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Once again in 2015 (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.
New York Jets (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8)
The season finale for the Bills comes on Sunday at 1 pm at the Ralph where the visiting New York Jets come to town looking to secure a playoff spot with a win or or a tie, or a Pittsburgh Steeler loss or tie. The Bills are looking to secure the vacation season coming out of the game injury free. With a win for the Bills, they can somewhat save face with a .500 record and with a positive outlook of the team not giving up on Head Coach Rex Ryan by winning their last two games of the year. As we all know confidence was high back in August as training camp opened about ending the long playoff drought going back into the 1999 season. Going back to Sunday's game, there are a lot of underlying storylines here. First off, it's a divisional rival game. Buffalo beat the Jets back in Week 10, 22-17. There's the storyline of Rex coaching against the team that let him go. There's the storyline of Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and OC Chan Gailey both returning to Buffalo for the first team since they were let go by the Bills just a few years ago. There's the storyline of Jets back-up QB Geno Smith and now-Bill-former-teammate LB IK Enemkpali and the punch that most likely was a blessing in disguise as it made Fitzpatrick the starting QB, which moves the Jets offense into a position to make the playoffs. As for the game, the Jets are 2-to-3 point favorites on the road with the over/under for the game being at 42-42 1/2 points. Jets are 4-3 on the road while the Bills are 4-3 at home.
Bills on Offense, are ranked 11th overall, 1st in rushing and 27th in passing. The Jets on Defense are ranked 6th overall, 1st against the rush and 16th against the pass. This normally would be a very interesting view here to see the Bills run against this D but stud RB LeSean McCoy won't play the finale. In Week 10 against the Jets, McCoy ran for 112 yards on 19 attempts. Rookie Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee will try to pick up the slack this time. Both RB's have played fairly well the last few weeks. Williams ran 21 times for 117 yards and scored 1 TD while Gillislee had 13 attempts for 174 yards and 2 TD's over the last two weeks. Expect both to share the rock pretty much on all downs and situations, but where Williams is a bit more valuable is that he will be the goal-line RB. There are still questions about what to do with QB Tyrod Taylor. He is the clear #1 QB now but he is the stop-gap until they get a real Jim Kelly-like franchise QB. He's had some great stat games this year for basically a rookie QB so he can only get better yet there are question and concerns if he the one to lead the team to the promised land of playing playoff games in January. Over the last five weeks, Taylor has put up the 6th most points from the QB position, averaging about 25 points a game, (depending on your league's scoring system). I would think that this should be a good enough sign for the Bill's management team to work with Taylor and bring in some better talent to back him up in 2016. With Taylor's numbers going up and with the depreciation of receiving talent on this roster, you wonder how has stud Sammy Watkins has put up top 4 numbers at the WR position over the last five weeks, averaging 23 points a game, with numbers of 24 catches for 543 yards and 6 TD's scored. So now the receiving team have lost WR Percy Harvin since Week 6, WR Robert Woods last week and TE Charles Clay last week so next men up are Chris Hogan and Marcus Thigpen at WR ( a shame that the Bills brass doesn't read my article from last week and activated Dez Lewis from the practice squad) and then they added WR Leonard Hankerson previously with the Falcons and Pats, from the waiver wire. At TE the Bills will see what Chris Gragg and rookie Nick O'Leary have in them in their auditions for 2016. The Offensive Line will have their hands full with the strong Jet's front-7. The left side is the strength of the Bills with LT Cordy Glenn and comeback-candidate-of-the-year LG Richie Incognito. Rookie RG John Miller re-injured his high ankle sprain so he's most likely going to shut it down for the year and RT Seantrel Henderson out. Kraig Urbik and Jordan Mills will continue to work in their place and they will have their hands full. As for who to start on the Bills Offense, if you are in the Super Bowl of your league, I MIGHT consider Taylor and Watkins but this Jets D is good and you know All-Pro CB Darrell Revis is going to be in Watkins' hip pocket. Consider other options if you can. If you are troubled at the RB spot this weekend, then consider Karlos Williams as a long shot sleeper.
Bills on Defense, are ranked 20th overall, 15th against the run and 23rd against the pass. The Jets on Ofense are ranked 8th overall, 11th in rushing and 11th in passing. The Jets bring Ryan Fitzpatrick with his two WR weapons of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Fitz as played his best ball this season and he's 276 yards away from throwing for 4,000 yards, a first for him. He's thrown 29 TD passes and ran in for 2, and passed for just under 61% in completion percentage. The Marshall/Decker duo is number 1 in WR numbers and both are healthy going into this game. Marshall so far as 101 catches for 1376 yards and 13 TD's with Decker putting up 75 catches for 977 yards and 11 TD's. The Jets do have a bit of a running game with Chris Ivory leading the team with 989 yards and 7 TD's scored, but it's the passing attack that makes this O run. Bills DL is all banged up and there is a lot of chatter that some players ($100 million man Mario Williams) have mailed it in so it's going to be a tough match for the line to control the Jet's Offensive Line. DT Marcel Dareus who is banged up might play but he might be limited in the amount that he'll play. Even the secondary for the Bills, that has been banged up for most of the season is hurting even more. That's a recipe for disaster. Avoid the Bills D this week and consider to start Fitz and Ivory with both Marshall and Decker good solid choices to have start for you.
As for how I see this game, Rex Ryan would nothing better than stick it to his former employer, the Jets, and knock them out of the playoffs but the Bills are waaaay under-manned for this game. There could be as many as 10 players who started in Week 10 for the Bills against the Jets who won't play this weekend. The team doesn't have great depth and while the home crowd fans will whoop it up for the home team I feel they don't have enough talent to a needy team like the Jets this week. Keep in mind that teams who have to win to make the playoffs don't always make the playoffs. All the pressure is on the Jets and they Bills can be care-free and do on-side kicks and do fake punt-runs and trick plays to win. With Fitz at QB for the Jets, he knows the stadium well as he's played here for four years so the crowd and the winds won't have the same effect as it would for most opposing QB's who play at the Ralph in December/January. Bills will try to give a good game for Rex by running the ball or trying to for clock management and to rest up their D, but I think they will fall short and lose the game, something like 24-13 for the Jets.
Good luck to all who are still playing this weekend in their finals. Happy New Year to all. The next article will be the beginning of the off-season in February, after the Super Bowl. I'll look back at the 2015 season and what needs to be done for the Bills moving forward. I'll bring up what changes have taken place and a bit of free agency, the draft and team needs.
Stick a fork in these guys. Another excruciating season for the Miami Dolphins wraps up Sunday. Once again the Fins are facing a total re-build. Have lost count how many times they’ve had to do this in this century – i.e. the last 15 years. Must be the fourth or fifth. Must be the third time under Owner Stephen Ross, who’s only owned the team for something like six years.
That should be your first clue. Ross made a lot of money as a developer. That don’t mean he knows didly about football. I was alarmed when he first bought the Dolphins and one of his best friends was Carl Peterson, who dismantled a Kansas City Chiefs team that went from a perennial playoff contender to one of the league’s dormats. A key precept in the world of business is: “It takes one to hire one.” Ross has hired a succession of morons. He literally fired Todd Bowles to hire Clueless Joe Philbin, who would pull Reggie Bush out of the game to throw a screen pass to Daniel Thomas.
Of course, the true legacy of Joe “The Ostrich” isn’t what a disaster he was of a Coach, but the talent he dumped through his insecurity. These are players all through the League that have wreaked havoc on the Fins through this Season – the “Ain’t Karma A Bitch” Tour. this includes (but is not limited to) Brandon Marshall, Jared Odrick, Vontae Davis, Reggie Bush, Richie Incognito, and Charles Clay. Not only did we dump these guys, but most of them came back to rub it in the Fins faces. If the current roster had any heart, any class whatsoever they never would have taken it.
A lot of people around South Florida becoming increasingly more upset with QB Ryan Turnover. Pretty obvious this guy will never be more than a journeyman in this League. Still, since Tannehill was drafted he has been sacked more than any other Quarterback in the League.
Again, this should be your first clue. Football Cliché #1 is: “It all starts up front.” Yet the Dolphin Offensive Line continues to be terrible. Admittedly, they’ve had some injuries, but the replacements who have had to step up have SUCKED. They show replays during games and the Fins have Guards who literally jump out of the way of opposing rushers. They look like guys blocking for Leo Farnsworth in “Heaven Can Wait.”
So as this Season comes to the crushing end it so well deserves Fins Fans are facing another off-Season of – what do we do now?
First, it is incredibly obvious that whoever the Miami Dolphins have evaluating talent are the NFL equivalent to the Bridge Crew from the Exxon Valdez. A lot of people screaming about QB Ryan Turnover, but as far as I’m concerned Quarterback is actually not a priority, I would rank the team’s priorties as: Offensive Line, Linebackers, Cornerbacks, then QB.
This, of course, comes after Head Coach, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators. A lot of people want the Fins to run out and do something spectacular but I’m hoping they hire somebody boring. To me, that’s what the team needs. A boring Head Coach who’s going to get back to basics, build and Offensive Line, run the ball, and stop the run. This franchise has to crawl back to respectability, and they’re not going to do that by making some big splash, which always means taking a big risk. Like the Eagles did a couple years back hiring Chip Kelly. Need I say more?
Nobody’s talking specific names right now, but I can foresee a couple potential moves which have disaster written all over them. One is Sean Payton. There is talk another team might be able to trade for Payton. This would be SO STUPID. Who could possibly be dumb enough to do this? You put it that way, right off the bat, you have to worry about Miami. The other potentially disastrous idea is Mike Shula, currently Offensive Coordinator at Carolina. This is the kind of bonehead idea might sound good to Stephen Ross, another Shula to restore the Miami Dolphins to their glory days. Now I’m not saying Mike Shula would suck. At this point going back to Tony Sparano or Dave Wannstadt would probably constitute an upgrade. I’m simply saying there could be a tremendous disappointment in store.
Fact of the matter is whoever Miami hires will not be able to do much with the cannon fodder they are fielding. Whoever they have doing talent evaluation has to go. If the Fins can replace them with someone even marginally competent it would be a significant upgrade.
Good luck this final week!
Jimmy The Finger
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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NEW YORK JETS
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This scouting position is vacant. If you are interested in covering this team, please contact us. Thank you.
Last Browns Eye in Sky Report for the year and drama ensues as QB Johnny Manziel is in the NFL concussion protocol and like last year he is likely to miss the final. In addition to Manziel CB Tramon Williams also landed in the concussion protocol. More than likely you have already had your championship game but for some reason if you haven't and are checking under every rock for information that can give you an edge here is the final Eye in the Sky Report for this year.
QUARTERBACK PLAY QB Johnny Manziel connected on 13/32 for 136 yards 0 touchdowns 1 interception while also garnering 11 rushes for 108 yards that was good for an all-time franchise club record for a quarterback. We will never know if the concussion had an effect on Manziel's passing but it looks like backup QB Austin Davis will start so big RED LIGHT no-start for any Browns quarterback this week.
RUNNING BACK PLAY RB Isaiah Crowell had 16 rushes for 88 yards and 1 touchdown so he's had respectable numbers for three of the past four games. Rookie RB Duke Johnson chipped in 8 rushes for 26 yards while hauling in 3 receptions for 15 yards. Crow has looked good lately but with Austin Davis at quarterback the Steelers will be stacking the box to shut down the run so the best we can give is a YELLOW LIGHT cautionary start for RB Isaiah Crowell.
RECEIVER PLAY With Manziel's poor passing day all of the receivers had a down day. TE Gary Barnidge had 3 receptions for 47 yards. WR Travis Benjamin chipped in 2 receptions for 20 yards while rookie free agent WR Darius Jennings had 3 receptions for 37 yards. We can't expect much with Davis at quarterback but GREEN LIGHT start TE Gary Barnidge and that is it.
IDP REPORT SS Donte Whitner 6 solos. CB Charles Gaines 4 solos. LB Karlos Dansby 1 solo and 1 assist. LB Nate Orchard is coming on with 2 solos, 1 pass defense, and 1 interception (first of his career). This is not an ideal matchup defensively and with CB Tramon Williams likely OUT its going to mean a big load will shift to rookie CB Charles Gaines so big sleeper GREEN LIGHT start to CB Charles Gaines this week.
"We have a starting QB for next year"--Browns SS Donte Whitner commenting on QB Johnny Manziel after the loss to the Chiefs
Aspettate fino alla prossima volta... Till next time, Ciao!
The 9-6 Steelers suffered a disastrous defeat to the 5-10 Ravens in Baltimore by the score of 20-17. Wins by the 10-5 Chiefs and 10-5 Jets, their ninth and sixth straight respectively, puts the Steelers on the outside looking in for the playoffs. The Steelers need to beat the 3-12 Browns in Cleveland and hope for a loss by the Jets to the 7-8 Bills in Buffalo. To be honest a win in Cleveland is no sure thing even with QB Ben Roethlisberger holding an 18-2 record in his career as a starter against the Browns. The Steelers lost in Cleveland last year despite winning 11 other games. For some reason in the last four years the Steelers have repeatedly stumbled to teams under .500, actually losing a staggering 8 times since the start of 2012 season to teams that finished with 5 wins or less (assuming the 10-5 Bengals handle the Ravens this weekend in Cincinnati).
All of my leagues and just about every league I know about finished up last weekend. On a whole with the exception of RB DeAngelo Williams those with Steelers in their lineups had to be incredibly disappointed. The passing game against a pedestrian Ravens secondary was held completely in check. I am not sure how many fantasy leagues continue on into the 17th week. For that reason my positional reviews will be short. As a preview of fantasy prospects against the Browns let me just provide a few lists of possibilities. Because the Steelers still have a chance at the playoffs everyone will play. New injuries to top personnel are not an issue. Nothing here is a surprise.
Top fantasy plays….. Roethlisberger, Williams, WR Antonio Brown, my favorite PK Chris Boswell
Boom or bust….. WR Martavis Bryant
In case of emergency….. WR Markus Wheaton
Forget about the defense and anyone else.
QB: Roethlisberger seemed completely out of synch all day. OC Todd Haley started out milking the clock and running the ball. Once the Steelers got behind the offense was unable for whatever reason to switch gears and turn it on. Roethlisberger ended with 24 completions in 34 attempts for 215 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Another interception in the red zone that would have been returned for a Ravens score was called back due to an off sides penalty.
RB: Williams dominated. He gained a 100 yards even and scored twice on 17 carries adding 53 yards through the air on 6 receptions. Happily he signed a 2 year deal before this season even though RB LeVeon Bell is expected back from a torn MCL/PCL before the start of next season.
WR/TE: The receivers could not break a big play. Brown was held to 61 yards on 7 catches. Wheaton had 3 receptions for 41 yards. Miller as an outlet caught the ball 5 times for 53 yards. Most disappointing of all was Bryant, catching only a single pass for 6 yards. A good buddy of mine played Brant over WR Brandon Marshall in our money league’s finale. I was sadly not involved. Suffice it to say his poor decision (in hindsight anyway) cost him the title.
K: Even Boswell disappointed, albeit through no fault of his own. On the opening drive HC Mike Tomlin decided to go for it on a fourth and short from the 25. Williams was stuffed for a loss. The offense never seemed to get into a rhythm afterwards and Boswell’s chances were very limited. He didn’t miss, yet scored only 5 points on a field goal and pair of extra points.
D/ST: The defense allowed QB Ryan Mallet to throw for 274 yards. RB Javorius Allen had 79 yards and a touchdown. WR Kamar Aikens hauled in 8 passes for 66 yards. The defense managed no turnovers and a single sack by CB Brandon Boykins. Generally speaking when you only give up 20 points in this league the defense at least played adequately. That was by no means the case for the Steelers defense in Baltimore.
Good luck this final week!
WEEK 17 PREVIEW AT HOME AGAINST THE JAGS
A funny thing happened on the way to the top of the 2016 NFL draft order; a fight for the play-offs broke out!
QB Brian Hoyer has been struggling with concussion protocol but should be available this week. Somehow QB Brian Weeden has come in and shown why he was a first round draft pick. Amazing. Newly acquired QB B. J. Daniels from the Seattle practice squad should continue to be handy in the Wildcat.
All of the OL is nicked and dinged but they will play. LG Xavier Su’a-Filo has finally become a starter and is playing pretty well. C Ben Jones, RG Brandon Brooks and RT Derek Newton are starting to play as a unit on the right side. Can they dominate? Probably not but they’ll go into 2016 as a solid unit.
The Texans running game gained 128 yards on 42 carries last week. That’s a three yard average and that’s not much. This includes all the RBs and QB rushes. Still it sets up the play action and at least provides a rushing presence. Only start a Texans RB if you’re desperate this week.
Always start WR DeAndre Hopkins, both Hopkins and WR Nate Washington scored last week. Washington usually scores when WR Cecil Shorts is out. Shorts will not play again in week 17. With Shorts out rookie WR Jaelen Strong will get some looks. This guy has tremendous potential and is figuring out how to be a pro. TE Ryan Griffin is getting less looks mainly because he can’t take a hit!
The Texans D physically beat up QB Zach Mettenberger again last week with eight QB hits. As predicted the Texans D scored last this week. It was the first time all year. I’d look for a similar performance this week.
Special teams have put together some solid performers this year. Nothing flashy but especially effective. Of special note WR Keith Mumphery has been fun to watch when he plays coverage.
The Texans will go into this Sunday’s game believing that they need to win to clinch their Division. This should be a fun game to go to. I will be there.
Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are some thoughts on the thoroughly unwatchable 18-12 win over the Dolphins on Sunday to keep their fading playoff hopes on life support:
The game between two flailing and floundering teams grinding out the stretch was unfortunately as painful to observe as I had predicted. The only bright spot on the Colts was the running of Miami native RB Frank Gore who tallied the only two TDs for the Colts, and some inspired play by former Dolphin and veteran DL Kendall Langford. The paltry offensive numbers for both squads were clearly not due to defensive prowess, but rather to some shoddy play and low-end personnel. It was grisly to watch, and I won’t comment further.
The only thing of note to this game was the in-game injuries to QB Matt Hasselbeck and to his replacement, journeyman QB Charlie Whitehurst. Hasselbeck spent the latter half of the game with his throwing arm in a sling and is virtually assured of being unable to go this week. Whitehurst definitely will not be available as he was placed on season-ending IR. So, barring a miraculous improvement in QB Andrew Luck, the Colts will have to pin their scant playoff hopes on QB Stephen Morris – who was just signed this week and has never played a single NFL snap – or on some street free agent who knows nothing of the team and is still available despite the tremendous attrition at the position across the league. In either case, this does not bode well for any Colts’ players on your fantasy roster if you are still playing in week 17. The team did bring in QB Josh Freeman for a look, and they did have QB Josh Johnson on the roster briefly earlier this year.
I mentioned scant chances for the playoffs – here is what needs to happen for the Colts to get in. The Colts need to win a division game on the road without a quarterback AND the Texans need to lose at home to the Jaguars. While I don’t think either of those will happen, doing so would knot the AFC South at 8-8 for both the Texans and Colts AND mean that the first four tiebreakers are also tied. To win that fifth tiebreaker, the Colts need EIGHT other games to end with a particular outcome to win out, starting with the Bengals losing to the Broncos on MNF in week 16. Then in week 17, they need two likely wins as the Steelers beat the Browns, and Broncos to beat the Chargers. They need several toss up games to go their way as the Falcons best the Saints and Rex Ryan’s Bills to beat the motivated Jets (less likely). And if these were not enough, they need the Raiders to beat the red-hot Chiefs (riiiiiight) AND the reeling Dolphins need to beat the highly motivated Patriots (no chance in Hell), AND the fading Ravens to beat the Bengals (ditto).
Of course….if the Bengals win in Denver tonight and render all of these moot, I suspect that the Colts will place Luck and Hasselbeck on IR in the morning and sign several quarterbacks off the street to finish off this meaningless game. Heck, maybe P Pat McAfee will get to take out his frustrations on his shocking ProBowl snub by playing under center for the finale. In any case, there will be ZERO Colts fantasy players that I would start in week 17, not even the defense or PK Adam Vinatieri. ZERO. NADA.
Because of the certainty of their exhibition-game caliber lineup and the low number of readers with week 17 games, I will not offer a preview article later in the week; there will be no need, you have all you need to know right now. As such, I thank you all for reading my musings all season and look forward to talking with many of you over the “in between season” (remember, there IS NO OFFSEASON for fantasy football!!!!) about the upcoming 2016 NFL season. Happy new year to all of you, and remember to stay…..COLTSTRONG!!!!
Cincinnati 17 Denver 20 OT The Broncos didn't accomplish their goal of playing their best from start to finish, but dominance for one half was enough. The Broncos shook off an early deficit, made the necessary adjustments and dominated down the stretch, rallying from a 14-0 deficit for a 20-17 overtime win over the AFC North champion Bengal's. After winning the overtime coin toss, the Broncos marched into range for a 37-yard field goal and redemption for K Brandon McManus (a shanked 45-yarder at the gun in regulation) that led to the win. After a bad snap got away from AJ McCarron in overtime, OLB DeMarcus Ware fell on the football to give the Broncos their third overtime win this season. The game exacted a physical toll: S T.J. Ward (ankle); ILB Brandon Marshall (ankle); QB Brock Osweiler( elbow to go along with his shoulder injury); and, RB C.J. Anderson (back). The offense went to the no-huddle, three-wide receiver set at the end of the second quarter which resulted in 17-points that put the Broncos in front by the fourth quarter. The Broncos defense hit McCarron five times, sacked him twice and forced him into check downs. They loaded the box to stop the run and provide increased pressure, moving linebackers and safeties over the A- and B-gaps that disrupted McCarron and held him to 10/18-81-0 in the second half. RBs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for 98 yards on 13 carries (7.54ypc) in the second half and overtime.
QB Brock Osweiler 27/39-299-1-0; 3-5-0 RB C.J. Anderson 9-73-1; 1/2-8-0 RB Ronnie Hillman 9-35-0; 4/4-37-0 WR Demaryius Thomas 7/12-67-0 WR Emmanuel Sanders 4/5-67-1 WR Jordan Norwood 4/6-37-0 WR Bennie Fowler 1/1-13-0 TE Owen Daniels 5/7-70-0 TE Virgil Green 1/1-8-0
K Brandon McManus 2/2 PAT; FG 2/3
Defense 2 sacks; 1FR
San Diego @ Denver
The Broncos need some help for a shot at home-field advantage, but a crucial first-round bye to give their injured guys an extra week to recover is within their grasp. Come-from-behind wins against playoff-caliber opponents are becoming habit for the Broncos, but they also have a history of playing down to their opponents. On a short week, they have take care of the football, know their defensive assignments and not allow big plays. San Diego is giving up 4.7 yards per rush (3rd worst), and they are last in rushing. The Broncos are allowing a NFL-low 3.2 ypc (#1). Rivers is second in the NFL with 4,564 passing yards and his favorite weapon is RB Danny Woodhead. ILB Brandon Marshall (ankle), would typically cover Woodhead. The Broncos, who have the fewest big plays (20+ yards) in the NFL over the last eight games, need WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Demaryius Thomas, along with TE Owen Daniels, to make the big catches. San Diego's offensive line and receiving core has been devastated by injuries, while Denver is getting healthy after the secondary bounced back from their worst game of the season. Neither team has gotten the production they wanted from their special teams this season. Denver is a 9 point favorite at Mile High with a 74% chance of winning. San Diego 16 Denver 27.
Fantasy Outlook PPR
QB Brock Osweiler 14-21 points RB C.J. Anderson 7-13 points RB Ronnie Hillman 9-13 points WR Demaryius Thomas 14-19 points WR Emmanuel Sanders 11-13 points TE Owen Daniels 6-9 points TE Vernon Davis 3-7 points PK Brandon McManus 7-9
D/ST 12-16 points
IDP: Trevathan 8 Marshall 6 miller 6 Talib 5 Harris 5 ward 5 Stewart 4 Jackson 4 Roby 4 Wolfe 4
Good luck this week and Happy New Year!
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Hey! The Chiefs have clinched a playoff berth. After that horrendous start to the season it is just amazing that the team has been able to make such a turn-around. Hats off to Coach Reid and his troops for never throwing in the towel. GM Dorsey gets a hearty pat on the back also for assembling a group of quality characters... for the most part.
Heading into week 17 against the Raiders Coach Reid has to juggle how to win the finale while keeping his key performers healthy and ready for the post season. It’s a challenge for sure. As for planning for the enemy in the first playoff round, it is still wide open as to which team the Chiefs will see. KC could finish as the 3rd, 5thth or 6 seed.
If the Chiefs knock off the Raiders this week and the pony boys in Denver find a way to lose to the Chargers, they would be even with the Broncos in the AFC West and own the tiebreaker.
The Chiefs could end up the 6 seed, likely end up playing the Bengals or Broncos in the first round on the road. However, the most likely scenario has KC ending up as the 5 seed. If the Chiefs and Broncos win then the Chiefs go on the road to face the AFC South division winner, which is probably going to be Houston. If they close as the 3 seed KC hosts the Jets. IF/As the AFC West division winner KC rolls into the post season on a 10-game win streak.
Some practice notes; OLB Justin Houston practiced, Husain Abdullah practiced, both of those two are listed as questionable. OLB Tamba Hali is being monitored and will go.
As for De'Anthony Thomas, he was put on the Non-Football Illness list. Whatever is going on it is not related to his concussion. Coach Reid stated in his presser, “It is not concussion-related. I just have to leave it at that, just no further questions on it and we move on with the Oakland Raiders..." Reid did talk a bit about whether Thomas could return in 2016, saying, "I really don't know on that. That would be a GM Dorsey question. I just fed you the information I know." Not good and there’s something funny here.
AS for the game this week, if this is a title tilt for you here’s what is best coming out of the Chiefs’ side of the field.
RB Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware will surely split snaps and carries to stay as fresh as possible for post season action. They will likely cancel one another out, but Ware is attractive as a goal line banger here.
WR Jeremy Maclin will mostly see safer, deep routes against a shoddy secondary. His PPR takes a hit here but Maclin could microwave excellent FFB points. WR Albert Wilson is more likely to gain in PPR stature this week as he keeps the chains moving. More looks Wilson’s way means more YAC chances, something Wilson has shown he can do if opportunity exists.
TE Travis Kelce can dominate the Raider linebackers. Oakland has improved covering TEs in the past 5-6 games, but they still are a flammable unit against a quality pass-catching end, which Kelce is. QB Alex Smith wants to burn the clock and that means more conservative management in week 17. Not a game winning approach for a FFB QB.
Oakland’s o-line protects QB Derek Carr well and the sacks may be hard to come by this game. Might be best to avoid the Chiefs front 3.
ILBs Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga are good to go for IDP action as Oakland runs RB Latavius Murray often. CB Marcus Peters is a must play as he lines up across from rookie WR Amari Cooper. Great rookie battle, with Peters being a big play performer.
The Raiders are among the top teams to stream a kicker against; start Cairo Santos.
So, we close out the season with a chance to set a team record 10-game win streak and a shot at the AFC West title. Lots can and will happen over the next few days. Who knew we’d actually be kicking off a Happy New Year thanks to the Chiefs making it into the playoffs?
Happy New Year KC fans. A new journey begins; enjoy the ride!
It started four games ago when these teams met for the first time this season. The Chiefs had trouble keeping much going against the Raiders, something they repeated in the last two games against Baltimore and Cleveland. That needs to be fixed with better execution, play selection and staying away from penalties
The Oakland Raiders gave their fans an early Christmas present last week, as they defeated the San Diego Chargers in overtime to sweep their divisional foes this season. It’s strange to think that they may be stadium partners soon.
This week they travel to the not so friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium to finish off the season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Raider Nation got an opportunity to bid S Charles Woodson a fond farewell for the leadership, and service he has provided the Silver and Black. It was bittersweet, and the game was closer than I had thought it would be, but the energy at O.co was palpable and the Raiders won in the end and Woodson took the mike and thanked the fans for the support they had provided.
As for this week, the Chiefs have assured themselves a playoff spot, but would love nothing more than to beat the Raiders and send them off into 2016 as losers.
The Raiders will bring all they have as well, and look to send Woodson out a winner. The team will have to do it without FB Marcel Reece. One of the leagues best do-it-all players, Reece was suspended for 4 games for violating the leagues banned substances policy.
By all accounts, Reece is a good guy, and I doubt that he did this intentionally. Reece said an internal chemical reaction from a legal plant root extract caused it to become an illegal substance.
Reece said he used "Umcka," which he described as a "completely safe substance that is legal by NFL policy." After ingestion, Reece said, it converts to metylhexanimine, which is an illegal substance. According to Reece, the appeal stated, "the NFL does not contend that Mr. Reece intentionally violated the policy and it is clear Mr. Reece did not intend to do so."
Other than finishing with a .500 record, which would be a huge step up for a team that finished 3-13 last season, the Raiders are excited about the future, and the future starts right now.
"Everything has been better than last year, so that's nice," Raiders QB Derek Carr said. "But at the same time, it'll push you, because no matter what we finish, it's not where we want to be. It's not where I want to be, I know that."
Carr needs 207 yards passing to reach 4,000. That would give Oakland a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher (RB Latavius Murray) and 1,000-yard receiver (WR Amari Cooper) for the first time in franchise history. The 1996 Patriots (Drew Bledsoe, Terry Glenn, Curtis Martin) are the only other team to have three players 25 or under reach those marks in the same season. That surely is the mark of a team with the arrow pointing up.
Speaking of records, Carr needs three TD passes to match Daryle Lamonica's single-season franchise record of 34 set in 1969, while pass rusher DE Khalil Mack needs one sack to tie Derrick Burgess' team mark of 16 set in 2005. "Guys that come in this league that have talent (and) work hard like he does, it gives him a chance to do special things," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of Mack.
The Kansas City defense was a leaky sieve for the early portion of the season, but has righted the ship, and although they can still give up yards on the backend especially, has become very good. Then of course Kansas City is a very difficult place to play as well. Still if you have been counting on QB Derek Carr thus far this fantasy season, he is not a bad play this week. If Carr can avoid the picks, he is prone to making some poor decisions and forcing throws from time to time.
WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree have been solid plays all season, and I wouldn’t shy away from them now either.
RB Latavius Murray is the AFC’s leading rusher for a reason. He could work on technique a bit, but his physical tools give him quite the edge. He may face a challenge this week, but he is a decent play as a RB 2. He should get volume, and that’s half the battle.
The team is full strength defensively, and DE Khalil Mack and CB Neiko Thorpe were limited participants in practice this week, but are expected to play.
Let's go Raiders!
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Diego Chargers 23-20 in overtime. That drops the Bolts season to abysmal 4-11. And now things get much tougher, as the Bolts travel to Denver to face the division-leading Denver Broncos. But the good news is that my job is easy and so is yours. In short, you’re going to want to avoid almost every single Charger. Sure, there are guys who could surprise to the upside, but you have to view the situation from a risk vs. reward perspective. And your final playoff game is not the time to roll the dice, in my view. This report will be a review of last week’s loss, as well as a preview of the upcoming Chargers at Broncos game.
QB: Against the Raiders, San Diego QB Phillip Rivers went 31/49 for 277 yards, a TD and no INT. I believe that I failed to make the playoffs this year because I started Rivers against Denver last time and they shut him down. You know the old “fool me twice” saying. Rivers is a quality quarterback, but I cannot recommend him, again due to an unfavorable risk vs. reward analysis.
RB: Last week, the Chargers ground game totaled just over 70 yards and 1 TD. Not great. RB Donald Brown has shown a pulse, but I wouldn’t start him. RB Danny Woodhead should be considered a weak RB2 in large leagues or a FLEX player.
WR: The San Diego receivers are depleted due to injury. Early this season, I stated that I felt WR Dontrelle Inman is a sleeper and a quality receiver if given the chance. Indeed, Inman led Chargers receivers with 8 catches for 82 yards and 1 TD. While Inman is a risky play due to the opponent, he looks like a weak WR3 or FLEX in larger leagues. The same goes for WR Stevie Johnson. I’d bench the rest of the Chargers wideouts and neither Inman nor Johnson look like especially good plays. Still, Rivers is going to throw to someone.
TE: Last week, TE Antonio Gates only caught for 11 yards and no TDs. Yuck. But you can’t keep a good man down. Unless you clearly have a better option, you’ll want to start Gates regardless of opponent.
PK: I think PK Josh Lambo’s accuracy has been suspect and I don’t expect San Diego to do a lot of scoring against Denver. So I’d avoid him.
DEF: Let’s save each other some time. Avoid!
That’s my last report for 2015. I hope that the NFL and Chargers ownership can keep the team in San Diego. Until my next report, good luck in your fantasy playoffs and here’s wishing you and your family a Happy New Year and a terrific 2016!
The Dallas Cowboys face off with the Washington Redskins to close out the 2015 campaign. This season has basically gone off the rails in every way possible; losing QB Tony Romo, losing WR Dez Bryant, the RB Joseph Randle failed experiment, not good.
Romo and Dez have made their way to IR, and Randle is on his couch somewhere while the team rolls on with RB Darren McFadden. Off-season acquisition, RB Christine Michael has returned from whence he came, Seattle. WR Terrance Williams still underperforms in a maddening way, and TE Gavin Escobar has shown nothing to indicate he is the heir apparent to TE Jason Witten.
Surely the Cowboys would like to go home this season with a win, as 5-11 is slightly more palatable than 4-12, but if you are alive in a fantasy championship or playing DFS, do you want to count on any of these guys?
The ‘boys will finish up with QB Kellen Moore at the helm, his having displaced ineffective journeyman QB Matt Cassell. If I could get just one message to President Jerry Jones its to please draft a replacement for Romo. This is just ridiculous.
While you’re at it, Mr. Jones, maybe we can’t just roll with anyone at running back. I hear RB Demarco Murray would love to come back.
Lastly on my offensive wish list, a more consistent option opposite Dez. Maybe its WR Devin Street, or WR Lucky Whitehead, or WR Brice Butler but it sure doesn’t seem to be WR Terrance Williams.
Defensively it’s been not too shabby actually. I hope DC Rod Marinelli stays, as he can get a lot done, and players seem to love him. I love LB Sean Lee, but it may be time to not start counting on his health status.
Probable: WR Cole Beasley (knee) DE Greg Hardy (illness) S Jeff Heath (shoulder) DE DeMarcus Lawrence (chest) WR Devin Street (concussion) LB Kyle Wilber (shoulder) TE Jason Witten (chest) DE Jeremy Mincey (hip)
Questionable: CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring) LB Sean Lee (hamstring)
OG La’el Collins (ankle)
Good luck this final week!
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants lose a laugher last Sunday in Minnesota to the Vikings 49-17. The G-Men didn’t show up after they were knocked out of the playoffs the previous night with a Redskins victory. The absence of Odell Beckham Jr loomed large as his explosive presence was sorely missed. They face the Eagles this Sunday in MetLife Stadium in what may be Tom Coughlin’s last game as a Giants head coach. It would be nice to beat the Birds in the last game of the season, especially since Chip Kelly was fired earlier in the week.
QB Eli Manning had a terrible game as he completed 15 of 29 passes for 2334 yards, 1 TD, 3 interceptions and a shoddy passer rating of 50.7. He was sacked four times.
Eli is facing an Eagles pass defense that is ranked 26th in the league. They have allowed 34 TD passes and an opposing passer rating of 92.7. They also have 35 sacks and 15 interceptions. I am counting on Eli to bounce back strong so expect 300 yards and 3 TD’s, making him a #8 starter this week. He is gunning for the franchise’s season TD pass record of 36 set by QB YA Tittle in 1963.
RB Rashad Jennings is playing his best football of the season. He looks fresh and is running hard. He had 14 carries for 74 yards and 2 catches for 62 yards. RB Andre Williams had 3 carries for 5 yards. RB Shane Vereen had 1 carry for 3 yards and 2 receptions for 21 yards.
The running game faces a Philly rush defense ranked 29th in the league allowing 4.4 yards per carry and 129.7 yards per game. They have allowed 9 TD’s. The Giants will look to run the ball somewhat in this favorable matchup. Expect Jennings to have15 touches for 75 yards and a TD giving him flex appeal during this fantasy championship weekend. Vereen simply doesn’t get consistent targets to warrant fantasy consideration.
WR Odell Beckham Jr was sorely missed last week as he sat out the game with a suspension. WR Rueben Randle had 2 grabs for 80 yards and a long TD. Slot WR Dwayne Harris had 1 catch for 6 yards.
WR Odell Beckham Jr will have a big game as he looks to right his wrongs from the Panther game. He also is shooting for a 100 reception season. Expect 10 grabs for 115 yards and a TD making him a top 3 play this week. No other Giant receiver is worthy of fantasy consideration.
TE Will Tye had 3 catches for 28 yards.
Tye has not had consistent production and is touchdown dependent at this point so leave him on your fantasy bench.
3 sacks is disappointing road fantasy production for this unit. This group is decimated by injuries so they should not be used during your fantasy championship.
PK Josh Brown had 1 field goal and 2 extra points.
Brown is a top 10 kicker.
That’s all for now and good luck in your fantasy championship! Happy New Year to all!
Here is a recap of Week # 16
The Eagles technically still have one game left. But, really, the season is over. On Saturday night at the Linc, they lost, 38-24, to the Washington Redskins, ending their chances to win the NFC East and make the 2015 playoffs). The Eagles’ up-but-mostly-down season that started with high expectations will mercifully end next Sunday afternoon in North Jersey. Then, the long offseason of questions will begin. With the loss Saturday, the Eagles fell to 6-9. They not only blew their chance to win the division but also ensured they will finish with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 2012 (Andy Reid’s last year). With the win, the Redskins improved to 8-7 and became division champions for the first time since 2012. The Eagles have allowed opposing teams to clinch division titles on their home field twice in two weeks.
QB Sam Bradford completed 37 of 56 passes for 380 yards and threw 1 TD but had a costly fumble when he did not connect with Murray on a handoff & lost the ball. RB Demarco Murray led a pathetic running game with 27 yards on 5 carries and scored on a 4-yard TD run. RB Ryan Mathews also scored on a 1-yard TD run. TE Zack Ertz had another big game gathering in 13 receptions for 122 yards. WR Jordan Matthews caught 6 passes for 104 yards and scored on an 8-yard TD pass reception. RB Darren Sproles also had 7 receptions for 56 yards.
DE Fletcher Cox continues to show why he’s one of the top defensive linemen in football. He was huge against Washington on Saturday night. He had 2 sacks & was on 7 tackles. ILB Kiko Alonso was in on 8 tackles & S Malcolm Jenkins had 6 solo tackles. TE Jordan Reed shredded the LB group for 129 yards on 9 receptions & 2 TD’s.
PK Caleb Sturgis was perfect with his kicks, a 34 yard FG & connected on all 3 PAT’s. P Donnie Jones averaged 43.6 yards on 7 punts with 3 inside the 20-yard line. KR Huff got 65 yards on 2 returns.
The Eagles will travel to East Rutherford, NJ to play the New York Giants on Sunday @ 1pm on FOX. Both teams are 6-9.
PREVIEW WEEK # 17
With the firing of HC Chip Kelly, interim HC Pat Shurmur will try to put some pizazz back into the Eagles team. I do not know what to expect from this game but this could be a showcase for Shurmur. I hope to see the QB back in a huddle instead of the fast pace they had very little success. Maybe we will see a running game? The winner of this game could be the Loser in the upcoming Draft.
Since the firing of Kelly on this past Tuesday, Eagles fans are starting to get excited again. But think what would have been if Kelly didn’t become the GM. Maclin should have been Sam Bradford’s number one target this season, not Alex Smith’s. Evan Mathis should have been protecting Bradford instead of Allen Barbre. LeSean McCoy should have been taking handoffs from Bradford instead of DeMarco Murray. But because your coach/GM believes that he is the smartest man in football, all the talent we once rooted for and loved now lives in other cities. What a disgrace. How were you fooled into believing these were the right moves to make? Kelly must have been one hell of a salesman. I long for the days of Andy and Donovan. At least I KNEW we were going to get to see playoff football. Even though those seasons ended in failure, at least they were a fun ride. This mess? This is truly a disaster. The sadness that I feel will linger until the NFL Draft.
Have a happy New Year!
That’s all for now from the BirdSeed.
Lions report, week 17 preview
Lions at Bears
QB: This offense keeps rolling along, executing nicely again this past Sunday against San Francisco. QB Matthew Stafford was sharp again with a solid efficient passing attack, going 29 of 37 for 301 yards with 2 TD passes and no turnovers. That makes 16 TD passes and just 2 picks in the 7 games since the bye week. This week’s game is between two teams that are eliminated from playoff contention, and those games can be hard to predict. But the Lions are still playing hard for coach Caldwell, and will play their usual starters and play to win. Stafford lit up the Bears for 405 yards and 4 TDs at Ford Field in week 6. I don’t think he will do that outdoors in cold conditions on Sunday, but he is a decent fantasy option. The Bears are surprising ranked 4th in pass defense by the way. The poor start to the season against a front loaded schedule can’t be overlooked, but Stafford’s season stats are going to end up looking pretty good. He has quietly moved up to 10th in the NFL in passer rating, and is tied for 10th with 29 TD passes. It’s safe to say they will at least want Stafford to get 1 TD pass to hit that 30 mark, and he will also hit the 4000 yard mark as he only needs 36 for that.
RB: I sort of thought RB Ameer Abdullah would be a sleeper play last week and it didn’t really work that way. RB Theo Riddick got more carries in the early stages of the game as RB Joique Bell was invisible for most of the first half. Bell did vulture a TD late in the game as he is sort of the closer for this committee. Riddick made an impact in the pass game again with 7 catches for 63 yards. The Bears are bad against the run so there will be chances to score some fantasy points here, but the three man committee is always tough to rely upon. Look for Riddick to catch at least 4 passes as that would put him up to 80 receptions for the season. Abdullah is on the injury report as limited in practice with a shoulder injury, but I haven’t heard concern from anybody so he should be fine.
WR/TE: Well don’t write WR Calvin Johnson off just yet. After a few quiet weeks, Calvin was more involved on Sunday with 6 grabs (10 targets) for 77 yards and a TD. He also dropped a tough one that would have been about a 30 yard gain, and then lost a 20 yard catch on a very questionable instant replay reversal. WR Golden Tate and TE Eric Ebron each added 4 catches as this offense continues to spread the football around. WR T. J. Jones scored an unexpected TD, the first of his career. Keep an eye on Calvin’s status just to be sure, as he is still listed with an ankle injury.
K/DST: There were fantasy points all over the place for PK Matt Prater on Sunday. The Lions scored 32 points which is an unusual number. They went for two once and failed so it could have been 33. Prater contributed four field goals on the day, with the longest only 38 yards, so it wasn’t a stressful day. If you want to use him this Sunday go right ahead. The Lions defense was a little sluggish early, allowing some long San Fran drives, but tightened things up in the second half. As usual they are not a recommended fantasy defense because of the lack of big plays they create, but I think they will do a solid job against the Bears offense.
Thanks for reading my reports this season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Week 16 Review:
The deficiencies of the Packer offense were on full display. Offensive line personnel shuttling in and out because of injury, inexperience and injuries of the wide receivers, no real go-to tight end, and whatever is wrong with QB Aaron Rodgers are the chief culprits. The Packers had at least two chances to score early and did not. But the Cardinals score on two Packer fumbles and one 25 yard drive. The Packers were out gained, 178 yards to the Cardinals 381 yards despite having 8 more offensive plays. This was another worse than normal week for QB Aaron Rodgers – he had 151 yards for 1 touchdown and 1 interception, completing 53.6% of his passes for a rating of 66.2. He also had 19 yard rushing on 3 carries for a total of 170 yards. Rodgers also lost 2 of 3 fumbles – so he had an uncharacteristic 3 turnover day. His decline in the rankings continues. He is now 17th among quarterbacks in yards, and 9th in touchdowns among starting quarterbacks, and 47th in passing percentage and 19th in quarterback rating. The running backs as were a little better this week – but not game changing good. RB Eddie Lacy was the best for Green Bay and had just 60 yards on 12 carries (5.0 y/c) and added 1 reception for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. RB James Starks had 11 yards on 1 carry but no touchdowns, and no receptions. The tight end position was practically non-existent for the third week in a row. TE Andrew Quarless was targeted 2 times and had 2 receptions for 17 yards. TE Richard Rodgers was targeted 1 time and caught it for 7 yards. WR Randall Cobb was targeted 3 times and caught all 3 for 15 yards. Cobb remains relatively steady at 18th in receptions, 30th in yards among NFL receivers, and 22th in scoring. And he is the Packers best receiver. WR James Jones was targeted 11 times and caught only 5 of them for 46 yards. Jones declines to 47th in receptions, 31th in yards, and 12th in scoring. WR Davante Adams was targeted 6 times and caught 3 of them for 42 yards. PK Mason Crosby had no field goal attempts and no extra point attempts this week. He is also in decline and ranked 20th in field goal percentage and 16th in points. The Packer defense gave up 381 total yards. They had 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 4 hits on the quarterback, 1 interception, 2 passes defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovered. The defense is ranked 19th overall in yards given up, 13th against the pass, 21st against the run, and 10th in points against. If anything, the Packers are regressing as this year comes to a close.
Week 17 Preview:
The last regular season opponent for the Packers is the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau. The Packers hold no statistical advantage over the Vikings in any category. This is also a testament to the fact that the Vikings season has been on the upswing, and the Packer season has been on the downswing – especially toward the season’s end. The last time they met, the game was in Minnesota. WR James Jones was the receiving star, Lacy was the rushing star for yards, but it was Starks who got a touchdown receiving. Aaron Rodgers only connected on 47% of passes, and threw 2 touchdown passes. That was also the game Crosby connected on 5 long field goals. If you think those numbers are repeatable and like them, then by all means play them. But if you think that the gap in play quality has grown since their last meeting – as I do, then maybe you play players that might have a better chance to be productive if available to you. It is your choice. Season projections are as follows: WR Randall Cobb continues to trend down with 78 receptions, 845 yards, and 7 touchdowns. WR James Jones is about the same with 49 receptions for 841 yards and 9 touchdowns. WR Davante Adams is holding steady with 49 receptions for 458 yards and 1 touchdown. QB Aaron Rodgers is holding his own and would have completed 340 of 563 passes for 32 touchdowns and 3765 yards with 7 interceptions. He also has another 354 rushing yards for a total of 4119 yards. TE Richard Rodgers is trending down after another sub-par week with 54 receptions for 481 yards and 7 touchdowns. RB Eddie Lacy would end the season with 762 rushing yards and 193 receiving yards for 955 total yards and 5 total touchdowns. RB James Starks has 615 rushing yards and 399 receiving yards for a total of 1014 yards and 5 total touchdowns. K Mason Crosby now projects to 108 points on the season. These stats might help you figure out if the path these players are on will meet your fantasy team needs. I discussed starters above. This is the end of the season for writing reports. I hope your fantasy team is playing for your league championship. I should be back next year. Until then, enjoy the playoff season.
Sorry, but I'm out of town for the holidays.
Good luck this final week!
Week 16 Review
Shockingly, after going through just an awful stretch of football, the Falcons defeated the previously undefeated 14-0 Panthers by a score of 20-13. And shockingly, it was the defense that really lead the way to an improbable win.
QB Matt Ryan had his best game in quite a while going 23-30 for 306 yards and a score. He was efficient and didn't throw an interception, but did lose another fumble. The two Falcons studs definitely helped all those that were playing for a title last weekend. RB Devonta Freeman had 22 carries for 73 yards and a score along with 3 catches for 17 yards, so 17 points in PPR leagues. All world WR Julio Jones, whom people were debating whether to start or not bc of the Panthers and CB Josh Norman, but like the Mastermind always says, start your studs! Jones grabbed 9 catches for a season high 178 yards and a 70 yard touchdown. All that was good for 32 points in PPR leagues, even more for those with yardage bonuses.....WR Roddy White grabbed 5 catches for 67 and TE Jacob Tamme chipped in with 4 catches for 29 yards. K Shayne Graham went 2-3 on field goals with a long of 54 along with 2 extra points. The Falcons defense contained QB Cam Newton and the Panthers, holding them to 13 points, 268 yards of offense with 2 sacks and 1 turnover.
For anyone playing in week 17, which I hope is not many of you, this week the Falcons have the tasty matchup against the Saints at home. Load up on players from both sides of this one. You have probably moved on from QB Matt Ryan a while ago like I did, but if you didn't, this is a week that he should have a big week. Start him along with RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones. Look for a HUGE week from Jones. As for the Saints, QB Drew Brees, RB Tim Hightower (who would have thought we would be saying that) and WR Brandin Cooks, with TE Ben Watson as a reliable option too.
Look for the Falcons to end the season winning three straight, Falcons 31 Saints 27
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Arizona Cardinals Week 17 Report
The Cardinals are sitting at 13-2. When I looked at the season my best case scenario for the year was 13-3. I’ll be danged! Never would have thought it but it’s been an amazing season so far by this team and I hope they are not satisfied with where they are. They won one hat two weeks ago by winning the Thursday Night game against the Vikings, and then followed that up by defeating the Green Bay Packers and winning the #2 seed and a bye. This sets up the Cardinals for 1 home game and potentially 1 game after that for a chance at the ultimate victory.
The Green Bay swarm invaded University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday night and were expecting a blow out from what I can tell. The Cardinals played very poor hosts as they played a very very complete game to defeat the Green Bay Packers 38-8. The Cardinals offense and defense showed up and special teams completed the 3 team victory. This was a complete victory.
Fantasy Stars of the week for the Cardinals:
QB Carson Palmer 18/27 for 265 yards 2 TD and 1 INT. Not a perfect game but good enough. RB David Johnson 9 carries 39 yards 1 TD 3 catches 88 yards receiving. Nice week! RB Andre Ellington 7 carries 40 yards RB Kerwynn Williams 8 for 44 WR Michael Floyd 6 for 111 yards WR Larry Fitzgerald 4 for 29 and 1 TD WR John Brown 3 for 25 yards and 1 TD
So the Cardinals are 13-2 and have won the NFC West, the #2 Seed, and have one more meaningless game left on their schedule against their ultimate rival, the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks have clinched the playoffs but are competing for the #5 or #6 seed. So, that means they travel to Green Bay, Minnesota, or Washington. My guess is they’d like to go play Washington in week 1 as the #5 seed.
So, the Cardinals can win NOTHING in this game and the Seahawks can get a #5 seed. However, the Cardinals hate to lose at home and I hope they come out and play a complete game for at least the first half.
Fantasy-wise, most leagues are done as of last week and I was 1-1 in Championship games. I have 1 league still playing of my 3 leagues and we join the playoffs at the same time as the NFL. Exciting times.
This week, if you are still playing, it will be very difficult to know who to play and who to sit.
For the Cardinals, I might be cautious playing too many this week. They will go after the Seahawks for the #1 seed, but it is doubtful the Bucs will defeat the Panthers and the Cards won’t want to get their starters hurt. It would not be good to not have their top talent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
People who could not see a full game of action: QB Carson Palmer, WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB David Johnson, WR Michael Floyd, WR John Brown.
1) Start others on teams that need to win.
2) Look for players that might play longer than others. For example. WR John Brown over WR Larry Fitzgerald and WR Michael Floyd. Look for backup players who could play major roles. RB Stepfan Taylor for the Cardinals is one who could see considerable time along with RB Kerwynn Williams.
3) Look forward to a great playoff!
I believe the Cardinals will play well in this game. They want to show they are the rightful NFC West Champs. Look for a close game with neither side showing all they have. Cardinals should win this game in a close one. 21-17. I think this game will rival a game 3 in the pre-season.
Happy New Year! Welcome 2016!
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Week 17 does not get played in many fantasy leagues for the very reason presented by Seattle this week (and last week?). Before Seattle’s loss last week they were already guaranteed a playoff spot and could not improve it. Did that affect their game plan or perhaps even their effort. The offensive line seemed to regress and so did the defensive line. The blocking backs, well, didn’t. We were given no idea on whether or not RB Christine Michael would grow up and hit the hole he was told to. And the fantasy points provided by the starters went way down.
All indications are that QB Russell Wilson will play the whole game this week. But will he really? Arizona needs this game to secure the #1 seed and they have arguably the best offense in the league. They will likely have a nice lead by halftime that would take everything the ‘Hawks could do to overcome. But why? These teams have a huge chance of playing again in the playoffs for the right to progress to the championship, why put the whole game plan in now? Why let Russell act like a human pinball bouncing between defensive lineman trying not to get injured?
Bottom line is this. The Arizona defense is not all it is made up to be and this game could be a shootout and a Seattle win. But I just do not see it going that way. Seattle will be playing not to be embarrassed rather than to win. Why would they hesitate to pull Wilson? If you are a fantasy coach looking for a fantasy playoff win, you may do better playing someone off the waiver wire than playing Wilson.
RB- RB Marshawn Lynch will not play this week. But he is likely to play next week in the playoffs. RB Christine Michael will get a few snaps, but he is the guy should Lynch not come back. He and any big surprise he may have left in his effort tank will be kept quiet. I think RB Bryce Brown will get the majority of the snaps, but I don’t see him gaining many yards or scoring.
WR- WR Doug Baldwin is the exception here. Doug has records to shoot for and being snubbed from the Pro Bowl will bring out the Angry Doug again, but this time with stats. Doug had 118 yards and a touchdown last week and is now leading the league in touchdowns. He remains a must start regardless of who is playing quarterback. Behind Doug a gambling coach could start either WR Tyler Lockett or WR Jermaine Kearse. This game will likely be like the last one where they both have 30-40 yards receiving and one of them has a TD. Which one? That is what the gamble would be. I don’t like that gamble for a fantasy championship and would look elsewhere for fantasy points.
I won’t even put a name in here. The advice remains the same as it has for weeks (years?). Do not use any Seahawk tight end in your fantasy playoffs.
K- PK Steven Hauschka is a difficult one this week. If Seattle is not playing their full game plan or personnel, does Haush$ get more field goal attempts? I think he just might and he is the second decent fantasy starter on the team.
The D just did not play right last week and now they face the best offense in the league. Do not, absolutely do not, start this Seattle defense in your fantasy finals! If they are coming after Arizona, then it will not be with the full game plan they would use in the playoffs. They have no reason to win this game other than pride. And after playing with so many hurt defenders in the playoffs last year, they know they need to play smart in this one to play physical in the next one.
Don’t look 12s. Just don’t look.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
Unfortunately, I'm away visiting family and friends this week, so I'm unable to write a report for week #17. I can tell you that RB Todd Gurley (foot) is doubtful to play this week, so sit him! You might consider starting WR Tavon Austin or WR Kenny Britt against the 49ers this week, though.
Good luck and Happy New Year!