Fantasy football week three: Five players to avoid

Week two was a little more interesting than week one of the NFL, but we’re still waiting for the breakout week with multiple big games from different players. Every week there’s boom and bust players and I’m here to tell you about five players to avoid for week three.

5. Jameis Winston (Tampa bay buccaneers)

The Bucs got the season off to a great start with a a very one-sided victory against the Chicago Bears. We didn’t get to see just how well Winston will do because of how well the defense played. It caused Tampa Bay to turn to more of a run game to chew the clock.

Now Winston and the Buccaneers travel to Minnesota to face a stout Vikings defense. Minnesota’s secondary has fared well against Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in the first two weeks only allowing 15 and 17 fantasy points.

For the third time in as many weeks the Vikings defense faces a high powered offense but the difference is in the run game. The Tampa run game is sub par which will cause Winston will have to throw the ball much more. I would definitely stream a different quarterback in week three.

4. Lesean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)

Shady McCoy and the Bills offense had a rough time in week two against the Carolina Panthers. They held him to nine yards on 12 rushes and a mere three fantasy points. Now the Broncos are traveling to Buffalo and LeSean McCoy has to play against the toughest defense in the NFL.

The Broncos faced Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys last week and shut down that run game. They held last year’s rushing leader to 16 yards on 11 attempts. The Bills are centered around their run game so the volume will definitely be there for Shady, I’m just worried about his production.

After coming off of a wrist and groin injury, all signs point to sitting McCoy this week.

3. Demarco Murray (Tennessee Titans)

Fantasy football week three: Five players avoid

DeMarco Murray (George Walker IV/The Tennessean)

DeMarco Murray is having a rough start to the NFL season. He’s facing the injury bug already and is being outplayed by second year running back Derrick Henry. Now Murray has to play the Seattle defense which has held the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in check through the first two weeks.

Yes Carlos Hyde did have 124 rushing yards last week, but he broke off a 61-yard run late in the game. Without that one run, he didn’t do anything special. The front seven of Seattle got more impressive this offseason with the addition of Sheldon Richardson.

Now DeMarco Murray is nursing a hamstring injury and the volume in games just isn’t there for him with only 21 carries in the first two weeks of the season. I would sit Murray and even play Derrick Henry over him this week.

2. Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots)

Brandin Cooks hasn’t had the most ideal start to the season. With Julian Edelman going down with a torn ACL, it caused everyone to turn to Brandin Cooks to replace him. But the cost that comes with that is now Cooks is getting more double teams and tougher matchups, and can’t line up in the slot as often.

Tom Brady also has a tendency of not choosing to rely on one receiver. Now him and Julian Edelman had played together for a long time so they developed great chemistry. But Brandin Cooks has to face the Houston defense who has only given up an average of ten fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

Cooks is a flex play this week and should be sat with Chris Hogan this week.

1. Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia eagles)

Alshon Jeffery finally clicked with Carson Wentz last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. He had seven receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown. This could be the start of something big for the Eagles and Jeffery but I think that this connection they have will come to a halt in week three.

The fierce Giants secondary is looking to prove something after the team started 0-2 and the best way to do that would be to revert back to their ways of defeating teams with their defense. The two players that will be targeted with the Eagles are Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz. Ertz will mainly be targeted by Landon Collins and the Giants safeties and linebackers while Alshon will be one on one with shut down corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Sit Alshon this week but be ready to insert him back into your lineup in week four.

 

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Russell Wilson

NFL Week 3 picks against the spread

Last week was a little better, but not much. Despite correctly calling the Broncos upset of the Cowboys, I posted a record of just 5-11 last week and sit at 8-20-2 through two weeks. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. The quest for improvement continues.

Thursday Night:

Rams (-2) at 49ers- Taking a road team on Thursday night is always dangerous, but Jared Goff looks like a legitimate NFL quarterback two weeks in to his sophomore season. Despite being an offensive guru, Kyle Shanahan’s new 49ers offense has not really gotten off the ground yet. The Rams’ defense is among the last a struggling offense would like to face. Lar 20 SF 10

Sunday:

Ravens (-3.5) at Jaguars (London) – The number here is shockingly low. It makes me wonder if Vegas knows something the rest of the world does not. Baltimore is far from an offensive juggernaut, but they have not needed to be one thus far. The defense has carried them to an undefeated start by dominating bad teams. Jacksonville is most certainly a bad team. If they wait three quarters to show up like they did last week, Baltimore will eat them alive. Bal 27 Jac 15

Falcons (-3) at Lions- This has a chance to be really good. Two hot quarterbacks with lots of weapons. Atlanta passed its first true post Super Bowl meltdown test by throttling Green Bay last week. Detroit is white hot in the early going as well and showing more offensive balance than we are used to. It seems like every time the Lions have a chance for a big statement win, they come up short. Thus, Atlanta wins a shootout. Atl 35 Det 31   

Matt Ryan

Photo: nydailynews.com

Browns (-1) at Colts- Andrew Luck still is not walking through the door anytime soon to save the Colts. The good news is they occasionally looked like a real NFL team at times with Jacoby Brissett at the helm last week. Even so, the Browns are favorite to win a game for the first time since 2015.

With the youngest roster in the league, Cleveland is still overmatched most weeks. However, their talent on both sides of the ball is intriguing and they play hard. The Browns have been in both of their games so far before miscues turned the tide. Deshone Kizer should be able to limit those against a dreadful Colts defense. Cle 20 Ind 17

Broncos (-3) at Bills- This line is brilliant. The Broncos are the talk of the league after their performance last week and most folks have declared Buffalo terrible after struggling with the Jets for three quarters and putting up just three points in defeat last week.

I would have expected Denver to at least be a touchdown favorite, in which case Buffalo would have been my favorite pick of the week.  This just screams trap game. The Broncos are making a rare trip to the East Coast. Any team is susceptible to reading their own press clippings a little too much after a big win.

Lastly, Buffalo offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was in Denver last year. He knows Trevor Siemian’s strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone. You can bet he has been dropping in on defensive meetings this week.

Despite all that, the talent gap between the two rosters is too great on paper not to swallow a measly field goal. I am taking the sucker bet. Den 27 Buf 21

Texans at Patriots (-13) – A win is a win in the NFL. Despite playing pretty poorly in Cincinnati last week, the way Deshaun Watson competed and made a few big plays to help his team get the job done was impressive. However, the Texans are nowhere near ready to really compete with a Patriots team that seemed to get back on track last week. NE 31 Hou 13

Dolphins (-6) at Jets- As a general rule, always take home underdogs in a rivalry game. The Jets are not as bad as most thought they were going to be. Gang Green hung right with the Raiders until a muffed punt opened the floodgates late in the first half. Miami needed a lot of help to get by the Chargers last week. An outright upset would no doubt create some fantastic new Jay Cutler memes, but I will stop just short of calling it. Mia 24 Nyj 20

Saints at Panthers (-6) – Something has to give here. Carolina is really struggling on offense, but very good on defense. New Orleans is the polar opposite. Carolina’s offense should finally be able get their multilayered ground game going. The defense should be able to slow down Drew Brees just enough, but a touchdown is too much too give up. Car 34 NO 30

*Giants at Eagles (-6) – I am a fool for giving the Giants another week before I bury them. However, it is inconceivable to me how a team with so much talent on both sides of the ball can be as bad as they have been. The Giants are another team on the wrong side of the league wide shortage of decent offensive line play.

New York has been a strange team over the years. They play better when they are on the road and nothing is expected of them, both apply here. Odell Beckham Jr. will be a week healthier and we do not really know what the Eagles are yet. Betting on the Giants this week will be slightly more entertaining than setting your money on fire folks. NYG 24 Phi 20

Steelers (-7) at Bears- The Steelers have already shown us that they will ride that high-powered offense to the playoffs yet again this year. With Mike Glennon at quarterback, the Bears are much closer to the team that got picked apart in Tampa last week than the one that played the Falcons to the wire opening weekend. Pit 28 Chi 17

Bucs (-2.5) at Vikings- This line has been taken off most sites. It will continue to move dramatically until Sam Bradford’s playing status gets clearer. This was the only one I could find. If Bradford gets healthy, this line could very well flip. For now though, if Bradford does not answer the bell, the Bucs are a solid bet. Case Keenum certainly did not do much to inspire confidence last week. TB 20 Min 13

*Seahawks at Titans (-3) – It amazes me how people sometimes panic about a team, even after a win. Yes, Seattle struggled with San Francisco and their offensive line is atrocious. However, ever since Russell Wilson came to town, this franchise has had a knack for finding ways to win. They rarely look impressive, but usually get the job done.

Even though it was against an inferior opponent, sometimes pulling out a gutty win like that is all a team needs to get on track. The Seahawks defense always travels well and Tennessee may struggle with playing another team that plays the physical brand of football. It will be interesting to see how they react, but Seattle has earned the benefit of the doubt. Sea 17 Ten 14

Bengals at Packers (-8.5) – The whole world has been beating up on the Bengals this week, and rightly so. Scoring a grand total of nine points in two games will get you exactly where they are.

The good news is the defense is playing well and the Packers are banged up on both sides of the ball. Additionally, this is easily the worst defense Cincinnati has faced during the young season. The touchdown drought finally ends, but Aaron Rodgers pulls away late. GB 31 Cin 20

Aaron Rodgers

Photo: businessimsider.com

 

Chiefs (-3) at Chargers- New year, new city, same story for the Chargers. Again, they find themselves 0-2 by literally a few inches. The Chiefs offense is not going to look like the 99 Rams all year long and the Chargers are too good to get blown out by anyone. At the end of the day though, these teams will do what they have done for the better part of the last two years. The Chiefs will find a way to win, and the Chargers will find a way to lose. KC 21 Lac 17

Raiders (-3) at Redskins – The Redskins can move the ball on just about anyone, but Derek Carr makes the Raiders offense just a little better in this matchup. Washington has also struggled with turnovers early in the year. That is never a good thing when facing an offense that can make you pay for a short field. Oak 30 Was 20

Monday Night:

Cowboys (-3) at Cardinals- Dallas was humbled last week in Denver. Arizona continued to struggle in scrapping by Indianapolis. Arizona’s main cogs are aging very quickly, particularly quarterback Carson Palmer. Despite that, this team may still be capable of a great performance on occasion. That is what they will need Monday night, we have not seen it yet though. Dallas is not nearly as off track as many experts have suggested. Regardless, this is a good matchup for them to get their mojo back. Dal 27 Ari 17

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DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry fantasy situation

Is DeMarco Murray in danger of losing his job to Derrick Henry?

How to Handle the situation at this moment

DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry fantasy situation

DeMarco Murray (Photo by: apexfantasyleagues.com)

In the first two games, Murray had 60 total yards on 14 touches and then 28 total yards on 10 touches before his injury. Again it may seem normal, but after this injury this could become the end of Murray as the lead back.

If Murray isn’t a go for the week 3 game against Seattle, this opens the door for Henry to show his ability. Henry could have a good week with the Seattle’s run defense has allowed 10-plus fantasy points to a running back in each of the first two weeks.

This could cause Murray to lose some touches. Vice versa, then fantasy owners won’t have to worry as Murray then could get his touches back when he heals.

If you Have Derrick Henry or both

If you’re a Derrick Henry owner, you could be in the driver’s seat.

DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry fantasy situation

Derrick Henry (Photo by: titansonline.com)

As I mentioned above, with a chance Murray won’t be available, this could be Henry’s big chance to take over. Even if Murray plays, he’s in for a decent workload. With Seattle’s run defense struggling, he has a good offensive line to run behind.

Tennessee finished the 2016 season as a top-graded run blocking unit, and the Titans brought back all of last year’s starters and have begun the year healthy up front. Henry’s 5.8 yards per carry in two games is No. 12 among running backs.

This could mean with a solid performance, that Henry’s name will be around for people to trade for in fantasy. Expect Henry to be the lead running back by season’s end. The Titans did not use a high draft pick on the running back to not want him to get more involved in the offense.

If you have both then you can relax. Keep tabs over the next week then you can make the determination who to start. But in this case I still start the healthier back in Henry.

What Happens if Henry dominates

If the situation whether Murray plays or not with Henry dominates, then it will be time for panic.

One thing not to do is trade him or cut him. Trading him isn’t an answer because no one will give you anything good for him, not even the owner who has Henry. Cutting him won’t do better because there is no one better. What’s next?

Murray was a second or third-round pick in most leagues. And having to say this it will take really his ability to get healthy and hoping Henry doesn’t do well. But this definitely means Murray and Henry will split reps more.

While the worst hasn’t happened, be prepared for a bumpy ride Murray owners. You could be heading for a disappointing road.

 

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2017 week 3 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks

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

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-8

season: 16-15

Thursday Night

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) 20 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2) 14: The Rams look like a really good team this year, good enough to possibly win the division over the Seahawks. If they are to take the step towards becoming a playoff team, this is the type of game they must win. San Francisco will be in the lottery.

Jared Goff is still going to go through some growing pains. If they run the ball well enough and continue playing great defense, then they can succeed despite their young quarterback. The 49ers have improved defensively, but can’t make up for the lack of offense. The Rams will win this game, but it will be a defensive dogfight.

Sunday Morning

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: https://www.si.com)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) 13 @ Baltimore Ravens (2-0) 16: Something tells me to pick Jacksonville in this game, but then I think about how Blake Bortles has to go against a defense that is destroying quarterbacks. Jacksonville will be in the game because of their stout defense, but will ultimately fall because of Bortles’ turnovers.

Baltimore will start the season 3-0, but still won’t be a contender in the big picture.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) 20 vs Minnesota Vikings (1-1) 24: This game hinges on the health of Sam Bradford for the Vikings. If Bradford plays, then Minnesota will win this game at home. That is a big if though. With or without Bradford, Minnesota will play stellar defense as usual.

Tampa Bay completely shut down a great Bears rushing attack last week, holding them to 20 yards. Repeating this against Minnesota would guarantee a win. They won’t shut down the Vikings the same way they did the Bears, and Sam Bradford takes the field to lead the Vikings to a big win at home.

Denver Broncos (2-0) 27 @ Buffalo Bills (1-1) 13: Does there have to be actual thought here? Can I just say Broncos will win? No, that is probably not a good idea.

So, the Broncos will win because their defense is going to annihilate the Bills offense. Once the Broncos stop the run, the Bills will have no answer. Tyrod Taylor will look completely lost and inevitably throw a pick-six. Denver’s offense will run up and down all over the Bills for over 200 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) 28 @ Chicago Bears (0-2) 10: This seems like a totally unfair matchup. The Bears resemble a baby cub more than an actual Bear. The defense has played lights out, but can only do so much with turnovers from the offense happening so often. Mike Glennon looks incapable of running an offense.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, looks like they are in midseason form. The offense is starting to click and the defense looks hungry. This game will be over early and the steel curtain will remain untangled.

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) 34 @ Detroit Lions (2-0) 38: This is one of the most difficult games to pick this week. Both teams have looked shaky at points this season, but in the end have gotten the job done.

Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan are going to put on a show in Detroit. This game will likely be a shootout that comes down to the wire. The Lions have been known to be the kings of comebacks. Detroit wins this game because of their home-field advantage and a late drive by Stafford.

Cleveland Browns (0-2) 24 @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2) 17: This game could be one of the lowest-rated games in NFL history. What is there to really watch in this game if you aren’t a fan of either team? Yes DeShone Kizer is a rookie that can maybe give some excitement, but the offense still doesn’t look fluid. Defensively, there is nothing eye-popping or exciting either.

The Colts are completely boring without Andrew Luck. So boring I’d rather watch a middle school basketball game. The Browns have looked like the better team of the two, so far so what the heck, go dog pound.

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: http://biginf.com/)

Houston Texans (1-1) 13 @ New England Patriots (1-1) 26: Tom Brady is back! Or he just lit up the worst defense and secondary in the NFL. This week, Brady will get a real test by facing Houston. If Brady looks good this week, then he is a robot who will play in the NFL until he’s 90.

On the other side, rookie Deshaun Watson will have to try and beat a Bill Belichick defense. Good luck with that. That is the sole reason New England wins this game. Watson won’t be ready for the Patriots’ defense.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) 37 @ New York Jets (0-2) 18: Miami escaped with a victory last week. Now they get to face the worst team in the NFL. The Jets don’t do anything well and won’t win more than two games this season.

Jay Cutler is going to look like a prime Brett Favre in this one. Dolphins are going to New York to dominate the Jets.

New York Giants (0-2) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) 19: The Giants are in some serious trouble. Their offense looks pretty horrible with the worst rushing attack in all of football. The offensive line is arguably the worst in the league and the nucleus of their problems offensively. There isn’t much they can do to fix it either.

The Eagles are going to exploit that offensive line to stifle the Giants offense. Carson Wentz is going to have a tough time against the Giants’ defense, but will outperform Eli. That will be the difference in the end.

New Orleans Saints (0-2) 17 @ Carolina Panthers (2-0) 31: The current issue with the Panthers is their offense. Losing Greg Olsen doesn’t help Cam Newton out, but he is still shaking off the rust.

A game against New Orleans is the perfect time to gain confidence offensively. The Saints rank 31st in scoring defense, giving up 32.5 points per game. Drew Brees won’t be able to put up many points against this defense. Newton shakes off the rust and Christian McCaffrey has his coming out party.

Sunday Afternoon

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks (1-1) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (1-1) 24: Seattle has looked average at best thus far, mostly because of their offensive line that can’t block anything. Tennessee has an underrated defense that will take advantage of this weakness.

The Seahawks still have a very good defense, but it won’t stop Marcus Mariota and the rest of the Titan offense.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) 10 @ Green Bay Packers (1-1) 20: This could be the game that gets Andy Dalton benched and catches Marvin Lewis’ seat on fire.

The Bengals are playing like crap on offense, but the defense is only giving up 16.5 points per game. They also rank first in pass defense, giving up just 104.5 yards per game through the air. Aaron Rodgers will more than double that while leading the Packers to win.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) 24 @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) 21: The Chiefs look like the best team in the NFL. Their offense is rolling behind Alex Smith while the defense continues to be a force. The Chargers are two field goals away from possibly being 2-0. The first would have sent them to overtime while the second would have won the game.

Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles. The cookie will continue to crumble that way for one more week at least. The Chiefs go into L.A. to push themselves to 3-0.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (2-0) 34 @ Washington Redskins (1-1) 24: The Raiders are thriving thus far this season and haven’t even begun to tap into their potential. Their defense still hasn’t faced a quality offense that can make them prove themselves.

This week they get that chance. Washington ranks 15th in total offensive yards per game (324.5). Washington has been running the ball efficiently, but the passing game has been underwhelming. Expectations were high for Kirk Cousins heading into the season. Derek Carr is going to have a huge game in prime time. Oakland keeps up with Denver and Kansas City by getting to 3-0.

Monday Night

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) 27 @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1) 17: Dallas got embarrassed against Denver and will be looking to get that taste out of their mouth. The Cowboys are going to get back to running the ball well. Ezekiel Elliott will have over 20 carries for at least 125 yards.

Arizona won’t be able to keep pace with the Cowboys’ offense. Carson Palmer has lost it and can’t carry the offense without David Johnson. This will be a snoozefest of a Monday Night game.

 

Featured image from Sporting News 

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week three DFS don'ts

Week three DFS don’ts: Tight ends

As most DFS players know, tight end can be an incredibly volatile position. Sometimes the tight end lock of the week fails (I’m looking at you, Jimmy Graham). I can’t tell you which guys will score this week, but, I can tell you who to stay away from moving forward. Let’s see which tight ends end up on my week three DFS don’ts list.

Delanie Walker: FanDuel Price $6,500

Delanie Walker is a DFS darling. It’s clear he is Marcus Mariota’s safety net and the coaching staff is finding ways to get him more involved. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll reach ten points for the third week straight given his matchup.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have established themselves as a good pass defense. As a result, Walker only received four targets last week. That’s five less than in week one vs. the Oakland Raiders, but thankfully, he caught all four of those targets and turned them into 61 yards.

The Seattle Seahawks are similar to the Jaguars in terms of scheme. Both teams run a base 4-3 and their primary coverage strategy is cover 3.

Seattle is still more talented than Jacksonville from personnel perspective. The cover 3 scheme makes it hard for receivers to get behind the secondary. Therefore, Walker will have to do most of his damage in the short and intermediate parts of the field.

This will limit his yardage upside, and Seattle is perennially good at limiting yards after the catch. I don’t care about their performance against the San Francisco tight ends, as they are young and unproven.

However, I will consider their performance against Green Bay and Martellus Bennett. They held Bennett, a comparable talent to Walker, to three catches on six targets for 43 yards. Considering they did this against Aaron Rodgers on the road, I’m not optimistic about Delanie Walker this Sunday. Thus, he’s firmly on my week three DFS don’ts.

Coby Fleener: FanDuel Price $5,700

week three DFS don'ts: tight ends

Coby Fleener is one of the few tight ends to find the end zone in the first two games of the year (Courtesy of; Fox Sports).

Coby Fleener was wildly popular last weekend. He projected as one of the most popular tight ends on FanDuel entering their contest against New England. If you were able to take advantage of him in DFS last week like me, then congratulations. But, it’s time to move off Fleener this week.

In a game where the Saints were trailing from the opening kick, Fleener was on the field for less than 50 percent of the snaps. That’s awful for a starting tight end in this pass-heavy offense. Currently, Fleener possesses a 12 percent target market share.

This on paper is not bad. However, it is likely to decrease as the Saints showed they are willing to play multiple running backs at the same time, instead of featuring a tight end.

There is potential for this trend to change. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Fleener’s usage at Carolina this weekend. But, there’s one other reason I’m off Fleener: his price increase.

I know, he’s scored touchdowns in each of his first two games. FanDuel is rightfully increasing his price. That doesn’t mean I have to play him. I like other players below that price who are getting more opportunities like Jack Doyle.

 

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2017 NFL Power Rankings

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 3

There have been dozens of NFL power rankings released throughout the preseason and after the first week of the season. That is all fine and dandy, but people ranking teams that haven’t played or with one game is kind of silly to me. College football comes out with rankings before the season and they end up completely different at the end.

To truly rank teams, they must have played some games. Last week the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t play due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore, doing a power ranking after week 1 made no sense.

Now that all teams have seen action, it is time for Hagan’s Haus to bring you the first edition of this year’s NFL power rankings.

32. New York Jets (0-2)

2017 NFL Power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

After two games, the Jets look absolutely awful. The offense is only putting up 16 points per game and the defense is allowing 33. The Jets are going to have a top three pick in the draft this season. The only question is whether or not they win a game all year.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

The Colts almost won a game, which is why they aren’t as bad as the Jets. Indianapolis has played so poorly that Andrew Luck could be considered for MVP. Jacoby Brissett also looked like an improvement from Scott Tolzien, but it won’t result in wins.

On the other side, the Colts’ defense is horrible, giving up 31 points per game (29th) and 308 passing yards per game (29th). There is little to look forward to with this season for Indianapolis.

30. Chicago Bears (0-2)

In week 1, the Chicago Bears looked like a vastly improved team. They hung with the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The Bears could have won that game if there wouldn’t have been three straight drops on the goal line before Mike Glennon was ultimately sacked.

Despite the loss, things were looking up. Then they ran into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who completely dominated them. Glennon looked like a backup, and the Mitch Trubisky era may soon be upon us.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

Cleveland was in a similar situation as the Bears. They almost upset the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers in week 1, but DeShone Kizer took a step back in week 2, throwing three interceptions against Baltimore. There are signs of improvement with the Browns, but they are still a young team.

It will be a typical Browns season of losses, but it is because they are young and growing. Cleveland should be happy because there is some positive direction.

28. San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

Over the first two weeks of the season, the 49ers have shown improvement on defense. The 49ers rank 10th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. That is 12.5 points less than last season.

The problem is the offense can’t get the job done, scoring an average of six points per game. This season will be a rough one for the 49ers, but they will be competitive.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

All signs point to the Bengals stinking this year, but they will turn this season around if they hand over the keys to AJ McCarron. The question is are they willing to make the move?

This week they are heading to Green Bay to face off against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. This is a must-win for the Bengals, but they won’t do so. Cincinnati could continue to fall in these rankings if Andy Dalton remains a turnover machine.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-2)

2017 NFL power rankings

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

Will a defense ever arrive in New Orleans? What makes it so bad is that 400-yard passing games are rare, but a certain someone called it in his predictions here.

It will sound like a broken record all season as the defense will continue to let down Drew Brees. The offense will win a few games in a shootout, but not many. The Saints should start preparing for the draft relatively soon this season.

25. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

Many predicted that the Cardinals would have a playoff-caliber season. Throw that out the window because that will not happen. Yes, the Cardinals are 1-1 and it is extremely early in the season.

The problem is David Johnson’s injury makes the rest of the offense look below average. Carson Palmer is too old and has shown a decline in his play. He can’t carry an offense. The defense is talented, but nothing elite enough to lead this franchise to wins.

24. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

Who could have seen a 12 carry, nine-yard performance from LeSean McCoy? Not many.

The Bills defense kept them in the game, but as a lot of teams low in these rankings, the offense got nothing done. Tyrod Taylor played safe, completing 17 of his 25 passes for just 125 yards. The Bills are an average team, and they will sit somewhere between 16 to 26 in these rankings for the remainder of the season.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

It is clear that the Jaguars must run the ball as much as possible to get it out of Blake Bortles’ hands. Bortles threw two interceptions against the Titans. 34 attempts are way too many, but happened because they were playing catch up. Leonard Fournette is a workhorse, who should easily get more than 14 carries no matter how the game is going.

The Jaguars “sacksonville” defense seemed to disappear, only sacking Marcus Mariota once. It remains to be seen how good, or bad, the Jaguars really are.

22. New York Giants (0-2)

The Giants are in danger of having a historically bad season. This team was supposed to have a Super Bowl defense with a high-powered ariel offense. The defense hasn’t lived up to expectations and the offensive line is so bad that Eli Manning can’t air the ball out.

It doesn’t help that the Giants have the worst rush offense in the NFL (48.5 yards per game). The Giants may turn it around, but if they fall to 0-3, they will fall much lower in the power rankings as well.

21. Houston Texans (1-1)

Deshaun Watson turned on the jets in Cincinnati to win his first career NFL start, on his birthday. With a defense as good as Houston’s, Watson needs to just protect the ball. If he can do that, his athleticism will force offenses to compensate for his running. This will open up the passing game.

Watson needs time to develop, but the Texans can still make the playoffs while he does so.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)

Could you imagine if the Chargers could just kick a field goal? Simply making two field goals could have this team at 2-0. The Chargers defense has played well enough to win games. The offense has been tailored around Melvin Gordon and is looking good.

There isn’t much to say other than make a field goal. If Los Angeles can improve in this area, then the Chargers might put up a fight for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

19. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

The Miami Dolphins sit alone at the top of the AFC East, but don’t get used to it. Jay Cutler is going to get a bunch of love, but everyone needs to pump the breaks. Most have seen the play where DeVante Parker stole the ball away from Casey Hayward. Cutler made a horrible decision and throw, but was rewarded.

During this season, Cutler will give away a few games, and the Dolphin fans will begin to understand what it meant to be a Bears fan for the past few years.

18. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: https://www.si.com)

It would have been fun to see Jared Goff pull of the two-minute offense to tie the game rather than seeing it be intercepted. It’s okay, he is young and will learn from that. Todd Gurley is showing signs of the greatness he displayed in his rookie season. The defense is elite under Wade Phillips and will perform much better the rest of this season.

This team will have a lot to say in the NFC West race. Don’t count them out of it.

17. Washington Redskins (1-1)

It is really hard to decipher what kind of team the Redskins are this year. Philly dominated them in week 1, but their win in week 2 changes every narrative on them. Their next two games are against the Raiders and Chiefs.

If they win either of these games, then the Redskins will earn a ton of respect. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will really find out if the Redskins are contenders or pretenders.

16. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

There are two games of evidence that say the Seahawks are in some serious trouble. Seattle looked unprepared and overwhelmed against the Packers. Those same Packers got manhandled against the Falcons. That is not a good sign. To make it even worse, the 49ers fought hard and looked like a worthy opponent against Seattle.

The offensive line is a major concern. Seattle can’t run the ball, and Russell Wilson is forced to run for his life. Seattle will float somewhere between 8-11 wins, but a few more performances like their previous two would show that the Seahawks are no longer the cream of the crop.

15. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

For the third time in the last four seasons, the Vikings have started a second quarterback in the month of September. It is the same sad story, the Vikings can’t get consistency under center. The defense is Super Bowl worthy and has played extremely well against some high-powered offenses.

If the Vikings have Sam Bradford, they are a top 10 team. If Bradford continues to miss time, then the Vikings are average at best and can only go as far as the defense can take them.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

The hype train for Green Bay is always ridiculous, but this year it may be slowing down. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is godly at quarterback, but he can’t make up for the deficiencies the rest of the team has. The Packers won a tough game against the Seahawks, who haven’t looked all that impressive. Then they got run over by the Atlanta Falcons yet again.

With Aaron Rodgers, they will likely make the playoffs. After watching these first two weeks, it is hard to imagine them making a deep run.

13. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

I see this year’s Raven’s team as last year’s Vikings. They will get off to a hot start, but by the end of the season miss the playoffs.

Baltimore’s defense is doing amazing things, averaging five takeaways per game. They can thank Andy Dalton, who has looked like an amateur this season and rookie DeShone Kizer for their gaudy takeaway numbers. This won’t hold up for the rest of the season.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/dak)

This game against the Broncos was a huge wakeup call for the Cowboys. They need to get back to becoming a dominant run team and stop trying to prove that Dak Prescott can be a gunslinger.

Ezekiel Elliott will get back into form in week 3. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place. Dak can get back to managing the game and keeping the defense off the field.

11. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The Titans were many analysts’ pick to win the AFC South. Oakland played so well in week 1 that some were ready to backtrack on them winning the division. Others were willing to stick with them.

Those who stuck with them are the smart ones. Tennessee completely dominated Jacksonville. That amazing defense that shut down Houston seemed to be a product of the offense they were facing. Tennessee put up 37 points behind 179 yards on the ground. This is the Tennessee everyone was expecting this season.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Philadelphia continues to look rather impressive this season. Although they lost, they played a great game against one of the best teams in the NFL. The defense doesn’t get much love, but ranks 12th in total yards (304 yards per game). Philly is also averaging four sacks per game, which is fourth best in the league.

Offensively Carson Wentz has taken the next step. The Eagles will be a serious threat in the NFC East race.

9. Detroit Lions (2-0)

Matthew Stafford is doing everything in his power to prove he is worth the big contract he recently signed. This season he has led the Lions to a 2-0 start by defeating the Cardinals and Giants, who are a combined 1-3.

It remains to be seen if these are wins against good teams or wins against teams that actually stink. Before they move up higher on this list, they will have to beat a quality opponent.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

After everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went through in regards to Hurricane Irma, it is more impressive that they came out and dominated the Bears the way they did. Tampa won the game 29-7 and the Bears score came in the fourth quarter. The defense shut down the run game, allowing just 20 yards.

If they continue to play the run this well, they will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy. The offense looked balanced, and Jameis Winston will be in the MVP discussion by the end of the year. Watch out Atlanta, the Bucs are coming for you.

7. Carolina Panthers (2-0)

When speaking of elite defenses, the Carolina Panthers must be mentioned. It doesn’t matter who the opponents are because allowing just three points per game after two weeks in the NFL is unheard of. That obviously ranks first, but Carolina also ranks first in total yards allowed at 196.5 per game.

Cam Newton has looked rusty, and Greg Olson broke his leg. The offense may struggle, but Cam and the running game will still be enough while the defense leads them to wins.

6. Denver Broncos (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=10988)

Denver is playing like they did during their Super Bowl run. During my Super Bowl Series: AFC West I mentioned that the Broncos need to get back to running the ball in order to win another championship. They have done just that, averaging the most yards on the ground per game at 159.

Pairing this with that fast, physical and world-class defense is a recipe for success. It will be fun to see how the Broncos do in their fight with the Raiders and Chiefs.

5. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)

Atlanta is off to a hot start, but a hangover is still coming. They struggled against the woeful Bears, then beat up on the overrated Packers.

Atlanta’s defense still isn’t all it is hyped up to be under Dan Quinn. Right now they have earned a top-five ranking, but in the coming weeks, it will fall as they still have to face Detroit, New England, Carolina, Dallas, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

4. New England Patriots (1-1)

Every time the Patriots have started 0-1 under Bill Belichick, they have won the Super Bowl. Tom Brady threw for the most yards ever by a 40-year-old quarterback. Granted it was the Saints defense, but still impressive. They are easily a top-five team in the NFL and will most likely make it to the Super Bowl.

Until Brady leaves or begins to fall off the cliff as Max Kellerman says, the Patriots will always deserve a high power ranking.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)

The killer B’s have led the Steelers to a 2-0 start. It wasn’t an easy outing for Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell against the Vikings defense, but it was enough to get the job done.

The defense is also doing a great job getting to the quarterback, averaging 4.5 sacks per game. T.J. Watt has been a major factor for the Steelers already. If the Steelers play like this the rest of the season, they may end up first in these rankings.

2. Oakland Raiders (2-0)

Marshawn Lynch must be instant energy. He fits with Oakland more than any other player in the history of the NFL on any team. He should have been a Raider for his entire career. Lynch has 121 yards this year while averaging four yards per carry. He creates a balance on the offense that is scaring every defensive coordinator that will face them.

Derek Carr continues to look like a future MVP and has outstanding chemistry with his receivers. The defense is holding up their end of the bargain thus far, but if they begin to falter, then so will the Raiders. Until then, they look like a candidate for the best team in the NFL.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Well, Alex Smith must have been absolutely sick of how people treat and talk about him. Through two games, Smith is completing 77.8 percent of his passing, thrown for 619 yards, five touchdowns and zero, I repeat, zero interceptions. He also leads the league in deep passing yards at 257. The next closest is Drew Brees with 216 yards.

Kareem Hunt looks to be the steal of the draft and frontrunner for offensive rookie of the year. The defense is doing what it always has in shutting down opposing offenses. The Chiefs are the clearcut best team in the NFL right now.

 

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week three DFS Don'ts

Week Three DFS Don’ts: Kicker and Defense

As we advance further into the season, expect my pieces to get more straightforward. Kickers and Defenses are important. They can make up for a bust at another position, or, the wrong one can keep your lineups from cashing. Let’s get right into our kicker and defense edition of week three DFS Don’ts.

Younghoe Koo: $4,500

week three DFS Don'ts

Younghoe Koo has proven to be unreliable as a clutch kicker thus far in his young NFL career (Courtesy of; NY Daily News).

I usually reserve this spot for one of the most expensive kickers on the slate. However, I could not resist talking about Younghoe Koo. Aside from the fact that he’s bad, I really wanted to type his name in an article. In two games, he’s missed a game-winning and a game-tying field goal. One of those kicks was in Denver, which is the most kicker friendly outdoor stadium in the league.

I’m all about paying down. But, you have to avoid players who miss when given the opportunity. Koo has already proved that he isn’t a reliable kicker. Missing two field goals in two games is unacceptable for fantasy purposes. There are plenty of other options this week at his price and at $200 above it. Please keep him off your lineups, as he’s a lock for my week three DFS Don’ts.

Seattle Seahawks: $4,900

The Seattle Seahawks are in trouble. I don’t want their defense because that means I have to take their offense as well. They barely managed to squeak out a win over the below average 49ers. Why? Because their offensive line is so bad that they could not consistently move the football. Seattle is clearly the better team, but they refuse to invest in their offensive line. This allows inferior teams like the 49ers to stay in the game because they can consistently get off the field on 3rd down.

This weekend they will travel to Tennessee. The Titans are by no means a juggernaut. However, they do have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. They will be able to sustain drives with Marcus Mariota being frugal with the football. This game will be close at halftime. But, the Titans will break away in the late third and early fourth quarter. For example, Seattle is currently 22nd in the NFL on third down percentage. Tennessee is 9th in the NFL, converting 48.1% of third downs. The Titans will wear down this Seattle defense since they will constantly be on the field.

Tampa Bay buccaneers: $4,600

Tampa Bay will be this week’s Rams defense. Don’t. Chase. Points. The Buccaneers had a great match up at home against a bad offense. Sam Bradford, even if he’s not 100% healthy, is superior to Mike Glennon. Yes, this defense is talented. Yes, they are a good value this week. However, there are subtle differences in week three that you need to take into account.

This Buccaneers defense is impressive in terms of their roster and depth. For the most part, this is the same defense from a year ago. This same defense struggled on the road. On the road in 2016, this Buccaneers defense only averaged 5.75 fantasy points.

They were pretty good at creating turnovers on the road in 2016. After their first two road games, the Buccaneers averaged two turnovers per road game the rest of the season. Key word, after, their first two road games. This team travels to Minnesota on Sunday where they will likely face Sam Bradford, an incredibly accurate passer who doesn’t turn the ball over. It’s rare that I like a road defense and this week is no different. Don’t go chasing points this week the Tampa Bay defense.

 

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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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week two DFS Don'ts

Week Two DFS Don’ts – Running Back

I’m just going to say it, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell were the biggest disappointments of week one. No one predicted such a sharp decline in production from these players. Thankfully LeSean McCoy, Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette picked up the slack. But, were they a product of a good match up, or, can we count on them as dependable DFS backs? Without further adieu, let’s get right into which running backs are on my week two DFS Don’ts list.

Todd Gurley: FanDuel Price $7,700

Todd Gurley and the Rams benefited from playing the worst team in the NFL at home week one. Yes, the Colts with Scott Tolzien are worse than the Jets. Gurley benefited from a big workload and an awful defense. However, let’s dig deeper into Gurley’s production and evaluate it’s sustainability moving forward.

Gurley’s final stat line was 19 carries for 40 yards on the ground, with 56 yards on five catches. So, against a talent-less defensive front, Gurley averaged a frightening 2.1 yards per carry. That’s atrocious for someone who is considered a top 12 running back. Of the 16 week one running backs who had at least 15 carries, 13 of them had a higher yards per carry than Todd Gurley. Running backs on that list in front of Gurley include: Terrence West, Javorious Allen, CJ Anderson and Ty Montgomery. It’s safe to say that Gurley is more talented then all of those players. So, with more talent and potentially the best week one match up, he was one of the least efficient backs.

This weekend, Gurley will face Washington’s 3-4 defense. In 2016 against a 3-4, Gurley averaged 2.74 yards per carry and .33 touch downs per game. I seriously doubt he’ll see enough carries to reach 100 yards rushing with his low yards per carry because the Rams won’t be running out the clock in this game. Shockingly, they are facing quality NFL quarterback in Kirk Cousins, so there will actually be pressure on the Rams’ offense to score points. I don’t trust Gurley at all. If he, with his talent, can’t average more than 2.1 yards per carry against the Colts, it’s likely he wont be DFS relevant for most of the season. Gurley was an easy pick for my week two DFS Don’ts.

C.J. Anderson: FanDuel Price $7,000

week two DFS Don'ts

C.J. Anderson is no doubt the feature back in Denver, but will his workload be enough to satisfy fantasy owners this Sunday? (Courtesy of; Dynasty Football Warehouse)

I’ve never been a fan of C.J. Anderson, but, I can’t argue with his workload. Any running back with 20 carries will always warrant consideration from me because he will at least have the opportunity to score points. However, I don’t like his match up for a unique reason, pace of play.

Pace of play is an interesting stat by Football Outsiders. It measures how much time, on average, it takes for a team to run a play. After week one, Dallas is 11th in pace with 27.39 seconds and Denver is is 22nd with 29.74 seconds. So, Denver has established themselves as one of the slower teams in the NFL. However, in the second half specifically, these teams take significantly longer to run plays. In the second half, Dallas falls from 11th to 25th in pace and Denver shifts from 22nd to 24th.

So what does this mean? It means that the number of snaps as a whole for the Denver offense will decrease. And, if they are trailing, they’ll pivot away from Anderson because of how slow both teams operate. This presents a problem. Anderson is not known as an explosive back, meaning, he needs volume to produce points. If you take away his volume, you severely limit his ability to produce. Given the pace and potential game flow of this match up, C.J. Anderson is firmly on my week two DFS Don’ts list.

Carlos Hyde: FanDuel Price $6,400

Carlos Hyde is a must avoid this week. Hyde had a rough outing in week one. He only say nine carries, but, he did draw six catches on six targets. I have so many problems with Hyde this Sunday I don’t know where to start. First, Hyde and the 49ers are a 14 point underdog at Seattle. Playing running backs on teams that are huge underdogs is a great way to not guarantee production.

Second, Seattle is angry. Seattle felt like they got robbed last weekend in Green Bay. This defense is more talented on the defensive line than Carolina, and they dominated the 49ers offensive line. Things will only get worse for this 49ers offensive unit this Sunday.

Third, their history in Seattle is not good. Seattle hasn’t lost to the 49ers in Seattle since 2011. In those games they lost, it’s been by an average of 17.6 points. I like Carlos Hyde. I think he’s a versatile, talented running back. But please, please don’t play him this week. I know there isn’t any analytical reasoning here, but it’s not necessary. Stay away from Hyde this week.

 

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NFL

NFL Week 2 Picks against the spread

Last week, I got off to a dismal 3-10-2 record against the spread, but that leaves almost the entire season to improve. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk, and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. Let’s go.

Thursday Night:

Texans at Bengals (-6.5) – Well, you certainly won’t find two teams who looked worse in their openers. Despite that, this is a pretty simple game to size up. The Texans are banged up and traveling on a short week. Additionally, Andy Dalton is still Cincinnati’s quarterback for better or worse. He has proven he is capable of at least moderate success in this league. The same level of certainty cannot be applied to Houston’s quarterback situation. Cin 24 Hou 13

Sunday:

Cardinals (-7) at Colts- After last week’s embarrassment, there are not many reasons for Colts fans to be optimistic. The return of Andrew Luck is nowhere in sight. Whether it is Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett who faces Arizona, it will be an uphill battle.

The Cardinals are not exactly a well-oiled machine at the moment, especially without David Johnson. Even so, Los Angeles hung 46 on Indy last week. The Jared Goff led Rams struggled to score 46 points in a month last year. Arizona should have enough firepower to get the job done. This strikes me as a game where professional pride may kick in for the Colts. After last week though, it is hard to see them keeping it close with any average team. Ari 31 Ind 17

Bills at Panthers (-7)- Christian McCaffery has certainly added something to a Panthers offense that already did a lot of exotic things with its running backs. Cam Newton missed some easy throws last week and appears to still be struggling with a bad shoulder, but he did not need to do much last week and won’t need to here either.

Yes, it was just the 49ers last week. Even so, the Panthers defense showed flashes of its great play from two years ago that helped the team reached the Super Bowl. The Bills struggled to put away the Jets last week. It is hard to imagine that going on the road against a much better opponent will help them. Car 27 Buf 17

Bears at Bucs (-7) – This game is tough to get a read on since Tampa Bay did not play last week. The theory of playing for an entire city after a hurricane certainly did not work when it came to Houston last week. However, the Bears are not very good and the Bucs have one of the better collections of offensive talent in the league. Thus, I will use the Houston theory again here. TB 31 Chi 21

Browns at Ravens (-8) – The Browns were one of the few things I had right last week. If there ever was a moral victory, that was it. The Ravens are benefiting too much from Cincinnati not showing up at all last week with this line. The offense didn’t look sharp. Granted, it didn’t need to. An outright upset would not shock me here. Bal 21 Cle 20

Vikings at Steelers (-5.5) – The Steelers are fantastic at home. Any team with their offensive weapons is a tall order for any opponent.  Before the Vikings can be taken seriously as a real contender, their offense has to show it can be productive against more than just the Saints defense. Pit 27 Min 19

Patriots (-6.5) at Saints- This will be a fun watch featuring two of the best quarterbacks of this era desperate to avoid 0-2 starts for their teams. If Kansas City can put up 40+ on the Pats in New England, the Saints will surely be able to score in the Superdome. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company won’t start 0-2, but they will be made to sweat. NE 34 NO 31

Eagles at Chiefs (-5.5)- Philadelphia did a nice job of going out and backing up the preseason hype that surrounded them last week, but this is a tough task. While the Kansas City hype train needs to slow down a bit, beating the Patriots in their building may be the most challenging thing to do in the NFL. Andy Reid coached teams almost never lose when given extra time to prepare. For young football team like the Eagles, Arrowhead Stadium combined with a physical Chiefs defense is more than likely going to be a case of too much, too soon. KC 28 Phi 21.

Titans (-2.5) at Jaguars- This is your classic Week 1 overreaction line. Yes, the Titans were soundly beaten by the Raiders, but the Jags are getting way too much credit for manhandling in the opener. While early returns on Leonard Fournette are good, the Texans helped Jacksonville out a lot. The Titans won’t be nearly as generous. Blake Bortles is not going to beat many teams completing 11 passes and barely breaking 100 yards. Ten 21 Jac 13

Leonard Fournette

Photo bigcatcountry.com

Dolphins at Chargers (-4.5) – After a one week hurricane delay, we finally get our first look at the Jay Cutler led Dolphins. The move did not make sense to me then and won’t until I see differently. Despite good individual members from time to time, having Cutler on your team has never meant winning football games on a consistent basis. In fact, it has usually meant just the opposite.

The Chargers finished last week’s loss against Denver really well. Their pass rushers will cause problems for every team they face this year. Also, the Bolts should be eager to open their time in LA with a win. Lac 30 Mia 21

Jets at Raiders (-14) – As bad as the Jets are, they hung around in Buffalo last week. The game would have been even closer had they not bungled an interception return. 14 points is just too many to swallow in the NFL unless the team that is favorite is angry or desperate. After last week’s win Oakland has no reason to be either. Oak 28 NYJ 17

Cowboys (-2) at *Broncos- Another week, another stiff test for Dak Prescott in his second year. He passed the first one with flying colors, but this one comes on the road at one of the toughest places to play in all of football.

This game is really a coin flip. Other than a rough few minutes in the fourth quarter, Denver dominated the Chargers last week. The balance they showed last week, a great defense that is already playing really well and playing at home will be enough for a minor upset. Den 21 Dal 17

49ers at Seahawks (-13.5) – Here, we have the same basic logic as the Jets/Raiders matchup. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Seattle has all the incentive in the world to be angry and desperate after being smothered by the Packers last week. Sea 24 SF 6

Redskins at Rams (-2.5)- Fortunately for Rams fans, the team that destroyed Indianapolis last week looked nothing like the disorganized mess that we saw last year. It is too early to say whether or not they are legitimate contenders, but this is a good matchup for them. Kirk Cousins was very pedestrian in the opener and committed a few big turnovers. The Rams defense will probably force him to do the same this week. Lar 23 Was 17

Kirk Cousins

Photo: bleacherreport.com

*Packers at Falcons (-2.5) – After barely escaping Chicago with a win last week, the Falcons seem to be missing something after the offensive coordinator change. Seattle may be the toughest defense Green Bay faces all year long. They scraped by them last week. I expect that confidence to help the Packers get on a nice early season roll. GB 31 Atl 24

Monday Night:

Lions at Giants (-3.5) – Desperation is a big theme this week. Teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs less than 15% of the time. The Giants were my preseason NFC Super Bowl representative. That looks shaky at best after last week, but the defense still did a solid job against Dallas.

Whether Odell Beckham Jr plays or not, the offense cannot be any worse. The Lions kept up with their 2016 theme of fourth quarter comeback wins last week against Arizona. They are loaded with talent, particularly on offense. However, their lack of a run game combined with their tendency to fall behind early make them tough to trust. NYG 27 Det 21

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