Fantasy

NFL Week 14 Picks

Jonathon Lee’s Picks:

Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers Over 50.5

I like the Packers scoring points and bouncing back after losing their head coach during one of the worst years in recent Green Bay history. The Falcons’ defense has allowed over 26 points per game in their four-game losing streak, and I expect that to continue. Green Bay is a different team at home where they are 4-1-1, so I like them winning this game outright while putting up points for a 31-27 final score.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots Under 48

We’ve reached the point of the year where the Dolphins play the Patriots late in the season, and the Dolphins make the whole country question if the Patriots are still Super Bowl contenders. It’s like clockwork every year. While I am too afraid to touch the spread on this game due to those reasons, I do like the under. I expect Miami to keep this close and low scoring until the Patriots decide to put the game away. Patriots win, 27-17, and the under cashes.

NY Giants -3.5

Just like it’s the right thing to fade Brock Osweiler, it’s entirely the right thing to fade Mark Sanchez. If the NY Giants defense is available in fantasy, start them. If you have any Redskins receivers, bench them. Mark Sanchez is in the league to be a third string Quarterback that doesn’t play and just serves as a good teammate to help prepare. He was not supposed to be the guy under center for a 6-6 Redskins team. Fade Mark Sanchez, lay the points. Giants win and cover the spread.

Chris Kennedy’s Picks:

New Orleans Saints -9:

I feel like this pick is a fairly easy one, as the Saints have the best point differential in the league, at plus 150. Yes, the fell to a streaking Cowboys team last week, but I think this will be a big bounce-back week against the Bucs. Tampa Bay gives up the third most points in the league, and even though Brees tends to not play as well on the road, I think that the Saints have enough firepower to get them a double-digit win.

Oakland Raiders +10.5:

Yes, the Raiders are a hot mess this year, but the Steelers are on a two-game skid and are without their bell cow in James Conner. The Raiders played the Chiefs pretty closely last week, and I don’t think the Raiders lose by double digits this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers cover, but I usually shy away from double-digit spreads.

Cincinnati Bengals +14:

The same reason I picked the Raiders above is why I’m taking the Bengals. The Chargers run defense has struggled lately, and with the absence of A.J. Green, I see the Bengals involving Joe Mixon a lot more into the game plan. The Bengals should be able to keep the game close, even with Driskell behind center. Cincinnati is 3-2 against the spread, when on the road, while the Chargers are 2-4 at home against the spread.

***All stats from ESPN and Vegas Insiders***

Top DFS Stacks for Week 14 (Draft Kings NFL Main Slate)

Week 14 is here, and that means just a few more weeks left of fantasy goodness. In my last article, I targeted certain players to target in your lineups (and also to avoid). Here, I’ll continue to offer my recommendations on stacks that will help to give you an advantage over the rest of the field. In this article, I’m going to target players that have higher implied totals so that you can maximize the scoring potential from each stack. Also, these are stacks that I would recommend for my Houston Preeminence Draft Kings Contest. Here we go!

Aaron Rodgers - $6,000/Davante Adams - $8,400: I would normally want to add the opposing WR to this stack, in this case, it would be Julio Jones, but Jones isn’t 100 percent right now, and I don’t want to blow most of my salary on three players. So, for now, we’re going to stick with the most popular DFS stack in the QB/WR1 stack. The Packers are 4-1-1 at home, and Rodgers is averaging 20 fantasy points per game at Lambeau. Adams, averaging 23 fantasy points per game himself, has a positive matchup against the Falcons’ Robert Alford.

Philip Rivers - $6,500/Keenan Allen - $7,400: The Chargers have an implied today of 31 this week, so expect the points to be coming early and often. Over the last three weeks, Rivers has been the seventh best fantasy QB, and Allen has been the number one fantasy WR. The one concern is that this game could be decided by halftime, as the Chargers are a 14 point favorite at home, but I think that’ what makes this for a sneaky good stack.

Deshaun Watson - $5,900/DeAndre Hopkins - $7,800/T.Y. Hilton - $6,300: This is a matchup I love for the Texans. The Colts’ pass defense is ranked 21st in DVOA, which means nothing but good things for Watson and company. Hopkins scored 33 fantasy points the last time these teams faced off in Week 4. On the other side of the ball, you have the “Texans Killer” in T.Y. Hilton. In six road games against the Texans, Hilton is sporting a line of 32/734/6. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury, but as long as he plays, he is a worthy start. If he can’t go, look to swap Hilton for Eric Ebron. He is top five in receptions and targets for TEs, first in TDs, and second in red zone targets.

***All stats provided by Football Outsiders, 4for4.com, and Pro Football Reference***

Draft Kings Week 14 Report

The season is winding down, with just three weeks left. Week 13 brought us some key injuries, which means there will be some really nice value throughout fantasy football. This is the time of year when RB2 and WR3 really make an impact on their teams, so let’s dive in and try to win you some money this weekend.

QB:

Aaron Rodgers - $6,000 (LOCK): I believe that a coaching change is just what the doctor ordered, and I’m sure Rodgers isn’t complaining. In 12 games this season, Rodgers threw for over 300 yards just three times, along with three TDs just twice. I feel that he will break out this Sunday, as he’s facing a Falcons defense that gives up a 69 percent completion rate, a six percent touchdown rate, and 21 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs.

Marcus Mariota - $4,900 (VALUE): Since Week 9, Mariota has been averaging 20 Draft Kings points per game, and for someone that’s priced at $4,900, that’s a great value. I know that he’s facing the Jaguars, and they had a great game against the Colts last week. Let’s not forget that this is the same Jacksonville team that lost seven straight games prior to last week, giving up an average of 27 points per game. Taywan Taylor is healthy, giving Mariota another weapon alongside Corey Davis. I like Mariota to hit value in this spot.

Andrew Luck - $5,900 (FADE): I’m a believer in this Texans defense, and it’s not just because I work for Houston Preeminence. Luck had an absolute dud against the Jags last week and was sacked more times in that game than he had been in the seven weeks prior to that. The Colts are a road underdog, and that doesn’t bode well for Luck, especially as he’ll be facing a Texans defense that ranks sixth in total DVOA.

RB:

Christian McCaffrey - $9,300 (LOCK): His price tag might look a bit daunting, but he’s well worth it. He’s the third highest scoring fantasy running back, and he’s going up against a Browns defense that gives up 113 rushing yards, 52 receiving yards, and 20 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Even with Devin Funchess back from his neck injury, I expect McCaffrey to continue to see a heavy workload in the passing game.

Jaylen Samuels - $3,700 (VALUE): When the Steelers feature a running back, they really feature a running back. With James Conner already ruled out for Week 14, that means Samuels will get the call. The fifth round pick out of NC State has almost as many targets as he has rushing attempts. Granted, those rushing attempts have led to just 2.6 yards per attempt. The upside with Samuels outweighs everything, as he needs just 12 points to hit value, and he’ll be going up against a Raiders defense that has been shredded by RBs for an average of 126 yards per game.

Todd Gurley - $8,800 (FADE): DO NOT bench Todd Gurley in your season long leagues. I just don’t like his price in DK, facing a tough Bears defense in Chicago. Yes, Saquon Barkley rushed for over 100 yards last week, but the Bears haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher at home all season. In fact, the Bears haven’t given up more than 51 rushing yards to a single RB at home all year. I love Gurley, I do. But I’m looking elsewhere in DFS this week.

WR:

Julio Jones - $7,900 (LOCK): Julio burned me last week, but I’m going back to the well on this one. The Falcons are road underdogs against a Packers defense that allows 37 fantasy points per game to opposing WRs. Jones is averaging 22 Draft Kings points per game, which is fifth best among WRs. As underdogs, the Falcons will most likely be playing from behind, which means Matty Ice will be airing it out to his number one guy. With a 29 percent target share, and 14.7 aDOT, I expect Julio to have some big gains through the air.

Zay Jones - $4,200 (VALUE): Jones’ only competition for targets this year was Kelvin Benjamin, and the Bills released Benjamin today. That makes Jones the clear-cut number one option in Buffalo, and it couldn’t come at a better time. He’ll be matching up against the Jets’ Buster Skrine, who has been repeatedly embarrassed by opposing WRs this season. As Josh Allen continues to improve, so will Jones’ fantasy numbers.

Tyler Boyd - $6,100 (FADE): A.J. Green is done for the season, and that just means that more of the opposing defense’s attention will be put on Boyd. In the games that Green has missed this year, Boyd only topped 20 fantasy points once. That’s not what you want to see from a “number one” receiver. This week he gets a stout Chargers defense. I don’t see this going very well for Boyd.

TE:

Travis Kelce - $6,700 (LOCK): I don’t care about his price tag, you jam Kelce into your lineups no matter what. He’s only second to Zach Ertz in receptions and targets, first in yards per game and also in red zone targets. The Ravens defense has been good but not great against opposing TEs, allowing almost 15 fantasy points per game. The Chiefs are a home favorite, which is a great sign for Kelce’s scoring potential.

Jordan Thomas - $3,000 (VALUE): In Thomas’ last three games at home he has averaged 11 PPR points. Not too bad for a guy that just needs nine points to hit value. The Colts are surrendering 15 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs this year. Thomas has caught five of his six targets in the red zone this year, and four of those receptions have been for TDs.

N/A (FADE): I actually don’t have any TE fades this week. All of the top priced players ($5k and up) have really nice matchups.

All stats provided by Football Outsiders, 4for4, Pro Football Reference, and NFL Next Gen Stats

Week 13 NFL Picks

Jonathon Lee’s Picks:

Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns OVER 47.5

Both of these teams have figured out how to score the football. Over the last four weeks, the Browns are averaging 25.5 points per game while the Texans are averaging 29.5. Baker Mayfield has the offense clicking, and despite the Texans’ defense improving every week, they will still allow points on the board. I am looking for a 30-24 final score.

LA Chargers +3.5 @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Something isn’t right with this Steelers team lately, coming off a loss to the Broncos and a dirty game against the Jaguars that was way too close. On the other side, the Chargers are freshly rested off a 45-10 beat down over the Arizona Cardinals last week. I think the 3.5 number is a little high because of the Chargers not having Melvin Gordon in the lineup, but Austin Ekeler should fit right in. The Steelers might win this ball game, but the Chargers keep it close.

Chicago Bears @ New York Giants UNDER 44.5

As of Thursday, Nov. 30, Mitchell Trubisky is ruled doubtful for this week’s contest in New York. Chase Daniel is a solid backup to have, but their main agenda will be to grind out a tough win through defense and the run game. Last week, the Giants went 1/3 in the Red Zone and as long as they continue kicking field goals instead of extra points, the under will be the play.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins -3.5

Last week, the Dolphins put up a good fight against a hot Indianapolis Colts team and almost walked away with the victory after being up 24-14 in the 4th quarter. Ryan Tannehill returned from injury and went 17 of 25 for 204 yards and two touchdowns. They are a different team with Tannehill throwing the ball instead of Osweiler. The Bills are coming off a two-game win streak, but it ends this week.

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 47.5

The Jaguars are banged up on defense and haven’t allowed less than 20 points to their opponent since week 3 against the Titans. They are not the same team defensively as last year, and I expect Andrew Luck to carve them up, especially if Jalen Ramsey is out. During the Colts’ five-game win streak, they are averaging 34.6 points per game. As long as the Jaguars find the end zone twice, I like the over. The last time these two teams faced off, the final score was 29-26 in the Colts’ favor. I think we see the same kind of game this week. The Colts win this game 30-21.

Chris Kennedy’s Picks:

New York Giants +4:

This is just the kind of game that the Giants should lose, but could very well win. They’re going up against a Bears defense that has won five straight games, without allowing more than 22 points in any of them. With that said, while I don’t have any data to back up my prediction, I just have a hunch that the G-Men will cover this spread.

Oakland Raiders +15:

I know the Raiders won’t win, but this spread is just too high for me to bite on. The Chiefs defense is bad enough for Derek Carr to put up some points, even with Seth Roberts and Marcell Ateman at receiver. The Raiders are a mess, and the Chiefs are a juggernaut, but I’m taking the Raiders for the points.

New England Patriots -5:

I like the Patriots to win the game, but I think the Vikings keep it close. The Patriots’ secondary has been exploited all season, which means that Diggs and Thielen will get their opportunities to score. New England is 4-1 at home, and the Vikings are 2-2-1 when on the road, against the spread. The Patriots are fighting for home field in the playoffs, and Belichik knows how to push the right buttons towards the end of the season.

All stats provided by ESPN and Vegas Insider

Top DFS Stacks for Week 13 (Draft Kings NFL Main Slate)

If you read my article from a few days ago, then you have some players that you can use to start building your pool with. This article will focus on some stacks that you can put together to really maximize your lineups with players that are in good positions to score a good amount of points, especially targeting games that have high over-unders. Stacks are a great way to differentiate your lineups from the competition, so let’s dive right into it.

Jared Goff - $6,400/Robert Woods - $6,900/Bruce Ellington - $3,500:

The Rams are favored by 10 and Detroit is ranked 30th in DVOA pass defense. Robert Woods has a great matchup against Nevin Lawson, as Woods has the advantage in speed and size. This game could be closer than some expect, as the Rams haven’t played as well on the road as they have at home, which is why I like adding Ellington to this stack. Ellington isn’t a guy that will stretch the field, but he will rack up the receptions, especially playing from behind. Since Marvin Jones has been out the last two weeks (now for the rest of the season), Ellington has been second on the team in targets.

Kirk Cousins - $5,500/Adam Thielen - $8,000/Julian Edelman - $7,100:

This stack is a bit expensive, but Cousins does help to add some savings. I expect the Patriots to win, which is why I like the Cousins and Thielen stack, as they will most likely be playing catch up. Edelman on the other side has a favorable matchup against Mackensie Alexander that he should be able to take advantage of. Both teams rank in the top seven in game pace this season, so we should see a lot of plays throughout the game. Thielen should draw Jason McCourty, who has not been stellar in coverage this season.

Cam Newton - $6,600/Curtis Samuel - $3,900/Mike Evans - $8,100:

I love playing Cam in DFS because he gives you the rushing upside that most QBs don’t provide. It just so happens that Tampa Bay is awful against both the run and the pass, as they rank in the bottom five in DVOA for both. If Devin Funchess can’t go, then I love Samuel in this spot. He’s a playmaker with great speed and would be the number two WR alongside D.J. Moore. Mike Evans is a no-brainer to add on the other side of this game. He averages 17 yards per target, and 17 percent of those targets come in the red zone.

Aaron Jones - $6,700/Green Bay Defense - $2,800:

I’m still a fan of stacking a home favorite running back with its defense, especially in a matchup as tasty as this one. The Cardinals give up 132 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs. Since Mike McCarthy started to finally recognize Jones as the lead back in Week 10, Jones has been a top five fantasy RB, averaging 27 Draft Kings points per game. The Packers defense hasn’t been stellar, but Josh Rosen and company can make any defense look good. Arizona has turned the ball over 22 times this year, which is second worst in the league.

All stats provided by Football Outsiders, 4for4, and Pro Football Reference

Draft Kings Week 13 Report

We’re more than two thirds of the way through the season, and Week 13 is upon us. Now is the time of year when injuries are stacking up, and you’re scouring the waiver wire for replacements. That also means there are some really nice value plays in DFS. As always, I’ll be showcasing my favorite plays this week at each position, along with some guys you might want to avoid. Let’s get after it!

QB:

Jared Goff - $6,400 (LOCK): I think that Goff will be highly owned, but I like him as a pivot off of Mahomes who should be the highest-owned QB this week. The Rams are a big play team, and they’re going against a Lions defense that gives up a lot of big plays (plays of 20 plus yards.) Detroit is also allowing the second highest completion percentage and TD rate to opposing QBs this season. Even without Cooper Kupp, Goff has plenty of weapons at his disposal to shred this defense.

Chase Daniel - $4,800 (VALUE): If Trubisky can’t go on Sunday, save at QB and add Daniel to a few of your lineups. He played alright in his debut on Thanksgiving, with a 230/2 TD line. The Bears will face off against the New York Football Giants this week, who just don’t have an identity right now. Daniel has enough talent around him, including a solid offensive line that will allow him to succeed if he needs to fill in for Trubisky for another week.

Deshaun Watson - $6,100 (FADE): Sorry, Texans fans. It’s not that I’m low on Watson this week, as much as I’m really high on this Browns defense. This season, Cleveland has a pressure rate of 11%, and a top ten defense in the league. They also only allow a 62 percent completion rate, and just four percent TD rate to opposing QBs. Watson hasn’t thrown the ball more than 25 over his last six games, and has only thrown for two TDs or more in one of those games. I just don’t see him reaching value this week.

RB:

Christian McCaffrey - $8,800 (LOCK): I know he will most likely be the highest owned player, but I don’t care. Find a way to jam him into your lineups. He’s top five in the league in total touches, receptions, red zone targets, and touchdowns this year. He’ll be facing a Buccaneers defense that gives up a big play 17 percent of their opponents’ rushing attempts, 50 receiving yards, and 26 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Last week, we saw McCaffrey explode for 46 fantasy points, and don’t be surprised if he gets close to 40 points this week.

T.J. Yeldon - $4,400 (VALUE): Leonard Fournette is suspended for this week, which means we’ll see a bigger workload for Yeldon. The Jags are underdogs against the Colts, and they’ll be starting Cody Kessler behind center. When Fournette was out with injuries, Yeldon was a top ten fantasy running back in PPR formats. He’s going against the Colts, who allow 69 receiving yards and 29 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Carlos Hyde hasn’t been able to get much going with just 3.4 yards per attempt this year, so I’m not too worried about him taking away key touches from Yeldon.

Ezekiel Elliott - $8,000 (FADE): Elliott is in contention for the MVP this season, but I really believe in this Saints defense. They’ve allowed just 50 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs this season. So far this year, New Orleans has held Todd Gurley, Joe Mixon, and Saquon Barkley all under 70 yards rushing. I know Dallas is at home, but so were Barkley and Mixon.

WR:

Mike Evans - $8,100 (LOCK): This was a tough one, as there are a lot of great plays this week at WR. I’m going with Evans because the Buccaneers are road underdogs in what should be a fairly competitive game. Also, with an over-under of 56, the points will be a plenty. Evans has found the end zone just five times this year, though I’m sure having a revolving door of QBs hasn’t helped much. Regardless, he still averages more yards per target than any other WR in the league, and will be facing a Panthers secondary that gives up 40 fantasy points per game to opposing WRs.

Courtland Sutton - $4,200 (VALUE): We’ve been waiting all season for Sutton’s breakout game, and I feel like this week could be it. He’s going against the Bengals who are on pace to allow the most total yards in NFL history this season. The over-under for this game is just 42, but both of these teams are in the top ten in pace, so I feel like this could be a sneaky shootout. Sutton is averaging 20 yards per target, which is just second in the league to the Niners’ Marquise Goodwin. Sutton needs just 13 points to hit value, which makes him a great play in this spot.

Odell Beckham Jr. - $7,800 (FADE): I love Odell, but I just don’t trust anything that’s happening in the Giants’ offense. He’s up against a stout Bears defense that only allows 35 fantasy points per game to all WRs, and only 60 receiving yards to opposing WR1. Odell hasn’t hit value over his last three games, and I don’t see him doing it this week.

TE:

Jared Cook - $4,700 (LOCK): I love Kelce this week, but at $7K, it’s a bit high for me. Cook could be both my lock and value pick, as he has such a great matchup for such a low cost. Cook has scored in back to back games, and would need just 14 points to hit value. The Chiefs have allowed 17 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs, which is second worst to only the Panthers this year. Oakland is a big underdog, which means that Derek Carr will be airing it out all game.

Gerald Everett - $2,900 (VALUE): Everett has scored three times in his last two games, and this week he’s facing a Lions defense that has allowed the fourth most TDs to opposing TEs this year. If you’re looking to pretty much punt the position this week, Everett is as good of an option as you’ll find.

Jordan Reed - $5,300 (FADE): With the exception of just one game, Reed has really burned a lot of fantasy players this year. He’s been healthy, but has only cracked 13 PPR points three times. He’s also going against an Eagles defense that allows just 8 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs, along with giving up just three TDs all season to them. Reed is a hard pass for me this week.

*All stats provided from Football Outsiders, 4for4, Pro Football Reference, and NFL Next Gen Stats

NFL Week 11 Picks

Jonathon Lee’s Week 11 Picks (Last Week 1-2, YTD: 10-13)

Atlanta Falcons -3

Who are these Dallas Cowboys? I don’t think anyone knows. This pick will be settled in the first quarter, because what we do know about the Cowboys is that they have one way they are able to win games: take the lead early and control the game by running the ball. I think the Falcons prevent this from happening in Atlanta and they never look back. Matt Ryan going toe to toe with Dak Prescott? Give me Matt Ryan and lay the 3 points.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints OVER 55.5

55.5 is not too far off the monstrous total in the Monday Night Football game in Los Angeles. It’s definitely a high number for an NFL game. Who are we kidding, though? The Saints are at home where their game is elevated even more, and they’re coming off a week where they did not punt the ball one single time. On the other side, Philadelphia is officially in desperation mode being two games behind the Redskins in the NFC East. The Saints win this game but the Eagles score some points, and with this Brees/Kamara/Thomas three headed monster, we might only need about one Eagles touchdown to hit the over.

Arizona Cardinals -5.5

The Raiders simply just suck. They’re awful. They’re in Vegas mode and coming for the number 1 draft pick. Out of all the terrible things Jon Gruden has done in his first of ten years as head coach, the one thing he’s not going to do is win this game and jeopardize having the top overall pick. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have a rookie Quarterback looking to figure things out, and actually did put up some effort against the Chiefs last week. This game will be ugly, but I expect the Cardinals to win by at least two field goals.

Minnesota Vikings +2.5

Let’s all pump the brakes a little bit on the 2018 Bears. Yes, they are having an impressive year with young talent spread all around the field both offensively and defensively, but that key word is young talent. At 6-3, five of those six wins were against the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Jets, Bills, and Lions. Now they head to the bright lights on Sunday Night Football against their division rival Minnesota Vikings freshly rested off a bye week. This matchup will be a test for the Bears, and like most divisional games, I’m taking the points.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Rams OVER 63.5

This game is the second time this year for both the Rams and the Chiefs to have a heavy matchup between two offensive juggernauts. For the Chiefs, it was the highly anticipated Week 6 Sunday Night game against the Patriots that didn’t disappoint with a 40-43 final score. For the Rams, it was the equally anticipated Week 9 meeting with the Saints that also lived up to the hype with a final score of 45-35. Both of those games went way over the total. Now here we are in Week 11 in a clash of offenses on Monday Night Football. I can’t think of any scenario where the final score doesn’t have both teams in the 30’s. Grab your popcorn and take that over.

Chris Kennedy’s Week 11 Picks (Last Week 1-2; YTD: 5-4):

Kansas City Chiefs +3.5:

This game has the highest over-under in the history of the NFL, at 63.5, and features two of the top three highest scoring offenses in the league. The Chiefs are 8-2 against the spread, and 5-0 against the spread when on the road this year. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Chiefs win by 6 or more.

Carolina Panthers -4:

The Panthers offense has been impressive so far this year, though their pace of play has been one of the slowest in the league. They face the Lions who actually have the second slowest pace of play this season, mostly due to their inconsistent offense. Carolina has struggled on the road this year, but I think the Lions defense is too bad to lose to.

Arizona Cardinals -5.5:

Since Byron Leftwich took over as the head coach, he’s been making sure that his playmakers are getting the ball. We’ve seen an uptick in targets and usage for both Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Oakland is a complete dumpster fire right now, and I’d be shocked if they win another game this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants OVER 52:

Ryan Fitzpatrick is back behind center, and he’s just slinging the ball all over the field (sometimes to the other team.) I can see both teams exceeding their season averages in points this Sunday, as neither defense is very good. The Giants give up more points at home than they do when on the road. Give me the over.

One Veteran's Story

It was 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night in 1992. I was five years old, had just started kindergarten, and was attending the first Texas high school football game that I can remember. During those years, it happened every year in Liberty County, Texas: the Dayton Broncos versus the Liberty Panthers. Only six miles separated these two deep-in-football-tradition towns. Back then there wasn’t a rivalry in this small county that could evoke so much emotion out of its players and fans alike. It was at War Memorial Stadium, where the X’s and O’s of football started to be ingrained in me by my grandfather, Harvey Charles Williams.

Harvey Charles was unlike anyone I’ve ever known. Those that knew him constantly talked about his smile, radiant personality, and love of all things black and gold. After deeper conversations with him over the last 30 years, I saw the scars he cared not to discuss. You see, my grandpa was drafted into military service for the Vietnam War. Like many other drafted young men, they put their hopes and dreams on hold for one of our most controversial wars. Papa never complained, though. He was proud of his military service. There were things about that time in battle that he wouldn’t speak about. I’ve learned that that is quite normal for veterans of war. He lost comrades and friends. Even though he came home, a part of him died in Vietnam.

He was a big dreamer. Once he told me that he dreamed of playing baseball professionally. He was an awesome pitcher with a fastball that was virtually unstoppable. Being in the still-segregated South, the opportunities were few. West Liberty High School is where he thrived in sports excellence. The old black high school still stands today, albeit unused. Riding by that building in Liberty, Texas, still reminds me how fortunate I was to be able to go to college and follow my dreams.

Harvey Charles was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I know from many conversations that his bleeding of black and gold didn’t stop with the Liberty Panthers; it dictated his favorite pro team. Much like the local high school team, the Steelers gave my grandpa his weekly dose of pride in the fall.

I always carry at least one Steelers player on my fantasy team. This strategy was solely for my weekly football conversation with Papa. He didn’t care about about my love for all things fantasy; only how Antonio Brown was the reason I won the championship. I can hear him now: “Suga, you only win because you have them Steelers on your team.” I’d laugh while saying, “I know, Papa, but it’s all those Houston Texans too.” He supported my love for the Houston Texans; as long as it wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys, I was still deeply loved.

This football season is my first in my life without him. He passed away on January 31. Often brokenheartedly, I watch the Steelers highlights because, like him, I bleed black and gold to a certain extent. As I sit here on this Veterans Day, I am reminded that my favorite veteran is celebrating the festivities from a seat high above. There aren’t enough words to thank him for his service or for cultivating my love for sports. Today is somber in a lot of ways. It is a reminder that life is bigger than sports, but sports can also be the needed medicine for life.

Mistakes Were Made

“Yes, we are so blessed to have not one, but two teams in the playoffs. Most families don’t have any.” – Kevin (The League)

I have been playing fantasy football for something like 25 years. I drafted Brett Favre when he was a rookie. When we used pen and paper, and by paper I mean that thing that had Houston Post written on top of it (Old School Houston reference.) I have also been a father now for 15 fantasy football seasons. There have been great days as a father (when I taught my kids to wipe their own asses), and there have been days that can only be described as a struggle (all days before I taught them to wipe their asses.) But all in all, it has been a good run as both father and fantasy football team owner.

We all had the friends in the league that could never quite make it to the draft in person. And they struggled with technology, and it was a headache to try to make it work. I was the guy who had the kids first, and so I would bring my kid along as a proxy and he would draft for one of the teams, for like 3 years in a row at a BW3 in Midtown. He did well, and was encouraged by the other owners and the guy he picked for. I felt like a dumbass, but I had to bring him for this event; I didn’t want to be that guy. And this was his first exposure to the world of fantasy football.

A few years went by, he got older. And started to dabble in the waters on his own. Nothing major, some quick Yahoo or ESPN drafts with anonymous people. It was like a gateway drug, though. This year he took the full steps into the deep end of the pool. With his major $20 dollar-a-team league (eyes roll.) And thus begins this article.

Do you remember when the kids were 2-4 years old? And they kept saying the same things. And kept playing the same movies. I got so tired of the crap he was watching when he was 4 years old, that I removed that particular terrible kid movie DVD and put in Smokey and Bandit. I thought this was genius, a movie I love; I should be able to handle this being on. Let me tell you, after 300 viewings, you will eventually get tired of Burt Reynold’s laugh and Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice. Granted it took like 200 viewings, before I started to hate it, but it happened: the kid broke me. Fast forward to ten years later, and following his first independent pay league, the questions started.

“Dad, what do you think of my Running Backs?”

“Dad, check out these QBs that are available?”

“Dad, what kicker should I use this week?” (Yes, he had multiple kickers.)

It was early in September, and I played along, because hey, my kid and I have an interest together. He started planning his weekends around the game schedules.

“Dad, Jets and Browns are on Thursday Night Football tonight: I am pumped, my kicker is in this game!”

I smiled, and looked around at what I had created. My wife had a different look on her face. October began, and questions never stopped. It was like he was 5 again, constant questions, and I started to crack.

“Dad, why do they call them the Browns?”

“Dad, why can’t they see the yellow line?”

“Dad, would you start Trubisky or Flacco, or should I pick up FitzMagic?”

“Dad…”

“Dad…”

“Dad…”

I went numb, and played deaf.

Don’t get me wrong, it is great that he found this form of crack rock. But I am the guy that has seen it for 20+ years. The guy that has made fun of people talking about how good their team is in meetings at work. Guys who drafted a kicker in the 10th round, because it was just “too hard to pass up on Gostkowski.” Now this madness has infected my home life, my sanctuary.

He now stays home on Sundays. As we leave for his brother’s baseball games. He gets his favorite snacks lined up and his go-to soda, sometimes he showers. He says crazy shit like, “Dad, I can’t wait to see this game from London, at 9:30 AM.” Not a day goes by that we don’t talk fantasy football. It is a blessing and a curse. And man do I hope he wins, but when he loses, hell hath no fury like a 15-year-old who didn’t get Zeke Elliot his touches, and loses because he didn’t start the correct kicker. But as a father, it’s not more you can ask for; at least I know where he is every Sunday morning. And that’s more than my mom could have hoped for.

Finally Julio!

Touchdown, Julio Jones! A drought that began 343 days ago, spanning 12 games, while racking up 115 Fantasy Points, is how long it took Jones to find the end zone for six. Toward the end of the fourth quarter Sunday, Jones took a bubble screen and cut up field for a 35-yard touchdown. As stated by ESPN Fantasy, since the start of the 2017 season, Jones leads wide receivers with over 2,000 yards. This season he has had five 100-yard games, but struggled in the red zone. This discrepancy mystifies fantasy owners everywhere concerning Jones’s lack of touchdown receptions during that time span. 

According to CBS Sports, Jones is the highest priced wide receiver in football averaging a cost of $8,000 on Draft Kings and FanDuel respectively. This outrageous purchase price finally paid dividends on Sunday as Jones caught his first touchdown since Rockstar by Post Malone was the #1 song on the Billboard charts. 

The question most owners are asking themselves is: “Is this the start of a trend or is it an anomaly?” Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons quarterback, conveniently forgets that he has a top five wide receiver In the red zone thus giving fantasy owners around the world anxiety about trusting his memory. For his career, Jones averages 96.2 receiving yards per game which is tops in the league since 2014, as stated by Pro Football Focus.

Heading into Cleveland this weekend, against a team that is struggling to find its identity, Jones and the Falcons offense should be feasting on the Dog Pound. However, Cleveland’s defense has shown flashes of competence. In 8 out of 9 games they have picked off the quarterback. Meanwhile, Ryan is doing an outstanding job protecting the ball this season. NFL.com highlights Ryan’s nineteen touchdowns to three interceptions. Those statistics reflect remarkable ball security. Pro Football Focus shows the Browns allow offenses to score an average of twenty eight points. Therefore, this game  should be another one where the Falcons pile on the points and Jones is able to cash checks in the end zone. 

For much of the last year, Jones has been a great option at WR1 or WR2. He amasses the yards that consistently rank him in the top ten of the position weekly. If Jones can manage to string together multiple games down the stretch with touchdowns, we could possibly be seeing another All-Pro season from the receiver. In fantasy terms that means wins, and we all know what wins mean... bragging rights and financial dividends. Cha-Ching! 

Draft Kings Week 10 Main Slate Report

Draft Kings Week 10 Main Slate Report

Last week I advised you to fade just about every member of the Chiefs, except for Kareem Hunt. I told you to fade James Conner. Well, I was wrong, and I apologize. With that said, I do hope you played some of my lock and value plays, as they would have helped you to win some money. It’s a new week, and with a new week comes new hope!

QB:

Philip Rivers - $6,000 (LOCK): Rivers is having one of the best seasons of all NFL QBs, and nobody is talking about it. He’s on pace to reach 4,000 passing yards for the sixth straight year, a career-high 38 passing touchdowns, and a career-low six interceptions.z This week he plays the Oakland Raiders, who are allowing 20 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs.w Rivers CAY (completed air yards) is third best among the main slate QBs, at 6.9.y Football Outsiders has Oakland’s pass defense ranked dead last this season. In a game that has an over-under of 50.5, and the Chargers implied total at 30, look for Rivers to have a big game.

Alex Smith - $5,300 (VALUE): Now, I normally wouldn’t recommend that you play Alex Smith in DFS, but this isn’t just any normal week. This week, Smith goes against the J.V. team of the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are the worst in the league in opponent completion percentage (74), opponent touchdown rate (7.56), and fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs (23).z With Jamison Crowder’s status uncertain for Sunday, look for Josh Doctson to continue to see an uptick in targets.

Jared Goff - $6,100 (FADE): I loved Goff last week, but this week against Seattle I’m looking elsewhere. The Seahawks are ranked in the top give in both pass defense and weighted defense (higher emphasis on games played later in the season), according to Football Outsiders. Seattle also ranks fourth best in fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs.w

RB:

Alvin Kamara - $8,700 (LOCK): Kamara will be going against a Bengals defense that has been allowing an average of 106 rushing yards, 53 receiving yards, and 31 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs this year.z Karama doesn’t need to worry about Mark Ingram, as he has out-touched Ingram 62 to 40 over the last four weeks.w One stat that I love is: Kamara’s usage in the red zone. He leads all RBs with 20 targets in the red zone this season.z This game has the highest over-under of the week (54), with the Saints being just a four-point favorite. Kamara will EAT!

Duke Johnson Jr - $4,700 (VALUE): I’m a big fan of Nick Chubb, but this week it’s all about Duke. The Browns are road underdogs to the Falcons, so expect Baker Mayfield to throw a lot. Chubb is not known for his receiving ability. Atlanta gives up a league-high 82 receiving yards to opposing RBs.z Atlanta’s defensive scheme is built around dump offs and check downs to the RB, because they’re so afraid of getting beat deep with their injured secondary. Much like last week, the game script should favor Duke Johnson on Sunday.

Joe Mixon - $7,700 (FADE): Last week we saw Mixon have his first 100-yard rushing game, and we’ll have to wait another week before we see it again. This week he will go up against the New Orleans Saints, who give up just 52 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs.z With the Saints having the best run defense in the league, I won’t have any exposure to Mixon in my lineups this week.

WR:

A.J. Green - $7,600 (LOCK): While I’m fading Green’s teammate, Mixon, this week; there’s not a chance in hell that I’m passing on this matchup. Not only do the Saints give up the most receiving yards, TDs, and fantasy points to opposing WRs this year,z but they also allow the third most receiving yards to WR1.v Green has had just one game this year with multiple receiving TDs, and I do believe he gets another one this weekend. He commands 40 percent of the targeted air yards, which is the third highest among the main slate WRs.y So, with the Bengals being an underdog in the highest projected game of the week, look for Green to be targeted early and often.

Josh Doctson - $4,300 (VALUE): Again, I’m sticking with the underdog at WR. Why? The team that’s the underdog is most likely going to be playing from behind, which means they will need to throw more. Targeting the WR1 or WR2 from the underdog is a great way to leverage your lineups. Even if Jamison Crowder comes back this week, I still love Doctson in this spot. It doesn’t matter if he’s the WR1 or WR2, the Bucs are in the bottom three in the league when it comes to covering both positions.v

Julio Jones - $8,300 (FADE): After Julio catching his first touchdown in 12 games last week, I think many people will be on him this week. The problem is that this week he goes up against Denzel Ward of the Browns. Ward has been one of the best corners in the league this year, as he allows opposing WRs to catch just 55 percent of targets against him.x I love Julio, just not this week.

TE:

Zach Ertz - $6,300 (LOCK): No TE in the league has more targets and red zone targets than Ertz this season. That will certainly help as he faces off against the Cowboys on Sunday, who allow just over 13 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs.w With Sean Lee likely to miss this week, Ertz shouldn’t have any trouble finding space to work with. Ertz should be matched up against Jeff Heath, who has been anything but impressive this year.

Trey Burton - $3,900 (VALUE): Allen Robinson is still battling a groin injury, and even if he does suit up, I don’t expect him to be extremely productive until he’s healthy. That means Burton should have a bigger role in the offense this week. This week’s game against the Lions should be a bit closer than last week’s shellacking over the Bills; so I can see Trubisky airing it out more. The Lions have allowed four receiving TDs to opposing TEs, which is the third most in the league.z

Rob Gronkowski - $5,600 (FADE): Gronk didn’t play last week due to a back injury, and even if he’s active this week, I’m going to look elsewhere for TE. When Gronk is injured and plays, he’s usually out on the field as a decoy and that’s it. Also, he’s going up against a Titans defense that is one of the top five teams in the league against TEs.v

*Stat Source Key (v = Football Outsiders, w = 4for4, x = Pro Football Focus, y = NextGenStats, z = Pro Football Reference)

Fantasy Tidbits: 11/3/18

We have now found ourselves in the part of the season where multiple teams are on their byes and it is necessary to start your 3rd or 4th most ideal lineups. These are what I call the dog days of Fantasy. Here are some tidbits for Week 9.

Around the League

Lesean ‘Shady’ McCoy

Shady McCoy is not a good play against the Bears today. The Bears are the #3 rushing defense. They haven’t given up a rushing TD all season. The Bears are going to make Peterman beat them, and he won’t. At most I’d put McCoy in the Flex. If you have better options, bench him.

Phillip Rivers

Rivers is often forgotten about in fantasy leagues. It seems player fatigue is attached to him. Hasn’t he been playing for 20 years already? Rivers is only owned in 80% of leagues. If he is available in your league and you need a QB, he is a fantastic pick up. Today against the Seahawks should be a shoot out. Opposing QB’s are completing 66% of their passes against the former Legion of Boom. Rivers has 17 TD’s to 3 INT’s this season. The Seahawks have picked off 10 passes this season, but I don’t see Rivers turning the ball over for that to make a difference.

Hometown Fantasy Texans Versus Broncos

Phillip Lindsey

With Royce Freeman down, Phillip Lindsey will get all of the RB snaps against the Texans. All season, the Broncos have used a dual RB system with the two rookies. In limited time, with 50% of the offensive snaps or fewer, Lindsay has taken advantage of his opportunities. He is projected to rush for around 70 yards. The Texans do give up chunk running plays, but have only given up two rushing TD’s all season. That’s #2 in the league. I’d put Freeman on the bench or a Flex position. Personally, I’d stay away from the Bronco offense in fantasy today.

#4 (Watson) versus #4 (Keenum)

The battle of the #4’s isn’t really a battle at all. Watson is owned in 95% of leagues to Keenum’s 11%. Watson, in his de facto rookie season, is continuing to be a fantasy owner’s dream. Watson is completing 65% of his passes this season. In the first six games of the season, Watson was good for one interception every game. The last 2 games, Watson hasn’t turned the ball over to 6 TD’s.

When it comes to rushing, Watson averaged 40 yards per game the first 5 weeks. Since then, he has rushed for 29 yards in three games total. Watson has rushed 50% less the last two games. Billy O called a masterful game last Thursday. We will see if Watson stays in the pocket more. It will also be predicated on the OL. Chubb is hampered, but Miller is coming to feast. Watson is definitely a start in the QB1 position.

Keenum can only dream of Watson-type production. Despite having one of the best offensive lines in football, Keenum is playing very subpar. In three games this season, the Broncos don’t have a passing TD. Keenum has thrown an interception in every game this season. Expect the Texans safeties to be able to get a few INT’s. The Broncos traded one of their best and most durable offensive weapons this week, so expect lower production with the Broncos offense. The Texans have a weakness at corner due to injuries; if this offensive line can protect Keenum against the bull rush of the Texans star-studded defensive line, Keenum can go down field for some chunk plays. Keenum is not a good start in your league unless you have no other options. He is a bottom third QB this season.

Check back next Sunday morning for more Fantasy Tidbits. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter @MrsStephanieTA.

Week 8 Draft Kings NFL Showdown (Sunday Night) - Saints @ Vikings

A look at who to pick in the NFL Showdown primetime matchups.

I give much love to the NFL main slate, and probably a bit too much love. So, I want to start providing you with some insight into the prime time matchups on Sunday and Monday nights. DFS sites have started offering “Showdown” contests this season. What is a showdown? It’s a salary based contest, much like your standard classic contests, except it’s focused on just a single game. Where in a classic contest, you pick a QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/WR/TE/FLEX/DST, a showdown allows you to pick six FLEX (including kickers) positions. The other twist of a showdown is the Captain position (represented by a crown).

 The Captain of your lineup will cost 1.5x more than their standard salary, but will also reward you with 1.5x their standard score. For example, Drew Brees is priced at $15,900 as a Captain, but $10,600 as a standard FLEX player.

That also means if he scores 20 points in the FLEX, he would score 30 points as your Captain. Got it? Good. The key to selecting your Captain is to figure out whom you feel will have the most upside, without blowing your budget on one player.

 The last thing I want to mention is ownership. Since it’s just a single game, you’re going to have the same players as almost everyone else in the contest so you want to diversify your picks by selecting players that not many others might, and then mixing those guys in with more popular/predictable options. Now that I’ve gone over the general basis for a Showdown let’s pick out some contrarian plays that should help you to gain an edge over the field.

Disclaimer: Do not fill up your entire roster with these players, but sprinkle them throughout your lineups for diversification.

Mark Ingram - $7,200: Over the last two games, Ingram has out-touched Kamara, 33 to 29.x Now, Kamara is still the guy in New Orleans, but I like Ingram as a pivot off of Kamara. Ingram has also been used in the red zone, with five carries inside the ten, which he has converted two of those carries into scores.y

Roc Thomas - $400: Who? Exactly! Houston, meet Roc Thomas. A UDFA (undrafted free agent) out of Jacksonville State, Thomas is a compact RB that can make plays happen in the passing game out of the backfield. With Dalvin Cook out this week, Thomas should see some opportunities behind Latavius Murray. He only has eight touches this season, but he has seen two targets in the red zone.y

Tre’Quan Smith - $5,400: Smith hasn’t seen a lot of targets (13), as he’s been fighting for playing time with Cameron Meredith.y With Ted Ginn Jr on IR, Smith should see more opportunities. The last two games that Smith has played with Ginn out, he’s been second on the team in targets and had a 111 yard/2TD performance against the Redskins in Week 5.y With Xavier Rhodes out this week, that potentially leaves Mackensie Alexander or Marcus Sherels with the task of covering Smith. I’ll take Smith every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Laquon Treadwell - $2,600: Laquon Treadwell, the man that caused me so much pain in Dynasty Football drafts in 2016, has now started to show signs of life. He has already met or exceeded almost every stat this season than he had all of last year. Treadwell has a 76 percent catch rate and is averaging about five targets per game.z With Thielen, Diggs, and Rudolph occupying most of the attention, give Treadwell a look in what should be a high scoring game.

Will Lutz - $3,200/Dan Bailey - $3,400: Yeah, I’m throwing kickers into the mix. So what if I kind of wants to throw up a little. Lutz and Bailey both average as many or more Draft Kings points per game than both of their team’s TEs. Lutz is in the top ten in XP made, and just outside of the top ten (11th) in FG made.w Bailey, since he joined the Vikings in Week 4, has averaged 2.75 XP and FG per game.y Need to save $1,000 or so? Grab a kicker and ditch the TE.

Stat Source Reference: w = ESPN,x = 4for4, y = Pro Football Reference, z = Pro Football Focus

PGA: The CJ Cup Draft Kings Report

This week we’re off to The Club at Nine Bridges, in South Korea. Only the second year of this tournament, it was considered by many as one of the top five most difficult courses on tour. Justin Thomas beat out Marc Leishman last year in a playoff. Leishman is coming off a victory at last week’s CIMB Classic.

The Club is a par 72 that runs just under 7,200 yards. The weather can play a factor, as last year they saw high winds. This course will require golfers to be accurate in their approach shots, along with solid putting. Only 78 golfers will be playing this week, and with no cut, all of your players have a chance. Here are the categories that I’m focusing on this week:

Prox (Proximity)

SG: T2G (Tee to Green)

BoB Gained (Birdies or Better)

Bogeys Avoided

SG: P (Putting, with an emphasis on Bentwood greens)

The fairways aren’t very narrow, so I’m not too concerned with driving accuracy.

$10k+:

Hideki Matsuyama - $10,400: When it comes to recent form, you won’t find many better than Matsuyama. Over his last 12 rounds, Hideki ranks in the top five in the field in all key stats, with the exception of Bogeys Avoided (21st). Matsuyama has finished in the top 15 over his last four events, which include two top five finishes. A lot of people are going to be on JT and for good reason, myself included. Matsuyama is as good of a pivot as there is.

Justin Thomas - $11,600: The defending champion from last year’s inaugural CJ Cup. JT has been playing out of his mind recently, ranking sixth in T2G, second in Birdies or Better, and sixth in Bogeys Avoided. His putting hasn’t been bad either, as he ranks 24th in the field over his last 12 rounds. Thomas’ last five tournaments have produced four finishes in the top 24, and three of those were in the top 10.

$8k-$9.9k:

Billy Horschel - $9,700: I’m going back to the well with Horschel! He didn’t have a great showing at the CIMB Classic, and I’m hoping that drops his ownership for this week. He is still top 10 in T2G and BoB Gained, and not counting last week he has three top five finishes over his last four tournaments. I like Horschel to bounce back this week for a top 10 finish.

Tyrrell Hatton - $9,500: At 27 years old, Hatton has been a force on the European Tour. He has taken off the last few PGA events, and I can see him up near the top of the leaderboard by the end of this tournament. Hatton is top 10 in Prox, T2G and Bogeys Avoided. If Hatton can avoid the three putts, he’ll be in great shape.

$7k-$7.9k:

Si Woo Kim - $7,400: This price range was the toughest because there are so many golfers that are very close, and I could have gone with a dozen of them. I wanted someone who has good recent form with Putting and BoB Gained, and Kim fits the bill as he’s in the top 20 for both key stats. Kim was also a top 10 finisher in last week’s event.

Charles Howell III - $7,700: CH3 is one of my favorite golfers, and from the interviews I’ve heard him do, he seems like a great guy. Over his last 12 rounds, Howell III ranks in the top 20 in BoB Gained, Bogeys Avoided, and Putting. He also finished 20th in this event last year, and had a top 25 showing in the BMW Championship last month.

$6.9k and under:

Jason Kokrak - $6,800: At this price it’s hard to find a golfer who is in the top 20 in most key stats, and Kokrak checks the boxes in four of my five categories. BoB Gained has been a bit of an opportunity for him, but I’m not going to be too picky.  

Hyun-woo Ryu - $6,500: Sixth in BoB Gained and seventh in Bogeys Avoided, Ryu is a guy that can shoot for par without gaining too many bogeys. That skill will be key this weekend, as this course will frustrate a lot of golfers. I’m not super excited by anyone $6.9k and under, but these are a couple to look at if you’re trying to save some money.

  *All statistics courtesy of Fantasy National Golf Club