December 8, 2019

Redskins get elusive first win as defense finds its footing

The Washington Redskins finally got their elusive first win of the season by playing solid defensive football and taking advantage of turnovers Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Raiders. The Redskins defense played their best game of the season, against an admittedly depleted Raiders squad, and the offense executed well enough to qualify the win as a “team” victory. And not a moment too soon.

The Redskins came out of the gate a little bit sluggish to start the game, with consecutive three-and-out series, perhaps due to crossing three time zones to play this one. The sluggish start was compounded by a special teams blunder, as a blocked punt by Rashad Jennings after the Skins second series was recovered by Jeremy Stewart in the end zone for a quick 7-0 Raiders lead.

After another Redskins three-and-out on the following possession, Raiders QB Matt Flynn, starting for the injured Terelle Pryor,  threw a strike to rookie TE Mychal Rivera for a 18-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a two score lead early on. But on the drive, the Raiders lost starting running back Darren McFadden to a hamstring injury, and that would play into the Redskins hands the rest of the day.

Those two quick scores by the Raiders apparently triggered a wake-up call for the Redskins.

On the next possession, the offense went hurry-up no-huddle and marched down the field. The drive stalled at the Oakland two yard line, however, and the Redskins settled for a chip-shot field goal by John Potter.

That must have energized the defense as well.

On the ensuing Raiders possession, David Amerson read Flynn all the way, jumped a route, and picked off a pass intended for Raiders leading receiver Denarius Moore.  Amerson took it untouched 45 yards for the Skins first score of the day.

With McFadden out, the Raiders went to a more pass-happy attack, which enabled the Redskins defense to come after the immobile and indecisive Flynn. The Skins pressured Flynn all day, recorded a season-high seven sacks, and forced two Flynn fumbles to go along with Amerson’s pick-six.

The defense didn’t allow another point, shutting out the Raiders offense for better than three quarters, as the Skins scored 24 unanswered points to walk out of Oakland with their first win of the year.

Going into the bye week, the Redskins should feel good about getting their first victory of the season. Their 1-3 record places them one game behind the Dallas Cowboys (2-2), who lost on the road at San Diego, at the top of the division. Both the Eagles and Giants lost in Week 4 as well, setting the NFC East as the worst division in the NFL right now, with no team having a winning record.

What’s more, if the Cowboys lose in Week 5 to the high-powered Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, the Redskins would then have an opportunity to go into Arlington in two weeks and battle with the struggling Cowboys for the division lead.

It appears that mediocrity is going to rule the division this season. If the Redskins can use the two solid weeks of practice surrounding the bye to get Robert Griffin III even more up to speed with his offense, and give the rookies in the secondary two more weeks to feel comfortable in the schemes, there’s little reason the Skins can’t rebound to still be a factor in the division.

District Sports Page staff intern Brandon Enroth contributed to this report.

DSP’s Redskins Wrap Postgame Show: Week 4 vs. Oakland Raiders

Dave Nichols and Andy Holmes of District Sports Page discuss and analyze the Washington Redskins 24-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Washington Redskins Week 4 Review: Skins outlast Raiders 24-14

Entering play Sunday, having traveled across three time zones and staring 0-4 in the face with their bye week coming up, the Washington Redskins faced as much of a “must-win” situation as a team could against the Oakland Raiders. When they fell behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, you couldn’t help but think, “Oh, no. Here we go again.”

But the Redskins rebounded from the terrible start to get within four points at halftime, then imposed their will a little bit on the terrible Raiders, winning 24-14 to avoid the ignominy of being winless going into their bye week.

Robert Griffin III still did not look much like his old self, but did enough, passing for 227 yards, one touchdown and — most importantly — no interceptions as Washington (1-3) won for the first time this season.

Even better, the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys all lost in Week 4 as well, keeping the worst division in football right now a tight race.

Things didn’t get off on the good foot. After their second straight three-and-out to start the game, Sav Rocca’s punt was blocked by Rashad Jennings and recovered by Jeremy Stewart in the end zone to give Oakland a quick 7-0 lead.

The Raiders extended that lead to 14-0 as a 10-play, 81 yard drive culminated in an 18-yard strike from Matt Flynn, playing for the injured Tyrelle Prior, to Mychal Rivera, who was wide open in a seam.

But that ended Oakland’s scoring for the day.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Skins marched on an 11-play, 73-yard drive which stalled at the eight yard line, where John Potter made good for a 25-yard field goal.

On the next series, Flynn tried to find Denarius Moore on a slant route, but cornerback David Amerson jumped the route, stepped in front of Moore for the pick, and raced 45 yards for his first NFL interception and touchdown to cut the score to 14-10.

Finally playing with a lead, the Redskins defense did some good things in the second half against Flynn and the Raiders offense. They applied a lot of pressure on the backup quarterback, disrupting him on just about every throw.

But the Skins offense still couldn’t get into a good rhythm. On their second possession of the half, Griffin found backup tight end Logan Paulsen for a short pass the Paulsen turned into a 33 yard gain while breaking tackles left and right. Unfortunately, he was double-teamed at the end and stripped of the ball to end the series.

But the next time the Skins had the ball they ground out an eight-play, 58 yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon on a slant play that upped the Redskins lead to 17-14.

The bad news on the drive was that Alfred Morris got banged up and left the game with a injury in his rib cage. After the game, head coach Mike Shanahan didn’t think it was broken, but Morris would be reevaluated when the team returns to D.C.

Washington capped the scoring a few series later. Ryan Kerrigan sacked Flynn and forced a fumble that gave the Skins the ball on the Oakland 42. Griffin escaped containment and connected on a check-down pass to Roy Helu, Jr. for 28 yards, then on the next play Helu burst up the middle untouched for a 14-yard touchdown run.

Flynn led the Raiders on one last chance to get back into the game, but he fumbled attempting a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one and lost the ball, sealing the Redskins’ first win of the season.

SKINS NOTES: Morris finished with 71 yards on 16 carries before leaving the game. Helu ran 13 times for 41 yards.

Garcon caught six balls for 59 yards. Leonard Hankerson grabbed four catches for 49 yards.

Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and Barry Cofield all finished with two sacks apiece.

Washington Redskins Week 4 Preview: The Oakland Raiders

The Washington Redskins (0-3) are going to need to play very well against the struggling Oakland Raiders this Sunday if they are going to silence their critics. Record-wise, the Oakland Raiders (1-2) are the NFL’s worst team over the past decade. They have had every kind of problem on offense, defense, and a head-coaching carousel that has temporarily come to a stop on Dennis Allen, who’s entering his second year at Oakland’s helm.

The Raiders are coming off of a 37-21 loss on Monday Night Football to the dominant Denver Broncos. One key note to take away from that game from a Washington standpoint was the undisciplined play of the Oakland secondary. Granted, Peyton Manning can make any secondary look silly, but the Raiders gave up 374 yards passing and three touchdowns Monday night. Manning hit three different receivers for scores and on each one the Raiders had made significant coverage errors. [Read more…]

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Survivor

Week 3 is in the survivor books and I hope you heeded the warning to stay away from anyone other than Seattle or Denver. There was carnage everywhere else. Week 4’s Survivor picks don’t have the automatic selections, but we’ve got a lot to choose from.

Remember – survive and advance.  Bye weeks start this week so the pool shrinks ever so slightly.

Bye week: Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

 

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Denver Broncos

33.70%

1

Indianapolis Colts

28.52%

2

Indianapolis Colts

27.10%

2

Denver Broncos

27.04%

3

New Orleans Saints

14.60%

3

Cincinnati Bengals

17.37%

4

Cincinnati Bengals

8.50%

4

New Orleans Saints

7.98%

5

Kansas City Chiefs

4.60%

5

Kansas City Chiefs

6.20%

6

San Francisco 49ers

3.60%

6

San Francisco 49ers

4.59%

7

Tennessee Titans

2.90%

7

Baltimore Ravens

2.56%

8

Baltimore Ravens

2.10%

8

Tennessee Titans

2.09%

9

Washington

0.90%

9

Washington

1.04%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.40%

10

Dallas Cowboys

0.37%

There is a chance that the top two options for this week are gone as you may have taken the Colts in week one and the Broncos last week. Where else should we look if we are already boxed into a corner?

Here are my choices for Week 4 in order of preference:

  1. Denver Broncos – The Broncos are at home against a team with a dynamic, but volatile offense and a defense that can’t stop anyone (giving up nearly 30 points per game). The Broncos shouldn’t have a problem solving the hurry up offense the Eagles run. The Broncos see a similar version in practice every day. I give the Broncos an 87% chance of winning.
  2. Indianapolis Colts – The Colts head to Jacksonville and receive the gift of Blaine Gabbert returning to the starting QB role. Maurice Jones-Drew is still dangerous, but Gabbert renders almost all Jacksonville receivers worthless. It may not be pretty, but the Cots should pick up the victory. I give the Colts a 75% chance of winning.
  3. New Orleans Saints – The Saints are at home against a surprising Miami team. Both squads are undefeated, but perhaps most surprising is the success of the Saints defense under first year coordinator Rob Ryan. That defense along with home field advantage pushes the Saints to 4-0. I give the Saints a 69% chance of winning.
  4. Kansas City Chiefs –This is exactly how we thought this matchup would play out. One team at 3-0 and the other at 0-3 struggling for relevance. However, no one would have guessed that the Chiefs are the 3-0 team. Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play, the Chiefs defense looks unstoppable and Eli Manning can’t get enough time to throw behind a porous offensive line and no running game. I give the Chiefs a 68% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early this week: Cincinnati Bengals

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Tennessee Titans on the road against the New York Jets. The Jets haven’t been nearly as bad as everyone expected. Moreover, it looks like Rex Ryan was worked his defense into an upper echelon squad. The Titans aren’t the most elegant offensive outfit and the Jets may not have much of an issue stopping the Titans.

I’d also stay away from the San Francisco 49ers off a short week to recover from a devastating loss. Something isn’t quite right in SF and I think it starts on the defensive side of the ball. The Niners should get Vernon Davis back. However, they lose stud LB Aldon Smith for an undetermined time.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Chicago Bears at the Lions. The Lions have a great offense, but not much of a defense against the run (the Bears forte – HA!). I’d also take a look at the New York Jets on the road against the Tennessee Titans. The Jets defense keeps them in games and Jake Locker isn’t the most dynamic offensive mind.

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 – St. Louis Rams vs San Francisco 49ers

Thursday presents a divisional battle that both teams have to have to right their respective ships with the Rams trying to defend home turf against the 49ers.

San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick has not looked like the dynamic QB we saw in week one and most of last season. He can’t be trusted as more than a low end QB2 at this point. He hasn’t had much success against the Rams in his short career.

Frank Gore has a juicy matchup and is a solid RB1 after seeing what DeMarco Murray did to this Rams defense last week. Also, Gore complained about his role in last week’s game and that almost always leads to more touches for the complaining party.

The Niners have only one WR worth discussing and that’s Anquan Boldin. He’s been a disappointment since his Week 1 explosion.  However, the Rams have been friendly to WR1s so far this season according to Football Outsiders. I think Boldin makes a solid flex/WR3 play this week.

Vernon Davis’ health continues to be a concern as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.  He can’t be trusted as a TE1 this season. It’s going to be a game-time decision and you can find better options elsewhere.

The 49ers defense is missing another key piece as Aldon Smith moves on to deal with substance abuse issues and Patrick Willis looks like he’ll also miss the game. I’d pass on the Niners defense.

St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford is due for that breakout at any time. It just seems like it might never come. He’s a low end QB2 this week against a stout defense.

The backfield in St. Louis is a mess. Daryl Richardson reinjured his foot early in Week 3 and missed the rest of the game. Will he be completely healthy? It’s unclear. Isaiah Pead filled in, but the Rams also have Benny Cunningham and rookie Zac Stacy. Stay away – there is no one to start here.

Too many mouths to feed in St. Louis at the WR position makes it a mess that is only worth of flex plays for Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Tavon Austin. Austin is a bit better of an option in PPR leagues.

Jared Cook is the TE version of Anquan Boldin, except this week his matchup is terrible. Look elsewhere for TE help.

The Rams defense is useless and should be ignored for fantasy purposes.

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 Game 4 Review: Despite missed opportunities, Redskins hold onto 24-22 win over Buccaneers

Robert Griffin III completed 25-of-36 passes for 323 yards and Alfred Morris ran for 113, but the Washington Redskins 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium was anything but pretty.

As if to set the tone for the game, prior to kickoff, the Redskins announced Brandon Meriweather and Aldrick Robinson would not play due to injuries the two suffered after colliding with one another during warm-ups. Luckily for the Redskins, Trent Williams – who played the full game Sunday with a knee injury – and Pierre Garcon were able to provide much-needed strength to a roster otherwise marred by injuries in recent weeks.

The Buccaneers entered the game with the best rushing defense in the league – but it didn’t show, as the Redskins rushed for 160 yards over 30 carries on the night. [Read more…]

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week 4 is upon us and it started with a less than scintillating performance from the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. They won (but didn’t cover) and led us to believe that Brandon Weeden could indeed by a successful NFL QB. No matter. What does the rest of the weekend hold? Are there matchups which you can exploit to win in week 4? Who might you think twice about staring this week? I’m here to help. I’ll wrap up with the final Survivor Pool picks for the week. The big choice (the Ravens made it through on Thursday night).

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: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterback                               

Up: Matt Schaub is matched up with the worst defense against QBs in the NFL – the Tennessee Titans. However, the Texans offense is predicated on running the ball and the Texans have two running backs that have succeeded in the past in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. It will be interesting to see how the Texans play this game offensively. I say that Schaub finishes as a top 8 QB this week. If you own him and you don’t start him this week, I’m not sure when you would.

Philip Rivers is another must start this week. He goes on the road against a Chiefs team coming off an emotional win. These division games always seem to be high scoring affairs. The Chiefs defense has also been one of the worst against QBs this year. They’ve gotten some defensive help back, but I see Rivers being able to take advantage of the team. Moreover, it doesn’t look like Ryan Matthews is quite back up to speed after his latest injury layoff.

If you want to go deep, I’ve got two options (especially for those in 2 QB leagues). The first choice is somewhat obvious as it is Josh Freeman going against what looks to be the worst secondary in the league. They should get safety Brandon Meriweather back this week, but I’m not sure how much that will really help. Meriweather is a talent, but a bit of a knuckle head. I like Freeman as a top 15 option this week.

Way down the list is Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals look to be a fierce defensive team this year. And, without Beanie Wells, their backfield is much more settled (and talented). The Cardinals as a whole look to be a good team. They face the Miami Dolphins at home and the Dolphins may not have Reggie Bush (though even if they do he won’t be 100%). Moreover, star CB Richard Marshall missed practice time this week and if he’s out (or less than fully healthy), the Cardinals are at even more of an advantage. He’s a top 20 QB this week.

Down: Tom Brady’s offensive line has been suspect all year and they will be without Logan Mankins in week four. The Patriots face the Bills who have been average against QBs this year. I do not see Brady as a top 10 QB this week as I think the Patriots will try to establish the run a bit more to protect him.

Tony Romo faces the Chicago Bears on Monday night. The Bears are the stingiest defense with respect to QB scoring so far I’d start Schaub, Phillip Rivers, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton over Romo this week. I had this discussion over Twitter with the folks at Fantasy Fix (a good follow I might add) this past week. They rank Romo a bit higher than I would because they believe the Bears have put up their numbers against inferior opponents. I cede that point, but I don’t think it matters as much as they do. The Bears defense is good (Aaron Rodgers and company struggled against it) and Romo will on Monday night as well. Oh, one last thing – Romo is historically poor on Monday nights for what it is worth.

Running back

Up: Ryan Williams is the starter for the Arizona Cardinals this week with the news that Beanie Wells will be out for at least two months. Williams has talent, but his offensive line is suspect at best. He gets a good matchup in his first week and should be a top 15 RB this week in all formats.

Jacquizz Rodgers should be a monster in PPR leagues this week as the Panthers average almost 11 receptions given up to RBs. He’s a top 20 back in PPR leagues and could score.

Look for Jamaal Charles to pick up where he left off last week. The Chargers aren’t the best matchup, but are certainly friendly. And if Charles is stopped on the ground, the Chargers give up receptions to RBs. Also look for Dexter McCluster (who is likely listed as a WR and may not be healthy) to be an option in deeper PPR leagues.

Frank Gore has a great matchup and I see top 5 production this week. I’d start him over Ryan Matthews and Darren McFadden (in non-PPR leagues). Feel confident in Gore’s production this week.

Down: Cedric Benson has a fantastic matchup against the New Orleans Saints, but I’m going to take the risk and say the Mike McCarthy uses this week to try to get his passing attack going against the poor Saints defense. Don’t expect much more than what we’ve seen from Benson in the first three weeks even with this great matchup.

More matchup downgrades with Willis McGahee. He’s going to play, but it’s going to be about pain tolerance for him and I think they will mix in Lance Ball a bit more than usual. I see McGahee to fall around the top 25 this week again even with the good matchup.

Check Reggie Bush’s status as he’s going to be a game time decision. If Bush is out, I think there will be a split between Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. I don’t like any of the three backs at all this week based on health and matchup.

Marshawn Lynch is a start, but I don’t see him as a top 10 back this week as it looks like the St. Louis Rams will get Michael Brockers back this week and their run defense should improve dramatically. So, watch the inactives and if Brockers is in, expect a top 15 performance from Lynch. If not, then top 8 is in the cards for Lynch.

Don’t think that Chris Johnson will break out this week (or really any week in the future). He’s nothing more than a bye week fill in and I might think about starting Ben Tate over Johnson.

Avoid both Michael Bush and Matt Forte in this matchup this week. It looks like it could be a timeshare and the Monday night start doesn’t lend itself to waiting.

Wide Receiver

Up: Vincent Jackson will be a top 3 WR this week against the Redskins. I can see 6+ catches for 120+ yards and 2 TDs. It should be a shootout.

Leonard Hankerson will get the most snaps at WR this week in my opinion and as a result he has the best chance to put up big numbers for the Redskins. Tampa Bay is terrible against WRs and I’d rather start Hankerson than Kenny Britt, any of the Cowboys WRs (Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or Kevin Ogletree) or Sidney Rice. He’s a top 25 option for me this week.

I’d move Wes Welker up to a top 6 WR this week in PPR leagues with Julian Edelman’s injury and the other injures that the Patriots offense have suffered.

Greg Jennings still isn’t 100%, but shouldn’t need to be against the New Orleans Saints. I think his numbers will actually look more like a possession WR as he doesn’t seem to have that burst so expect more catches for fewer yard (he may struggle to get 100 yards), but he should score (as almost everyone on offense should for the Packers). I like Jennings as a top 10 in PPR, top 15 in non-PPR.

I like Eric Decker better than Demayrius Thomas for this week (and the rest of the season). The reports that Peyton Manning can’t throw down field as well as he used to mute Thomas’ big play value. Decker can work more of the intermediate and shorter routes than Thomas can. I see Decker as top 10 this week (top 7 in PPR) and Thomas in the top 15 this week against a porous Raiders defense.

Michael Crabtree looks like he has a tough assignment against the New York Jets defense. However, Darelle Revis is out for the year, so the matchup isn’t quite as hard as it seems. Also, note that the 49ers are not coming west to east again – they stayed in Youngstown for the week to practice so there shouldn’t be any “jet lag” issues for the 49ers. Start Crabtree as a solid WR2 in most leagues, borderline WR1 in PPR.

Jerome Simpson is back off of suspension and the talk is that he will be heavily involved. I’d take a wait and see approach to Simpson, but if you can grab him and stash him on your bench, I’d do it this week.

Down:  Hakeem Nicks is out. Just in case you missed it. Get him out of your lineup.

Pierre Garcon is likely to play this week, but he will be on a pitch count according to Adam Schefter. The Redskins play the late game, but the Buccaneers have been extremely friendly to WRs this year. I still think he’s too big a risk even with the great matchup.

Do not start Dez Bryant or Miles Austin unless you are desperate. The Bears can shut these players down. I like Austin a bit more than Bryant, but both are no better than low end WR3/Flex plays this week. Whether you start them or not depends on the depth of your league and your other WRs.

I’m not sure if you’d start any other Bears WR, but Brandon Marshall, but if you are, don’t. As for Marshall, I see him in the same realm as Bryant and Austin. He’s a risky start this week.

Kenny Britt isn’t 100% and even if he is on the field, I don’t think he’ll have the health to beat a tough Texans defense. Leave him on the bench this week.

I’m not sure why I continue to see Marques Colston ranked as a top 20 WR. He’s not the same WR he was a few years ago and the Saints offense isn’t the same. He’s a low end WR3/Flex for me this week and beyond. He’s not 100% healthy and won’t be all year. He won’t have that burst he needs.

I like Golden Tate for the remainder of the season, but not this week. He’s going to face Cortland Finnegan all day and I assume he’ll struggle to reach 50 yards receiving.

Tight End

Up: Our weekly Tennessee Titans update brings Owen Daniels to the stage as the Texans face the Titans. Daniels instantly becomes a top 10 TE consideration. I might be crazy, but I could see him scoring more than Rob Gronkowski this weekend.

If Tennessee is going to throw against the Houston Texans (and they will likely have to since Chris Johnson looks more like present-day Larry Johnson), they won’t be able to throw to their WRs as often as they might like. For that reason, I like Jared Cook to put up top 12 TE numbers this week. The Texans struggle against the TE and Cook has the skills to take advantage of those struggles if Jake Locker gets the time to throw.

If you are desperate (two TEs leagues, only New York-based players league) Dustin Keller has a tasty matchup with the 49ers who continue to struggle against the TE. The problem is Keller isn’t healthy and Mark Sanchez isn’t good.

Down: For all of the struggles the Saints defense has had this year, they’ve done very well against TEs. As a result, I’m downgrading Jermichael Finley to outside the top 10 this week. He’s got completion at the TE spot and he hasn’t shown enough this year to make me recommend him.

You aren’t going to sit him, but Rob Gronkowski won’t be a top 10 TE this week. The Bills can control the TE game with their strong safety play and Gronk isn’t fully healthy.

Kicker

Up: Nate Kaeding is out so Nick Novak (clearly on Norv Turner’s speed dial) is the choice to replace him yet again. Novak is a solid bye week option should you need him. He should finish in the top 12 in points this week.

Down: Ryan Succop had the winning kick last week and had a huge week overall. He’s going up against the second toughest defense for kickers to score upon this year so do not expect a top 12 performance this week.

Defense

Up: The Buffalo Bills are sneaky play against a Patriots offense without Logan Mankins or Julian Edelman or Aaron Hernandez and with Rob Gronkowski banged up. I’d like for two or more turnovers and at least three sacks on the day with the potential for a TD of some sort (ether turnover or return).

Down: I don’t like the Philadelphia Eagles as a top 10 defense this week. The Giants have shown a propensity to score in bunches and they have an extremely balanced offense. I know that Hakeem Nicks is out for the Giants, but Eli Manning has too many other weapons.

A bit further down the list, I’d drop the Patriots out of the top 15 as the Bills are getting Fred Jackson back (even on a limited basis) which makes the Bills offense a bit more dangerous.

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections – Updated

Updates are in bold from my mid-week column. And, you’ll see – no changes from me. I stand by what I wrote earlier with a little bump up for the Cardinals.

Last week the Saints and 49ers took out a good chunk of remaining pool entrants. So, for most of us, the pools are starting to get interesting.

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

Office Football Pool

 

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1 Baltimore Ravens (W) 45.20%

1

Baltimore Ravens

55.40%

2 Houston Texans 17.80%

2

Arizona Cardinals

7.80%

3 Atlanta Falcons 11.30%

3

Houston Texans

7.80%

4 Arizona Cardinals 10.00%

4

Atlanta Falcons

5.60%

5 Denver Broncos 5.00%

5

Detroit Lions

3.80%

6 Green Bay Packers 4.30%

6

Denver Broncos

3.60%

7 New England Patriots 1.80%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.40%

8 San Francisco 49ers 1.10%

8

New England Patriots

0.30%

9 Detroit Lions 0.80%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.90%

10 Cincinnati Bengals 0.60%

10

San Francisco 49ers

2.40%

A clear cut favorite is out there. Does it make sense to take them? Is there really that much of a difference between the top pick and the rest of the field? My early top 3 picks for the week (final column up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – This is not the same case as the Patriots versus the Cardinals from earlier this season. The Ravens are a far superior team to the Browns. The Browns have shown very little this season to make me think they can keep up with the Ravens. I give Baltimore an 82% chance of winning this divisional matchup at home. Take the Ravens if you believe in “survive and advance.”
  2. Houston Texans – Now, we get into pot odds and does it make sense to take a lesser team in the off chance that the Ravens lose? If you have the Texans still available, this is the time to use them especially if you are in a pool where the picks look more like ESPN than Office Football Pool above. The Titans are a one dimensional offensive team and the Texans have a defender (in Jonathan Joseph) who can take away a portion of that dimension. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The only reason I have them third is because Carolina will have had 10 days off to prepare for the Falcons. That said, the Falcons are very good at home and their passing attack looks unstoppable. The Panthers don’t have the weapons in the defensive backfield to matchup. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.

I’d also watch the Cardinals this week to see if the Dolphins are without the services of Reggie Bush. If Bush is out, I could see pushing the Cardinals into the top three. I think they are a viable choice this week as well equal with the Falcons.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Denver Broncos. They are home against a Raiders team coming off of a big win. The Broncos may be without Willis McGahee which would be a big blow to Peyton Manning and put too much on his shoulders in my opinion.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look at the New York Giants on the road at Philadelphia. I know, I’m beating a dead horse picking against the Eagles and Michel Vick again, but I just don’t know how much longer Andy Reid can stay with Vick.

Just a reminder from last week, 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 4 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week four of the NFL schedule welcomes the first byes of the season and the official officials. I was correct to go with Chicago and Dallas as my top two choices, but my third and fourth options (49ers and Saints) went out. Also, my team to avoid (Green Bay) came through even if they got a good bit of help in the loss from our unofficial officials.

In one pool, I’m in week three saw the end of the pool. We were down to two entries and they decided to chop the pot. In another pool, after three weeks we are down to just 15% of the original entries. It has been quite a season so far.

On bye this week: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections

Last week the Saints and 49ers took out a good chunk of remaining pool entrants. So, for most of us, the pools are starting to get interesting.

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

Office Football Pool

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Baltimore Ravens

56.80%

1

Baltimore Ravens

60.00%

2

Houston Texans

14.20%

2

Arizona Cardinals

6.10%

3

Arizona Cardinals

8.90%

3

Houston Texans

4.80%

4

Atlanta Falcons

8.20%

4

Detroit Lions

4.70%

5

Denver Broncos

3.80%

5

Atlanta Falcons

4.10%

6

Green  Bay Packers

2.80%

6

Denver Broncos

3.60%

7

New England Patriots

1.30%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.40%

8

Detroit Lions

0.80%

8

New England Patriots

0.30%

9

San Francisco 49ers

0.70%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.70%

10

Cincinnati Bengals

0.50%

10

San Francisco 49ers

2.20%

A clear cut favorite is out there. Does it make sense to take them? Is there really that much of a difference between the top pick and the rest of the field? My early top 3 picks for the week (final column up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – This is not the same case as the Patriots versus the Cardinals from earlier this season. The Ravens are a far superior team to the Browns. The Browns have shown very little this season to make me think they can keep up with the Ravens. I give Baltimore an 82% chance of winning this divisional match-up at home. Take the Ravens if you believe in “survive and advance.”
  2. Houston Texans – Now, we get into pot odds and does it make sense to take a lesser team in the off chance that the Ravens lose? If you have the Texans still available, this is the time to use them especially if you are in a pool where the picks look more like ESPN than Office Football Pool above. The Titans are a one dimensional offensive team and the Texans have a defender (in Jonathan Joseph) who can take away a portion of that dimension. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The only reason I have them third is because Carolina will have had 10 days off to prepare for the Falcons. That said, the Falcons are very good at home and their passing attack looks unstoppable. The Panthers don’t have the weapons in the defensive backfield to match-up. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.

I’d also watch the Cardinals this week to see if the Dolphins are without the services of Reggie Bush. If Bush is out, I could see pushing the Cardinals into the top three.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Denver Broncos. They are home against a Raiders team coming off of a big win. The Broncos may be without Willis McGahee which would be a big blow to Peyton Manning and put too much on his shoulders in my opinion.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look at the New York Giants on the road at Philadelphia. I know, I’m beating a dead horse picking against the Eagles and Michel Vick again, but I just don’t know how much longer Andy Reid can stay with Vick.

Just a reminder from last week, 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 injury update – Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Just a couple of quick highlights:

Baltimore

The Ravens are surprisingly healthy with only three players even listed on their injury report and only one at questionable or worse. The Ravens defense is not what it has been in years past as they have struggled to put the same pressure on the QB as in years previously. However, the Browns have not shown any particular aptitude on offense this season.

The Ravens defense is ranked  27th in total yards allowed at just over 400 yards per game. But a deeper look shows that they are fourth in per play rushing average (3.3 yards per attempt). The Ravens are just getting a lot of rushing attempts against them.

Cleveland Browns

Trent Richardson looks to be fully healed from his earlier knee surgery.

Mohamed Massaquoi is out for the Browns with a hamstring injury. It looks like Josh Gordon could see some more playing time, but isn’t a useful option in most leagues.

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 4 Waiver Wire Advice

So, anything interesting happen this weekend? No? How about Monday night? Did you see anything which made you go hmmmmmm? No, well maybe this week’s installment of waiver wire targets will have you talking. I’ll get to Survivor picks on Wednesday. Remember, bye weeks start this week!

Quarterback                               

Christian PonderWow, has Ponder looked great over the first three weeks. I’d drop a player like Russell Wilson (as I did today) for Ponder. Ponder has great match-ups over the next three weeks and then alternates bad and good match-ups over the next four. He’s got a chance to remain a top 10 QB this season.

Jake Locker Locker had a great match-up this week and exploited it to the fullest. I like Locker and Ponder almost the same and a lot depends on your roster makeup and your QB1 if you choose to use Ponder or Locker as bye week replacements.  Ponder should probably be avoided in weeks seven and nine while Locker should be avoided this week and in week nine.

Shaun HillHill brought the Lions back in the fourth quarter last week after Matthew Stafford’s injury only to be foiled by Jim Schwartz’s incompetence as a coach. Hill is a must add if Stafford’s injury keeps him out this week. Hill has always put up numbers in the Lions offense.

Nick Foles  - Has the Michael Vick death watch begun? Andy Reid’s tepid endorsement of Vick this week makes me think that if Reid wants to save his job, he’s going to need to get production out of the QB position (and perhaps rely on LeSean McCoy a bit more – he’s pretty good from what I hear). Foles is the backup to Vick and could be a nice addition if you have a deep bench.

Running back

Mikel Leshoure  – I mentioned Leshoure last week and told everyone to temper their excitement a bit. However, Leshoure’s performance last week (and the Houdini act that Kevin Smith put on) move Leshoure to the top of the list. He should be your first waiver claim unless you are stacked at RB. He’s going to start for the remainder of the season and it looks like the Lions might actually incorporate the run a bit (unlike say the Saints).

Saints Running backs – Cut them all except Darren Sproles. One of the reasons I don’t like to back the Saints in Survivor pools is because they can’t salt a lead away by running the ball. They seem unable to do so even though they have some talent in the backfield. However, there is no reason for you to waste a roster spot on Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory.

Ryan Williams – It looks like Beanie Wells cannot stay healthy and even when he is he is not an effective runner. Williams looks to be the main RB in Arizona, but he hasn’t shown the ability yet to overcome a poor offensive line. I lIke Williams a bit better than a low end RB like Cedric Benson, but I don’t expect top 15 RB stats from him this year.

Jacquizz Rodgers – Rodgers was on the field for two more snaps than Michael Turner last week. Could we be witnessing the changing of the guard or at least a time share? I think so. Rodgers is far more explosive and versatile and in PPR leagues could potentially be a RB2.

Tashard Choice – I think he’s a one or two week pickup at best. He’s never shown consistency and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller should both be back within the next two weeks. However, if you need someone for this week you could do worse.

Ryan Grant – That thud you heard was Alfred Morris owners banging their collective heads on their collective desks. I can’t see Grant holding any value this year unless there are injuries which take out all three running backs ahead of him. Stranger things have happened, but leave him on the waiver wire unless you are in the deepest of leagues.

Bilal PowellShonn Greene isn’t very good. Or at least it doesn’t seem that way. At some point the Jets will need to make a change. Powell is the next man up and has looked solid if unspectacular over the first three weeks. The Jets have tough match-ups the next two weeks against San Francisco and Houston so temper any expectations.

Jonathan Grimes – I don’t know who this guy is, but the New York Jets just signed him off of the Houston Texans practice squad. Monitor him in all leagues as Shonn Greene can’t hold on to the starting RB spot all season. And Bilal Powell isn’t Walter Payton.

Daniel Thomas – Thomas subbed in for Reggie Bush after Bush’s injury for the Miami Dolphins. Thomas ran well and picked up a TD along the way. However, he also turned the ball over. The extent of Bush’s injury is unclear, but if he’s out this week I see a time share between Thomas and…

Lamar Miller – Miller came on for Thomas after his fumble in week three. Miller is a bit more explosive and will likely share any carries with Thomas if Bush is hurt rendering both useless in most leagues.

Rashad Jennings – You can probably cut bait on him unless you own Maurice Jones-Drew. I do not believe this lottery ticket will be a winner.

Wide Receiver

Leonard HankersonHankerson did not do much until the end of the game in week three. However, after the game, Coach Mike Shanahan said that Hankerson had earned a starting role. Hankerson will start for Pierre Garcon until Garcon is healthy. Then, Hankerson will slide over and take Josh Morgan’s place in the starting lineup.  The Redskins offense has been prolific, but production from the WR has been uneven so far. I’d expect a WR3 type player from Hankerson going forward.

Donnie AveryAustin Collie’s season ending knee injury solidifies Donnie Avery as the number two WR in Indianapolis and a PPR gem.

Ramses BardenBarden was spectacular against the Carolina Panthers last Thursday. However, when Hakeem Nicks returns to the lineup, it is likely Barden heads back to the bench (though he may now be third on the depth chart in front of Domenik Hixon). I don’t think Barden gets a ton of looks without an injury to either Victor Cruz or Nicks, but he’s shown he can perform if given the chance.

Jerome Simpson – Simpson returns from suspension this week and will likely slot right into the starting lineup for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s got a million dollar body, but a ten cent head so we’ll see how long he stays out of trouble. That said, the Vikings have some nice match-ups over the next three weeks though Simpson will likely be no better than fourth in the offensive pecking order behind Peterson, Harvin and Rudolph.

Tight End

Jordan CameronThis Cleveland Browns player had five receptions in week three.  He’s still listed as the number two tight end in Cleveland, but he’s only behind Ben Watson. Young QBs (well young to the NFL) often look to their TEs in times of need. Brandon Weeden will have a lot of times of need over the rest of the season. Cameron is to be monitored in deeper leagues.

Heath MillerI was wrong to avoid Miller last week as he picked up another couple of TDs. The Steelers defense isn’t very good and their running game is missing in action so Miller may well continue to get looks at least until Rashard Mendenhall returns (or someone picks up the slack in the Steelers backfield). I still do not see Miller as a long term solution.

TE playing the Titans – Just a friendly reminder that the Titans still stink against TEs. They play the Houston Texans this week so see if Owen Daniels is around.

Kicker

Blair Walsh, Justin Tucker, Greg Zuerlein – Same as last week. Go get these guys.

Defense

Arizona Cardinals – I hope you took my advice on the Cardinals and if not you are now convinced they have a chance to be match-up proof all year long. If they are still on your waiver wire, I’d be tempted to make them the number one priority over any other player this week.

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens face the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night at home. They should terrorize Brandon Weeden.

Cincinnati Bengals – They could be a sneaky play on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I would only add them if I’m desperate. They haven’t looked good and the Jags do have MJD in the backfield.

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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