July 28, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 15 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

The Week 15 Survivor pool picks (or suicide pool picks if you prefer) are here. Week 14 saw some wild finishes that saved more than a few people. Are there any safe Survivor picks in Week 15 in the NFL?

Week 14 recap

The Baltimore Ravens improbable comeback paired with the Patriots similar comeback saved lots of entrants last week. The Pittsburgh Steelers are really the only team to take any sizable portion of remaining pool entrants out as the Steel Curtain was quite forgiving.

Bye week: None. We are done for the year with byes.

Survivor Pool – Week 15 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Carolina Panthers

29.90%

1

Philadelphia Eagles

31.60%

2

Philadelphia Eagles

17.40%

2

Carolina Panthers

28.55%

3

Denver Broncos

9.70%

3

Kansas City Chiefs

8.02%

4

Kansas City Chiefs

9.40%

4

Indianapolis Colts

7.14%

5

Atlanta Falcons

8.40%

5

Denver Broncos

5.41%

6

Indianapolis Colts

4.80%

6

San Francisco 49ers

4.20%

7

New Orleans Saints

4.60%

7

New Orleans Saints

3.67%

8

San Francisco 49ers

3.80%

8

Atlanta Falcons

3.28%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.80%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.31%

10

Detroit Lions

2.50%

10

Detroit Lions

1.58%

 

Again, a reminder that you should be doing the math on your own pool as this late in the game the rankings above are less representative of what is happening in your pool than earlier in the season. Let’s see what we have for Week 15.

  1. Denver Broncos – If you have the Broncos (and if you do I’m impressed) take them now. There continues to be no reason to save teams at this point. The Broncos offense is clicking on all cylinders and even without Wes Welker; they should be fine as Jacob Tamme will slide into the slot role for the Broncos. The Chargers offense has become more balanced through the season, but the Chargers pass defense won’t be able to keep the Broncos off the board to allow the Chargers offense to pile up enough points to win. This should be a track meet won by Denver. I give the Broncos an 84% chance of winning.
  2. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers swarming defense faces Geno Smith in Carolina. I’m not sure there is much more to say. The Panthers’ offense is a little banged up now so they may struggle to score, but Smith will likely gift wrap a few turnovers to help the Panthers’ cause. I give the Panthers an 83% chance of winning.
  3. Detroit Lions – The Ravens are bad on the road (1-5 record this year). The Lions are pretty good at home. The Lions were embarrassed in the snow last week, but back indoors they should be able to run around the Ravens. The Lions run defense is stout (last week was an anomaly in the sown) so the Ravens will need to rely on Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and whoever else is catching passes this week.  I give the Lions a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – This is only valid if Matt Flynn starts at QB for the Packers. If Aaron Rodgers is back, take this game off the board. The Cowboys head back home after a crushing defeat by the Chicago Bears. However, it is December and the Cowboys have struggled in December for many years and their run defense can be gashed. Eddie Lacy won’t likely be at 100%, but the Cowboys should be able to bounce back with Flynn at QB. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance of winning.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – The Texans cannot wait for the season to end. They fired Gary Kubiak this week, but I don’t imagine that will fire up the troops enough. The Colts have started to give some younger WRs playing time and the results have been solid. The Colts are back at home and Andrew Luck is a bit more comfortable at home so the Colts should be able to push the Texans closer to the number one pick in 2014 when they may get the chance to draft David Carr’s brother. I give the Colts a 71% chance of winning.
  6. Atlanta Falcons – Two teams with identical 3-10 records, but seemingly one is much worse than the other. Washington has become drama central as they have benched Robert Griffin III for Kirk Cousins for the rest of the season. Mike Shanahan continues to leak news to Adam Schefter regularly so that his side of the debacle can be told. The Falcons have two of their three wins at home this year and are starting to get healthier on offense. Their defense is still a sieve, but Washington’s pig-headed coaching staff likely can’t take advantage of that weakness. I give the Falcons a 69% chance of winning.
  7. New Orleans Saints – The Saints head on the road to take on the St. Louis Rams. In the Saints last road game, they were blown out of the Pacific Northwest by the Seahawks. They regrouped last week to manhandle the Panthers at home. I assume that the dome will feel like home to Drew Brees and company. The Rams have gotten good play from both sides of the ball and are beginning to incorporate more playmakers (like Stedman Bailey) into the offense so they are dangerous. They don’t have enough tools to keep up with Brees & Co. I give the Saints a 68% chance of winning.
  8. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks may be the best team in the NFL. They do head east into the cold, but they face an underachieving Giants team that shows very few vital signs.  I give the Seahawks a 64% chance of winning.

Just a reminder, there is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last couple of weeks in the season and most pools will come to a close in Week 17 or early in the playoffs.

Other teams I like early this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Oakland. Yes, I told you to avoid them last week as well and I was completely wrong about how incompetent Washington was and is. This week, they go on the road for a division matchup against a Raiders team that hasn’t been as bad as all would have thought they would be. I’d probably also stay away from the San Francisco 49ers heading east to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tennessee Titans at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards are now without Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary and the Titans could take advantage of that with Justin Hunter on the outside and Delanie Walker abusing the Cardinals soft middle.

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.

Washington Redskins Postgame Audio: 24-14 Loss To Seattle

LANDOVER, MD–The Washington Redskins give up 24 unanswered points and fell to the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 as their season officially comes to an end.

The big story was Robert Griffin III.  Griffin III (10-of-19, 84 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) re-aggravated his right knee in the first quarter and looked gimpy the rest of the game.  He could barely run and an ugly play off a bad snap late in the fourth quarter left him in even more pain, allowing the Seahawks to recover a fumble at the Redskins five yard line which set up a chip shot field goal that put the game out of reach.

“I’m the quarterback of this team,”  Griffin III said. “My job is to be out there if I can play. The only time I couldn’t play was when I went down. I took myself out of the game. That’s just the way you have to play. Just to tackle the next question, I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”

Kirk Cousins came in, but didn’t have much time to work any magic.  Following the loss, Griffin III went straight to the hospital to have an MRI and will know the results sometime later tonight.

“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there,”  Griffin III said.  “But every time you step on the football field in between those lines you’re putting your life, your career [and] every single ligament in your body in jeopardy. That’s just the approach I had to take toward it. My teammates needed me out there, so I was out there for them. When it comes to the impact of the injury, I’m not sure what it is. We’ll figure that out here in the next few days. Whatever it is, I’ll make sure I come back healthy from it.”

Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan had no problem with him being out there.

“Robert will have the MRI,”  Shanahan said.  “We always check that out to see how serious it is… I did and I talked to Robert and he said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt.’ He said, ‘I can guarantee I’m hurt right now but give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I’m not injured.’ That was enough for me. I thought he did enough this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game. It’s always a tough decision when to pull a guy and when not to. I talked to him at halftime and had to feel good about him to go back in. I told him we’re going to run the football and he’s going to have to prove to me and like I said before, he said, ‘Trust me. I want to be in there and I deserve to be in there,’ and I couldn’t disagree with him.”

Even though they lost, Shanahan was happy with how the team responded from a 3-6 record at the bye to finishing the season as NFC East Champions.

“I told the players after the game that not too many football teams can be 3-6 and have the type of character to play how they did in the last half of the season. It’s really a compliment to the guys in that locker room, really a compliment to the fans out there to support us the way they did – really got our team energized throughout the second half of the season. It was a fun run. I’m very disappointed today. You always want to play your best football during the playoffs. We probably had our best first quarter. After that first quarter, we just didn’t seem to get things done. It was very tough, but I’m excited about this football team – the direction we’re headed. We’re not very happy. There’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year, and unfortunately, we’re going home a little bit earlier than expected.”

Listen here to what Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garçon, Kirk Cousins, Darrel Young, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Lorenzo Alexander, Logan Paulsen, London Fletcher, Josh Wilson & Stephen Bowen had to say as their season comes to an end.

Mike Shanahan Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Mike Shanahan Postgame RAW

Robert Griffin III Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Robert Griffin III Postgame RAW

Pierre Garçon Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Pierre Garcon Postgame RAW

Kirk Cousins Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Kirk Cousins Postgame RAW

Darrel Young Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Darrel Young Postgame RAW

Trent Williams Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Trent Williams Postgame RAW

Ryan Kerrigan Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Ryan Kerrigan Postgame RAW

Lorenzo Alexander Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Lorenzo Alexander Postgame RAW

Logan Paulsen Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Logan Paulsen Postgame RAW

London Fletcher Postgame Audio

01-06-13 London Fletcher Postgame RAW

Josh Wilson Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Josh Wilson Postgame RAW

Stephen Bowen Postgame Audio

01-06-13 Stephen Bowen Postgame RAW

Seahawks Cut Short Redskins’ Playoff Run with 24-14 Rout

One of the many times Robert Griffin III ended up on the ground, wincing. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Once again a Washington playoff run resulted in early heartache for local fans as the Seattle Seahawks outplayed Robert Griffin III and the Redskins by the score of 24-14 in the NFC Wild Card round.

It almost seemed things were too good to be true from the start. The Washington Redskins had a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter. Robert Griffin III – in spite of his injury – held on through hit after hit to find unlikely opportunities – including a pass in the end zone to Evan Royster, who did not tally a single touchdown catch all year. Alfred Morris proved an unstoppable force and London Fletcher was a menace to the Seattle offense. Prior to Sunday night’s face-off, the Redskins were 0-2 against the Seattle Seahawks in their past two playoff match-ups, and this was supposed to be Washington’s year to break the curse.

Regardless of whether or not Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan should have pulled Griffin from the game before all was lost, it was no secret that the star quarterback was less than 100 percent throughout the night, even before he collapsed on the field in the fourth quarter. By the end of the night, Griffin finished just 10 for 19 for 84 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, compared with Russell Wilson’s 15-of-26 passes for 187 yards.

After the Redskins completed back-to-back touchdown drives in the first quarter, they failed to score again in the remaining 45 minutes of play.

The Seahawks chipped away at Washington’s lead early in the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. More importantly, they began to read the Redskins’ play-action, they broke through Washington’s front line to find Griffin in the pocket and the defense that many expected to outmatch the Redskins’ offensive line began to fire on all cylinders.

The Redskins advanced only eight yards on their first drive in the second quarter, and the Seahawks seized the opportunity to shift the momentum of the game.

Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch got things started for the Seahawks with back-to-back runs to nab the first down at Seattle’s 40-yard line. By the end of the night, he tallied 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown, much to the Redskins’ dismay.

Then, Wilson nearly steered the Seahawks into trouble, but Lynch scooped up a fumble in time to salvage the drive. Wilson then connected with Michael Robinson for 19 yards, before running the ball himself for another 11. With almost no trouble at all, Wilson connected with Robinson in the end zone to send the Seahawks knocking on Washington’s door, trailing just 14-10.

The Redskins’ attempt to answer was short-lived as Griffin’s pass intended for Pierre Garcon on second-and-7 landed into the hands of Seattle’s Earl Thomas for the quick turnaround.

Fletcher and company held the Seahawks back enough to force a field goal, but the Redskins headed for the locker room with a less-than-reassuring 14-13 lead at the half.

Both the Redskins’ and Seahawks’ defense stepped up to the plate in the third quarter, but neither rookie quarterback could find the end zone in time to swing the game in their favor.

With just under 11 minutes left in the game, however, Wilson officially won the battle of the rookie quarterbacks. After Wilson’s short pass to Golden Tate, Lynch ran for 18 yards and the Seahawks capitalized on third-and-10 with a big-time 22-yard catch-and-carry by Zach Miller to put Seattle inside the Redskins’ 35-yard line. Wilson turned to none other than Lynch for a five-yard run, followed by a 27-yard carry into the end zone before completing the two-point conversion pass to Miller to give the Seahawks their first lead of the night, 21-14.

Then, with only minutes remaining, the Redskins’ playoff quest quickly fell into the hands of Kirk Cousins.

On the Redskins’ first play of the drive, Griffin was sacked by Bruce Irvin for a loss of 12 yards. On second-and-22, he fumbled the ball as his knee gave out and he collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain in front of a silenced FedEx crowd.

After several moments, he hobbled off the field on his own power and the fate of the Redskins’ season rested on Cousins’ shoulders.

Although Cousins may have helped the Redskins in their road to the playoffs, he had little to offer in the remaining 5:30 of the first chapter in Griffin’s saga.

After passes to Leonard Hankerson for 15 and 12 yards respectively, Cousins fumbled the ball and threw three consecutive incomplete passes to end the Redskins’ drive and hopes for advancing to face the Atlanta Falcons.

They received the ball one last time with just over a minute remaining, but Cousins managed only one complete pass – to Santana Moss for five yards – before the Seahawks closed the book on Washington’s comeback season.

Seahawks formidable foe as Washington Redskins try to take next step

Robert Griffin III hands off to Alfred Morris in Redskins 40-32 win over New Orleans Saints in Week 1. (Photo by Brian Murphy)

First, the good news: the Washington Redskins won their last seven games in a row to advance to the NFC Playoffs. Now, the bad news: they advance to face the Seattle Seahawks, the next hottest team in the conference, winners of seven of their last eight games. Add in the fact that the Seahawks knocked the Skins out of the playoffs in both of Washington’s most recent post-season games (2005 & 2007) and that might have some fans of the Burgundy & Gold on edge Sunday evening.

If you’re reading this page, you know all about the Redskins, led by Rookie of the Year candidate Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and veteran linebacker London Fletcher. The Skins lead the NFC in rushing yards per game and are second in the conference in points per game (27.2). But the Seahawks are sixth in the conference at 25.8 points per game, so they’re no slouch either. Their secret weapon is quarterback Russell Wilson, a fellow rookie that will certainly garner his share of ROY votes in the off-season.

Wilson is in the mold of RGIII, a gifted athlete with exceptional presence in the pocket. He’s thrown for 26 touchdowns (against just 10 interceptions), while rushing for 489 yards at a 5.2 per carry clip. Wilson is supported by RB Marshawn Lynch, who carried for 1590 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, they led the league in fewest points per game, allowing just 15.3 per contest, and ranked fourth in fewest yards allowed. Formidable, indeed.

The even matchup and relative hotness of both squads has many pundits proclaiming the winner of the 4:30 pm matchup as favorite to advance out of the NFC — if they don’t get beaten up too much by their opponent.

This is pretty heady stuff for a team that was 3-6 heading into their bye week and had their head coach declare that he was in evaluation phase the rest of the season.

Mike Shanahan was asked at practice this week if his young team would be affected by nerves heading into the team’s first playoff game since 2007. “It’s been seven games with a do-or-die situation. So I think our mindset has been the same. Great preparation during the week and you’ve got to go get it done on the weekend.”

He’ll ask his rookie quarterback and rookie running back to shoulder the load on offense, as he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have all season. “We’ve got a little experience over the last few years with our offense. We’ve been able to put a nucleus of people together and with the addition of [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] and [running back] Alfred [Morris] who have been able to make some strides.”

While Griffin has received the lion’s share of praise for this offense, Kyle Shanahan has beamed about the production from Morris, especially since the bye week. “For about six weeks in a row, I’ve told him that he needs to have his best game of the year today and I feel that he’s continued to do it. Each game, he’s gotten better. It is rare. It’s a long year, especially for a rookie, and he’s never hit that wall.

“The guy doesn’t seem to get too sore, either. He’s always in practice as soon as we go on Wednesday – takes every rep. We make fun of him because he won’t ever go walk-through tempo either. He’s always full-speed. We can’t get him to slow down. He’s always fresh and he’s very fun to coach.”

Perhaps the biggest matchup on Sunday will be between the Skins receiving corps and the Seahawks big, physical defensive backs. Kyle Shanahan described what made the matchup so difficult. “They’re very good at jamming guys. They’re very physical. They try to beat you up all the way down the field. They compete in the run and the pass game. They have a lot of confidence in them. They play a lot of single safety and they get after it.”

Both Seattle corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, had their troubles this season — but not on the field. Browner returns this week after serving a four-game suspension for PED use while Sherman avoided a PED suspension by successfully appealing to the league. Browner had 44 tackles, three picks and three forced fumbles in 12 games. Sherman had a dominant season, even if Pro Bowl voters didn’t see it that way, recording eight interceptions to go along with 64 tackles, one sack and three forced fumbles.

It will be imperative for the Skins wide receivers — especially Pierre Garcon — to give RGIII open targets early to allow Morris the opportunities to find the seams in the Seahawks run defense, which ranked 10th in the league in rushing yards.

The Redskins run to the playoffs — and the play of their two rookies on offense — has re-energized a long-dormant fan base. A playoff win in the duo’s first NFL playoff game might have FedEx in a frenzy Sunday evening. With the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Minnesota Vikings Saturday, should the Redskins emerge victorious over the Seahawks they’d earn a trip to Atlanta to face a Falcons club that didn’t exactly light the world on fire down the stretch.

Big game, indeed.

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