March 1, 2021

Fantasy Football: Week 11 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

It’s our last week of byes for the season.  A string of QBs went down last week. Are any of the replacements useful this week? Will the Steelers run the wishbone with Big Ben injured and all three RBs healthy?

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. Survivor is full of tough choices for me this week. A lot of key injuries on the defensive side of the ball could make or break my decisions. Or I may have succumbed to paralysis by analysis. I’ve made a subtle, but important move for one of my top two teams.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

Quarterback      

Up: Nick Foles is the starting QB for the Eagles and should be starting for you this week as I see him finishing in the top 12 against a suspect Washington defense. Yes, they get Brandon Meriweather back this week, but that’s not going to change the defensive backfield immensely. Foles has a chance to take the job and run with it. He’s got a series of great matchups for the rest of the season and should be owned in all leagues.

Tony Romo is at number 12 in the rankings this week so he’s a start in most leagues. However, I can see him moving a bit higher and would start him with confidence (if you are thinking of sitting him). The Browns are coming off a bye and have a solid defense (they’ve held the last three QBs they’ve faced to less than 190 yards! passing each). The Cowboys are going to struggle to run the ball this week as the Browns are expected to have both Ahtbya Rubin and Phil Taylor back in the middle of their front four. Romo will probably have to throw the ball (and with Joe Haden less than 100% he should have the space to do so) a lot this week for the Cowboys to succeed.

Joe Flacco has had a couple of pieces written about him and his ‘big game’ success against the Steelers. I’d personally stay away, but he has had some good games against them (last year he threw for 300 yards and a TD at Heinz Field). He’s a deeper league play if you are desperate.

Down: There aren’t any guys in the top 12 this week that I’d be too concerned about starting. Josh Freeman has a tough matchup against a very solid Carolina Panthers pass defense. They haven’t given up multiple passing TDs since Week 4 aginst Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Freeman put up just 138 yards and 1 TD in Week 1 against them. I’d probably put Nick Foles ahead of him (and you may have better options on your squad since Freeman was likely a late round pick or waiver wire claim).

Philip Rivers also has a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos. In his first matchup against them this season he turned the ball over six times. However, the Chargers were up 24-0 at halftime before the epic implosion. I’d probably shy away from Rivers if I had to make a choice (especially if Ryan Matthews doesn’t play).

Running back

Up: The Ravens cannot stop the run and the Steelers are starting Byron Leftwich at QB. I see all three Steelers RBs as potential starts this week as flex options. It looks like Isaac Redman will be the third down and goal line back so I like him in PPR leagues. Rashard Mendenhall is going to start with Jonathan Dwyer spelling him. I can see an almost 60/40 split in favor of Mendenhall making both potential options this week. None of the three of them will carry the load, but I can see the Steelers handing out 40 carries this week.

Joique Bell has value in most leagues (especially PPR) due to his “closer” role. He’ll play the fourth quarter and could catch passes as they Lions try to claw back against the Packers. Or, if the Lions find themselves ahead, he could carry the load to salt away the victory. Either way I see a top 25 outing from Bell this week.

LaRod Stephens-Howling has a good matchup this week and I can see him sneaking into the top 15. The Cardinals will have to do something to protect John Skelton and if they can run the ball, that should help keep him upright a bit longer. I might start him over someone like Matt Forte who could struggle against the 49ers and with Jason Campbell at QB.

I do like the ranking of Saints RBs (with the exception of Sproles) this week. I think Mark Ingram has a chance to have some value in shallow leagues down the stretch.

Down: Darren Sproles is a flex option in PPR leagues and a wait and see in non-PPR leagues for me this week. His value is in catching passes and Sproles is recovering from a broken hand. I’d only start him if I have no other option this week.

The St. Louis Rams have given up tons of yardage to good RBs. They have mostly muzzled bad RBs. Which category does Shonn Greene fall into? You guessed it. Sit Greene this week. He’s a desperation play in deep leagues.

Felix Jones is also a flex option only for me this week. The Browns get both run stuff DTs back this week and should be able to shut down the slight Jones.

Watch the injury reports on Sunday to see if Ryan Matthews is playing. He may not be worth the risk. Jackie Battle is the handcuff and should be owned by Matthews owners everywhere.

Wide Receiver

Up: It is time to see if the Cardinals follow up on their promise to get Michael Floyd more involved. Prior to the bye week, Floyd had supplanted Early Doucet as the third WR in the set. He had 18 total targets in the two weeks prior to the bye. I like Floyd as a PPR flex play this week as the Falcons shut down WR1s and WR2s, but struggle against others.

Watch the injury report to see if Tyvon Branch does not start for the Raiders. If he doesn’t, I’d upgrade all Saints WRs in an already juicy matchup. Lance Moore could finally find the end zone this week and I like him top 20 option this week without Branch in the lineup.

In deep leagues, Pierre Garcon is back and it looks like he will give it a try this week. He’s played sparingly all year due to an extremely painful toe injury. When he has played, Robert Griffin III has looked his way often. He could have WR1 upside this week against a soft Eagles defense. However, he could just as easily produce a zero in the fantasy points column. If you need to swing for the fences, Garcon is your man.

Even though Derek Hagan is the likely replacement in the starting lineup for the Oakland Raiders should Darrius Heyward-Bey miss the game, I’d take my chances with Rod Streater. Hagan is a replacement level player while Streater offers the upside one would want from a risky play.

Down:  Torrey Smith had two TDs last week. He had two catches last week. I’m not sure that ratio is sustainable. The Steelers have the defense to shut Smith down. I’d leave him on the bench this week (I’m starting one of Lance Moore, Danario Alexander or Pierre Garcon over him).

The Chiefs do a good job defending the WR. I wouldn’t worry about A.J. Green, but the supporting cast of Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins is best left on your bench.

I’d move Andre Johnson out of the top 25. The Texans should take care of the Jaguars without any issues. I can see them running the ball for much of the day. Johnson hasn’t been a big part of the offense this year. Moreover, the Jags do not give up a lot of TDs to WRs.

Julio Jones and Wes Welker are both game time decisions so be aware of their status heading into your games. Welker has a great matchup while Jones’ is less so.

Tight End

Up: Brent Celek should be starting in all leagues. With rookie Nick Foles at the helm, he will be looking for a safety blanket. There is no warmer spot in the league than the soft spot in the middle of Washington’s defense. Expect top five production from Celek this week.

Dwayne Allen continues to be the main TE for the Colt this week as Coby Fleener sits out again. I like him against a Patriots defense that gives up TDs to TEs. He’s a top 10 TE this week.

Down: Jason Witten is not a top five option this week. I’d actually consider sitting him for this matchup. Witten has been heavily targeted all year, but that has rarely translated to fantasy production. In PPR leagues, Witten is viable, but in TD heavy leagues, I’d look elsewhere this week. The Browns can defend the TE and haven’t given up more than four catches to a TE this season.

Brandon Myers concerns me this week. Yes, he is recovered from his second concussion this season, but he’s just one more hit away from leaving the game again this week. There should be better options out there for you this week. The Saints look to have a solid defense against TE, but they haven’t exactly faced the 1927 Yankees of TEs this season. Still, I’d sit Myers until we see he is fully healthy.

Let someone else take the risk on Vernon Davis this week. I see the reasoning behind the ranking, but I disagree that it will help put Davis in the top 10. The Bears probably don’t scheme for TEs because they don’t have to. I don’t want any part of Davis with a recently concussed Alex Smith or rookie Colin Kaepernick under center.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. The Packers are back off their bye so make sure to dump him before he ruins your week.

Defense

Up: The Cincinnati Bengals are at number seven in the rankings this week, but this is just a reminder to get them into your lineup. The Chiefs are a friendly lot for fantasy defenses.

I wouldn’t have the Cleveland Browns so far down (ranked number 22) the list this week. They are off a bye and even without Joe Haden, they can be formidable. I’d see them being a top 15 option this week against a mistake prone Dallas offense.

Down: The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers face off against each this week. The Ravens are a popular choice due to the Steelers moving Byron Leftwich into the starting lineup. However, I can’t see the Steelers placing the ball in his hands to win the game. I see the Ravens finishing outside of the top 12.

The same can be said for the Steelers as I don’t think they will have a big day against a Ravens offense which will likely try to keep the ball out of Joe Flacco’s hands (and in Ray Rice’s).

Survivor

Week 10 saw the San Francisco 49ers fall. Maybe. Or maybe not. Depending on how your pool handled it (or if they had any rules for it all), you may or may not be alive with a 49ers choice last week. My opinion is that it should be a loss and the entries are out. But, I’m not the commissioner of your pool (or mine).

Enough about rules and winners and losers. On to Week 11. Something has to give soon. This is the last week of byes so you’ll have a full slate of teams next week. Choose wisely so you can see Week 12.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday’s game below.

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

Survivor Pool – Week 11 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Saturday night:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Dallas Cowboys

33.90%

1

Dallas Cowboys

43.29%

2

Denver Broncos

19.70%

2

Denver Broncos

14.68%

3

Houston Texans

14.80%

3

Houston Texans

14.49%

4

Atlanta Falcons

12.10%

4

Atlanta Falcons

8.12%

5

New Orleans Saints

6.70%

5

New Orleans Saints

7.72%

6

New England Patriots

6.50%

6

New England Patriots

3.72%

7

St. Louis Rams

1.70%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.52%

8

Cincinnati Bengals

1.50%

8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1.23%

9

Washington Redskins

1.00%

9

St. Louis Rams

1.01%

10

Buffalo Bills (W)

0.60%

10

Washington Redskins

0.53%

Do you trust the Cowboys and Tony Romo? I’m a Cowboys fan and I’m not sure I do. Where should we go? I’ll give you a long list as I imagine many entrants don’t have a couple of the top options. I’m having trouble coming up with a solid list. The first six choices are exactly the same in both sets of data (perhaps the first time I’ve seen that this year). I’ve dropped the Cowboys from #2 to #4 in a virtual tie with the Broncos. I still like the Cowboys a touch more than Denver, but it closer to a coin flip than I originally thought.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Houston Texans – If you have the Texans, take them. I can’t imagine they’ll be a bigger favorite this year. They have the defense to stop the Jaguars offense which seems to be trending toward a one-dimensional passing attack led by Blaine Gabbert. Let that last sentence sink in. I give the Texans an 87% chance of winning.
  2. New England Patriots – Every time I write the Patriots name I cringe. I don’t know why. It’s almost Pavlovian at his point. Again, there isn’t any reason to believe the Patriots should lose at home to the Colts. The Colts have looked better, but they still have a rookie QB. I could see me moving the Pats down a bit as the week goes on. I give the Patriots a 79% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons come off their first loss (at the hands of the surging Saints) and face an Arizona team off their bye week, but still with John Skelton at QB. The Cardinals head east to Atlanta and though Atlanta barely defeated the Raiders in a similar trip, I think the loss to the Saints will offer some focus for the Falcons. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys are at home. They haven’t been great at home this year. The Browns are coming off a bye and Trent Richardson seems to be close to 100% healthy.  I’ve put them this high because of the injury that Joe Haden suffered in practice this week. The Browns defense is a much different defense without Haden. Check back for my final column to see Haden’s status. The Browns have both of their starting DTs this season which could turn the Cowboys into a one-dimensional offense. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance to win (without Haden in the lineup).
  5. Denver Broncos – This was my initial choice for the week (as I don’t have most of the big boys left), but I’ve dropped them a bit due to Haden’s injury for the Browns. This is a division game and the Chargers are almost past the point of desperation. However, the Broncos offer a balanced offensive attacked backed up by a stout defense. I can’t see Philip Rivers solving that defense on a regular basis. I give the Broncos a 74% chance of winning.
  6. New Orleans Saints – This will be the week to see if the Saints are really back or not. They go on the road to face a Raiders team that was annihilated in Baltimore last week. The Raiders have no running game and have to throw on nearly every down. The Saints have a poor defense, but their offense looks to be back to pre-Joe Vitt status. I give the Saints a 73% of winning.
  7. Washington Redskins - The Redskins are off a bye. The Eagles have a rookie QB to work into the offense.  The Eagles can win this game if they give LeSean McCoy 25+ carries. Andy Reid hasn’t struck me as someone who really wants to do that…ever. This is the week to do it to protect Nick Foles. One of these teams has to win, right? I give the advantage to Robert Griffin III and the Washington football team. I give them a 65% chance of winning.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Green Bay Packers on the road. The Packers continue to win, but continue to lose players to injury (Clay Matthews is out this week). At some point, I believe those injuries will come back to haunt them. The Lions offense looks to be clicking and their defense isn’t awful. I’d hold off this week on the Packers. There should be other options out there.

There shouldn’t be a need to go with the St. Louis Rams either. Yes, the Jets are a tire fire of a team, but they still have talent. The Rams are young and could overlook this Jets squad.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens. Yes, Byron Leftwich will be under center. Yes, Joe Flacco has performed relatively well against the Steelers. But, I think the Steelers will attempt to control the ball on the ground (they have enough RBs to do so) and the Ravens aren’t great against the run.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 11 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Week 10 saw the San Francisco 49ers fall. Maybe. Or maybe not. Depending on how your pool handled it (or if they had any rules for it all), you may or may not be alive with a 49ers choice last week. My opinion is that it should be a loss and the entries are out. But, I’m not the commissioner of your pool (or mine).

Enough about rules and winners and losers. On to Week 11. Something has to give soon. This is the last week of byes so you’ll have a full slate of teams next week. Choose wisely so you can see Week 12.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday’s game below.

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

Survivor Pool – Week 11 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Thursday afternoon:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Dallas Cowboys

34.30%

1

Dallas Cowboys

42.91%

2

Denver Broncos

19.90%

2

Houston Texans

14.62%

3

Houston Texans

15.20%

3

Denver Broncos

14.58%

4

Atlanta Falcons

12.10%

4

New Orleans Saints

8.07%

5

New England Patriots

6.60%

5

Atlanta Falcons

8.01%

6

New Orleans Saints

6.10%

6

New England Patriots

3.86%

7

St. Louis Rams

1.60%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.60%

8

Cincinnati Bengals

1.30%

8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1.24%

9

Washington Redskins

1.00%

9

St. Louis Rams

0.94%

10

Buffalo Bills

0.50%

10

Washington Redskins

0.57%

Do you trust the Cowboys and Tony Romo? I’m a Cowboys fan and I’m not sure I do. Where should we go? I’ll give you a long list as I imagine many entrants don’t have a couple of the top options. I’m having trouble coming up with a solid list.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Houston Texans – If you have the Texans, take them. I can’t imagine they’ll be a bigger favorite this year. They have the defense to stop the Jaguars offense which seems to be trending toward a one-dimensional passing attack led by Blaine Gabbert. Let that last sentence sink in. I give the Texans an 87% chance of winning.
  2. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys are at home. They haven’t been great at home this year. The Browns are coming off a bye and Trent Richardson seems to be close to 100% healthy.  I’ve put them this high because of the injury that Joe Haden suffered in practice this week. The Browns defense is a much different defense without Haden. Check back for my final column to see Haden’s status. I give the Cowboys an 81% chance to win (without Haden in the lineup).
  3. New England Patriots – Every time I write the Patriots name I cringe. I don’t know why. It’s almost Pavlovian at his point. Again, there isn’t any reason to believe the Patriots should lose at home to the Colts. The Colts have looked better, but they still have a rookie QB. I could see me moving the Pats down a bit as the week goes on. I give the Patriots a 79% chance of winning.
  4. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons come off their first loss (at the hands of the surging Saints) and face an Arizona team off their bye week, but still with John Skelton at QB. The Cardinals head east to Atlanta and though Atlanta barely defeated the Raiders in a similar trip, I think the loss to the Saints will offer some focus for the Falcons. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.
  5. Denver Broncos – This was my initial choice for the week (as I don’t have most of the big boys left), but I’ve dropped them a bit due to Haden’s injury for the Browns. This is a division game and the Chargers are almost past the point of desperation. However, the Broncos offer a balanced offensive attacked backed up by a stout defense. I can’t see Phillip Rivers solving that defense on a regular basis. I give the Broncos a 74% chance of winning.
  6. New Orleans Saints – This will be the week to see if the Saints are really back or not. They go on the road to face a Raiders team that was annihilated in Baltimore last week. The Raiders have no running game and have to throw on nearly every down. The Saints have a poor defense, but their offense looks to be back to pre-Joe Vitt status. I give the Saints a 73% of winning.
  7. Washington Redskins - The Redskins are off a bye. The Eagles have a rookie QB to work into the offense.  The Eagles can win this game if they give LeSean McCoy 25+ carries. Andy Reid hasn’t struck me as someone who really wants to do that…ever. This is the week to do it to protect Nick Foles. One of these teams has to win, right? I give the advantage to Robert Griffin III and the Washington football team. I give them a 65% chance of winning. Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Green Bay Packers on the road. The Packers continue to win, but continue to lose players to injury (Clay Matthews is out this week). At some point, I believe those injuries will come back to haunt them. The Lions offense looks to be clicking and their defense isn’t awful. I’d hold off this week on the Packers. There should be other options out there.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens. Yes, Byron Leftwich will be under center. Yes, Joe Flacco has performed relatively well against the Steelers. But, I think the Steelers will attempt to control the ball on the ground (they have enough RBs to do so) and the Ravens aren’t great against the run.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Thursday night game preview – Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

Miami

Ryan Tannehill did not look good last week in the thrashing by the Titans. I think he’s hurt by a lack of a consistent running game.  The Bills were friendly early in the season, but have put the clamps down on QBs. I’d leave Tannehill on the bench in most leagues.

The Dolphins plan has to be to focus on the run and as a result I like Reggie Bush as a QB2 and Daniel Thomas as flex option in most leagues. The Bills struggle mightily against the run and haven’t seemed to figure things out yet.

The Bills DBs are not great. The Dolphins WRs are not great. I can see Brian Hartline being a potential flex play in deep leagues, but that is about it from the WR corps of the Dolphins.

The Bills have given up three TDs in the last two weeks to TEs. Do they have another one in them? Possibly, but I’d stay away from Anthony Fasano. He’s too risky.

Buffalo

Ryan Fitzpatrick should be solid as a high end QB2 this week and good bye week fill in should you need him. It will be interesting to see how the Bills fully incorporate their running  game into the plan.

C.J. Spiller is matchup proof in my estimation. Start him as an RB1 with confidence.

I like both Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones in this matchup. The Dolphins haven’t been able to stop many WRs. Jones has really come into his own in the last couple of weeks and I’d start both in standard leagues.

Scott Chandler has a chance to make an impact as well as the Dolphins struggled two out of the last three weeks against TEs (and the Titans seem to dislike Jared Cook very much which could have led to him having only one catch this past week). I like Chandler for 5 catches and 60 yards with a potential TD.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 10 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

We only have one more week of byes after this one so it is time to start focusing on your push for the playoffs. If you are comfortably in, then focus on those players who have great matchups in your league’s playoffs.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. I’ve got one big change to the Survivor options this week. There is a new team at number one.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington

Quarterback      

Up: Carson Palmer should be a starter in all leagues this week. The Raiders are without their top two RBs and their best RB left is a passing catching machine. I can see Palmer throwing the ball 40+ times and just on volume could get 300+ yards. I see him as a top 10 QB this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick should also be a top 12 option even if he is missing Stevie Johnson. Fitzpatrick was a top scorer in week four when he faced the Patriots even with four interceptions. The Patriots can’t get to the QB with any regularity and could be missing two top safeties.

Down: Eli Manning has really struggled over the last month and I don’t think a road game against a solid Cincinnati Bengals defense is the cure. Manning should finish outside of the top 12 this week. Manning needs to get all of his weapons healthy before he’s back to being “Eli-te.”

Cam Newton won’t be a top 12 option this week as I think the Denver defense can rattle him enough to keep him off balance all day. The Broncos have enough speed on defense to keep him bottled up and they have defensive backs that can track with Steve Smith.

Running back

Up: Isaac Redman is must start against a Chiefs team that is moribund. I see the Steelers doing what they want to do all game long and Redman should be the beneficiary of this largesse. Sure, Jonathan Dwyer is back in the mix, but there should more than enough to go around. Dwyer is a viable flex play in deeper leagues.

Mikel LeShoure looks to have a tough matchup against the Vikings. However, if we look at the last three weeks, the Vikes have given up 100 yards to each starting RB.  I don’t think LeShoure will reach 100 yards (as his upside is limited by the presence of Joique Bell, who is a good flex option this week), but I can see 75 yards and a TD.

Daniel Thomas is in this space again this week as great flex play this week as the Dolphins faceoff a Titans defense that is friendly to anyone it sees. Thomas’ workload has increased as the Dolphins seem to be limiting Reggie Bush carries (either due to nagging injuries or the desire to increase Thomas’ reps). I could see Thomas sneaking into RB2 land this week, but more likely will remain only a flex option.

Mark Ingram is supposedly fully healthy for the first time this year.  There are many calling him a disappointment, but I don’t see how anyone can evaluate him due to injury and lack of playing time. The Saints do not utilize the running back to run the ball, but if Ingram is finally back to 100%, he might be an interesting stash in deeper leagues.

Oh, and I said monitor Doug Martin last week to see how Carl Nicks’ injury affected him. I think you can stop monitoring. He looks a-OK.

Down: Shonn Greene should not be starting in most leagues this week. He faces the Seahawks in Seattle and I can’t see Greene doing much of anything at all against the defense. My hat seems safe for another week.

I don’t like Ryan Matthews as anything more than a flex play this week. The Bucs have been up and down against RBs, but with their offense clicking I think the Chargers will have to play from behind limiting Matthews carries.

Wide Receiver

Up: Emmanuel Sanders is said to be splitting time with Jerricho Cotchery, but Sanders is the one with the upside. I can see him being a good flex play this week in all leagues against the Chiefs.

Golden Tate has WR3 updside today as the Jets defense shuts down #1 WRs, but is only league average against #2s. I like Tate for another TD catch this week and about 70 yards.

Kenny Britt is excited. Jake Locker is back. Britt should be back in your lineup and hope for WR1 production this week out of Britt who has been harmed by nagging injuries and Matt Hasselbeck.

For the Vikings, there should be more targets for Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins. Simpson has the upside, but Christian Ponder hasn’t seemed to be able to connect with Simpson. I like Jenkins to pick up the slack for the Vikes and he is a solid flex play (especially in PPR). Simpson is more of a desperation call as he could get on the end of a long TD throw, but that’s probably it for him.

And if you have room for him, grab Andre Roberts or Michael Floyd. They are on bye this week and are on many a waiver wire. The Cardinals offense should improve in the next couple of weeks with Kevin Kolb and Beanie Wells soon to return.

Down:  Lance Moore is not an option for me in most leagues today. The Falcons have been very good against WRs this year and Moore is still working his way back from injury. I think he’s a flex option this week at best.

Dwayne Bowe is also nothing better than a flex option for this week. The Steelers have been great at shutting down WR1s all year long. I expect five catches for 60 yards for Bowe. If that performance is useful in your league’s scoring system, start him. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

I’d drop Torrey Smith down a notch this week to a low-end WR2. There has been talk of the Ravens rotating in other WRs and coming off their bye week is a great time to incorporate new wrinkles into the offense.

Tight End

Up: Scott Chandler is a top 10 option this week against a poor Patriots defense that will likely be without Patrick Chung at safety. The Bills may also be down top WR Stevie Johnson so Ryan Fitzpatrick will look more often to his athletic TE, especially in the red zone.

With Percy Harvin out, I can see Kyle Rudolph picking up some additional targets. His value lies in TDs though so he’s a tough guy to put in your lineup. He’s more of a desperation play in my opinion.

Down: Heath Miller is a popular choice this week as he faces a weak Chiefs defense. However, the Chiefs haven’t given up much in the way of fantasy points to TEs. That isn’t necessarily because the Chiefs have a great defense. I imagine some of it is due to the fact that offenses facing the Chiefs don’t have to use all of their weapons to win. Miller should finish outside of the top 12 for TEs this week.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that the Packers are on a bye this week.

Kicker

Up: Dan Carpenter has been hot since a slow start and makes a good bye week fill-in this week. He’s made nine of his last 11 FGs (with his only two misses being 50+ yard attempts) Morever, the Titans give up a ton of FG opportunities to opponents.

Defense

Up: I mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers in my column earlier this week. This is just a reminder as they play the lowly Chiefs with Matt Cassel at the helm. The Steelers do not have playmakers on defense or special teams so a TD may be too much to ask, but they should see 2+ turnovers and a few sacks while holding the Chiefs to less than 14 points.

I’d bump the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the top 12 as they face a San Diego Chargers team that will likely be without LT Jared Gaither. They should be able to get to the QB with ease and Philip Rivers can be a turnover machine when he’s pressured.

Down: The San Diego Chargers had a breakout performance against the Chiefs last week. It won’t happen again this week as they face off against a Tampa Bay team that has turned into an offensive juggernaut, protects the QB and doesn’t turn the ball over.

I know Percy Harvin is out, but I do not like the Detroit Lions this week against the Vikings. The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson and will likely run him as much as they can. Moreover, I can see them trying some other ‘trickeration’ to attempt to make up for Harvin’s absence. I wouldn’t count on the Lions being top 12 this week.

Survivor

Week nine allowed most of us to skate through to see another week in Survivor. The only team in the top 10 to lose last week was Washington taking 3.3% of entries out of Office Football Pool (though it took almost 11% out of my largest pool). It’s been a bit too easy the last three weeks. I have to think a big surprise is on the horizon to take out a large number of entries.

I’ve got a big update (well, at least in my eyes) below as I change a bit of my thinking for this week and beyond.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington

Survivor Pool – Week 10 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

51.90%

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

59.98%

2

San Francisco 49ers

15.50%

2

San Francisco 49ers

12.98%

3

New England Patriots

10.50%

3

New England Patriots

7.10%

4

Baltimore Ravens

9.50%

4

Baltimore Ravens

5.65%

5

Seattle Seahawks

4.90%

5

Indianapolis Colts (W)

4.71%

6

Miami Dolphins

2.60%

6

Seattle Seahawks

3.43%

7

Indianapolis Colts (W)

2.50%

7

Denver Broncos

2.48%

8

Denver Broncos

1.10%

8

Miami Dolphins

1.51%

9

New York Giants

0.80%

9

New York Giants

1.17%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.30%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.23%

 

We have two double digit favorites to choose from at the top of the pile. Is there any concern with either of them? Where does the value lie? What if neither of the big favorites is available?

As you may have noticed, I’ve moved the Ravens up from third to first and slid the 49ers and Steelers down one slot each. Why have I done this? Well, I’ve decided to look ahead, something I do not like to do in survivor. So much can change from week to week with injuries, that looking ahead is a fool’s pursuit. Color me a fool this week.

The Ravens are good at home and poor on the road. Looking at their remaining schedule, they have @PIT, @SD, PIT, @WAS, DEN, NYG and then wrap up @CIN. The Ravens are never a play for me on the road and their remaining home games are likely to have them favored by one point or less in every game.

The Ravens are a seven point favorite this week. If you do not use them this week, you won’t use them for the rest of the season. I’m putting Baltimore at the top as I think they are a better value than Pittsburgh. Depending on your pool, the 49ers might be a better value as they have a better chance to win, but there may be more entries with San Francisco left.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are a far different team (and Joe Flacco a far different QB) at home than on the road. The Raiders may have a guy named for a country in Asia as their lead RB this week. The Raiders are coming east to face the Ravens for a one o’clock game. There was terrible news on Saturday with four year old son of Raiders’ defensive line coach Terrell Williams dying. I am sure this will give an emotional lift to the Raiders. I give the Ravens a 75% chance of winning.
  2. San Francisco 49ers – Your pool may vary, but the value play is San Francisco. There are few players who have the 49ers available and they are in the same neighborhood in terms of a chance of winning this week. The concern with San Francisco is they have scored only 16 points total in their last two home games (one a loss to the Giants). The Rams (coming off a bye) are due to get playmaker Danny Amendola back which makes the Rams offense dangerous. I believe the 49ers defense is too much for the Rams. I give the 49ers an 81% of winning the game.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are hot. The Chiefs are cold. The Steelers have injuries on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs are awful on both sides of the ball whether they are healthy or injured. The Chiefs are led by professional turnover machine Matt Cassel at QB. The Chiefs give every team they face so many extra opportunities with those turnovers that the Steelers should be able to overcome the Chiefs. I have the Steelers third because I think you can get better value in your pool by choosing either Baltimore or San Francisco. I give the Steelers an 85% of winning the game.
  4. New England Patriots – I have no rational reason for moving the Patriots down to number five four other than they’ve burned me once and come close to burning me a second time. The Bills are off their bye and do have dynamic offensive weapons. However, I do see the Patriots winning this game without too much of an issue. I give the Patriots a 74% chance to win.
  5. Seattle Seahawks – Oh, the Seahawks love to be at home as well. The Link is a tough place to play. The Seahawks have already defeated the Patriots there. Their marauding defense should be able to confuse Mark Sanchez and force the Jets to throw. I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I doubt there will be too many people on teams other than the 49ers and Steelers. If you can’t use one of the five I’ve listed above, I would stay away from Indianapolis Colts off the short week in Jacksonville. The Colts had an emotional win last week and are going to a Jaguars team that hasn’t looked as bad as its talent suggests

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints have been bad, but they are at home against at Falcons team which may be looking past them as the Saints have struggled mightily for much of the season.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 10 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Week nine allowed most of us to skate through to see another week in Survivor. The only team in the top 10 to lose last week was Washington taking 3.3% of entries out of Office Football Pool (though it took almost 11% out of my largest pool). It’s been a bit too easy the last three weeks. I have to think a big surprise is on the horizon to take out a large number of entries.

I’ve got a quick preview of Thursday’s game below as well.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington

Survivor Pool – Week 10 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of late Wednesday night:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

55.10%

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

63.75%

2

San Francisco 49ers

14.70%

2

San Francisco 49ers

11.96%

3

New England Patriots

10.40%

3

New England Patriots

6.55%

4

Baltimore Ravens

8.40%

4

Baltimore Ravens

5.05%

5

Seattle Seahawks

4.80%

5

Indianapolis Colts

3.97%

6

Miami Dolphins

2.60%

6

Seattle Seahawks

3.12%

7

Indianapolis Colts

1.60%

7

Denver Broncos

2.53%

8

Denver Broncos

0.90%

8

Miami Dolphins

1.13%

9

New York Giants

0.70%

9

New York Giants

1.04%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.30%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.18%

We have two double digit favorites to choose from at the top of the pile. Is there any concern with either of them? Where does the value lie? What if neither of the big favorites is available?

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. San Francisco 49ers – Your pool may vary, but the value play is San Francisco. There are few players who have the 49ers available and they are in the same neighborhood in terms of a chance of winning this week. The concern with San Francisco is they have scored only 16 points total in their last two home games (one a loss to the Giants). The Rams (coming off a bye) are due to get playmaker Danny Amendola back which makes the Rams offense dangerous. I believe the 49ers defense is too much for the Rams. I give the 49ers an 81% of winning the game.
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are hot. The Chiefs are cold. The Steelers have injuries on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs are awful on both sides of the ball whether they are healthy or injured. The Chiefs are led by professional turnover machine Matt Cassel at QB. The Chiefs give every team they face so many extra opportunities with those turnovers that the Steelers should be able to overcome the Chiefs. I give the Steelers an 85% of winning the game.
  3. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are a far different team (and Joe Flacco a far different QB) at home than on the road. The Raiders may have a guy named for a country in Asia as their lead RB this week. The Raiders are coming east to face the Ravens for a one o’clock game. I give the Ravens a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Seattle Seahawks – Oh, the Seahawks love to be at home as well. The Link is a tough place to play. The Seahawks have already defeated the Patriots there. Their marauding defense should be able to confuse Mark Sanchez and force the Jets to throw. I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.
  5. New England Patriots –  I have no rational reason for moving the Patriots down to number five other than they’ve burned me once and come close to burning me a second time. The Bills are off their bye and do have dynamic offensive weapons. However, I do see the Patriots winning this game without too much of an issue. I give the Patriots a 70% chance to win.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I doubt there will be too many people on teams other than the 49ers and Steelers. If you can’t use one of the five I’ve listed above, I would stay away from Indianapolis Colts off the short week in Jacksonville. The Colts had an emotional win last week and are going to a Jaguars team that hasn’t looked as bad as its talent suggests.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints have been bad, but they are at home against at Falcons team which may be looking past them as the Saints have struggled mightily for much of the season.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Thursday night game preview – Indianapolis Colts v. Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis

Andrew Luck struggles on the road, but I’m not sure I’d sit him for this week unless you have a fantastic option. Luck’s not throwing for 400 yards this week, but he should be a low-end QB1.

Vick Ballard should be a solid RB2 this week.

Donnie Avery may be back so watch the injury report. If not, then T.Y. Hilton becomes a flex option.

Dwayne Allen is the only TE as Coby Fleener is still injured. I like him as a TE1 again.

Jacksonville

Blaine Gabbert has looked solid the past couple of weeks. I like him as a sneaky QB1 at home.

Rashad Jennings should have plenty of room to roam against the Colts porous defense. He’s an RB1 in my books.

Cecil Shorts is the man for the Jaguars. He did lose some targets to Laurent Robinson, but Shorts is a solid flex play.

The Jaguars defense could be a desperation play as I think the Colts will struggle on the road.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 10 Waiver Wire Advice

It’s Election Night. Who do you choo, choo, chooooooooooooooose for week 10’s fantasy roster?

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers

Quarterback                               

Carson Palmer – With the injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, I imagine Carson Palmer will likely throw the ball 100 times a game. With that type of volume, Palmer could play himself into the QB1 range for the rest of the season.

Russell Wilson – Wilson continues to be a viable play in home games for the Seahawks. He (and the Seahawks) are bad on the road, but something happens at home that makes the Seahawks look like Super Bowl contenders.

Jake Locker – Locker was cleared for practice this week. It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play in a good matchup this week. Locker has a chance to be a QB2 for the rest of the season and could be a matchup play over the remainder of the season.

Kevin Kolb – It looks like Kevin Kolb may return after the bye week. And perhaps not a moment too soon for the Cardinals. However, for your fantasy team he’s best left on the waiver wire until the Cardinals solve their offensive line issues.

Nick Foles – The cry has been getting louder for weeks. It does not seem like the Eagles are going to make a change (unless Michael Vick succumbs to an injury). Andy Reid seems intent on going down with Vick as his QB. Vick has been bad and he has admitted as much. However, Foles is a rookie and it’s not clear he would be an upgrade from Vick. Another loss on Monday night leads to another endorsement from Andy Reid for Vick. In dynasty leagues, Foles is useful. In others, I don’t see him getting any meaningful playing time this season.

Running back

Saints RBs – Monday night’s game did not bring any clarity to the Saints RB situation. Darren Sproles was out, but there was still a split of touches between Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory (who scored a TD). Travaris Cadet contributed on special teams, lost a fumble and did nothing else.  It looks like only Sproles (who may be back in a week or two) is still the only back who will contribute regularly. The others aren’t worth owning except as bye week fill-ins or in deep leagues. Their performance is just too difficult to predict week to week.

Raiders RBs – Darren McFadden suffered a high ankle sprain. Mike Goodson suffered a high ankle sprain. Marcel Reese picked up eight catches for 95 yards in relief as the Raiders tried to throw their way back into the game. Taiwan Jones is still on the roster.

It looks likes Darren McFadden is pushing to start in Week 10 which muddles the picture. I don’t see McFadden being useful this week (even if he does play). I’d grab Marcel Reece for this week as he’s got the talent to be useful in many formats. Jones has had fumbling issues according to his coach and I can’t see the Raiders trusting him with more than a change of pace role at this point.

Cowboys RBs DeMarco Murray is out for Week 10. Felix Jones is a china doll. Lance Dunbar moved ahead of Philip Tanner this week. Murray is clearly the lead dog and should regain his starting role as soon as he’s healthy. I’d still rather have Dunbar than Felix Jones for the long term because I don’t see Jones staying healthy over a long period. That said, Jones will likely continue to be the most valuable Cowboys back until Murray returns.

Joique Bell – Lions coach Jim Schwartz loves Joique Bell. He’s the Mariano Rivera of the Detroit Lions.  The Lions get a lead and they put Bell into salt the victory away. This gives Bell a clear role and cuts into Mikel LeShoure’s value. Bell is a flex play for the rest of the season (especially in those games where the Lions are expected to win).

Beanie Wells – Wells  is due back in Week 12 according to reports so if you have room on your roster snag him now or tuck this note away for later after the bye weeks end.

Evan Royster – Royster looks to be the clear number two back to Alfred Morris and might be a useful handcuff after the bye weeks end as Morris insurance.

Wide Receiver

Danny Amendola – If he’s on your waiver wire for some reason, grab him as your first choice. He’s back in the lineup for Week 10.

Michael Floyd – The Cardinals have said they are going to continue to get Michael Floyd more involved in the offense. It will be interesting to see how he performs when Kevin Kolb returns. The Cardinals are on bye this week so I imagine very few fantasy players will be on Floyd so you might be able to snag him during the week. I like Floyd more in PPR leagues than standard leagues and he’s a flex option for the rest of the season.

T.Y. Hilton – When T.Y. Hilton speaks, people listen.  Hilton had a breakout game with Donnie Avery leaving early and Coby Fleener missing the game. If Avery returns this week (as it looks like he might even with the short turnaround), Hilton goes back to a being an afterthought in fantasy circles.  In dynasty leagues, Hilton is an intriguing play. Reggie Wayne isn’t getting any younger and Donnie Avery isn’t particularly special. I can see Hilton being a breakout star next year. If you are out of it this year, plant Hilton on the bench and see what blooms.

Danario Alexander – “Coach” Norv Turner said that Alexander has earned a big role with the Chargers. Turner is effusive in his praise of nearly every player who plays for him so take this with a grain of salt. Alexander has not been able to stay healthy in his career and will likely be a rotational player with the other Chargers WRs. Do not break the bank on him.

Tight End

Rob Housler – I’ve mentioned Housler a couple of times in this column. He’s getting more and more opportunities as the season has progressed. I like Housler as a low end TE1 for the remainder of the season (especially in PPR leagues).

Dwayne Allen – Allen took advantage of the injury to Coby Fleener and will continue to put up TE1 (in PPR leagues) numbers as long as Fleener is injured (which may only be one more week).

The Redskins are on bye, but the Titans play this week so take a look at Anthony Fasano as a good matchup play this week.

Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers aren’t a good fantasy defense, but they play the Chiefs this week and should be starting in all leagues this week. The Chiefs make bad defenses look good.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

 

Fantasy Football: Week 9 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

It is starting to get down to crunch time as we enter Week 9. If you want to make the playoffs, it’s time to make your push now.  I’m getting this up a bit earlier and may have an update for your Sunday morning. I’ll tweet out the update and post it on DSP’s Facebook page if I do.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. I’ve got one big addition to the Survivor options this week. Take a look – no one is on this team yet.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Quarterback      

Up: Matt Schaub and the Texans come off a bye to face a Buffalo Bills team. I can see Schaub in the top 10 this week. The Texans should be able to do whatever they want against the Bills 9who also are off a bye). I think they may try to get the WRs involved a bit more (especially Andre Johnson) and look to take some of the load off of Arian Foster as he’s on pace for a staggering number of carries.

Brandon Weeden seems to be here every week, but I generally feel he’s undervalued most weeks. The Ravens defense has struggled to get an effective pass rush with only 12 sacks in eight games so far this season. It’s a solid matchup for Weeden and he should sneak into the top 12.

Carson Palmer faces a Tampa Bay pass defense which has been uneven all year long. The Raiders do not seem to be able to run the ball so the offense will again look to Carson Palmer to throw them down the field. Expect a top 10 day from Carson this week against the Bucs.

Down: Jay Cutler has a great matchup, but it oesn’t matter. The Bears do not throw the ball enough for Cutler to be anything more than a low end bye week replacement. Also, there was news this week from Chicago that they want to get Matt Forte more involved which can only mean fewer opportunities for Cutler.

Ben Roethlisberger looks like he has a great matchup against the Giatns, but looking deeper Big Ben would be better served changing his last name to Romo if he wanted to succeed against the Giants secondary. Looking deeper into the Giants numbers, they have really been burned by Romo – he’s thrown for 844 yards in his two matchups with the Giants. Working for Big Ben is it looks like he may not have much of a running game with only Isaac Redman healthy enough. Lastly, the Steelers will be traveling the day of the game and the Giants should get a huge emotional lift from the crowd in the wake of Sandy. I see Big Ben around 250 yards and 2 TDs for the day so tread with caution.

Cam Newton also has a great matchup, but it’s unclear who he might throw the ball to this week. Steve Smith is healthy, but Brandon LaFell likely won’t play and the Panthers don’t have a ton of depth at WR. I can see the Redskins trying to double Steve Smith and force Newton to take underneath stuff to Greg Olsen. Moreover, the Redskins have begun to struggle recently against the run and I think the Panthers will want to establish Jonathan Stewart early. Newton will be between 15 and 20 on the QB list this week.

Running back

Up: Matt Forte is a top 3 option this week. The Titans give up a ton of rushing yards and also give up over 6.5 receptions per game to RBs. Make sure Forte is in your lineup.

Michael Turner looks like a poor matchup play this week, but digging deeper, we see a Dallas defense without starting ILB Sean Lee again this week. In their first game without him, they gave up over 100 yards to Giants RBs. I like Turner as a top 15 option this week – a solid RB2.

Daniel Thomas is a great flex play this week as the Dolphins faceoff against a porous Colts run defense. I can see the Dolphins continuing to give carries to Thomas to spell Reggie Bush and to mix it up on offense. Ryan Tannehill is injured and will likely play, but I assume the Dolphins will try to take the load off Tannehill’s shoulders.

Travaris Cadet was mentioned in my early season column as a deep sleeper who could play the Darren Sproles role in the offense should Sproles get hurt. Sproles broke his hand this week and could be out for as much as eight weeks. Cadet should be owned in all return yardage leagues right now as he takes over Sproles’ role immediately. I can also see him getting into the lineup as the replacement for Sproles as I don’t see another back on their roster who profiles like Sproles.

Down: Mikel LeShoure mysteriously missed the fourth quarter last week for Detroit. There was no injury reported (even though it seemed evident from the TV that he was being worked on). LeShoure has a solid matchup, but I think he’s too risky to start as it’s in unclear what hs role will be or how long he might get to play into that role this week. The Lions seem to be moving back to their ‘throw on every down’ offense. LeShoure is nothing more than a desperation flex play for me this week.

Doug Martin needs to stay in your lineup this week, but monitor this game to see how Martin is affected by the season ending injury to starting guard Carl Nicks. I still think Martin will be OK, but he is a rookie who could start tiring with the long season in addition to the loss of Nicks.

Adrian Peterson also stays in your lineup this week, but the Seahawks do have the capability of slowing him down and moving him down to RB2 territory. If you have AP in your lineup, you may want to take an upside risk elsewhere in your lineup.

Darren McFadden – yea, whatever. He’s a flex option at best for the rest of the season unless he shows something (anything!) in the coming weeks.

Isaac Redman looks like he’s the starter this week for Pittsburgh, but I don’t see any more than a top 40 RB this week. He’s got some value in PPR leagues, but he’s just not made to run in the NFL.

Wide Receiver

Up: As I noted with Matt Schuab, I believe the Texans will try to throw to Andre Johnson more this week and the Bills don’t have the defense to stop them. I see Johnson as a strong WR1 this week and I would start in all leagues without hesitation.

Cecil Shorts has another great matchup and I could see another 100 yard game out of him. At a minimum, I’d expect 6 catches and 80 yards and he’s a good shot for a score as well. He’s a WR2 in my books this week and should swing between WR2 and WR3 for the rest of the season as he has usurped big free agent signing Laurent Robinson.

In deep leagues (especially PPR), I like Golden Tate to pick up another 6+ catches this week. The Vikings struggle against WR2s and I think they will focus their coverage on Sidney Rice leaving Tate available to take advantage.

After seeing what Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon did to the injury-riddled Packers secondary last week I’m inclined to recommend Andre Roberts as a solid flex play this week (or perhaps more in a  PPR). The Packers are still trying to figure out how to manage without Charles Woodson and the rest of his injured band mates.

In the Captain Obvious call of the week make sure DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are in your lineups. They both should have solid games, though do not expect a breakout from Maclin this week. He should be slightly above his averages as the Saints.

Down:  Julio Jones was the focus of a Yahoo! piece this week on his struggles at home. I’m a sucker for those types of statistics (especially over a long period of time like Jones). That said, the Cowboys also have a good secondary which could harass Jones as well. I see Jones in the low end WR2/high-end flex territory this week.

Steve Smith faces Washington who can’t seem to stop anyone through the air. However, the Panthers don’t have another viable WR in the lineup to draw any coverage. If Washington doesn’t roll as much coverage as possible to Smith I won’t understand the reasoning. I see Smith in the WR2 category this week.

Torrey Smith has what appears to be a juicy matchup. However, the Browns poor ranking against WRs comes mostly from the time when Joe Haden was out. Haden will likely follow Smith all around the field and should be able to hold Smith to under 70 yards and no TDS.

Tight End

Up: Sadly, the Tennessee Titans are no longer the worst team against TEs in all league formats. The Washington Redskins have snuck ahead in some leagues. This change dovetails well with my recommendations to the Carolina Panthers’ that they target Greg Olsen.

Dwayne Allen is the starting TE for the Colts for the next couple of weeks as Coby Fleener is out with a shoulder injury. The matchup isn’t great, but Allen should see all TE targets and should end up in the top 12 this week.

Logan Paulsen is the number one TE in Washington and he has a solid matchup against the Panthers. I can see him sneaking in for a TD this week and 50 yards.

Down: Brent Celek doesn’t actually have a great matchup even though he faces the Saints. The Saints defense is awful in general, but they’ve done a good job against TEs all year. Perhaps it comes from facing Jimmy Graham in practice. I see Celek outside of the top 12 this week as the Eagles attempt to simplify the offensive package and exploit a poor Saints run defense and weak DBs.

Jacob Tamme looks like he’s slowly being phased out of the offense as his number of offensive snaps has dropped from 43 to 36 to 25 the past three games. He’s not a viable option in any league in my opinion and can be safely dropped. He shares time with Joel Dreesen and the emerging Virgil Green.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that Jordy Nelson is out again (potentially) this week.

Kicker

Up: Kai Forbath has taken the Redskins kicking game and run with it. As I mentioned in earlier columns, the Redskins offense had a good number of field goal attempts, the problem was Billy Cundiff. With Cundiff gone, Forbath makes a great pickup for the stretch run and a top 5 option this week against a Panthers’ defense which gives up the second most points to kickers.

Down: Justin Tucker was a fantasy find early in the season. However, he’s heading up against a tough Browns defense this week. I’d go to the waiver wire and grab Kai Forbath for him this week.

Defense

Up: I see the Cleveland Browns as a top 12 option this week. The Ravens are coming off a bye, but they are doing so on the road where Joe Flacco has struggled his entire career. The last Ravens road game they scored nine points. Against the Chiefs! The Browns have the tools to stop Flacco and the Ravens. Start the Browns with confidence.

If you want to look deeper, the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a top 15 option against the Lions. The Lions have looked better the last couple of weeks, but surprisingly the Jags have as well. The Jags are missing their top two CBs this week, but they were last week as a well when they kept Aaron Rodgers in check. The Lions are the Packers-lite as they can’t run the ball well and like to throw the ball all over the field.

Down: The Minnesota Vikings are heading on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson has been quite solid at home and looked good last week on the road against the Detroit Lions. I believe Seattle will win the game outright and should score 24+ points in the win.

IDP

A quick IDP note as D’Qwell Jackson was added to the injury report late in the week. You may need to look elsewhere on game day for help at LB.

Well, one more note. Eagles Nate Allen also looks like he might not be 100% this week

Survivor

Week eight saw only one big team go down as the Vikings fell at home on Thursday (taking 8% of the Office Football Pools entries out) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My top four teams advanced, but the Eagles and Vikings lost out. This may be the week to take a risk (and some of us may not have a choice as the teams are getting thinner).

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Survivor Pool – Week 9 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of mid-Saturday afternoon:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

San Diego Chargers (W)

34.80%

1

Houston Texans

34.07%

2

Houston Texans

30.10%

2

San Diego Chargers (W)

30.73%

3

Green Bay Packers

10.50%

3

Detroit Lions

6.82%

4

Seattle Seahawks

6.80%

4

Green Bay Packers

6.04%

5

Detroit Lions

4.00%

5

Baltimore Ravens

5.04%

6

Denver Broncos

3.70%

6

Denver Broncos

4.83%

7

Baltimore Ravens

2.90%

7

Seattle Seahawks

3.69%

8

Washington Redskins

2.80%

8

Washington Redskins

3.18%

9

Chicago Bears

1.80%

9

Chicago Bears

2.50%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.90%

10

Atlanta Falcons

1.10%

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite for the second week in a row. The Packers look to be firing on all cylinders. If you didn’t use them last week, the Packers likely offer a great payoff this week. The big question looming is do we trust Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers against a team that hasn’t led in regulation at any time this season?

My final picks for this week are below:

  1. Green Bay Packers – If you have the Packers left, use them this week. It is rare that you can find a double-digit favorite as a value play, but the Packers are for most pools. The Packers are a one-dimensional team, but that dimension is superior. The Cardinals have some dangerous WRs, but the Packers have enough of a pass rush to disrupt John Skelton and the passing game. I give the Packers a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Houston Texans – The Texans are a close second to the Packers this week. The Bills are putrid on defense and coming off a bye week, the Texans will likely ride the legs of Arian Foster. I cannot see the Bills putting up more than 14 points against this defense. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – You could almost flip a coin between my #3, 4 and 5 choices which means one of them is likely to lose. The Seahawks head home where they have defeated Dallas, Green Bay and New England. They have probably the biggest home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks do not have the most dynamic offense, but their defense is stout. They face a Vikings team that has had ten days to think about their loss to the Bucs so they should be well rested.  I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.
  4. San Diego Chargers – Ok, I don’t trust Norv Turner or Philip Rivers that much. However, it seems that the Kansas City Chiefs are led by a coach who doesn’t know what is going on with his offense. Matt Cassel turns up at QB again for a short week. I assume he’ll turn the ball over at least three times and the Chargers should be able to take advantage of it. I give the Chargers a 70% chance of winning.
  5. New York Giants – I would have moved the Giants ahead of the Chargers had the Chargers not already played. I’ve moved onto the Giants bandwagon as the week has progressed. Part of the change is the due to the effects of Sandy and the rest is football-related. First, the football reasons – the Steelers have struggled on the road all season (losing to the Raiders and the Titans). They have Isaac Redman as their only healthy tailback and he’s not a legitimate NFL RB. The Steelers have to travel on game day to New York to play. I also believe there will be a strong emotional lift for the Giants from the disaster that Sandy has brought to the area – the Giants offer a short respite for many in the area. I know the Giants aren’t a great team at home this year either, but I think this game is different. I give the Giants a 71% chance of winning.
  6. Chicago Bears – My only trepidation is that the Bears are on the road this week. They have a fantastic defense, but we’ve see Chris Johnson be the CJ2K of old. However, I think the Bears have too many playmakers on defense to lose to a Titans team even on the road. I give the Bears a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Baltimore Ravens on the road against the Browns. The Browns picked up an ugly win last week and the Ravens are coming off a bye. The Browns lost by a TD earlier this season and were driving for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. If Trent Richardson is healthy, he can run all day against this aging and depleted Ravens defense.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders. The Bucs have looked good lately and I think they can outscore a Raiders team which is turning to one-dimensional without Darren McFadden able to get going.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.


Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at 
@chrisgarosi

 

Fantasy Football: Week 9 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Week eight saw only one big team go down as the Vikings fell at home on Thursday (taking 8% of the Office Football Pools entries out) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My top four teams advanced, but the Eagles and Vikings lost out. This may be the week to take a risk (and some of us may not have a choice as the teams are getting thinner).

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Survivor Pool – Week 9 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of late Wednesday night:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team Picks

1

San Diego Chargers

39.40%

1

Houston Texans

36.17%

2

Houston Texans

30.00%

2

San Diego Chargers

29.47%

3

Green Bay Packers

10.00%

3

Detroit Lions

6.08%

4

Seattle Seahawks

5.60%

4

Baltimore Ravens

5.57%

5

Detroit Lions

3.30%

5

Green Bay Packers

5.32%

6

Denver Broncos

2.90%

6

Denver Broncos

4.57%

7

Washington Redskins

2.50%

7

Washington Redskins

3.60%

8

Baltimore Ravens

2.40%

8

Seattle Seahawks

3.44%

9

Chicago Bears

1.40%

9

Chicago Bears

2.54%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.90%

10

Atlanta Falcons

1.13%

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite for the second week in a row. The Packers look to be firing on all cylinders. If you didn’t use them last week, the Packers likely offer a great payoff this week. The big question looming is do we trust Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers against a team that hasn’t led in regulation at any time this season?

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Green Bay Packers – If you have the Packers left, use them this week. It is rare that you can find a double-digit favorite as a value play, but the Packers are for most pools. The Packers are a one-dimensional team, but that dimension is superior. The Cardinals have some dangerous WRs, but the Packers have enough of a pass rush to disrupt John Skelton and the passing game. I give the Packers a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Houston Texans – The Texans are a close second to the Packers this week. The Bills are putrid on defense and coming off a bye week, the Texans will likely ride the legs of Arian Foster. I cannot see the Bills putting up more than 14 points against this defense. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – You could almost flip a coin between my #3, 4 and 5 choices which means one of them is likely to lose. The Seahawks head home where they have defeated Dallas, Green Bay and New England. They have probably the biggest home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks do not have the most dynamic offense, but their defense is stout. They face a Vikings team that has had ten days to think about their loss to the Bucs so they should be well rested.  I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.
  4. San Diego Chargers – Ok, I don’t trust Norv Turner or Philip Rivers that much. However, it seems that the Kansas City Chiefs are led by a coach who doesn’t know what is going on with his offense. Matt Cassel turns up at QB again for a short week. I assume he’ll turn the ball over at least three times and the Chargers should be able to take advantage of it. I give the Chargers a 70% chance of winning.
  5. Chicago Bears – My only trepidation is that the Bears are on the road this week. They have a fantastic defense, but we’ve see Chris Johnson be the CJ2K of old. However, I think the Bears have too many playmakers on defense to lose to a Titans team even on the road. I give the Bears a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Baltimore Ravens on the road against the Browns. The Browns picked up an ugly win last week and the Ravens are coming off a bye. The Browns lost by a TD earlier this season and were driving for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. If Trent Richardson is healthy, he can run all day against this aging and depleted Ravens defense.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders. The Bucs have looked good lately and I think they can outscore a Raiders team which is turning to one-dimensional without Darren McFadden able to get going.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Thursday night game preview – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

San Diego

Phillip Rivers should be solid against a middling Chiefs passing defense. I see about 250 yards and 2 TDs. Rivers didn’t have to throw a lot in the earlier meeting as the Chiefs turned the ball over six times.

Ryan Matthews should be due for a 100 yard game against the Chiefs defense. I think the Chargers may try to run the ball a bit more to take the pressure off of Rivers. Remember, Matthews was still coming back from injury in their early season matchup and split carries with Jackie Battle.

Malcolm Floyd has the look of a WR3/flex play as the Chiefs do have Brandon Flowers to lock him down. I don’t see any other WR being worth a start.

The key to a big win may lie with Antonio Gates, but the Chiefs do clamp down on TEs effectively. I don’t expect a big game from the old man.

The San Diego defense should be started in every league this week. The Chiefs are the most generous team to fantasy defenses.

Kansas City

Matt Cassel is not a viable option in any league. He should be on your bench (or preferably the waiver wire).

Jamaal Charles had almost as many carries as I did last week. It seems like whenever the Chiefs forget they have Charles on their team, they feed him until he explodes. I’d expect a big game from Charles this week – I can see him as a top 10.

I also like Dexter McCluster as a solid PPR flex play this week as the Chargers do give up a good number of receiving yards to RBs and McCluster is all over the formation.

Dwayne Bowe should also be OK as long as Cassel can get him the ball as the Chargers don’t have a shutdown corner to cover Bowe. I do not see any other Chiefs’ WR or TE as useful in any leagues.

The Chiefs defense is not a useful option this week so avoid them unless you are desperate.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

On to Week eight were jolly, ole England gets a taste of American football. I’m sure they will enjoy it. Well, probably not, but hey, we ship our NFL over there once a year whether they like it or not.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. Also, there are a couple of small changes to Survivor

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback      

Up: Sam Bradford has a terrific matchup even if he’s playing in a country where football is played with one’s feet. The Patriots defense has given up three or more passing TDs in four of the last five weeks. In those five weeks, the lowest total passing yards was 298. I will go out on a limb and say that Bradford will be a top six QB this week – 300+ yards and at least three TDs. Start him with confidence.

Brandon Weeden seems to end up on this list each week. He faces a Chargers defense that gave up 35 points in the second half to the Denver Broncos two weeks ago. I do not trust that the Chargers coaching staff has figured out the defenses issues. Weeden isn’t Peyton Manning (he might not even be Cooper Manning), but he’s established himself as a solid bye week option. With Trent Richardson less than 100%, the Browns could look to Weeden to carry the offensive load. I’d move Weeden into the top 12 and would start him over Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Carson Palmer faces the mighty Kansas City Chiefs on the road. The Chiefs have been solid against second and third tier QBs this year. However, I see Palmer having a chance to sneak into the top 10 this week as Darren McFadden continues to look like he won’t be able to run effectively in the new blocking system.

Josh Freeman looked good again this week in the Thursday night’s game against the Vikings. This isn’t a note to start him of course, but his schedule looks solid for the remainder of the season. In a keeper league this week, I dealt Marshawn Lynch (who I couldn’t keep for him. I like him a lot for the rest of the season as a consistent top 12 performer.

Down: Cam Newton needs to get healthy. The Chicago Bears’ defense is not one on which to get healthy. Newton should likely not be started in most leagues. I see him continuing to struggle and like him to finish outside of the top 15.

Andrew Luck on the road is not Andrew Luck at home.  While his matchup is very attractive against the Titans, I think he struggles on the road this week as the Titans will attempt to control the clock and run the ball as much as they can. I see him ending up on the cusp of the top 12.

Matthew Stafford against the Seahawks? No thanks. You should be able to find a viable option on the waiver wire this week. I’d rather have any of the options above in my “Up” section than Stafford.

Running back

Up: Giants RBsThis is the Cowboys first game without stud ILB Sean Lee. As a result, the Giants should have ample room to run. Ahmad Bradshaw is a must start even with his lingering foot injury. However, that foot injury makes Andre Brown and David Wilson (in return yardage leagues only) flex plays this week. I think Bradshaw will be given breaks and Brown and Wilson will have more chances than usual.

Alex Green has a great matchup this week, but he’s only ranked at #30. He’s a clear top 20 RB this week in my opinion as I believe the Packers will “spread the love”

The matchup says it may be tough, but I think Felix Jones will have a successful day against the Giants. The Giants have some injuries on defense to contend with and I think the Cowboys will want to establish the run to try to control the clock a bit and hopefully sweep the Giants. I see him in the top 15 as the Giants have given up nearly 100 yards per game this season to RBs.

Down: Jonathan Stewart is going to be the starting RB for the Carolina Panthers for the rest of the season in my opinion. We may see other changes on offense as well now that Marty Hurney was fired as GM of the Panthers. However, Stewart will struggle in his matchup with the Bears. This is probably the last chance you have to buy Stewart (he’s likely on your waiver wire somehere). I’d grab him this week and stash him as I can see him being a low end RB2/high end flex for the rest of the season.

Look! Darren McFadden has another great matchup this week against the Chiefs. He won’t take advantage of it (again!) He’s a flex option only for me this week.

Frank Gore will fall outside of the top 20 this week against the Cardinals. He’s starting to pick up some nagging injuries each week so I think his snap count will be down beyond the tough matchup he has.

Jonathan Dwyer gets another start for the Steelers, but it’s against a Redskins defense which has been solid against the run. I’d rather start a player like Alex Green over him. If you start Dwyer, do not expect a big game from him.

Wide Receiver

Up: You don’t need me to tell you, but get your Steelers WRs (Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace) and Broncos WRs (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and even Brandon Stokley in deeper leagues) into your lineups. They both have great matchups.

Brian Hartline is ranked at #36, but with the Dolphins coming off a bye, I think they may have found new ways to get him the ball. The Jets do struggle in coverage against non WR1s according to Football Outsiders. I don’t think the Jets will key Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Hartline so he’ll have his chances this week. I see Hartline as a flex option (top 25) in most leagues especially PPR.

St. Louis Rams WRs – The Patriots continue to make passing offenses look like the old run ‘n shoot. Both Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson are top 25 options for me this week. I can see each hauling in a TD and should have five receptions and 80 yards as well.

In deeper leagues (especially PPR) I like Ryan Broyles. I know the Seahawks have a great secondary, but I think Young can find some holes as the third WR in the lineup. Based on Football Outsiders’ rankings, the Seahawks aren’t quite as good (but still better than league average) against other WRs.

I get the feeling that Cecil Shorts has a TD in him today. The Packers have lost a couple of DBs this week and Shorts just seems to be a guy who takes advantage of coverage mistakes at least once a game. He’s a desperation flex play.

Down:  Jordy Nelson didn’t struggle last week as predicted. However, he’s got a nagging hamstring injury so watch his status prior to game time. He’s now a much riskier play as he could be hampered if he does play and also has a chance of re-injuring the hamstring. If he starts, he’s a must play, but he may not be 100%. (Ed: Looks like Nelson will not play which makes Randall Cobb, James Jones and even Donald Driver great plays this week).

Let’s try this again this week. Dez Bryant is hurting (when isn’t he) and he faces an improved Giants secondary. They do lose Kenny Phillips this week (which I think helps Jason Witten a bit), but I still think the Cowboys will limit the targets for Bryant this week. He’s too risky for me.

Larry Fitzgerald will continue to struggle again this week. I see him outside of the top 25 in scoring as John Skelton will be harassed all day by the 49ers defense. I might think about sitting him if you have better options on your bench. He’s a tough guy to sit, but his performance this week is quite risky.

Tight End

Up: Anthony Fasano faces the fourth worst defense against TEs with respect to fantasy points. Coming off a bye I think the Dolphins will attempt to exploit that weakness. I see Fasano as a top 12 TE this week.

If the Carolina Panthers are paying any attention, they might try to target Greg Olsen. The Bears have been relatively generous to TEs this year. And, if the Panthers really want to attempt to simplify things against the Bears I can see them trying to run a bit more and targeting short and intermediate routes against the Bears. It’s a risk, but Olsen could sneak into the top eight of TEs this week.

Joel Dreesen is a great pickup for those waiting out Jimmy Graham’s status. He plays in the Sunday night against Graham’s Saints and would be an easy plug and play option. I’d rather him over Jacob Tamme or Graham’s replacement David Thomas.

Down: Vernon Davis laid an egg last week. Many sites are predicting a bounce back for him this week. I do not see it. The Cardinals have an athletic set of linebackers who can cover Davis. Moreover, the defense can get to the QB so Davis may be called upon to block more. I see Davis outside of the top 12 in TE scoring.

Our weekly “Who are Tennessee Titans facing?” update is the Indianapolis Colts. However, I’ve moved this weekly feature to the ‘down’ section for two reasons. One, it looks like the Titans have started to control TEs better. Two, even if the Titans don’t cover well enough, I’m not sure we can predict who between Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen will benefit. I think either is fine as a bye week replacement, but I think the chances of a zero are just as high as the chances of a ten out of either of them.

I don’t see Jacob Tamme as starting material this week even against the Saints. In fact, I’m not sure Tamme has to be rostered in any league at this point. He hasn’t shown any consistency and Peyton Manning has many other weapons at his disposal.

Finally, a note, in case you had not seen the news, but Aaron Hernandez is out this week for the Patriots game against the Rams in London. This should mean more targets for Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that Jordy Nelson is out this week.

Defense

Up: I like the Tennessee Titans as a top 12 option this week. The Colts have shown they will struggle on the road and I think the Titans can win this game and give Andrew Luck problems. The Colts don’t have a reliable running game so the Titans may be able to force them into a one-dimensional game.

In deep leagues, I think the Panthers could be an option as the Bears do not have an explorsive offense. I don’t see any way the Panthers win the game, but the Bears aren’t made to score 3o points. If you are desperate, I can see a couple of sacks, a couple of turnovers and about 21 points scored against for the Panthers.

Down: The New York Giants have a couple of injuries on defense. Moreover, Tony Romo performs extremely well against the Giants. He’s thrown 26 TDs over 13 games and completed nearly 67% of his passes. I see Romo putting up some statistics and Giants falling out of the top 12.

Survivor

Week seven saw a huge scare from the New England Patriots. The Pats won (and likely didn’t deserve to) so most pool members are still swimming. I was wrong about leaning away from the Packers as they certainly do look all the way back. We’ve got another big favorite this week. And who you choose might depend on whether your pool has been going since Week one or it is a ‘restart’ pool. I’m on a train heading to Philadelphia so this one will be short.

My updates from my Thursday column are in bold below. No changes in the rankings, but a couple of updated game notes and a thank you to a reader.

Bye week: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Survivor Pool – Week 8 selections

Thanks to reader Max Garfield for the suggestion to move away from ESPN and add Yahoo! into the article. Yahoo! is much more representative of the present choices than the ESPN pool which allows you to choose teams weeks in advance. Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Pool

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Packers

57.70%

1

Green Bay

48.31%

2

Bears

14.70%

2

Chicago

20.15%

3

Vikings (L)

9.20%

3

Minnesota (L)

11.02%

4

Patriots

5.80%

4

New England

6.42%

5

Broncos

2.50%

5

San Diego

5.34%

6

Chargers

2.40%

6

San Francisco

2.85%

7

49ers

2.40%

7

Denver

1.39%

8

Titans

1.50%

8

Pittsburgh

0.93%

9

Steelers

1.20%

9

Tennessee

0.72%

10

Jets

0.80%

10

New York (NYJ)

0.59%

 

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite and they are going to be hard to pass up for most players. Are there other options with more risk, but a better payoff? The ESPN numbers seemed skewed and I may stop using them after this week. I believe players enter multiple weeks and then when they lose they never go back to change anything.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Green Bay Packers – This week, I’ll err on the side of caution after recommending the Minnesota Vikings last week as my top pick. The Packers should have no issues with a Jacksonville Jaguar team lead by a one-armed QB (or perhaps even worse Chad Henne) and Rashad Jennings. My feelings do not change even if Jordy Nelson is out. I give the Packers an 88% chance of winning this matchup.
  2. Chicago Bears – The Bears defense is impenetrable. They do have a short week, but I don’t think Cam Newton will be able to overcome that defense. Newton seems to have regressed (and taken the Panthers offense with it). The Panthers also lost their top cover corner to IR this week in Chris Gamble. I give the Bears a 79% chance of winning.
  3. Denver Broncos – The Saints are a bad team. They are one dimensional and may be without Jimmy Graham again. If Graham starts, I’ll likely move the Broncos down, but the Broncos defense is solid enough to stop Drew Brees a couple of times. And Peyton Manning and Willis McGahee should have no problems with the Saints defense. I give the Broncos a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles – If you want to be bold, take the Eagles. No one is on them in any pool. But they are coming off a bye (as is their opponent Atlanta). Andy Reid has never (13-0!) lost after a bye week. The Falcons looked shaky before the bye and I have to believe the Eagles have a bit more at stake than the undefeated Falcons. I give the Eagles a 67% chance of winning the game.

Other teams I like early in the week: San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings (though I’m concerned with Christian Ponder’s injury) (The Vikings lost on Thursday so hopefully no one went this deep).

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the New England Patriots on the road against the Rams. I know it’s a road game for both as they are in London, but that doesn’t change my analysis. Nor does the chance that Danny Amendola will play as I don’t think there is a better than 10% chance he’ll play and even if he does I imagine he will be a decoy.

The Patriots are not the Patriots of the last decade. They have a porous pass defense which should allow Sam Bradford to throw to whomever he wants, whenever he wants. I think the Rams have a decent shot at winning this game and I wouldn’t want to touch the Patriots again.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Miami Dolphins. Coming off a bye, I think their defense can handle the Jets.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at 
@chrisgarosi

 

 

Fantasy Football: Week 8 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Week seven saw a huge scare from the New England Patriots. The Pats won (and likely didn’t deserve to) so most pool members are still swimming. I was wrong about leaning away from the Packers as they certainly do look all the way back. We’ve got another big favorite this week. And who you choose might depend on whether your pool has been going since Week one or it is a ‘restart’ pool. I’m on a train heading to Philadelphia so this one will be short.

There won’t be a full preview of the Thursday night game between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to time constraints. The short version, is that I like most of the Vikings offensive players to perform at or a bit above their season averages. I’m a little dubious of Kyle Rudolph’s big zero last week, but I think he’ll be OK. Christian Ponder’s knee injury does concern me a bit and I’d shy away from him unless you are desperate this week.

The Vikings D also makes a solid play as I think Josh Freeman is a different QB on the road.  I might think about sitting Doug Martin if I have other options (most likely do not) as the Vikings run defense is very good. We should see solid numbers from the Bucs WRs as well.

Bye week: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Survivor Pool – Week 8 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of Thursday morning:

Office Football Pool

 

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

 

Team

Picks

 

 

Team

Picks

1

Green Bay Packers

60.10%

 

1

San Diego Chargers

28.60%

2

Chicago Bears

13.60%

 

2

Green Bay Packers

19.60%

3

Minnesota Vikings

10.30%

 

3

Minnesota Vikings

8.50%

4

New England Patriots

4.90%

 

4

New England Patriots

8.10%

5

San Francisco 49ers

2.10%

 

5

Chicago Bears

7.80%

6

San Diego Chargers

2.00%

 

6

Pittsburgh Steelers

4.70%

7

Denver Broncos

1.90%

 

7

San Francisco 49ers

4.50%

8

Tennessee Titans

1.40%

 

8

Detroit Lions

3.80%

9

Pittsburgh Steelers

1.10%

 

9

New York Jets

3.40%

10

New York Jets

1.00%

 

10

Tennessee Titans

2.10%

 

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite and they are going to be hard to pass up for most players. Are there other options with more risk, but a better payoff? The ESPN numbers seemed skewed and I may stop using them after this week. I believe players enter multiple weeks and then when they lose they never go back to change anything.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Green Bay Packers – This week, I’ll err on the side of caution after recommending the Minnesota Vikings last week as my top pick. The Packers should have no issues with a Jacksonville Jaguar team lead by a one-armed QB (or perhaps even worse Chad Henne) and Rashad Jennings. I give the Packers an 88% chance of winning this matchup.
  2. Chicago Bears – The Bears defense is impenetrable. They do have a short week, but I don’t think Cam Newton will be able to overcome that defense. Newton seems to have regressed (and taken the Panthers offense with it). The Panthers also lost their top cover corner to IR this week in Chris Gamble. I give the Bears a 79% chance of winning.
  3. Denver Broncos – The Saints are a bad team. They are one dimensional and may be without Jimmy Graham again. If Graham starts, I’ll likely move the Broncos down, but the Broncos defense is solid enough to stop Drew Brees a couple of times. And Peyton Manning and Willis McGahee should have no problems with the Saints defense. I give the Broncos a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles – If you want to be bold, take the Eagles. No one is on them in any pool. But they are coming off a bye (as is their opponent Atlanta). Andy Reid has never (13-0!) lost after a bye week. The Falcons looked shaky before the bye and I have to believe the Eagles have a bit more at stake than the undefeated Falcons. I give the Eagles a 67% chance of winning the game.

Other teams I like early in the week: San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings (though I’m concernedwith Christian Ponder’s injury and would probably hold off since it is the Thursday game)

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the New England Patriots on the road against the Rams. The Patriots are not the Patriots of last decade. They have a porous pass defense which should allow Sam Bradford to throw to whomever he wants, whenever he wants. I think the Rams have a decent shot at winning this game and I wouldn’t want to touch the Patriots again.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Miami Dolphins. Coming off a bye, I think their defense can handle the Jets offense.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Waiver Wire Advice

Week seven saw the New England Patriots try every way possible to give the New York Jets a key win on the road. We also saw the new look Baltimore Ravens’ defense get railroaded by the Houston Texans. There were a couple of key injuries and for many of us, we are happy to have the teams back from their week seven byes.

Hey Driver 8, take a break and read along for our waiver wire advice. Enough about the future. What have you done for me lately?

Bye week eight: Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback                               

Josh Freeman – Well, hello Mr. Freeman! Freeman was on this list last week and he went out and performed again. He’s been the southern Aaron Rodgers by the Bay. He’s had terrific matchups the last two week and he’s taken advantage of them. His schedule looks good going forward as he faces the Vikings, Raiders, Chargers, Panthers over the next four weeks. Each of those is in the top 15 of points allowed to QBs. He should be number one on your priority list if you are struggling at QB with the likes of Matthew Stafford or Tony Romo.

Jake Locker – It looks like Jake Locker will be out at least one more week as the Titans will continue to go with Matt Hasselbeck and give Locker time to fully heal. Locker is the future at QB for the Titans so they are playing it safe with him. Locker should regain his starting job when he is fully healthy.

Brady QuinnQuinn is now the starting QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. Let that sink in for a moment. Ok, that’s enough. Quinn is not an NFL QB. He shouldn’t be on your team unless you are sick of looking at Blaine Gabbert on your roster or have an affinity for Touchdown Jesus.

Chad Henne – Henne came in for an injured Blaine Gabbert. Henne set the NFL QBs back 50 years with his performance. It looks like Gabbert will be ready for Week eight. If he isn’t, Henne shouldn’t be on your fantasy squad.

Jason Campbell – A late addition on Monday night as Jay Cutler has left the MNF game early with a shoulder injury. Campbell is nothing more than a game manager at this point in his career and is only useful in two QB leagues.

Running back

Rashad Jennings – Jennings should be number one on your waiver wire priority unless you have a stable of stud RBs. However, do not expect RB1 performance as Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t supplied that this year (even though he may have been drafted as such). MJD has been close to the bottom of the top 20 in RB scoring production putting him in as a solid RB2/Flex play. I would expect flex-level production (top 30) from Jennings and expect him to have the job for several weeks (if not the remainder of the season).

LaRod Stephens-HowlingWilliam Powell fumbles and Stephens-Howling steps into the void. Many will be excited to see his performance against such a staunch run defense. Not so fast my friend. The Vikings admitted after the game that their game plan centered on shutting Larry Fitzgerald down and daring the Cardinals to run. So, I wouldn’t be too excited about Stephens-Howling’s performance. He’s likely the nominal starter for now, but the Cardinals haven’t shown a consistent ability to run the ball. He’s a potential flex or bye week play in some leagues.

Jamie Harper – Harper picked up another two TDs this week and looks like he has solidified himself as the Tennessee Titans short yardage back.

Chris Johnson – Oh, and it seems that Chris Johnson may be back in full CJ2K mode. It’s pretty amazing how he has turned his game around after being left for dead. I’m quite stunned he’s done it, but he doesn’t show a sign of slowing down. He’s got Indianapolis twice in the next six weeks

Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya – Hardesty was on this list last week due to Trent Richardson’s injury. Richardson missed a good chunk of last week’s game and none of the Browns RBs took advantage of the great matchup they had. There is speculation that Cleveland will sit Trent Richardson for one week to help in heal. Should they do that, Hardesty will be the early down back with Ogbonnaya spelling him on third down. Hardesty is a low-end bye week replacement. Ogbonnaya is useful only as a bye week replacement in PPR leagues.

Alex Green – Green has a great matchup this week against a Jacksonville Jaguar team that has little hope of staying with Aaron Rodgers. Green could provide top 20 production this week.

Jonathan Stewart – It looks like Stewart may have moved ahead of DeAngelo Williams in the pecking order for the Panthers? It seems that way, but it doesn’t seem like it’s worth much as the Panthers RB who scored the most last week was Mike Tolbert. The Panthers backfield is a mess and I suggest steering away from it and let other waste roster spots on those players.

Cedric Peerman – I failed to mention him last week, but he is now the backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and is a handcuff with little upside.

Shonn GreeneHat eating update. He scored another TD this week so I’m only down to two more TDs before I have to eat my hat. I’m still confident.

Wide Receiver

Jeremy KerleyKerley has emerged as the number one WR target for Mark Sanchez. While you stop laughing, I’ll tell you that Kerley has nudged his way into the conversation as a legitimate WR3 for the rest of the season as he’s shown consistency while other WRs in the Jets lineup have not.

Santana MossMoss picked up two TDs last week against the New York Giants. It looks like Washington may have a different leading WR each week. Moss is a grizzled veteran at this point in his career, but he looked like a spring chicken in week seven. He could have some value going forward as neither Leonard Hankerson nor Josh Morgan has shone during their auditions.

Ryan Broyles Nate Burleson was injured on Monday Night Football and Broyles came on in his place picking up his first three catches and first TD of his career. Burleson broke his leg and will be out for the year. Broyles was a second round pick of the Lions this year after coming off an ACL injury his senior year. He was seen as a first round talent heading into his senior year. He’s a sneaky play (especially in PPR leagues) and I’d like him as a WR3/flex play for the rest of the season.

Randall CobbCobb has been fantastic, but there is the possibility that Greg Jennings will return this week. It will be interesting to see how Cobb remains integrated into the offense as he’s earned the playing time. However, I would expect Cobb’s production to drop when Jennings returns.

Josh Gordon – He’ll be a part of the Cleveland Browns offense all year long. He’s got a gear that few other players have and makes plays when he touches the ball.

Jerome Simpson – He’s important to the Vikings offense as he regularly draws pass interference penalties. However, he doesn’t seem to catch passes so he’s not useful at this point.

Tight End

Washington Redskins TEs – Fred Davis tore his Achilles this week and is done for the season. The TE has been a big part of the Redskins offense, but it hasn’t produced a ton of fantasy points. The Redskins will likely fill the void at TE with a three-head rotation of Logan Paulsen (known more for his blocking and flowing locks) who filled in admirably against the Giants, Niles Paul (a converted WR with intriguing talent, but a lack of experience at the position) and veteran Chris Cooley (released in camp, but re-signed this week).

I think Paulsen will get the first chance to replace Davis’ production and could match it which leaves him as a TE2. I think Cooley is a threat to Paulsen’s potential, but will need to get into game shape which could take a couple of weeks. And Paul will stay in the background due to his value on special teams.

TE playing the Titans – This may be the last week of our updates as the Titans have improved over the last three weeks against TEs. The Titans face the TE duo of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener of the Indianapolis Colts. Any production will likely be split making neither an attractive option.

Brandon Myers – I’m not sure I’ve mentioned Myers in my column this year and if I haven’t it’s my mistake. Myers has converted his targets at an 82% rate this year. He’s also become a bit of a PPR darling the last couple of weeks. The Raiders don’t’ seem to be able to run currently so Myers looks to be a substitute for that short game. He faces the Chiefs this week.

Rob HouslerTodd Heap may never be healthy again and all Rob Housler does is take advantage of his playing time. He picked up five receptions this week, but the Vikings were doubling Larry Fitzgerald with a safety. Housler is a good dynasty league keeper, but should be up and down in production this year.

Dustin Keller – Keller looked fully healthy last week and could contribute in the second half of the season. The Jets look to be getting more comfortable on offense as Jeremy Kerley has stepped up as a solid WR and Shonn Greene has been able to run a bit. Keller has always had the talent, but his production has lagged.

Kickers

Nate Kaeding – Kaeding was placed on IR on Monday and will be released when he’s healthy solidifying Nick Novak as the kicker for the rest of the season.

Defense

Oakland Raiders – Yes, the Raiders gave up 23 points to a Jaguars team what finished with Chad Henne at QB and Rashad Jennings at RB. However, they face the awful Kansas City Chiefs who have been the friendliest of all offenses to fantasy defenses. And, they have Brady Quinn at QB. That should be enough for a solid bye week replacement this week.

Baltimore Ravens – Just a reminder from last week. Hopefully, you are now convinced that the Ravens defense is no longer a viable fantasy defense. The Houston Texans should have convinced you. Drop them in all formats.

Pittsburgh Steelers – While you are at it, feel free to drop the Steelers defense as well. Jack Lambert ain’t walking in that door. Plus, the offense can’t run the ball which leads to more defensive plays for an aging unit

(Ed: – This last note is not correct. The Steelers are actually leaders in defensive time of possession and defensive plays per game. While their “real world” statistics are good, they still aren’t a viable option going forward in fantasy. They only have three interceptions, 11 sacks and five fumble recoveries through six games. They are near the bottom of fantasy defenses in terms of scoring and I don’t see them turning it around due to their age. I’d like to thank the anonymous commenter who made me aware of this, but his use of profanity precludes me from posting his comment. – Chris)

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

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