Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Top five fantasy stars of Week 9

Week 9 of the NFL season has come and gone. As we have passed the halfway point of the season, we had some big fantasy performances this week. If you had these players (or if you got lucky) you feel pretty good about your team this week. Here are the top five fantasy stars of Week 9.

Carson Wentz, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz had a day against the Denver Broncos, throwing four touchdowns in a 51-23 blowout.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Carson Wentz (Photo from grandforksherald.com)

The Broncos defense hasn’t allowed 18 or more fantasy points to any quarterback in their first seven games of the season. However, Wentz steamrolled one of the top defenses in the league.

For Wentz, it’s all about consistency, and we have seen that in his last five games. He has tossed 17 touchdowns and just three picks in the last five.

In seven of the nine games he has played, he has been a top eight quarterback. His elusiveness as a passer and a runner has made him a high-end QB1 with his consistent play.

Wentz now has a league-leading 23 touchdown passes and is continuing to have what looks like an MVP season. After a bye in Week 10, he will face the Dallas Cowboys the following week.

I expect him to have another good day with Dallas’ defense being in the lower tier against the quarterback this season.

T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts

Many of us had given up hope on Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, but he finally broke through. It looks as if there is some chemistry developing between him and his quarterback Jacoby Brissett as well.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

T.Y. Hilton (Photo from tvasports.ca)

Hilton has been struggling all season, with some of it being due to not having his quarterback Andrew Luck. For the first eight weeks, he only averaged 66 yards and had only one touchdown.

But he was a beast on Sunday with 175 yards and two touchdowns, with one being 45 yards and the other was a 80-yard score. His 34 points in PPR and 29 in non-PPR gives some life to fantasy owners as there seems to have been a jumpstart in the Colts offense at least throwing the ball. Hilton has a trio of long touchdowns, but other than that, he has been kept out of the end zone.

It’s encouraging to see Hilton finally have a good game, but he will continue to be a boom or bust player for the rest of the season.

Quarterback Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

The first two quarterbacks picked last season had stellar performances. Jared Goff had a similar day to Wentz as he torched the New York Giants defense.

Goff had a career day, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns while completing 14 of his 22 passes in a 51-17 blowout. The highest scoring offense has continued its dominance, and part of it is Goff playing well.

This is a guy that started his career with an 0-7 record as starter heading into 2017 with a 63.6 passer rating. Now he looks like the first overall pick the Rams were hoping for.

He has now scored at least 16 points five times in the last eight games, including 28 on Sunday. Goff averaged an outstanding 14.1 yards per attempt thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes, one a 52-yard strike to Robert Woods on a third and 33 and then a 67-yard deep ball to Sammy Watkins just over two minutes later. It’s just one of those feel-good stories when it comes to Goff.

Goff has gained some attention across fantasy as he was the 13th most started quarterback according to ESPN. He will continue his good play against a struggling Houston Texans defense.

Running back Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

What a season rookie Alvin Kamara is having, both as a runner and a pass catcher. Even though this is his eighth game, he had a career day in fantasy with 25 points and 31 points in PPR.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Alvin Kamara (Photo from buffalonews.com)

The Saints back contributed 152 total yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kamara rushed 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown and hauled in six of seven targets for 84 yards and another score.

The versatile rookie made his presence felt again, leading the Saints in receiving yardage while posting his best reception total since Week 4. He also posted his second straight week scoring a rushing touchdown for the first time in his career. Kamara also for the first time scored a receiving and a rushing score in the same game. The Saints seem to have found their pairing with Kamara and Mark Ingram.

He continues to be one the best pass catching backs in the league as he and rookie Christian McCaffrey are the only backs with at least three receptions in every game this season. They play the Bills next week and could have a solid day as a pass catcher.

TIght End Evan Engram, New York Giants

While the Giants struggled, Evan Engram had a solid day against the Rams. Engram had four catches for 70 yards and a score.

This may not seem like a star to most, but Engram has been lights out the last three games, scoring over 15 in three straight. He has established himself as the first target in a struggling Giant offense. He led the team in targets and tied for the most yards. Engram found the end zone in the fourth on a 10-yard pass from Eli Manning. He has posted at least 60 receiving yards in four of his last five games while reaching the end zone in each of his last three.

Engram has had a solid season even with the Giants woes on offense and should be considered a viable TE1 option. Expect Engram to have another solid outing next week against the winless San Francisco 49ers.

 

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Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Fantasy reaction: Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury

The New York Giants had a rough week 5 on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they not get their first win, but they also suffered multiple injuries at one position.

The team lost four receivers on Sunday. They lost Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to ankle injuries within a span of four plays in the second quarter. Then they lost Dwayne Harris to a foot fracture and is out for the remainder of the 2017 season.

But the bigger name is their star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants announced after the game that Beckham fractured his ankle and is expected to miss the rest of the season. This is of course a big blow to the Giants offense and to fantasy owners.

Fantasy players know that they can fix this, even if it’s a high-caliber player like Beckham.

The Giants situation

Granted the Giants had other options, but they don’t have someone to replace a talent like Beckham. Now they face the problem of who will replace the other receivers. According to ESPN, Shapard could miss a couple of weeks, and Marshall’s injury is unknown, but being carted off isn’t a good sign.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Odell Beckham Jr. (Photo by: nytimes.com)

The only wide receiver healthy as of Sunday on the roster is Roger Lewis Jr., who had a 29-yard touchdown catch on Sunday. The Giants made a couple of moves on Monday, promoting Travis Rudolph from their practice squad and re-signing Tavarres King, who played the last three seasons with the Giants. They also have tight end Evan Engram, who is more of a receiver tight end and will likely become Eli Manning’s top target. Also expect running back Shane Vereen to have a bigger role in the passing game.

It will be hard to be rely on these new faces especially with their matchup this week against the Broncos at Denver. Even with a poor offensive line, don’t expect the Giants’ offense to offer reliable fantasy options.  The only players to give a look at especially in deeper leagues are Lewis and Engram and then Vereen only in PPR.

Wavier Wire

The first option is to look at the wavier wire and look at streamable players from this point on. Of course none of these receivers are anything close to Beckham, but they could help you week-in and week-out especially if you need players with good matchups.

The first is to look at Lewis of the Giants. He’s the next man up after the Giants lost four receivers on Sunday. He had a 29-yard touchdown catch. It may not look like much, but with Beckham out and Marshall and Shepard expected to miss time, he could be the new No. 1 receiver for Big Blue. However, his next two matchups are Denver and Seattle, who will both be coming off byes. He might not be the first choice, but shouldn’t be ignored if you’re desperate.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Roger Lewis Jr. (Photo by: sanluisobispo.com)

A streamable receiver to look at is Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess. Since they lost tight end Greg Olsen in week 2, he has seen 27 targets over the last three weeks. Funchess also has crossed the goal line on three occasions over the last two games.

Part of his success is his quarterback Cam Newton playing sensational the past two games. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame makes him a natural red-zone target.

The Panthers face the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next three weeks. These three teams are ranked inside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Funchess also missed practice on Monday with a knee injury, and should be watched closely if he doesn’t play on Thursday.

Other receivers to look at are Jermaine Kearse of the Jets, Mike Wallace of the Ravens, Nelson Agholor of the Eagles and Kendall Wright of the Bears.

Look at trades

If no one in free agency interests you, maybe it’s time to find a trade. Personally I’m not a big fan of trades unless I’m the one receiving the trade, but if times are desperate, then a trade could be in the cards.

One big name that is having a good start to the season is New England Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. Sure he may cost you, but if you have assets, he’s worth it. He may be 31st in the league in targets, but he is a touchdown machine. Hogan has turned four of his last 26 targets into trips to the end zone. They may have lots of mouths to feed in New England, but he has been consistent since week 2 and is continuing to play at a high pace.

Now there’s players to look at who are having down years. Names like Amari Cooper, Terrelle Pryor, Sammy Watkins and Golden Tate could be valuable down the stretch if they turn it around. Some fantasy owners might give up these players for the right price, and it might not take much to land these players. Even with their struggles, they are top receivers on their teams. Their targets will remain consistent, and the plan here is to hope for a bounce back.

Now if you’re one of those players that want to land a star to replace a star then look at Julio Jones. He has struggled out of the gate with no touchdowns, but coming off a bye could be what Jones needs to get going. If you have assets and want to make the swing to the fences, this a trade you want to try.

Best bet: Look for the hot hand

In the end, the best bet is to look at players that are hot. Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends that are playing consistent are the best way to replace Beckham without getting rid of your whole team. There’s no clear way to replace Beckham, but we all can relate to losing the star of your team. Hopefully to most they can overcome this, but continue to make moves for the hot hand if there’s no clear long-term replacement.

 

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NFL week 3 takeaways

NFL week 3: Eight takeaways

1. Is Jared Goff a franchise quarterback? 

A week ago, we watched Goff throw a terrible interception to Mason Foster, which sealed the victory for the Redskins. In one of the best Thursday night football games of recent memory, Goff led the 2-1 Rams past the 49ers, 41-39. Goff went 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff also did not take any sacks and had zero turnovers. The Rams are seeing his confidence grow, and it is showing on the football field.

NFL week 3 takeaways

Is Goff legit? (SI.com)

So what should we expect moving forward? Well, mistakes will happen, but this kid is growing and improving every week. Under Sean McVay, Goff is in a legit system, unlike Jeff Fisher’s high school offense. McVay turned Kirk Cousins into a respectable quarterback, so the sky is the limit for Goff and the Rams.

2. Tom Brady is not human

Father time had been undefeated up until Tom Brady arrived on Earth. In one of the best performances of his career, Brady led the Patriots to a miraculous come-from-behind win against Houston 36-33. He completed 71 percent of his passes, threw for 378 yards and tallied up 5 touchdowns.

Brady was getting lit up all game by the Texans defense, but nothing phases this guy. He currently has the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, passes for more than 20 yards and passes for more than 40 yards. Keep in mind that he has yet to throw an interception.

Yeah, Tom Brady is statistically the best quarterback in the NFL, at 40 years of age.

3. The Jaguars absolutely smacked the Ravens

You know the game is getting out of hand when Ryan Mallett is behind center. In a 44-7 slaughtering, the Jaguars recorded their third consecutive victory in London.

If I’m Tom Coughlin, I’m at least asking Roger Goodell if the Jags can build a home stadium in London. No seriously, Jacksonville has now won as many games in London as they have at EverBank Field since October 2015.

As bizarre as this sounds, the Jaguars are legit contenders for the AFC South. Indy is without Andrew Luck until at least week 6. Deshaun Watson looks like he’ll be just fine, but we still don’t know what to expect from him and the Texans moving forward. The Titans defense is also incredibly suspect.

The Jags currently rank fourth in scoring and fifth in rushing yards. Their passing defense has been tremendous, as they have allowed the fewest passing yards in the entire league, and have already forced eight turnovers.

4. How about the Bills beating Denver!

It appeared the Bills were in full tank mode when they gave away Sammy Watkins and contemplated trading LeSean McCoy. After a 26-16 victory over Denver, the Bills are hungry for a playoff spot.

NFL week 3 takeaways

All smiles for Tyrod Taylor and the 2-1 Bills (Eagles Tribune)

After getting off to a slow start and generating just 10 yards in the first quarter, the Bills came alive, much thanks to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor had the best game of his season as he threw two touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes. The Bills struggled to run the ball against Denver’s potent defense, as Buffalo only managed a total of 75 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per carry.

What does this loss mean for the Broncos? No need to worry too much, as Jamaal Charles ran the ball well, and the defense played good enough to win. Trevor Siemian played bad, but that is expected from time to time. Siemian is 3-6 in his career on the road, so that is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

5. Was Cam Newton’s 2015 MVP season just a fluke?

The Panthers took their first loss on Sunday to the Saints, and Cam Newton continued to struggle. Newton threw three interceptions and was only able to pass for 167 yards against one of the worst defenses of the past few years.

It’s hard to argue that Newton is a franchise quarterback at this point. Sunday’s 43.8 passer rating was Cam’s third worst of his career. Next week, the Panthers travel to New England, so hopefully Newton can figure it out fast.

Also, the Panthers defense played really bad. After allowing 60 yards per game on the ground in the first two contests, Carolina allowed the Saints to rush for 149 yards. They allowed a total of 362 yards and 21 first downs. You can’t be elite every game, so it will be interesting to see if Carolina is able to bounce back against Tom Brady.

6. The Bengals and Giants’ seasons are most likely over

The Bengals have been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, and the Giants went into this season with a Super Bowl in sight. Now with both at 0-3, it is essentially impossible to make the playoffs. Since 1990, only three teams, the 1998 Bills, 1995 Lions and 1992 Chargers, have made the postseason after starting 0-3.

Cincinnati looked like they were going to upset Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, until they absolutely imploded in the second half. The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession and even had a pick six against Rodgers, which had only happened one other time in his career. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was 0-5 on third down and did not reach the red zone after halftime.

The Giants lost on a heartbreaking 61-yard field goal by Eagles rookie Jake Elliott. At least Odell Beckham Jr. is dominating again. OBJ has now reached 300 receptions in fewer games than any other player in NFL history. Let’s see if either of these squads can do the impossible and make the postseason.

7. The Seahawks are in trouble

Not only did Seattle fall to 1-2, but their defense played poorly. After carrying this team for years, is this star-studded defense getting tired?

NFL week 3 takeaways

DeMarco Murray scoring with ease against Seattle (The Tennessean)

All of a sudden, teams are running all over Seattle. They currently rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 5.3. A week ago it seemed like the 49ers rushing for 159 yards against Seattle was just lucky.

On Sunday, the Titans ran for 195 yards, proving that this Seattle defense has lost a step. This was the most rushing yards allowed by the Seahawks since November 3, 2013. Russell Wilson played well, but the Seahawks now have question marks on both sides of the ball.

8. That Raiders loss was weird

No need to panic if you’re a Raiders fan, but what a weird game. Carr threw a pair of picks and had a quarterback rating of 52.9. The Raiders offense had only 128 yards of total offense. In the first two games, Oakland had 359 and 410. They were also unable to rush the ball against Washington’s defense.

Still, you can’t win all of them. Carr blames himself for the loss and will bounce back. Kudos to the Redskins. Their defense was outstanding, Kirk Cousins looked great and Chris Thompson had a career game. Both teams sit confidently at 2-1 heading into week 4.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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Todd Gurley hot start

Can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start?

Todd Gurley had an amazing rookie campaign, rushing for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns in only 13 games. He followed that up with a subpar sophomore year, with 885 yards and six touchdowns.

Now at the start of the 2017 season, Gurley is starting to look like his old self again with 241 yards and six total touchdowns in only three games. The question remains whether or not he can keep up his hot start.

Hot Start

Todd Gurley hot start

Courtesy of, www.univision.com

Gurley is off to the start that every fantasy owner was hoping he would have. He’s never been much of a receiving back so far in the NFL, but now that Jared Goff is improving his play, he looks to be more of a dual threat back than ever.

 

In three games to start the season, Gurley has 13 receptions for 140 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He’s only 48 yards away from matching his total from his rookie campaign. Those two receiving touchdowns are also his first receiving touchdowns that he’s ever had in the NFL. That shows his use in the red zone.

The red zone volume is there for Gurley, which is a positive sign. In three games so far, he has 12 rushes for 21 yards and all four of his touchdowns. The Rams have shown that their game plan revolves around a strong run game, and Gurley is the focal point of that run game.

Another positive sign for fantasy owners is the snap percentage that he has played so far. Gurley has played in 85 percent of the teams offensive snaps, giving him plenty of opportunity to touch the ball and succeed.

Outlook for the rest of the season

The offensive line, which was addressed in the offseason, has played a big role in the success of the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. The Rams’ offensive line has allowed Jared Goff to have a clean pocket while opening up running lanes for Gurley. The fact that the Rams can sustain a good passing attack with a lethal run game causes terror in opposing defenses.

Now I know that the defenses that the Rams have played don’t have the greatest defensive front. Gurley and the Rams will face a couple of tough defenses when they play the Seahawks, Jaguars, Cardinals and Giants in four consecutive games. Those games will be a real test for Gurley, and we’ll really see if his season is as legit as we think it is.

Now to answer the question I started the article off with: can Todd Gurley keep up his hot start? I have been on the Jared Goff train since he was drafted by the Rams. I said that if the Rams could get their passing game going, which they are doing now with Goff and Sammy Watkins, the run game would follow.

It’s interesting what a different one year makes. With the additions of Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Watkins and the emerging play of Goff, Gurley can and should maintain his hot start to the season.

 

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Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

We continue our fantasy football bold predictions. This time we breakdown the AFC East. And don’t worry, it’s not all about the Patriots.

Buffalo Bills: Tyrod Taylor Is Not a QB2

Tyrod Taylor enters as the 18th fantasy quarterback.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Tyrod Taylor (Photo by: espn.com)

Taylor surprised a lot of people coming back to Buffalo this season. More surprising is that Buffalo traded away their top receiver Sammy Watkins and acquired Jordan Matthews in a separate deal.

Taylor finished 2016 as the No. 18 fantasy quarterback. However, he did score at least 20 fantasy points in standard leagues in seven of 15 starts. He also had at least 17 fantasy points in three other games, so he only really struggled for five games on the year. But that’s 2016.

In 2017, his two receivers are Matthews and Zay Jones. Not the best tandem let alone they are new to Buffalo.

So far this preseason Taylor has struggled in the new offense. He had a two-interception outing in Buffalo’s preseason loss to the Eagles on Thursday.

A report from Joe Buscaglia of ABC 7 Buffalo stated that there was concern about who will start at quarterback in week 1. Head coach Sean McDermott said they will go with Taylor as the starter. That alone causes concern on how ready Taylor is.

He has success without Watkins but he’s relying on a rookie and a new receiver to the offense to act as his main targets. It’s risky to even draft Taylor. I also predict that Taylor will not finish the season as the starter.

Miami Dolphins: Julius Thomas will have double digit touchdowns

Julius Thomas was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Miami Dolphins this offseason. He currently ranks as the 18th tight end in fantasy.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

In a previous article, he is my tight end fantasy sleeper and I still believe that. His time in Jacksonville was dreadful but in Miami he rejoins Adam Gase from his playing days in Denver.

He only had nine total touchdowns with Jacksonville in two seasons. His big break in 2013, he had 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would finish as the third tight end in fantasy that season.

In the two years under Gase in Denver, Thomas reached elite status. He finished no worse than the number seven fantasy tight end in standard leagues over that span, combining for 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns. Even though his quarterback was some guy named Peyton Manning in Denver, Thomas excelled in Gase’s offense.

He was very efficent in the red zone. In 2013 from inside the 20-yard line, he finished seventh in receptions (14), second in yards (112) and sixth in touchdowns (8). He finished fifth in yards (33) and sixth in touchdowns with five from inside the 10-yard line. The year after, he was seventh in receptions (13), eighth in yards (94) and third in touchdowns with nine from the 20-yard line. From the 10-yard line, he improved to fourth with seven receptions and six touchdowns.

Gase has had success helping his tight ends after Thomas. Even though he won’t have Ryan Tannehill, he will have Jay Cutler throwing the ball.

In 2015 when Gase coached Cutler in Chicago, tight end Zach Miller led the team with five touchdowns. With a better supporting cast, Thomas should be the top option in the red zone and should improve from the days in Jacksonville.

New England Patriots: Mike Gillislee becomes the next LeGarrette Blount

The Patriots signed Gillislee, a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills, after a season of 101 carries for 577 yards and eight touchdowns.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Mike Gillislee (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

The Patriots are known to like their workhorse backs. Gillislee averaged more yards per carry (4.2) than LeGarrette Blount (3.3) against eight or more defenders in the box last season.

Gillislee now takes over as the starting back, a role that produced 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 from Blount. He produced nine total touchdowns as the backup to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo last year and being in the top offense in the NFL should only help him.

Now the Patriots do have a lot of running backs with Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis. New England backs can see a hefty market share in the offense. But that didn’t stop the starters for having good seasons.

Last year, Blount carried 62.03 percent of New England’s touches, good for the ninth-highest share in football. He saw a similar per-game rate in 2015 (he missed four games, but paced towards a 57 percent market share), and in 2012, Stevan Ridley ended the year with a 55.45 percent rushing attempt market share for the Pats. 

It’s not unreasonable to think Gillislee, who has a skillset that’s broader than Blount’s and has shown a ton of upside. He is currently the 24th running back in fantasy.

New York Jets: Bilal Powell will be a top-15 running back

Despite opening last season as the No. 2 running back for the Jets behind Matt Forte, Bilal Powell might have been the best running back in New York in 2016.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Bilal Powell (Photo by: bleacherreport.com)

He finished as the No. 23 fantasy running back in standard leagues, which was just three spots behind Forte. He had 131 carries for 722 yards (5.51 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, and 58 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

Powell had career highs in rushing yards, yards per carry and receptions. He outperformed 31-year-old Forte, producing almost as many plays better than 15 yards (14) as Forte (16) despite 59 fewer touches. Powell had a higher average of yards per carry after contact and more missed tackles.

In his final seven games, Powell had at least 14 fantasy points in standard leagues in four of those outings. Powell becomes dual-threat running back this year as he will be a top target in the passing game with Quincy Enunwa out for the season.

Only David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and White garnered more targets in the passing game for running backs last season. The offense isn’t great, but Powell could get around 250 touches next season if he stays healthy.

He’s going to get his share of touches and he’s a solid No. 3 fantasy running back to target with a mid- to late-round pick, with his value higher in PPR.

 

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Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Fantasy football bold predictions: NFC West

The preseason is here and so is fantasy football. We have seen endless articles making bold predictions on players, numbers and who are sleepers. This article and many coming are my 2017 fantasy football bold predictions starting with the the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer will Bounce Back in 2017

Headlined as a fantasy sleeper, Carson Palmer is a QB20 and picked towards the end of drafts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carson Palmer (Photo by: si.com)

In 2015, Palmer had one of the best seasons of his career. He finished in the top-five among quarterbacks in 2015 with 35 touchdowns and 4,600-plus yard season. He had receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, and the emergence of John Brown and Michael Floyd really helped Palmer.

But 2016 was the opposite. Even though he was 36 that season, the departure of Michael Floyd and the recurring illnesses of John Brown were not helpful. Besides that, Palmer hit a wall with efficiency.

His 8.7 yards per attempt in 2015 dropped down to 7.1. Another big part of the struggle was the breakout of David Johnson. But Palmer did have a good end of the season with at least 20 fantasy points in a standard leagues in six of his final nine games, and no outing with fewer than 17 points.

But in 2017 Palmer is back and fully focused. Brown is finally healthy and the emergence of J.J. Nelson to complement Larry Fitzgerald and with David Johnson in the backfield should help Palmer have a season like 2015.

Los Angeles Rams: Sammy Watkins will play a full season, but will not have over five touchdowns

Sammy Watkins was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 11. There’s no worse situation to be in than the Rams. He is ranked as the 21st wide receiver and selected around the fourth to fifth round.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: dailynews.com)

Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. The good news is that he’s healthy now. He should get the time to rest and learn the offense this preseason.

The bad news is now he’s with the LA Rams. Fantasy owners cringe now because of the situation. His quarterback is Jared Goff who was on the lower end of quarterbacks in 2016. Even though a rookie, he completed a miserable 54.5 percent of his passes, had a 5-to-7 TD/INT ratio and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt.

But for Watkins, he has averaged 0.46 touchdowns per game over his career. And while there’s hope for Goff, he has to learn a new offense and that doesn’t look good for either Goff or Watkins. Look for running back Todd Gurley to have a big role in Los Angeles.

Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin will break into the top-five for wide receivers

Doug Baldwin checks in as the WR10 and ranked 29th overall among fantasy players. Baldwin hasn’t received a whole lot of love from a fantasy perspective. Maybe that’s because Seattle isn’t known as a passing team, but they have done better over the past two seasons. Last year, they ranked tied for 18th with 567 pass attempts. This was the first year Russell Wilson has thrown over 500 pass attempts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Doug Baldwin (Photo by: ftw.usatoday.com)

But back to Baldwin. His target share in the last three years has been steady at 22, 21, and 22 percent respectively. He’s blossomed in his new No. 1 wide receiver role, delivering back-to-back top-10 fantasy finishes in both standard and PPR formats. Baldwin’s eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive years, and he set a new single-season high of 1,128 yards last year.

His touchdown total however, dipped from 14 in 2015 to seven last year. But 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons is an impressive stat. With guys like Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Amari Cooper ranked right around Baldwin, his touchdowns over the past two seasons rank best out of all of them.

A key stat for Baldwin is in 2015, 95 percent of Baldwin’s yardage (1,011) and 93 percent of his touchdowns (13) came from the slot, per Next Gen Stats. In 2016, those percentages fell to 59 for yardage (662) and 57 for touchdowns (four). Baldwin proved he could win outside, posting a 78 percent catch rate and 15.36 yards per catch average when lined up out wide.

He has proven to be a top target for Seattle and I expect him to continue his dominance with the run game still in question. His only threat to take targets away is Jimmy Graham but that didn’t stop him in 2016.

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde will run for over 1,000 yards

Carlos Hyde as of right now is being selected right around the third to fourth round. He is ranked as the 15th running back.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carlos Hyde (Photo by: sfgate.com)

Hyde has had some problems staying healthy (14 games missed in three seasons). But when he’s on the field he’s one of the better backs in the league. He averaged a career-best 4.6 YPC on 217 carries last season and has ranked among the top 10 in the NFL in YAC each of the past two years.

He has been the best running back on his team in terms of success rate every year he’s been in the league, and just last season, only 10 running backs had more top-24 PPR performances and only 7 had more top-12 ones.

Hyde will be in a new offense in 2017 under Kyle Shanahan. He will fit his offense around the skillset of his personnel. With Cleveland in 2014, the team ran for five more touchdowns than they threw for. With the Atlanta Falcons, we saw Shanahan turn Devonta Freeman into a top fantasy running back in 2015. Granted in a better offense, Shanahan works well with running backs when the offense molds together.

Hyde finished 2016 ranked 18th in fantasy points in only 13 games, posting five top-10 weeks and nine touchdowns. He just missed 1,000 yards by 12 yards. There’s been a lot of hype around the backup Joe Williams. But he has been dominating training camp and Jon Lynch liked the shape Hyde was in as recently as late July.

 

Featured image from calvinayre.com.

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2017 NFC West division preview

2017 NFC West division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 NFC West division preview.

4: San Fransisco 49ers

Last season: 2-14

Strength of Schedule: 20

John Lynch made a statement in the NFL Draft. He knows what he is doing and plans on building a championship defense. The picks of Soloman Thomas and Rueben Foster are prime examples. The problem is that the 49ers need lots of talent to actually be competitive. San Fransisco ranked in the bottom of every defensive category and a few young players aren’t going to turn them into a top NFL defense right away.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

The defense is going to struggle against the run. After ranking 32nd last season, the only way to go is up but again, two rookies aren’t going to take them from 32nd to the top of the mountain.

As teams run all over the 49ers, the defense will get worn out and teams will be able to pass against them as well. With a bottom third defense, it will be difficult for San Fransisco to win games.

Offensively, the 49ers will struggle because of a bad offensive line. Pro Football Focus is predicting the 49ers to have the 27th ranked line in the NFL. This will mean tough sledding for running back Carlos Hyde. Brian Hoyer has been given the reigns at quarterback but is barely an average quarterback.

Hoyer also has no real threat to throw the ball to outside of Pierre Garcon. Teams can load the box to stop the run and will not have to worry about getting burned by the pass. The predictability of the offense will make it hard for them to win games. The 49ers are clearly heading in the right direction but will not show it with wins this season.

Prediction: 2-14 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 7-8-1

Strength of Schedule: 23

Carson Palmer showed signs of decline last season at age 37. He went from 35 touchdowns down to 26. Palmer also threw more interceptions as his total increased from 11 interceptions in 2015 to 14 last season. Father Time is undefeated and this season Palmer will feel the effects even more.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The rest of the offense is pretty solid. David Johnson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and will be the workhorse. It won’t be far-fetched to say Johnson will have 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Larry Fitzgerald is back for his 14th season to lead the Cardinals’ receiving corp. Outside of Fitzgerald, there is a lot of inconsistency with the receivers.

Arizona has had a very good defense for the last couple of seasons but there are a few unknowns this year. Losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson really hurt.

There is still plenty of talent but the key pieces of Campbell and Jefferson may prove too big of losses. If they can’t replace these players the defense will regress. The Cardinals will also have a rookie linebacker, Haason Reddick, starting at inside linebacker.

Special teams were a weak link for the Cardinals last season. They must improve in all facets in order to win more games but there isn’t much to look at yet in the preseason to determine whether or not this has improved.

Facing Arizona is going to be a tough game for any opponent but for now, because of an old quarterback and restructured defense, the Cardinals are going to be a team that hovers around .500.

Prediction: 7-9 (3-3), miss the playoffs

2: Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 4-12

Strength of Schedule: 17

Adding Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator is going to make all the difference for the Rams this season. The Rams’ defense was much better than some of their rankings due to an offense that was rather pedestrian. Los Angeles gave up the ninth fewest yards in the NFL last season at just 337 yards per game.

2017 NFL West division preview

(Photo Credit: https://px1sports.com)

Wade Phillips has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and most recently with the Denver Broncos. With players like Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Conner Barwin and Aarond Donald (still in the midst of a holdout), Phillips will be able to create massive amounts of pressure on the quarterback.

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are pretty solid linebackers who can fly around the field to make tackles.

Trumaine Johnson is one of the best corners in the league and safety Lamarcus Joyner is an up and coming star as well. The secondary has all the makings to round out this defense and turn it into a top five unit.

Now, everyone knows how talented this defense is but the Rams will only go as far as the offense can take them. Los Angeles ranked near the bottom of every offensive category last season. To upgrade the offense, the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth to replace Greg Robinson. This is a colossal improvement at left tackle, which will really help out Jared Goff and the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Todd Gurley is on a mission to prove that last season’s down year was just a fluke. The Rams will need to run the ball well in order to be successful because it takes pressure off of Goff.

The passing game already featured dangerous weapon Tavon Austin but there were a couple more moves made to give Goff plenty of firepower in the passing game. Los Angeles drafted Cooper Kupp, signed Robert Woods and most recently, traded for stud receiver Sammy Watkins. There is no excuse for Goff to play poorly with an improved offensive line, a workhorse running back and a receiving corp filled with speed and playmakers.

With the additions made on offense, a new defensive coordinator that can turn this defense into elite and a fairly easy schedule, the Rams will be in contention for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: 9-7 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Seattle Seahawks

Last season: 10-5-1

Strength of Schedule: 25

The Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules heading into the season. They might need it with the worst rated line in the NFL. Despite having such a bad offensive line, the Seahawks made the playoffs. They were unable to progress deep into the playoffs though. The offense has to improve in order for the Seahawks to become Super Bowl contenders once again.

2017 NFC West division preview

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

Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy are going to attempt to bring a great running game back to Seattle. Russell Wilson is good but the identity and key to success have been being able to run the ball. If the Seahawks do so successfully, they will be one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham is still an unstoppable red zone threat. The chemistry between Graham and Wilson has seemed to improve the more they have played together and it will lead to a big year for Graham.

The other receiving threats, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, provide different playmaking abilities that compliment each other well. Baldwin is a quick receiver who can make plays both vertically or by turning a short completion into a long gain. Richardson can make spectacular catches on the outside as a deep threat.

Russell Wilson is the engine to this offense and he doesn’t get enough credit. Without him, this team wouldn’t make the playoffs. He makes good decisions on when to run and rarely turns the ball over. As long as the Seahawks have a viable running game, Wilson will have another Pro-Bowl caliber season.

The heart and soul of this team is the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are back to lead this defense to a top three ranking. With these three men patrolling in the secondary, teams will earn everything they get through the air because nothing comes easy against them.

The linebackers are solid as well and are headlined by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Up front, the Seahawks have head hunters. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were the only pair of defensive ends to make the Pro-Bowl. They get constant pressure on opposing offenses making it easier for the rest of the unit to play balls to the wall.

Due to the consistency of this defense over the past five seasons, it is safe to assume the Seahawks have a top three to five defense. Pair that with an offense that will have an improved running game and Pro-Bowl quarterback means the Seahawks will win the division and be one of the best teams in the NFL.

Prediction: 12-4 (4-2), divison champion

 

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Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews fantasy value following trade

The Buffalo Bills had a busy Friday after trading their star wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and picks. They quickly found their replacement, trading for receiver Jordan Matthews from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby. After these trades, how will Watkins and Matthews fantasy values change with their new teams?

Sammy Watkins to the Rams

The Rams finally get their No.1 wide receiver they have been searching for. While this trade helps the Rams in getting a top target, it may not help Watkins’ fantasy value.

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: billswire.usatoday.com)

He goes from catching passes from Tyrod Taylor, an excellent deep-ball thrower, to catching passes from Jared Goff.

While Goff was a rookie last year, he really struggled in the seven games he played. Last year, he completed a miserable 54.5 percent of his passes, had a 5-to-7 TD/INT ratio and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt. Now he is learning a new offense under Sean McVay.

But for fantasy players, they can’t ignore the talent that Watkins has. He has per-16 game averages of 66 receptions, 1,063 yards and seven touchdowns. He can create separation in the middle of the field, but he’s also a truly dangerous deep threat, as evidenced by his career average of 16.1 yards per catch.

Watkins has true talent, but his career has been plagued with injuries. Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. But this year he is finally healthy.

As mentioned before, he will be the clear first option for the Rams and for that he won’t drop to far in drafts because of his role. But when you combine his injury concerns, with the fact that he’ll be playing with an inexperienced starting quarterback along with a new offense, there is major risk mixed in with that upside.

Watkins becomes a high-end WR3 around the fourth or fifth round rather than a mid-range WR2 in Buffalo.

Jordan Matthews to the Bills

After trading Watkins, the Bills found their replacement in Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia. Matthews would’ve been the second to third option in the slot in Philadelphia, but here in Buffalo he will line up both in slot and the outside as the new No. 1 receiver. This trade should increase his fantasy value.

As mentioned in Philly, he would have seen a decrease in targets. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were both brought in during the offseason, Zach Ertz is a steady target at tight end, Nelson Agholor is still hanging on a thread and rookie Mack Hollins looks like a legitimate talent.

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

Jordan Matthews (Photo by: phillysportsnetwork.com)

Even though Buffalo isn’t a pass-heavy offense, Matthews should find increased targets. He will be lining up with veteran Anquan Boldin and rookie Zay Jones who are both slot receivers.

From 2014-16, these are the percentages of routes from the slot: Jones at 68.1 percent at East Carolina, Boldin at 70.4 percent and Matthews at 84.5 percent. Matthews will have a great opportunity to get the ball from Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is an emerging talent at quarterback totaling 37 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 7.4 yards per attempt over the last two years.

One problem that comes with any trade is how quick he can learn the offense. Like Watkins with the Rams, Matthews is in a new offense and where will he be lined up in the offense. I think he will be all over, especially with the receivers they have in Buffalo.

There is a lot of potential for Matthews. He is an interesting sleeper that will be taken around the eighth or ninth round. He will have a better situation from a fantasy perspective.

Who will do better in 2017?

Watkins is a young talent who was taken with the fourth pick back in 2014. Matthews is entering the prime of his career. With a better situation, Matthews will have the better fantasy season.

Watkins will have his moments, but an inexperienced quarterback and a very new offense for the young quarterback will cause problems. Where Watkins has thrived is catching passes over 20-yards. Goff isn’t known as a terrific deep-ball thrower. Goff completed 8/23 passes which traveled 15+ in the air last season, out of 205 attempts.

Matthews has the same issue with a new offense, but has an established quarterback with experience. This is a player who has per-16 game averages of 78 receptions, 930 yards and seven touchdowns through three seasons. Matthews has had at least 800 receiving yards in all three seasons, and he scored eight touchdowns in his first two campaigns and I expect him now to repeat this in Buffalo.

 

Featured image from wday.com

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

A good wide receiver one is important for any fantasy team. Last article, I featured some solid WR2s with WR1 upside. This list contains some low WR1s and some great number one receivers for your team.

20. Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots): How is it possible that the defending Super Bowl champs got even better? In this offseason, the Patriots made the blockbuster deal to acquire Saints stud Brandin Cooks. After playing under Drew Brees for the last two seasons, Cooks has gotten at least 75 receptions and 1,100 yards.

fantasy football wide receivers

(Photo credit: https://www.profootballfocus.com/brandin-cooks-wins-his-routes/)

Cooks was reliable and productive for the Saints last season. He ranked sixth in the league in yards per target with an even 10.0 and ranked 14th in yards after the catch with 383. Now he is playing alongside arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady.

With the Patriots Cooks will primarily be used in the slot. We’ll have to see how he adjusts to the slot more often in New England. He has the ability to be a top five wide receiver if he pans out in New England.

19. Terrelle Pryor (Washington Redskins): The breakout story of 2016 now takes his talents to Washington to play with Kirk Cousins. Cousins has already said that he wants to get Pryor the ball.

One of the NFL’s Swiss army knives, Pryor can do it all. Last season he had 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013 with the Raiders, Pryor rushed for 567 yards on 83 attempts. Now with Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson out of Washington, Pryor is the No. 1 receiver and there are good things to come from it.

18. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)- Last year I had so much hope for Keenan Allen. I drafted him early and was sure he would finish as a top ten receiver. He then tore his ACL in the end of the first half of the first game of the season. He has all the talent to be a stud receiver in this league, if he can stay healthy. Since he’s been in the league, he hasn’t played a full season.

As a matter of fact, he’s only played nine games over the past two seasons. In 2015, he was very efficient ranking third in catch rate. Now hopefully he can play a full season with Phillip Rivers, who has the ability to throw for 5,000 yards. If that does happen, Allen can be a top 10 receiver easily.

17. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): Another case of a wide receiver with high hopes who didn’t amount to much last season. When Blake Bortles’ production decreased, so did Robinson’s. He had 600 less receiving yards and eight less touchdowns than the season before.

Bortles, the king of garbage time, threw most of his touchdowns when the team was trailing in 2015. Robinson thrived in the red zone, especially when the Jags were behind. His production comes down to whether or not Robinson can get his numbers from 2015 back.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

(Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports)

16. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers): Davante Adams finally lived up to his expectations in 2016. While he had 997 yards and 12 touchdowns, owners can’t be expecting the same numbers as last year.

Behind the scenes, Adams wasn’t very efficient but he ranked 12th in production and tenth in yards after the catch with 408 yards. Last season Adams had nine drops which is way too many for a player like him. If he can improve his catch rate his yardage will improve.

The double digit touchdowns aren’t a lock to repeat, however 7-8 is reasonable for a player like Adams. It also helps that he’s playing under Aaron Rodgers. Expect low WR1 numbers from Davante Adams.

15. Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills): Like Keenan Allen, Watkins has the talent and ability to be a top five wide receiver if he can stay healthy. Just a year removed from a 1,000 yard season, Sammy Watkins followed it up with a horrid 430 yards in eight games.

The thing that makes Watkins different from the rest of the receivers on this list is how he’s top dog in Buffalo. There are little to no targets around Sammy Watkins. He has Zay Jones and Marquise Goodwin as his supporting cast which is a little scary.

The targets will be there for Sammy Watkins but he won’t break the bank with his yardage numbers. Tyrod Taylor has the ability to throw for around 3,200 yards so it will be hard for Watkins to get 1,300 yards, but he’s worth it at the right price.

14. Alshon Jeffrey (Philadelphia Eagles): I’ve never been a big fan of Alshon Jeffrey, and supported drafting him as a WR1 except for this year. Jeffrey is playing under a young quarterback in Carson Wentz. People have said that Alshon Jeffrey has been a disappointment over the last two seasons, but he has still eclipsed 800 yards in both of those years.

Now Jeffrey just needs to work on his red zone production. Jeffrey only caught four of his 12 targets in the red zone for only three touchdowns. If Jeffrey can improve his catch rate inside of 20 yards, he’ll be the number one receiver we’ve all been waiting for.

13. Deandre Hopkins (Houston Texans): The Brock Osweiler experiment didn’t last long in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins also never benefited from Osweiler being there. With his big arm and love for targeting tight ends, Brock Osweiler and DeAndre Hopkins never clicked like people thought they would. After saying that, he still had 954 yards and four touchdowns.

Now DeAndre Hopkins has Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson throwing him the ball and it isn’t much different. Savage started the last three games of the season and didn’t throw a single touchdown which isn’t good for fantasy owners. Watson probably won’t get the start until midseason, and even then it isn’t likely he’ll have an amazing rookie year. The touchdowns are going to lack again for Hopkins, but he has a chance to top 1,100 yards.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 20-11

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

12. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos): Even with the horrible quarterback situation in Denver, Demaryius Thomas provided a good season. Thomas had 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.

He’s been as reliable as anyone in the league, with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his seasons since 2012. Thomas has been consistent since he entered the league, averaging 2.29 yards per route which is far better than the NFL average of 1.54.

He’s shown that he can play under any quarterback and still succeed. If he can get more touchdowns this season, then Demaryius Thomas will be a top 10 or a top five receiver easily.

11. Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys): Dez Bryant should be a top five wide receiver in this league. But now with the run heavy scheme that the Cowboys have, it’s hard for Bryant to put up top WR1 numbers. Couple that with the fact that he hasn’t played a full season since 2014, I’m nervous about Dez this year.

After putting up 796 yards and eight touchdowns last year, Dez is in line for a similar season this year. If he can stay healthy, he could easily put up 200 more yards and another touchdown or two. Dez won’t put up the numbers he did in 2014 behind Prescott and Elliot but if Dak Prescott can play like he did last year, 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns isn’t out of reach.

 

 

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Fluke or For Real – Rostering Players the Week After

Whether it’s DFS or season long leagues, everyone has been burned by that fantasy fluke or flop. If you played against Le’Veon Bell last week, you have my most sincere condolences. He posted the best fantasy performance of the year; however, you can’t be angry. Everyone knows that any given week, Bell can accumulate upwards of 25 points. On the other hand, if you played against Bilal Powell, you have every right to complain. The perfect storm of circumstances came together to create a career fantasy day for Powell. Given their performances, you’ll likely consider them for your lineups this week. The trick is to know when someone’s production is sustainable or fluky. Here are two ways you can determine if a player’s increased or lack of production was fleeting or for real.

Previous Performance

It’s a simple idea. Examine a player’s history to determine their future. This process is different for each position. At wide receiver, you want to look at a player’s targets, specifically when they were productive. For example, Dontrelle Inman finished as the fifth best Wide Receiver in Week 4 as he posted 21.5 points against the Saints. As I said earlier, you’ll want to look at his targets to determine if the points he scored are worth chasing the following week. Leading up to that game, Inman was never targeted more than four times; he was targeted 11 times against the Saints. Inman’s performance can clearly be characterized as a fluke.

inman

Dontrelle Inman got off to a rocky start, but has proven to be a staple in this Chargers passing attack. (Courtesy of; Chargers.com)

This should automatically be a red flag. While you can keep him on your fantasy radar, the massive increase in targets is not sustainable. The week after his top-five performance, Inman scored less than one point and was only targeted three times. Other cases like Inman include Sammie Coates in Week 5, JJ Nelson in Week 8, and Rishard Matthews in Week 9.

There are players like Kenny Britt and Davante Adams who could be thrown into this group, but only at first glance. Britt exploded in Week 6, but it was not because of an unexplained increase in targets. Leading up to that game, he had been targeted at least six times in all but one of his games. That included a game where he was targeted 10 times.

Thus, playing Britt after his big game would be okay based on his track record. It would still be foolish to think he can post the same number of points. However, he received the same amount of targets the following week. The opportunities were there for Britt, he just didn’t make the most of them. Britt finding the end zone twice could be labeled as a fluke, but not the targets he received.

Game Flow

Also referred to as game script, game flow is when the play calling or game plan is altered based on what has already happened. For example, the Rams fumbled their opening kickoff and then threw an interception on their next possession. After quickly being down 14 points, the Rams would no longer be able to pound Todd Gurley 15-25 times. This kind of situation would obviously hurt running backs, but it would help quarterbacks and wide receivers.

Similar to examining previous production, look at the game flow of a player who over or underproduced. Did a running back have decreased attempts because of a blow out? Did a wide receiver or quarterback rack up points in garbage time? These are important questions that can help determine wether or not you should roster a player with irregular production.

Using Bell as an example, he tremendously benefited from game flow. With 5:28 left in the third quarter, the Steelers took a 21-7 lead. This was positive game flow for Bell, as the Steelers wanted to keep the clock running and the ball in Bell’s hands. This allowed Bell to fill up the stat sheet and rack up fantasy points. This week against the Bengals, I expect a more competitive game and better weather. Therefore, Bell won’t be able to duplicate his effort on the ground. As talented as Bell is, accumulating over 200 rushing yards was a fluke and should not be expected for the rest of the year.

Conversely, a large deficit in the third or fourth quarter is beneficial to wide receivers and quarterbacks. If the weather had been better, there’s no doubt Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins would have scored more points. Because of the snow, LeSean McCoy had a more involved role in the passing game.

One Step Ahead

Yes, I’m aware how simple both these strategies are. However, it must be talked about because inexperienced DFS players fall into this trap weekly. How do I know? Ownership percentages of a player increase the week after they do well. Sometimes it’s justified like Jamison Crowder, and other times it isn’t, like Cameron Meredith. As long as you do your homework, you won’t fall victim to a fluke performance by an unknown player. Now as the DFS season comes to a close, here are three players you can be a week early on, and take advantage of their great performance.

3. Alex Smith – $6,800

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. Kansas City won 23-13. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Alex Smith has one of the best Fantasy match ups of the week vs. Tennessee.(Courtesy of; Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

  • With only one game above 15 points in his last six starts, Smith is due for a big game.
  • He faces one of the worst pass defenses in Tennessee, who allowed Trevor Siemian to score 17.4 points.
  • For once, Smith has targets to throw to. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have both scored at least eight points in their last four games.

2. Jermaine Gresham – $4,500 

  • Gresham has received an enlarged role in the Cardinals’ passing game, seeing at least six targets and scoring at least seven points in his last three games.
  • With Michael Floyd’s DUI, there will be more targets to go around, and no doubt Gresham will benefit in the intermediate passing game.
  • Gresham faces the Saints secondary at home this week, one that is in the bottom third in the NFL.

1. Sammy Watkins – $6,100

  • For those who have taken the wait and see approach, we’ve seen everything we’ve needed to, as Watkins was on the field for virtually every snap versus the Steelers.
  • The weather held Watkins back from breaking out last week, as he was only targeted six times.
  • Watkins gets to play the 0-13 Browns this Sunday…I’m predicting that Watkins will finish as a top five Wide Receiver this week and eclipse 15 points for the first time this season.

 

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