2017 Fantasy football season

Halfway point in fantasy season

We are about the halfway point of the fantasy season. We have seen it all this season, from rookie success to injured superstars and everything in between. Here are the big headlines at the halfway point of the fantasy season.

Ezekiel Elliott may not be available down the stretch

Ouch! The first big headline we have to get out of the way here. On Thursday, a federal appeals court overturned a district court’s decision in the Ezekiel Elliott case. This means the Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension has been reinstated.

The worse part is it happened on the bye week, which means his suspension will start next week and he will miss weeks 7-12. This a big blow to fantasy owners of Elliott because he may not be available down the stretch to the playoffs especially with how many running backs are out there. This opens the door for Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden.

The top two quarterbacks are Alex Smith and Deshaun Watson

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson are the top two quarterbacks in fantasy. What’s even more surprising is both of them are the top players in fantasy. Both were on fire against each other last week, combining for eight passing touchdowns and 62.4 fantasy points.

2017 Fantasy football season

Alex Smith (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Not to say Smith is a bad quarterback because he isn’t, but he’s not been known to be a reliable fantasy quarterback. Last year he finished as the 22nd best quarterback in fantasy.

This year he and the Chiefs have turned it around. He’s averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game, which is best in 2017. He is also playing at a MVP caliber and is leading the NFL in both passer rating and completion percentage. Smith has proven to be a legitimate QB1 at this point of the season.

Watson on the other hand has surprised a lot of people. It wasn’t surprising he would be taking over the Texans at quarterback, but not at this level.

After his week 5 performance against the Chiefs, he has proven he can play in this league. He threw for five touchdowns and had a 35 point performance. Through four weeks plus a half of a game in week 1, he’s taken over. He’s has 1,072 passing yards, 7.39 yards per attempt, 12 touchdowns, 179 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. He still may be a QB2, but like Smith, he has proven he can be relied on in good matchups.

The top defense is the JAcksonville JagUars

Jacksonville Jaguars fans finally have something they can cheer for. Their defense is leading all defenses in fantasy points with 82. They have finally had some luck with good draft picks, good free agents signings and a good coaching staff.

2017 Fantasy football season

(Photo by: sports.yahoo.com)

Last week against the Steelers they picked off Ben Roethlisberger five times and returned two of them for touchdowns. That doesn’t happen very often.

The Jags are built around their defense. They have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league with A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey combining for four interceptions. With that in their defensive backfield, along with safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, they rank fourth in passing yards allowed. They also lead the league in interceptions and total turnovers and are third in fumbles.

The Jags may have some flaws in the run game, but their defensive line sure does get to the quarterbacks. They lead the league in sacks with 20, led by newcomer Calais Campbell along with Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. They really don’t have a weak spot in that defense. Expect them to continue to play well.

Two rookie running backs are top three in points at the position

Through five weeks, we have seen a couple of rookie running backs playing at a high level. Jacksonville Jaguar Leonard Fournette’s success may not surprise you especially with his role. But the big name leading all running backs is third-round pick Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs’ back has dominated since the opening week.

Let’s start with Hunt, who has dominated at the point of attack. He is in the top three in fantasy points overall and No. 1 among running backs. Hunt has rushed over 100 yards in four of the five games and is averaging 121.8 yards per game. He also leads running backs in yards and runs over 20 yards.

He’s averaging 22.3 fantasy points per game. The Chiefs overall are playing as the best team in the league and expect Hunt to still be the emphasis of their offense both running and passing.

Fournette is a big back and the staple of the Jaguars’ offense. He ranks third among running backs in fantasy and 10th in overall players. Fournette leads the league in touchdowns and rushing attempts. He also has the longest run this year by a running back. Fournette is in the top two in rushing yards and yards per game as well.

It may not be surprising that he’s doing this well, but in the Jag uniform, it surprises a lot of people that a player on that team is finding this much success. Fournette continues to be a top RB option in fantasy. That won’t change going forward.

Key Player Injuries

Some other big headlines this year are big names that have been injured. David Johnson, Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr and Allen Robinson are all hurt. Luck hasn’t played yet and Johnson has been hurt since week 1. Carr could come back this week, but could miss more time. Beckham, Watt and Robinson are all out for the year.

2017 Fantasy football season

David Johnson (Photo by: azcentral.com)

Beckham and Johnson were the top players in fantasy at the start of the season. They were the key part of every team. Now fantasy owners are scrambling each week to find replacements.

Owners of Luck are also trying to find patience for his return after he was rumored to possibly start week 1. The Watt injury is a reflection of last year when the Texans were the No. 1 defense. It’s definitely a big injury, but the Texans have proved they can play without him.

Carr is risky to the end of the season with the possibility of coming back or possibly missing a few more weeks. Robinson has been a big injury as the Jags’ passing game has struggled since his injury.

Conclusion

It’s been an interesting first five weeks of the season. Key players haven’t been relied on and the lower tier players have made an impact. We’ve seen surprising players reach top fantasy status and rookies continuing to pound the running game. We still have six to seven weeks left in the regular season, and it shouldn’t disappoint.

 

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Amari Cooper fantasy

Is Amari Cooper a WR1 in fantasy football?

Amari Cooper is hands down one of the best receivers in the NFL today. In two years in the league, Cooper has over 1,000 yards in both seasons and has solidified his spot as Derek Carr’s top target. But the question still remains: is Amari Cooper a WR1 in fantasy football?

The case for Cooper

AC/DC has been one of the best quarterback and wide receiver duos for the last two years in the NFL. Cooper has been great for the Raiders but has been frustrating for fantasy owners. The good thing that comes with Cooper is his volume to start the season.

In the first two games of the season, Cooper has been targeted 18 times, including many looks in the red zone in the first two weeks of the season. The problem last season with Cooper was his lack of targets in the red zone, but it seems to have switched this year. Cooper seems to be getting the looks he deserves in the red zone this season.

Another thing that will help out Cooper is the Raiders’ other weapons game. Opposing defenses have to worry about Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree. Cooper isn’t in a position to be double teamed in the NFL today with the weapons surrounding him. Drawing single coverage should continue to increase his volume as well as production.

Amari Cooper fantasy

Photo from http://www.totalprosports.com

The case against cooper

A couple of problems come with Cooper. His drops have not only plagued him in his career, but to the start of this season.

In week 1 against the Titans, Cooper had some key drops in the red zone, which directly affected his targets in week 2. Carr decided to go to Michael Crabtree in week 2 because of Cooper’s red zone drops in week 1, and that led Crabtree to have three touchdowns against the Jets.

The other key problem that comes with Cooper is his schedule. The Raiders face a tough couple of weeks when they play against Washington, Denver, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Ravens. Those defenses will provide tough matchups for Cooper as each team has a very good secondary.

Schedule is always important in fantasy football in determining whether or not that player deserves a start that week. Cooper’s schedule is tough, but he is still a great player and should be started every week.

All in all with his problems, Amari Cooper is a low-end WR1 in all leagues this season.

 

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Last-minute fantasy football draft reminders

The fantasy football season is so close we can almost taste it. We’re coming to a point when most people are ready to draft. Now many people have their own draft strategies that they think will put them in a position to win a championship, but there are things that everyone should do in their draft. Here are five things to remember when you’re drafting your team in fantasy football.

5.  Always take a kicker last: There’s no reason why you should take a kicker before the last round. Yes, there are some kickers who can put up big numbers but you can find those kickers week by week on the waiver wire based on matchups.

Matt Bryant can put up huge numbers for another year but why waste a spot on him when you can expand the depth on your bench. Even the top ten kickers aren’t worth a pick before a key bench player. Why take a kicker before the last round when you can get a sleeper and maybe he will turn into a Jordan Howard kind of guy who will end up winning you your fantasy football championship.

4. Running backs are key: Running backs have taken over the scene in fantasy football. If you have a top two pick then it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll have Le’Veon Bell or David Johnson.

The depth at the running back position is scarce this year. Players like Eddie Lacy will end up as your RB2 if you wait too long to take your running backs. There’s much more depth at wide receiver this year. You can pick up a player like Emmanuel Sanders in the seventh round and use him as your WR2 if necessary. In the end you won’t go wrong with taking a player like Julio Jones or Antonio Brown in the first round, but if you can land a stud running back then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take him.

Last minute fantasy football draft reminders

Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

3. Don’t take a quarterback too early: Unless you’re targeting a guy like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady early in your drafts, wait on a quarterback and reap the rewards. Why waste a mid-round pick on a guy like Big Ben when you could find your key flex spot or number two running back/wide receiver.

Take Andy Dalton as an example last season. He wasn’t taken early in fantasy drafts but he put up big numbers and finished the season as the fifth-ranked quarterback in fantasy football. Yes you read that right, fifth.

It would be easy to get a guy like Andy Dalton in the double digit rounds while you can stack more and more position players on your bench and prepare for injuries.

2. Don’t just draft your favorite player: Many people like to draft players in fantasy that they can root for while watching their favorite team. Don’t worry, it isn’t illegal for a Eagles fan to take Ezekiel Elliott if the price is right. Fantasy football and rooting for your favorite team are two very different things.

When drafting in fantasy football you must take the best available player. You shouldn’t pass on Ezekiel Elliott in the third round just because you’re an Eagles fan. I’m not saying it’s bad to take your favorite player, but make sure you take them at the right price.

1. Trust your instincts: The worst thing you can do in fantasy football is overthink your picks. That decision could make or break your fantasy season but the right thing to do is trust your gut and go with your first choice. There’s a lot to consider when making a pick in fantasy football but what you must do is either draft to the needs of your team or take the best available player.

Some of fantasy football is luck so you never know what’s going to happen, but I assure you that you’ll feel better with your gut choice.

 

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A Look At Ezekiel Elliott’s Draft Stock After The Suspension

Where Will He Land?

It was announced yesterday (August 13) that Dallas Cowboys second year running back Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for the first six games of the 2017 NFL season. He’s coming off a stellar rookie season finishing first in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns. Many people had Elliott as the unanimous number one pick in fantasy football leagues before the suspension but after the decision by commissioner Goodell where will Ezekiel Elliott go in your fantasy draft?

Drafting during an Appeal:

Ezekiel Elliot suspension

(Photo by foxsports.com)

If your fantasy draft is scheduled to happen before the appeal of Ezekiel Elliott is concluded you are in a really tough spot when it comes to drafting Elliott. Based on last year if you had the number one pick of this years fantasy draft in your league and did not select Ezekiel Elliott you would be considered a crazy person, but now with the suspension looming over his head is he a safe bet? Looking at recent suspensions in the NFL appeals usually take forever and never really make any sense.

Tom Brady was suspended for four games of the 2016 season for something that happened back in 2015, he played an entire season fighting the NFL in court. In 2016 Tom Brady’s average draft position dropped down to 69th while facing his suspension according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

There is another example one can look at from last season in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’veon Bell and his suspension he faced. His average draft position in 2016 fell down to 11th in the NFL which on paper was a big drop as he was considered to be the number one running back fantasy-wise at the beginning of the 2016 season and his suspension was only three games.

What does this mean for Elliott and people who want to pick him this year? It means that there is a chance that the appeals process takes so long that Elliott is allowed to play until the process is completed. But there is another risk going this route if Elliott is allowed to play until the appeal process is finished: What happens if the appeal closes halfway through the season and you lose your number one fantasy producer for the playoffs? This also means he will drop down boards but when is too early or too late to go for the stud sophomore.

Taking A Risk:

As we have seen with other suspended players in the past they will drop down draft boards because of the loss of production not being able to play. With a player the caliber of Ezekiel Elliott it’s hard to see him dropping out of the top 15 even with the potential loss of six games. The reason is because when he does inevitably return he is in the best situation for a fantasy running back in the entire league.

The Cowboys arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL and a young capable quarter back in Dak Prescott that will continue to put Elliott in a position to excel. It will be interesting to see where he will go as the appeal process continues and as of today (August 14) Ezekiel Elliott is currently averaging the 8th pick in 2017 fantasy leagues but I am not sure if it’s counting leagues that drafted before the suspension was handed out.

Conclusion:

This is probably the biggest shakeup in fantasy football I have ever seen, right before most leagues are set to draft, the fate of one of the best players in football is uncertain. When I draft I will certainly be looking out for Elliott to drop around the tenth pick and would certainly pull the trigger on a late first round pick for the running back. If it was certain he would not be suspended then I would take him at anywhere in the first three picks and couldn’t see him dropping past that. With the suspension I could see him dropping as far as the 15th pick, but for him to drop further than that would be a big surprise to me. Overall, the situation with Ezekiel Elliott is strange and only time will tell how many games the star running back will play this year.

 

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2017 fantasy football notes: Cram session

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling unprepared. You forgot to study for a quiz and have as much knowledge about the subject as Alex Smith has on not being average. You’ve got an important presentation at work but forgot your briefcase at home.

Worst of all, your fantasy draft is tonight, yet you’ve spent the last six months watching baseball and catching up on your favorite guilty pleasure on Netflix. Your pulse reaches an unhealthy level as your heart races trying to think about how to prepare a draft plan good enough to beat your friends, yet you rank Adrian Peterson as your No. 6 running back because you think he’s poised for a great year with the Vikings.

But Adrian Peterson doesn’t play for the Vikings, and you’re screwed.

Fear not, lazy fantasy football player, I’ve got just the article for you. Let’s talk about all the big news and notes you missed so you can have a fighting chance to compete in your league this season.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: QUARTERBACKS

Marcus Mariota is undervalued

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: titansonline.com

Marcus Mariota is among the top 25 most attractive players in the NFL, and it turns out he’s pretty good at football too. Mariota was good enough to earn spot starts last season, and finished as the No. 13 scoring quarterback. He’s especially suited for fantasy football thanks to his rushing ability, and he’s gotten some upgraded toys to play with for 2017.

No shade at Rishard Matthews or Tajae Sharpe, but Mariota didn’t have the greatest receivers to throw to last season. The Titans signed Eric Decker during the offseason and drafted top wide receiver prospect Corey Davis with their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. On top of that, Mariota plays with an elite offensive line and DeMarco Murray, who got back to his usual RB1 self last season.

Entering his third season, the myth of a sophomore slump cannot affect Mariota. Mariota was the top scoring quarterback from weeks five through week 12 of last season, which shows his upside is through the roof this season.

Mariota is being drafted as a fringe QB1 this season, which is way too low. Sit back and wait for Mariota as others grab overvalued quarterbacks, and then grab him once you’ve filled out your starting lineup and part of your bench.

Blake Bortles sucks at throwing footballs, but don’t overlook his volume

Sure, you may’ve spit up in your mouth a little due to reading the name Blake Bortles, and that’s fine. Bortles ruined Allen Robinson last season and made some of the worst throws of the season in 2016. However, while Bortles gets roasted by Twitter everyday, he could make for a good backup for your team.

Before you click the “x” in the upper right corner of your device, hear me out.

Bortles had the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015, and followed that with the tenth-most points among quarterbacks last season. Even with all the hate Bortles gets, he’s still been a QB1 in each of the past two seasons.

I’m not saying you need to draft him as your QB1 this season, but you should at least consider the volume he’ll see. Leonard Fournette will suck in Jacksonville’s system unless they plan on taking less snaps out of the shotgun this season. Jacksonville started plays out of the gun more than every single team in the NFL except one last season, so don’t expect Fournette to be successful in his current system.

This paves way for Bortles to continue to see a bunch of pass attempts, and at some point they have to turn into touchdowns and 250-yard games. Bortles will most likely embarrass himself this season, and you’ll get heckled for taking him, but if quarterbacks are thin, take him as your QB2.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: RUNNING BACKS

Don’t be that guy who drafts Adrian Peterson

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: Associated Press

You thought I was kidding about Adrian Peterson no longer being a Viking, didn’t you? Well, I’m no Photoshop wizard, so the picture to your left with Peterson doning New Orleans Saints getup proves Peterson is a Saint this season.

I have no clue why the Saints signed Peterson this offseason. Mark Ingram was productive enough last season to be the eighth-best fantasy running back in PPR leagues. Drew Brees is still under center, so expect the Saints to continue to air it out this season, especially with Michael Thomas playing on the outside.

Ingram will most likely be the starter come Week 1, and even though Peterson will see touches this season, it won’t be enough to sustain any kind of success. Peterson managed just three games last season, and averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. He’s also topped 40 catches in a season just once in his career, compared to Ingram doing that in each of his past two seasons.

Peterson will be dropped halfway through the season by all active owners, so save yourself the trouble and keep Peterson off your team. You can score Terrance West, Robert Kelly, Tevin Coleman or even Danny Woodhead at Peterson’s price, and all of which offer much more upside and volume potential.

Eddie Lacy isn’t as fat as he used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should draft him

Eddie Lacy literally got paid this offseason to not be so chunky. Lacy’s always been overrated to me, but that hasn’t stopped others from clogging their arteries by drafting him. In case you missed it, Lacy is now a Seattle Seahawk, and he’ll be fighting off Thomas Rawls to get fed this season.

While the two were splitting time with the first team to open camp, it appears Thomas Rawls has taken over the bulk of the first team work, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times said on Aug. 9. For the near future, Rawls looks to be the starter.

Fantasy owners will draft Lacy for the same reason as Peterson, and that’s for name value alone. Rawls doesn’t have the name recognition, but he does have the advantage in terms his skillset. Rawls has much better lateral quickness and has forced more missed tackles over the course of his career. That ability is a necessity in a Seattle offense that has a terrible offensive line.

Marshawn Lynch is playing football again

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: raiders.com

At the end of the 2015-16 season, Marshawn Lynch called it quits even though it seemed he had more left in the tank. Well, Lynch okie-doked us all by coming out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

With Latavius Murray now in Minnesota, Lynch will own the backfield for the Raiders. Oakland’s offense already owns one of the top one-two punches at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in Derek Carr. The talent is no longer shifted to benefit only the passing game with the addition of Lynch.

Lynch is the No. 15 running back according to the consensus Fantasy Pros rankings for 2017. Expect Lynch to end up as a low RB1 by season’s end. He’s ranked lower than Leonard Fournette, Isaiah Crowell and Carlos Hyde in the rankings, which is odd to say the least. Lynch is in a better offense and will receive the same if not more volume as the aforementioned players.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: PASS CATCHERS

Brandin Cooks now plays for the Patriots, and that’s not fair

Tom Brady has made his money by throwing to a bunch of late round draft picks and one large tight end that seems to party more than he plays. That changes this season with the addition of Brandin Cooks. The Patriots traded for Cooks during the offseason, and with that addition and other moves, there’s been pundits saying New England could go undefeated this season.

Cooks’ most notable trait is his speed. His catch rate on deep passes last season was 45.8 percent, good for fourth in the NFL. He also had 544 deep receiving yards which was second in the NFL. Patriots beat writers have raved about Cooks to start camp, which further proves he has a great chance to one of the best receivers Brady’s ever had.

I’ve yet to take Cooks in any drafts at his ADP, as his ADP is a little too high for my taste. However, taking Cooks as your WR2 could pay huge dividends for your team. He resides in a pass-heavy offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I’m not quite comfortable with Cooks as my WR1, but if you have him as a WR2, your receiving corps will be solid.

Terrelle Pryor used to be a bad quarterback but now is a good wide receiver

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: redskins.com

Terrelle Pryor made a cool one-handed catch in training camp, and for one day fantasy football Twitter anointed him as the next coming of Randy Moss. But that’s what happens during the start of training camp, as our football-thirsty brains need something to sip on. Even so, Pryor is in line to become the No. 1 option in a pass-heavy offense this season.

Kirk Cousins may be his generation’s Alex Smith, as he’s as average as Philadelphia fans are angry. However, the Redskins’ poor defense and questionable running attack could give Pryor the chance to see a lot of targets.

Pryor had 1,007 receiving yards last season with the Cleveland Browns, and that’s as impressive as ESPN ignoring the impulse to tweet about Tim Tebow smacking a double in a low-level minor league game. Pryor was a low end WR2 last season, and his situation this season should allow him to be a solid WR2 again this season.

Martellus Bennett will clown around in Green Bay’s offense

Martellus Bennett signed with the Packers this season, making him the first player to sign with Green Bay during free agency since Bart Starr (that’s called sarcasm, folks). Bennett had a better season last year as a backup in New England than half of the starting tight ends in the NFL. Moving to a pass-heavy offense and playing with a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers gives Bennett the chance to be a TE1 this season.

Bennett was fifth among tight ends in yards per route run last season at 1.96. This shows he took advantage of his time on the field better than nearly all tight ends. Bennett also dropped just two of his 57 catchable targets last season, which will please Aaron Rodgers (that’s a slight against Davante Adams, folks).

Bennett won’t have to battle anyone on the roster for snaps at tight end, so he has the upside to be a top tight end this season. He’s been drafted as a low end TE1 right now, but if you can get greedy and take him as a TE2, you’ll have a good problem on your hands midseason.

 

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week one DFS

Three ideal week one DFS quarterbacks

If you’re like me, you’ve been counting down the days until week one of the NFL season since championship Sunday. Now, with the NFL preseason looming, it’s never too early to look ahead and start planning. In order to finish in the money, you can’t whiff on your quarterback selection. So without further adieu, here are three quarterbacks to build your week one DFS lineup around.

Matt Ryan Average 2016 Salary: $8,268

Week one DFS has some interesting matchups. If you’re looking for a tier-one quarterback to roster, it can’t be Tom Brady, since he plays on Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees play tough defenses in Seattle and Minnesota. And finally, Andrew Luck and Derek Carr will be returning from major injuries. These factors make the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan, the ideal tier-one quarterback.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

Matt Ryan has a history of delivering for week one DFS players (Photo by usatoday.com).

Ryan has a history of producing on opening day. According to Rotoguru, Ryan has scored at least 18 points in every week one game including three 20-point and two 30-point performances since 2012. While none of these have come versus Chicago, his week one opponent, they show Ryan’s ability to deliver on day one.

Yes, I’m aware Ryan will have new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who’s never called a play in the NFL. However, weapons like Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will more than compensate for Sark’s lack of experience.

Ryan’s past aside, the Bears don’t look like a top 10 defense. Their status as a top seven pass defense last year had more to do with their inability to stop the run, as they finished 27th in rushing yards allowed.

According to NFL.com, Ryan is set to average just under 18 points per game. It makes sense. The 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton, regressed to the mean this past season. Ryan will not have such a dramatic drop off, but it is likely he will not produce at the same MVP caliber level.

Matt Ryan will be the premiere tier-one quarterback given his health and his match up compared to players like Rodgers, Brees, Luck and Carr for week one.

Jameis Winston Average 2016 salary: $7,606

Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers have quietly assembled one of the most complete teams in the NFC. While they are not without flaws, they have the ability to quickly move up a division notorious for parity at the top spot. To compete with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, Winston will have to increase his production while maintaining his growing efficiency.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

Jameis Winston (left) and Mike Evans (right) look to ascend to the top of the NFC South in 2017 (Photo by lockerdome.com).

In 2016, Winston experienced an increase in the following categories: attempts, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and passer rating. Most of these increases were marginal, but Winston ascended above the critical 60 percent completion threshold.

Previous number one quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford all had breakout performances in their third season as a starter. Specifically, they all saw increases in touchdowns, completion percentage, and QBR, including some career highs in those areas.

Another great reason to roster Winston for week one DFS are the weapons at his disposal. Mike Evans has established himself as a premiere receiver, in fantasy as well as reality. The Buccaneers additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard only make this offense more explosive in the passing game.

While I don’t see Howard overtaking Cameron Brate, he will absolutely play a role in their red zone offense as another big target for Winston.

Winston also provides a low floor, high ceiling option in his tier-two price range. He’ll likely fall into the $7,400-$7,800 price range for week one, which is completely fair. Hopefully, the oddsmakers at DraftKings and FanDuel set his price at the lower end of the range in his week one DFS match up against the Dolphins.

Tyrod Taylor – Average 2016 Salary: $7,481

In all honesty, I don’t think I rostered Tyrod Taylor more than two or three times last season. Sometimes that worked out well, and other times it didn’t. In 2017, I plan to capitalize on Taylor, especially in week one. Taylor and the Bills will be hosting the bumbling, incompetent New York Jets. While Taylor’s sample size vs New York is small, it’s also promising.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

According to Scout Fantasy, Tyrod Taylor has been successful in his limited opportunities against the Jets (Photo by fftoolbox.scout.com).

While Taylor can be inconsistent in season-long leagues, he has performances that merit selection in DFS. In particular, his week one match up against the Jets. Multiple media outlets have claimed the Jets are in full on rebuild mode in hopes to acquire a top quarterback prospect. Given this information, it’s likely that Taylor, along with LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, will face minimal resistance come Sunday, Sep. 10.

Apart from his matchup and ability to run the ball, I love Taylor’s price tag. It’s likely his week one DFS price will be inflated. However, it is safe to say he won’t cost more than $7,600. Taylor was most expensive in week six of 2016 with a price of $7,800 against the 49ers. So, against a historically bad defense, Taylor didn’t even scratch the $8,000 range. It is likely he will be priced in the $7,300-$7,600 range, which will allow you great flexibility at other spots of your lineup.

 

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11 Ways to Improve Your Fantasy Football League

Fantasy football is one of the greatest new pastimes in America. In just ten years, the activity has grown from 18 million players in 2006, to 57.4 million players in 2015 according to the FSTA. That said, with more players comes more ideas of ways to improve their fantasy football leagues. As self-proclaimed best fantasy football commissioner of all time, I’ll let you in on how to improve your leagues to be as good as mine.

There’s clearly no waning interest in fantasy football, but there’s been an explosion of articles on how to improve fantasy football leagues. Well, here’s the thing. All those articles say the same things, and steal from one another. I admit, some of my improvements are similar to other writers’, but I came up with mine all by myself, so leave your pitchforks at the door.

All of these 11 ways to improve your fantasy football league are imperative to making your league as successful as possible, so make sure you implement them all. If you’re wondering why I’m giving 11 ways, it’s because most other sites give ten, and I like to one-up others. Take that, other fantasy sites.

11. Have the right people

Your fantasy league starts with the players inside it. For me, the hardest part of making my league the success it’s been today has been finding players who actually want to play. In the league’s inaugural year, we only had six players. At the end of year three, we are up to ten players, just three of which (including myself) staying from year one.

In order to have a fun league, you must be able to have fun with your opponents. Gather up some good friends who have knowledge of the game, and start a league. It’s about quality, not quantity. If your league starts with just six people, that’s fine. It’s better to have a league of six best friends than having a twelve-player league with just seven people actually taking it serious.

10. Enjoy a live draft

fantasy football

This was my league’s first draft board. It doesn’t make sense because we didn’t know how to do it with keepers, get over it.

You will read this in any article that gives ways to improve your fantasy football league. Live drafts are by far one of the most fun things you will do all year. Getting a bunch of your friends together to eat food and be merry while heckling each other about draft picks is a great time.

Put some money together to buy a draft board. Trade draft picks with each other. Make it a great time by just showing up. By having a live draft, you won’t have to worry about getting people to make it to their draft. Instead of having to do it via their computer, your friends will have to show up thanks to the added allure a live draft provides.

9. Simple scoring (PPR)

One of the most annoying things about standard scoring leagues is the scoring system for quarterbacks. One point for every 25 yards? If you’re away from your computer or app and see that Cam Newton has thrown for 198 yards, rushed for 45 yards, and rushed and thrown for a score, can you tell me how many points he has? I didn’t think so.

Give your quarterbacks one point for every 10 yards passed. This makes it identical to running backs and receivers. The problem comes when you find out this means a great outing from your quarterback can heavily sway your team’s chances of a win. In order to help that out, give your other players one point for every reception (also known as PPR). If you don’t think that’s enough to level the playing field (pun intended?), give players three or five points for each catch. Trust me, the quarterbacks won’t have as much of an impact as you might think.

This will keep all players in the know of how their team is doing. It’s so much more easy to add up in your head, and removes a lot of confusion in scoring systems.

8. Make it worth something (money, belt, trophy)

There’s a few huge advantages to putting money into your league. Collecting league fees is a pain, but the benefits are substantial.

By collecting league fees, your league can now make enough money to grab a reward for the champion. Whether it be a trophy, a belt, or simply paying the winner cash, money can be a huge driving force for all players to participate.

7. Make your league a dynasty (draft pick trading, more strategy)

By adding keepers to your league, there’s a whole lot more strategy that goes into playing. People must now think about their team’s future, rather than just looking at one season. Now, if you can’t decide who to pick between two players, picking the younger one can be the tie breaker. This also makes trades a lot more interesting. It’s a lot easier to let go of Demaryius Thomas the week of the trade deadline if there’s no ramifications, but if Thomas turns into a viable keeper option for you ailing team, you’ll have to think twice.

This feature turns your league into as close as a real franchise as it gets. Don’t be soft about it either. One or two keepers seems pointless. Move on up to five or six keepers, and see who is really the best at managing their roster. You can really understand how to buy and sell just like the real teams do by turning your fantasy football league into a dynasty.

6. Make your championship two weeks

I say this because I’m still salty about losing in my league’s championship last season. Go ahead and give into the click bait. Read the article and look at my starting lineup for week 16 of last season. My team was stacked, stacked I tell you! Yet because of one bad week at the worst time possible, my team that dominated from the opening week to the semifinals, lost in the championship. In order to remove flukes, simply make your championship two weeks long. If that were the case for my league, I’d have two championship trophies in three years.

This idea is completely biased and filled with agony and despair. Do yourself and the world a favor, and #BanChampionshipWeekFlukes2016.

5. Weekly updates by commish

I’m aware that a lot of leagues do this, but if you don’t you’re missing out. Every week, I gave an update on how the last week went. As the season went on, I wrote out all playoff scenerios, from first-round byes, to being eliminated, and everything in between. A simple post on Tuesday morning can keep your fantasy football league’s members arguing until Thursday.

fantasy football

Yes, it’s meant to be blurred. Only our coveted league members deserve to know what is entailed in our weekly updates.

You can also consider doing a press conference. Pick one owner a week to be the one getting asked the questions, and let all other members submit questions. This keeps all players engaged, and allows members to get underneath the interviewee’s skin, which is really what fantasy football is all about.

4. Vote on trades

In the first season of my league’s existence, we witnessed one of the worst trades of all time. Aaron Rodgers, DeMarco Murray and the owner’s left arm went to another team for $5. The team that gave away its studs was terrible and didn’t care, while the team receiving the stars was put in prime position to win it all. I hadn’t instituted vetoing trades or even voting on them, so once the accept button was pressed, all heck broke loose in the league.

To prevent terrible trades to go through, allow all members to vote within two days of the trade’s acceptance. Make sure your commish is level-headed, so if a fair trade goes through and it gets denied by other players because it makes a good team better, the commish should still allow the trade to go through.

3. Make a constitution

Is this over zealous? Probably. But take your hating “you take your fantasy football league too serious” takes back to where they belong, which is somewhere that isn’t this article.

A constitution allows all members to agree to rules that aren’t necessarily in the online settings. For instance, two parties agreed to a trade, but one member then got cold feet before accepting. Our league now has an amendment that if you shake on or verbally agree to a trade, it is binding.

This simply keeps border line cheating instances from coming to be. By writing out unwritten rules and signing on the bottom of the page, there’s no longer an excuse for disgruntled players who feel cheated.

2. Give your league a social media account

If your league is like mine, even people who aren’t in the league are interested in how things are going. In order to keep everyone in the loop, make the league an account on Facebook or Twitter.

Now, your league is exposed to the world. With this fact known, it should keep everyone in the league interested, and excited to have their name in a tweet belonging to the champion. People also won’t want to be known as the worst in the league, and a few friends seeing a tweet about the last place finisher could be enough motivation to keep all players involved.

1. Punish the worst team

Sometimes being made fun of isn’t enough to scare the last place team into trying to crawl out of the basement. It may take a little more motivation, like forcing the worst team in the league to pay more than everyone else in the league for next season. Bottom feeders can no longer check out of the league by the end of week nine. Now, they must try their best in hopes of not being shamed into paying more money when fees are collected the next season.

 

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Demaryius Thomas fantasy football 2017: A reliable fantasy option?

Demaryius Thomas had one of his worst seasons of his NFL career last season. Thomas is a big receiver who has the whole package. Thomas runs a 4.41 40-yard dash, stands 6-foot-3, 229 pounds and has great hands. He uses his body to get after the ball and has progressed into a top target for the Denver Broncos.

But last season we didn’t see the Demaryius Thomas we are used to seeing.

The Demaryius Thomas we know would have double digit touchdowns and week in and week out would be a big factor in the Denver offense. Is Thomas still reliable as a top fantasy player? Is it his fault for his struggling 2016 season? Thomas is still a top talented receiver but poor quarterback play has made Thomas questionable as a reliable fantasy player.

Early Career

Thomas was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. From 2010-2011, he was a non-fantasy factor as he was still developing as a receiver in the NFL. He only started seven games in the two-year span and had 40 and 79 fantasy points in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Combining those two year stats are still less then what he did in 2012 and also in his disappointing 2016.

Demaryius Thomas fantasy football 2017

Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow (Photo: Denver Post)

Part of the lack of early production is similar to what Thomas struggled with last season: poor quarterback play. In 2010, Kyle Orton had a solid campaign with over 3,600 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But one bad game against the Arizona Cardinals led to Tim Tebow taking over for the last three games.

2011 really started the inconsistency of quarterbacks in Denver. Orton struggled in the first four weeks and was replaced again by Tebow and never took another snap. Tebow finished the season with the lowest passing completion rate in the NFL, reaching 50 percent in just four of his 14 games.

Thomas did thrive towards the end of the season as he emerged as Tebow’s favorite target. He would end the season setting a franchise-record by leading the Broncos in both receiving and targets over the final seven games.

The dominance with Peyton Manning

Demaryius Thomas fantasy football 2017

Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning (Photo by:lightningrodsports.com)

Thomas’ production with Peyton Manning was crazy. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Thomas finished fifth, second and second respectively among all receivers in fantasy points. In those three years, he had over 200 fantasy points in those seasons during Manning’s prime with Denver.

He had at least 10 touchdowns per season from 2012-14 and as well as over 140 targets, 90 receptions and well over 1,400 yards in each of those three years. He was clearly a fantasy beast while Manning was Manning. It could be also because the Broncos finally went back to orange jerseys instead of those horrible navy blue jerseys.

In 2015, Manning struggled with injuries and had to give way Brock Osweiler for nine games, yet Thomas still performed well. He still saw 176 targets, 105 receptions and 1,304 yards. He did only finish with six touchdowns but still ranked 13th at wide receiver in 2015.

The production was still there for Thomas as he used his size to his advantage to catch the ball and rack up targets and yards. One key factor that could have led to the decreased production was the coaching staff changes. In 2013 and 2014, Thomas thrived with offensive coordinator Adam Gase and head coach John Fox. Fox and Gase were let go after 2014 but Thomas still produced with head coach Gary Kubiack and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison in 2015.

2016

In 2016, Thomas saw a lot of change before, during and after the season. Manning retired and Osweiler left for the Houston Texans. Before and during the season there was always a quarterback controversy between Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch. Kubiack missed a game early in the season with concerns over his health which led him to retire after 2016.

Demaryius Thomas fantasy football 2017

Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian (Photo by: USA Today)

Thomas had 90 catches for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns on 145 targets in 2016. He also had seven games with double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues. Thomas finished as the 16th wide receiver by posting consistent but not flashy games, averaging 67 yards and 5.6 receptions per game.

Most of the decline was due to poor quarterback play, and that isn’t expected to get much better this year with either Siemian or Lynch as the starter. Last season, Siemian struggled with injuries and Lynch didn’t develope the way the Broncos expected him to. The Broncos passed for an average of 230.3 yards per game last season, tying them for the 11th least passing yards per game in the league.

One of Siemian’s most noticeable flaws as an inexperienced quarterback was taking unnecessary hits by holding onto the ball too long. The Broncos are trying to work around that habit by upgrading his protection. They signed offensive tackle Menelik Watson and offensive guard Ronald Leary, while also drafting offensive tackle Garrett Bolles with their first pick in the draft.

This also helps the run game they will try to use more as they have C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles. Last year the Broncos averaged just 92.8 rushing yards per game and only 3.6 yards per carry, good for 27th  and 28th in the league.

2017 prediction

Is Thomas still an effective receiver? Thomas still has plenty of upside as a No. 2 fantasy receiver or a very high-end flex player if the quarterback play is consistent. He’s working on five years in a row of at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards. One reason he could bounce back is the return of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy who left Denver in 2012 when Thomas broke out.

He has the potential to still be a bonafide WR1 especially as he is now healthy from a hip injury. He is still a WR2 or a flex option as I mentioned previously.

 

Featured image from sportsglory.com

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Football Stars on New Teams

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

In 2017, many NFL players will be moving on to new teams. I have composed a list of five NFL fantasy studs sporting new colors this season. These five players will have a major impact on not only their new teams success, but on your fantasy teams success should you be fortunate enough to draft them.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

 

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

Marshawn Lynch (Photo by: silverandblackpride.com)

A lot of people are excited to see Marshawn Lynch back in the NFL. After being retired in 2016, Lynch finds himself in his hometown team’s silver and black. Lynch is a big powered back that lives up to his name “Beast Mode”. He will be the go to guy with the Oakland Raiders after they lost Latavius Murray to Minnesota in free agency. The Raiders ranked within the top-10 in most rushing categories and Lynch should only improve on those statistics in 2017. The Raiders did find themselves in the top-10 in fumbles lost in 2016 and adding Lynch will improve that number as he had zero in 2015 and one in 2014. Lynch will be a high-end RB2 and maybe even a low-end RB1 in most fantasy leagues depending on how committed to the run the Raiders are in 2017.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

 

Changing to the wide receiver position, another player to focus on is new Baltimore Ravens receiver Jeremy Maclin. Cut by the Kansas City Chiefs on June 2, he found a new home in Baltimore just 11 days later on a two-year deal. Maclin should fit in right away as Joe Flacco’s number one target. Maclin’s numbers should increase as he is in a better passing offense with the Ravens. The Ravens ranked 12th in passing yards while the Chiefs ranked 19th and Baltimore attempted 679 passes, which led the league, to Kansas City’s 546.  Maclin at worst is a valuable flex option and has the potential to be a high-end WR2.

Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

 

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

Alshon Jeffrey (Photo by: nj.com)

Another receiver looking to rebound is Alshon Jeffrey of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jeffrey is a big target with good hands and solid route running skills. Like most Chicago Bear offensive players, Jeffrey struggled last year as he only managed 95 catches for 821 yards and two touchdowns. He was also suspended for four games by the NFL for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. This year Jeffrey should bounce back being paired with Carson Wentz and having a good core of receivers in Torrey Smith, Jordan Mathews and tight end Zach Ertz around him. The Eagles last year ranked 24th in receiving yards and 29th in yards-per-reception and Jeffrey should only help improve those numbers. Jeffrey will be a high-end WR2 but will be a drafted too early as a WR1.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots

 

One player that could see a new role is receiver Brandin Cooks. After trade on March 10 to the New England Patriots, Cooks finds himself in a plethora of receivers that he will pair with. Tom Brady will be happy to have him. As a fantasy owner I wouldn’t worry about how many catches he will get. The Patriot offense is all about spreading the ball around. Cooks was part of that with the New Orleans Saints but he was also the number one target for them. In New England he’s another weapon and the primary deep threat for Brady. He will lose some value but he will remain a solid WR2 option in leagues this season.

Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints

 

One of the more intriguing players we will be watching is running back Adrian Peterson of the New Orleans Saints. Peterson shouldn’t be expected to be the player he was with the Minnesota Vikings but more of an option the Saints have at running back along with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. There is no guarantee he will be the starter come week one but the Saints signed him to get some carries and take a good portion of the workload. The Saints have proven to have a consistent running game as they rank in the top-15 in most rushing categories and adding Peterson can only strengthen those numbers. He has struggled with injuries but he is Adrian Peterson and we have seen him bounce back from injuries before. He is someone to take a gamble on late in the draft as he will get touchdowns and carries.

These five players were major components for their old teams and you should expect them to be contributors to their new teams in 2017. The roles the fill will be changing and their fantasy output should be researched thoroughly before making them a key contributed for your team.

Featured Image from https://nflspinzone.com/

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Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1

Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for… Quarterback Rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1. This is the group of quarterbacks that most of you will have on your teams, especially if you’re in a 10-team league or an 8-team league. Many people have their own opinions concerning the top 3 quarterbacks that are on this list, but believe me if you can snag one of hose guys, don’t hesitate.
10. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Jameis is only going to get better. New targets such as OJ Howard, and Desean Jackson will team up with Mike Evans for the new look Tampa Bay offense this year. You might have to take him early, but Jameis is worth it.

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

9. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)- Russell Wilson may be the most talented quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t have the wide receivers or offensive line to crack the top 5. Looking to run the ball more this season, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy but didn’t do too much to address the problem at wideout. Other than Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin, Wilson is lacking targets. He’s never a risky pick so if you want to go safe go with Wilson.

8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)- Did Matt Stafford hit his peak last year? I sure think so. He’s a great player don’t get me wrong, and having Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick at full health will help, but I don’t see Stafford doing much better than last year. If you want to grab a elite level QB for the price of a second tier guy, Stafford is your man.

7. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)- I know what everyone is thinking, “Drew Brees deserves to be in the top 5!” Not this year. I can’t say anything bad about Brees except that he might hurt from the loss of Brandin Cooks. Michael Thomas will be great once again but it won’t be enough. I love Brees this year, I just believe that the other 6 quarterbacks will outplay him.

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

6. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)- Matt Ryan is an elite QB in the NFL. Mark my words because he will not be as good as he was last year. The dreaded super bowl hangover will haunt him and it will be hard to regain MVP status without Kyle Shanahan as his play caller. There’s nothing wrong with taking Matt Ryan this year, just don’t expect him to be a carbon copy of last year.

5. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)- Here is a prime example of a Super Bowl hangover. The combination of the big loss and the fact that he had to deal with a torn rotator cuff for the majority of the season, caused Cam to have the worst season of his career. Expect a bounce back year however. With new additions of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have the ability to have the most explosive offense in the NFL. The most important thing is if his offensive line can hold up.

4. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)- My way too early pick for MVP this year is Derek Carr. He’s young and hungry and looking for revenge from his early exit last year. Pair that with the receiving corps of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, Carr is in for a huge year.

3. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)- Another player who could easily be number one on this list if he could stay healthy. Andrew Luck has the size, arm strength, and arm accuracy to be successful in the NFL. He just needs more targets. Get him those targets and he is my number one quarterback.

(Foxboro, MA, 01/18/15) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)- This was by far the toughest decision I had to make. If you told me that Aaron Rodgers is the number one fantasy quarterback I’d have no problem with that, I just believe Brady is better. Rodgers has all the targets and a consistent offensive line, give him a legitimate running back and he’s my number one quarterback.

1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)- Isn’t life just great for Tom Brady? Coming off his fifth super bowl win, he gets Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead, all of whom will help out Brady immensely. Give the already best quarterback in the league a great offensive line and an influx of great receivers and running backs, he’s only going to get better.

 

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