We need baseball back

We need baseball back ASAP

Alabama football just won its fifth National Championship in nine years. The New England Patriots have been to seven straight AFC Championship games and are favored to win its third Super Bowl in four years.

In 20 of the last 21 seasons, Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke Blue Devils have earned a four seed or better in the NCAA Tournament. This season, they are off to an 18-2 start, and when it comes to next year, the Blue Devils will have the nation’s top three recruits all wearing blue and white. That’s right, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish, the three highest recruited players in the country, have all committed to Duke. UConn women’s basketball has been to 10 straight Final Four’s and have won four out of the last five NCAA Tournaments.

We need baseball back

In the last three Finals, we have seen these two square up. (Photo from slamonline.com)

Barring an epic collapse, the Golden State Warriors will win its third championship in four years. Despite what the media says, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, in all likelihood, will face the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season. This would mark LeBron’s eighth straight Finals appearance.

In October, the Warriors opened as a -240 favorite to win the title. The best odds given to any 2018 MLB team to win the World Series is +525.

In 2016, the Minnesota Twins went 59-103, which was good for the worst record in baseball. A year later, with virtually the same roster, they were competing against the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. From 2011-13, the Houston Astros averaged 54 wins per year. In 2017, they won 101 games and were World Series Champions.

Translation: baseball is the most competitively balanced sport, and it’s not even close. Sure, dominance like Brady and Belichick, Nick Saban, LeBron, the Warriors, Coach K and Geno Auriemma is awesome to see, but as a fan, isn’t it better to have more parody and uncertainty when it comes to sports?

Systems

Not only is baseball the most competitively balanced sport, but it is also the only sport in which we can accurately critique someone’s skill level on a yearly basis. We know college is all about recruiting. The best coaches recruit the best players.

Last season, in the NFL, we saw the Rams finish 4-12 under coach Jeff Fisher (4-9) and John Fassel (0-3). Quarterback Jared Goff went 0-7 as a starter, and Todd Gurley rushed for under 890 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

Now was this because these players were bad? Of course not. They were just in a garbage system, and an offense that, according to Gurley, “looked like a middle school offense.”

We need baseball back

Gurley averaged less than four yards per carry a season ago. (Photo from CBS Sports)

This season, with head coach Sean McVay, the Rams looked like a completely different team. They beefed up the line, and Goff threw 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Gurley had 19 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. He became one of 11 running backs in the history of the sport to accomplish these two feats in the same season.

Tom Brady is widely considered as the greatest quarterback of all time, but have you ever seen Aaron Rodgers throw a football? Do you know how many top-10 defenses, in regards to scoring, Aaron Rodgers has played with in his 10 seasons as a starter? Only two. One of them being the time Rodgers helped them win the Super Bowl, and another when they won 11 games.

Since Brady took over as the starter in New England, the Patriots have had 12 top-10 defenses. If Rodgers played with a better coach and personnel, we would probably be telling a different story in regards to the best quarterback.

Case Keenum and Blake Bortles just brought their respected teams into Championship weekend. They were behind center for two of the final four teams, and now the sports media is questioning if any team should pay them “starter” money next season. You know why? Because they are both in good systems with top defenses, and coaches who did a great job hiding their flaws.

Basketball too?

In the 2016-17 season, Victor Oladipo was a solid player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged about 16 points and four rebounds per game.

After being dealt to the Indiana Pacers in the Paul George deal, Oladipo is now an All-Star. He is averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He is also shooting a career-best field goal percentage, as well as 3-point percentage. Oladipo is playing the same minutes he did last year, except on the Pacers, he does not have to play alongside Russell Westbrook, a ball-dominant player.

As a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love was a monster. He was a three-time All-Star, and averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game over six seasons. He is the only player in NBA history to have multiple seasons with averages of at least 26 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting over 80 percent from the free-throw line. In 2010-11, he became the only player to ever average 20 points and 15 rebounds, while shooting 85 percent from the free-throw line.

Since being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love has made just one All-Star game (soon to be two) and averages less points and rebounds. Of course, this is because he has been the third option in the offense for essentially all of his four seasons in Cleveland.

America’s Pastime

In 57 games as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 2017, J.D. Martinez hit .305 with an OPS of 1.018. In the last 62 games of the season after being traded to the Diamondbacks, Martinez hit .302 with an OPS of 1.107.

Justin Verlander was dealt to the Houston Astros, and he continued to be the same old Justin Verlander. In fact, he was even better than we expected.

Even though they joined new teams, which meant new coaches and new teammates, these players continued to excel. This is because baseball is the purest sport, and the only sport we can examine someone’s statistics, and without hesitation, declare if they had a good season or not.

We need baseball back

No matter the coach, teammates or system, good MLB players produce. (Photo from Over The Monster)

The point is this. In the NBA and NFL, blaming the system, coaches and teammates can all be valid excuses, to an extent, as to why your production is not where it could be. In the MLB, this is not the case. As a starter, you are given the same amount of chance to succeed as any other starter in the league.

A player cannot blame his batting average on the coach, or his teammates. A pitcher can’t tell the media that “the system” is the reason he walked all those batters. As an MLB player, you are either good or you are not. You had a good hitting season, or you didn’t. You either pitched well, or you didn’t.

Luckily, we are a month away from Cactus League and Grapefruit League games. 2018 will be another unpredictable season. The New York Yankees picked up Giancarlo Stanton, which means they have arguably two of the best four right fielders in baseball.

Once Kevin Durant moved to the Warriors, it was obvious they would win the title. In the MLB, big moves like this do not guarantee anything. Baseball will always be America’s pastime, due to its batter vs. pitcher, “You vs. Me” style of play.

 

Featured image from Grantland

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Fantasy football awards

2017 fantasy football awards

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

Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Alvin Kamara

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

Fantasy football awards

Alvin Kamara (Photo from usatoday.com)

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

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

Biggest busts: Amari Cooper & Terrelle Pryor

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

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

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

Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year: Todd Gurley

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

Fantasy football awards

Todd Gurley (Photo from latimes.com)

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

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

Sympathy Award: Aaron Rodgers

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

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

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

Best Kicker: Greg Zuerlein

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

Fantasy football awards

Greg Zuerlein (Photo from turfshowtimes.com)

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

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

Fantasy MVP: Russell Wilson

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

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

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

Other awards

Some other considerations this season include the following.

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

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

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

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

 

Featured image from seattletimes.com

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Robert Woods fantasy

Is Robert Woods a legit fantasy wide receiver?

The Rams’ offense has taken the entire league by storm this year. They went from the worst scoring offense to the best and haven’t looked back.

Last year under Jeff Fisher, this Rams team scored 224 points, the lowest in the NFL. Through nine games this season, the team has already scored 296 points. Led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, this offense has flourished. But the true story of this team is the players behind the scenes who have made some noise and helped this team.

In the last two games, Robert Woods has really stepped up with 12 receptions for 241 yards and four touchdowns. He went off for a huge 94-yard touchdown in his last game to really break the game open. In six out of the nine games this season, Woods has had at least four receptions for fifty yards. As of late, he’s starting to pick up in a big way.

Now fantasy owners are asking themselves, “Is Robert Woods a legit fantasy wide receiver?”

Upside on Robert Woods

As Jared Goff has picked up his play this season, it has affected his supporting cast in a great way. Woods has had a great season so far. He has accumulated 39 receptions for 622 yards and four touchdowns in nine games. He already has more yards and touchdowns than he did with the Bills last season.

Over the last two games, he’s scored all four of his touchdowns and has evolved into one of Goff’s top targets. The volume is there for Woods as he has received at least seven targets in four of his last five games. With this volume, he has shown his production and made the most of his opportunity. With double-digit fantasy points in his last two games, each coming with two touchdowns, Woods is trending in the right direction. 

Question Marks for Woods

Now it is true that Woods’ only four touchdowns have come in the last two weeks, which is something to consider about his fantasy production. He produces well on a PPR scale, but for standard league owners, he may only be good if he can find the end zone.

Robert Woods fantasy

Photo from http://www.trbimg.com

Woods is good for at least five fantasy points every week for the rest of the season, but if you’re looking for him to continue his hot streak, he’s going to have to find the end zone. It should also be noted that his latest game of eight receptions for 171 yards and two scores came against a pretty good Houston secondary.

 

In his next three games, Woods goes up against Minnesota, New Orleans and Arizona, three defenses that may give him problems. Even going up against these stout defenses, Woods should be given ample opportunities to continue to produce at a high level for the Rams and fantasy owners.

From here on out, Woods should be considered a solid WR2 or a flex play. However, depending on the matchup, you may need to bench him at times.

 

Feature image from USA Today Sports

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Week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Report card

Week 9 was the first time all season I cashed when the week number was a multiple of 3. I know, why would anyone keep track of that? Well, when you lose badly on Week 3 and 6, you are highly aware of Week 9, 12, 15 moving forward.

Anyways, it was my best week of the year in terms of profit and picks. We nailed almost everything on the Suck My DFS Podcast and our picks for the Week 9 DFS don’ts.

Quarterback: 4/6

On our podcast, my three quarterbacks to build around were Russell Wilson, Alex Smith and Jared Goff. Now, I ended up not playing Alex Smith on my cash games and taking my co-host’s advice on Jacoby Brissett in my tournaments. I missed out on a great game from Goff, but still managed to have a good day as all three of these quarterbacks made value in cash games and probably helped you win a tournament.

On the other hand, Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota managed to have good games and prove me wrong. However, Brock Osweiler was not good. It might seem cheap, but I saw tournament lineups on FanDuel with Osweiler so I’m counting it as a win.

Running Back: 4/6

I was struggling to predict the running back position all season. But finally, in the running back edition of Week 9 DFS don’ts, I came through. Devonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson and Alex Collins all failed to make value in a cash game, and I couldn’t be happier.

Conversely, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey were great. Gurley was a staple in my tournament lineups.

Sadly, I whiffed on Mark Ingram while my co-host nailed it with Alvin Kamara. Thankfully, Gurley carried my lineups to victory.

Wide Receiver: 4/6

Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald all failed to make value. I’m not counting Jamison Crowder. He ended up not being active, so I won’t count that as a win or a loss.

Thank goodness for that Tyreek Hill play at the end of the first half! I haven’t sweated a game harder all year. While that play was great, Hill came up just short of doubling his value for cash purposes, so that’s a loss.

I don’t know if you heard, but T.Y. Hilton had a decent game, right? His price was too attractive this week and forced me to play him on all my tournament lineups. Russell Shepard ended up being a dud, but not a bad week as a whole though.

Tight End: 3/5

For my Week 9 DFS don’ts at the tight end position, I named Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and Ryan Griffin. Kelce had a great game and finished as the second highest scoring tight end on Sunday. Graham and Griffin both came up short.

On the podcast, I liked Evan Engram and Vernon Davis. Like Tyreek Hill, Davis came up less than a point short of making value in a cash game. I sadly played Jack Doyle instead of Engram. I couldn’t find a way to fit him in at that price despite really liking him.

Kicker: 1/3

This was my worst call of the season at this position. I totally missed on Brandon McManus, but I wasn’t going anywhere near that Denver offense. Mike Nugent came up very small, but he wasn’t needed. Cody Parkey didn’t make value, so that’s my only win at this position.

Defense: 2/3

Jacksonville was the chalk this past weekend, and I was happy to swallow it on all my lineups. Cincinnati wasn’t able to get it done against a running game without Leonard Fournette. And, if not for a touchdown, Houston’s defense would have failed to make value as well.

Overall Score: 18/29

I don’t know if I’ll have a week this good again, but I’ll take 62 percent correct. Hopefully Week 10 will be as good. Check out our latest piece on which kicker(s) and defense(s) to keep off your DFS lineups.

 

Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

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NFL Week 9

Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 9

Teams against the spread through Week 8

Buffalo 5-1-1

Kansas City 6-2

Philadelphia 6-2

NY Jets 5-2-1

Houston 5-2

New Orleans 5-2

Houston 5-2

Chicago 5-3

Minnesota 5-3

Pittsburgh 5-3

Jacksonville 4-3

Dallas 4-3

LA Rams 4-3

Indianapolis 4-4

San Francisco 4-4

Miami 3-3-1

Carolina 4-4

New England 4-4

Baltimore 4-4

NY Giants 3-4

Seattle 3-4

Cincinnati 3-4

LA Chargers 3-4-1

Green Bay 3-4

Tennessee 3-4

Detroit 3-4

Oakland 3-5

Denver 2-4-1

Atlanta 2-5

Washington 2-5

Cleveland 2-6

Tampa Bay 1-5-1

Arizona 1-6

 

Week 8 Review (1-2) Overall: 15-8-1

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Detroit Lions 15

NFL Week 9

The Steelers sit atop the AFC. (Photo from FanRag Sports)

JuJu on that beat! With Martavis Bryant suspended, Smith-Schuster, the wideout from USC, had seven receptions for 193 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger during the third quarter. Pittsburgh’s defense was phenomenal, forcing two turnovers and not allowing Detroit to score a touchdown.

It appeared the Lions still had a shot when they were down one in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Matt Stafford was sacked on fourth down. On third and fourth down, the Lions were a combined 2-14. The turnover on downs led to the big JuJu touchdown.

Matt Prater did not disappoint fantasy teams, as he knocked in a total of five field goals.

Atlanta Falcons (-6) @ New York Jets

Atlanta Falcons 25 New York Jets 20

Two points away from covering. Close but no cigar. The Jets looked like they were going to pull off the upset heading into halftime with a 17-13 lead.

A Matt Bryant field goal and a Mohamed Sanu touchdown put the Falcons ahead with less than 13 minutes to play. The Jets were unable to score a touchdown in the second half, and Atlanta squeaked out a close one.

The Falcons, who have an average run defense, shutdown New York, allowing only 43 yards on 22 carries. They also limited the Jets to a mere 15 first downs, which is tied for their best performance of the year.

Atlanta looks to continue their success this week, going on the road to face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Oakland Raiders (+2.5) @ Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills 34 Oakland Raiders 14

The Raiders are truly the most unpredictable team in the league. They went into this game following an emotional win over Kansas City, and appeared to be the better team. That was until the game actually started. Oakland turned the ball over not once, twice, or even three times, but four times, including a pair of interceptions by Derek Carr. They have now lost five games, which is already more than last season.

Give credit to the Bills, who look like a legitimate playoff team, even though they just got smacked by the Jets. Tyrod Taylor continues to not turn the ball over, and LeSean McCoy is playing like vintage Shady McCoy. McCoy had a 48-yard touchdown run and added a little spice, holding the ball out from 10 yards out to taunt the pitiful Oakland defense.

At this point, I think it is safe to say the Bills are more likely to play in the playoffs than the Raiders.

WEEK 9 PICKS

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) @ New York Giants

PICK: RAMS TO COVER

The Rams are coming off a bye, which means they had an extra week to prepare for this one-win Giants team. Quite frankly, the Rams are just the better team. They are second in scoring, sixth in yards per play and eighth in first downs. Their defense also ranks ninth against the pass.

On the other hand, the Giants, on both sides of the ball, have been a mess. New York ranks 24th in yards per play on both offense and defense. Eli Manning has his team at 29th in plays per drive and last in first downs. Their defense ranks 23rd in rushing yards allowed, which is not great considering the Rams are the sixth best rushing team, largely due to Todd Gurley.

New York just isn’t scoring, as they rank 29th in percentage of offensive drives ending in a score. The Rams rank third in that department, which is clearly a major difference.

This game could end up in a double-digit victory for the Rams. The Giants cannot run the football, so if Eli struggles, watch out.

Also, the Rams love to score right off the bat, ranking fourth in first quarter points per game. On the flip side, the Giants are 31st. As for third down conversions, the Rams are first in the league, while New York ranks 29th.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but I think it’s clear that the Giants are not very good at the moment. Keep in mind Janoris Jenkins will not be playing this week either.

Atlanta Falcons (-2) @ Carolina Panthers

PICK: FALCONS TO COVER

Not only did Cam Newton lose his best friend on the team, Kelvin Benjamin, but he lost his best receiver. Newton has publicly expressed that he is not a fan of the move, so expect a shaky start for the former MVP.

Carolina has lost two out of their last three games, and currently rank 23rd in points. Newton is not playing like an MVP, as he already has 11 interceptions.

Although it is somewhat of a disappointing start for Atlanta, they are still very solid. Their offense ranks fifth in yards, fourth in yards per rushing attempt, and fifth in first downs. Atlanta has the 11th ranked defense, which is the second best defense the Panthers have seen this year. The Falcons also rank second in yards per drive, while Carolina is 20th.

Matt Ryan has been somewhat average and has thrown more interceptions than usual. Luckily, the Panthers do not force many turnovers, as they rank 27th in that department.

If it comes down to the wire, Carolina is 27th in fourth quarter points per game, which cannot be trusted. Take the Falcons on the road.

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans (-3)

PICK: TITANS TO COVER

NFL Week 9

Expect big numbers from the Titans’ backfield. (Photo from Titans Online)

Like the Rams, the Titans are also coming off of a bye week. They sit atop the AFC South, tied with the Jags for a share of first place, so a home game like this is a must win.

When the Titans rush the ball for over 100 yards, they are 3-0. Baltimore ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, letting up almost 133 yards per contest.

As long as the Titans stick to the run, they will be fine. Even after the Ravens 40-0 win over Miami, they still rank dead last in passing yards, and second to last in overall yards. Their running game has been decent, but Tennessee defends the run well, and sits fifth in opponent rushing yards per attempt.

Expect Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry to run wild, and for Joe Flacco to continue to look bad, especially after nearly being concussed a week ago.

 

Featured image by myAJC.com

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 7

Week six review (0-3) OVERALL: 12-6

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings 23 Green Bay Packers 10

A legal, but dirty, hit by Minnesota Vikings star Anthony Barr cost the Packers their season. In the first quarter, Aaron Rodgers went down and suffered a broken collarbone. Brett Hundley took over, and was an absolute disaster. The Packers were only down four at half, and still had a legitimate shot to win, but Hundley was just terrible. The UCLA standout finished with three interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 39.6.

This was just an ugly game, and totally unlucky for bettors. Both teams had trouble getting much going, as neither were able to score a touchdown in the second half. Credit to Minnesota’s defense, and with the Rodgers injury, the Vikings should be able to win the NFC North.

Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)

Los Angeles Rams 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

“Greg The Leg” has been vital for the Rams (LA Times)

This was another rather unlucky game. Had I known the Jags would be a total disaster on special teams, I would have avoided this matchup.

On the opening kickoff, Rams return man Pharoh Cooper took it the house on a 103-yard touchdown return. In the second quarter, Los Angeles blocked a Jaguars punt and returned it for a score.

The Jaguars defense remained elite, only allowing one touchdown to the opposition. Blake Bortles played alright, and Leonard Fournette, who got injured in the game, tore up the Rams defense. Fournette ran for 130 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in response to Cooper’s kickoff return. Rams special teams won them this game, and we haven’t even mentioned Greg Zuerlein, who hit two field goals, including one from 56 yards out.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (-3)

Los Angeles Chargers 17 Oakland Raiders 16

While Derek Carr looked amazing against the Chiefs in their Thursday night win, last Sunday was a totally different story. Carr, who was most likely playing injured, threw a pair of interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 67.5. The Raiders just couldn’t move the football, with a total of only 274 yards.

Philip Rivers deserves some love, as he led the Chargers down the field, setting up a Nick Novak game-winner as time expired. Solid win for Los Angeles, but at 2-4, it’s going be tough to climb into playoff contention.

WEEK 7 PICKS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Buffalo Bills (-3)

PICK: BILLS TO COVER

The Bills are a lot better than people think, and Jameis Winston is not as good as we thought he would be. Winston is questionable, but is expected to start. Winston looked bad against the Patriots, and terrible against the Vikings. This is a Buffalo defense who has allowed the fewest points in all of the NFL, and should have no problem shutting down Winston.

Expect a big game from LeSean McCoy (SportingNews)

Buffalo has allowed fewer passing touchdowns than any team in the league, and currently rank seventh in fewest rushing yards allowed.  The Bills are only allowing 85 yards per game on the ground. In the 12 previous games in which the Bucs rushed for 85 yards or less, they went 3-9. Tampa Bay is a pass heavy team, and Buffalo is second In the NFL in interceptions.

The Buccaneers defense is quite abysmal. They currently rank 30th in total yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed. They have the fewest sacks in the league, and if you can’t get to Tyrod Taylor, he will make you pay with his feet.

The Bucs are also allowing the fourth highest quarterback rating to opposing quarterbacks. They aren’t any prettier in the red zone, allowing the second most red zone opportunities for opposing teams.

Tyrod will not put up huge numbers, but he rarely turns the ball over, and has kept Buffalo in every game. The last time LeSean McCoy played the Bucs, he ran for 116 yards, so expect big things from Shady.

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)

PICK: RAMS TO COVER

As weird as this may sound, the Rams are legit. They are still first in the league in scoring, and fourth in the league in third down percentage. Arizona’s defense currently ranks 28th in points allowed, and 30th in points allowed per red zone trip.

Carson Palmer is washed up, and has been getting absolutely demolished this season. He has already thrown six interceptions, and has been a sacked a grand total of 21 times. Because of this, Arizona is 24th in points per drive. They almost blew a huge lead to Ryan Fitzpatrick. I think that says enough.

Although Adrian Peterson had a nice game last week, I don’t see it happening again. On the flip side, Todd Gurley is averaging over four yards per carry in his career versus the Cardinals. The Rams defend the pass well, and are first in the league in field goals per drive, all thanks to the best kicker in the league, Greg Zuerlein. Look for the Rams to continue their early success.

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots (-3.5)

PICK: PATRIOTS TO COVER

The Super Bowl rematch preview is a lot different than we expected. The Patriots defense is a disaster, and Matt Ryan is back to being his average self. He has thrown six interceptions and his Falcons are a totally different team than last season. They have already lost to the Bills and the Dolphins.

It should also be noted that they were literally inches away from losing to the Lions, and an end zone drop away from losing to the Bears. Atlanta’s defense has caused the fewest turnovers in the league, and cannot get off the field. They currently rank 31st in average time per opposing drive.

Matt Ryan has never beaten the Patriots, but this should be a shootout. Expect New England’s defense to look a little better, and for the Pats to win by at least seven.

 

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week six DFS don'ts

Week six DFS don’ts: Kicker and Defense

While choosing a kicker and defense can seem mundane and pointless, those positions can be the difference between winning and losing. When I make lineups, I have the same tight end, kicker, and defense. It helps keep my lineups consistent in terms of scoring and structure. Thankfully, I had the Dolphins defense and Harrison Butker on every single cash and tournament lineup in week five. So, let’s find out who you should avoid in this special teams edition of week six DFS don’ts

Mason Crosby: FanDuel Price $4,800

This might be the first and last time I every break down the long snapper and holder for any team ever. However, it was talked about at nauseam during the game. The Packers had a new long snapper and holder entering their contest with the Dallas Cowboys. I’m a believer that a professional kicker should make the extra point with few exceptions. Clearly, those new players had a negative impact on Mason Crosby.

Personnel aside, the opportunities will be limited this weekend. The Minnesota Vikings at home have played incredibly well as a defensively. The Packers showed early that they will allow pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and, the Vikings have a superior unit to the Cowboys at almost every level. I don’t see Crosby paying off on his $4,800 price tag. And as always, I believe there are much better options that are cheaper and in a better situation. Green Bay and their special teams personnel have landed Crosby on my week six DFS don’ts list.

Jacksonville Jaguars: FanDuel Price $4,900

week six DFS don'ts

The Jaguars defense proved they are an elite unit with their performance against the Steelers on the road last Sunday (Courtesy of; Jaguars.com)

Here is my weekly public service announcement about not chasing points. The Jacksonville Jaguars did what most NFL teams fail to do, stick to their identity. Despite the score, the Jaguars continued to run the ball and trust their defense.

Frustration aside, they did not abandon their offensive identity. Sadly, the Steelers resorted to throwing the ball 55 times and played right into the strength of the Jaguars defense. It was the perfect situation for Jacksonville.

That will not happen again this weekend. While I still have doubts about the Rams offense, they have established an identity, and they stick to it. Todd Gurley had his season-low in total touches with 15. This was the second time this season Gurley had less than 20 total touches.

Coincidentally, it led to their second loss of the season. The Rams will return to featuring Gurley this weekend and take the Jaguars’ corners out of the game by distributing the ball in between the hashes.

It’s entirely possible the Jaguars score 11 or 12 points. And, if those are your expectations, then roster them. Just please, do not expect them to record another five turnovers and two touchdowns on defense this weekend.

 

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NFL MVP and Coach of the Year Candidates

The smell of pumpkin is in the air, the leaves are starting to fall and Halloween stores are getting ready to sell out. It’s October, and we are already a quarter of the way done with the NFL regular season. If the season ended today, the following players and coaches would be in line to earn the NFL’s biggest awards.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Kareem Hunt

Imagine if Spencer Ware didn’t get injured in the preseason. We would have been missing out on some miraculous numbers to say the least. Kareem Hunt is just flat out special. After fumbling on his first ever NFL touch, Hunt has turned into a monster.

Obviously, it is extremely rare for a non-quarterback to win this award. Of the last ten winners, Adrian Peterson is the only running back to win the award. Peterson won in 2012, when he rushed for over 2,000 yards. Through four weeks, Hunt’s 502 rushing yards has him on pace to be a 2,000-yard rusher.

Hunt is averaging a league-leading 125.5 yards per game on the ground. His 659 yards from scrimmage have him on pace to shatter the all-time record for yards from scrimmage in a season. That’s right, Hunt is on pace to reach 2,636 yards, which would eclipse Chris Johnson’s record of 2,509.

Hunt is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, which has never been done through four weeks when a running back has at least 50 carries. He is also nearly impossible to tackle, as his 25 broken tackles leads the NFL. The best stat about Hunt is, if we only counted his second half rushing yards, he would still lead the NFL in rushing. The Chiefs have yet to lose a game, and although Alex Smith looks good, Kareem Hunt is the main reason for their success.

Todd Gurley

NFL MVP coach year candidates

Todd Gurley can do it all for LA (Huffington Post)

Because of Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley is not getting nearly the amount of love that he deserves. Yes, people are talking about the Rams and Sean McVay changing the culture, but what Gurley is doing is absolutely remarkable. Not only is he dominating on the ground, but Gurley also is playing like an elite receiver.

Gurley is second in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, second in rushing yards per game and first in first downs converted. He is more efficient on the ground than last year, and his receiving numbers are up there with legit number one wide receivers.

Gurley is fourth in receiving touchdowns, tied for 20th in catches, and is top 25 in terms of receiving yards. Through four weeks, Todd Gurley has more receptions than Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas and T.Y. Hilton.

The former Georgia star is on pace for 80 receptions, which would shatter his previous high of 43. His seven total touchdowns lead all players. Gurley is making Jared Goff look like a franchise quarterback.

Tom Brady

Unfortunately, Tom Brady cannot play both sides of the ball. The Patriots defense, which has allowed more total yards than anyone in the league, is the real reason why the Pats sit at 2-2. Brady is doing just fine. He currently sits first in passing touchdowns with 10, is second in passer rating, first in passing yards and first in adjusted yards gained per pass attempt. Brady also has yet to throw an interception.

This is all without his favorite target, Julian Edelman, who is done for the season. The 40-year-old legend is playing out of his mind, and shows no signs of slowing down. For the Patriots’ sake, let’s hope their defense doesn’t end up in the history books as one of the worst defenses of all time. No seriously, New England is on pace to dethrone the 2012 Saints record for most yards allowed in a season.

Aaron Rodgers

Arguably the most gifted quarterback in league history, Aaron Rodgers is off to a superb start, and he has his Packers at 3-1. Rodgers is no stranger to this award, winning it back in 2011 and 2014. In 2014, Green Bay started out 2-2 and Rodgers had nine touchdowns. This year, Rodgers has 10 touchdowns, and is completing 66.9 percent of his passes, which would be his third most efficient season in his career.

Rodgers is tied with Brady for passing touchdowns, but also has been sacked 15 times, which is third most in the league. If Rodgers wants a shot at a third MVP, the Packers better learn how to protect him. In his two MVP seasons, Rodgers was sacked 36 and 28 times. He is on pace for 60 in 2017.

AP COACH OF THE YEAR

Sean McVay

NFL MVP coach year candidates

Sean McVay and the Rams sit atop the NFC West at 3-1 (Washington Post)

This time last year, the Rams were also 3-1. In the next 12 weeks, they would go on to win only one more game. For some reason, this year’s 3-1 feels a little different. The youngest head coach in the NFL has changed the culture in Los Angeles.

In 2016, the Rams finished dead last in points, yards and first downs. Under McVay, they are currently the highest-scoring offense and fifth in the league in yards. Everyone assumed Jared Goff would be a bust, and now, in a legit offense, he looks like a franchise guy. Todd Gurley is being used in the passing game, and Tavon Austin is finally running plays that best fit his style and skillset.

After going into Dallas and winning, it will be interesting to see if the Rams can beat Seattle this week, as they have defeated the Seahawks in their last three home matchups. McVay is the clear frontrunner for this award, as he took over a middle school offense, and has the Rams atop the NFC West.

Andy Reid

Andy Reid has a track record of regular season success, so this comes to no surprise. The only undefeated team left, Andy Reid has the Chiefs playing great all-around football. It will be interesting to see if Kareem Hunt and Alex Smith can continue to play essentially flawless football, but Reid has clearly put these men in position for success.

The shovel pass to Travis Kelce seems unstoppable and Reid knows exactly when to use it. Smith and Hunt will most likely come back down to Earth, and Kansas City’s defense is not great, but they are 4-0 and Andy Reid has not mismanaged a game yet with a timeout call.

Jim Caldwell

Last year, the Lions defense ranked 28th in takeaways and 31st in passing touchdowns allowed. Approaching week 5, Detroit is first in takeaways, and fourth in passing touchdowns allowed. They haven’t played scrubs either. These are stats against guys like Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. Detroit is one yard away from being undefeated, and if their defense can keep playing like this, the Lions could surprise a lot of people. Great start for Jim Caldwell.

 

Featured image by Sporting News

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week 5 DFS don'ts

Week five DFS don’ts: Kicker and Defense

Week four was full of more quality football games and major upsets. It happened to be my best week in terms of DFS profitability and my player predictions. So, let’s jump right in to week five. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the first week multiple teams are on scheduled byes, so adjust your lineups and strategy accordingly. Here are the plays you need to avoid in my kicker and defense edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Greg Zurlein: FanDuel Price $5,300

Yes, I saw what Greg “The Leg” Zurlein did to Dallas on Sunday. It was incredibly impressive. However, can we please avoid spending up for a kicker who’s workload this weekend was the exception and not the rule? Zurlein, up to this point, hadn’t attempted more than three field goals this season. He has benefited from many extra point attempts, as he plays on the highest scoring offense in the NFL. But, that’s going to change this weekend.

The Rams will face Seattle this Sunday at home. That’s the first strike. Zurlein will be playing outdoors as opposed to in Dallas stadium. While the weather is perennially great in Los Angeles, it matters. His team will also be playing against a superior defensive unit. His extra point opportunities will absolutely be limited, as will his field goals chances.

Also, I refuse to pay up for a kicker. My DFS philosophy only requires my kicker to score double digit points. Now, if you play in primarily tournaments, Zurlein could be a good way to differentiate. However, I cannot justify paying for the most expensive kicker when there are plenty of options who can get me 10 points. So, given my philosophy, it’s no surprise the most expensive kicker is on my week five DFS don’ts.

Los Angeles Rams: FanDuel Price $4,800

week five DFS don'ts

The Los Angeles Rams are the league’s highest scoring offense, but their defense has surrendered at least 27 points in their last three games (Courtesy of; Orange County Register).

I’m not hating on the Rams. Todd Gurley made me profitable this weekend and I recommended Jared Goff on the Suck My DFS Podcast. However, the Rams have surrendered at least 27 points in their last three games. That includes allowing a staggering 39 points to the anemic San Francisco 49ers who could not reach the end zone at all last weekend.

They are facing a divisional opponents who has seemingly hit their stride. Russell Wilson and that passing game have drastically improved and will likely light up this Rams secondary. I know, divisional games tend to be lower in score because of the familiarity, but neither of these teams seem to be able to stop competent offenses.

The Rams have talent on the defensive front. They also have a great coordinator in Wade Phillips. I just don’t think they will be able to keep Seattle from connecting on the big pass play when they inevitably bring pressure. I’ll absolutely be looking to use the Rams defense in the future; however, their matchup lands them on my week five DFS don’ts list.

 

Like what you read? Tune into the Suck My DFS Podcast this Friday and find out who TGH fantasy experts will be playing in their DFS lineups this week. You can find the link on our Podcast page.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Sporting News

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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