Photo: Nick Foles – 
Source: Corey Perrine/Getty Images North America

A potential NFC Championship Game preview has turned into potential rout as Eagles’ injury woes mount

Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams had this date circled on the calendar as a potential NFC Championship Game preview. These two teams with exciting offenses and two of the best young quarterbacks in the game appeared on a collision course to battle over conference supremacy for years to come.

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But as the 2018 season wore on, they’ve moved in decidedly different directions. The Eagles, reigning Super Bowl champions, didn’t even get Carson Wentz back from a torn ACL until Week 3. An up-and-down season followed, with major injuries, close losses and key mistakes on offense leaving the team scratching their heads. This week, the Eagles finally found out why their leader has been a step behind, at least. A broken vertebra, one Wentz has been dealing with quietly for weeks, will likely shut down their franchise player for the rest of 2018.

That puts Nick Foles up against his former Rams team with the Eagles needing a miracle. At 6-7, three wins would likely earn them the six seed in the NFC playoff race but they’ll need to beat the 11-2 Rams in L.A., the 9-4 Houston Texans, and the 6-7 Washington Redskins on the road in order to qualify. It’s a daunting task for the team even if they were at 100 percent; instead, the odds are stacked against the Eagles even mounting a Super Bowl defense.

They’ll run into an angry Rams team looking to prove themselves after an ugly loss to the Chicago Bears on the road last Sunday night. It cost them control of their own destiny as the team seeks home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. In order to have a chance, they’ll likely need to sweep their final three games with the Eagles their only serious obstacle. After that looms two opponents, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, with a combined record of 6-20.

Can the Rams take care of business? Or will Foles rise up to create another edition of the Philly special as he auditions for a role elsewhere in 2019?

Philadelphia at Los Angeles

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 16 at 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NBC

Spread: Rams -11.5

Three Things To Watch

1. Can a ragtag bunch of substitute Eagles overcome a slew of injuries?

The Eagles have plenty of reasons they’ve fallen far behind the Rams in 2018. But one of them was left completely to the football gods. Just check this week’s injury report, where not a single Ram is listed with a physical problem as of Thursday’s writing. They’ve had a few setbacks, most notably wide receiver Cooper Kupp out for the year after tearing his ACL, but have most of their top-tier players in mint condition 14 weeks into the year.

Compare that to the Eagles, who had 10 players (nine for physical reasons) listed on Thursday’s report. They also have a number of key contributors out for the year: running back Jay Ajayi (ACL), free agent pickup wide receiver Mike Wallace (fibula), and starting cornerback Ronald Darby (ACL), to name a few. The Eagles have over a dozen(!) players on injured reserve, forcing relative unknowns or practice squad players to play major roles.

That lack of depth was evident last week against the Cowboys, when Amari Cooper torched the secondary for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns. Cre’Von Leblanc, while putting in a yeoman’s effort, is not going to keep up with the likes of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and even Josh Reynolds. If running back Todd Gurley opens up the passing game, Jared Goff has a chance for a field day against this weakened defense.

Just last week, Dak Prescott threw for a career-best 455 yards. And according to the injury report, the Eagles are likely to be down another player in the secondary as Sidney Jones aggravated his hamstring injury in that Cowboys game and hasn’t practiced all week.

2. Can the Rams’ offense get back on track?

Goff had arguably the worst game of his career against the Bears. A career-high four interceptions combined with a season-low 180 passing yards as he was picked apart at Soldier Field. A team that scores 32.7 points per game, third in the NFL behind the Chiefs and Saints, was limited to just six points.

One of the issues for the Rams during that game was an inability to commit to the run. Todd Gurley had just 11 carries for 28 yards, averaging a season-low 2.5 yards per carry. Second in the NFL with 1,203 rushing yards, you can’t expect Gurley to stay down for long. He now faces an Eagles defense that’s allowed the following to top-tier running backs:

Last week vs. Ezekiel Elliott: 113 yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 79 receiving yards

Two weeks ago vs. Adrian Peterson: A 90-yard touchdown run (98 rushing yards overall)

Three weeks ago vs. Saquon Barkley: 101 yards, 7.8 yards per carry, 41 receiving yards, two total touchdowns

There’s a clear pattern here. It’s a golden opportunity for Gurley to reestablish himself after the Cowboys’ comeback has Elliott threatening to take home the rushing title. And if Gurley does get going… this one could get ugly, early considering the Eagles’ inability to score in the first quarter. The Rams average 5.9 points to start the first 15 minutes, third in the NFL while the Eagles are dead last at 2.2.

3. How will Nick Foles do?

Foles will certainly be motivated to face his former team, especially with a 2019 job on the line. It’s likely he’ll move on to be a starter elsewhere after agreeing to back up an ailing Wentz for one last season. How could the Super Bowl MVP stay a backup the rest of his career?

That said, Foles has work to do to impress potential suitors. He hasn’t played since Week 2 against the Buccaneers and his stats this season are unimpressive: 451 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a pedestrian quarterback rating of 78.9. Foles did nothing to lose those games for the Eagles but he did little to win them; and back then, they had a full-fledged run game with Jay Ajayi and arguably similar receiving options surrounding him.

One benefactor of Foles’ emergence back onto the field: Nelson Agholor. Agholor had 16 catches the first two games; he hasn’t had more than six grabs since. A backup always changes the complexion of the offense and with Foles, look for a few deep plays to Agholor and potentially Golden Tate as the Philly offense should take a few more chances. At this point, they have nothing to lose.

You wonder how head coach Doug Pederson thinks heading into this weekend, by the way, after watching the Chargers go for two in the closing minute against the Chiefs and winning the game on “Thursday Night Football?” Pederson passed on the opportunity last week against the Cowboys, ended up losing in overtime and now he’s about to lose a shot at the playoffs.

Final Analysis

Nick Foles did an admirable job last season of keeping this Eagles team in the game against the Rams and hanging on after Carson Wentz suffered his ACL injury. But that thrilling, 43-35 victory in Los Angeles also came with a decidedly different team around him.

The Rams are hungry to avenge that defeat and healthy compared to an Eagles team just seven days removed from watching the NFC East (and potentially their Super Bowl defense) fully evaporate in overtime. It’s hard to see them recovering with the loss of their leader the cherry on top of an utterly disappointing 2018.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Redskins at Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off what may have been a season-saving victory while the Washington Redskins are trying to shake off back-to-back losses that cost them the lead in the NFC East. As the division rivals prepare to clash on Monday night in Philadelphia, the Redskins will hold a one-game edge on the Eagles for the conference’s sixth and final playoff slot.

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Reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia appeared on the verge of absorbing a knockout blow last weekend before erasing an early 16-point deficit and rallying for a 25-22 victory over the New York Giants. “This was a big game for us,” Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said. “Obviously in terms of the division standings and all that fun stuff, but really mentally to show the resilience that we did. To get down early like we did, then to battle back, just really builds a lot of confidence.” Washington is trying to maintain its confidence and a victory over Philadelphia could provide a huge boost in that department, particularly with the teams squaring off in the regular-season finale. “I think there should be a sense of urgency without a doubt,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Anytime you can go on the road and get a key victory is very, very critical. It is also important for our confidence and our psyche down the stretch.”

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Eagles -6.5. O/U: 45

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (6-5): Washington is hoping the additional time off will pay dividends for Colt McCoy, who had only three days to get ready for his first career start in four years after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury. McCoy, who was picked off three times in a 31-23 loss to division-leading Dallas on Thanksgiving, and the offense could receive a boost with the return of running back Chris Thompson, who practiced fully for the first time Friday since suffering broken ribs on Oct. 28. Thompson also would alleviate the workload on Adrian Peterson, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. The Redskins were burned for a pair of long touchdown passes against the Cowboys.

ABOUT THE EAGLES (5-6): Wentz bounced back from a three-interception performance in a debacle at New Orleans by throwing for 238 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win over New York. Once again his favorite target was tight end Zach Ertz, who had seven catches for 91 yards and a score to boost his season totals to a career-best 84 receptions and 895 yards. Running back Josh Adams provided much needed balance to the offense and lifted a running game in dire need of a spark with 84 yards rushing on 22 carries — both season highs — while scoring for the second week in a row. Philadelphia held New York to three second-half points last week but ranks 28th against the pass (276.5 yards).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Wentz has six TD passes and two interceptions in a sweep of the Redskins last season.

2. Peterson needs two rushing touchdowns to move past Jim Brown (106) for fifth place on the all-time list.

3. Ertz has 59 receptions for 620 yards in 10 games against Washington.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

NFL 2018 Season Opener

Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles Preview

The Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles are the last two NFC Super Bowl representatives. The difference between them is the Falcons lost a historic comeback to the New England Patriots while the Eagles found a way to sneak past them.

Now, the defending champions of Super Bowl LII kick off the year on Thursday night with a Patriots-like target on their back. There are few who want to hit the bullseye more than the Falcons, the team who came the closest to stopping the Eagles’ scintillating playoff run with a heartbreaking 15-10 loss in Philadelphia in the Divisional Round. If Julio Jones catches a fourth-down pass with 1:05 remaining Nick Foles may never have become the NFL’s No. 1-selling jersey, surpassing even reigning MVP Tom Brady.

But the Eagles not only survived that game but thrived with their backup quarterback. That’s important because it’s Foles who will be called on to defeat the Falcons once again. Head coach Doug Pederson, initially dodging the question with increasingly testy language this week, announced starter Carson Wentz won’t have medical clearance yet from his torn ACL.

But that’s not the only Eagle banged up entering an NFL season opener where injuries are already playing a key role. Can Matt Ryan, fresh off a $30 million-per-year contract extension take advantage and earn the Falcons a crucial early tiebreaker in what’s expected to be a crowded NFC playoff race?

Series History: 34 meetings (Eagles lead 19-14-1)
Last Meeting: Eagles 15, Falcons 10 (2018 NFC Divisional Round)

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 6 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Spread: Eagles -2

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Foles reclaim the playoff magic he had back In January?

After a bizarre few days in which Doug Pederson, normally a mild-mannered guy with the media, lashed out over reporting Nick Foles was his starting quarterback the decision was made public Monday afternoon. Carson Wentz, despite looking great in preseason workouts, has not yet been cleared for contact as team doctors remain overly cautious about medical clearance.

That means Foles will be back in command. But which streaky QB will we see? He was brilliant during the playoffs last year, throwing for 971 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception in three games. That included a workmanlike 246 yards against the Falcons, a 75 percent completion rate and QB rating of 100.1 despite failing to throw for a touchdown.

Foles managed the game well, finding his footing against the Falcons in that second half. But up until that point, there was little reason to believe he’d rise to the occasion. Foles had some shaky games as a starter, throwing for just 481 yards in the final three-plus regular season games replacing Wentz. Aside from a four-TD, no-INT performance against the lowly Giants he was… forgettable.

That mediocrity cropped up during an ugly preseason. Foles failed to throw for a touchdown in two games’ worth of action, going 16 for 26 with two interceptions and an unsightly QB rating of 48.7. His picks against last year’s 0-16 Cleveland Browns resulted in a 5-0 loss in what may be the ugliest NFL preseason game nationally televised. The throws didn’t have zip, timing with the receivers was off and Foles looked nothing like a guy who pinned Tom Brady down on the mat just seven months earlier.

This version of Foles also has fewer offensive options to choose from. Top receiver Alshon Jeffery is injured and will not play. Running back LeGarrette Blount is no longer with the team. Last year’s promising rookie Mack Hollins is banged up. He’ll need to be more of a difference-maker.

But running back Jay Ajayi should keep the pressure off Foles and the defense on their toes, respecting the run. The team will likely rely on a lot of two-tight end sets with Pro Bowler Zach Ertz and rookie Dallas Goedert, one of the few preseason standouts for the Eagles on offense. There will be opportunities for Foles to throw the ball with time.

Can he deliver?

2. Rebuilding the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection

It was that near miss between Ryan and Jones that killed off the Falcons’ season. But that typified what became an off year for a duo that experienced a Super Bowl hangover. Ryan threw for just 20 touchdowns last year, his lowest total since his rookie season of 2008, and looked a step below the first team All-Pro that nearly won it all a year earlier. As for Jones, his numbers held up better but he found the end zone just three times. His longest catch was just 53 yards, a career low while his yards per catch ticked down slightly to 16.4.

But make no mistake, this duo remains the core of the Falcons. The team committed five years and $150 million to the 33-year-old Ryan this offseason, making him the NFL’s first $30 million man. They then tweaked Jones’ deal before training camp when his $14.25 million yearly salary had dropped him to ninth best at the wide receiver position. It’s clear this team will live or die with these two going forward.

They should thrive. Atlanta’s issues in the red zone last year were well known, scoring a TD just 49.2 percent of the time (ranking just 23rd in the NFL). Those numbers, to some degree are cyclical and should bounce back this year with more options. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, in particular, is one of the game’s better No. 2 receivers and is joined by rookie Calvin Ridley from Alabama. This group will relearn how to score.

“The thing is, we just have to take what people give us,” Jones said earlier this week. “We’re not going to force anything down there. We [have] a lot of new wrinkles in the red zone.”

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian says those tricks will be revealed as soon as this Thursday. I expect them to figure things out.

3. Defense, defense, defense

Jim Schwartz’s defensive unit will be asked to step up early this season with so many Eagles hurt. They looked outstanding late in the preseason, giving up a total of 14 points over the final two games against the Browns and Jets.

Big things are expected from Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham as they anchor what was the fourth-best defense in the league last season. The key will be how Schwartz chooses to play his linebackers with Nigel Bradham serving a one-game suspension. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry, bit players on last year’s Super Bowl run, will assume starting roles as the defense gets a little green. At least Jordan Hicks is returning from last year’s injury and will make an immediate impact.

The Falcons, meanwhile feel their defense is consistently underrated. Ninth in the league last year, they’re built on speed and swarm to the football under the leadership of linebacker Deion Jones. Named to his first Pro Bowl last year, Jones is ready to step up a level in 2018 and will pose a problem for an Eagles offensive line that was inconsistent at times in the preseason.

Final Analysis

On paper, the Eagles have regressed, particularly on offense with so many people hurt. The Falcons come in looking to prove themselves. Add in an ugly preseason in Philadelphia and you would think this game tilts the Falcons’ way.

And yet… head coach Pederson remains a wild card. His emotional outburst a few days ago was out of character but he very much has command of his locker room. His understanding on how to bring this team together, mixing in a solid work ethic with fun and team camaraderie lifted them far beyond their ability in 2017. He’s stressed repeatedly this summer they’ve earned nothing, starting at the bottom of the barrel and recognizing the target that lies on their back.

Add in a built-in special teams advantage known as 61-yard field goal kicker Jake Elliott, the home-field edge playing at Lincoln Financial Field and it feels like the Eagles will somehow find a way.

Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Complete NFC East Preview

Here is a look at what you can expect from the Eagles, Giants, Skins’ and Cowboys this season…

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are set up well for their first-ever Super Bowl defense, thanks to the return of just about every significant contributor from the 2017 team. The only losses that could really hurt are offensive coordinator Frank Reich (new head coach in Indy) and QBs coach John DeFilippo (new Vikings OC).

When healthy — and he should be early in the season — QB Carson Wentz is a top-10 NFL passer (at least) and a great leader. He prolongs plays and gets the ball downfield. Having Nick Foles as a backup is a great thing, but this is Wentz’s team. He is surrounded by a deep collection of skill-position contributors who make it extremely difficult to focus on any one player.

The defense is built around getting pressure on the passer, and that’s what it does. The Eagles are outstanding at invading enemy pockets with just four rushers, and that makes the coverage schemes more sound and harder to exploit.

This is a deep, talented team buttressed by an outstanding organization that fills needs at all times with bold moves. Expect continued contention and plenty of excitement for a city still getting used to being atop the NFL mountain.

Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett kept his job, but most of his assistant coaches departed. Coordinators Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli return, so the offense and defense remain the same. But after a disappointing non-playoff season, Garrett is back on the hot seat. He has only two playoff appearances and one postseason win in seven full seasons as head coach. The Cowboys took some losses in the offseason, but they’re hoping that makes for better chemistry and more victories during the season.

New York Giants

So, are the Giants really a contender, or is the new regime just fooling itself? The truth is somewhere between their 3-13 mess from last year and their somewhat-lucky 11-5 from 2016. A lot of last year was about health (their offensive line and receiving corps were decimated), so a little better luck there (especially with WR Odell Beckham Jr) could go a long way. Same for the attitude adjustment that comes with a new coach.

In the end it all comes down to two things: QB Eli Manning and the men in front of him. The offensive line looks better on paper, though far from dominant and not deep. With better protection, Manning should thrive, but that’s a big question mark. So, too, is Manning. The Giants are convinced that his problems of the last two years were mostly O-line related. They still believe he has good arm strength and all the ability that once made him elite.

They better be right. If they’re not, then last year was just the beginning of an ugly end. But Manning should get a boost from better protection and a deeper array of weapons. The Giants don’t look like a championship contender yet, but a return to mediocrity would at least be a step in the right direction.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins have given fans little reason to believe in them of late. The franchise is 64-95-1 over the past 10 seasons, with six last-place NFC East finishes in that span, and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005. And on top of everything else, they now must deal with the problem of having the defending Super Bowl champions in their division, and just a couple hours north on I-95.

Unlike those Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins appear to occupy that crowded, murky middle ground — fitting for a franchise that has averaged exactly eight wins the past three seasons — of teams good enough to contend for a playoff spot, but also a few key injuries away from a collapse. That was largely the story of their 2017, as they placed a whopping 20 players on injured reserve and never put together a consistent stretch of games.

Can 2018 be different? Once again, they have given fans just enough reason to believe that it can. In Alex Smith, the Redskins have a proven, playoff-tested quarterback. In Derrius Guice, they have arguably their most complete back since the days of Clinton Portis. And in Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne and others, they have perhaps their most talented group of young, front-seven defenders in years. But because it’s the Redskins, everyone will be waiting for things to go terribly wrong. As famous fan Dale Earnhardt Jr. told The Washington Post in April, “We just want to be relevant again.”

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Posted in NFL

NFL Season Preview

 2016 NFC East Fantasy Football Season Preview

With the NFL season kicking off in 4 weeks, the excitement is electrifying for this upcoming campaign and FanPicks will be previewing all eight divisions these upcoming days, continuing by the NFL’s NFC East. Take advantage of our MLB and NFL Cross Sports contests, unique in the fantasy industry but first enjoy this 2016 NFC East Fantasy Football Season Preview article brought you by Fanpicks.

 2016 NFC East Fantasy Football Season Preview

Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins will finally move in as the teams’ starting QB without having to deal with any doubts and controversy. This position was long under question until RGIII’s departure and Cousins will definitely be playing for a new contract. By setting the all-time franchise passing yards mark last year, as well as other Redskins’ records, the young passer will try to secure and stabilize his place further in the organization.

DeSean Jackson will remain his main target and has become an even bigger star since arriving to the skins.

Josh Norman’s addition to this squad during the offseason will certainly help their defense as they were frankly struggling last year.

There are still some questions with their running game as well as the offensive line, but if Cousins can repeat what he did last season, the Redskins should have a problem solved that hurt them for decades.

 

Key Additions: TE Vernon Davis, CB Josh Norman, DE Kendall Reyes

Key Losses: Robert Griffin III, RB Alfred Morris, SS Dashon Goldson, CB Chris Culliver, DE Jason Hatcher (Retired)

 

Philadelphia Eagles

For the Eagles, the Chip Kelly experiment ended in flames and this year will most likely be a bumpy and hard road for them. With their defense being one of the worst in the league, they’re actually looking like the most stable unit in their team. Their future of this organization relies on youngster Carson Wentz to become a franchise quarterback.

If they can make steady play from their defense and make plays to put up points, they may be able to have a  .500 season.

 

Key Additions: WR Rueben Randle, LB Nigel Bradham, C Stefen Wisniewski, WR Chris Givens, QB Chase Daniels

Key Losses:  LB KiKo Alsonso, CB Byron Maxwell, RB DeMarco Murray, DE Cedric Thornton, CB E.J. Biggers

 

Dallas Cowboys

Last season was a nightmare for the Cowboys, as injuries destroyed everything the team had planned and ended the season before it ever really got started.

This time, the big move and risk was to draft Ezekiel Elliott as the 4th overall pick, an insanely high selection for a running back in this day and age.

The Cowboys are putting everything  into their offensive strength in order to get back  on the proper lane. In fact, this may be one of the toughest roads this organization has known in Jerry Jones’ era. With their star QB, Tony Romo being held back by injuries the last couple of seasons, this should be his last run with the Cowboys and he will need all the help from his receivers including Dez Bryant, who’ll try to put last season behind him.

Their defense lacks experience which could make it hard for them to gel as a unit.

 

Key Additions: RB Alfred Morris, DE Cedric Thornton, G Joe Looney

Key Losses: QB Matt Cassel, DE Greg Hardy, RB Robert Turbin 

 

New York Giants

The G-Men are looking to regain control in the East as they have revamped their defense and put some key pieces in on offense as well. Eli Manning is coming towards the end with the Giants so it’s win now or bust, so with new coach Be McAdoo it’s all about winning.

The Giants are healthy for the first time in a long time and that could spell trouble for the rest of the division. Olivier Vernon, Jenoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison bring much needed fire power along with rookies Eli Apple and Darian Thompson, they should be heavily revamped and ready to go.

Sterling Shepard could step in right away and fill the shoes of Victor Cruz who is yet to show traces of his former self.

 

Key Additions:  NT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins, DE Olivier Vernon

Key Losses: CB Prince Amukamara, WR Rueben Randle, DE Robert Ayers, LB Jon Beason (Retired), LT Will Beatty, G Geoff Schwartz

Posted in NFL

DFS NFL Draft

With the upcoming NFL Draft, it’s the time of year where we take a look at the weaknesses that could be fix with some new blood. We’ll take a look at what improvements could be made by each team during the draft. FanPick will be providing a special  draft contest  for you, starting on April 28th 2016.  Now let’s see what the NFC East teams want for the forthcoming  DFS NFL Draft.

Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins has provided a nice boost at the QB position for the Redskins, finally solving the problem that had been lingering for a while. It’s not sure though that Cousins may be the long-term solution.  Washington will need to find the players to protect him for the time being, stuffing the offensive line with some young talents. A center could be an early round possibility for them. The front-end of their defense could need some fine-tuning as well.

Top 2 round picks: 21st and 53rd selections.

Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly has left his mark on the Eagles, unfortunately it’s been for the wrong reasons. It was a mess of a 2015 season after he took charge of the team’s entire football operations. They will need to rebuilt from the ground up, starting with the DFS NFL Draft. First and foremost, the team will need to find a wide-receiver. Philadelphia once possessed a remarkable O-line. Well now it’s in need of an upgrade at both guard, despite the addition of RG Brandon Brooks, and at tackle positions also.  But most of all, their biggest need is for a reliable tailback to pair up with fellow running mate Ryan Matthews. 

Top 2 round picks: 2nd selection.

New York Giants

The Giants addressed it’s primary offseason need at defensive end, resigning Jason Pierre-Paul and adding Olivier Vernon. Now they need to find their boss man at middle linebacker. Adding another reliable target to take the heat off Odell Beckham is not out of the equation. Landon Collins works one of the safety position, they could find another in this draft. A dual-threat safety who can handle himself in coverage would be preferable.

Top 2 round picks: 10th and 40th selections.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas could go for a bell cow type of player in the back-end of the attack. It could improve the rushing game, like the way it used to with DeMarco Murray. Tony Romo just keeps getting hurt, as-fact from his season-ending injury. A new heir to his long stand as Cowboys quarteback may be a higher priority now than it as ever been before. ”America’s team” has a solid offensive line, but his defensive one may be in need of an upgrade, especially at defensive tackle. 

Top 2 round picks: 4th and 34th selections. 

Posted in NFL

Fantasy Football Impact

The first day of free agency has come and gone. It was fast and furious, exciting and dramatic depending on who you root for. A ton of players changed uniforms, and it has definitely had a major impact on fantasy football heading into 2016. Over the next few days we will go over some of the players and situations it has impacted the most.

Starting with…DeMarco Murray.

D Mo is heading to the Titans. It’s a big move, but what does it all mean for the fantasy football world?

Word is Murray and his agent worked to find a team who was interested in acquiring the 2014 NFL rushing leader. It’s a terrific fit. They have no one at the position (sorry Antonio Andrews, your day was short lived), they have the money, and are in line to draft a tackle first overall. Oh yeah, and they have this kid named Marcus Mariota playing quarterback. The 2015 second overall pick out of Oregon had his moments as a rookie, but lacked any real support and wore down as the season expired. The Titans know they must insulate their franchise player.

I was inspired to write this article comparing this move to a young Michael Turner joining the Falcons to support an even younger Matt Ryan back in the day. Murray will come in and take the pressure off Mariota. Run, run, run, then throw a play-action pass. That’s Mike Mularkey football. The strategic symmetry was uncanny. Then, halfway through this piece it hit me…Mularkey was the offensive coordinator of the Falcons at that time. I should’ve known immediately, this is the NFL afterall.

This one will likely go down as one of the best fits of the off-season. Yes DeMarco Murray had the same 3.64 yards-per-carry average as current starter Antonio Andrews, but that was in Philly…for Chip Kelly. He is no longer there, and neither are more than half the players he acquired last summer. Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell were also shipped out, heading to Miami in a swap of top picks. It’s clear that what went on there wasn’t good for anybody involved, so look for some of these talented players to land on their feet in the next chapter of their careers wherever it may be. DeMarco Murray might be the most talented one.

Look for Murray to run the rock a ton, and be the Titans number one red-zone threat. This will open up rollouts for Mariota, and eventually things in the passing game. They are not the Cowboys, or Eagles with a deep investment in the 28-year-old. Tennessee will run him until he runs out of gas, the only question is the interior of that offensive line. Chance Warmack isn’t the player he was suppose to be coming out in 2013, while Brian Schwenke and Quinton Spain aren’t exactly household names.

I expect him to grow into the consistent veteran, rather than the enigmatic center of attention he’s been his whole career.

Murray should easily top 1000 (1250?) yards and get close to 10 TDs on over 250 carries. I give him a high second-round grade in fantasy football drafts.

Posted in NFL

NFL NFC East Review

Fantasy Football 2015 Season Review

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

The NFC East was by the far the worst division in the NFC Conference and second worst in the entire NFL after the AFC South this past campaign. Even by being home to 4 of the most popular teams in the league, the fact that the lead for the division as changed over 5 times and saw each teams lead the division at some point this season showed an immense struggle and competition for a playoff berth.

NFL NFC East Review standings

  • Washington Redskins

With 9 wins this year and bringing their all time total wins to 601, the Redskins became the 5th franchise to pass the 600-win mark. They clinched their 5th division title and 24th overall for their franchise. The Redskins are also the only team to have clinched the NFC East twice in the last five seasons. Their turning point of the season came down in week 7 against the buccaneers when Kirk Cousins and his team were down 24-7 at half but rattled off 24 points in the 2nd half to take the lead with 28 seconds left 31-30. They would then finish their season with a 6-3 records and takeover the NFC East.

It was one of the most remarkable passing seasons in Redskins history for their QB Cousins. Not only he became the first player in team history to throw a TD in all 16 games but his 32.8 pts per game average to close their 4 game winning streak at the end of the season was the most in the NFL during that time frame.

 

  • Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles had a really tough season and are in an obvious period of transition. They’ve abruptly fired their coach Chip Kelly at the end of the season when they were eliminated from playoff contention after their loss to the Redskins. They had to bring in Doug Pedersen in and it will be very interesting for their off season preparation and team makeover. They have to figure out their QB position as soon as possible with Sam Bradford’s contract up and Mark Sanchez not being a long-term solution. With Chip Kelly having cut or traded several important starters before their last campaign, they will need to find a way to attract other special talent alike LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Nick Foles or Trent Cole all let go by Kelly within the last 2 years.

 

  • New York Giants

The New York Giants have not made playoffs since their 2011 season, ironically, the same year they won the Super Bowl against the Patriots. It was coach Tom Coughlin’s 12th year with the Giants. The main problem that occurred this year was their inability to close out games, having lost 5 games this season in which they held leads in the final 2 minutes. They actually became the first team in NFL history to start their season 0-2 while holding double digit leads heading into the 4th quarter for both games. Fantasy owners will definitely be hoping for a revival of Eli Manning, often disrespected lately but will set their eyes on Odell Beckham Jr. who’s absolutely essential to their offense.

 

  • Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys’ 4-12 record was the team’s worst since 1989, the first year Jerry Jones became owner (1-15). Despite starting the season 2-0 and leading the NFC East, the Cowboys lost 7 straight and finished the season on a 2-12 skid. The Cowboys still made some big moves keeping Head Coach Jason Garrett, signing him to a $30 million contract and resigning big man Dez Bryant to a 5 year $70 million contact. They will hope to come back to their winning ways and it will be interesting for fantasy owners to monitor their offseason strategy and snipe the best deals.

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NFL Week 17 Stacks to look out for

Choosing your stack in week 17 is a difficult thing to do. Most playoff implications are already determined so a Cam Newton/Ted Ginn stack will not be beneficial, even against the Bucs. The other side is true as well, even against the Saints defense, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones may not bring full effort with nothing on the line.

Stafford and Johnson Stack

While Calvin Johnson has been very unproductive lately, catching only one pass in each week 14 and 15, he has since turned things around with 6 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. While not huge fantasy value, this is a good sign going into week 17 against the Bears. While neither team has much to play for, Stafford and Johnson may be able to load up on the garbage time points.

Eli Manning and Odell Beckham

While the Giants don’t have anything on the line this week against the Eagles, Odell could be looking to have a big game after his week 16 suspension. The Eli Manning and Odell Beckham connection is one of the most dangerous in the NFL, and facing the Eagles poor secondary, they will connect for more than a couple long balls.

Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed

After two consecutive high scoring weeks between these two, it may be too much to ask for another one. Reed has shown to be the Redskins top receiver scoring 4 touchdowns in the past 2 weeks. Although they have locked up their spot in the playoffs, they may come out strong against the Cowboys before starting to rest up starters.

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones

This stack is somewhat risky with both of these two showing poor performances as of late. After a strong start to the season, the Falcons seem to be falling apart. They however did upset the undefeated Panthers last week, moving in a positive direction for these two players. We all know how valuable this stack can be when they are both on their game. Plus, with the Saints secondary on pass coverage, Julio should not have much opposition.

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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.

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Week 16 Value Picks

Quarterback

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The shootout of the weekend should be between Jacksonville and New Orleans, assuming Drew Brees is healthy enough to take the field after tearing his plantar last week (the same injury Peyton Manning is struggling with). These two quarterbacks love to throw the ball and their defenses love to let the ball be thrown. I give Bortles the fantasy edge though since the Saints defense is more flawed fundamentally and Bortles just loves to throw the ball way down the field.

Kirk Cousins could be a great value pick this weekend as well. He has been on fire lately and we see the weapons he has in Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson (even Alfred Morris as well). Thats not even considering the fact that the Eagles secondary is great at making any quarterback look like Tom Brady out there.

Running Back

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As you can see from the above, there are not many great options at running back this week with the highest projected running back as Doug Martin (CHI @ TB) with only 20.6 projected points. You can spend the money at Running back if you wish and go with the likes of Doug Martin (CHI @ TB) and Matt Forte (CHI @ TB) in what should be a run off, or you can save your money for the higher value at the Receiver position and go for the bargain picks of Darren Sproles (WAS @ PHI), Tim Hightower (JAX @ NO), Christine Michael (STL @ SEA), or Ameer Abdullah (SF @ DET).

Wide Receiver

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The stack of the week should be Allen Robinson and Blake Bortles against the Saints. There is no denying that the Big Ben and Antonio Brown connection has been unstoppable this year, no matter what the matchup. He is going to cost you a pretty penny but fading Antonio Brown may just kill your chances of winning big, as it has plenty of weekends this year already.

Or you can go with Doug Baldwin who has scored over 10 touchdowns in the past 4 weeks. Can he keep this streak going against the Rams? I’m saying yes, not that he will score another 3 touchdowns, but he should be able to haul in 1 or 2 providing some good fantasy value. Seattle doesn’t seem to be stopping this charge until the season ends.

If you are trying to find a cheap value receiver to fill that last spot in your lineup with limited funds, you can look to Jeremy Maclin (CLE @ KC), John Brown (GB @ ARI), Michael Floyd (GB @ ARI), Willie Snead (JAX @ NO), Bradon Cooks (JAX @ NO), or Golden Tate (SF @ DET).

Tight End

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The tight end decision has been made easier in the previous couple weeks with Gronk out. Up until then the decision was go for Gronk, accept the 50+% ownership and $7000+ price tag and hope its his week, or choose from the list of alternative tight ends. The Gronk versus the field decision is back. This week it is easy though.

Gronk has not shown his dominance of previous years this season and is only projected about 1 point higher than the Saints‘ Benjamin Watson. The value picks here are Ebron and Kelce. Kelce has been stagnated slightly since his explosive start to the season and his salary reflects that decline. However, he has high end potential against the Browns, which is what you are going to need to win any big NFL Daily Fantasy Tournament. Ebron as well has shown brilliance at times this year and is getting more action lately with Calvin Johnson all of the sudden becoming obsolete in their offense. Ebron comes much cheaper than the other highly projected options and allows you to spend the cash where you want this week, with the receivers.

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NFL Week 16 Stacks to look out for

Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson

In terms of how he generates fantasy value, Bortles focuses on Quality over Quantity. By this I mean, he tends to only throw passes of 10 yards or more, and often far more. Looking at Jacksonville’s last game against the Falcons, he threw at least one 20+ yard pass to each of 5 different receivers. Robinson had a rare off game, only catching 3 passes for 57 yards, but he remains Bortles favorite target down the field. Jacksonville is facing the Saints, who although their pass defense has improved as of late, they still rank 3rd on the list of passing yards allowed with 278 passing yards per game.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown

If the Broncos can’t stop this dynamic duo, its hard to imagine anyone will be able to. Even against arguably the strongest defense in the NFL, Roethlisberger was able to total 380 passing yards, with Brown catching 16 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading the charts in week 15. Baltimore ranks 12th on the list of most passing yards allowed with 248 passing yards per game, compared to Denver who only allowed 188 passing yards per game (leading the NFL) going into week 15 where they were dominated by the Steelers.

Jimmy Clausen and Kamar Aiken

However, as strong as the Steelers’ offense is, they still are not a dominant team due to the weakness on the defensive side. They rank second in most passing yards allowed with 279 per game and if you are looking for a lower ownership, high risk stack, the Clausen and Aiken may be the stack for you. If you overlook the 2 interceptions Clausen threw last weekend, he put up some quality numbers (281 passing yards and 2 passing touchdowns) against a strong Chiefs defense. Aiken had 8 receptions for 73 receiving yards and a touchdown last week as well.

Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson

I probably don’t need to tell you how weak the Eagles secondary is and how disadvantaged they are to the long ball. Kirk Cousins should have a big game against the Eagles, my only debate here was which receiver to stack him with. Looking at the season as a whole, Jordan Reed is his favorite target but the Eagles’ weakness lies more in the secondary, which is where DeSean Jackson seems to dominate. Against the Bills last week he racked up 153 receiving yards on only 6 catches, averaging 25.5 yards per catch.

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NFL Fantasy Draft News 12-15-2015

Arizona Cardinals versus Philadelphia Eagles Real Money NFL Fantasy Preview 12-20-2015

Two playoff contenders are in action on Sunday night football as the Philadelphia Eagles will host the Arizona Cardinals. NFL fantasy draft GM’s can tune to NBC TV on December 20th at 8:30PM Eastern Time to follow the results of their one day league DFS roster picks.

 

The Philadelphia Eagles will carry a two game win streak after their win against Buffalo 23-20 at home. This came after a seven point victory at New England the previous week. The team’s defense has improved after allowing 45 to the Lions and Buccaneers in their prior two games before this win streak. The Eagles got a break from Bills self-destruction as they were penalized for 101 yards.

 

Arizona extends their win streak to seven straight after they beat Minnesota 23-20 on Thursday night football. The Cardinals have just one loss on the road and have put up 27 or greater points in five of their seven road games with three games where they amassed 39 or greater points. The Cardinals are second best in the NFL in scoring as they put up 31 points per game.

 

Here is the Fantasy Football Pick

 

Carson Palmer is healthy and is playing very good football for the Cardinals in 2015. Prior to his season long injury in 2014 Palmer was sharp and had good chemistry with his weapons in the passing game. Last week against Minnesota the veteran quarterback completed 71% of his throws for 310 yards with two touchdowns. Palmer has thrown for over 300 yards in two straight and five of his past six games. He has multiple touchdown passes in two straight and six of his past seven games. Palmer will have success connecting with his targets against an Eagles defense that has given up 28 at New England that had numerous injuries to their playmakers and 45 to Detroit and Tampa Bay.

 

Play Carson Palmer (Cardinals QB)

 

 

Denver Broncos versus Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Fantasy Preview 12-20-2015

 

A possible playoff preview is on tap on Sunday afternoon as the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Denver Broncos. DFS fantasy draft managers can tune to CBS TV on December 20th at 4:25PM Eastern Time to track the scoring results from their daily league roster picks.

 

The Denver Broncos come off a stinging home loss to the Oakland Raiders 15-12 where their defense put on a pretty good performance and deserved a better result. It is a log jam between the Patriots, Bengals and Broncos for best record in the AFC conference and the all-important home field advantage up into the Championship Game. The offense has gone stagnant in Denver. The team has been held to 17 points or fewer in four of their past five games. It does not look like Peyton Manning is going to return soon to the lineup.

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers bring momentum into their final home game of the regular season on Sunday. The team has won two straight and four of their past five games. Their offense is clicking as they scored at least 30 points for the fifth straight week. After holding the Cots to 10 points the Steelers limited the Bengals to 20 points. Following this home game against Denver the team finishes with road games against losing teams in the Ravens and Browns. Pittsburgh has the second ranked offense in the NFL and their defense yet getting lit up for passing yards is only allowing 20 points per game ranking 11th in the league.

 

Here is the NFL Fantasy Pick for your Real Money League

 

Pittsburgh has been a bend don’t break defense and they face a Broncos team that is having trouble moving the football and putting points on the board.

 

Play on Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

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