Temple (3-2) vs Memphis (3-1)

Fresh off its first loss of the season, host Memphis aims to regroup Thursday against resurgent Temple when the Owls visit the Tigers in an American Athletic Conference game (Enter contest). Memphis outscored its opponents 155-27 during a 3-0 start, but struggled in a 20-point loss at Ole Miss last week in its final non-conference tune-up.

ABOUT MEMPHIS

The Tigers’ defense allowed 624 yards while the team committed four turnovers and seven penalties against the Rebels. They’ve allowed a total of 10 points in their previous two games before surrendering 48 to Ole Miss, and now must contend with an Owls squad that has defeated them in two of the last three seasons. Memphis needs Riley Ferguson to have a bounce back game after the junior threw three interceptions without a touchdown pass last week, a stark contrast to his eight touchdowns and zero picks over the previous two outings. Wide receiver Anthony Miller had 157 total yards and a touchdown against the Rebels, while fellow junior Doroland Dorceus rushed for a score for the fourth straight game.

Memphis is averaging 45.8 points, which is sixth-best in the nation. Kicker Jake Elliott needs one point to tie DeAngelo Williams (362) for second place in school history and eight points to match Stephen Gostkowski (369) for top spot in the Tigers’ record books. The Tigers have not returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 233 consecutive games. It’s the longest active streak in the FBS.

ABOUT TEMPLE

The Owls faced plenty of issues themselves early in the season but have regrouped to win two straight behind 48- and 45-point performances. Although senior quarterback Philip Walker is looking to deliver a stronger effort this week, he went 7-of-18 for 124 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week against SMU.

Sophomore tailback Ryquell Armstead scored two touchdowns in his second straight game. He finished with 159 rushing yards against SMU. Senior Jahad Thomas also had a pair of rushing scores. It was his third straight game with two rushing TDs. He continues to work his way back from a hand injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season. After recording a career-high 10 tackles against SMU, sophomore defensive back Delvon Randall will need a repeat performance versus the Tigers. Owls kicker Austin Jones is 8-for-8 in field goals (long of 45) and 21-for-21 on extra points this season.

Posted in CFB

NFL Wild Card Value Picks

Quarterback

With a small slate of games this weekend you’re quarterback choices are limited. So let’s run through the matchups. Houston and Kansas City has all the makings of a low scoring game. These are two defensive dominated teams and this matchup should be low scoring and slow paced, not places of high value for Fantasy NFL contests. Same can be said about Minnesota and Seattle. While Seattle’s offense is explosive, we saw what they did against the strong defensive front of the Cardinals last weekend, I’m saving my quarterback pick for an easier matchup.

The weakest pass defense of the weekend is by far the Steelers, but with the Bengals current quarterback situation, its hard to say anything for sure. In all likelihood AJ McCarron will be taking the field, but there is the small chance Andy Dalton will return for the game. Either way, they both should be able to provide great value with this matchup, just make sure you keep your eye on the injury report and you get the right one in.

Although the Bengals have a strong pass defense, it seems like nobody is able to stop Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown this year. I expect them to have a big game, but I also expect ownership to be very high on these two, so I’m playing the contrarian strategy and avoiding the Steelers stack.

Last we have Washington and Green Bay. This has all the makings for a classic shootout and I think there will be value on both sides of the ball. Aaron Rodgers has been very subpar this entire season, but he has been to the playoffs before and I think he will perform. Kirk Cousins on the other hand has been red hot and putting up big numbers, and that does not look to be stopping anytime soon. You’re probably going to find lower ownership with Rodgers so I’ll give him the edge in a tournament, but based on his performance this year, that may be a risky play.

Running Back

Our premium running backs for the week are Adrian Peterson, Deangelo Williams, Marshawn Lynch, Jeremy Hill, Characandrick West, and Eddie Lacy. As of now Williams looks to be out for this weekend so lets rule him out now (even if he were playing I don’t love the matchup). Marshawn Lynch will be returning but with the offensive efficiency of the Seahawks lately, its hard to say they will need to make much use of him so I am staying away from Beast mode as well. The Vikings may find it hard to pass against the dominating defense and will certainly run the ball a lot to Peterson, but he has not been as dominant this year as in years past and the Seahawks may shut him down. West as well is facing a tough defense, especially recently, so my recommendation is stay away from any Chiefs back.

So we are left with Hill and Lacy, both on the cheap end as far as premium running backs go. The way the Bengals use Hill and Bernard is very dependent on the matchup. They utilize Hill to run the ball up the middle while Bernard is valued more highly for his speed in screen passes and short drops. This matchup may be better for Bernard than Hill, and Bernard comes at a much cheaper price. Not a bad pick for this week. Lacy is the only premium back I like for this week. Like Hill, he could take a backseat position to Starks but I think Lacy has asserted himself as the primary back after early struggles in the season.

If you are looking for value at Running back however, there is a lot to be found. Starks and Bernard, as previously mentioned, will both only cost you less that $4000 on Fanpicks. Alfred Morris and Pierre Thomas both are a threat to accumulate fantasy value with their run and pass threat. The real value pick of the week is Jonathan Grimes, who put together a big game last weekend and comes at only $2700.

Wide Receiver

The same analysis on Quarterbacks applies to receivers as well. We want to stick with the good matchups: Steelers/Bengals and Packers/Redskins. Skipping out on Antonio Brown may just cost you a win, but I think there is more upside potential on fading Brown, especially for NFL Daily Fantasy Tournaments type contests. AJ Green should be able to put up some big numbers this week regardless of who gets the starting position at Quarterback.

I also like Desean Jackson or Pierre Garcon if you are looking to save a little money at the position. We know Cousins is going to throw the ball and we know he is going to throw it a lot. He may throw a couple interceptions but that doesn’t hurt his fantasy value too bad. It all just depends on which receiver can manage to get open between these two and Reed.

A good contrarian stack is Rodgers and either Cobb or Jones. They haven’t done much this year and are not on many people radar, but like I said before, the Packers know the playoffs. Cobb should get more targets but Jones is more of a long threat. The choice is up to you, I’m going Cobb.

Tight End

For me, the viable tight ends for this week are Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert. While you can make the argument for Heath Miller and Richard Rodgers, I think you will find much more value with Eifert and Reed. Reed is an obvious pick as he has had some very big games lately and is arguably the top tight end in the league. However, that also means he is going to come with a high ownership level, bad news for a tournament play.

That’s why I’m going with Eifert. I can’t stress enough how weak Pittsburgh is against the pass as all of their games end up turning into a shootout. Eifert will especially benefit if Dalton returns this weekend as there is usually great synergy between the two.

Posted in NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers versus Cincinnati Bengals NFL Playoffs Fantasy Picks 1-9-2016

Game 2 from the AFC Wildcard playoffs will feature the Cincinnati Bengals at home to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fantasy football draft GMs can tune to CBS TV on Saturday January 9th at 8:15PM Eastern Time to track the scoring results of their one day league real money NFL roster picks.

These division rivals met twice during the regular season with each road team earning the victory. The most recent matchup came on December 13th at Cincinnati where Pittsburgh was able to earn a 33-20 victory. Both teams were able to move the football. Ben Roethlisberger connected on 30 of 39 passes for 282 yards and a pic. A.J. McCarron saw work in most of the game as Andy Dalton was sidelined with an injury early. McCarron completed 22 of 32 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. A.J. McCarron had a 66 yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green but he also threw a pick six to the Steelers. It appears that A.J. McCarron will get the start with Andy Dalton relegated to a backup role in this game.

The Steelers are a team that many of the AFC playoff participants did not want to see in the postseason. They caught a break with a Jets loss in Week 17 to get the last spot. Pittsburgh brings in the number three rated offense and passing attack into the playoffs. The Steelers are also fourth in the league in scoring offense as they push across 26.4 points per game. Over on the defensive side of the ball they give up lots of yards but sit 11th in scoring defense by giving up 19.9 points per contest. The Steelers could be without running back DeAngelo Williams who has been listed as questionable with a football injury suffered in the win at Cleveland.

Cincinnati has not had success in the post season in recent years. They are just 4-4 over the last half of the season as they have lost to their playoff opponents and beat up on the losing teams they faced in that span. Overall the Bengals are second in the league in scoring defense by allowing 17.4 points per game. With Dalton missing due to injury the Bengals have slipped to the middle of the league in many offensive categories.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB

Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben will be tossing against the 20th ranked passing defense in the Bengals that surrender 248 yards passing per game. Roethlisberger has hit 68% of his throws this season for 3938 yards with 21 touchdowns and 16 picks. He missed four games of the year due to injury and will be playing his fourth straight game since getting hurt. The Steelers signal caller has thrown for over 300 yards in six of his past eight games.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB

DeAngelo Williams

Williams has emerged as the Steelers leading running back with Le’veon Bell sidelined with injury. The veteran back has played in every game for the Steelers and had 907 yards rushing on 20 carries and 11 touchdowns. His 11 touchdowns were his second most in his career. DeAngelo Williams is rushing for 4.5 yards per carry.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR:

Antonio Brown

Brown led the Steelers receivers with 136 catches for 1834 yards with ten touchdowns. He is coming off a big game against the Browns last week with 13 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals QB

A.J. McCarron

The second year quarterback will be starting his fourth game for the Bengals. He saw no action in his rookie campaign. McCarron completed 66.4% of his passes for 854 yards with six touchdowns and two picks. In the win at home to Baltimore last week McCarron threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals RB

Jeremy Hill

It is tough to back Jeremy Hill as he is forced to share carries with Giovanni Bernard. Hill has 11 touchdowns on the year but only 794 yards on 223 carries for 3.6 yards per carry.

A.J. Green

Green leads the Bengals with 86 catches for 1297 yards with ten touchdowns. He is averaging 15.1 yards per catch on the campaign. Green has a touchdown reception in two straight and five of his past six games.

NFL Playoff Football Real Money Fantasy League Picks

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)

WR: Antonio Brown (Steelers)

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals)

Posted in NFL

NFL Week 17 Recap

Pittsburgh Punches their Ticket

The Steelers earned their spot in the playoffs with their victory against the Browns this weekend. Their playoff hopes had less to do with beating the Browns however and more to do with the Jets losing against the Bills. Antonio Brown had his normal huge performance with 13 receptions, 187 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Although he threw 2 interceptions, Big Ben still had a solid fantasy day with 349 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns (Antonio Brown, Marcus Wheaton, and Heath Miller). They lost running back Deangelo Williams early on in the game. If he is not healthy for the playoffs, Pittsburgh’s offensive game will be very one dimensional.

The Patriots Struggle

New England had already secured their spot in the playoffs and the division win, but this weekend they still had the AFC championship home field advantage on the line. They appeared to be putting in full effort for that goal with Brady taking the field. However, nothing seemed to be working in their offense. The offensive line provided Brady very little time to work with and lead receivers Amendola and Gronkowski caught only 2 passes each for minimal yardage. The lack of protection resulted in Brady leaving the game late and being replaced by Garoppolo. Things are not looking positive for the Pats going into the playoffs.

Houston Defense Dominates

JJ Watt is back and the Houston Defense is hitting their stride. They had a huge 8 sacks in their season leading fantasy performance (27 fantasy points). They had two interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a pick 6 while only allowing 6 points scored from the Ravens. Its a good time for them to be coming around too with their 9-7 record earning them the AFC South champions and a spot in the playoffs.

The Sheriff returns to the Field

This season has seemed to be a disaster for Peyton Manning. His body betrayed him in his final NFL season and when he was healthy enough to return, his job had been taken by Brock Osweiler. However, he had a chance to return to the field late in this week 17 game against the Chargers. He looked like his old self out there and potentially may have earned the starting spot in the playoffs. The Broncos have a week off which may be just what Peyton needs to be 100 percent ready to go.

Carolina Coasts it in

The Panthers didn’t have much of a problem getting the win over the Bucs. Their defense shut the Bucs to only 10 points while Cam Newton passed for almost 300 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and ran a couple goal line touchdowns in himself. Carolina doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses going into the playoffs.

Seahawks take the top of the rankings

With a blowout victory this weekend over the top ranked Cardinals, the Seahawks are the top ranked team going into the playoffs. They have been getting better and better as the season goes and with the return of Marshawn Lynch for the playoffs, they seem unstoppable.

Posted in NFL

Learning From Week 9’s Perfect Lineup

QB: Drew Brees (NO): 35.56 Fantasy Points
RB: Llamar Miller (Mia): 33.10 Fantasy Points
RB: DeAngelo Williams (Pit): 39.50 Fantasy Points
WR: Cole Beasley (Dal): 35.20 Fantasy Points
WR: Sammy Watkins (Buf): 33.80 Fantasy Points
WR: Michael Crabtree (Oak): 32.80 Fantasy Points
WR: Antonio Brown (Pit): 48.60 Fantasy Points
TE: Delanie Walker (Ten): 28.50 Fantasy Points
D: N.Y. Jets: 12 Fantasy Points

Salary Used: $46,900
Total Fantasy Points Scored: 299.06

Salary Cap Doesn’t Matter

As you can see from the above lineup, the perfect lineup from last weekend for NFL Daily Fantasy Contests could have been constructed in a normal $50 salary cap game, a 75K salary cap game, or even an unrestricted salary cap game. While there certainly is a correlation between salary and points scored, there will always be cheap players who break out for a big performance every week. DeAngelo Williams, Cole Beasley, Sammy Watkins, Michael Crabtree, and Delanie Walker were all well outside the top 10 most expensive players from the weekend. This does not mean you should intentionally shoot to use only $46000 of the allowed $50000 salary cap, it just means if you are satisfied with your lineup and fall a bit short, don’t stress about spending that last $800, it won’t necessarily give you a better lineup.

Team Diversification

My general rule in stacking has been disproved by this lineup. Generally I will stack a Quarterback with either a receiver or a tight end and never pick a running back from the same team as my quarterback or receivers. The reason for this is that these performances are usually inversely correlated. If a game is a shootout type game, you will see big value in the passing positions yet running backs tend to underperform. The opposite can be said about a blowout. When a team is up by a lot they tend to run the ball extensively as opposed to going to the air. Therefore, you can usually only expect one or the other to be profitable in the Fantasy world.

However, when the Steelers generate over 500 offensive yards (mainly concentrated on two players) there is room for both positions to prosper. DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown were the two highest fantasy scorers of the weekend.

Apart from that however, you will see that no other positions on the optimal lineup were from the same team. Typically there is only room for one (or two positions in a quarterback/receiver stack) to really blow up in fantasy value.

The last component here is the Defense position. The Jets players Jacksonville this week and as you can see, nobody from Jacksonville was able to make the optimal lineup. Don’t bet against yourself by picking offensive players that are playing against your defense. You may argue you are hedging against a bad game by either one, but if you stand to win much in NFL cash drafts, you need the stars to align for all your picks, hedging gets you nowhere.

Posted in NFL

Baltimore Ravens versus Pittsburgh Steelers

Thursday Night Real Money League Fantasy Football Picks 10-1-2015

Thursday Night Football in week four features an attractive matchup as the Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Fantasy Football draft GM’s can tune to CBS TV on October 1st at 8:30PM Eastern Time to track the performance of their roster picks.

These two teams met three times a season ago. They split their two regular season games with each team winning at home. In the AFC Wildcard the Ravens went into Pittsburgh as an underdog and came away with a 30-17 victory. The Steelers outgained the Ravens by around 90 yards but Baltimore held the Steelers to just 1 of 3 inside the red zone and the Ravens had a +2 turnover margin. Baltimore also sacked Big Ben five times in that playoff win.

The Ravens are a desperate team entering Thursday Night Football. The team is 0-3 with road losses at Denver and Oakland then they lose their home opener to Cincinnati last week by the score of 28-24. A glaring weakness by this Ravens team has been their inability to defend the pass. The club ranks 29th and fourth last in the NFL as they give up 291 yards passing per game. Opponents pile up 28 points a game on the Ravens thus far in this young season. On the offensive side of the football the Ravens are trying to get their run game going. They rush for just 72 yards a game ranking 27th in the NFL.

Pittsburgh is off to a 2-1 start to the season. After their opening night loss to New England the Steelers picked up wins at home to San Francisco and last week went on the road and defeated the St Louis Rams 12-6. Bad news for Pittsburgh in their win against the Rams as they lose starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks as he has a sprained ligament on his knee. The Steelers sit third best in the league in passing offense putting up 298 yards per game through the air. Big Ben had just finished his most successful regular season in 2014 as a pro. Michael Vick will get the start at the quarterback position to replace an injured Roethlisberger. Landry Jones will back up Vick.

Baltimore Ravens QB:

Joe Flacco

The veteran quarterback is completing 65% of his throws for 863 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. He threw for 362 yards in the loss to the Bengals with two touchdowns and a pick.

Baltimore Ravens RB:

Justin Forsett

Forsett rushed for 1266 yards last year and 5.4 yards per carry average. In 2015 the Ravens lead running back has rushed for 124 yards in three games and is only averaging 3.2 yards per carry. He had 235 rushing attempts in 2014. It the most by 117 carries, in any year of his 8 year career.

Baltimore Ravens WR:

Steve Smith Sr.

The veteran wide out will retire at the end of the season. Smith leads the Ravens with targets with 40. The next targeted player is a running back in Justin Forsett who has been targeted 18 times this year. Steve Smith has 25 catches for 349 yards with two touchdowns and seven catches for greater than 20 yards.

Kamar Aiken

The third year receiver has six catches for 88 yards. He had no catches in the loss to the Bengals.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB:

Michael Vick

In relief of Roethlisberger last week Vick hit on 5 of 6 throws for 38 yards. It got ugly for Vick in his past two stops at the Jets and Eagles. He has been very inaccurate and was a turnover machine the past five seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB:

DeAngelo Williams:

Williams leads the Steelers in carries with 42 rushes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. With Le’Veon Bell back he had just one carry last week.

Le’Veon Bell:

Back from his suspension in week three Bell had 19 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown against the Rams last week. In a quick turnaround we may see more of Williams here as he his fresh with just one carry last week.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR:

Antonio Brown

He has been targeted 35 times more than any on Pittsburgh this year. Brown has 29 catches for 436 yards with two touchdowns.

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Picks

QB: Joe Flacco (Ravens)

RB: Justin Forsett (Ravens)

WR: Antonio Browns (Steelers), Steve Smith Sr. (Ravens)

TE: Heath Miller (Steelers)

Posted in NFL

NFL Fantasy Draft News 9-16-2015

San Francisco 49ers versus Pittsburgh Steelers One Day League NFL Fantasy Picks

The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the San Francisco 49ers in week two action. Fantasy football draft GM’s can tune to FOX at 1PM Eastern Time on Sunday September 20th to follow the results of their rosters.

Many were down on this San Francisco 49ers team as the club lost many of their stars in free agency. Pundits were not too excited with Jim Tomsula replacing Jim Harbaugh as the head coach. Tomsula has a defensive background with the 49ers for several years and it was on display as the 49ers win on Monday night by limiting the Vikings to just three points for the game. The San Francisco run game generated over five yards a carry on the Vikings defense. The 49ers defense limited the Vikings to just 248 yards of offense.

The Steelers opened up with the New England Patriots on a Thursday night. The team struggled on the defensive side of the football in a 28-21 road defeat at New England. The Pittsburgh pass defense was sliced up in the loss as they allowed Tom Brady to throw for 288 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers will ground and pound but the Steelers limited the Patriots to just 80 rushing yards on 24 carries which amounted to less than four yards per rush.

San Francisco 49ers QB:

Colin Kaepernick was 17 of 26 for 165 yards last week with no touchdown passes. His longest gain in the passing game went for 20 yards. There is talk around the league that Kaepernick will be allowed to run more than in the past with Harbaugh. Last week the 49er signal caller rushed for 41 yards on seven carries for nearly 6 yards per attempt.

San Francisco 49ers RB:

Carlos Hyde is the guy now in San Francisco with veteran running back Frank Gore allowed to walk in free agency. Hyde had a monster fantasy performance with 26 rushing attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers TE:

Vernon Davis had a forgettable 2014 season. His fantasy numbers were way down. In week one he caught three passes for 47 yards for 15.7 yards per catch average. That was more like the Vernon Davis that draft GM’s know and love.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB:

Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a career year in 2014 as he had high’s in many passing categories. Against the Patriots defense Big Ben hit 68% of his throws for 351 yards with a touchdown and pick. He did find a run option in Deangelo Williams last week as Le’Veon Bell will serve his second game of a suspension on Sunday. But don’t believe for a minute that the Steelers will try and run on San Francisco after what they did to Adrian Peterson. Roethlisberger will be firing away downfield to his weapons in the passing game.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB:

DeAngelo Williams will be the featured back once again in week two. Williams rushed 21 times for 127 yards for 6 yards per carry average on the Patriots defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR:

Antonio Brown will be heavily targeted once again. He led Pittsburgh in week one with nine receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. He averaged a very good 14.7 yards per catch average with the entire world knowing that Big Ben was going his way.

Darrius Heyward-Bey came over from the Oakland Raiders and contributed in week one for Pittsburgh with four catches for 58 yards for 14.5 yards per catch average.

Pittsburgh Steelers TE:

Heath Miller sees a lot of time on the field because he is a very good run blocker. That allows Miller to get targeted in the passing game. In week one Miller caught eight balls for 88 yards for a very good 10.5 yards per catch average.

Posted in NFL