but his inconsistency and attitude are holding him back.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Super Cam (Photo from IMG Academy)

As a passer, he has had inconsistencies in completion percentage and passing yards. Newton is averaging just 215 passing yards per game. If Newton struggles to run the ball, then his fantasy numbers may take a hit.

Going up against the strong Vikings defense, if Newton doesn’t play smart and use his weapons like he should, he may struggle on Sunday. His top target, Devin Funchess will be going up against Xavier Rhodes, who has locked down elite receivers all season because of his size and strength. Usually Newton and Funchess can connect with jump balls, but that may not be the case going up against Rhodes.

With the Vikings secondary being as good as they are, and the front seven locking down against an inconsistent Panthers offensive line, Newton is a low tier QB1.

Look for other options, but he isn’t a must bench in Week 14.

 

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Top 5 fantasy TE

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14

In week 13, Rob Gronkowski had a late hit on Tre’Davious White after he intercepted one of Tom Brady’s passes. This hit caused White to endure a concussion and gave him a one week suspension. This doesn’t only hit the Patriots hard, but it also is a huge loss for fantasy owners either already in their playoffs or trying to get into their playoffs.

Now fantasy owners have to try and replace Gronk and the waiver wire is the place to find viable options. Tight ends on the waiver wire won’t always get you points like Gronk does, but here are three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a rough 2017 season, but one of their bright spots has been rookie tight end O.J. Howard. In his first 12 games, he has hauled in 21 receptions for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Howard has found success in the end zone and has amassed more yards than people thought he would have by now. Also if need be, he’s a great fill in at tight end in fantasy.

The Buccaneers face the Detroit Lions in week 14, a team who is struggling to defend against the tight end in recent weeks. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Lions gave up three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown and gave up two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph the week before. O.J. Howard is facing some competition playing alongside Cameron Brate, but here’s why Howard should see your starting lineup instead.

In weeks nine through twelve, Howard out snapped Brate and put up two good weeks with three receptions for fifty yards in both. Even though Brate had a better game than Howard, it seems that Howard is the go to guy in Tampa Bay and he is a good fill in in week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

(Courtesy of; AL.com).

Julius Thomas (Miami Dolphins)

Julius Thomas has had a bounce back season in Miami in 2017. He’s had 37 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns, all of which have come within the last five weeks. Thomas has had a great stretch over his last five weeks with 20 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns. A trend which should continue in week 14 against the Patriots.

The Patriots have been mediocre against tight ends this season averaging an opposing 6.5 fantasy points per game against opposing tight ends. Julius Thomas found success against the Patriots already this year in week 12 when he caught five passes for 52 yards. The Dolphins are coming off of a huge week against the stout Denver defense exploding for 35 points.

They’ll look to continue this trend against New England, as will Julius Thomas if you decide to put him in your lineup week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

Dwayne Allen (New England Patriots)

The first name that comes to mind when replacing Rob Gronkowski is none other than his backup, Dwayne Allen. Allen hasn’t had a great start to his Patriots career, however he has been better as of late. When Gronk sat out week five against the Buccaneers, Allen played a season high 50 snaps. He also has been getting used much more in the passing game as of late.

In the last four weeks Allen has had five receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Before week 10, Allen hadn’t caught a pass all year so those numbers may not seem very strong, but compared to his early season struggles, he’s on the up and up. Allen isn’t the strongest candidate to replace Rob Gronkowski, but given that he’s in the same system and playing with Tom Brady, he deserves some consideration in replacing Gronk this week.

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Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Waiver wire pickups for Week 14 and the playoffs

Congratulations! If you are taking interest to this article, that means you most likely made your leagues’ playoffs.

It was an interesting fantasy season. We’ve seen unlikely fantasy stars such as Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs emerge as a weekly starter as the top quarterback for the first eight weeks. We also saw Ezekiel Elliott get suspended at the stretch of the season. Even the last week of the season, we saw a crazy end with Smith, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles as top finishers at quarterback while Tom Brady and Matt Ryan delivered single-digit numbers.

The biggest headline in fantasy was injuries. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Julian Edelman and others suffered injuries either before the season or midway through.

The big storylines go on and on, but there are more important things to cover as it is playoff time. The purpose of this article is to start the playoffs right by making decisions to advance to the next week, even if you earned a first-round bye. Here are the top waiver wire pickups for the start of the playoffs.

Running Back Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Peyton Barber (Photo from NFL.com)

With Doug Martin missing time due to a concussion, many expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the main back. However, it was Peyton Barber who led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards with a team-high 41 receiving yards on four catches. He racked up the first 100-yard rushing game for the Bucs this season. No one expected that.

If Martin is not available, Barber should continue to get carries and take over as the top dog in the Bucs’ backfield. If Martin does make a return, expect Barber to be the second back after his performance against the Packers.

He is set to be a RB2 as they play the Lions, who rank 28th against running backs.

Running Backs Theo Riddick and Tion Green, Detroit Lions

Ameer Abdullah’s neck injury opened things up in the Lions’ backfield as both running backs found the end zone. Theo Riddick gained 62 total yards on nine carries and five catches while Green had 51 yards on 11 carries.

As for which back to have, there is no wrong way to go depending on the league. Riddick is a better pick for PPR leagues and Green is better for standard leagues. Either way, both should have a solid day splitting reps against the Buccaneers run defense, which has yielded high rushing averages and lots of touchdowns over its last three games.

Look for Riddick to have more upside in fantasy especially with many banged-up backs and receivers. He has flex value in standard leagues. For Green, he should continue to be the preferred option around the goal line.

Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Marquise Goodwin (Photo from ninersnation.com)

With Pierre Garcon out for the year, Marquise Goodwin in the last four games has gained 68, 83, 78 and 99 yards, good for an average of 82 yards per game. Even with the switch at quarterback, Goodwin remained the top target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with that 99-yard outing against the Chicago Bears, he caught all of his eight targets. It seems Garoppolo has possibly found his No. 1 target for next year, and this is a good way to the end the year for Goodwin.

He has great matchups in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans, who rank 27th against receivers, and the Tennessee Titans, who are right in front of the Texans against receivers. This makes him a viable WR3/flex start the next two weeks.

Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets

This could go either way, but Jermaine Kearse is worth a look for depth. He has at least eight targets in each of his last three, and at least 15 fantasy points in each of his last two. Against the Chiefs, he caught nine of his 10 targets for 157 yards. Its evident that Robby Anderson is the top target, which make defenses try to limit him and put softer coverage on Kearse. Josh McCown has no problem leaning on Kearse in their pass-heavy offense.

He has three tough games ahead of him against the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, all ranked 12th or higher against receivers. The matchup next week against Denver isn’t the worst matchup as the Miami Dolphins torched them with 35 points. Dolphin receivers caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Josh McCown, New York Jets

My dark horse pickup, especially with the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford, is Josh McCown of the New York Jets. He had another solid fantasy day with multiple touchdowns in a high-scoring game against the Chiefs.

In his last eight he has posted double-digit points with over 20 points in his last two. He ranks as the 14th quarterback in fantasy this week according to Fantasy Pros, which is better than Alex Smith, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston, who are all on fantasy teams. Now he mostly picks that up with some garbage time, but the Jets have been a solid team all season at 5-7 within playoff contention. McCown continues to defy the odds and gets better as the season progresses.

McCown should be a QB2 on fantasy teams just in case, especially if you have Taylor and/or Stafford. Like Kearse, he isn’t a bad matchup against Denver.

 

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Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon fantasy football: Fantasy impact unlikely

Josh Gordon is set to play this week for the Cleveland Browns for the first time since 2014. Gordon has been on a roller coaster ride the past three years, being suspended for all of 2015 and 2016. He has not played in a regular-season game since December 2014. But head coach Hue Jackson per Pat McManamon of ESPN  has big plans for him to be a big part in the Cleveland offense.

“My plans for him? Oh boy, let me tell you,” Jackson said. “I got big plans for him. I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle.”

Jackson also praised the type of player Gordon is and how talented he is and we have seen it before. In 2013 he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646 even though he was suspended the first two games and receiving yards per game (117.6) and posted three consecutive 150-plus-yard games. That has been only done six other times in NFL history and only by Gordon since 1995. In 2014, he was suspended 10 games and finished 303 receiving yards and no touchdowns, catching 24 of 47 targets in five games.

Even though fantasy players are excited to see his return, the impact in fantasy looks unlikely he will perform at a high level. For one reason is the fact he hasn’t played in three seasons, the other is the quarterback situation.

Why Gordon is a Risk

There’s a similar story of Gordon’s return this year. We’ve seen this with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. He had a solid in 2014 when he had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on just 26 catches. In 2016 he was suspended for the whole season.

When he returned in 2017 he was expected to return to form, but he has been one of the biggest disappointments. In his 10 games, he’s averaged 2.7 catches for 34.6 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game. This has resulted in him asking to be traded and even one week as a healthy scratch.

Gordon has proven to be a better player then Bryant but is possible to become a bust as it has happened to a lot of players who have missed a year for substance violations, some have even never made it back to the NFL.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon (Photo by: seattlepi.com)

The other major factor is Cleveland’s quarterbacks. Cleveland hasn’t had a solid quarterback in a long time. But Gordon has proved to play well with a lower tier quarterback and even went through a trio of them including Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. He caught at least one touchdown from all three. But the difference in this situation is that they were experienced.

This year it is quite different. Rookie DeShone Kizer has struggled with only five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Along with that he could see Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Not the best group of quarterbacks compared to his monster 2013 season.

A small factor to consider but rather more side note is his game shape and if he’s fully ready to go. He hasn’t played a down in three seasons, so he may not have a big game right off the bat especially late in the season.

Why Gordon is worth the risk

But if there’s glimmer of hope, Gordon has proved to play well and posting huge numbers in a broken system. His 2013 season is the big reason why. He’s only 26 years old and still looks to be in his prime. Along with that, he’s their best receiver even missing this much time. The fact that Jackson is starting him right away and giving him a big workload gives the indicator that Cleveland needs some help anyway they can get it.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Gordon (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Gordon can also be a big turn around in the Cleveland offense. Per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke pointed out Gordon resides in impressive company when it comes to his field-stretching capabilities: “Most Yards Per Route Run since 06 (min 1000 routes): Julio, Brown, Odell, Green, Andre, Demaryius, Megatron, Steve Smith, Evans, Josh Gordon.”

And the good part about that is Kizer is good throwing the ball deep. In 2013, Gordon had the longest reception of 95 yards as well had the most 20-yard plus receptions with 30 and with the most 40-yard plus receptions with nine. The Browns are looking for some big plays and Gordon could be the x-factor to spice up the offense.

Don’t expect Gordon to return to Full form – yet

In the end though I don’t see Gordon producing much in the next four weeks. But Gordon is an intriguing add especially if your team is in the playoffs. For a team that needs to take that big risk, he’s definitely worth a roll of the dice if you’re a fantasy underdog but don’t expect a big game from him. For teams in no contention he isn’t worth the risk unless you like to steal him away if he hasn’t been picked up.

But this is a story to root for. It looks lie he has turned his life around and ready to be a full participant in the NFL. And I expect him to rebound next season. Looking forward to 2018, I rank Gordon a WR2 but has WR1 potential.

 

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Josh Gordon fantasy

Is Josh Gordon worth starting in fantasy football Week 13?

The big news that has surfaced in the NFL is the return of star wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon, who hasn’t played since 2014, was one of the NFL’s best receivers and has all the talent that still makes him a threat in the league today. The question that fantasy owners have is whether or not Josh Gordon is worth starting in fantasy football Week 13.

The case for starting gordon

The Browns have been waiting for a star offensive weapon in their lineup to spark this team to contend for a win this year. The last time Gordon played a full season was in 2013 and had a great year. Four seasons ago, Gordon caught 87 balls for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. There is hope that he can replicate those statistics this year.

The Browns go up against a Chargers defense that has been great against the pass this year. They are ranked 12th in the NFL in terms of opposing fantasy points per game, averaging only 17.4 fantasy points to wide receivers they’ve gone up against.

Because Gordon’s first taste of gameplay comes against a defense as good as Los Angeles’, it causes some concern. However, the raw talent that he possesses and the ability to play with any quarterback gives fantasy owners a reason to rejoice.

Gordon put up great numbers in 2014 with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw. Those quarterbacks combined for a 7-9 record while throwing for less than 4,000 yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Now Gordon has the rookie DeShone Kizer throwing to him, who has looked good in some parts of the season, especially last week against Cincinnati. Kizer didn’t commit a turnover and threw for 268 yards and rushed for 39 more yards and a touchdown.

Kizer now gets his top target back and is going to look to continue this trend of playing well against the Chargers in Week 13. Gordon has also looked very sharp in practice, has stayed in shape over his time off, is expected to play a key role on Sunday and won’t have a reduced snap count.

The case against starting gordon

Now let’s not move too fast. Gordon hasn’t played a snap in the NFL since 2014. Three years without going up against an opponent at game speed. That is going to be very difficult to come back from in one game, especially going up against the Chargers’ secondary. Gordon still has the ability to play in the NFL and succeed, but this week will not be the amazing week that some people may be expecting.

Casey Hayward and the Chargers’ secondary will prepare to shut down Josh gordon in Week 13 as he is the Browns’ top playmaker on offense, even after sitting out the time he has. The Chargers’ secondary is coming off of a great week, holding the Dallas Cowboy receivers to only 115 yards on ten receptions. Now going up against a much worse offensive line, run game and quarterback, it seems this trend may continue.

The lack of gameplay is the most concerning thing about Gordon’s return. It is very rare for a player to come off of a long break and succeed immediately. Marshawn Lynch took only one year off and hasn’t looked nearly the same since he retired in 2016.

It will take time for Josh Gordon to reintroduce himself to the competition of elite cornerbacks and safeties. Keep Gordon out of your lineup in Week 13, but look to play him late in the season when the Browns face the Packers and Bears.

 

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Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones breaks through in fantasy with monster game

We all know how good Julio Jones is. He is one of the best receivers in the league. He has had his struggles this season, with only one touchdown and two 100-yard games through the Falcons’ first 10 games. However, through those 10 games, he has only had three games under 70 yards, which isn’t all that bad in fantasy, but not what you expect from Jones. In fantasy, he only had three double-digit games.

But Jones has reminded us all why he is still the best receiver in the game. He had a breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with season highs in catches (12), receiving yards (253) and two touchdowns.

Jones is back! Now with the performance fantasy owners have been waiting for, along with the Atlanta Falcons getting hot, Jones could be the key getting your team in the playoffs.

His breakout game

For much of the game, Jones had more total yards than the entire Tampa Bay offense. He ended with 253 receiving yards, while Tampa Bay had 283 receiving yards as a team and just as many scores.

The first big play for Jones was out of the wildcat on a 51-yard touchdown pass from receiver Mohamed Sanu. The other, just around five minutes later, showcased a double move so deadly that it left Buccaneers defensive back Ryan Smith on his backside. Jones dove over the pylon for his second score. In standard scoring, he had 38.8 points and in PPR he had 50.8 points.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones (Photo from bostonherald.com)

On a side note, Jones had some accomplishments after the game against the Bucs. His 253 yards was the most allowed by the Buccaneers in franchise history. He also passed Hall of Fame receiver Lance Alworth with most receiving yards through 90 games in NFL history.

Coming into this game, Jones had just one touchdown and his yards per game (78.6) were the third-worst of his career. In fantasy coming into Sunday, he had 84.6 fantasy points, averaging 8.5 per week, which ranked 23rd among receiving in standard scoring.

As said before, it’s just not been the best season for Jones, but not all that bad. He just hasn’t put up the fantasy stats that he usually does since he is lacking touchdowns. After this game, it looks as if Jones could be back on track, having big games down the stretch with the Falcons finding some luck.

What to expect at this point

The big question that comes to Jones is will he find the end zone on a consistent basis. We all know he’s capable because of how good he is, and now he’s getting some confidence in his game. He does have a tough hill to climb in three of his next four. He plays Minnesota next week, followed by New Orleans, Tampa Bay and New Orleans again.

Julio Jones fantasy

Julio Jones and Justin Hardy (Photo from usatoday.com)

His most difficult in terms of matchups is probably against the Vikings and Xavier Rhodes. Minnesota has an outstanding defense, but in terms of fantasy performance against opposing receivers, the Vikings haven’t been as dominant and have struggled in the past couple of weeks. Three weeks ago, Minnesota gave up 181 yards and a score to Redskins wide receivers. On Thanksgiving, Lions receivers caught 12 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the damage on Thanksgiving came from Marvin Jones Jr., who resembles to how the Falcons use Jones. Jones Jr. had six catches for 109 yards and two scores.

The matchup against the Saints could go either way. The biggest question is if rookie Marshon Lattimore will play. He was injured last week against Washington, and the Saints struggled against Washington’s receivers. He was also absent for the Saints’ Week 12 matchup with the Rams. Lattimore is a big reason for the improvement of the Saints secondary. If he plays, he could pose a challenge against Jones.

As for Tampa Bay, read the opening paragraph. Hint, pray you don’t play against him in fantasy that week.

Biggest Takeaway: Falcons are hot

The big takeaway of this is the Falcons are hot. After struggling to finish games earlier in the season, they have gained some momentum similar to last year.

In fantasy, they could have key players down the road if they keep playing like they have. Players like Sanu, Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman when he comes back and other offensive weapons could become a threat for fantasy players these next four weeks. If you have any Falcons players, use them accordingly, because this could be the time they have their best fantasy performances of 2017.

 

Featured image from si.com.

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Julio Jones fantasy

Is Week 12 a new start for Julio Jones?

Julio Jones has been one of the most productive and reliable wide receivers in fantasy football since he entered the league. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 220 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He is usually a solid first-round pick in fantasy football too. However, this year hasn’t been the same.

Through ten games of the 2017 NFL season, Julio Jones had 786 receiving yards and only one touchdown. Through ten games in 2016, Jones had 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There is clear regression in his play, and injuries and regression of quarterback play are clearly the reasons behind it.

Struggles

Through this season, Jones has had nagging injuries that have caused him to miss practices and snaps during games. In Week 4, Jones had to leave the game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hip flexor injury that caused him to miss extended time. Jones had offseason surgery to remove a bunion from his right foot after his 2016 season ended on a negative note due to turf toe, which kept him limited through the end of the season into the playoffs.

Other than injury, a cause of his decline may be the result of Matt Ryan’s play. After a terrific 2016 season capped off by a trip to the Super Bowl and an MVP award, Ryan has seen his play regress from last year, which is warranted. Through 11 games, he’s already thrown one more interception than he did all of last season and is on pace for a worse completion percentage. Last season marked Jones’ lowest reception per game stats since 2012. This season has been just the same.

Ryan has also gotten used to spreading the ball to his other receivers and running backs, causing a lack of receptions for Jones, who is on pace for 96 receptions this season. The emergence of Mohamed Sanu as a legitimate No. 2 receiver also has an effect on Jones. Sanu has already matched his touchdown receptions from last year and is on pace to top his yards and receptions from last year.

Bounce back

Julio Jones fantasy

(Photo by Matt Patterson/AP Photo)

Week 12 may be a bounce-back week for Julio Jones, and fantasy owners can rejoice. Jones exploded for 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He doubled his receptions per game and touchdowns and more than doubled his yards per game. Before this week, Jones was only the 23rd ranked receiver in standard leagues. Jones now outscored every other receiver while having his third career game over 250 receiving yards.

Should fantasy owners be expecting a return of the Julio Jones we all have come to love? Yes, they should. Over the last five games of the season, the Falcons go up against the Buccaneers, Vikings, Panthers and the Saints twice. Jones should continue to see the most targets on the team and should succeed in a big way against the Buccaneers again, as well as the Panthers. He may struggle against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary, but will continue to see more targets and more work in the red zone.

 

Featured image from bostonherald.com

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Fantasy football: Three injuries to watch for in week 12

The 2017 NFL season has seen key players all around the league go down with season-ending injuries. Like many other years, fantasy owners just have to adapt to injuries and move on with hopes of the backups play just as well. However, the hardest injuries to handle are the ones that linger with your players and cause them to be inactive some weeks and active but not one hundred percent other weeks. Here are three injuries to watch for week 12.

Jameis Winston (tampa bay buccaneers)

The shoulder injury has been nagging Winston since a week six loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Obviously a shoulder injury is something to watch for a quarterback and when Winston missed the second half of the game against the New Orleans Saints. After that game, head coach of the Buccaneers Dirk Koetter, told the media that he would be shutting down his sat quarterback for several weeks to let his shoulder heal.

Now the Buccaneers travel to Atlanta to face off against division rival Falcons. Winston has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons which means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for the Buccaneers. Last week without Jameis Winston we saw the Buccaneers beat the Dolphins 30-20 with “Fitzmagic” throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick is merely a desperation start if need be, but otherwise he should stay out of your lineup.

Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)

Three injuries to watch for week 12.

(Photo Credit:http://www.sportingnews.com)

In the first quarter of a 27-7 win against the Dallas Cowboys, Devonta Freeman took a helmet-to-helmet hit and endured his second concussion of his career. Freeman sat out last week’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks as Tevin Coleman took over lead back duties and struggled. Coleman rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown on 20 rushes against the very solid Seahawks defense.

 

Freeman didn’t practice Wednesday and was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice which is a good step but it seems like he won’t be suiting up in Sunday’s contest against Tampa Bay.

If he does in fact sit out Sunday’s game, it will be Tevin Coleman taking over lead back duties once again as he looks to bounce back against the weaker Buccaneers defense. Plug in Coleman as a steady RB2 and if you’re desperate, pick up Terron Ward to fill a void in your lineup.

Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)

Cam Newton’s favorite target looks like he’s about to make a return to the field in week 12 against the New York Jets. This is a necessity as the Panthers traded away Kelvin Benjamin and lost Curtis Samuel for the year due to injury. Olsen has participated in practice Monday and Wednesday this week and Ron Rivera has said that Olsen is looking good for Sunday’s matchup against the New York Jets.

The Panthers receivers have struggled with drops, other than Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess, so the addition of Greg Olsen to their lineup should give Cam Newton more consistency in the passing game.

Olsen is going to have to fight for targets from Funchess and McCaffrey but he will definitely see his fair share as outside of those three guys, there isn’t many more reliable receivers fighting for targets on the Panthers. Greg Olsen is a TE1 this week and should be started in all formats.

 

Feature Image courtesy of Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

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