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Once again in 2014 (come September), we are bringing you in-season NFL Team Reports from our "Eye in the Sky" correspondents. These reports represent a local point of view which isn't readily available on the web. We remind everyone, the views expressed within these reports contain speculation as well as fact. It's just another extra bonus from FFMastermind.com to keep all fantasy football fanatics well informed.
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Stick a fork in these guys. The Miami Dolphins are done for 2014. Hopefully this will be the end for Head Coach Joe “The Ostrich” Philbin, who was totally clueless. I could not believe after the traditional late Season swoon last year Team Owner Stephen Ross did not give him the boot. Still, I keep flashing on that scene in Ruthless People when Danny DeVito hangs up on his wife’s kidnappers. “Now THAT should do it.”
Assuming it happens Fins Fans are now looking around, wondering who might be out there. The obvious candidate is Jim Harbaugh, who looks like he’s getting the boot from the 49ers. We’re not so sure that’s a good idea. Harbaugh had a couple good years in San Francisco, but lately he’s been looking like a bit of a maniac. Stories in the press say he might be courted by the Raiders and Jets, but everybody remembers Fins Owner Stephen Ross hopping on his private plane and winging out to the West Coast when it looked like Harbaugh might be making the jump into the pros a couple years back.
Whatever happens Miami is (once again) facing another regime change and rebuilding. We cannot imagine Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle will be retained. The interesting question is Bill Lazor, Offensive Coordinator. The Dolphins Offense has definitely improved, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good. You have to think whoever Miami might want to bring in as Head Coach might want his own Offensive Coordinator.
Then we get to the Roster. No doubt Miami has some talent, but their injury-riddled Offensive Line might still be the team’s most pressing need. We’d also like to see them bring in another Quarterback, because the jury’s still out on Ryan Tannehill. Granted the guy’s a good athlete, but it’s getting pretty obvious he will never amount to elite, and his inability to throw the long ball (I’m being nice here – he totally sucks) will always be a limiting factor. One way or the other it’s looking like Miami should not be counting on Tannehill to ever develop much past mediocrity, and aside from journeyman Matt Moore the cupboard is bare.
As for last week versus New England, after some smart and aggressive football right before the half, topped by an incredible Touchdown catch by WR Mike Wallace to draw within one point, Miami totally collapsed, got blown out in the Second Half by a much smarter team with an elite Quarterback.
Again, RB Lamar Miller played pretty well in the First Half, was then forgotten in the Second. Again, when the opposition started to pressure Ryan Tannehill the Miami Coaches did absolutely nothing to counter. Miami was outcoached and outplayed. After doubling TE Rob Gronkowski in the first half, the Dolphins seemed to forget about him in the second. And RB Jonas Gray, who was cut by the Fins, sparked the (Cow) Patty Offense.
Always remember what Bum Phillips said about Don Shula: “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and he can take your’n and beat his’n.” Well here was a case where Billy Bellyache took your’n and beat you’n.
Either way I don’t know if Fins Owner Stephen Ross could’ve gotten a much better illustration of how it’s done, where Miami’s really at. The question is – was he paying attention?
This week Miami’s home versus Minnesota in a meaningless game. Most standard format Fantasy Leagues are having their championships, and I can’t imagine any Fantasy Owners got into their Finals riding any of the Dolphin Starters. WR Mike Wallace was probably the first Fin selected in most Leagues, might be the only Miami player with any Fantasy relevance. The question remains whether QB Ryan Tannehill can get him the ball.
After Wallace it’s strictly that Dirty Harry thing: “Do you feel lucky?” (“Well, do you – punk?”) RB Lamar Miller has played pretty well this year but every time he starts to amass any stats the coaches immediately pull him out of the game. WR Jarvis Landry looks like a good one, but it’s strictly a roll of the dice whether he scores any TDs. TE Charles Clay plays pretty well, but he’s been hobbled by dings throughout the Season.
The real drama, we suppose, is whether or not Stephen Ross lets Joe Philbin play out the Season.
Jimmy The Finger
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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NEW YORK JETS
The Jets won. They beat the Titans to get their third win of the year. Hooray. I would say it’s nice to see that they still haven’t given up, but who cares? Rex Ryan won’t be here next year anyway. I don’t want to watch the games because, when watching, I can’t help but root for them, but every extra win gives them a later draft pick. A win is a no win situation. Every new win is a no win. There’s no more winning no matter what they do.
We can all rest easy because there will be no heartbreak this holiday season. We won’t lock in to our chair around Christmas time with the numbers in our heads(Jets win and in, these guys need to lose with a Jet win, etc etc.) to root for that playoff berth. There can’t be any New Year destroying playoff loss. We have been resigned to the end of 2014 for so long that we don’t need to think about it. We can all enjoy football without the anxieties that come with being in contention. It’s really quite nice. Sit down for your final Chanukah meal or Christmas dinner without any pain. Just enjoy.
In fantasy, they still have nothing. I had no choice, but to start RB Chris Ivory this week. He didn’t do much, but he managed to get in the end zone and contribute. WR Eric Decker had 100 yards. How nice. QB Geno Smith had nothing. I suppose they’ll say he’s looked solid, but I hope they don’t because we don’t need that ‘he looked great down the stretch’ crap a second year in a row. Perhaps the most useless fantasy touchdown of the year came when FB John Conner caught a 9 yard pass for a score. That’s right folks, The Terminator is back. He said he would be, didn’t he?
Speaking of Folks, K Nick Folk is still the best scorer out there.
This week they play New England and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they win. Will I be watching? Of-friggin’-course I will and I’ll be yelling like always. I would gladly give up a draft slot to take home field advantage from the Patriots.
So remember the rest of this holiday season is meant for relaxing NFL appreciating. If you’re in a fantasy championship, best of luck to you. If not, simply enjoy your stress free football weekend.
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Browns Eye in Sky Report post Manziel debacle. Over before it began can be said of the Bengal game and might be said of Johnny Manziel when its all said and done. CB Joe Haden is gimpy so that is another blow to the team limping into the post season. Onto the numbers.
QUARTERBACK PLAY Browns rookie QB Johnny Manziel had a horrific debut as he connected on 10 of 18 passes for only 80 yards with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions adding only 13 rushing yards on 5 carries 0 touchdowns. What more can be said of a kid that too much has been said already? Not worth a start so red light no start for the kid.
RUNNING BACK PLAY With quarterback play effecting the entire team no one did anything on the ground and it seems that RB Isaiah Crowell's hip might still be adversely impacting him. The team ran for a collective 53 yards on the ground so no one gets a green light this week or for the remainder of the season so red light non-starts for the backfield.
RECEIVER PLAY With only 80 yards through the air no one was worth a start so red light non-starts for the receivers this week and for the remainder of the season.
IDP REPORT The only viable fantasy options for anyone still left in the playoffs are on the defense and not only do we have a legit sleeper for the week we may have a legit dynasty sleeper on our hands with LB Craig Robertson who has been playing lights out as he lead the way with 6 solos and 4 assists to go with 1 pass defensed and 1 big interception. Rookie LB Christian Kirksey came up second with 6 solos and 2 assists and second year LB Barkevious Mingo also had a nice game with 6 solos and 2 assists and 1 sack that was called back on a shoddy roughing call. SS Donte Whitner continues to deliver with 3 solos and 4 assists. This week the Browns face the Panthers on the road with a shaky quarterback situation so green light starts for LB Craig Robertson and SS Donte Whitner,
Happy Holidays and good luck to everyone who is playing in their championship games especially my team, smile.
Aspettate fino alla prossima volta... Till next time, Ciao!
The 9-5 Steelers continue to control their own destiny after a 27-20 win in Atlanta over the 5-9 Falcons. Interestingly enough the Falcons also continue to control their own destiny despite being unable to finish .500 on the season. Must be nice. Next up for the Steelers is a visit by the 8-6 Chiefs. A slip up would be devastating in a division with the 9-4-1 Bengals and 9-4 Ravens. Losses to the 2-12 Bucs, 3-11 Jets and 6-8 Saints continue to haunt the Steelers. What might have been?
My money league has their fantasy championship this week. I am happy to say I am a participant. I generally try to avoid Steelers, but this year my team was driven by RB LeVeon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. I gambled on Bell with the 20th pick and then was surprised that Brown was available in the third round. They basically led me to the regular season point title. Obviously they are the two no brainer fantasy performers on the Steelers. As for others, anyone serious about fantasy football basically knows who they should be starting by week 16. Honestly this week there is no local insider information that adds additional insight for the players on the Steelers.
QB: Did you know QB Ben Roethlisberger is only 77 yards behind QB Andrew Luck for tops in the league in passing yardage this season. Roethlisberger is the new franchise record holder for single season passing yards. He is also sixth in the league in passing TDs. Last week Ben completed 27 of 35 passes for 360 yards, no TDs or interceptions. The Chiefs have the second best pass defense in the league so this is not a great matchup. Still, Roethlisberger is easily a top 10 quarterback option this week. If you’ve been playing him there is no reason to sit him this week.
RB: Although Bell’s record tying streak of 200 yards or more from scrimmage ended at 3 games, he still had 119 total yards. Nothing to sneeze at…. Bell carried the ball 20 times for 47 yards and most importantly a pair of TDs. He added 5 catches for 72 yards. Bell is the be all and end all of the Steelers ground game. He is also an asset in the air. Simply put Bell has become the top fantasy running back option regardless of matchup.
WR: Brown leads all receivers in yards and catches. He is tied for fourth in TDs. Brown caught 10 more passes for 123 yards in Atlanta. He is among the league’s top couple of receivers in both real life and fantasy. WR Martavis Bryant remains big play dependent. He caught 3 passes for 31 yards in Atlanta. WR Markus Wheaton topped Bryant with 5 catches for 66 yards. Bryant remains the much higher upside gamble, emphasis on gamble.
TE: Simply put there are a dozen or more better fantasy options than TE Heath Miller. He caught 4 passes for 64 yards last week. That is probably his realistic ceiling.
K: No misses for PK Shaun Suisham on a pair of FGs and 3 extra points. He is ninth among kickers in total points on the season. At this point in the season if he is your fantasy kicker, he is your fantasy kicker.
DEF/ST: For the third time this season CB William Gay had a pick 6. Interestingly enough he has scored on all of his interceptions. Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Usually harried QB Matt Ryan was not touched, not a good sign going forward. The Chief have not thrown a TD pass to a wideout. The Steelers can’t cover receivers. The stoppable force meets the moveable object. The status of CB Ike Taylor and S Mike Mitchell in undetermined. Neither is a big loss if they can’t play. Not that the Steelers defense is a viable fantasy option.
We saw QB Ryan Fitzgerald and rookie QB Tom Savage lost to injury last week. The Texans have run out of QBs. Back from the street is QB Case Keenum; and probably in the starting role this Sunday! PLAY-OFFS; I don’t think so.
RB Arian Foster is playing well but is not practicing this week. He’ll play Sunday against the Ravens. I’m sure we’ll see the back-ups as the season grinds to a halt. For this week Foster is your man.
WR Andre Johnson is back practicing this week. He plays this week. Will WR DeVier Posey be on the active roster? He showed that he has the skills to be on the field last week. Too bad he had a holding penalty called on him on a scoring play. WR DeAndre Hopkins didn’t do much last week but with the lost QBs…TE Garrett Graham can’t get healthy and TE Ryan Griffin just hasn’t impressed the coaches.
The front seven and secondary probably played their best game last week. Indy found a way to win in the end but the Texan D had them shut down most of the day.
The Texans are still playing to win; they have a remote chance for a wild card. Additionally, former HC Gary Kubiak will be back in town. The Texans who knew him respect him well enough to play hard.
This column seems to get shorter each week. There simply isn’t enough O talent on this team to critique.
Look for the Texans to play their very best. As mentioned above they’d love to play well against their former coach. PK Randy Bullock is kicking pretty well but I question the number of opportunities he’ll see. Definitely play Foster and always start the Texans D. The D scored again last week. As for the QB and WRs, I’d try to find someone else to start this week.
Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are my thoughts on this weekend’s tilt in the Big D as the 10-4 Colts travel south to take on the 10-4 Cowboys in JerryWorld:
Injuries/roster: The biggest issue for fantasy players this weekend is the status of stud WR TY Hilton, who is “50/50” to play this week, according to the coaches’ report today. He has yet to practice this week, and if I had to hazard a guess, I would say he is not going to play. They really have no reason to play him as they have clinched the division, and would have to have either the Patriots or the Broncos to lose twice to have a chance at winning out and getting the bye; since the Broncos get the Raiders yet, and the Pats have the Jets and Bills, I would say that they cannot move up. I also would not be surprised if WR Reggie Wayne was held out of action also, or at least had limited snaps, to get him healed and ready for the postseason. RT Gosder Cherilus has already been ruled out and will probably be replaced by journeyman OL Xaxier Nixon, which is a real step down. Stud CB Vontae Davis has been limited with a groin injury this week, but is expected to be active and assigned to Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant.
QB: We have come to expect star fantasy performances from QB Andrew Luck, and in recent weeks his stats have not been up to his usual high standards. If you have survived your playoffs thus far while riding him, you obviously are going to stick with him regardless of matchup. The Cowboys actually have been decent in stopping the fantasy quarterback this year, although they have had a few stinkers as well usually against their division foes. As I suspect that the game plan will involve a lot of running to keep the ball out of Luck’s hands and the lack of likely garbage time stats, I suspect that Luck might again be due for a down day. I predict a below average 290 yards and 2 TDs with a pick as well.
RB: The Cowboys have had some huge yardage games and some really low ones, but the one constant is that they have given up a ton of rushing TDs to running backs. They have allowed 10 TDs in the last seven games with at least one in each. I suspect that the Colts’ inability to run the ball consistently will keep them on the low end of the yardage totals but will get one of them into the end zone. While RB Trent Richardson has been a short yardage guy, I like RB Boom Herron’s chance to be the guy that gets the score this week. Neither should have a huge yardage day, but Herron is the guy if you need to start one of these. Look for 75 total yards and a score from Boom, and maybe 40 total yards for T-Rich.
WR: It is really hard for receivers to put up big fantasy days against the Cowboys, and the absence (or at least, diminished contributions) of the two true starters will make the receiving crew likely thin contributors this week as well. There should be extended action for WR Hakeem Nicks and rookie WR Donte Moncrief, but I can’t see them being safe enough to start in your fantasy league championship game this week. If Hilton plays, ya gotta start him….but I don’t expect either he or Wayne to be very interesting this week.
TE: This is the position by which the Colts can make some hay this week. TE Coby Fleener may line up as a slot receiver with the thin crew out wide, and could have a fair amount of targets this week leading to a strong PPR or yardage game. TE Dwayne Allen will probably be helping out with chip blocking on the right end, at least, but is a very solid threat in the red zone on play-action. The Cowboys have allowed the most catches and yards to tight ends by a wide margin, so everyone attacks this team with the big fellas. The Pokes have also allowed a tight end TD every other game since week 5, and they are “due” to allow one this week as well. I suspect Allen will get 50 yards and a score, and that Fleener will be a downfield threat and tally a team high yardage total approaching the century mark. Both are low-end #1 tight ends with upside for Fleener in PPRs and Allen in scoring-heavy leagues.
K: PK Adam Vinatieri will get to kick in the only NFL stadium in one of the few which he has yet to kick as they travel to Dallas. Unfortunately for him, the Cowboys rarely allow FGAs, having yielded the fewest in the NFL at slightly more than one per game. Based on the Colts’ offense and the fact that he has still yet to miss a kick in 2014, you have to start him if you got him….but I would not be surprised if this is a lower-scoring day for the veteran.
D: The team scores a ton of points, controls time of possession and does not throw many interceptions. I do not see a great chance for the Colts defense this week, although the Cowboys are a lesser team at home than on the road. There is not enough here to make me want to start them. I see the Colts as a low-end fantasy #2 this week at best. Look elsewhere.
Overall: The Cowboys have strengths that can attack the Colts’ weaknesses, and they will clearly be more motivated to play this week. I am sure that Coach Pagano will have the boys ready and fired up, and will stress the importance of winning every game, but the Cowboys will be playing with a sense of desperation. I don’t see the Colts having an answer for the powerful O-line of the Cowboys, nor for several of the receiving options which they present either. I think the Colts will fall this week 31-24, but hopefully getting out of this weekend healthier than they went in.
That is all for this week from the Crossroads of America for this week. Good luck to those of you playing in your championship games this week – may the ball bounce your way and may all your lineup decisions be the right ones! And as always, remember to remain…..COLTSTRONG!!!!!
Denver 22 San Diego 10
The Denver Broncos (11-3) clinched their fourth consecutive AFCW title with a plodding22-10 victory at San Diego (8-6). QB Peyton Manning (14/20-233-1-0) overcame flu-like symptoms and a thigh injury and K Connor Barth (5/5 FG; 1/1 PAT) was flawless on five field goal attempts. RB C.J. Anderson (29-85-0; 2-11-0) totaled 96 yards and WR Demaryius Thomas (6-123-1) caught a touchdown pass. CB Aqib Talib and S Rahim Moore sealed the win with fourth quarter interceptions of QB Philip Rivers. A solid opening kick return by CB Omar Bolden and a nice run by C.J. Anderson got Denver to midfield quickly, but Melvin Ingram forced a sack and fumble by Manning. LOT Ryan Clady fell on the ball, but Denver then ran on 2nd-and-19 and 3rd-and-17 before punting. Another three-and-out set Denver up at their own 31, and they threw another heavy dose of Anderson at the Chargers. Peyton sprinked in a couple of big third-down throws to WR Wes Welker (2 16-0) and TE Julius Thomas (1-30-0), the latter a 30-yard rainbow over Eric Weddle’s stellar coverage. A defensive holding penalty helped convert another one, but the Broncos settled for a 26 yard field goal. San Diego gained a quartet of first downs on their third possession, but then two big penalties pushing them from the 15 to the 28 ank K Nick Novak’s 46-yard attempt was partially blocked by DE Derek Wolfe and fell short in the end zone. Three completions from Manning to Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders (3-53-0) brought the Broncos to the Chargers one, and another 19-yard FG. On third down, Peyton threw a key block on Donald Butler, springing Anderson for an apparent touchdown. But the review showed that Anderson was down just short of the goal line. On Peyton’s block, Butler was knocked out of the game, while Manning suffered a thigh injury of his own. That led to yet another Chargers three-and-out, and QB Brock Osweiler (2-0-0-0) took over for Denver at their own 26 and 87 seconds remaining before halftime. A bizzare sequence followed: a tipped pass/near interception; an intentional grounding penalty; and, a clock-stopping run out of bounds. WR Eddie Royal's 58-yard punt return resulted in a 30-yard field goal and a 9-3 Broncos lead at the half, with San Diego set to receive the second-half kickoff.
After Denver forced a punt, the Broncos suffered their second straight three-and-out. QB Philip Rivers passed San Diego down just into the red zone, but Novak's 37-yarder bounced off the left upright. A few more key runs from Anderson and a big 16-yarder from RB Jeremy Stewart (2-16-0) and then Manning threw a perfect back shoulder pass to Demaryius Thomas, whose on-a-dime stop caused Brandon Flowers to fall down in coverage and the 28-yard catch/run put Denver ahead 16-3, San Diego responded to the game's first touchdown with one of their own, an 11-play, 80-yard march, caped off with a five-yard throw to TE Antonio Gates. With just over 10 minutes remaining, the Chargers were within 16-10. Backed up at their own 12 after a holding penalty on the kick return, Manning came up with a big drive with WR Wes Welker helping to convert a 3rd-and-12 by drawing a pass interference call. Peyton hit Sanders for a 33-yard completion. A holding penalty pushing Denver out of field goal range was followed by a 13-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas seting up a 49-yard field goal and a 19-10 lead. Moments later, CB Aqib Talib stepped in front of WR Malcom Floyd to pick off Rivers, and returned the ball to the San Diego 34. The Broncos were unable to gain a first down, but Barth converted his fifth goal of the game from 44 yards out. Rivers moved the Chargers down into goal-to-go range, but S Rahim Moore came up with his fourth interception of the season. CB Aqib Talib had his best game of the year and was named the AFC's defensive player of the week with an interception, eight tackles (seven solo), and three passes defensed, while LB Von Miller had his worst. RB Ronnie Hillman's goal is returning for the season finale in Oakland. RB Montee Ball has been placed on IR. The Broncos got a head start on the offseason by extending CB Chris Harris through 2019. Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders took big hits while returning punts.
DENVER @ CINCINNATI
Denver heads to Cincinnati (9-4-1) for Monday Night Football and can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a winwhile the Bengals are one win away from making the playoffs. Cincy is without LB Vontaze Burfict while LB Emmanuel Lamur is suffering from a hamstring injury and LB Vincent Rey is suffering from a hit in the head. TE Jermaine Gresham has a toe injury. RB Jeremy Hill is a bigger version of C.J. Anderson, WR A.J. Green, one of the league's top wide receivers has averaged 13 targets over the last two games, but the Bengals rank 23 in passing yards and can be predictable if Green doesn't create separation on the outside. Denver is playing Foxball/Ground Gase rather than Air Adam which is likely a mistake in the long run as success running the ball and stopping the run don't align with wining as strongly as passing. RB CJ Anderson has taken over as the team’s overworked starting running back, and the Broncos are the most run-heavy team in the league over the last month. LB Danny Trevathan's has been put on IR with a third injury to his left knee. LB Brandon Marshall has a sprain in his right foot and will miss a week or two. Injuries to Peyton Manning (thigh) and Ryan Clady (quad) are day-to-day. The Bengals are 2-9 in primetime since QB Andy Dalton arrived, and Manning is 8-0 against Cincy.
Denver is a 3.5 favorite on the road in Cincinnati. Denver 27 Cincinnati 21
QB Peyton Manning is a must start even with the running game.
RB CJ Anderson is a must start with his workload and has a strong possibility of scoring a touchdown this week.
WR Demaryious Thomas is a must start #1 wide receiver and is likely to add another touchdown to his resume.
WR Emmanuel Sanders is a must start #1 wide receiver and has a serious possibly of getting into the end zone.
TE Julius Thomas isn't seeing a lot of action, but you have to start him if he is active.
PK Connor Barth is a low end #1 kicker with Foxy's penchant for field goals.
The D/ST is purely a backup.
"Win the Super Bowl or Bust"
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Well, well, well... a full game in all three phases of the roster; offense, defense and special teams. Chiefs 31- Raiders 13.
Nothing gets things going like an early kick or punt return for a score, and that is just what DeAnthony Thomas did in the 1st quarter. Thomas housed a punt return for 81 yards and the Chiefs never looked back. Oakland made it appear close in the early stages of the second half, when a Sea Bass field goal closed the gap at 10-6, but then the KC offense kicked in. Surprisingly, QB Alex Smith once again opened it up and, delivering 2 TD passes in the 3rd quarter to put this one away. About the only negative coming out of the Week 15 tilt with the hated Raiders was the pulling of RB Jamaal Charles in a preservation move by Coach Reid. Charles is playing through knee and ankle ailments, but was effective. The KC back was none-to-pleased about sitting down and he voiced his feelings a bit loudly and through a few media channels. Relax, Jamaal... discretion is the better part of valor.
And hey! Rookie RB Charcandrick West got in the game for a snap and a target. I have my eye on you rookie... one step at a time.
Now, let’s head to Pittsburgh and take on the high-flying Steelers and their loud clanging backfield Bell.
Don’t look now but QB Alex Smith has reached the 290 yards passing mark in 2 straight games and has 2 TDs in 3 of the last 4. Smith’s new-found aerial success coincidentally comes with the focus placed on getting TE Travis Kelce the ball and rookie WR Albert Wilson starting, making plays and threatening the opposing secondary. I told you way back before pre-season that Wilson is a looker. He has shown excellent run-after-catch skills and speed with a fearless demeanor. Wilson has 7 receptions for 122 yards and a solid 17.4 YPR over the last 2 games. Smith has targeted Wilson 13 times in the last 2 games also. Kelce has 23 targets over last 4 games, with 19 catches, a TD, a 100-yd performance and a wr-like 14.3 YPR. Kelce makes this passing game go in a similar way that Rob Gronkowski does for the Patriots. The Steelers have been lit up through the air for 9 TDs over last 3 games and can be had by Smith and company. The Pitt secondary is leaky and wide receivers have attacked there for 715 yards and 6 TDs in last 3 games, most in NFL. Still, no wideout has scored a TD this season for KC, and that is astounding! Could this be Dwayne Bowe’s TD chance of 2014? NAH. Bowe is missing practices due to illness and, even at full strength, he is a slippery-handed plodder of a WR. I have to once again circle back to rookie Albert Wilson here. HE fits what works against the Steelers’ cover guys; speed, shiftiness, extensive route tree, after-catch ability and downfield chops. If a wideout is going to visit the endzone this week, I’ll point to Wilson. AS for fantasy football options, fanballers cannot risk their title chances on Bowe’s sloggy route running and 50/50 hands, even vs a leaky PIT secondary. TE Kelce is now integral to the offense. PIT has let up 2 TE scores in last 3 games. He is surely going to see footballs his way and inside the 20. As mentioned earlier RB Jamaal Charles is nicked up with knee and ankle dings, He was limited to just 13 touches last week. Reserve RB Knile Davis filled in, struggled on the ground but still scored 2 TDs; 1 run and 1 on a 70 yard catch-n-run. The Steelers surprisingly are not a strong run stopping D, allowing RBs 4.8 YPC over last 3 games. However they do make a stand at the goal line with 0 scores allowed over last 3 played. Key to this week’s passing game for KC is Pitt’s inability to cover RBs in patterns. Backs are beating the Steeler linebackers in routes, which is a Charles specialty. And if Charles is sharing time with Davis again, Davis has proven to be a solid pass-catcher and playmaker. The Chiefs hit the road to battle the Steelers in Pittsburgh, a tough venue for sure. QB Smith should be able to go through his progressions and hit his new playmakers as the Steelers do not mount much of a pass rush. WR Wilson shows a bit of Pitt WR Antonio Brown in his on-field work and might even pick up a pointer or two just by watching first hand. TE Kelce can cut thru the Steeler LBs in routes and gain yards in chunks. Kelce remains a solid TE start and a redzone hot look for Smith. RB Charles is dinged but still dangerous, especially this week as a potential receiver against a soft covering set of LBs. Keep in mind RB Davis is spelling Charles more and could eat into vital touches here.
Defensively KC offers the same cast of IDP options as most games, with a new name or two to consider. OLB’s Justin Houston and Tamba Hali get to the pass and are always solid starts. Houston has been just OUTSTANDING this season, taking down passers with regularity along with making tackles. Houston has 17 sacks on the season with 2 games to play; he’s in a contract year. ILB Josh Mauga is usually good for 5-6 solos a game, but the new name to ponder is Joe Mays. Mays is nothing more than a run-centric backer, but he gets to the ball carrier and brings the wood. His return loosens Mauga up for more pass cover duties. Mays’ tackle numbers could hit impressive totals this week tracking down Steelers’ super back LeVeon Bell. Bell get a load of touches and both Mays and Mauga will be following Bell’s every step. Safety Ron Parker also is in the mix for IDP numbers. He’ll have his eyes peeled for WRs Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, helping out CB Jamell Fleming, Chris Owens and Marcus Cooper. Parker’s CB skills can pay off big here as the Steelers will put the ball up often; he has INT potential as well as tackle po. The Chiefs secondary have played well all season, but they certainly will face a stern challenge from QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has been consistently over 340 yards passing for the past 10 games and is truly having a career year. The Steeler pass game is tough enough to handle, but KC also has to contend with RB LeVeon Bell. Bell is 200 yards from scrimmage waiting to happen each week lately, and he is finding the endzone with gusto. The Chiefs D has their work cut out for them, especially on the road.
KC special teams is a plus with DeAnthony Thomas now up to NFL speed and dangerous. However, there might be some concern how kicker Cairo Santos handles the swirling winds in Pittsburgh. Kickers have always had to be wary of the changing wind directions coming of the rivers; Santos is a rookie and a first-timer in Pittsburgh. I won’t be surprised to see an ill-timed miss this week.
There is a lot to get excited about this week. A new-found pass game and an exciting rookie receiver are just a couple to eye up. While we take in the game, keep safety Eric Berry in your thoughts and prayers.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!!
The Oakland Raiders return home to face the Buffalo Bills this week, following a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. This will be the final home game for the Silver and Black, and possibly the last game at O.Co unless a new stadium deal is reached. The Buffalo Bills, defensively at least, are the real deal. The Raiders players and staff would love to end the season on a strong note, and it is possible the Bills are in for a letdown after having to face QB Peyton Manning and QB Aaron Rodgers over the last two weeks.
Defensively for the Raiders, the team has had its bright spots. LB Khalil Mack has been making a strong case for defensive rookie of the year. Mack has 43 hurries, 43 stops, and only 11 missed tackles along with 3 sacks. A strong finish would seal the deal.
The Raiders recently LB Sio Moore to injured reserve. He had been suffering from a hip injury that caused him to miss last week's game in Kansas City. In a corresponding move, they signed CB Chance Casey who had been on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad.
Sio started 11 games at weakside linebacker this season, with 112 tackles (79 solo), 3.0 sacks, 2 passes defended and one forced fumble. In his place last week, LB Ray Ray Armstrong got the start. Without Sio, the Raiders currently have four linebackers on the squad, LB Khalil Mack, LB Miles Burris, and LB Bojay Filimoeatu who was recently activated from the practice squad.
Moore is a nice player, and his play aside he sure seems to get the fans pumped up at O.Co, and we love seeing him out there.
Also banged up defensively are CB Tarell Brown (Foot), CB T.J. Carrie (Ankle), Chekwa Chimdi (Hamstring), CB DJ Hayden, and DE C.J. Wilson (Knee)
On the offensive side of the ball, RB Latavius Murray is pretty talented and has continued to look good despite an erratic workload. Logic would say he should be getting more carries, maybe part of the reason the Raiders have two wins is because they don't have great logic. Head coach Tony Sparano once again stated that they are going to try and get Murray more involved this week. The Bills have given up 4.7 yards per carry to running backs over the past five weeks. Murray is a pretty decent start, and should be in more than a few lineups this week.
QB Derek Carr has been this seasons best rookie quarterback, and has actually been nicely productive the last two weeks, This week he faces a tough Bills defense that has given up the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
TE Mychal Rivera would be the only pass catcher I would consider here, as he has become a popular target for Carr but I wouldn’t be too excited to start any Raider receiver. Carr has been bothered by a right thumb injury earlier this week, while WR Vincent Brown (Groin), and WR Denarius Moore (Knee/Ankle) did not practice at all. Likewise with OT Menelik Watson (Foot/Ankle)
Lets go Silver and Black!
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The San Diego Chargers were defeated by the Denver Broncos by the score of 22-10, likely ending the Bolts’ dream of making the playoffs. While the San Diego defense played hard, the offense was listless and the fact of the matter was that the Chargers are simply not as good as the Broncos. This week, the Chargers travel to San Francisco to take on the underperforming 49ers. This report will be a review of the loss to Denver, as well as a preview of this Saturday’s San Diego at SF game.
QB: Playing through injury and with poor line protection, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers was 24/41 for 232 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and 3 yards rushing. Rivers should start and play the entire game in San Francisco, but he missed his first practice in ages due to injury, so clearly he’s not 100%. Take a Rivers injury, poor offensive line protection, and shaky offensive output and it doesn’t make for a fantastic matchup. Consider Rivers an average week 16 option.
RB: Often injured, starting RB Ryan Mathews did not play against Denver due to an ankle injury. He has not practiced so far this week and is highly iffy as to whether he will play. Versus Denver, RB Branden Oliver had 12 carries for only 26 yards but also caught 4 for 44 yards. RB Donald Brown had 5 carries for 18 yards and 4 receptions for 48 yards. While you never know who could play, or even breakout, playoff time is too important to gamble on the San Diego running game, at this stage.
WR: While he has surprisingly not been ruled out of the SF game as of this writing, WR Keenan Allen broke his collarbone and it would be shocking to see him play. This should actually open things up a bit for WR Malcom Floyd, who should be considered a weak fantasy WR2 or strong WR3. WR Eddie Royal, with 3 catches for 27 yards last week, is too risky for serious fantasy consideration unless you are desperate.
TE: It wasn’t a bad week for TE Antonio Gates, who caught 6 for 54 yards and a TD. TE Ladarius Green (concussion) did not play last week and I’d be surprised if he goes this week either.
PK: San Diego PK Nick Novak was pretty much money, but he’s missed a few lately. Last week, Novak kicked a FG and an extra point, but missed 2 FGs, one of which was partially blocked. Poor San Diego offensive output plus near-term declining performance in the Chargers kicking game does not make for a great week 16 option.
DEF: I’ll say one thing; the Chargers defense plays hard. It’s not that they’re fantastic, but they certainly do put it all out there. Still, despite the 49ers woes, I don’t see them being anything more than an average fantasy option this week.
That’s my report for week 16. As you can probably tell, I’m not very bullish on many Chargers this week, with the exception of TE Antonio Gates and *maybe* WR Malcom Floyd. Until my next report, GO CHARGERS!!!
The Dallas Cowboys will host the playoff bound Indianapolis Colts this Sunday in Arlington. This is coming off an exciting and dominating must-win game against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. As a Cowboys fan that was a great game especially considering all the nonsense we had been hearing about the previous meeting on Thanksgiving Day. The not great part was the news about the Cowboy star, and source of the bulk of the teams offense, RB Demarco Murray.
Murray suffered a broken left hand against the Eagles and has been limited in practice. Murray's status for Sunday is unknown and he underwent surgery Monday. RB Joseph Randle and RB Lance Dunbar would be in the mix if Murray doesn’t end up playing. They may even get a few more touches either way, as the team has said that they will leave it up to Murray as to whether to play or not.
Considering it’s a contract year, and Murray knows how huge this game is, the odds favor him playing. Murray has rushed for 403 yards in three games against AFC foes this season and has recorded five touchdowns in the previous five games against the conference.
Whether Murray plays or not, the entire team will need to play better at home then they have lately. QB Tony Romo was asked about the team’s struggles at home.
"We've played well on the road. We've played some games well at home, too," Romo said. "We just need to do better as a whole and execute better and I look forward to doing that this week."
The Colts have already clinched a playoff spot by winning the AFC South. The Cowboys lead the NFC East, but a mess-up now in the final two games could not only cost them the division but a playoff spot altogether. Not that the Colts will lay down, but they may now not force back WR T.Y. Hilton, who is dealing with a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.
The Colts have relied heavily this season on Hilton’s playmaking skills, and ability to stretch the field. If the Cowboy’s secondary only has to worry about possibly an older WR Reggie Wayne, and WR Hakeem Nicks, that would make for a much easier day.
Hold on there, this could potentially present another opportunity for WR Donte Moncrief, a young freakishly athletic pass catcher.
As for the Cowboys, they are not without their own talented receivers. WR Dez Bryant is a must start here in what is likely a fantasy championship for those of us lucky enough to still be alive. The team has also done a better job of getting the ball to WR Cole Beasley, and he actually has some stand-alone value. WR Terrance Williams simply cannot be trusted for fantasy. I hope whatever the problem is can get figured out by next season, as I think his skill set would fit the team well.
TE Jason Witten is still a viable fantasy but not the fantasy juggernaut he once was.
Injury-wise, it’s not too bad other than our bell cow, Murray.
• Jeff Heath (SS), Thumb
• Rolando McClain (MLB), Knee
• Tyler Patmon (DB), Knee/Ankle
• Tony Romo (QB), Back
• George Selvie (DE), Thumb
• DeMarco Murray (RB), Hand
• Josh Brent (DT), Calf
• Dekoda Watson (OLB), Hamstring
Lets Go America’s Team! The Post season is in your grasp!
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants travel to St Louis to play the Rams on Sunday. The Rams defense is very solid and poses a stern test for Big Blue. The G-Men are on a two game winning streak and want to finish the season strongly.
Here are the fantasy prognostications:
QB Eli Manning faces Rams pass defense ranked 10th in the league allowing 232 yards per game. They have allowed 15 TD passes and an opposing passer rating of 88.5. They have 36 sacks and 12 interceptions. The Rams defensive line is very active and the offensive line will need to keep Eli upright. Count on 200 yards with a TD making him a #20-22 selection this week. He is fantasy fodder due to the tough matchup and the fact this will be a low scoring game.
RB Rashad Jennings ruined my chances at my Fantasy Bowl by re-injuring his ankle on his first carry last week. He hasn’t practiced this week and will very likely not play. If he travels, monitor his status prior to kickoff. It looks like RB Andre Williams will get the start on Sunday. He will be facing the 12th rated rushing defense in the league allowing 4.2 yards per carry, 10 rushing TD’s and 107.5 yards per game. Expect 20 touches resulting in 70 total yards and with a TD plunge making him a # 24-26 selection this week or a weak #2 runningback. He is a better flex play for those in need.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. is ridiculous. His hot streak should end, but when? He has a tougher matchup this week so temper your expectations slightly. Count on 8 receptions for 100 yards and a TD making him a #8-10 selection this week. St Louis will have their hands full trying to cover this guy. WR Rueben Randle and WR Preston Parker are fantasy fodder!
TE Larry Donnell has not been as active in the offense recently but could get looks this week, especially if Eli is looking to dump the ball off against the Rams pass rush. Expect 5 catches for 40 yards making him a top 12 play this week.
The defense continues to play well of late. They are causing turnovers and sacks. They face RB Tre Mason and the 20th ranked rushing offense averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 106.2 yards per game. They go against the 26th rated pass offense averaging 208 yards per game. The quarterbacks have been sacked 41 times, thrown 13 interceptions with 18 TD’s while compiling a passer rating of 84.7. They make a sneaky streaming road play if you feel lucky!
PK Josh Brown is starting to get scoring opportunities and is a top 12 play as a result.
Good luck to your teams and especially to those in their Fantasy Bowls!!!
Here is a recap of Week # 15:
Time is running out on Chip Kelly's second season, and the Eagles will now need help to reach the playoffs. After the Eagles dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys avenged the loss on Sunday night with a 38-27 win at Lincoln Financial Field to take control of the NFC East. The Eagles lost back-to-back games for the first time since October 2013 and dropped to 9-5 this season. They have games at Washington and New York remaining. The postseason is still well within the Eagles' reach, but they are outside the playoff bracket and need other teams to lose to open a spot. They have also given themselves little margin for error in these final weeks.
QB Mark Sanchez finished with 17 completions on 28 attempts for 252 yards (9.0 average), zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 60.4 rating. The run game wasn't great either. They only gained 75 yards on 21 carries for a 3.6 average is less than stellar. RB LeSean McCoy's 64 yards on 16 attempts wasn't anything special. RB Chris Polk scored on 1 yard and 5 yard TD runs. RB Darren Sproles also scored on a 1 yard TD run. WR Jeremy Maclin led with 4 receptions for 98 yards. TE Brent Celek had 4 receptions for 52 yards but had a costly fumble. TE Zack Ertz chipped in with 4 receptions for 32 yards.
This unit just didn't get the job done. The Eagles did manage to shut down RB DeMarco Murray again; he only finished with 81 yards on 31 carries for a 2.6 average despite his two touchdowns. But the Eagles just couldn't handle the Dallas passing attack. QB Tony Romo made some great throws and WR Dez Bryant made some great catches. The Eagles secondary just wasn't good enough. CB Bradley Fletcher, CB Cary Williams, CB Brandon Boykin, S Malcolm Jenkins, and S Nate Allen were all burned or beaten at points. Just not good enough. OLB Connor Barwin led the team with 9 tackles and recorded his 14 ½ sack. ILB Casey Matthews had 8 tackles. DE Vinny Curry had a sack & a force fumble that was recovered by DE Fletcher Cox. DE Cedric Thornton also recorded a sack.
PK Cody Parkey kicked FG’s of 43 & 47 yards and made all 3 extra points. P Donnie Jones had a 52 yard average on 3 punts with one inside the 20 yard line. The gaffe on the opening kickoff really set a bad tone for the game. Many will be eager to blame KR Josh Huff, but I don't know. How many balls bounce back on kickoffs like that? And should KR Brad Smith have stayed behind? No matter who deserves the blame, it was a failure of epic proportions.
Division games continue from here on out. The Eagles (9-5) have a slightly short turnaround to play Washington 4:30pm on Saturday on the NFL Network in their annual venture into the mausoleum known as FedEx Field. Washington (3-11) lost its sixth straight game Sunday, a 24-13 loss to the Giants that clinched a last-place finish for Dan Snyder’s squad.
PREVIEW FOR WEEK # 16:
Can you say “Must Win Game”? An issue: Is Sanchez healthy? Can he recognize and defeat blitzes? Are his fundamentals crumbling? After five games, did teams catch up with him in Chip Kelly's scheme? Missing blitzes, missing open receivers, not throwing receivers open, throwing late - a quarterback might overcome any one of these issues and still win. A quarterback frequently failing in all of these areas makes winning impossible. QB Nick Foles is still not healthy and HC Chip Kelly wishes he had his Oregon Ducks QB Marcus Mariota but he doesn’t have any choice but Sanchez. The Running game has got to click & McCoy has got to find the lanes. Polk & Sproles should have some extra carries to open up the Passing game. Maclin had a great game the 1st time that they met & should continue. But “Where is Cooper?” Matthews should get into the end zone this week.
BIRDSEED’S CRYSTAL BALL:
The Indianapolis Colts will go into Dallas & help the Eagles Play-Off chances. Then come Monday, the conversation in Philadelphia will turn to what the Eagles have to do against the Giants to clinch their playoff bid. For a change, it will be sunny once again in Philadelphia
I can wish can’t I!
Merry Christmas to all!
That’s all for now from the BirdSeed.
Lions report, week 16 preview
Lions at Bears
QB: You would think QB Matthew Stafford could reach 300 yards and 3 TD passes this week, or at least one of those marks. He abused the Bears on Thanksgiving Day for 390 yards and it’s not like the Bears are going to look much different here a month later; if anything they look worse. Only Atlanta allows more passing yards. It looks like the weather will be average for this time of year without any sort of extreme wind or precipitation so there shouldn’t be any excuses for this unit. They just need to go out and execute. The offense at times has been low risk/low reward and if the Lions get a big lead early and the Bears look like they are quitting it is possible the Lions will just take the air out of the ball, but I really think they want to make sure Stafford is feeling confident going into next week’s NFC North championship game against Green Bay.
RB: The Lions have talked ever since Jim Caldwell was hired about how they want to be an indoor team with an outdoor mentality. Well here is a chance to prove it in Chicago and Green Bay. When you rank near the bottom of the league in rushing yards and yards per carry I am not sure if they can back up that kind of talk, but for this week against the Bears I think they will have some success on the ground and RB Joique Bell should be in for a big game. He managed 4.0 yards per carry in the first Bears game and the Lions would be happy with that again. There is no way to recommend RB Reggie Bush and RB Theo Riddick right now. They are forcing the ball to Bush but he is not producing, and Riddick isn’t getting the touches at all.
WR/TE: Things are clean as far as skill position players on the injury report this week. The only name on there is WR Calvin Johnson and that is only because of his standard limited Wednesday practice. He will be listed as probable and is a top five fantasy receiver this week. The Lions went to him early and often against the Bears on Thanksgiving with rookie Kyle Fuller looking lost in coverage most of the day. I’ve got to think the Bears will change their scheme a little bit this week and give Fuller some help but Calvin should be in for a big day regardless. Look for him to get the 65 yards he needs to reach 1,000 for the season and then some. That 1,000 is impressive considering he basically missed 5 games. WR Golden Tate is also a solid play this week if he is your #2/3 receiver, especially in PPR leagues. Tate is 9 catches away from 100 for the season. He just might get that this week. It is a little frustrating to see other teams use their tight ends to stretch the field and here we have a rookie TE Eric Ebron who is capable of doing that but instead he seems relegated to catching short passes in the flat.
K/DST: The Lions love their field goals so PK Matt Prater is a solid play this week. Prater is 18 of 20 over the last 8 weeks so you can see he is averaging over 2 made field goals per game over that time frame and there should be scoring chances against the Bears for sure. Now when it comes to the Lions defense, this was already looking like a tasty matchup against the turnover prone Jay Cutler. Then the news came down that Jimmy Clausen is starting. Clausen hasn’t started a game in 4 years and he wasn’t particularly good back then. Who knows what he will look like now. I would normally say the Lions should expect a heavy dose of Matt Forte and the running game, but on Thanksgiving the Bears decided they weren’t even going to try to run the ball against Detroit’s #1 ranked run defense. I would be pretty stunned if the Bears can generate more than 10 points in this game. Brandon Marshall isn’t around either so if Darius Slay can contain Alshon Jeffery again the Lions will be in great shape. Start the Lions defense with confidence.
I will review this game in my next report.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Week 15 Review: This game was not good for the Packers or your fantasy team – especially during the fantasy playoffs. Call it the hex of Kyle Orton or whatever, but I don’t think Packer head coach Mike McCarthy has beaten an Orton quarterbacked team yet – whether your talking about the Bears, Chiefs (only loss in 2011 season), or now with the Bills. Of course, 6 dropped passes didn’t help either. QB Aaron Rodgers completed only 17 of 42 passes (a 40.5% completion rate) for 185 yards, 2 interceptions, and 0 touchdowns – for a 34.3 passer rating – Ouch! WR Randall Cobb had 7 receptions for 96 yards. WR Jordy Nelson had 5 receptions for 55 yards. WR Davante Adams had another 1 reception for 6 yards. TE Andrew Quarless had 1 reception for 7 yards. The running backs should have had more carries. RB Eddie Lacy again had 97 yards on 15 carries (6.5 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Then add another 11 yards on 2 receptions for a total of 108 yards. RB James Starks had 19 yards on 4 carries (4.8 yards per carry). With his 1 reception for 10 yards he had a total of 29 yards and 1 touchdown. K Mason Crosby had 7 total points. He was 2 for 3 on field goals (one was blocked) and 1 for 1 on extra points. The offensive line had its hands full and OT Brian Bulaga left the game with a concussion. Ironically, the Packer defense had one of its best outings giving up 253 total yards – 113 rushing and 140 passing. The defense also had 3 sacks, 5 tackle for loss, had 4 hits on the quarterback, 1 interception, 1 forced fumbles, and 3 passes defended. They played well enough to win this week.
Week 16 Preview: The Packers play Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers should get well this weekend. Statistically, Green Bay (6th) and Tampa Bay (30th) are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Defensively, the Packers (23rd) are ranked two spots ahead of the Buccaneers (25th) – only a yard per game separates them, so essentially they are the same. All the statistical matchups favor Green Bay in this one – so much so that it might not be a good idea to start PK Mason Crosby this week. But the offense should heal very well. For obvious reasons significant Packer fantasy players took a small hit on their season projected stats. QB Aaron Rodgers is projected to have 4285 yards, 40 touchdowns, a completion rate of 64.0%, 6 interceptions, and a 111.7 passer rating. WR Randall Cobb is projected to have 87 catches for 1230 yards and 11 touchdowns. WR Jordy Nelson is projected to have 95 catches for 1509 yards and 14 touchdowns. WR Davante Adams is projected to have 41 catches for 490 yards and 3 touchdowns. TE Andrew Quarless is projected to have 31 catches for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. RB Eddie Lacy is projected to have 232 carries for 1073 yards rushing – 4.63 yards per carry – with 9 touchdowns. To that you can add 43 receptions for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns – for a total of 1526 yards and 14 touchdowns. K Mason Crosby is projected to have 139 points.
I would start QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Randall Cobb, WR Jordy Nelson, and RB Eddie Lacy. You will have to decide which Packer defense will show up and if this game will be so easy for the Packer offense it might not be worth starting Crosby. I will return next week to review of the Tampa Bay game and preview of the game against Detroit.
The Vikings pretty much did exactly what I thought they were going to do last week vs the Detroit Lions. They played them tough but ultimately lost the game. Actually I will say for the most part the Vikings controlled that game except for the two bad int’s by QB Teddy Bridgewater just before halftime and the 3 missed field goals by K Blair Walsh. However I don’t blame Walsh too much as the first one was a 53 yard attempt. The 2nd one was blocked thanks to the lack of blocking by OL J’Marcus Webb, who has since been cut and the third attempt was an NFL breaking 68 yard attempt.
This week the Vikes head to Miami to face the Dolphins. HC Philbin is already on the hot seat out there despite being in the playoff race. I think the Vikings pull this game out somehow. Usually the Vikes on the road and playing outside is not a good combo.
The Vikings have put rookie OLB Anthony Barr on season ending IR with a torn meniscus. He should be just fine for the start of next year.
QB Teddy Bridgewater did have two bad int’s last week but he also threw for 315 yards and a td against a very tough Lions D. Actually outside of those two passes he had a really good game. I am very pleased so far with his production and for once the Vikings not have to look at the QB position during the offseason.
RB Matt Asiata had another less than exciting game. Again, he is a nice player to have on your team, as long as he isn’t your starter. RB Ben Tate and RB Joe Banyard still cannot be trusted in pass protection but certainly show more in the run game than Asiata. It will be very interesting to see if RB Adrian Peterson will be on this team next year or if they move on and go after either RB Melvin Gordon or RB Todd Gurley. I am not really interested in any of the impending fa running backs.
WR Charles Johnson didn’t get into the endzone this past weekend but he did have 5 catches for 72 yards and is clearly this teams most dynamic wr. WR Greg Jennings caught a td last weekend but I am not sure he will be with the team next year. Vikings can save like 5M on the cap if they cut him after the season.
TE Kyle Rudolph is still not 100% and probably won’t be till next summer.
PK Blair Walsh had his first 3 miss FG game last week, but the team still has confidence in him.
Good luck to you this week!
This week the Falcons travel to the Big Easy to face the Saints with first place in the NFC South up for grabs…..much like the first game of the season, I expect a high scoring game with plenty of fantasy points to go around…..
1. QB Matt Ryan – Ryan has been playing great lately, at least for fantasy purposes, doesn’t matter who he has had at receiver, he has been making it work, and I expect another solid outing this weekend. Look for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns.
2. Falcons Running Backs – RB Steven Jackson can have success this week against the weak Saints defense. If you have made it to your league’s fantasy championship with Jackson as one of your running backs, then great, start him again. But, I would not want my fantasy title to hinge on Jackson, however, in weekly fantasy, he makes an interesting play here for the right salary value. Look for 70 combined yards and a score. No other Falcon’s running backs warrants any consideration.
3. WR Julio Jones – Now, here’s the question mark….will Jones play or not this week….the Falcons are being optimistic, but they were like that last week before the Steelers game too. He has yet to practice this week. The Falcons do play in the early games, so if he is inactive, you will have time to adjust….However, my big concern if I was a Jones owner is whether or not he is a decoy and plays limited snaps if he does indeed play. It’s very hard for me to predict what Jones will do at this point considering that he hasn’t practiced in 2 weeks.
4. WR Harry Douglas – if you have Douglas, and Jones is inactive, plug him in and be happy about it….look for 7 for 90 and a score if Jones is out.
5. WR Roddy White – White should be starting, especially in PPR formats….look for 6 catches for 70 yards and a score.
6. PK Matt Bryant – Should be points for everyone here….I say 3 extra points and 2 field goals.
7. Defense – Drew Brees at home in the Dome….no thanks….not a match-up I want for my championship week.
I think the Falcons surprise and win 27-24 on a late Matt Bryant field goal!
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Well, the Cardinals won an ugly game in St. Louis on Thursday night against the Rams 12-6. This was a classic pitcher’s duel with two very good defenses playing field position games. The Cardinals won ugly, but they won. QB Drew Stanton was injured in the game and Coach Bruce Arians brought in QB Ryan Lindley who had been with the team in training camp and chose to start him over the 3rd string QB Logan Thomas, rookie from Virginia Tech. Arians believed Lindley gave a better opportunity to protect the lead than Thomas. For the upcoming NFC West deciding game against Seattle, Arians has chosen to start QB Ryan Lindley against the Seahawks. I am sure the offense will be limited and the Cardinals will be forced to rely on their defense the entire game to keep this opportunity close to see if they can pull the game into the win column down the stretch.
Against the Rams, the fantasy offensive starters consisted of:
K Chandler Catanzaro. 4/4 FG long of 51 yards. RB Kerwynn Williams 15 carries 75 yards.
That’s about it!
I was on travel this week and heading to Phoenix late last night, the plane was full of Seattle Seahawk fans. All they could do is talk about winners and how they were going to beat the Cardinals badly!
Currently, the Seahawks are 8 point favorites on the road. Nobody in the world is giving the Cardinals a chance in this game. Fantasy-wise, I would completely stay away from this game except for kickers and defenses.
QB: QB Ryan Lindley will start over QB Logan Thomas. I am going to make the bold assumption that NONE of you will be playing Lindley against Seattle’s defense. I am not going to recommend it at all.
RB: RB Kerwynn Williams just might not know enough about the game to understand he won’t be able to run against Seattle. He could be a good flex play because he’ll get a lot of screens and runs as the teams play field position battle.
WR: Look for secondary receivers to play big roles. WR John Brown, WR Jaron Brown, and WR Ted Ginn Jr. could end up making huge plays. Don’t start any of them.
K: The defense could create enough turnovers to ensure K Chandler Catanzaro has many opportunities. Take a flyer.
D/ST: Aside from Seattle, I think the Cardinals have the second best defense and at home, you may want to ride the red #Birdgang! They have the ability to confuse teams when they are on their game.
Outlook: I look for a low scoring game. I think the team wins who scores their second TD. I am really hoping the home field advantage stays with the Cardinals and somehow a defensive or special teams TD makes this game 23-19 Cardinals.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The first half in Seattle sure looked a lot like the 49ers of the past four years. Solid runs, awesome defense, QB Colin Kaepernick running around making plays. Seattle played the same game and outlasted the 49ers in the second half finishing the season sweep and ending the Jim Harbaugh/49ers era in the process. This season as a 49ers fan sucks. We know our season is over, we know our coach is gone. This year has made us remember how good we’ve had it with Harbaugh and now we can only hope that this is simply a road bump and not the beginning of a new valley of losing seasons. just to review the 49ers will probably let LG Mike Iupati walk, WR Michael Crabtree is gone for sure, RB Frank Gore might come back but the 49ers wont pay him near the 6 million he made this year, TE Vernon Davis might be a player the 49ers should part with, DE Justin Smith is probably going to retire, OLB Ahmad Brooks is a certain cap casualty and, DE Ray McDonald was finally released. So that’s seven key starters out of the 22 offensive and defensive regulars that probably won’t be in San Francisco next year. As a side note, McDonald had this coming but the timing of the release even with new rape allegations sure does make the front office in San Francisco look silly as if they are playing the double standard. Throw in the handling of Harbaugh and it’s a cloudy future in San Francisco for the 49ers faithful’s trust in their front office and owner.
San Francisco’s offence vs. San Diego’s defense; this is now a grind to the finish line for the 49ers players. This nightmare season has lots of guys going through the motions. So putting the club in attack mode with the running game feels like the best course of action. I’m sure every 49ers offensive player would love to hit the field and spend three hours hitting Charger defenders as much as possible. RB Frank Gore is coming off a concussion but should play. I doubt the coaching staff is going to play Gore more than 20-30 snaps so that means RB Alfonso Smith is likely to see a strong work load this week. The 49ers are better when they run so even with Smith as the lead back they need to push the line of scrimmage, wear down the Chargers front seven and control the clock. As for Kaepernick, it’s now about not making any mistakes and ripping off a few key third down runs. That’s all we need Kaps nothing more.
San Francisco’s’ defense vs. San Diego’s offence; Even with a depleted defense from injuries this 49er unit has played strong all year. It’s hard to Say what the loss of McDonald (a highly underrated run stopper) and ILB Chris Borland will have on the unit but it won’t be positive. San Diego’s running game hasn’t scared anyone lately, but again without Borland on the field it’s certain the Chargers will test the 49ers suddenly softer underbelly. This game probably comes down to how much pressure the 49ers can put on Rivers, cause without quality pressure the veteran signal caller, he might just carve the 49ers up.
News and Notes;
-Veteran LB Desmond Bishop was signed to fill out the inside line backing core that’s been beset with injuries.
-WR Kassim Osgood as placed on IR with a broken hand
-ILB Chris Borland won’t be placed on IR but his season is over with his ankle injury
-DE Ray McDonald was released after rape allegations popped up early this week. McDonald has had a long list of off-field issues as a 49er.
-TE Garrett Celek injured his hand and is done for the year as well. With changes coming to tight end this year Celek figures to have a future in San Francisco.
-RB Phillip Tanner was added to the active roster. Tanner looks like a warm body for the final two weeks of the season.
-NT Mike Purcell was added off the practice Squad this week. the 49ers saw there practice squad get plundered these past few weeks and probably figured it was time to protect Purcell with the uncertainties now facing the once deep defensive line.
As a fan at this point in a season you just wish it was over. The dominos will fall shortly but how they fall is mystery. San Francisco even with a large amount of turnover coming has a deep roster that can absorb some big losses here and there. But, the 49ers front office has acted so poorly this season it’s made the 49ers coaching job feel toxic. Time will tell.
San Francisco looked like they could win this game early, but the second half they just seemed to lose heart. Especially QB Colin Kaepernick. In the NFC playoff game last year he was a totally different guy in the second half scrapping and fighting for that last second chance to throw the ball to CB Richard Sherman. His 187 combined yards rushing and passing without an interception were better than QB Russell Wilson’s stats. But he was the guy who needed to step up when the running backs went down. Both defenses clamped down hard in the second half attempting to give their team a chance to win. And RB Marshawn Lynch is who was ready to step up and make that happen.
Seattle now travels to Glendale to play another huge game. I don’t usually talk about betting lines or other people’s fantasy predictions, but what is up with this game? Yes, Arizona is down to the third string QB Ryan Lindell who has absolutely horrid stats. But to disrespect a home team with the best record in football by making them 8 point dogs? And where are these 8 points coming from, or Lynch’s double digit fantasy production that some are expecting? Seattle’s offensive line is better than they get credit for, but they are likely going without their starting left tackle into an enemy stadium to face one of the top defensive lines and secondaries in football. I am not sure either team can score 8 points let alone win by that much.
If you read nothing else read this. This is week 16 and it is all about certainty in your projections in order to win your fantasy football league. Seattle may have a player with dominant numbers at the end of this game, but the one thing I am sure of is that no one knows who that will be.
That interception last week thrown by Wilson might have been the ugliest one I have ever seen him throw. I am not saying that is the start of his downfall and that he is going to lose his golden legs against Arizona, but this will be a low scoring game with very few fantasy points to go around. I would not risk my fantasy championship by starting Wilson who could easily only score 12 fantasy points.
Last week I predicted that RB Marshawn Lynch would score and go over 100 yards. He had a down first half which prevented those yards, but he still scored and had 91 yards. His will is seen on every run getting yards after contact and making defenders miss tackles. Lynch had 7 fantasy points against Arizona a few weeks ago at CLink. How sure can a fantasy coach be that he will get into double digits this week? Bottom line for Lynch is that he should not be benched because he is a stud, but if his getting 7 points is going to sink your shot at a fantasy championship then look for other possibilities before you start Lynch.
Quite a democratic group of receivers here with everyone getting a turn to be the leading receiver from week to week. I have been expecting WR Jermaine Kearse to catch some of those long balls and put up an ~80 yard game and he finally did. Kearse remains my sleeper pick on the offense, though WR Doug Baldwin could easily get the yards this game. Seattle nearly always gets 7+ players involved in catching passes. If Wilson only throws 25 times, then it is not likely to have a fantasy starter out of this bunch. Kearse and Baldwin will get about half of those targets.
While the guidance here is about the same as for receivers, watch the status of TE Tony Moeaki. If he starts then he could be the game changer this week. That being defined in this game as that one guy who scores a touchdown.
K- PK Steven Hauschka was robbed of a field goal again this week by an ugly interception thrown in an area that would have been a sure 3. I am looking for Seattle to get across the 50 4 times. They need at least one touchdown. The other 3 drives will falter, but will they be within field goal range? Be aware that Hauschka may only score 4 fantasy points and plan accordingly.
So, who are you going to start? Seattle’s D. Lindell has never faced anything like this and the defense is playing with fire. Each game for them has the goal of ending 1-0. 11 wins v. 10 wins does not matter, just leaving that stadium with one more than they started with. Here is the biggest issue. Arizona will be playing for pride after a week of disrespect and Coach Bruce Arians had three extra days to prepare gifted to him. But this is not a playoff experienced team AND they are already in the dance. Yes they want a first round bye, but how badly do they want it. The Seahawks defense is punishing. The comparisons with the 1985 Bears are no joke. And there is at least a chance that these two teams have to play each other again before the Super Bowl contenders are finalized. So, with that in the back of your mind do you go full out for 60 minutes to match the Seattle D? WR Larry Fitzgerald will and some other scattered names. But just like our ‘Hawks going into the 2005 Super Bowl, it takes some experience to not lose composure. Oh, and the Rams always have Coach Carroll’s number. Somewhere in those Arizona players minds they will be realizing that they could lose against Seattle and win week 17 while Seattle falls yet again to Coach Fisher's trickery. But then the most predictable stat in football this year has been that teams lose the week after playing against Seattle. All of them. 11 wins could be where these Cardinals stop.
So start the team D. Start LB Bobby Wagner who will have to shut down the running game. Consider starting someone from the LOB.
Seattle will find a way to score a touchdown. Arizona will not. But this will be a long drawn out defensive battle that tends to bore prime time audiences and thrill fans of defense. Like the 12s. This is gonna be a good one.
What’s Next? Go ‘Hawks!
ST. LOUIS RAMS
UGLY is the word I would use to describe the performance of the Rams in their 12-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The defense ended its shutout streak but kept the opposing offense from scoring a touchdown for the third straight game. The offense was stagnant and failed to score touchdowns on their trips to the red zone. With the playoffs only a dream for this season, St. Louis can still finish with a .500 record if they win their last two games. The Rams host the New York Giants this week for St. Louis’ home finale. The Giants are also out of the playoffs so this game is all about pride. Let’s take a look at the week 15 Fantasy production with week sixteen recommendations.
QB: QB Shaun Hill (20-229 and 1 interception) was mediocre and has proven this season that he is a quality backup but not the franchise quarterback needed to lead this team to the playoffs. QB Austin Davis did not get to play and his future with the team could be in question for 2015. New York is ranked 13th against the pass allowing 236.2 yards per game. The Giants have surrendered 21 touchdowns while collecting 15 interceptions and 41 sacks in fourteen games. Week 16 Recommendation: I was sorely wrong last week thinking Hill would have productive game. I will have to temper my expectations for this week. The Ram offensive line will have its hands full against a fierce Giant pass rush. Hill might throw 1-2 touchdowns this week but he is too much of a risk for Fantasy Championship games.
RB: RB Tre Mason (13-33 rushing with 1 loss fumble) had a terrible game and his fumble changed the Ram’s early momentum. RB Benny Cunningham (2-4 rushing and 3-23 receiving) was the backup again and had minimal impact. RB Zac Stacy did not get any carries or receptions for the second week in a row. New York is 30th in the league against the rush at 135.1 yards per game and has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns in fourteen games. Week 16 Recommendation: Mason has been quiet lately but the Giant defense can be run on so I think Fisher takes advantage of this opportunity. Tre could rush for 100+ yards this week with a good chance to score a touchdown (hopefully two).
WR: WR Tavon Austin (1-8 rushing and 2-14 receiving), WR Stedman Bailey (1-13 rushing and 5-74 receiving), and WR Kenny Britt (5-65) had decent success against the Cardinals but could not make the big plays to win the game. Week 16 Recommendation: This group does not have a clear #1 but Bailey has the most potential for that spot. Austin has been more active lately and always has potential as a return man. Britt is the deep threat but has not been the red zone monster anticipated. If you have to pick one of these receivers, I would go Bailey, Austin, and Britt in that order.
TE: TE Jared Cook TE (3-22), Lance Kendricks (1-10), and TE Corey Harkey (1-21) were all active in the passing game but not enough to help your Fantasy team. Quarterback Hill spreads the ball around, which is good for the Rams but not Fantasy. Week 16 Recommendation: If you have to choose a Ram tight end, Cook is your man. I think he scores a touchdown this week.
K: PK Greg Zuerlein (2-2 field goals (24 & 19)) scored the only points for the Rams but was limited by the inept offense. Week 16 Recommendation: Zuerlein always has potential for long field goals at home and I think the offense can move the ball enough to give him more opportunities than last week. Greg “the leg” could payoff big dividends if you take a chance on him.
DEF: The defense continues to play well and took out the Cardinal starting quarterback for the second time this season. Unfortunately, the big plays were not there to pull out a victory. CB E.J. Gaines (7 solo tackles), CB Janoris Jenkins (7 solo tackles and 1 assist), and SS T.J. McDonald (7 solo tackles, 1 assist, and 1 forced fumble) led the team in tackles and that is never a good sign when your defensive backs are the top three tacklers. LB James Laurinaitis (5 solo tackles and 1 assist) and LB Alec Ogletree (4 solo tackles and 1 assist) had quiet gams while DE Robert Quinn (1 solo tackle) and DE Chris Long (1 solo tackle) failed to get to the quarterback. DT Aaron Donald (3 solo tackles and 1 sack) was able to sack the quarterback and has played well enough for consideration as Defensive Rookie of the Year. Week 16 Recommendations: The Giants have given up 29 sacks and Eli Manning has thrown 13 interceptions and both are middle of the pack numbers. I think Quinn gets two sacks while Ogletree gets an interception. Laurinaitis should be his usual busy self with 5+ tackles.
The Rams are playing for pride the next two weeks and I hope they can finish with two wins and a .500 record. Good luck to those in Fantasy Championships. Merry Christmas to everyone and let us not forget the reason for the season. Blessings to my family and friends. Miss you Pops. Aloha!