NFC Wild Card Contenders face off on Monday night to conclude Week 14

The Seattle Seahawks saw any hopes of winning the NFC West evaporate when the division-rival Los Angeles Rams opened the season 8-0. The Seahawks’ playoff chances also appeared to take a major hit after back-to-back losses to both Los Angeles teams, but they have bounced back and carry a three-game winning streak into Monday night’s contest against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

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Seattle posted three-point victories over Green Bay and Carolina before routing San Francisco last week to vault into the fifth playoff spot in the NFC – one-half game ahead of Minnesota. “We need tough matchups with teams that really challenge us in many ways, and this is one of them, for sure,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters of facing the Vikings. “So we’ve got to get it cranked up, have a good week and get ready to go for a big opportunity on Monday night.” Minnesota owns a one-half game lead over three teams for the last postseason berth after losing at New England 24-10 last weekend and now must fly to the opposite coast to face resurgent Seattle. “It comes down to other teams are in the hunt, other teams are fighting for their division title and whoever has the best four-game stretch,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins told reporters. “It doesn’t really matter what happened before.”

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Seahawks -3. O/U: 45.5

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (6-5-1): Minnesota has alternated losses and wins over its last five games, a stretch during which Cousins has thrown nine touchdown passes against six interceptions. Running back Dalvin Cook was effective against the Patriots, picking up 84 yards on nine carries, but he has not had more than 10 rushing attempts since the season opener as the Vikings continue to struggle to find balance in their offense. Wide receiver Adam Thielen has registered nine 100-yard performances and just as many touchdowns, but he was held under 30 yards for the second time in the last four games by New England. Defensive pressure is critical for Minnesota, which is 6-1-1 when it notches at least three sacks and 0-4 when it fails to record three.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (7-5): Unlike Minnesota, the running game is a point of emphasis for Seattle, which features the top-ranked attack with an average of 148.8 yards and at least 32 rushes in eight of its last 10 games. “Because it’s the best way to not screw it up,” Carroll said. “That’s why the turnover issue is of paramount importance to us. It’s the most important thing that we taught.” Quarterback Russell Wilson is averaging only 226.4 yards passing but usually dials it up late in the season, and this year is no exception – he has 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over his last four contests. Linemen Frank Clark and Jarran Reed have combined for 16.5 sacks to lead a unit ranked ninth in scoring defense (21.6 points).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Seattle has won each of the last four matchups, including a 10-9 playoff victory in January 2016.

2. Thielen, who has made a league-high 98 catches, has recorded 48 receptions and five TDs in six road games.

3. Wilson has a 142.0 passer rating with eight TDs and zero interceptions in three career matchups versus Minnesota.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Packers at Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were expected to battle for the NFC North title, but both clubs are looking up at the Chicago Bears with six games to play. Although both teams are coming off losses, Green Bay is in the more desperate position, sitting one game behind the second-place Vikings and winless in five road games entering Sunday night’s matchup at Minnesota.

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“I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting where we’re sitting but our record is what it is,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Obviously, Minnesota has a strong team. They’re probably surprised where they’re sitting as well. So I don’t think either of us are out of (it).” Rodgers was hobbled by a knee injury during the team’s first matchup, when the Vikings scored 22 fourth-quarter points in Week 2 in a game that ended in a 29-29 tie. Minnesota, which reached the NFC title game last season, had a chance to move atop the division last weekend but dropped a 25-20 decision in Chicago to fall 1 1/2 games behind the Bears. “We’re a good team. We know that,” Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it. Quit talking about it. … We’ve got to point the finger at ourselves, so we’ve just got to get the job done, period.”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Vikings -3. O/U: 47.5

ABOUT THE PACKERS (4-5-1): Rodgers keeps putting up big numbers — 19 touchdowns against only one interception — and threw for 332 yards and two scores last week in a 27-24 loss at Seattle, but again was unable to end the road skid. Running back Aaron Jones was held to 40 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries but set season highs with five receptions for 63 yards and a score against the Seahawks. Tight end Jimmy Graham did not practice due to a broken thumb sustained against Seattle, but Rodgers has been locked in on Davante Adams, who set a season high with 166 yards on 10 catches last week. The Packers are No. 5 against the pass (223.0 yards) but are dealing with multiple injuries in the secondary.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (5-4-1): Minnesota has struggled offensively for the past three games as Kirk Cousins has five touchdowns passes and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns in losses to New Orleans and Chicago. Wide receiver Adam Thielen failed to score for the first time in seven games last week but still went over 1,000 yards while Stefon Diggs had a season-high 13 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. The running game, however, was non-existent against the Bears as Dalvin Cook was limited to 12 yards on nine carries. The Vikings’ defense ranks sixth against the pass (226.0 yards), will get a boost with the expected return of linebacker Anthony Barr after a three-game absence.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Rodgers had 26 TDs and zero interceptions in his past 10 division games.

2. Thielen had 12 catches for 131 yards and a TD in the Week 2 matchup.

3. Adams has a TD catch in his last three against Minnesota.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Vikings at Bears

First place in the NFC North is on the line Sunday night when the Minnesota Vikings invade Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears for a matchup between two of the hotter teams in the conference. The Vikings have won four of their last five games after getting past the Detroit Lions 24-9 two Sundays ago and then enjoying a bye week to watch the Bears defeat the Lions 34-22.

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“It’s great to be able to be in a spot where your games truly matter and it means something,” Bears coach Matt Nagy told reporters. “Whether you’re on our team and you’ve never been in this situation before, now you’ve got to know that the level picks up a little bit. That’s what I’m trying to make sure that these guys understand. This is an important game — get that, understand that.” Chicago is averaging 33 points during its winning streak and 34.3 over a six-game span behind blossoming quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who threw for over 300 yards four times in those six contests, including 355 with three touchdowns against Detroit. The 24-year-old ranks 10th in the NFL in passer rating (101.6), one spot behind Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, who is geared up to face the top-ranked defense in the NFC (319.6 yards allowed per game) and star linebacker Khalil Mack. “I certainly would have loved for him to stay in the AFC,” Cousins told the media. “He’s a great player, and I want as many great players on opposing teams to be in the AFC, but you understand that no matter what your schedule is, there are going to be great players in every division, so we’ve got our hands full with him, but they’ve got a few other really good players on defense.”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Bears -2.5. O/U: 45

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (5-3-1): Minnesota is wary of Chicago’s NFL-leading 16 interceptions and its second-ranked 24 total takeaways, making ball security a priority Sunday. “We’re going to have to do a great job of possessing the ball and keeping it, and making sure we do a good job with being patient in a lot of ways,” coach Mike Zimmer told the media. The return to form of running back Dalvin Cook (89 yards on 10 carries against the Lions) should help the offense click a bit more, and the team expects second-leading receiver Stefon Diggs to come back from a rib injury that kept him out of the last game.

ABOUT THE BEARS (6-3): Trubisky is playing like a quarterback who wants to be in the spotlight, and Sunday will be a test as to whether he’s ready for the big stage. “I think Mitch will be great,” right tackle Bobby Massie told reporters. “This is probably the biggest game Mitch has played in his career so far. I think he’s going to go out there and shine.” It might help to get a little more from a running game that has produced just 118 total yards over the last two games, and the team is hoping that kicker Cody Parkey can bounce back after missing two field goals and two extra points last week.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Mack returned from a two-game absence last week to record two sacks, giving him a team-leading seven.

2. Minnesota WR Adam Thielen, who was held under 100 yards for the first time this year against Detroit, is questionable due to back and calf issues.

3. Vikings DE Danielle Hunter had 3.5 sacks against the Lions and enters Week 11 ranked second in the NFL with 11.5.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Saints at Vikings

The New Orleans Saints will not soon forget their last visit to Minnesota, a game that ended in one of the most dramatic finishes in league history and denied them a trip to the NFC Championship Game. The Saints have a chance for a little payback in a rematch against the Vikings, taking a five-game winning streak into Sunday night’s matchup.

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New Orleans coach Sean Payton attempted to play down the revenge angle from last season’s “Minneapolis Miracle” — when Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired for a stunning 29-24 victory. “It wasn’t like there was bad blood when the game was over or anything like that,” Payton said. “Two teams fought hard and made a play at the end that ended up costing us the game. … This is a new team playing this ‘18 season and for different reasons.” Minnesota has overcome a slow start to rattle off three consecutive wins to move atop a tightly bunched NFC North, but is understandably wary of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “This guy’s amazing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I always thought when you talk about Hall of Fame quarterbacks, obviously he’s going to be one, but he’s very cerebral, accurate.”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Pick. O/U: 52

ABOUT THE SAINTS (5-1): Brees reached a pair of major milestones this season, becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer and the third quarterback to throw for 500 touchdowns. Brees has 13 scoring passes and zero interceptions for a league-leading passer rating (121.6) and has a special connection with wide receiver Michael Thomas, who is tied for third in the league with 53 catches for 588 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Alvin Kamara is a dangerous two-way threat for New Orleans, rushing for 363 yards and six scores while adding 40 catches and a touchdown. The Saints, who have the league’s top-ranked rushing defense (72.3 yards), acquired cornerback Eli Apple from the Giants this week.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (4-2-1): Dalvin Cook has missed much of the season but Minnesota finally got its ground game untracked over the past two games as Latavius Murray rushed for 224 yards and all three of his touchdowns. That has taken some of the onus off quarterback Kirk Cousins, but it hasn’t prevented wide receiver Adam Thielen from joining Charley Hennigan as the only players in league history to have at least 100 yards in each of the first seven games of the season. Thielen, the league leader in yards (822) and catches (67), and Diggs (48 receptions) provide a 1-2 punch for Cousins, who has thrown for 14 TDs and three interceptions. Minnesota’s defense ranks 16th against the pass (256.1 yards).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Cousins has passed for 646 yards and seven TDs in two meetings against New Orleans.

2. Brees has nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last four games against Minnesota.

3. Vikings DE Danielle Hunter is tied for the NFL lead with 8.0 sacks.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Can the Vikings recover from Sunday’s historic collapse?

The Minnesota Vikings enter this Thursday night’s matchup against the undefeated Los Angeles Rams as heavy underdogs. But they shouldn’t be discouraged; after all, this team knows firsthand how quickly the tables can turn in the NFL.

Just last week, the Vikings, as 17-point favorites, were embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills at home. It was the first time since 1995 (span of 47 games) where a team favored by that large a margin wound up losing an NFL game. The last time it happened, the Dallas Cowboys fell to the Washington Redskins in the same year they wound up winning the Super Bowl. So for Vikings fans still thinking the team can go a few steps further than last year’s NFC Championship Game, there’s hope.

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They’ll run up against a Rams team looking every bit like the Super Bowl contender they were envisioned to be at the start of the season. The only undefeated team left in the NFC, the league’s third-best offense is riding high behind the play of their No. 1 draft pick, quarterback Jared Goff. He and running back Todd Gurley have formed the most dynamic young offensive duo at those positions since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott electrified the Cowboys two years ago.

Can the Rams keep their early-season momentum going? Or will the Vikings’ defense deliver after a dreadful performance at home?

Minnesota at Los Angeles

Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: FOX/NFL Network

Spread: Rams -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. The free agent signee vs. the homegrown young star

Jared Goff has simply continued to improve each week with the Rams. His yards per attempt ranks fourth in the NFL (9.3) while his QB rating (111.1) ranks sixth. While flashy Patrick Mahomes has dominated defenses with the Chiefs, throwing 13 touchdown passes without an interception, Goff has diversified his game. The third-year pro can slide easily between a game plan of deep throws and simple screens; he’s also good at managing the offense when Gurley gets hot. Goff hasn’t had a game with more than one interception since Oct. 8, 2017 against Seattle. He’s not going to cost you the game and doesn’t get enough pub beside fellow 2016 draftee Carson Wentz.

Cousins, meanwhile had an impressive early 2018 with the Vikings wiped out against the Bills. He fumbled on the team’s first two possessions and now has three for the season; that’s tied for fourth in the NFL, which is not what this team paid millions for. By the time he was able to go an entire series without turning the ball over, the Vikings trailed 17-0 and were down for the count. The performance might arguably have been the worst of his career.

Now, Cousins is anxious to put that loss behind him along with the rest of the Vikings. Their quick turnaround may be a good thing; there’s no time to dwell on the litany of mistakes that cost them Sunday. Going throw-for-throw against Goff, if Cousins is at his best, will be a must-watch, top-tier matchup.

2. Can the Vikings’ run defense stop Todd Gurley?

It’s been a weird start for one of the NFL’s best defenses. Through three games, the Vikings haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher but are still at 105.3 yards allowed per game, only 14th best in the league. (Last year, they were second.)

Those yards have come against some inferior rushing competition: Matt Breida, Chris Ivory and Jamaal Williams aren’t exactly household names. Now, a group that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since mid-December against Carolina is facing one of the most explosive backs in the league. Gurley’s four touchdowns through three games is tied for the NFL lead and he remains the Rams’ most dangerous threat on offense. What’s more, one could argue he hasn’t even been at his best so far, averaging just 4.1 yards per carry. There’s plenty of room for improvement and if he pierces the Vikings’ defense early, watch out. He’s due for a 70-yard explosive run.

3. Nuts and bolts

The Vikings, like many teams this season, have suffered through placekicking problems. After Daniel Carlson blew a game-winning opportunity against Green Bay, he was replaced by longtime Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. But Bailey has yet to be tested in the clutch; the Bills blowout kept him on the sideline without a field goal attempt.

The Rams aren’t in great shape either. Greg Zuerlein, coming off his first All-Pro season, has been sidelined with a groin injury the last two weeks. Replacement Sam Ficken has just two made field goals in his career and has yet to connect in 2018. A close game could come down to some white-knuckle moments for fans when these two get out on the field.

One area where the Rams have excelled is turnovers. They have just three giveaways this season, producing a plus-three turnover margin compared to the Vikings’ minus-one. The Rams just have so many offensive weapons, from deep threats Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to Goff to Gurley to possession receiver Robert Woods. None of them make many mistakes and they just keeping marching down the field on defenses. Only the Saints and Chiefs have scored more points this season than the Rams (102). Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer tends to call a more conservative game plan and that will be tested if the Rams make this a track meet by scoring 30-plus points.

Final Analysis

The Vikings are eager to put Sunday behind them. But a short week against the Rams, who didn’t have to leave LA after an intracity battle against the Chargers, is a tough opponent. The young Rams are eager to knock off a potential playoff rival, earning the head-to-head victory for tiebreaking purposes and establishing themselves as the unquestioned leader of the NFC.

Consider that with a win, the Rams could be three games ahead after four weeks in a NFC West that already has two wounded teams: the 49ers sans Jimmy Garoppolo and a winless, 0-3 Arizona Cardinals team starting rookie Josh Rosen. The division would appear firmly within their grasp with one of the NFL’s easiest schedules looming. It wouldn’t be outrageous to say they’d have a commanding edge on the conference’s top seed after just four games.

The Vikings, meanwhile, need Cousins to step up. But even his A game might not be enough playing against an offense with many more weapons. This time, the Vikings will watch their own glass slipper break.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Complete NFC North Preview

Here is a look at what you can expect from the Vikes, Lions, Packers and Bears this season…

Minnesota Vikings

When the Vikings gave QB Kirk Cousins the league’s richest and first-ever fully guaranteed multi-year contract, they bragged about being “all in.” Well, the pressure is on. Big time. The Vikings hand-picked the franchise quarterback to pair with the league’s top-ranked defense. If the Vikings stay healthy — a big if given this team’s track record at quarterback the past two years — nothing short of a Super Bowl will be acceptable. There’s certainly enough talent to get the job done.

Green Bay Packers

A few folks inside Lambeau Field wondered aloud after last season if such a painful step backward without QB Aaron Rodgers might be just what this team needed to move forward after NFC Championship Game losses in two of the previous three seasons. A healthy 16 games from Rodgers virtually guarantees a 10-6 finish at minimum — the Packers are 94-46 in games Rodgers started and didn’t leave with a broken collarbone over the past 10 years. Whether Rodgers gets to the second Super Bowl of his career, however, depends on whether his younger teammates elevate their games, and how many contributions the rookies can make.

Detroit Lions

The Lions haven’t won a division title in a quarter-century, and last season’s 9-7 finish felt like another missed opportunity, given the key quarterback injuries in Green Bay and Minnesota. Still, coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the mid-1990s, Detroit has the talent — and the quarterback — to be a playoff contender. And a playoff-starved fan base is banking on an engaging new coach in Matt Patricia to do what so many others before him couldn’t. Forget about the Patriot Way, he says: “After you have some success, that’s when you start calling it ‘The Lions Way.’”

Chicago Bears

New head coach Matt Nagy seems to be more in sync with GM Ryan Pace than John Fox ever was. This year’s additions in free agency did an excellent job of specifically addressing weaknesses, although Pace’s track record in the market has been uneven at best. Everything revolves around making QB Mitch Trubisky the franchise quarterback, from personnel to staff. Nagy’s presence as an offensive mastermind, along with innovative offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and holdover quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, should help. Pass-catching talent was added in free agency, but Trubisky will be throwing to several players with whom he’s never taken a snap in an NFL game. He’ll also be operating in his third system in as many years. That’s a lot to handle for a young quarterback. But the defensive improvement should continue under Vic Fangio, and the Bears should improve on last year’s 5-11 record.

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NFC North

Fantasy Football NFL Draft Preview

We’re less than a week away from the highly anticipated NFL Draft and it’s time to monitor what improvements the teams can do with some critical acquisition. FanPick will be providing a special  draft contest for you starting on April 28th 2016. This Fantasy Football NFL Draft preview is brought you by FanPicks.com.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears will need to get stronger in defense if they want to close in on their NFC North rivals this upcoming season. Their head coach John Fox as well as their defensive coordinator Vic Fangio hope to find a pass rusher that they’ll be able to pair with Pernell McPhee. This is most likely their most important priority. So far, they’ve upgraded their front 7 through free agency with the signing of Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and Akiem Hicks. It’s also likely that they recruit at the corner back position.

Top 3 round picks: 11th and 41st, 72nd selections.

Detroit Lions

Detroit are in the need of serious play maker. Riley Reiff was built to become a right tackle or a guard. They will also need a tone-setter in the middle of the defense. They will also try finding a book-end pass rusher a priority.

Top 3 round picks: 16th and 46th, 77th selections.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have played Clay Matthews all over the field but they must recruit another big man like him either in the inside or outside. Offensively speaking, they’re fine but should still look for a swing tackle that can play on either side. Green Bay are always looking for a good tight end.

Top 3 round picks: 27th and 57th, 88th selections.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are quietly emerging in the NFC as a contender a large part due to their awesome running game and super athletic defensive players. In order to close out that gap between the heavyweight in the conference, they will need to solidify their receiver position. A top of the line receiver would be ideal to complement Teddy Bridgewater and take them to the next level.

Top 3 round picks: 23rd and 54th, 86th selections.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 WRs

With the NFL Draft now less than a month away, I present to you my first edition of my top 10 positional rankings.

You will notice I have 12 players listed here, but that’s just in honor of the depth this draft class possesses at the receiver position. While there are no Calvin Johnson’s or Julio Jones’ in this group, there are more than a handful of legitimate prospects with the potential to become impact players at the next level.

Laquon Treadwell is the consensus number one, and though many will point to his stop watch time (4.65) with doubt, it’s his fluidity and game tape that put him in pole position.

topwrsdraft

Baylor’s Corey Coleman has been under heavy scrutiny for his apparent lack of overall skills. He ran a limited route-tree in college, so word of bad route-running and only possessing straight-line speed has surfaced. He also has drop issues, especially in the middle of the field. He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day and scored 20 TDs through the first eight games of the 2015 season, so going deep is no issue. The issue is that he didn’t score any in the next four games and never came close to 100 yards again. If college teams can figure out how to shut him down, NFL defenses will without breaking a sweat. But if he lands with the right team, those same defenses will be sweating just watching the film on him.

Will Fuller also has the speed (4.32) but as one scout and former NFL receiver said “I hear the DeSean Jackson comparison and I can’t get there. DeSean was faster, tougher and more reliable than Fuller. I’m not saying Fuller can’t play, but I don’t think he’s DeSean.”

Josh Doctson is of a different mold. More of a possession type receiver with the ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air. The Minnesota Vikings seem really interested in what TCU product has to offer, as would he be a great compliment to their young receiving core. An immediate starting job on the outside seems to be in Doctson’s future.

Sterling Shepard rounds out my top five (for this edition anyway). The Sooner may leave something to be desired in terms of measurements, but definitely leaves nothing on the field in terms of effort. The 5’10 slot man not only comes with a ferocious hunger to make plays, but the talent to execute them. I see shades of Steve Smith all over this one.

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NFL NFC North Fantasy Football Review

FanPicks is proud to bring you this NFC North Fantasy Football Review of the 2015 season. Come enjoy daily Fantasy sports news at Fanpicks.com during this NFL offseason.

Fantasy Football 2015 Season Review

NFC North Fantasy Football

The NFC North division came down to the wire in the last game of the season when the Vikings clinched the division besting the Packers in Green Bay.

 

  • Minnesota Vikings (11-5)

The Vikings won the NFC North for the 1st time since 2009 and captured their 1st playoff berth since 2012. Major improvements were seen on both side of the ball for the Vikings compare to their prior campaign. Adrian Peterson’s 327 carries, 1485 league leading rushing yards and 11 TDs  kept their offense steady and afloat all season.

Stefon Diggs complemented Peterson’s rushing game leading the team in receptions and receiving yardage. He will be a top target for their QB Teddy Bridgewater in the future and Fantasy picks wise.

Their week 6 win against the Chiefs was the 1st of 5 game winning streak, helping them to finish the season winning 9 out of their last 12. They will be looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking loss in the playoffs when their kicker, Blair Walsh missed a 27 yards field goal with 22 seconds game in the NFC Wildcard game.

 

  • Green Bay Packers (10-6)

The last time the Packers entered the playoffs as a wild-card, they won the Super Bowl and ended up winning the division 4 years straight until this campaign. Jordy Nelson’s loss during the preseason due to an injury slowed down their offense.

Despite Aaron Rodgers’ decent numbers, their running back Eddie Lacy struggled to assert himself as the leading rusher splitting the task with James Stark.

They will be a promising contender and favourite to conquer the NFC North throne once again.

 

  • Detroit Lions (7-9)

The Detroit Lions finished their season on a positive note after their terrible 0-6 start. They will also have huge shoes to fill if their superstar receiver Calvin Johnson leaves as rumors are stating. However, this would leave more room to growfor the  22 year old, Eric Ebron a solid fantasy pick for the near future after his impressive season (537 yards, 5 TDS, 47 receptions)

 

  • Chicago Bears (6-10)

The Chicago Bears will have a lot of work to do in the off season. Despite Matt Forte’s season ending injury, the Bears seem to have found their future QB with Jeremy Langford. They will have to recruit more in depth to be a contender for the next few seasons.

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Seattle Seahawks versus Minnesota Vikings NFL Playoffs Fantasy Picks 1-10-2016

 

The NFC Wildcard playoffs begin Sunday afternoon as the Minnesota Vikings will host the Seattle Seahawks. Fantasy football draft GM’s can tune to NBC TV on January 10th at 1PM Eastern Time to track the results of their one day league roster picks.

 

The Seahawks and Vikings met on December 6th and it was the Seahawks with the 38-7 victory on the road. The Seahawks defense dominated the line of scrimmage as they held the Minnesota offense to just 31 yards on the ground with 118 through the air. Seattle stacked the line and took Adrian Peterson out of the game. They have the secondary to do that as they can play man to man on the Vikings receiving corps and not have to worry about double teaming anyone on their pass patterns. Earl Thomas had a pick on Bridgewater in the game. Russell Wilson had a monster game in the win. He threw for 274 yards and had three touchdown passes on the Vikings defense. He also ran for 51 yards and a touchdown in the victory. They were efficient in the red zone going 3 of 4 which will give the team confidence. It will be cold but there is no wind or snow forecasted.

 

Seattle Seahawks Defense:

 

Seattle is ranked as the two ranked defense in all of the NFL by giving up 291 yards per game. They are tops in scoring defense by allowing 17.3 points per game.

 

Seattle Seahawks QB:

 

Russell Wilson

 

Russell Wilson got his money in the offseason and it has paid dividends. He is having a career year in completion percentage, passing touchdowns and yardage. Wilson has completed 68.1% of his throws for 4024 yards with 34 touchdowns and eight picks. Wilson is a plus for fantasy owners as he makes plays with his legs. Wilson is the number two runner for Seattle as he has rushed for 553 yards and a touchdown with 5.4 yards per carry average. Wilson will look to run more in the playoffs as the stakes are much higher now.

 

Seattle Seahawks RB:

 

Marshawn Lynch

 

The veteran running back has played in only seven games as he has been hampered by sports hernia surgery. He was playing hurt so his numbers have not been up to par. But he is fresh and could make a strong showing here. If Seattle has a lead look for Lynch to get lots of carries.

 

Seattle Seahawks WR:

 

Doug Baldwin

 

The fifth year pro is also putting up career numbers. Baldwin has caught 78 passes for 1069 yards with 14 touchdowns. He has had 11 touchdown receptions in his past six games.

 

Minnesota Vikings QB:

 

Teddy Bridgewater

 

Bridgewater greatly excels when his run game is working. When Peterson is a threat for a big gain, the second year quarterback is able find open targets in passing patterns. But Seattle is a bad matchup for Bridgewater. The Seahawks are going to force Bridgewater to thread the needle on his passes and that is not his strength. He likes to lob passes into arms of his receivers but because the Seahawks defenders can read and react it provides an interception opportunity. That’s why Earl Thomas is the play on defense in this game. Look for the Vikings to get behind and get desperate in the second half. Bridgewater is going to have to take chances in coverage and will get burned with picks.

 

Minnesota Vikings RB:

 

Adrian Peterson

 

Bad news for the Vikings as Adrian Peterson has not practiced through Thursday as he has been bothered by a bad back. Peterson was ineffective in the December 6th home loss to Seattle with 18 rushing yards on 8 carries. Seattle is going to stack the line so pass on Adrian Peterson.

 

Minnesota Vikings TE:

 

Kyle Rudolph

 

Because the Seahawks secondary is outstanding and Bridgewater doesn’t trust his arm strength enough to challenge them the play will be on the Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph in this game. Rudolph is second on the club with receptions with 49 catches for 495 yards and five touchdowns.

 

NFL Playoff Football Fantasy League Picks

 

QB: Russell Wilson (Seahawks)

WR: Doug Baldwin (Seahawks)

TE: Kyle Rudolph (Vikings)

S: Earl Thomas (Seahawks)

Seattle Seahawks Defense

 

Posted in NFL

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

NFL Week 16 Review

Washington Shows up when it Counts

The Redskins won a “must-win” game against the Eagles on Saturday night locking up their playoff position. Kirk Cousins continues on his hot streak. He threw for 365 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns totaling 32.2 fantasy points. He connected with the weekend leading tight end, Jordan Reed 9 times for 129 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns for 36.9 fantasy points.

Big upsets around the League

This week saw losses from the top teams all over the league. These teams are already locks in the playoffs though so who knows if they were playing at the full level. The first loss was the Patriots overtime loss against the Jets. Brady played the whole game and produced very poor numbers: 231 passing yards, 1 passing touchdowns, and an interception for only 14.8 fantasy points. Fitzpatrick for the Jets provided some good fantasy value with 3 passing touchdowns (2 to Marshall and 1 to Decker), with 296 passing yards for 26.9 fantasy points.

The next big upset was the Falcons taking down the undefeated Panthers. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got back in sync with Ryan totaling 306 passing yards and a touchdown (19.2 fantasy points) while Julio had 178 yards and a touchdown on 9 catches (35.8 fantasy points). Cam Newton threw for only 142 passing yards, no touchdowns.

Lastly, the Seahawks, who have been red hot over the past 4 weeks, fail to generate much offense against the Rams. Doug Baldwin, who totals 10 receiving touchdowns over the previous 4 weeks scored only 1 this weekend for 1 of 2 passing touchdowns by Wilson.

Johnny Football plays Running Back

Manziel put up the worst game of the weekend as far as passing stats but he helped save a little fantasy value by running the ball. While passing only 136 yards and 1 interception, he ran for 108 rushing yards on 11 attempts. This brought his total score to 17 fantasy points.

Megatron gets some attention

Calvin Johnson put up a decent game this week after catching only 1 pass in each of the previous 2 weeks. He caught 6 passes for 77 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. This made 19.7 fantasy points. Far from the 3 touchdown game he put up on Thanksgiving, but an improvement.

Brees and Bortles Shootout

The Jaguars and Saints had a high scoring shootout game, which is no surprise with those aggressive quarterbacks and weak secondaries. Although injured, Brees threw for 412 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns in the win, totaling 31.5 fantasy points. One was a long 71 yard touchdown pass to Cooks, giving him a 5 catch, 123 yard, 1 touchdown game (26.3 fantasy points)

Bortles was less effective throwing 2 interceptions, but with 368 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns, he stayed close to Brees with 32 fantasy points.

Steelers finally stopped

Big Ben and Antonio Brown seemed unstoppable after putting up big numbers against the Broncos defense last weekend. They were finally stopped this weekend however by the likes of Baltimore. Roethlisberger only there for 215 yards and 2 interceptions, a measly 10.6 fantasy points. Brown had a touchdown get called back and ended the day with 7 receptions for 61 receiving yards and 13.1 fantasy points.

Cardinals and Vikings prove contenders

The Cardinals had a big 38 to 8 win over the Packers. Carson Palmer and the Cardinals prove to be serious contenders, especially with the other big teams showing poor results. There was no huge individual fantasy value in this game, only team contentions.

The Vikings won a blowout of their own winning 49 to 17 against the Giants. Minnesota was very effective running the ball with Peterson rushing 104 yards with a touchdown and McKinnon rushing 89 yards with 2 touchdowns.

Some Premium Receivers Deliver

Brandon Marshall caught 8 passes for 115 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. 31.5 fantasy points.

Deandre Hopkins caught 7 passes for 117 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. 24.7 fantasy points.

Julio Jones caught 7 passes for 178 receiving yards and a touchdown. 35.8 fantasy points.

Allen Robinson caught 6 passes for 151 receiving yards and a touchdown. 30 fantasy points.

Posted in NFL

NFL Fantasy Draft News 12-26-2015

New York Giants versus Minnesota Vikings NFL Fantasy Preview 12-27-2015

The Sunday Night Football game will feature the Minnesota Vikings facing the New York Giants. NFL fantasy draft GMs can tune to NBC TV on Sunday December 27th to track the scoring results of their one day league real money picks.

When the Giants take the field on Sunday night they will know if they are still in the hunt for an NFC East division title. A Washington Redskins victory on Saturday will eliminate the Giants from the playoffs. Don’t get caught up too much on that. Under head coach Tom Coughlin the team has shown the professionalism to play hard even when games are meaningless. New York has a very good offense ranking sixth in the NFL in both scoring and passing offense. They throw for 270 yards and average 26.6 points per game. At issue for New York is they will be without their huge playmaker on offense as wide receiver Odell Beckham has been suspended for one game and will miss Sunday night’s game. The Giants are the worst defensive team in the NFL. They allow 308 yards passing per game which is 32nd and last in the league.

Minnesota has defended the pass very well ranking seventh in the league. With Odell Beckham gone and a bad running game for the Giants it could give the Vikings some looks to take on defense. Expect the Giants to spread the ball out to their receivers, tight ends and backs and it’s hard to make a case for the Vikings defense or any of the Giants offensive weapons.

Here are the Fantasy Football Picks

Teddy Bridgewater is going to pass against the worst defense in the NFL. He is coming off one of his best games of his two year career as he threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns in a win against the Bears. Two weeks ago at Arizona, it as Bridgewater throwing for a touchdown and 335 yards on the road against a very good defensive team.

Play on Teddy Bridgewater

Minnesota Vikings QB

Carolina Panthers versus Atlanta Falcons NFL Real Money Fantasy Preview 12-27-2015

The Atlanta Falcons are clinging to their slim playoff hopes as the host the Carolina Panthers. Fantasy football draft managers can check out FOX TV at 1PM Eastern Time on Sunday December 27th the following the results of their DFS roster selections.

The Carolina Panthers are 14-0 and had to hold off some tough challenges by the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants in recent weeks. The Panthers defense allowed 35 points at New Orleans and 35 points at the New York Giants over their past two games. The Falcons are looking to get some revenge from an embarrassing 38-0 loss at Carolina. Atlanta has moved the football effectively this year by averaging 268 yards per game through the air ranking seventh best in the NFL.

Here are the Fantasy Football Picks

The Panthers have shown vulnerability in pass coverage allowing some big plays on the road for touchdowns and long gains. Julio Jones leads the Panthers with 118 catches for 1544 yards and will have a career high in both categories once the regular season ends. Jones is coming off a nice outing at Jacksonville last week with nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. He has seven receptions or greater in seven of his past eight games.

Play Julio Jones

Atlanta Falcons WR

Carolina tight end Greg Olsen continues to lead the Panthers with 71 catches for 1048 yard with seven touchdowns. He caught six balls for 79 yards and a touchdown last week at the Giants. He is the main man for Newton to go to in the red zone.

Play Greg Olsen

Carolina Panthers TE

Posted in NFL