Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks week 11

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 11 NFL picks.

Last week: 12-2

Overall: 86-59

Teams on byes: Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Jets, San Francisco

Thursday Night

Tennessee Titans (6-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2):

 

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

(Photo Credit: https://thevikingage.com)

Detroit Lions (5-4) 27 @ Chicago Bears (3-6) 16: When the Bears finally decided to start Mitchell Trubisky some thought they would make a run at the playoffs because Aaron Rodgers went down. The Bears are not going to do that and will be lucky to win six games this season but the future is bright. Matthew Stafford should have a field day at Soldier Field to send the Bears to 3-7.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) 23 @ Cleveland Browns (0-9) 6: Cleveland will get another step closer to 0-16 this week as the Jaguars come to town. Jacksonville’s defense could force a shutout this week as they are allowing the fewest points per game at 14.9 while the Browns are averaging just 15.9 points per game. It would be a major upset if the Browns found a way to win.

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) 20 @ Green Bay Packers (5-4) 22: Neither team is really good but the Packers are struggling because they lost Aaron Rodgers. Baltimore is struggling because they have no offense. The edge should go to Baltimore because they are coming off a bye but they have to travel to Lambeau. I have no clue what will happen in this game but I have a feeling that Brett Hundley will have a big game.

Los Angeles Rams (7-2) 23 @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2) 24: This is the best game of the week and it should be in primetime. Both teams are 7-2 and in a battle for the second seed in the NFC. It is also a clash of styles with as the Rams have the third-ranked offense and the Vikings have the fifth-ranked defense. Typically in the past, when top defenses square off against top offenses the defenses win. That, paired with the Vikings playing at home gives Minnesota the edge. The Vikings win to continue their path towards a Super Bowl run.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) 27 @ Miami Dolphins (4-5) 26: These two teams are playing the game they missed in week one due to Hurricane Irma. Both teams were expected to make a playoff appearance but now it looks like neither will as both have looked horrible this season. This will be a dull game that is watched by few. Heck, picking the winner might come down to a coin toss. Actually, it will be a coin toss. Heads Tampa wins, tails Miami wins. It was heads.

Washington Redskins (4-5) 21 @ New Orleans Saints (7-2) 37: When looking at Washington all you can see is an average team which is why they continue to float around .500. Their loss to the Vikings all but ended their season. Traveling to New Orleans is going to make it even more unlikely that Washington makes a run at the playoffs. New Orleans, on the other hand, is on a seven-game win streak. Many are picking the Saints as the favorite to win the NFC. Washington will not be able to keep up with the Saints’ offense and fall in the Superdome.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) 27 @ New York Giants (1-8) 20: Kansas City is in need of a confidence builder and this is the perfect opportunity. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four games but are still one of the top teams in the AFC. The Giants are fighting for the top overall pick in the draft and are in tank mode. When this ends the score may be close but the game will never be in question. Kansas City will get back to their winning ways.

Arizona Cardinals (4-5) 24 @ Houston Texans (3-6) 21: Two or three weeks ago this would be an easy game to pick. Without DeShaun Watson, the Texans are struggling. The defense is banged up as well which means the Texans have nothing to rely on. The Cardinals are also banged up but are more prepared for the injuries they have. Arizona will ride Adrian Peterson to a win.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus NFL picks week 11

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Buffalo Bills (5-4) 14 @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-6) 24: Buffalo has made a quarterback change in the midst of a playoff race. This tells us one thing, they truly don’t believe they can make the playoffs. They are trying to get their young quarterback ready for the future with game time experience. Los Angeles plays good defense and will make it a huge challenge for Nathan Peterman. Los Angeles will win this game with a great defensive performance and two touchdown day from Melvin Gordon.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) 21 @ Denver Broncos (3-6) 20: Cincinnati and Denver are both 3-6 but the Bengals have looked better thus far. Cincinnati is still playing great defense while the Broncos have stopped excelling at everything. Denver will not be able to win this game because their offense is anemic. Andy Dalton will have one of the best games of his career to give the Bengals a win.

New England Patriots (7-2) 27 @ Oakland Raiders (4-5) 24: It seems like each week Oakland is playing in a must-win game. Once they get to six losses they will really be in must-win games if they want to make the playoffs. New England is still hot and rolling like they typically do. This game is in Mexico City and the Patriots have prepared for it by practicing in Denver all week. New England will win because they are going to be more prepared than Oakland.

Sunday Night

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) 24 @ Dallas Cowboys (5-4) 27: This is an obvious trap game for Philly. All divisional games are difficult but this one will be even more difficult. The Eagles will be traveling to Jerry World to face the Cowboys who will be without Ezekiel Elliot or Sean Lee. Everyone is expecting the Eagles to win because they are both good and Dallas is banged up. If Dallas is going to win this game they are going to need a huge night from Dak Prescott. They will get it and Dallas will upset Philadelphia.

Monday Night

Atlanta Falcons (5-4) 24 @ Seattle Seahawks (6-3) 20: A win by the Falcons and they could throw themselves right into the thick of the wildcard race again. Atlanta has been struggling on offense this season but they will be able to score this week. Seattle just lost Richard Sherman for the season. He is the heart and soul of the defense and without him, the defense will lose their spark. The offensive line is also the weak unit of the offense and the Falcons will feast on it. Atlanta will win this game behind their defense.

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NFL Week 11 picks

Week 11 NFL picks against the spread

After going 5-8-1 against the spread last week, my record for the year now sits at 64-76-6. The climb back towards a respectable record starts this week. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk, and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Thursday Night

Titans at Steelers (-7) – Tennessee is on a four-game winning streak, but three of those wins were Indianapolis, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The Steelers are a significant step up. The emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster has made the offense all the more dangerous, and being at home seems to shield them from slow starts like last week.

NFL Week 11 picks

Photo: from cincyjungle.com

The Titans may need to put up over 30 points in this one, something they haven’t done since the start of their winning streak. Pittsburgh is just a little more consistent on both sides of the ball at the moment. They will pull away late. Pit 31 Ten 21

Sunday

Cardinals (-1.5) at Texans – This game will feature a quarterback duel between Tom Savage and Blaine Gabbert. How can you not be pumped up for that?

Sarcasm aside, Arizona has at least shown an occasional ability to let Adrian Peterson carry them to victory in recent weeks. With Deshaun Watson hurt, Houston has not managed to come close to finding a similar winning formula. Ari 16 Hou 9

Ravens (-2) at Packers – This is a coin flip. The Packers finally figured out how to look like an NFL offense without Aaron Rodgers last week, but the injuries are piling up. The offensive line and backfield are now affected. It is easy to say “next man up,” but a team can only overcome so much.

Baltimore’s offense was not playoff worthy early in the year, but all the teams in the AFC Wild Card race have the same issue. The spark provided by Alex Collins in recent weeks has at least made them a realistic part of that conversation. In a game of struggling offenses, Baltimore’s defense is better. Bal 23 GB 20

Lions (-3) at *Bears – The Bears are undermanned and have serious limitations on offense, but they continue to manage it pretty well. Even though it is not showing up in the form of wins, John Fox may need to save his job. Chicago can run the ball and play defense against anyone.

The one thing Chicago cannot do is fall behind early. The good news this week is Detroit waits until the fourth quarter to start playing almost every week. The Lions are in the playoff hunt and every game is big. They tend to struggle in that situation. Chicago is just a bad matchup for them this week. Chi 19 Det 16

Jaguars (-7.5) at Browns – For the first time in a long time, Jacksonville is in the thick of the playoff hunt. Doug Marrone and his players deserve a ton of credit. However, the offense is still a one-man show centered around Leonard Fournette. Surprisingly, Cleveland’s run defense is top five in the league. With the offense coming off its best game of the year, the Browns should keep this close, and getting their first win is not out of the question. Jac 19 Cle 14

Chiefs (-10) at Giants – Kansas City has lost three of its last four after a 5-0 start. However, the Giants just lost to the hapless 49ers and are growing more dysfunctional by the hour. Additionally, Andy Reid is 16-2 in games following a bye week during his coaching career. There is absolutely nothing to suggest this game will be anything other than a bloodbath, which should make anyone who bets it nervous. KC 30 NYG 13

*Rams at Vikings (-2.5) – Two of this year’s most pleasant surprises face off here. The Vikings defense is very good, but the Rams have gashed every defense they have faced this year. So, it may not matter.

Teddy Bridgewater is a fantastic story. However, the fact that there was even a discussion about him replacing Case Keenum this week makes you wonder if Mike Zimmer is looking to fix something that isn’t broke. It is the kind of delicate situation that can ruin a team if it isn’t handled properly.

In the short term, the Rams offense is in touch more explosive. That gives them the edge here. In the long-term, Minnesota had better be very careful in regards to its quarterback situation. LAR 28 Min 27

Buccaneers at Dolphins (-1) – This game is taking place 10 weeks later than originally scheduled due to Hurricane Irma. Both of these teams have been disappointments this year. Last week aside, Miami has been better at winning ugly.

The Dolphins defense got absolutely leveled in Carolina last week, but the Bucs offense has not shown the capability to put up 45 points on anyone this year. The Dolphins defensive unit is actually pretty good and will be eager to bounce back from last week’s embarrassment. Mia 20 TB 17

Redskins at Saints (-7.5) – This season, the Saints have totally reinvented themselves on the fly. Their bread is now buttered via the running game and defense. Drew Brees may not be what he once was, but the 38-year-old quarterback is still plenty good enough to get the job done.

New Orleans has destroyed some really solid teams over the last seven weeks. Washington is not a terrible football team, but they don’t have the horsepower to keep up here. NO 30 Was 20

Bills at Chargers (-4) – Buffalo is panicking. After two straight blowout losses, they are turning to rookie mid-round draft pick Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Tyrod Taylor has not been the problem for the last two weeks. The problem has been giving up 81 combined points.

NFL Week 11 picks

Photo from si.com

For a team that still has a realistic shot at ending a 16-year playoff drought, the move is stranger than strange. The Chargers found yet another way to lose a close game last week. With Philip Rivers in concussion protocol, Kellen Clemens may get the call here. Even if that is the case, the Los Angeles pass rush should be enough to overwhelm the rookie signal caller on the other side. LAC 27 Buf 19

Bengals at Broncos (-2.5) – The seasons for both these teams have gone off the rails in a big way. Denver is at home and some of their struggles have come against three of the best teams in football. Moreover, Brock Osweiler and the offense made some strides last week. It is hard to come up with any positives like the ones above for the Bengals. Denver should benefit from a much needed step down in opposition. Den 28 Cin 21

Patriots (-6.5) at Raiders (Mexico) – New England has become the well-oiled machine we are used to after a slow start. They are doing everything well right now. The Raiders high-powered offense has disappeared. They have scored fewer than 20 points in five of their last seven games.  Especially since this is not a true road game, the Patriots should keep rolling here. NE 34 Oak 20

Eagles (-3) at *Cowboys – It is rare for a home team to be an underdog in a rivalry game. When it applies, taking the points is always wise.

Too much is being made of what happened to Dallas in Atlanta last week. The Falcons are built to play in their building. They make a lot of teams look bad there. The same thing happened to Green Bay earlier this year. The Packers turned out fine until their Hall of Fame quarterback got hurt.

The Cowboys have had another week to adjust to life without Ezekiel Elliott. The loss of Sean Lee on defense may be tough to overcome, but they match up well with all of their division rivals.

As good as the Eagles are, they are still a pretty young football team. Going on the road to face the defending division champions is their toughest test yet. It is hard not to have serious doubts about whether any young team is ready for something like this. Dal 24 Phi 20

Monday Night

Falcons at Seahawks (-3) – Both of these teams are very talented, but this is a pretty simple matchup. Seattle is the better team and has lost just two home games in two years. Atlanta has struggled on the road as of late and has had a hard time scoring on a consistent basis this year. Seattle is not the place to go to fix those issues. Sea 22 Atl 14

 

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2017 NFL picks Week 10

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 10

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the No. 1 priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 10 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-5

Overall: 74-57

Teams on byes: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland Philadelphia

Thursday Night

Seattle Seahawks (5-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-4):

Sunday Morning

2017 NFL picks Week 10

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

New Orleans Saints (6-2) 24 @ Buffalo Bills (5-3) 20: This game could turn into a defensive battle, which sounds crazy when the Saints are involved. New Orleans is only giving up 15.4 points per game in their last five games. That is pretty impressive for a franchise that has recently been terrible defensively.

This game will come down to who can make the plays on offense. The edge is highly in favor of an offense led by Drew Brees. The win streak stays alive another week.

Green Bay Packers (4-4) 17 @ Chicago Bears (3-5) 20: The oldest rivalry in the NFL will be writing another chapter this week, this time without Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has destroyed the Bears throughout his career. Rodgers has gone 15-4 against Chicago, throwing for 4,596 yards, 42 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

He has been the difference maker consistently. Without him, the Packers are going to struggle. Because of great defense and a solid run game, the Bears will win this chapter at Soldier Field.

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) 24 @ Washington Redskins (4-4) 16: Washington got a big win last week in Seattle, and a lot of people see it as a season-changing win. Because of that win, they will be the favorites.

Not many people believe in the Vikings, but they are a good team. Their defense will cause a major problem for Kirk Cousins, and with two weeks to prepare, Minnesota will go to the nation’s capital to show they are a team that nobody will want to see come January.

Cleveland Browns (0-8) 19 @ Detroit Lions (4-4) 31: Cleveland is coming off a bye, but that won’t help them in the motor city. The Browns are a bad team that Matthew Stafford can, and will pick apart.

Cleveland gives up 229.2 passing yards per game. Stafford will have over 300 this week to send the Browns seven games away from a winless season.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) 21 @ Tennessee Titans (5-3) 28: Tennessee is winning games without Marcus Mariota playing up to his ability, which should make Titan fans happy. Tennessee is winning these games because they are protecting and running the ball.

The Titans are 10th in rushing, averaging 117.9 yards per game. Cincy struggles to stop the run, giving up 116.5 yards per game. That will be their downfall in this game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) 38 @ Indianapolis Colts (3-6) 21: This game is another game that should not be close at all. The Steelers have a top 10 offense, putting up 363.8 yards per game while the Colts have the 31st ranked defense.

Pittsburgh’s defense will lock down the elementary offense while the Steelers offense will easily put up points. Pittsburgh will have over 500 total yards to get to 7-2.

New York Jets (4-5) 24 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) 27: Tampa Bay is going to win this game somehow. It just has the feeling of a game the Jets would find a way to lose.

Jameis Winston has been shut down and will not play. The Jets win and lose games they shouldn’t, and this is the perfect game for the same to occur. Ryan Fitzpatrick will get a chance to play his former team and will want to make a statement.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) 21 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) 23: This is going to be a hard-fought defensive game. Leonard Fournette is coming off his suspension and will be looking to prove how valuable he is.

Philip Rivers is going to try and force the ball, and Jacksonville’s elite secondary will make him pay. Jacksonville will win this game because of this and get to an impressive 6-3.

Sunday Afternoon

2017 NFL picks Week 10

(Photo by Scott Varley, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Houston Texans (3-5) 17 @ Los Angeles Rams (6-2) 34: Los Angeles has the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Houston is dealing with injuries all over the field and will need to put up at least 30 points to have a chance.

Tom Savage is incapable of putting up that many points. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will be the difference that leads Los Angeles to a win.

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) 31 @ Atlanta Falcons (4-4) 30: Atlanta is trying to stay in the playoff race, but another loss could really hamper that goal. Atlanta’s offense is not producing to the same level as last season, and Matt Ryan looks average at best.

Dallas is still dealing with the sage of Ezekiel Elliott’s possible suspension. With or without Zeke, the Cowboys will win this week due to the fact that Dak Prescott will outperform the reigning MVP.

New York Giants (1-7) 23 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-9) 24: This will be an absolute snoozefest. Last week I thought the 49ers would get their first win of the season, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

This will be the week, or they will go 0-16. The Giants are just as bad as they are. The only reason the 49ers will win this game is that it is in San Francisco.

Sunday Night

New England Patriots (6-2) 41 @ Denver Broncos (3-5) 21: There is no reason to think this will be a close game. These teams are trending in opposite directions. The Patriots were off to a slow start, but have begun to resemble the team everyone is used to seeing in New England. Denver is still looking for Peyton Manning’s replacement and has wasted away a great defense because of it. New England will win this one comfortably.

Monday Night

Miami Dolphins (4-4) 7 @ Carolina Panthers (6-3) 27: All we hear is that Cam Newton can’t do this or he can’t do that, yet he continues to lead Carolina to wins. He may not consistently beat teams with his arm, but he can still get it done on the ground.

Carolina also quietly has one of the best defenses in the league. Shutting down Jay Cutler will not be a problem for the Panthers, and they will find themselves at 7-3.

 

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Is Doug Martin a number one fantasy running back with Winston sidelined?

Doug Martin fantasy: Now a number one option?

Jameis Winston has been dealing with a shoulder injury that has caused him to underperform in recent weeks. The preseason darkhorse for MVP hasn’t performed quite like people thought he would to start this season. Through eight games in 2017, Winston has thrown for 1,920 yards, ten touchdowns and six interceptions, while leading his team to a sub par 2-6 record.

People thought he and the Bucs would be much better in 2017 but they haven’t lived up to the hype. Now Winston is sidelined for a couple of weeks to rehab his shoulder and the question remains, is Doug Martin a number one fantasy running back with Winston sidelined?

The case for Martin as a RB1

Doug Martin had a three-game suspension to start this NFL season. During the offseason, and leading into preseason, he looked like an absolute beast. He cut back on his fatty foods and increased his training to six days a week, cutting out body fat and becoming leaner and stronger. To start this season, Martin hasn’t found as much success as previous years.

Through five games in 2017, Martin has 73 rush attempts for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The Muscle Hamster has faced some tough defenses since his return to action going up against the Panthers and Bills, among others in three of his first five games. That may be a reason for some of his struggles, but don’t be hesitant to start him in upcoming weeks.

Since Winston initially went down with his shoulder injury, Doug Martin received 18 and 20 carries in back-to-back games respectively. This shows fantasy owners that Tampa Bay isn’t afraid to go with a ground and pound offense when their star quarterback is less than 100 percent. Excluding last game where the whole Bucs team got shut down by the Saints, Martin has found more success with more volume of carries.

Now in the next two games, Doug Martin and the Buccaneers offense goes up against the sub par New York Jets defense and the sub par Miami Dolphins defense where, if given more volume, he can find success for the Buccaneers and fantasy owners.

The case against Martin as a RB1

Doug Martin fantasy

https://i.sportstalkflorida.com

Now many people may be skeptical as putting Martin in as their number one running back when he hasn’t done much to prove he’s worthy of that. He’s only put together two good games since re-joining the league in week four and those games were against the two worst defenses he’s gone up against.

Against the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals, Martin had 13 and 14 fantasy points respectively. As a matter of fact, both of his big games have come when he has found the end zone. He’s failed to do that in the last three weeks, which may be a main reason as to his fantasy struggles. That issue may not be resolved with the loss of Winston and Mike Evans this week against the Jets.

Another red flag during Martin’s 2017 season has been his sub par yards per attempt. So far he has put up a weak 3.5 yards per attempt, the second worst mark of his career. This may be because of the 27th ranked offensive line of the Buccaneers. The run game comes directly from the guys up front an if they can’t execute their blocks, Martin has no chance to succeed in the next coming weeks.

Saying Martin is going to regress with Winston out is unlikely, but I wouldn’t put him as a clear RB1. I would place Martin in the high end RB2 category with RB1 potential.

 

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Week 10 NFL picks

Week 10 NFL picks against the spread

I continued to tread water last week with a mark of 6-6-1 against the spread. Upon the arrival of Week 10, 59-68-5 is where I stand for the year. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Thursday Night

Seahawks (-6) at Cardinals – Even after a last-second loss last week, Seattle is fine. Sometimes the opposing quarterback makes a couple great throws and you get beat. Three missed field goals also did not help matters, but that happens sometimes too.

Arizona may be able to rely exclusively on Adrian Peterson against winless San Francisco, but not an angry Seattle team. Drew Stanton will have to play the game of his life for his team to have a chance here. It is nearly impossible to expect that from a career backup. Sea 27 Ari 13

Sunday

Bengals at Titans (-4.5) – The Titans offense is still very pedestrian. Fortunately for them, they are battling Jacksonville for the division title and teams like Baltimore for a possible Wild Card spot. All those teams have similar issues.

This pick has more to do with the opponent. I am officially out on the Bengals after the way they were dominated in Jacksonville last week. It is one thing when a guy like Vontaze Burfict loses his cool. However, when a model citizen like A.J. Green loses his cool, it is time to clean house. Ten 21 Cin 13

Browns at Lions (-12.5) – The Lions proved me wrong and did exactly what they should have done against a shorthanded opponent last week. They find themselves in a similar spot here. It would be insane to pick the winless Browns, but they are still playing hard. One week does not change a recent history of struggling in strange spots for Detroit.  Det 31 Cle 20

Packers at Bears (-5.5) – My goodness, the Brett Hundley led Packers looked awful last week. I really thought they would be okay at home coming off a bye, but they were dominated by Detroit. The advantages Green Bay had before the game last week are gone, and Chicago has improved in all phases of the game in recent weeks. Aaron Rodgers is not saving the day anytime soon. Chi 20 GB 13

*Chargers at Jaguars (-4) – Blake Bortles has actually been a key part of Jacksonville’s last two wins. This team might actually be around for the long haul. However, the Chargers pass rush is one of the best kept secrets in football, and the Jags defense will have a much tougher time controlling a borderline future Hall of Famer like Philip Rivers as opposed to the other quarterbacks they have dealt with in recent weeks. LAC 27 Jac 24

Vikings (-1) at *Redskins – This is the toughest pick of the week for me. Minnesota’s quarterback situation continues to evolve, and they continue to win. That speaks to how good the rest of the roster is.

Week 10 NFL picks

Photo from NBC Sports

However, what Kirk Cousins pulled off in Seattle last week with a third of the roster battling injuries was nothing short of remarkable. It felt like a turning point for Washington’s season as well as his career. Everyone who has bought in to Cousins has eventually been burned.

I have never bought in until now. The Redskins’ playoff run starts with him leading his team to a mini upset here. Jay Gruden also deserves a ton of credit for the way he has worked around all the injuries. Was 21 Min 20

Saints (-3) at Bills – I am also out on Buffalo after last week. They had a golden opportunity to tighten their grip on their first playoff spot in 18 years and got run over by the Jets. Sean McDermott is the right guy in the long-term. However, with their remaining schedule, they needed to win last week. It looks like we are headed for at least one more year of the “same old Bills.”

Meanwhile, the Saints have given up losing after dropping their first two games. Drew Brees finally has a running game and a defense to help him out. New Orleans looks unstoppable because of it. NO 30 Buf 20

Jets (-2.5) at Buccaneers – The Bucs are the third and final member of my “officially out” club after last week. Jameis Winston clearly has the talent to be the building block of an NFL franchise, but not the maturity. His lack of maturity seems to have spread to the entire roster.

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will fill in for an injured Winston for the next few weeks. With the team sitting at 2-6, it hardly matters. The good news is Tampa Bay does have some good players, and the maturity issue is fixable, but not with this coaching staff.

Conversely, you will not find a coach who has done a better job this year than Todd Bowles. He has a team that many people predicted to go winless on the brink of being .500 in mid-November. Whatever he is selling, his guys are clearly buying in. NYJ 17 TB 10

Week 10 NFL picks

Photos from nocoastbias.com

Steelers (-10) at Colts – Indianapolis is awful, but not as awful as everyone thinks. With Jacoby Brissett at the helm, the Colts have won three games and lost two others by three points or less. They are a few bounces of the ball away from being a .500 football team.

The Steelers are one of a handful of AFC teams with six wins. As long as Le’Veon Bell is the centerpiece of the offense, they will remain tough to deal with.

Pittsburgh has more firepower and will win. However, they have a tendency to play down to their competition. This will be closer than it should be. Pit 28 Ind 24

Texans at Rams (-11.5) – Normally, swallowing this many points in an NFL game is foolish, but the Rams are rolling right now, and we saw what the Texans are without Deshaun Watson last week. 11.5 points does not feel like enough here. LAR 35 Hou 13

Cowboys at Falcons (-3) – Most people have bailed on the Falcons. They have lost three out of four, but they are a different team on their home turf. In recent home games, they have jumped out to early leads only to fade late.

With or without Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas is not built to play from behind. They may well prove to be the better team over the long haul, but this is simply a bad matchup. Atl 31 Dal 24

Giants (-2) at 49ers – These two teams have one win between them. It will be a tough game to watch and is also tough to predict. The 49ers just do not have much talent. Jimmy Garoppolo changes nothing in the short term. The Giants have plenty of talent, but most of it is injured or disgruntled. They win the coin flip here because Eli Manning will play well after all the talk about replacing him this week. NYG 17 SF 13

Patriots (-7.5) at Broncos – Last week, I joked about the Broncos defense going on strike. Unfortunately for Denver fans, that is basically what ended up happening. Even though they were up against the hottest quarterback on the planet, it was still shocking. Even more shocking is the fact that Denver still ranked in the top five in passing and total defense after giving up over 50 points last week. That is how good they had been.

This is a proud defense that has given Tom Brady fits over the years, especially in Denver. They did not take kindly to being humiliated in Philadelphia.

I expect them to bounce back strong and keep the home team in the game. However, Denver’s current offense facing the reigning Super Bowl champions is like bringing a plastic knife to a gunfight. NE 24 Den 20

Monday Night

Dolphins at Panthers (-9.5) – This is way too many points to swallow. Relatively speaking, the Dolphins offense has been a bit better in recent weeks. They have scored over 20 points in two of their last three games.

Defense has not been an issue for the Dolphins this year, and Carolina has struggled on offense at times. Despite winning two of their last three games, they have only scored 40 total points in that span. Jay Cutler was really good in the first half against Oakland last week. He finally seems to be finding a bit of rhythm.

Carolina is the better team here and will find a way to get the job done. However, they never seem to blow anyone out, especially when they are supposed to. Car 24 Mia 21

 

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2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 10

Many teams are starting to separate themselves into their positions this season. We are learning who the true contenders and pretenders are.

The Wild Card races will also be extremely entertaining over the next eight weeks. In the AFC, the two teams in the current Wild Card spots have three losses. There are eight other teams with four or five losses that are within two games of being in their shoes. In the NFC, the two Wild Card teams also have three losses, and there are seven teams with three, four or five losses.

The picture should become more clear each and every week. For now, here are the 2017 NFL power rankings: Week 10.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Detroit

Cleveland had a bye week, but nothing happened in Week 9 to prove there is a team worse than them.

Yes, the 49ers are also winless and sit at 0-9 rather than at 0-8, but if the two teams played, who would you pick to win? Cleveland will likely win at least one game at some point this season because going 0-16 is hard to do.

Either way, the Browns are still the Browns and will end up with a top three pick that they will find a way to mess up.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-9)

Last week: 31 (no change)

Next game: home vs. New York Giants

The 49ers are not a team with talent that should be winless. They lack a quarterback, and everyone can tee off on the run game. The defense is young and just needs time to grow.

This week, they play another horrible team and have a shot at a win. Last week, I picked the 49ers to upset the Cardinals, and it didn’t happen. This week though, they will beat the Giants and move up in the rankings.

30. New York Giants (1-7)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo from https://sports.yahoo.com)

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

New York was completely overwhelmed and annihilated by the Rams. New York needs to hit the reset button and rebuild this franchise. It is time to trade Eli Manning and fire Ben McAdoo.

This offense needs to build around Odell Beckham Jr. Defensively, they need to build around Landon Collins.

New York can look to OBJ and Collins to lead a new era of Giants, but this season is done. McAdoo has already proven to be incapable of leading this team to success.

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-6)

Last week: 29 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Pittsburgh

Indy beat a Houston team that just lost all hope after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. Beating Tom Savage is not an impressive feat. This team also shut down Andrew Luck for the season, which basically tells the world they are throwing in the towel for the season.

Jacoby Brissett has looked decent, but his team has little talent on either side of the ball. Three wins are decent for what they have, but they will be lucky to win three more games this season.

28. Denver Broncos (3-5)

Last week: 22 (-6)

Next game: home vs. New England

Denver got manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles, so badly that the Broncos have now moved into the top 10 of the NFL draft. They will stay at the top of the draft and likely finish fourth in the AFC West.

This team went from a juggernaut defense that could carry an offense to a team that needs a rebuild. They have nothing on offense that can help a quarterback. A whole new offense is needed. On defense, Von Miller is still a stud, but the secondary has been split up and is getting old.

Vance Joseph looks lost as a head coach. He doesn’t challenge things he should, but then challenges things he shouldn’t. In his press conferences, he keeps talking about how good practice was. The man is straight up overwhelmed. The future looks bleak at best in Denver.

27. Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Last week: 27 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Carolina

So Miami is the epitome of an average NFL team. One week they look like world beaters, and the next they look like the Browns.

Two weeks ago, the Ravens slaughtered them 40-0. This week they gave the Raiders all they could handle, but fell short. Jay Cutler threw for a season-high 311 yards. It still wasn’t enough to get a win, which says all you need to know about the Dolphins.

Even if Jay Cutler plays like an MVP, this team can’t make the playoffs.

26. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

Last week: 25 (-1)

Next game: Bye

Baltimore is playing good defense, ranking in the top 10 in points allowed per game. The one issue they have is stopping the run, as they allow 125.9 yards per game.

On the other hand, the offense runs the ball well for an average of 120.9 yards per game. This only results in the team scoring 21.1 points per game. The Ravens are competitive, but won’t make the playoffs.

25.  Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

Last week: 28 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Seattle

Despite losing Carson Palmer, the Cardinals were able to win behind Drew Stanton and Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a career-high 37 carries for 159 yards. Stanton threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. That was all it took to beat the San Francisco 49ers, who are going through a rebuild.

When Arizona plays better teams, they won’t be able to give Peterson nearly 40 carries that often. He is way too old and injury prone to rely on this much.

Next week, Arizona faces Seattle, and the Cardinals will fall back to reality.

24. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last week: 24 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Green Bay

The Bears are coming off a bye and face their biggest rival. Because the Bears are at home, they have a real shot to win with Aaron Rodgers out. Chicago’s defense is much better than anyone realizes.

The Bears will continue to run the ball to take pressure off of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. For the first time in a long time, the Bears will not have to outscore the Packers to win.

They may not make the playoffs this season, but the Bears might be building something special in the windy city.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)

Last week: 23 (no change)

Next game: home vs. New York Jets

Tampa already has six losses, but are not as bad as their record. There is too much talent on this team for them to have this record, but sometimes that is the way the cookie crumbles.

When you look at the Bucs, the burning question is, what is their identity? The problem is they don’t have one.

Until Tampa can find their identity, they will continue to underachieve.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5)

Last week: 21 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

Cincinnati just can’t get above .500, and every time they get close, they run into a really good team. This team is on the brink of a complete implosion, and it showed when one of their most level-headed players, A.J. Green, threw Jalen Ramsey into a chokehold.

The Bengals offense will not help the defense out, who is holding up their end of the bargain. Until the offense can get rolling, the Bengals will remain in this downward spiral.

21. Houston Texans (3-5)

Last week: 14 (-7)

Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Texans have lost their season with the loss of Deshaun Watson. He was the sole reason this team still had a shot to be competitive and possibly earn a playoff berth. Watson was not only leading the NFL in touchdown passes, but he had the Texans as the highest scoring team in the NFL.

An optimistic Texans fan should hope that the Texans tank the season to earn a high draft pick. If they get a great college player, then when Watson and the others who were injured and lost for the season return, the team will have enough talent to possibly win a Super Bowl.

20. Green Bay Packers (4-4)

Last week: 20 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Chicago

The Packers’ flaws are being exposed due to the injury to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed, and an offense led by Brett Hundley can not outscore other teams.

It is time for a change of scenery in Green Bay. It is evident that the success of the Packers is solely due to the greatness of Rodgers.

Green Bay needs a new general manager who will bring in more talent around him. They also need a new coach who can help build a respectable defense.

19. New York Jets (4-5)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America)

Last week: 26 (+7)

Next game: away vs. Tampa Bay

The Jets are stuck in the middle of the NFL. At 4-5, they have a shot at making the playoffs, but aren’t truly contenders for a spot or even a run.

At 4-5, they also won’t be getting a high enough pick to really change the team around. The Jets are stuck in Mediocreville, and there is no way out. Just when you expect them to win, they lose and vice versa.

We will see what they do this week, but whatever you expect to happen, the exact opposite will unfold.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

Last week: 18 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

The Chargers are a competitive team, but aren’t quite ready to be a playoff team. The defense is young but making good strides. The Chargers are only giving up 19 points per game.

Part of the defensive success is coming from their ability to pressure the quarterback. Los Angeles averages the third most sacks per game at 3.3.

If the offense can just protect the ball, they will have a shot to win any game they play.

17. Oakland Raiders (4-5)

Last week: 19 (+2)

Next game: Bye

The Raiders are down but not out. Their bye comes at a great time to give them a chance to regroup.

Derek Carr is beginning to heat up, throwing for over 300 yards in three straight games. During Carr’s hot streak, the Raiders are putting up 24 points per game.

The problem with Oakland is the defense. As crazy and fictional as it might sound, the Raiders have yet to record an interception. The defense is also giving up 23.8 points per game.

If they can fix the defense during their bye, they can make a run in their second half of the season.

16. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Lst week 15 (-1)

Next game: home vs. Dallas

The Falcons are seriously hungover from the Super Bowl. This is true and a bit lazy to say, but it is fun to say a team is hungover.

Atlanta’s true problem is that the offense is no longer lighting up scoreboards. Matt Ryan is not playing at an MVP level and is really missing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Ryan has just 11 touchdowns this season.

Dan Quinn was hired for his defensive genius, but Atlanta is ranked in the middle of the pack defensively. The road doesn’t get easier either, as their remaining opponents have a combined record of 38-27.

15. Buffalo Bills (5-3)

Last week: 7 (-9)

Next game: home vs. New Orleans

Buffalo has improved this season and might still make it to the playoffs. But they are still not a true contender.

The loss to the Jets shows that more than anything. Buffalo is building a great defense behind Sean McDermott. The offense, however, is a middle of the pack ranked offense, and that is what is going to hold them back.

They can’t lose games to teams like the Jets if they want to be considered a true contender.

14. Detroit Lions (4-4)

Last week: 16 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Cleveland

Beating Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers isn’t all that impressive, but any win in the NFL is tough to come by. The Lions were able to get back to .500 and are just two games back of the Vikings for first place in the NFC North.

The Lions will go as far as Matthew Stafford can take them, and typically that means 8-10 wins. 8-10 wins won’t be enough to beat out the Vikings for the division or even earn a Wild Card berth.

Detroit will sit perfectly in the middle of mediocrity for the rest of the season.

13. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

Last week: 8 (-5)

Next game: away vs. Arizona

Seattle is going to be held back by their offensive line. Just when you think they are still going to be one of the best teams in the NFC, they lose at home to the Washington Redskins, who will finish as a .500 team.

The Seahawks can win a bunch of games due to the great defense and playmaking ability of Russell Wilson. However, they will not make it deep into the playoffs if they even make it.

12. Washington Redskins (4-4)

Last week: 17 (+4)

Next game: home vs. Minnesota

The Redskins are a better version of the Miami Dolphins. They look great one week and incompetent the next.

For now, they deserve the high ranking because they went on the road and beat the Seattle Seahawks. They will likely finish 8-8, but if they end up beating Minnesota, it will prove that they might be better then they have looked up to this point.

11. Tennessee Titans (5-3)

Last week: 12 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Cincinnati

Few are looking at the Titans as a serious threat, but they are quietly moving along this season. They are tied for first place in their division, and the three-team race has come down to a two-team race.

Marcus Mariota isn’t doing anything eye-popping, but has thrown only five interceptions in three games. Tennessee will continue to run the ball, and once Mariota gets hot, the Titans will have an unstoppable offense.

10. Carolina Panthers (6-3)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 10

(Photo from http://ftw.usatoday.com)

Last week: 13 (+3)

Next game: home vs. Miami

Cam Newton gets so much hate, but his receivers were dropping balls left and right last week. When it mattered most though, Cam took over the game and led Carolina to a win against a division rival.

For as bad as people say Cam is, he has the Panthers sitting at 6-3 and still in a prime position to earn a playoff berth. Carolina can get hot at any moment. Before you know it, they could end up with a first-round bye. Now, that probably won’t happen but anything is possible.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

Last week: 11 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Jaguars defense is really good and is the backbone of the team. From top to bottom, the Jaguars defense is elite. Jacksonville has the best scoring defense (14.6 points per game allowed), best pass defense (156.4 passing yards allowed per game) and are third in total defense (281.2 total yards allowed per game).

Jacksonville must continue to run the ball effectively to keep up their winning ways. It can be done, and Jacksonville is marching toward the playoffs with a championship caliber defense.

8. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

Last week: 10 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Atlanta

Dallas got a season-changing win against Kansas City. Two weeks ago when they faced the 49ers, I mentioned it was the perfect time for them to get on a roll. Now they have won three straight.

The rest of the schedule remains challenging, but the Cowboys are back to the formula that gave them a ton of success last season. As long as they continue to run the ball well, they will stack up wins.

7. New Orleans Saints (6-2)

Last week 9 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Buffalo

After an 0-2 start and terrible defense, the Saints’ season looked like it was over. However, after winning their next six games, they are considered one of the best teams in the NFC.

Drew Brees continues to play at a high level, and they are getting help in the running game. The key to the Saints six-game winning streak is the improvement of the defense. Over their last five games, New Orleans is allowing just 15.4 points per game, including one shutout.

If they maintain this level of play defensively, then a Super Bowl run is possible.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)

Last week: 3 (-3)

Next game: Bye

Kansas City is in a rut with three losses in their last four games. They have cooled off mightly since their 5-0 start.

This is more due to the fact they are playing some tough opponents and losing close games. The Chiefs will still finish as one of the best teams in the AFC and will be a threat to the Patriots.

Their bye week comes at a good time to regroup for a run at a Lombardi Trophy.

5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Last week: 5 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Washington

A bye week came at the perfect time for the Vikings. They played exactly half their season and got a chance to evaluate how they must finish in order to win the division. At 6-2, the Vikings are on pace for a 12 win season.

Minnesota fans should be cautious though because last season the Vikings went 5-0 before finishing 8-8. The second half of the Vikings schedule is much tougher than the first half was, but they should still find their way to 10 wins. They still have to face the Bears, Lions, Bengals and Packers, all games that they can and should win. The other four games against Washington, Carolina, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Rams could go either way.

Minnesota should finish between 10-12 wins, and if they do so, will finish as one of the top teams in the NFL.

4. Los Angeles Rams (6-2)

Last week: 6 (+2)

Next game: home vs. Houston

The greatest show on turf seems to have returned, but this time they are performing in Hollywood. Sean McVay is the leading candidate for coach of the year for what he has done with the Rams and their offense.

Jared Goff has made amazing strides in his second year. Goff has thrown for 2,030 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions in eight games. For comparison, in seven games last season, Goff threw for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

McVay has also revitalized Todd Gurley, who has 1,024 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Los Angeles will continue to win games, and the playoff drought will end.

3. New England Patriots (6-2)

Last week 4: (+1)

Next game: away vs. Denver

Time to sound like a broken record. The Patriot way continues to bring about wins to the franchise. With Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots will put up 12 or more wins and make it to the AFC Championship.

The only question is who will be their challenger and will it actually be a challenge. Speaking of challenges, they won’t have one this week because Denver isn’t very good.

The Patriots will be 7-2 in the next rankings, and if the Steelers falter, they can move up to No. 2.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Indianapolis

The Steelers had the week off thanks to their bye week right at the halfway point of their season. Pittsburgh is back to getting it done on the defensive end. The Killer B’s (Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown) started to warm up before the bye, averaging 417 yards per game in their last three games.

Just like the Patriots, the Steelers will be playing deep into January with hopes of winning the Super Bowl.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Eagles aren’t? They are one of the most balanced teams in the league, which is the reason they are 8-1. They average over 30 points per game with success in both phases of the offense. Philly throws for 240 yards and rushes for 136 yards per game.

Defensively, the Eagles are giving up less than 20 points per game and are 11th in total defense. Philly gets a break this week so they will remain at the top for at least another week.

 

Featured image from Getty Images

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Three players fantasy owners should drop

At this point in the NFL season, players have either matched/exceeded their preseason predictions or have fallen short. If they’ve in fact fallen short, fantasy owners are probably holding onto to the last little bit of hope that they may bounce back. But by this point, they’re just a waste of a roster spot. Here are three players fantasy owners should drop.

 

3. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Is it the end of the road for Big Ben. Big questions surrounded him when he threw for five interceptions against the Jaguars. He’s definitely picked up the pace in his last three games with a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:2. But is he even worthy of a fantasy start anymore?

In eight games of the 2017 NFL season, Big Ben hasn’t gained more than 17 fantasy points in one week. From weeks three through six, Roethlisberger got 11, 10, 2 and 12 fantasy points, not QB1 material. Especially when Ben Roethlisberger is stacked with arguably the best wide receiver corps in the league. Surprisingly those four weeks sum up Big Ben’s season quite nicely. He’s averaged a poor 12.3 fantasy points per game and has performed very poorly on the road, even against teams like Chicago and Cleveland. Two teams who haven’t performed well against the pass this year.

For the rest of the season, it isn’t looking too much better for Big Ben and fantasy owners. In four of the last eight games, Roethlisberger faces Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati and Green Bay. Four teams that have performed well against the pass so far this season. Another one of his games comes against Cleveland, who held him to only 16 fantasy points in week one.

With the focus turned to the run game, Le’veon Bell is the man in Pittsburgh now, and Big Ben can officially be let go from fantasy rosters.

Three players fantasy owners should drop.

(Photo by:deadspin.com

2. Lagarrette Blount (Philadelphia Eagles)

It sure didn’t take long for Jay Ajayi to get comfortable in Philadelphia. In his debut, he had eight rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown, including his longest run of the season on a 46 yard touchdown. While that was going on, Blount rushed nine times for 37 yards. With a surplus of running backs on the roster, and now Ajayi who adds to that and looks like the new workhorse, Blount’s playing time in Philly may be cut down.

Last season Blount had over 1,000 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns for the Patriots. This one has been much more inconsistent. In nine games in 2017, Blount has 504 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He’s actually rushing better than he did last season, with his yards per attempt up .7 yards. The key part that’s missing is the touchdowns. A drop off from 18 touchdowns to two touchdowns loses many fantasy points for owners all around the nation. With Carson Wentz playing at an elite level, and two huge red zone threats in Zach Ertz and Alshon Jefferey, those touchdown numbers aren’t too likely to increase by many more in the rest of the season.

Blount has a decently tough schedule ahead of him for the rest of the year. He faces defenses like the Rams, the Seahawks, the Raiders and the Cowboys. With the addition of Jay Ajayi, the use of Wendall Smallwood and Corey Clement and the elite passing attack in Philadelphia, Blount is droppable in all leagues.

 

1. Terrelle Pryor Sr. (Washington)

What happened to Terrelle Pryor? Last season with the Browns and their putrid quarterback play, he had 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. In the offseason, he signed a one year deal with Washington to play under Kirk Cousins. This had the entire football world excited to see what the two could do together.

Ultimately we saw that Cousins and Pryor couldn’t do anything together. In eight games in 2017, Pryor has 24 receptions and one touchdown. Pretty bad for someone with the talent of a number one receiver in this league. It’s been clear that Pryor and Cousins haven’t been on the same page in 2017. They haven’t connected when Pryor has been open and that’s led to a decrease in the number of snaps that Pryor has played. Not only is he being benched for Josh Doctson, but recently he’s been nursing a bone bruise.

Along with his chemistry, his schedule for the rest of the season is intense. Pryor goes up against defenses like Minnesota, New Orleans, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver. This doesn’t bode well for Terrelle Pryor, and he is ready to be on the waivers in fantasy leagues.

 

Feature Image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

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week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Wide receiver

Last Sunday was a rough day for wide receivers, unless your entire lineup featured the Seahawks and Texans. Top tier players like Antonio Brown and Julio Jones disappointed. DeAndre Hopkins was the only name brand receiver to finish among the top ten in scoring.

Instead, the top ten featured under the radar players like Paul Richardson, Robby Anderson and Marvin Jones Jr. Let’s dive into which players we need to avoid this Sunday in the wide receiver edition of Week 9 DFS don’ts.

Mike Evans: FanDuel Price $8,500

Despite the struggles of the Buccaneers, Mike Evans has still garnered a lot of targets. He should have been a top producer, as he had a long touchdown revoked due to an offsides penalty, which stopped play.

Evans faces the Saints this weekend. Historically, we look at this matchup and automatically insert Evans into our lineups. However, that is not the case anymore.

Wide receiver success, more than any other position, comes down to their individual matchup. This Sunday, Evans will face Saints rookie Marshon Lattimore. Through the first eight weeks, Lattimore is ranked as the best corner in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Here’s a look at what Lattimore has done this season when he shadows the oppositions best receiver.

week 9 DFS don'ts

Stats on shadow coverage are provided by Pro Football Focus.

While the Saints have only deployed Lattimore in shadow coverage twice, the results are staggering. Evans’ size and catch radius does allow him to overcome tough matchups. That could very well happen, but I’m not willing to pay the $8,500 price given his incredibly challenging matchup.

Michael Thomas: FanDuel Price $7,600

week 9 DFS don'ts

Can Michael Thomas overcome his recent red zone woes and produce against the Buccaneers? (Photo from UPI.com)

Yes, I believe the two best receivers in this game will disappoint this week. Unlike Evans, Michael Thomas does not have a bad, or even unfavorable matchup. Sadly, Thomas’ placement on my Week 9 DFS don’ts is the result of this New Orleans Saints offense, which is primarily rushing focused.

Thomas is incredibly talented and is playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. Traditionally, this is a plug and play, no questions asked.

However, the Saints offense has morphed into a rush-first offense, specifically in the red zone. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have taken over the red zone workload, via the run or the pass. In the past two games, Thomas has had a total of two red zone targets, including one target inside the 10-yard line.

That is simply not enough opportunity to score points. The Saints have clearly shifted to being a more balanced offense with their two backs. There is no longer enough volume for Thomas to produce without getting in the end zone. Maybe that changes this weekend, as the Buccaneers can score points. However, I’ll take the wait and see approach when it comes to Thomas and his red zone role moving forward.

Larry Fitzgerald: FanDuel Price $7,000

It’s safe to say that this is the end for Larry Fitzgerald and his DFS production. If Carson Palmer couldn’t target Fitz on a consistent basis, what makes us think that Drew Stanton can fair any better?

Stanton has played 22 games since he started with the Cardinals in 2014. Since then, he’s thrown nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with a 6.3 average yards per attempt.

On top of poor quarterback play, Fitz has struggled tremendously on the road. He’s averaged nine catches for 106 yards and one touchdown at home, compared to 4.5 catches for 43 yards and zero touchdowns on the road.

This week he plays on the road against San Francisco. Why on earth would I play Fitz for $7,000 when I could get Jarvis Landry at the same price, or Michael Crabtree for $100 more? A multitude of factors have Larry Fitzgerald on the Week 9 DFS don’ts list.

Jamison Crowder: FanDuel Price $5,600

Here’s a landmine you’ll want to avoid if you’re paying down for a wide receiver this weekend. Before last week’s game, Jamison Crowder went the entire season without scoring more than 6.7 points or having more than six catches. Production aside, he is going to get tossed around like a rag doll against this physical Seattle secondary.

Crowder also did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, so his health is in question as well. Save your money and pivot to a player like Ted Ginn Jr. or Robert Woods for $100 more. Crowder joins Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald on the Week 9 DFS don’ts list.

 

Featured image from Sports Illustrated

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Drew Brees

Week 9 NFL picks against the spread

My outright upset picks were not great last week, but I still managed to post a 7-6 mark against the spread. 53-62-4 is where I stand as the second half of the season begins. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk, and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.

Thursday Night:       

Bills (-3) at *Jets– After last week, I am done picking the road team on Thursday night unless it is obvious. Apart from a blowout win last week, Buffalo has found ways to win some close games lately, the Jets have found a way to lose.

Given the lack of depth in the AFC, Buffalo is in great position to end the longest playoff drought in the NFL. However, New York’s offense is putting together two or three scoring drives per game pretty routinely at this point. Missed field goals, not running the ball enough with the lead, and questionable officiating are what has cost them in recent weeks. All of those things are very correctable, even during a short week.

Buffalo has been in situations like this fairly often in the last 15 years or so. Every time the playoffs are in sight, they seem to lose a game like this. If they can pull this out, they are not the same old Bills, until then… NYJ 23 Buf 20

Sunday:

Falcons at Panthers (-2) – This year’s Falcons are last year’s Panthers. A team from the south that caught lightning in a bottle on offense one year and couldn’t back it up the next. Carolina has bounced back this year on the strength of their ground game and defense. For this reason, trading away Kelvin Benjamin won’t change this team’s fortunes all that much. Maybe next year, the Falcons can bounce back the way the Panthers have. Car 30 Atl 21

*Ravens at Titans (Pick ‘em) – The Ravens seemed to finally click on all levels last week against the Dolphins. Alex Collins has given the offense a short term spark it desperately needed. Conversely, the Titans were flat in a narrow escape against the Browns. This is one of a couple games this week where the teams may be headed in opposite directions. Bal 19 Ten 13  

Alex Collins

Photo: sbnation.com

*Bengals at Jaguars (-4.5) – Even with a winning record, the Jags are a tough team for me to wrap my arms around. The defense and Leonard Fournette are amazing, but their ceiling is limited with Blake Bortles at quarterback. For the Bengals, Carlos Dunlap’s pick six last week may have saved the season and A.J. Green is the best player on either team here. That is good enough for me. Cin 21 Jac 17

Broncos at Eagles (-7.5) – Somehow, the Broncos have ended up with Brock Osweiler getting another crack at being their starting quarterback. We are living in strange times. The Denver defense should go on strike. Holding Kansas City to under 300 yards of offense is incredible. Turnovers undid Denver Monday night. Turning to Osweiler, doesn’t exactly scream stability.

Brock Osweiler

Photo: Yahoo Sports

The same thing will probably happen here. However, Carson Wentz has been pretty ordinary in recent weeks despite the Eagles continuing to win. That will not change here. The Broncos need a lot more than moral victories, but the defense will keep this close. Phi 24 Den 20   

Colts at Texans (-13) – Deshaun Watson continued to amaze in a losing effort last week, but Houston’s defense has regressed this year. The Texans have lost two games this year when scoring 30+ points. Partly due to injuries, the defense is suddenly the weak link in Houston.

Indianapolis is far from an offensive juggernaut, but they did some good things last week in a near upset of Cincinnati. Some of that should carry over. Swallowing more than 10 points in an NFL game is rarely a good idea. Hou 27 Ind 16

Rams (-3.5) at Giants- Even with just a single win, the Giants are still very dangerous. There are not many one win teams with a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback and an above-average defense. Moreover, the Rams are a young team that is still getting used to being good and their traveling a long ways.

What Sean McVay has done with the Rams is incredible. It is one of the more dramatic and fast transformations in recent memory. This young team has not really stubbed its toe with a bad loss yet. The Giants seem to get more dysfunctional by the hour. Thus, I will nervously put my faith in the Rams to avoid that bad loss, but nothing would surprise me here. Lar 28 Nyg 23

Bucs at Saints (-7) – The Saints finally have a defense and running game. Drew Brees has been somewhat underwhelming during their five-game winning streak, but it has not mattered. In fact, he did not throw for 300 yards or have a touchdown pass last week. New Orleans is now trending towards being built on a two headed monster at running back and the defense.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay continues to lose games despite having a fair amount of young talent, particularly on offense. Other than the lack of a pass rush on defense, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly is missing from this team, but something clearly is. These two teams are headed in very different directions. This could get ugly. NO 31 TB 17

Cardinals (-2) at *49ers- The 49ers made a splash at the trade deadline. Jimmy Garoppolo won’t make an impact here, but the future in San Francisco just got a lot more interesting.

As for the present, the winless 49ers played Arizona to the wire earlier this year. If they cannot beat the Drew Stanton led Cardinals at home, they have a real shot at going 0-16 and joining the 2008 Lions in that infamous club. That is a powerful motivator and the talent gap between rosters is not much here. SF 20 Ari 17

Chiefs at Cowboys (-1) – Kansas City is nowhere close to the team that raced out to a 5-0 start. They needed every one of Denver’s five turnovers to win last week and had lost their previous two games. The Cowboys defensive line is harassing quarterbacks week in and week out. Their front four will create problems for every opponent for the rest of the year.

Also, with or without Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas will not turn the football over anywhere close to  the way Denver did. They have two good veteran running backs behind Elliott and Dak Prescott’s football IQ has always been the most impressive thing about him. Dal 27 KC 23

 

 

Raiders (-3) at Dolphins- Here, we have two teams that are surprisingly struggling after starting the season with reasonably high expectations. Oakland has issues, but they also have Derek Carr. Miami has Jay Cutler back this week. Even with the way Matt Moore played last week, I am not sure that having Cutler back is a good thing. Throw in the fact that the Dolphins just traded one of the more consistent weapons on their last ranked offense, and Oakland starts to look like a real strong bet here. Oak 24 Mia 17

Monday Night:

Lions (-2.5) at *Packers – Detroit had a chance to prove they were a legit contender last week and blew it. They do deserve some credit though. Who knew it was even mathematically possible to put up almost 500 yards of total offense and not score a touchdown?

Detroit is just so hard to trust in a big game. You can count on one hand the number of wins they have at Green Bay over the last 20+ years. Brett Hundley isn’t terrible and Mike McCarthy is smart. The Packers will find a way to move the ball without Aaron Rodgers. GB 27 Det 20

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Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 9

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the number one priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 9 NFL picks.

Last week: 10-3

Overall: 66-52

Teams on byes: Cleveland, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers

Thursday Night

Buffalo Bills (5-2) 45 @ New York Jets (3-5) 14: Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, as Chris Berman would say. This team is marching toward the playoffs behind a great defense. Buffalo is only allowing teams to score 16.4 points per game.

This week, they are going to suffocate New York’s offense. The bold prediction is that LeSean McCoy is going to go over 150 yards, and the Bills rout the Jets by more than four scores.

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (4-3) 34: Baltimore is coming off a huge 40-0 win over Miami. Tennessee is not Miami. It is going to take more than good defense to win this game.

Tennessee is coming off a bye week, which gives them an advantage. The Titans will look to run the ball down the throat of the Ravens. Tennessee has the ninth-ranked rushing attack, while the Ravens can’t stop the run, giving up 132.8 yards per game.

The Titans will run the ball and open up the pass so that Marcus Mariota has a huge day with four total touchdowns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) 34 @ New Orleans Saints (5-2) 37: These teams are trending in opposite directions. Both were expected to be in the other’s shoes.

Drew Brees has had some big games against the Bucs over the years, and this will be another. Tampa Bay is ranked 30th in pass defense.

New Orleans will put up a lot of points and push the Bucs to the depths of the sea. Okay, maybe not the sea, but definitely the depths of the NFC South.

Los Angeles Rams (5-2) 31 @ New York Giants (1-6) 27: New York should just throw in the towel on the season. They should have also sent away Eli Manning so that he doesn’t have to end his career on a rebuilding team.

The Giants have failed to live up to expectations and are going to lose their seventh game in eight tries. Los Angeles had a week off and will be looking to get back to having the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Houston has surpassed them by 0.4 points. Todd Gurley will have 200 all-purpose yards to send the Rams to 6-2.

Denver Broncos (3-4) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) 24: Denver has no help at quarterback, and it is holding the entire team back. Philly can stack the box with seven, eight or even nine defenders, and they know that Trevor Siemian will not be able to beat them. Denver’s defense can only do so much to stop the bleeding this season.

The Eagles, on the other hand, are flying high behind Carson Wentz. The addition of Jay Ajayi is going to help this offense even more, even if it isn’t right away. Philly wins this one at home fairly easily.

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) 24 @ Carolina Panthers (5-3) 27: In what most would consider a head-scratching move, Carolina shipped out Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo minutes before the trade deadline ended. This could be the move that actually improves Cam Newton’s play.

Before you go crazy, think about this. Cam Newton won league MVP when Kelvin Benjamin missed the entire season.

Cam will have a huge game this week. Atlanta snuck by the Jets and still do not look like a Super Bowl contender. This week they will lose ground when they go into Carolina.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) 20 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) 24: Sacksonville is hosting the Cincinnati Bengals this week, and it could mean another 10 sack performance by this great defense. This is the type of game the Jaguars must win if they are serious about making the playoffs.

The Bengals must also win this game to get back into the thick of things. Cincinnati can win this game, but it will come down to who can get to 20 points first, and the Jaguars will do so thanks to their rushing attack.

Indianapolis Colts (2-6) 21 @ Houston Texans (3-4) 34: Houston has found something special in Deshaun Watson, who is tied for first in the NFL in touchdown passes with 19. This man has also pushed the Texans to the No. 1 scoring team in the NFL. He is doing wonders, and once this team becomes fully healthy, they will be dangerous.

This week they get to take on the dreadful Indianapolis Colts. Houston should roll at home to get back to .500 on the season.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) 17 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-8) 20: San Francisco made a blockbuster trade to acquire coveted backup Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. He won’t be ready this week, but will be the future of this franchise at quarterback.

This week, they host the Cardinals in a game they can steal. If they contain the Cardinals offense, which is missing Carson Palmer and David Johnson, then the offense can ride Carlos Hyde to a win. With the moment from the big trade, the 49ers will do both of these to get their first win of the season.

Washington Redskins (3-4) 19 @ Seattle Seahawks (5-2) 27: Seattle is the NFC’s version of the Patriots. No matter their flaws, or what is going on in the rest of the league, they pile up wins.

Russell Wilson isn’t getting the national recognition he is used to, but is still having an excellent season. Wilson has 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions through the air. He will be a handful for the Redskins this week.

Washington lost what was somewhat of a playoff game last week. The Redskins are not going to win this game on the road, and they will miss the playoffs again with Kirk Cousins.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) 30 @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3) 27: Dallas has gotten back to the formula that made them successful last season, which is running the ball effectively. In the last two games, the Cowboys are averaging 217 yards on the ground.

To have a shot in this game, they must run the ball to control the clock and keep Kansas City’s offense off the field. They won’t be able to stop this offense for four quarters and ultimately will lose.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (3-5) 34 @ Miami Dolphins (4-3) 20: Oakland has been very underwhelming. This is a must win, or they can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Miami has officially thrown in the towel on the season by trading Jay Ajayi. Jay Cutler came out of retirement to collect millions and has averaged just over 150 yards passing per game.

Miami has nothing going for them anymore, and this shouldn’t be a contest. Derek Carr will have a big day to keep Oakland’s season alive.

Monday Night

Detroit Lions (3-4) 31 @ Green Bay Packers (4-3) 27: In the beginning of the season, this game had the possibility of being a great primetime game. But the Packers have lost Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions have lost three straight and do not look like a playoff team.

Neither team can run the ball effectively. This could be an all out aerial attack, and Matthew Stafford is better than Brett Hundley. The Lions will win in Green Bay to push both teams to 4-4.

 

Featured image from http://turnonthejets.com

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