2023 EYE IN THE SKY NFL SCOUTING REPORTS
Once again in 2023, 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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With this the final week of the NFL regular season, you can pretty much throw out an fantasy knowledge you have built up during the season.
So many teams are sitting regular players and therefore you will not be able to tell if a defense like the Browns will be at full strength, and thus a prime play, or if this will be treated like a Week 1 Pre-season game.
I would say most of you are not playing a fantasy football post-season game this week, at least I hope not. If so, look to move on from this league. You might be able to convince me playing this week is worthwhile if it is the second part of a two week fantasy championship and this week was a best ball format. That has always intrigued me.
But for now, Bengals hosting Browns this week.
QB Jake Browning should play and continue putting film out there for his future, whether it is with the Bengals or another team. Depending on his asking price, Browning could easily return to Cincinnati on a nice backup deal. If he wants a shot to be a starter, another team might be enticing but he would have to learn a new system and I just feel he would be better off taking a little more money now and less from another team to stay.
RB Joe Mixon and RB Chase Brown continue to do good things with Browning under center. If only this staff would have thought the same thing possible with QB Joe Burrow in there, the Bengals might be playing for more than pride this week.
Long term Mixon is a question mark to remain in Cincinnati. Brown has a good spot and could be the starter if Mixon is moved as the team looks to save a few dollars to resign some of the younger talent.
WR JaMarr Chase should sit to be honest but he will likely play. I think he is that kinda guy. WR Tee Higgins will probably miss this one and therefore may have played his last game in stripes. It would be highly unlikely Higgins would return simply because Chase is going to get the money in that receiver room. Higgins could go somewhere and be a top wideout, Carolina has long been the suggested destination. Not sure that is good or bad, though.
WR Tyler Boyd will likely stick around because he knows the system and will not cost much but there are young guys like WR Charlie Jones and WR Andrei Iosivas who could jump in to the mix as one of the top three behind Chase. It is likely the Bengals will draft a receiver or sign a free agent if the price is right.
TE Tanner Hudson, TE Drew Sample and TE Irv Smith are good for this team but the way the Bengals utilize a tight end I am not sure it matters who is in this spot. Now if TE Brock Bowers falls to Cincinnati and the Bulldog becomes a Bengal like someone else (QB Joe Burrow) then you have to think he would be the second receiver behind Chase.
PK Evan McPherson is a good one. He has not been quite the success he was as a rookie but still good enough to earn a second contract with the team sometime soon.
On defense, there are going to be players moving on and hopefully some sticking around. Good group of young players to build around so this defense will not be bad any time soon. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will forever be a hot name in head coach circles. Some guys are just better at their coordinator jobs than being a head coach. Is Lou that, not sure but he probably deserves a shot. If Lou goes the defense will likely change dramatically.
Good luck this final week!
Looks like DE Will Anderson, WR Robert Woods and WR Noah Brown (OUT) are iffy for Saturday’s away game with the Colts. They are not practicing this week. It will be a tough game without their best receivers because the Colts interior defensive line should wreak havoc against the Texans’ pass protection and running game.
This is a game the Texans are destined to lose. The coaches will have to figure out how to score points. Expect the back-up WRs to make a major contribution again moving the chains. Last week TE Brevin Jordon helped the O-line but also caught a TD. While not good enough to start, Jordon has a role that helped them win last week. Starters OLG Juice Scruggs and ORT Charlie Heck are not good enough; they will need help.
Still, the Texans are fighting for a play-off spot and the Colts have injuries too. All the fans on both sides can do is hope.
I expect QB C.J. Stroud to make the most of his opportunity. I do believe this will be another chance for him to shine.
RB Dameon Pierce and RB Devin Singletary will do their best, but this is a game that Stroud will have to figure out how to win.
DE Will Anderson should be able to play at least a handful of snaps if he’s on a pitch count. I cannot advise you to start any Texans this week except for Stroud if the coaches can figure something out.
Good luck this final week!
Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are my thoughts on the huge regular season finale as the 9-7 Colts host the 9-7 Texans with a trip to the playoffs and a potential division title on the line.
LAST WEEK: It wasn’t always pretty, and for much of the game the Raiders looked like the better team. The Colts escaped with a crucial 23-20 home win. Taylor rushed for a season-high 96 yards and a score, but much of that came on the first and last drive while he disappeared for the entire middle part of the game. Minshew had a solid 224 yards passing but half of that came on two passes and he looked a little less sharp than usual. Honestly, the defense did a lot of bend-but-don’t-break and it did look like Zamir White and Davante Adams we removing the ball at will most of the time. A lot will have to get sharpened up before Saturday night if they don’t want it to be the last game of the season.
INJURIES: OC Ryan Kelly returned to the game last week after hurting his ankle. But has yet to practice this week; this may be as much a precaution as anything. Similarly, OG Quentin Nelson earned another ProBowl bid but has only practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday and is expected to play on Saturday. The good news is that OT Braden Smith gutted out a painful performance last weekend and has returned to full practice so he should be fine again. The Colts should also have two key pieces back this weekend as CB Kenny Moore and RB Zack Moss each practiced in full after missing last week’s game. They are definitely gonna need Moore against this passing attack.
QUARTERBACK: QB Gardner Minshew might seem to have a plus matchup this week as the Texans allow the 7th most yards, but they also have allowed the fewest TD passes. I do think that the Texans will be able to score and move the ball on Indy’s defense, so he might throw a little more than desired just to keep up. Minshew has actually only averaged 202 YPG in the six games in which Taylor has served as the feature back, so I would not expect a whole lot from him this week because there is definitely a plan to give Houston a whole lotta Jonathan Taylor if possible..
RUNNING BACK: RB Jonathan Taylor is ramping up as a feature back and is coming off his high yardage game of the season. He has also scored in 5 straight games and I would bet he makes it a sixth game this Saturday. He has shown up in the spotlight as well, averaging 160 total yards in four prime time games, scoring 6 TDs. The usually reserved Taylor has been talking about how much he wants this game and ants to carry the team, so I suspect he may be given a chance to do it. Even though the Texans have been middle-of-the-pack in defending the fantasy runner, I think Taylor is in a position to be one of the best plays of the week. RB Zack Moss is likely back in play this week, but will probably only be a spot player; he did tally 107 yards and a score as the feature back against Houston back in week 2, so this team can be run on.
WIDE RECEIVER: WR Michael Pittman should be his usual solid, high-floor self this week and if the game evolves into a track meet his volume might actually rise. He has posted at least 12 PPR points the last three times he has played Houston, and after being eased back into the lineup last week I can see him garnering his usual ten or so targets this week. He still is the only guy in the passing game worth a start or a roster spot right now, but this week likely does not have as high a ceiling as usual even though he usually rises to the occasion in big games. WR Josh Downs and WR Alec Pierce are great pieces, but can’t be trusted for fantasy at all due to low volume and erratic usage.
TIGHT END:Ummm….nope. Even with TE Alec Ogletree getting arrested last weekend and freeing up some tight end target share, it is still a 3-headed monster that is at best 3rd through 5th on the target tree. Just don’t even think about it.
KICKER: PK Matt Gay is always going to be a high-floor guy with occasional upside due to his long leg and the opportunity to use it. Gay has the 2nd most FGAs in the NFL this season and only one man has tried more 50+ yard FGs than his 11. He is as safe a play as any kicker in the league, and playing indoors in January likely makes him a preferred option for most.
DEFENSE: The Texans with Stroud under center score well, protect the ball well and rarely take sacks. This does not look like a good week to be playing the Colts defense in a game with so much intensity. You would be far better off playing a defense from a team facing a contender resting a lot of players with no motivation.
OVERALL:The Colts have been pretty good in this series in recent years even though they have been under -500 as a team. They have gone 5-1-1 in the last 4 seasons and even more important they have seemed to thrive in one-score games this season with a 6-2 record. I actually think that the Texans might be a little more talented team right now and I do really like and respect their coaching in DeMeco Ryans. However, I know what the dome is like in big games and the place will be rocking. Even with his cool and his big game experience from college, Stroud is still a rookie on the road in what is essentially a playoff game, while Minshew will guide an offense with a silent and helpful crowd and a veteran poise. I am maybe saying this with my heart as much as my head, but I cam gonna pick the Colts Saturday night to move onto the playoffs with a hard fought 33-30 win -- perhaps even earning a first round playoff home game because I think the Titans might just pull the upset on Sunday. My wife and I will be at the game rooting it in, and I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere in there!
That is all for this week – and this YEAR – from the Crossroads of America. I hope somewhere along the line I gave you some tip that made a difference and got you a big win or maybe even helped you advance the playoffs. And if not….I hope that you were at least entertained by my attempts at prognostication. I wish you all to have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward to some great playoff football that hopefully will involve the Colts. Remember….there is no offseason in fantasy football! Start prepping for your 2024 drafts!
LA Chargers 9 Denver 16
QB Jarrett Stidham operated the Payton offense like it is supposed to operate, but it was still stagnated. Stidham got a big time play from WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a 54-catch and run touchdown for the only touchdown of the game. Humphrey was added on his touchdown rumble by a much-needed block by Jerry Jeudy. While Stidham spread the ball around, it was the Humphrey (2/4-69-1) and Jeudy (3/6-54-0) show. RB Jaleel McLaughlin showed some chops (8-44-0; 3/3-18-0) with RB Javonte Williams contributing 15 rushes for 41-yards with 3-of-3 receptions for 17-yards. Charger QB Eaton Stick and RB Austin Ekeler couldn’t get it done on their own.
Denver @ LV Raiders
The Raiders are riding a seven-game win streak against Denver, although they are assured of a second straight losing record. Denver coach Sean Payton has decided to go with his system and his robot QB Jarrett Stidham rather than QB Russell Wilson and his wow factor. Nothing is the same for either team since the Raider’s 17-16-week one victory. Charger QB Aidan O’Connell, RB Zamir White and WRs Davante Adams and Jacoby Myers will provide a stern test for the Broncos defense even without an ill-fated Broncos on-side kick. Denver 16 LV Raiders 20
Regardless of the game's outcome, I still believe cutting ties with QB Russell Wilson is the wrong move. Yes, they need to draft a developmental quarterback and Wilson’s cap hit will negatively affect their ability to keep their roster together, but at least a partial rebuild is necessary. HC Sean Payton wants a quarterback who can run his system, but it’s talent that wins games. Denver needs a quarterback with a clutch gene. If you go with a playmaker, good things happen. The Broncos have lacked that type quarterback since Super Bowel 50 and it looks like owner Gregg Penner is going to make the same mistake as his predecessors.
Jarrett Stidham 9
Javonte Williams 8
Samaje Perine 6
Jaleel McLaughlin 6
Courtland Sutton 12
Jerry Jeudy 6
Marvin Mims, Jr 4
Lil’Jordan Humphrey 3
Brandon Johnson 2
Adam Trautman 2
Lucas Krull 2
Wil Lutz 6
Good luck this final week!
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Real life interjects...
I'm very sad to announce that Senior Staff Writer John Cooney lost his battle with cancer and passed away. His family still needs our help. I ask you to please donate whatever you can. Click the link and listen to Nick's video. Even just a few dollars help. Thank you!
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Because I’ll be unable to write reviews for the final weeks of the season, I’ll cover them here. Given the fact that the Chargers are in shambles, it shouldn’t be too hard to predict what may happen for the remainder of the season. This report covers the week 17 Chargers at Broncos game, and finally the week 18 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
QB: As you may know, QB Justin Herbert (fractured finger) is done for the season. That leaves his backup, QB Easton Stick, to lead the team for the remainder of the year. At this point, I wouldn’t start, or even own Stick, but if he shows some promise over the final games, you can decide at that point.
RB: The Chargers’ running game is poor, and RB Austin Ekeler has been losing touches to Spiller and Kelley. Not good. For the balance of the season, Ekeler is demoted to a RB2, or FLEX and I wouldn’t touch the others at this time. Frankly, I find the talent of the Chargers running backs to be lacking.
WR: Going forward, if Allen is healthy is a WR1. He’s having a terrific season and I still feel he can perform well with Stick under center. WR Josh Palmer is a solid receiver and should be at least a WR3, and perhaps a WR2 when Allen is out, unless he doesn't play due to his concussion. I still think it’s a bit risky to start Johnston. Keep an eye on his numbers, but for now view him as a boom/bust option.
TE: I wouldn’t start any of the Chargers tight ends now. You can probably find better options on the free agent heap. TE Gerald Everett is the top option. We’ve been seeing more of TE Stone Smartt. Both Everett and TE Donald Parham are TE2s, with Everett the better option.
PK: While PK Cameron Dicker has an accurate foot, the questionable state of the Chargers means that he might not have a lot of opportunities. I’d avoid him for the balance of the season.
DEF: Speaking of avoid, the Chargers defense is not getting it done. I’d avoid them for the remainder of the season.
Good luck with your games this final week!
Hello Cowboy Nation. We gutted out a tough win at home against the Detroit Lions last week and now are in position to clinch the divisional title and the NFC number 2 seed with a win against the Washington Commanders on the road. We played fairly well last week except for the inability to establish a running game leading to difficulty putting them away at the end of the game. The other issue was playing a soft prevent defense allowing the Lions to nearly tie the game at the end.
QB Dak Prescott should have a QB1 performance again, but expect that if we are far ahead, that he will rest the 4th quarter. That could limit his fantasy production.
RB Tony Pollard has been so disappointing but expect a RB2 performance at least this week. They may make an effort to try and get him going for the playoffs but I think it is late to expect much of a change. RB Rico Dowdle may play and end up getting short yardage work as they need to be able to perform better in these situations. I would not consider him a fantasy starter however.
WR Ceedee Lamb will put up another WR1 performance but expect that he may sit the 4th quarter as well. WR Brandin Cooks could put up a WR3 game or at least be a flex start.
TE Jake Ferguson should be expected to produce a low TE1 performance every game. I would start him unless you have an elite TE option. PK Brandon Aubrey continues to be the best kicker in the league. Expect another great game from him.
The defense could be a very good start given the Commanders’ weak offense and propensity for turnovers and sacks.
Prediction: Given that the Commanders are playing for a better draft pick, they may not be giving their best effort. I predict Dallas 34 – Washington 17.
Dr. Gil Brovar
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants lost a close game to the Rams last Sunday at MetLife 26-25. Big Blue could have taken the lead late in the game but a botched 2 pt attempt led to their eventual downfall. The G-Men face the reeling Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife this Sunday in the role of a spoiler. They would like nothing better than to see Philly’s playoff seeding plummet further. The Giants have many decisions to make in the offseason. Their roster needs further talent and some of the coaching staff will be turned over.
The reviews/previews by area are below:
QB Tyrod Taylor had his moments. He is maddingly inconsistent however which is why he is a career backup.He completed 27 of 41 passes for 319 yards. He threw 1 TD pass with 1 interception. He was sacked SIX times which is a constant theme for this team.He also picked up 40 yards rushing.
Taylor goes against an Eagles defense that is ranked 28th in the league. They have allowed 34 TD passes. They also had 41 sacks and 8interceptions. Taylor is not fantasy worthy,as there are better streaming options for those in need.
RB Saquon Barkley had a quiet game.He had 12carries for 39 yards. He also had 3 catches for19 yards.
Saquon is a top 20 play. He faces the 11th ranked rush defense allowing 103 yards per game and 11 TD’s. Expect 80 total yards with a possible TD.
WR Darius Slayton had 4catches for 106 yards and a TD. WR Wan‘Dale Robinson had 6grabs for 55 yards.
Target share with this group is still anyone’s guess, so look for fantasy production elsewhere.
TE Darren Waller had 5 receptions for 51 yards. TE Daniel Bellinger had 4 grabs for 39 yards.
Neither tight is fantasy worthy. Too much risk with Waller and his floor isn’t that high.
This group made a great effort with three turnovers and four sacks.There are better streaming options this week so I would stay away.
PK Mason Crosby is not a fantasy option.
That’s all for now and good luck in Week 18.
Tony de Armas
After the Bears’ disastrous blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 3, I wrote what amounted to a Taylor Swift-themed obituary for QB Justin Fields in this space. Well, based on his play in the past few weeks, it looks like the reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. He has shown improvement in some areas like accuracy, throwing the ball on time and with anticipation, and keeping his eyes downfield when scrambling instead of just taking off and running. It’s just looked more natural to him, as opposed to how he said he was playing “robotically” early in the season due to information overload from coaches.
But has JF1 improved enough to remain QB1 next year and beyond? How much more can he improve? Under normal circumstances, it would be obvious that Fields will be the quarterback next season. But thanks to Bears GM Ryan Poles and the Panthers’ ineptitude, the Bears will now have the #1 overall pick in the draft once again, which means the chance to draft USC’s Caleb Williams or UNC’s Drake Maye. So, do you trade Fields and take Williams or Maye, resetting the quarterback contract clock in the process? After all, a quarterback on a rookie deal is a lovely thing to have. Or do you trade the pick again and stockpile more picks to really load up the roster around Fields, hoping that will take him to the next level?
The fans clearly love Justin. You should see how vehemently some of them defend him on Twitter. His teammates love him as well. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are no questions about his character, personality, work ethic, etc. The guy is wired right, and he’s been a stand-up guy and dealt with the media here quite well (with the exception of the small hiccup early in the season that he quickly corrected). There’s no guarantee that someone like Williams would be able to handle the Chicago media (and I do have concerns about his personality/character/mental toughness).
What makes this decision even more difficult is the coaching situation. Will HC Matt Eberflus be retained? I personally don’t think he should be retained, but given how he’s turned around the defense and the team’s improved play over the past several weeks, it looks likely that he’ll be back. Will OC Luke Getsy be back? There are so many moving parts to this offseason for the Bears. We all love playing GM (that’s why we play fantasy football, after all), but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make these decisions. I’m extremely torn myself on the subject of Fields, given his recent improvement (though I’d still lean toward trading him at the moment). Ryan Poles, good luck.
Week 17 Recap/Analysis: Falcons at Bears
On a classic snowy afternoon at Soldier Field, the Bears hammered the Falcons 37-17.
Fields completed 20 of 32 passes for 268 yards and a TD and ran 11 times for 45 yards and another score. If this was his last home game for the Bears, he went out on a high note with one of the best performances of his career, featuring a Houdini act where he escaped three defenders and ran for a first down.
With RB D’Onta Foreman a surprise healthy scratch, RB Khalil Herbert got the start and had 18 carries for 124 yards and a TD and caught two of his three targets for five yards. He didn’t look quite right when he initially came back from his ankle injury a few weeks ago, but he’s looked back to his best in the past couple of games. RB Roschon Johnson had seven carries for 21 yards and caught all three of his targets for 38 yards.
Wide receiver WR DJ Moore caught nine of his 13 targets for 159 yards and a TD. I guess that’s why they say you should “start your studs,” even with a difficult matchup (thankfully I still started him in my league championship matchup). WR Tyler Scott caught two of his five targets for 15 yards, while WR Collin Johnson caught his only target for 11 yards. WR Velus Jones Jr had one carry for two yards.
Nursing a knee injury, TE Cole Kmet didn’t play much (and served mostly as a blocker when he was on the field) and was not targeted. TE Robert Tonyan hauled in three of his four targets for 40 yards.
The Bears’ takeaway machine was revved back up in this one, generating four INTs and a couple of sacks. Rookie CB Tyrique Stevenson had two of the picks, which earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Kicker PK Cairo Santos hit three of his four field goal attempts and all four of his extra points.
Week 18: Bears at Packers
The Bears will now head to Cheeseland and try to keep the hated Packers out of the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. I think an awful lot is riding on this game for the Bears, despite already being eliminated from playoff contention. A win could virtually guarantee the return of Eberflus and perhaps Fields as well. I think Eberflus is basically safe unless the Bears get blown out and embarrassed again at Lambeau. But regardless of what it means for the Bears’ own 1st-rounder and the futures of Eberflus and Fields, make no mistake: I want the Bears to win this game in the worst way. To show the Cheeseheads and their idiot ex-quarterback that they don’t own shit.
The Packers have allowed the 14th-most fantasy points/game to quarterbacks. In Week 1 against GB, Fields threw for 216 yards with one TD and one INT and ran nine times for 59 yards. He has historically struggled against zone coverage, and according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, GB played zone 79% of the time in Week 1. I’d expect more of the same in this one. Fields is playing much better lately than he was at the start of the season, but I still have him as a caution play. Temper your expectations a bit if you start him.
GB has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points/game to tailbacks. Herbert was held to nine carries for 27 yards and three catches for 37 yards in Week 1. It looks like he has regained his starting job, especially if Foreman is inactive again. It's a decent matchup, but just keep in mind that Herbert isn’t used much as a receiver. Herbert is an average play, with Johnson a flex play at best for his receiving ability.
GB has allowed the 17th-most fantasy points/game to wideouts. WR Darnell Mooney is still in concussion protocol and DNP on Wednesday, while Moore (ankle) was limited. Moore was held to two catches for 25 yards in Week 1, but considering the season he’s had and his form of late, you’re starting him if you’ve got him. He said in an interview a couple weeks ago that, “We’re gonna have something special for them [the Packers],” because of their trash talking in Week 1.
The Cheeseheads have allowed the 15th-most fantasy points/game to tight ends. Kmet (knee) DNP on Wednesday. I expect him to play, but he’s an obvious caution play (considering his goose egg last weekend). He had five catches for 44 yards in Week 1.
GB has allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score the fifth-fewest fantasy points against them. CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) DNP on Wednesday. Jordan Love and his young receivers have been fairly hot lately, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Bears’ strong secondary matches up with them. Given that things usually don’t go well at Lambeau, I have this unit as an average play this weekend.
GB has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points/game to kickers. I’d look elsewhere this weekend.
Good luck this final week!
Vikings at Lions
QB: Saturday night wasn’t the best game from QB Jared Goff. He threw two interceptions and it looked like the second one might be the fatal blow. But the Lions held Dallas to a field goal attempt, and Goff executed the two minute drive to perfection and threw his only TD pass of the game with 23 seconds left. Of course everyone knows about the two point fiasco that followed. Goff ended the night 19 of 34 for 271 yards. There were some good throws and some shaky throws. If you’re wondering what to expect from the Lions in week 18, here’s what I can tell you. They have clinched the division and are currently the #3 seed. They cannot move down. They can only move up to #2 if they beat the Vikings and get losses from Dallas and Philadelphia. Dallas and Philadelphia both losing is very unlikely, but they both play at 4:25 while the Lions play at 1. So technically the Lions have something to play for, but I think it might make more sense to rest some of the starters. I’d treat it like a preseason game. I would give QB Teddy Bridgewater some reps just in case you need him in the playoffs. He hasn’t played all year as Goff has stayed healthy. Side note, Goff is quietly third in the NFL in passing yards, which is partly due to the many injuries to quarterbacks around the league, but give him credit. Anyway, the best case scenario might be to build a big lead in the first half, which would make it easier to justify putting backups in. Minnesota still has a slight change to make it as a wild card, so they will be playing hard. The Lions are only favored by 3, which reflects the uncertainty over how they will approach this game. Goff used a lot of short quick passes to beat Minnesota’s blitzes in the first game between these teams which was just two weeks ago. Maybe the Lions will use a similar game plan thinking Goff isn’t at risk of getting hurt if he gets rid of the ball quickly.
RB: A little below average from Detroit’s running back duo on Saturday. There were way too many plays where the backs were getting hit in the backfield and couldn’t even get going. Give the Cowboys defense some credit. RB Jahmyr Gibbs had just 43 yards on 15 carries, although he did lose a long run due to penalty. RB David Montgomery had 14 carries for 65 yards and a TD. No receiving yards from either guy which is a surprise. Something to look for in the final game of the season is players who are nearing milestones. Montgomery is at 975 yards. Even if the Lions decide not to give a full workload to their best players, I think they will try to make sure Montgomery gets at least the 25 yards he needs to reach 1000 for the year. Gibbs is at 915 rushing yards on the year. I think they would love to get both guys over 1,000 yards but if they give Gibbs the ball 20+ times with a wild card game six days away, that would be malpractice in my opinion. Again, I would give RB Craig Reynolds a heavy workload in this game. But the Lions may not agree with me. Maybe we will get better information by kickoff. If not, use extreme caution if using Montgomery or Gibbs.
WR/TE: The Lions continue to find ways to get the ball to their best players on offense, and fantasy players have to appreciate the consistency. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown had 6-90 and a TD, and TE Sam LaPorta added 7-84. WR Jameson Williams caught a deep ball for a 63 yard gain, after we had seen him used on a lot of shorter routes in recent weeks. Williams is on the injury report with an ankle injury this week and is not practicing, making him very uncertain. TE Sam LaPorta is listed as limited practice with an ankle. I know this isn’t the preseason where you have 90 man rosters so you can’t sit everyone, but I would definitely sit LaPorta, and I wouldn’t use St. Brown much in this game either even though he is healthy. But they both sit at 9 TDs on the year. Maybe the Lions try to get one or both to double digits.
K/DST: The Lions defense did a good job of shutting down Tony Pollard but CeeDee Lamb was a problem all night. Hopefully there will be some adjustments if they meet in the divisional round of the playoffs. As for this week against the Vikings, they are going back to Nick Mullens. Mullens threw four interceptions against the Lions in week 16, but he also threw for over 400 yards. I would expect him to be a little less aggressive with the downfield throws and take better care of the ball. But you could certainly use the Lions defense if you are so inclined. PK Michael Badgley made both of his field goals against Dallas and has solid job security as we head into the playoffs.
I hope everyone enjoyed their fantasy season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Week 17 Review:
The Packers have unexpectedly won 5 of their last 7 games. QB Jordan Love completed 24 of 33 passes (72.7%) for 256 yards, 4 touchdowns (1 rushing and 3 passing), and no interceptions for a 125.3 quarterback rating. Season Ending Projection (SEP) has Love with 4357 total yards (4083 passing & 274 rushing), with 36 total touchdowns (32 passing & 4 rushing) – his interception total is now down to 11 – if he doesn’t throw any more. These Season Ending Projections are now very close to becoming final – only one more game to affect them. QB Sean Clifford saw some mop-up duty. But he threw 1 pass for 37 yards to give the Packers a first down and the room they needed to run out the clock. I have said at the beginning of the year that this offense would run best when it goes thru the running backs – and these last 2 weeks are exhibit A. RB Aaron Jones had 120 yards on 20 attempts (6.0y/c) and another 10 yards in the passing game for a total of 130 total yards from scrimmage, but no touchdowns. That is two 120(+) yard games in a row. He will start for the last game. Question is can Jones stay healthy given that was difficult to do this year? I believe Jones contract is up this off season – so stay tuned. SEP has Jones with 795 total yards (579 rushing (4.5 y/c) and 216 receiving), and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing and 1 receiving). RB AJ Dillion had 27 yards on 7 attempts. SEP has Dillon with 888 total yards (651 rushing (3.4 y/c) and 237 receiving), and 2 rushing touchdowns. RB Patrick Taylor had 30 yards on 8 attempts. Neither WR Christian Watson nor WR Dontayvion Wicks played. The receiving hero this week was WR Bo Melton who had 6 catches on 9 targets for 105 yards and 1 touchdown – finally, a guy with both yards and a score in the same week. The same can be said for WR Jayden Reed who had 6 catches on 8 targets for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reed left the game early in the second half with a chest injury. SEP has Reed with 62 receptions for 803 yards (673 receiving, 126 rushing, and 4 punt return) and 11 touchdowns (9 receiving and 2 rushing). WR Romeo Doubs had 3 catches on 6 targets for 28 yards. SEP has Doubs with 63 receptions for 716 yards and 9 touchdowns. TE Tucker Kraft had 6 catches on 6 targets for 48 yards. The Packer offense put up 470 total yards – 293 passing and 177 rushing. The difference is Jones was available and played well this week – something that has been hard get from him this season. I haven’t thrown many accolades in the direction of the offensive line this year. In these last 2 games the pass protection and the run blocking has improved a lot. The same 5 guys have played the last 5 or so weeks together and it is beginning to show. The offensive line has had its issues with injuries thru out the year – just like the running backs, the wide receivers, and tight ends. And Love continues to improve and impress regardless of circumstances. K Anders Carlson was 2-2 in field goals this week and 3-4 in extra point attempts. He made one from 37 yards out and one from 32 yards. To date Carlson has made 83.9% of his field goals, 84.2% of his extra points, and 84.1% of all kicks combined. Carlson had had a good first year. The Packer defense this week allowed 10 points and 211 total net yards (144 passing and 67 rushing). The Packers had 48 total tackles, 4 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hits, 1 interception, 7 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovered. In my system they scored 94 points. This was the first time in Joe Barry’s tenure as defensive coordinator that it has come together like this – but I don’t know if it will help him keep his job. Consistency is the issue. In the 4 games where the Packers gave up 279 yards or less they are now 3-1. If he stumbles against Chicago this weekend, he will be out of a job for sure. But for one week it was as good of a fantasy defense as one could hope for.
Week 18 Preview:
The Packers will play the Chicago Bears in a Sunday late afternoon game at Lambeau. The Packers are now 8-8, and with a win and they are in – the playoffs that is. This is another game you can throw the stats and the previous matchup out the window. Here are some Bearly awesome facts; the Bears started the season 0-4 and were giving up 137 in the process (34.3 per game), in the last five games the Bears are 4-1 and have given up 76 points (15.2 per game). For the Bears the improvement has come on defense. The Bears are 7-9 overall and are now a much tougher team than the one the Packers beat in Week 1 38-20. Offensively, the Bears play better at home. On the road the offense has scored more than 17 points just twice all year. In the recent 4-1 stretch mentioned above, 3 of the wins were at home. The lone road game was a 3 point win over the Vikings in which the Viking quarterback threw 4 interceptions. Love is likely to do better and if he does the Packers chances of winning go up. However, the Packers offense is very much improved over the week 1 version as demonstrated in last week’s win over the Vikings. And as I said earlier, one of the reasons is the development of offensive line. But let’s not forget the receivers, Love, and the coordination between all of them. Defensively the Packers played well for a week – for a change. CB Jaire Alexander is back at practice as of today but he has been out in 6 of the last 7 weeks. How much he will play is anyone’s guess. For one week I can take back my comment on in game adjustments. This game might come down to which improved unit plays better, the Packer offense at home or the Bears defense on the road. Or it might just come down to the fact that since HC Matt LaFleur came to town he is 9-0 vs. the Bears. We are about to find out. As of Wednesday, those who did not practice (DNP) included; RB AJ Dillion, S Rudy Ford, OG Elgton Jenkins, LB Preston Smith, and LB Isaiah McDuffie. McDuffie with his concussion and neck injury will probably not play this week – I would expect the others to play. Those that were limited in practice (LP) include; RB Aaron Jones, OC Josh Myers, CB Keisean Nixon, S Jonathan Owens, WR Jayden Reed, DL TJ Slaton, LB Quay Walker, WR Christian Watson, and WR Dontayvion Wicks. We don’t know if Reed, Watson, or Wicks will play – I would expect the others to play. Those that had a full practice include; CB Jaire Alexander, LB De’Vondre Campbell, and S Darnell Savage. I don’t know about Campbell, but doing a full practice is encouraging. I left injured reserve information out of this report intentionally. As usual, check your injury report for final disposition.
Conclusion: I would recommend QB Jordan Love. If Reed were going to play I would recommend him. But we know that both WR Romeo Doubs and WR Bo Melton will be healthy. Maybe TE Tucker Kraft if you specifically need a tight end. The Packers have to win their last game for a playoff spot. We will see if it happens. And just like that we are into the “off season”.
Good luck this final week!
Well, how further ruin a #1 draft pick is to go and beat Philadelphia on the road and it was amazing to see! The Cardinals won the game 35-31 in Philly and scored a huge upset!
Fantasy Players of the game for the Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray 25/31 232 yards 3 TDs 1 INT 5 carries 24 yards – QB Rating of 116.7 – not bad at all. My guess is the Cardinals will NOT draft a QB now that their draft spot is #4 and maybe go for the best WR available? We’ll see. RB James Connor 26 for 128 and 1 TD – Great day! Could have won some leagues from a flex spot RB Michael Carter 7 for 61 (8.7 average). WOW! WR Greg Dortch 7 for 82 on 7 targets TE Trey McBride 6 for 48 on 7 targets. Not the day we quite expected but a very good day nonetheless. WR Michael Wilson 4 for 35 but 1 TD on 6 targets
Those were the Cardinals of note:
This week the Cardinals return home to face the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks can make the playoffs if the following happens:
1) Seahawks beat Cardinals – Packers have to lose to the Bears so they will be rooting for the Bears!
2) Seahawks tie the Cardinals (it can happen) – Packers lose to Bears – Buccaneers lose or tie to the Carolina Panthers (not so likely)
So, I sure hope the Cardinals ruin the Seahawks playoff plans
I have one fantasy league that is still playing this week and we use the NFL playoffs as our fantasy playoffs so it’s pretty fun!
This week: who to play?
Must Start: QB Kyler Murray. He’s on a roll and leading the Cardinals to a worse and worse draft pick and saving his job! Start him! RB James Connor – Seahawks gave up almost 200 yards to Pittsburgh running backs and RB James Conner runs hard and will get the majority of the work. WR Greg Dortch and TE Trey McBride both had 7 targets last week and that will not go lower this week
Could Start: WR Michael Wilson – 6 targets last week and the TD.
This game should be a very good one. I’m going to call this a Cardinal victory 31-28 with QB Kyler Murray at the helm and at home.
Seattle managed a loss against Pittsburgh. The defense has become what we expected in the beginning of the season; a very weak front 7. The Cardinals run game is accelerating just as Seattle’s run defense is declining. Not good. For Seattle anyway.
QB: QB Geno Smith is healthy and producing with 290 and a touchdown last week. The Cardinals will likely allow at least that many yards next week. Seattle would do well to fight the Cardinal’s ground game by establishing their own. But history has shown that they will not. Expect Seattle to rely on the pass. Geno should be a reasonable start.
RB: RB Ken Walker suffered a late injury against the Steelers and likely will be out. RB Zach Charbonnet has hardly been utilized this year and I doubt that he will be utilized in this one either. I would love to see Seattle rely on Charbonnet and be physical for a change, but they just are not that team this year. I would consider starting Charbonnet to be too much of a gamble.
WR: WR DK Metcalf was the best start against Pittsburgh and should be again against Arizona. He finally eclipsed 100 yards last week. The other 3 receivers combined for less than 30. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba may surprise, but DK is the better start.
As expected, against the best edge rushing team in the NFL Seattle included their tight ends more in the passing game instead of blocking. 6 targets to TE Noah Fant and 3 to Colby Parkinson totalling nearly a third of total passes. Something I said last week would be ridiculous and I stand by that. It is like the offensive coordinator wants to be fired. Even with the increased targets neither of these guys really produced valuable fantasy stats, though Fant’s 10 points were probably the most he has had all season. Fant may be a reasonable guess to start this week though I do not have that much risk tolerance myself.
K: PK Jason Myers was perfect on the day. That worked out to 11 fantasy points with his 3 field goals and 2 extra points. I think Seattle will have a better chance for touchdowns this week, but they are definitely on pace to finish the season on a whimper. Myers is a risky start, but maybe not irrational.
Seattle may shut down the passing game, but that does not matter since the Arizona coaches are smart enough to run the ball against the horrible run defense that is now the identity of Seattle. Weak trenches and horrible 3rd down play, that is the Seahawks in a nutshell. Oh, and absurd play calling. This secondary could be a reason to start the D, but really it is too much of a gamble.
Seattle played even worse than I expected last week. I will lower my expectations and anticipate another loss to end the season. On the positive side, I lost a bunch of weight this year so I think there is a good shot that Seattle will finally draft someone bigger than me on day one.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Playoff bound! The Rams hold on for a 26-25 victory over the Giants and locked up a wild card spot with their 9-7 record. Los Angeles should have breezed to victory; however, the same problems, poor special teams (two missed extra points and allowed a punt return for a touchdown) and the defense allowing big plays (80-yard touchdown pass) almost cost the Rams the game. The Niners clinched the number one seed in the NFC playoffs so the season finale between Los Angeles and San Francisco will be anti-climactic with both teams sitting their top stars. That is why you do NOT play Fantasy Championships in week 18. Let’s look at the Ram Fantasy positions against the Giants.
QB: QB Matthew Stafford (24 of 34 for 317with1 touchdown and 2 interceptions) had a bad game by his recent standards as he had not thrown an interception in the previous four games. Another surprising statistic was that New York was able to sack Stafford 4 times after collecting only 25 sacks in their previous 15 games. With a playoff spot secured, HC Sean McVay announced that Stafford will sit out the Niner game to rest and recuperate and be 100% healthy for the playoffs. QB Carson Wentz will start and see his first action of the season. This could be a big test for Wentz to show that he still has the skills to be a quality NFL quarterback, which could impact his future with the Rams.
RB: RB Kyren Williams (20-87 and 3 touchdowns rushing and 2-14 receiving on two targets) was the bell cow as no other running back carried the ball. His three touchdown performance made him the top running back in Fantasy and probably won championships for many Owners. Like Stafford, Williams will not play against San Fran so expect RB Ronnie Rivers and RB Royce Freeman to get plenty of action. I would like to see rookie RB Zach Evans activated and given an opportunity to showcase his talents.
WR: WR Cooper Kupp (4-27and 1 touchdown on 6 targets)salvaged his day with the touchdown. WR Puka Nakua (5-118 on 8 targets and 2-19 rushing) should have scored on his 80-yard reception but was caught from behind. That play was a true confirmation of Puka’s game, tough and strong but lacking great speed. WR Demarcus Robinson (6-92on 10 targets) surprisingly led the team in targets and has established himself as the number three receiver on the team. Kupp will join Stafford and Williams on the sidelines for this game. Puka needs 4 receptions and 29 receiving yards to break the rookie records in both categories so he will start and come out as soon as he accomplishes those feats.
TE: With TE Tyler Higbee (6-62 on 7 targets) was surprisingly active and rewarded Fantasy Owners who took a chance on him (I was not one of those Owners). Higbee is dealing with a tender shoulder so I do not think he plays much, which means opportunity for TE Brycen Hopkins and rookie TE Davis Allen to catch balls from Wentz.
K: Rookie PK Lucas Havrisik(2-4extra points) almost cost the Rams a victory and was sadly but justifiably released from the team when they returned to Los Angeles. In a surprising move, Los Angeles re-signed PK Bret Maher whom Havrisik replaced back in week eight. It is surprising and disappointing that the Rams can find a stud like Nacua in the fifth round but cannot find a good place kicker in the entire human race!
DEF: If not for the 80-yard touchdown that they surrendered in the third quarter, this unit would have had a stellar performance with six sacks and an interception. Congrats to LB Ernest Jones (7 solos and 6 assists) who set the franchise records for tackles in a season.DB Jordan Fuller (7 solos, 1 assist, and 1 interception) had a nice game. Rookie DLKobie Turner (3 solos, 2 assists, and 2.5 sacks) had an outstanding game and has put his name in the ring for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. My persistence with DT Aaron Donald (3 solos, 2 assists, and 2 sacks) paid off as he had a big game in our Super Bowl week. Rookie LB Byron Young (4 solos and 1 sack) got back into the sack action and hopefully found his second wind. Donald and Jones have earned a rest day for this game and like Stafford, Williams, and Kupp, will cheer their teammates from the sidelines.
The Rams are 9-7 and surprised many “experts” who predicted Los Angeles would lose enough games to have a top five draft pick. There were even conversations about possibly drafting Caleb Williams! I am so glad those pundits were wrong. I am also glad that I won the Super Bowls in both my Keeper and Non-keeper leagues! It has been a crazy season as at times in both leagues I was the lowest scoring team. I always tell my friends and family, you have to keep the faith and never give up and most of all trust God to lead the way. It was a great way to end 2023 and I am looking forward to a wonderful 2024 hope you had a Happy New Year and successful Fantasy seasons.
If any of you ordered my book “Where do YOU want to go?” I thank you for the support and hope you enjoyed it. I wrote it for anyone looking for a little encouragement and inspiration. WESTBOW PRESS is my publisher and the book is available in their bookstore on their site westbowpress.com. The book is also available on Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble web sites. Playing Fantasy Football is great but I am hoping to bring more goodness and enjoyment to all of you. I miss you Pops and Scratch! God Bless!
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