2019 NFL Season: Week 4 picks

NFL Week 4 Picks.png
Source: https://www.norebbo.com/?s=nfl

Current Standings

Adam: 32-15-1

Aman: 29-18-1

Dan: 35-12-1

Joel: 30-17-1

Rahim: 31-16-1

 

Eagles @ Packers (Thursday night)

The Eagles have too many injuries right now. We’ve seen how big of an impact those injuries have made over the last two weeks. Those injuries will likely continue to play a big role against the Packers. Even at full strength it would be tough to beat this Packers defense, which is currently one of the best in the league. Aaron Rodgers and a tough defense might be too much for the Eagles with all those injuries.

Predictions

Adam: Packers

Aman: Packers

Dan: Packers

Joel: Packers

Rahim: Packers

 

Redskins @ Giants

This game will solely be focused on rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. He led a comeback last week against the Buccaneers, totaling four touchdowns. He looked good last week, but can he do it again? The Daniel Jones hype train is moving full speed, and we’ll see if he can keep it going against the 0-3 Redskins.

Predictions

Adam: Giants

Aman: Giants

Dan: Giants

Joel: Redskins

Rahim: Giants

 

Chiefs @ Lions

The Lions have had a nice start to their season, but now it’s time to really put them to the test. Patrick Mahomes looks like he’s even better than he was a season ago, which is scary for not only the Lions, but the entire league. We’ll see how the Lions play against one of the best offensive teams in the league.

Predictions

Adam: Chiefs

Aman: Chiefs

Dan: Chiefs

Joel: Chiefs

Rahim: Chiefs

 

Titans @ Falcons

I feel like neither of these teams are playing to their potential right. For one team, that will continue in this game, but the other will get a confidence boost after this win. Which team can put it all together offensively to get their team a win?

Predictions

Adam: Falcons

Aman: Falcons

Dan: Falcons

Joel: Falcons

Rahim: Falcons

 

Browns @ Ravens

Despite being one of the most hyped up teams in the offseason, the Browns still have a lot of holes to fill on their team. They hung in there against the Rams last week, but they still couldn’t overcome their problems. Lamar Jackson is not a quarterback to have problems against, and neither is this Ravens defense.

Predictions

Adam: Ravens

Aman: Ravens

Dan: Ravens

Joel: Ravens

Rahim: Ravens

 

Raiders @ Colts

Despite not having Andrew Luck, the Colts are playing pretty well right now. They’re still a competitive team, which shows how well they’ve been built. The Raiders are still the Raiders, meaning they’re still bad. I expect a still competitive Colts team to get the win over a still bad Raiders team.

Predictions

Adam: Colts

Aman: Colts

Dan: Colts

Joel: Colts

Rahim: Colts

 

Patriots @ Bills

Even though the Bills are one of the few 3-0 teams in the league, I can’t help but feel that they’re the worst of the group. Wins over the Jets, Giants and Bengals aren’t really that impressive. The Patriots are obviously their biggest test yet, and I can’t help but feel the Bills will fail this test. In this league, you just never know.

Predictions

Adam: Patriots

Aman: Patriots

Dan: Patriots

Joel: Patriots

Rahim: Bills

 

Panthers @ Texans

Kyle Allen looked awesome last week against the Cardinals. He looked much better than Cam Newton has this season. Now that he’s had a breakout performance, can he sustain it? The Texans are not an easy team to play against, especially for a young and inexperienced quarterback like Allen.

Predictions

Adam: Texans

Aman: Texans

Dan: Texans

Joel: Texans

Rahim: Panthers

 

Chargers @ Dolphins

The Dolphins…………. Yeah, I’ll go with the Chargers.

Predictions

Adam: Chargers

Aman: Chargers

Dan: Chargers

Joel: Chargers

Rahim: Chargers

 

Buccaneers @ Rams

The Rams continue to be one of the best teams in the league. The Buccaneers on the other hand, continue to be the Buccaneers. The offensive fire power of the Rams will simply be too much for Jameis Winston to keep up with.

Predictions

Adam: Rams

Aman: Rams

Dan: Rams

Joel: Rams

Rahim: Rams

 

Seahawks @ Cardinals

This game is interesting because it’s Kyler Murray against Russell Wilson. Murray has been compared to Wilson several times. Now we’ll get a chance to see just how similar they really are. Obviously, Wilson is the better quarterback right now, but it’s not just the quarterback position where the Seahawks have the advantage. They’re a better built overall, while the Cardinals are still building. They have been able to give us some interesting games so far though, so hopefully this one’s interesting too.

Predictions

Adam: Seahawks

Aman: Seahawks

Dan: Seahawks

Joel: Seahawks

Rahim: Seahawks

 

Vikings @ Bears

The Bears finally looked like the Bears we saw last season with a win over the Redskins on Monday night football. However, they were playing against the now 0-3 Redskins. You have to give them credit for doing what they did against an NFL team, but the Vikings will be much tougher. The key for the Bears will be to stop the run. If they can do that, they’ll force Cousins to beat them. The Vikings don’t want that, so they have to get Dalvin Cook going early.

Predictions

Adam: Bears

Aman: Bears

Dan: Bears

Joel: Bears

Rahim: Bears

 

Jaguars @ Broncos

Gardner Minshew has looked really good in his short time as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. He’s making a lot of nice plays without doing too much. I believe the Jaguars’ defense will continue making big plays and getting stops, which will continue to put Minshew and the offense in good spots. The Broncos are seeking their first win of the season. Can they pressure Minshew enough to make him turn the ball over? If they can do that and give their offense good position, the Broncos might take this one.

Predictions

Adam: Broncos

Aman: Broncos

Dan: Jaguars

Joel: Jaguars

Rahim: Broncos

 

Cowboys @ Saints (Sunday night)

The Dallas Cowboys have looked explosive on offense this season, with Dak Prescott being a top MVP candidate right now. This week they play the Drew Brees-less Saints, but don’t count them out. Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints proved they’re not out of it yet after beating the Seahawks last week. This one is at home for the Saints, and this team will be seeking revenge for the loss the Cowboys handed them last season. This will be a hard fought game.

Predictions

Adam: Saints

Aman: Saints

Dan: Saints

Joel: Cowboys

Rahim: Cowboys

 

Bengals @ Steelers (Monday night)

Despite getting another loss and moving to 0-3, the Steelers looked much more competitive against the 49ers last week. Mason Rudolph made some nice throws, but now it’s time to build on them. Can he keep this offense moving? A game featuring two 0-3 teams isn’t usually exciting, but this a divisional game, so it should hold at least some interest.

Predictions

Adam: Bengals

Aman: Steelers

Dan: Bengals

Joel: Steelers

Rahim: Steelers

2019 NFL MVP Race: Jackson and Prescott in a tight race through two weeks

Week 2 of the NFL season hasn’t disappointed, with several exciting performances from some of the league’s best players. Through two weeks, which players have inserted themselves into the NFL MVP conversation?

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Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson – Cincinnati Bengals Michael Johnson” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

In just two weeks of the NFL season, the NFL MVP race is already a tight one. Although we’ve seen several players have great performances, two players have stuck out in particular. Those two players are quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott.

Through two games, Jackson and Prescott have arguably been the best quarterbacks in the league. We all know MVP is a quarterback award 90% of the time, therefore making Jackson and Prescott the leaders at this point of the season. Let’s take a look at what they’ve been able to do in their first two games.

 

Lamar Jackson

Completion percentage: 71.9%

Passing yards: 596

Touchdown passes: Seven

Interceptions: Zero

Passer rating: 145.2

Rushing yards: 126

Rushing touchdowns: Zero

 

Dak Prescott

Completion percentage: 82.3%

Passing yards: 674

Touchdown passes: Seven

Interceptions: One

Passer rating: 142.9

Rushing yards: 81

Rushing touchdowns: Zero

Now let’s break it down a little bit. Both Prescott and Jackson are two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league, yet neither of them have been in the conversation as one of the best quarterbacks in the league during their time in the NFL. Well, here they are in that conversation after dominating performances in the passing game.

Prescott has completed 82.3% of his passes for 674 yards and seven touchdowns, while Jackson has completed 71.9% of his passes for 596 yards and seven touchdowns. Prescott has been the more accurate passer of the two so far, but he has thrown an interception. However, that interception wasn’t his fault. That pass bounced off his receivers hands and into the hands of a Redskins defender. Regardless of who was at fault, an interception is an interception. Still, Prescott has been more accurate, while at the same time throwing for more yards than Jackson.

What Jackson hasn’t done through the air, he’s done on the ground, gaining 126 rushing yards in two games. His 126 is 45 more yards than Prescott’s 81 rushing yards. In total, Prescott has 755 total yards to Jackson’s 722 total yards. Just 33 yards separates these two guys.

Next we’ll look at passer rating, which in all honesty, doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ll tell you why. Both Prescott and Jackson had perfect passer ratings of 158.3 in their opening games. In their second games, Prescott had a passer rating of 123.5 and Jackson had a rating of 104.8. The reason why this doesn’t make sense, is because although Prescott had a better passer rating in his second game than Jackson, Jackson has the better passer rating overall. Not really sure about this one. Regardless, not much separates these two again, with Jackson at a 145.2 rating and Prescott at a 142.9.

 

In total, here’s what separates the two quarterbacks after two weeks.

Completion percentage: 10.4%, advantage Prescott

Passing yards: 78 yards, advantage Prescott

Touchdown passes: Even (Seven)

Interceptions: One for Prescott, advantage Jackson

Passer rating: 2.3, advantage Jackson

Rushing yards: 45, advantage Jackson

Rushing touchdowns: Even (Zero)

Total yards: 33, advantage Prescott

Wins: Even (Two)

As you can see, the race between Prescott and Jackson right now is a tight one. Prescott had the advantage in three categories, Jackson has the advantage in three, and they’re even in the other three. Yes, it’s only been two weeks of the NFL season, but it’s hard to argue against Jackson and Prescott as the two best quarterbacks in league to this point.

2019 NFL Season: Week 2 picks

Week 2
Source: https://www.norebbo.com/?s=nfl

Current Standings

Adam: 10-5-1

Aman: 12-3-1

Dan: 12-3-1

Joel: 11-4-1

Rahim: 10-5-1

The first week of the NFL gave us a small view of what we might see the rest of the season. We saw explosive offense, explosive defense and unforgettable plays. We expect much more of the same this week. Our weekly game predictions went well for all of us last week, as all five of us came out of Week 1 with double digits games predicted correctly. Aman and Dan hold a slight lead after the first week after predicting 12 games correctly. The rest of us already have some ground to make up, but we still have plenty of time, although we can’t afford to lose anymore ground. Let’s see who we’re picking for each Week 2 game!

 

Buccaneers @ Panthers (Thursday night)

Despite scoring 17 points, the Buccaneers looked terrible offensively. Technically, the Bucs scored just 10 points, as the other seven points came from a pick-six by the defense. Jameis Winston looked pretty much the same as he always has. He threw a touchdown pass, but he also threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by the 49ers. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to him throwing more interceptions against the Panthers.

Despite losing to the Rams, the Panthers actually looked pretty good offensively. Their offensive success came mostly because of Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns and added another 81 yards as a receiver. If the Bucs want to win this game, they have to stop McCaffrey. They held the 49ers to 98 rushing yards, but McCaffrey is far better than anyone they have in the backfield.

Predictions

Adam: Panthers

Aman: Panthers

Dan: Panthers

Joel: Panthers

Rahim: Panthers

 

Cardinals @ Ravens

Lamar Jackson was “Not bad for a running back” on Sunday, completing 85% of his passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins. The scary part is, he didn’t do much with his legs. It’ll definitely be interesting to see if he can keep up that kind of play. If he can, and then adds in the running, the NFL better watch out. This week will be a little bit of a tougher test against the Cardinals, but we should expect Jackson to keep balling out.

Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and his offense took a while to get going, but they came back to force a tie against the Lions, looking really good in the second half. We’re interested to see how Murray reacts to playing against the Ravens’ defense, as they’re on of the best in the NFL. They dominated the Dolphins. Can they do the same to Murray?

Predictions

Adam: Ravens

Aman: Ravens

Dan: Ravens

Joel: Ravens

Rahim: Ravens

 

Chargers @ Lions

I think it’s safe to say the Chargers didn’t miss Melvin Gordon at all. Austin Ekeler stepped up big time for the Chargers, as he ran for 58 yards and a touchdown and added 96 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver. I knew I drafted him on my fantasy team for a reason! Stopping Ekeler should be a focus for the Lions, but they’ll also have to figure out how to stop Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and more! As we saw against the Cardinals, they struggled down the stretch to cover all the weapons Murray had available to him. Rivers has several targets at his disposal, which doesn’t spell good news for the Lions.

There should be some concern for the Chargers defense against the Lions too. They game up 24 points to the Colts, and allowed a 120.7 passer rating to Jacoby Brissett. Matthew Stafford looked great against the Cardinals, throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns. With multiple running backs and receiving threats on the Lions’ offense, the Chargers also have their work cut out for them. The difference in this one will likely come down to the running game. Which quarterback will get more from his running backs?

Predictions

Adam: Chargers

Aman: Chargers

Dan: Chargers

Joel: Chargers

Rahim: Chargers

 

Colts @ Titans

The Tennessee Titans looked great last week, putting up 43 points against the Cleveland Browns. Marcus Mariota threw three touchdowns, Derrick Henry was good on the ground and as a receiver, and rookie receiver A.J. Brown had himself a nice game. This offense looked better than it has in a long time. Oh, and the defense didn’t look too bad either. They allowed just 13 points to a Browns team who had been hyped up all offseason. They picked off Baker Mayfield three times!

This week they’ll face off against Jacoby Brissett and the Colts. Brissett had a nice game despite losing last week. Can he have another good performance. He didn’t turn the ball over against the Chargers, and as made obvious by the Titans forcing turnovers against the Browns, that will be key heading into this game.

Predictions

Adam: Titans

Aman: Titans

Dan: Colts

Joel: Titans

Rahim: Colts

 

49ers @ Bengals

Both teams looked a lot better to start the season than they did a year ago, although they faced different outcomes. The 49ers got a win against the Buccaneers, while the Bengals lost by one to the Seahawks. Despite the loss for the Bengals, things did look a little different. Andy Dalton threw for 418 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver John Ross emerged as a real threat with seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. They lacked a running game, but the offense overall looked much improved.

The 49ers looked really good on defense, recording three interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns. The 49ers were flying around on defense at every position, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Bengals handle that. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked average last week, but he’ll need to be better as the season goes on for this team to succeed. Will he improve this week against the 49ers, or will he have another mediocre performance?

Predictions

Adam: Bengals

Aman: Bengals

Dan: 49ers

Joel: 49ers

Rahim: 49ers

 

Jaguars @ Texans

The Jaguars have already lost Nick Foles due to injury, and now the fate of their team lies on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew actually looked pretty good in his time against the Chiefs, missing on just three of his 25 passes and throwing for 275 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. While Minshew did look good in relief of Foles, I have to wonder if it was him or the Chiefs’ defense that made him look good. We’ll see how he does against the Texans.

The Texans will be looking to rebound after a tough loss to the Saints on Monday night. They were so close, but just couldn’t get the job done defensively against Drew Brees. Part of the problem for the Texans was their offensive line. Even after making moves to address this weakness, they gave up six sacks. The Jaguars got minimal pressure on Mahomes, getting just four quarterback hits and zero sacks. If the Texans can prevent the Jags from pressuring Watson, the Texans should win, but we know we can’t count on it.

Predictions

Adam: Texans

Aman: Texans

Dan: Texans

Joel: Texans

Rahim: Texans

 

Vikings @ Packers

Regardless of if you love or hate the Packers and Vikings, you have to love watching this matchup between the two division rivals. These games always seem to be great, and we’re likely to get another great one between two teams who have been revamped.

The Vikings looked good on offense last week against the Falcons, especially in the running game. Dalvin Cook ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns on two carries. Alexander Mattison also added 49 rushing yards on nine carries. Kirk Cousins only had to throw the ball 10 times, which is probably what the Vikings want. For the Packers offensively, they didn’t look great. They scored just 10 points, but it was against one of the best defensive units in the NFL.

The defensive units for the Vikings and Packers looked good last week, so this game could come down to which defense plays better. The Packers’ revamped defense held the Bears to three points, while the Vikings held the Falcons to just 12. Can Dalvin Cook carry the load against this new Packers defense? Can Aaron Rodgers lead his offense against another tough defense?

Predictions

Adam: Packers

Aman: Vikings

Dan: Vikings

Joel: Vikings

Rahim: Packers

 

Cowboys @ Redskins

Dak Prescott finished last week’s game against the Giants with a perfect passer rating after throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He had five receivers with at least three receptions, found four different receivers for touchdowns and had two receivers over 100 yards. The passing game looked great for Dallas. The offensive line didn’t allow a single sack, giving Prescott the time he needed, and Prescott delivered. Ezekiel Elliott ran for just 53 yards, but he only had 13 carries, and he did score a touchdown. He’ll get more carries in this game, and will only get stronger as the season goes on, as he always does. Can Prescott keep his offense looking explosive against the Redskins?

Washington’s quarterback Case Keenum looked pretty good himself, throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns. The Redskins got off to a hot start, but they couldn’t hold on to their lead, as they let the Eagles come back. Where the Redskins need to be better is in the running game. They failed to control the clock against the Eagles, which obviously cost them the game. If they can’t do so against the Cowboys, Prescott might just make them pay.

Predictions

Adam: Cowboys

Aman: Redskins

Dan: Cowboys

Joel: Cowboys

Rahim: Cowboys

 

Seahawks @ Steelers

Can the Steelers rebound from the beating the Patriots put on them? Are they really that bad, or are the Patriots really that good? I’ll go with the Patriots being that good, so don’t count the Steelers out just yet. The Patriots forced Roethlisberger to make short throws that didn’t move the offense. This could be the case against the Seahawks too.

Seattle got five sacks against the Bengals last week. If they can put that sort of pressure on Roethlisberger, he won’t have time to throw and will have to make those short throws once again. Will Roethlisberger be able to find open receivers, or will the Seahawks get the best of them defensively?

Predictions

Adam: Seahawks

Aman: Seahawks

Dan: Seahawks

Joel: Seahawks

Rahim: Steelers

 

Bills @ Giants

The Giants got burned by the receivers of the Dallas Cowboys last week, and I can’t help but seeing the same thing happen to them against the Bills. Bills quarterback Josh Allen isn’t the most accurate thrower, but he can throw the ball down field. Receiver John Brown had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Jets last week. If the Giants want to win this game, they must prevent that from happening.

However, as you know, the Giants have a running back in Saquon Barkley who must accounted for at all times. The Bills did a nice job against Le’Veon Bell, holding him to just 60 yards rushing. How will they fare against Barkley?

Predictions

Adam: Bills

Aman: Giants

Dan: Bills

Joel: Bills

Rahim: Bills

 

Patriots @ Dolphins

The Patriots put a 33-3 beatdown on the Steelers last week, proving their still the best team in football. The Dolphins got beat down 59-10 by the Ravens, proving they’re probably the worst team in football. Dolphins players are already demanding trades, so that’s about all you need to know heading into this game.

Predictions

Adam: Patriots

Aman: Patriots

Dan: Patriots

Joel: Patriots

Rahim: Patriots

 

Chiefs @ Raiders

The Raiders had a nice season debut against the Broncos, but can they keep up with the explosive offense of the Chiefs? They may be able to if the Chiefs continue to play poor defense. They made Gardner Minshew look awesome last week. How will Derek Carr fare?

This one will come down to the defense. The Chiefs aren’t great defensively, so the Raiders could put up a lot of points. The Raiders looked a lot better defensively than they did a year ago, but how will they look when they face Patrick Mahomes and all his weapons?

Predictions

Adam: Chiefs

Aman: Chiefs

Dan: Chiefs

Joel: Chiefs

Rahim: Chiefs

 

Saints @ Rams

A rematch of the NFC Championship game. The Rams won last time and went to the Super Bowl, but we all know who really should have won that game. The Saints will be seeking revenge in this game, and after a big time win against the Texans, it’s likely they’ll come out firing on all cylinders.

The Rams will need to get their explosive offense back if they want to keep up with Brees and company in this one. They scored 30 points last week, but Goff threw for just 186 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The running game looked fine, but Goff needs to be better in order to beat the Saints.

Predictions

Adam: Rams

Aman: Rams

Dan: Rams

Joel: Saints

Rahim: Rams

 

Bears @ Broncos

Which offense will find their groove? The Bears scored just three points last week, while the Broncos scored just 16. We have to expect that both teams will put up more of a fight on offense this time around. However, the defense will likely be the real story here. The Bears still have a tough defense, and the Broncos struggled against the Raiders’ new look defensive unit. The Broncos seemed to struggle a bit defensively last week, but we’ll see which defense can make the bigger impact this time around.

Predictions

Adam: Bears

Aman: Bears

Dan: Bears

Joel: Bears

Rahim: Bears

 

Eagles @ Falcons (Sunday night)

The defense of the Vikings made life very difficult for the Falcons. Can the Eagles duplicate that? They allowed 27 points to the Redskins, but they held them off when it really mattered. The key seems to be shutting down the Falcons’ running game. They were held to just 73 yards rushing against the Vikings, and we saw the problems it created for them in the passing game.

The defense of the Falcons looked poor, especially against the run. They allowed 172 yards rushing against the Vikings, and the Eagles ran for 123 yards last week. If they can’t stop the Eagles on the ground, they may not stop them at all.

Predictions

Adam: Falcons

Aman: Eagles

Dan: Eagles

Joel: Eagles

Rahim: Eagles

 

Browns @ Jets (Monday night)

The Browns couldn’t have had a worse start to the season than what they had against the Titans. Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions and the Browns scored just 13 points. If they’re going to rebound, this game against the Jets may be a good opportunity. The Jets scored just 16 points against the Bills last week, and gave up a lead to end up losing 17-16. There didn’t seem to be anything explosive about this Jets offense. If the Browns can hold them to a low point total, the Browns will have a good opportunity to get back on track offensively.

Predictions

Adam: Browns

Aman: Browns

Dan: Browns

Joel: Browns

Rahim: Browns

Who’s feeling the pressure of Wild Card weekend?

Today kicks off the Wild Card weekend. Eight teams looking to keep their hopes alive and better their chances of winning a Super Bowl. This weekend has delivered us some incredible memories over the years. How can we forget the Music City Miracle, where the Titans stunned the Buffalo Bills on a kickoff return to end the game? Or the greatest comeback in NFL history, when the Bills came back to beat the Houston Oilers after being down 35-3 at halftime?

Deshaun Watson” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Some of the greatest moments the NFL has provided us have happened in the first round of the playoffs.

This one feels strangely different though. For the first time in recent memory, the playoffs are completely wide open. No team, maybe besides the Saints, has a distinct advantage over the others. While previous years we have seen teams go on epic runs before the playoffs start to propel themselves deep into the playoffs, this year many teams limped in.

All this uncertainty on who is going to win and who is not has created a certain buzz around this year’s playoffs, and it’s exhilarating!

The Super Bowl is ripe for the taking. This weekend, one team could build the foundation for a run at that title. Looking at the eight teams playing this weekend, Seahawks vs. Cowboys, Bears vs. Eagles, Texans vs. Colts and Chargers vs. Ravens, all of them have a common thing, a great quarterback who has either proven themselves or is on the cusp of proving himself.

You have two quarterbacks who have already won a title, three young guns who are looking to cement their name atop the elites in the league and two veterans where one is just happy to be back in the moment and the other possibly looking at his final run. Finally, there is the lone rookie, who if you had to name the one you thought was going to be starting in the playoffs, this one would have been at the bottom of many lists.

With that, there has to be a couple feeling the pressure of the moment. Some know just how hard it is to get back to this spot, where others are dreaming of many more years just like this one. So my question then is, who is feeling it the most?

Who is feeling that pressure of win now? The pressure of a whole team and city on their shoulders. That need to exercise some demons or to make your name known around the league.

Who is not feeling the pressure:

First off, it is definitely not Nick Foles from the Eagles or Seattle’s quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is a proven quarterback in the league already. If it wasn’t for the dismal team around him, he would probably be a perennial MVP candidate. Nick Foles on the other hand, is doing something that is just not seen. Not only did he fill Carson Wentz’ shoes perfectly last year, but he has also done it again this year and brought Philadelphia back to life and into the playoffs. Just three weeks ago, the Eagles were all but out of the playoffs. With a little help from the Vikings and some more magic by Foles, they find them back in it and as dangerous as ever. Win, lose or draw, this weekend both of those guys will still go home with the respect they deserve.

Secondly, Lamar Jackson is having the time of his life right now and is probably immune to any kind of pressure that is involved with the game. He has fun performing at this level. You can tell through his play that no matter what the situation is, he is going to play loose and have a good time doing it. He is a rookie who in my opinion, is the reason why the Ravens have exceeded my expectations by making it this far.

Pressure is rising:

Unlike the above mentioned, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck are probably feeling a little uncomfortable right about now. For Trubisky, he knows he is not the main guy. Unlike Drew Brees or Patrick Mahomes, the Bears’ success is not necessarily based on his performance. It would certainly help the situation, but the Bears will win with defense and managing the ball. Something he does well and that comes naturally to the second year quarterback. It is natural to feel some kind of pressure when it comes to your first playoff appearance, but I do not think it’s overwhelming for the young man just yet. He will be back.

Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson are both coming off devastating injuries and both are probably just happy to be in this situation. For Luck, this is not his first rodeo when it comes to playing in the playoffs. He has brought a team all the way to the AFC Championship before. Unlike Trubisky, Luck is the offense. The Colts win or lose based off how Andrew Luck plays. For a quarterback who is coming off of shoulder surgery that made him miss an entire season, to finally be back in the playoffs, he has to be feeling some kind of pressure to get past the first round. To show this regular season was not a fluke and that he can still play. Watson is pretty much in the same situation as Luck, only this will be his first time playing in the playoffs. It is a home game, which always helps calm the nerves just a bit, but you know he has to be wanting to win a game in front of the fans in Houston.

Just might crack under the pressure: 

This leaves us with just two quarterbacks left. Dak Prescott and Phillip Rivers.

Prescott plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Being the quarterback for “America’s Team” always delivers some kind of pressure to win. Winning a playoff game is a whole different type of pressure though. It is a well-known fact the Cowboys are absolutely dismal in the playoffs in recent years. After this season full of hype and lofty predictions of them being a Super Bowl contender by some experts, the pressure is on for him to lead them past the first round and probably further. You also have to think Prescott is considered the weak spot on this team right now. A loss this weekend will only make that chatter worse. It could also cost Jason Garrett his job, and do not forget Jerry Jones is his boss. There is no one more unpredictable than Jones. He could just go out and find a quarterback this off-season who will get the job done.

Though Prescott is feeling the pressure in “Big D”, there is no one right now who is dealing with what Phillip Rivers has to be dealing with. Not only is he making a great run in a new city, Los Angeles, but he is also still the figurehead of this offense and team. Putting up great numbers all season, Rivers has pushed back father time, at least for this season. He made a run with one of the most talented Chargers teams he has been a part of. We have seen this story before though. Talent busting out the seams, but never really able to put it together when it comes playoff time. Rivers knows his time is limited in this sport. This may be his last shot to quiet the nay-sayers who say he doesn’t deserve the golden jacket of the Hall of Fame by hoisting the Lombardi trophy and go out on top.

Lamar Jackson

The myth of Lamar Jackson

The Baltimore Ravens are 4-1 since naming Lamar Jackson the starting quarterback this season. He has won the hearts of many a Ravens fan with his tremendous athleticism and the fact that if the NFL playoffs started today, the Ravens would be in as the sixth seed. Despite pressure from Flacco’s huge contract, for John Harbaugh and company, the decision was easy to bench the former Superb Bowl MVP. He has yet to play at the same level he did when he led the team to hoist the Lombardi trophy.

Lamar Jackson
Lamar jackson ravens camp 2018 (cropped).jpg” by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Delano Scott is licensed under Public Domain

It cannot be argued that Lamar Jackson does have the most long term potential of any other quarterback on the roster. Nonetheless, the Ravens are currently in a neck and neck race for a spot in the 2018 playoffs. A berth in this years playoffs would be important for this proud franchise. As such, it is vital the most important position on the field be filled with the best player possible.

While it is true, through Lamar Jackson’s first five games as a starter he is averaging a much better winning percentage than Joe Flacco, it would be foolish to give all the credit to the 2018 first-round pick. By looking at Lamar Jackson’s starts through a microscope, it can be seen that the current overreaction is brought about because of facing easy defenses, having a slightly better supporting cast and a league wide obsession for big play ability.


Defenses Played

In Joe Flacco’s last four games as a starter, he’s face the Titans, Saints, Panthers and Steelers. According the NFL.com, each one of those defenses has been above average since week one, with the Titans and Saints placed in the top 10. Lamar Jackson has faced the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons, Chiefs and Buccaneers in his five starts. Each one of those teams rank in the bottom five in points allowed.

Lamar should not be punished for winning against easier competition, but his hot start needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson have averaged an almost identical passer rating. However, Lamar has already overtaken Joe in the amount of turnovers (10) compared to Flacco (9) in about half the amount of starts.

You’re probably thinking Lamar wasn’t drafted for his throwing ability. That is definitely true. Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s rushing numbers are some of the best in the league for a quarterback. Most people think his ability to make plays with his feet cushion his poor throwing numbers. But actually, if each rush attempt from Jackson and Flacco was a throw for the same distance, Flacco would still have a slightly higher average yards per attempt (5.92) than Lamar (5.85).

In simple terms this means, even though Flacco faced tougher opposition, he was still more efficient than Jackson.


Supporting Cast

In recent years injuries have ravaged Ravens’ rosters and caused a 16 game season to feel like a wintertime nightmare. With the exception of Alex Collins, this year has been a little different.

Although Alex Collins is a talented running back, he has been fighting injuries for most of the season. He was visibly not the same aggressive back he was last year. Joe Flacco was often pressured to pick apart defenses by himself with little help from his backfield. After struggling to suit up against the Bengals, Collins was ruled out for the season and Gus “The Bus” Edwards completely took advantage of the opportunity. The Bus is averaging an amazing 5.0 YPC since getting consistent carries five weeks ago. Watching him, it is obvious how he got his nickname as he gets the ball, runs right between the tackles, and straight downhill almost always for positive yardage. Lamar Jackson’s ability has definitely helped with Gus’s outstanding start. But in the same way, Gus’s start has helped defenses hesitate to chase Lamar Jackson during play-actions.

Secondly, the Baltimore defense has played great all season. But in the last five games it has taken a next step by forcing great offenses to struggle. In this span, the defense has held three of the top five passing offenses to average under 200 passing yards. Baltimore also has a current five game streak of holding teams to under 100 yards rushing.

Sometimes defensive chemistry just starts to click in the middle of the season. Sometimes players respond to a quarterback change with an increase in intensity. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, Lamar Jackson definitely cannot take complete credit for the 4-1 record he has produced.


Big Play Ability

The former 2017 Heisman winner was drafted because he flashed big play potential each time he held the ball. Going back to his college days, during a game against Syracuse, he threw for 400 yards and rushed for 175 more. It looked like a faster and stronger teen brother picking on his little brother and his friends (not like that has ever happened to me 10 years ago or anything…). Each time Lamar is snapped the ball, Ravens’ fans remember the highlights they watched on draft night and the “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” swagger Lamar Jackson carried.

While Jackson was certainly drafted for his big play ability, he has not quite lived up to the hype. According to NFL.com, Joe Flacco actually has a far better percentage of plays that go for 20+ and 40+ yards when he starts.

There are some big play statistics where Lamar Jackson is leading Joe Flacco. Per game, Lamar can claim he has a higher interception percentage, fumble percentage, sack percentage and average sack distance than Joe Flacco this year.

As the ABC News writer, Josh Hermsmeyer, claims in his sports blog fivethirtyeight, the NFL is slowly becoming a passing league, as it is the most efficient play throughout the league. In the modern era, throwing quarterbacks have dominated. Unfortunately for the Ravens, with Lamar Jackson receiving the snaps, they have the worst throwing quarterback out of every playoff contender.


All statistics were from Pro football reference and NFL.com.

Buy or Sell Six-Pack: Murray, Patriots, Bears, Ariza, Big Ten Basketball, Doncic

In the last Buy or Sell of 2018 (yep, we’re taking off next week), RahimAli, Joel and I are taking an expanded look at the sports landscape.

We’re discussing the future of Kyler Murray. Then we’re taking a look toward the NFL playoffs: do the Patriots have any cache left? Will the Bears manage to snag a first-round bye?

Finally, we end with some questions to be determined on the hardwood: did the Lakers make a mistake by standing pat? Will a Big Ten team rise up in March? And is the NBA Rookie of the Year already determined?

140095_7247” by Disney | ABC Television Group is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Cullen: Kyler Murray Will Be on an NFL Roster in 2019

Joel: I really want to buy Murray being on an NFL roster in 2019, but I think I have to sell. Murray has said for a long time he’s going to pursue MLB over the NFL. I thought that may change after the incredible season he’s had at Oklahoma and winning the Heisman, but his plans are still MLB. Until some sort of news comes out that’s good enough to convince me Murray is changing his mind, I’m going to believe he’s pursuing MLB.

Do I think he should choose the NFL over MLB? Yes. That’s not for me to decide, though. If Murray did pursue the NFL, he’d have no trouble at all getting on a roster. He’s an electric player who could not only help a team win, but bring in sales because people want to watch him play. I think Murray could do great things in the NFL, but I just don’t know if he’ll change his mind.

RahimAli: I would love for this to be a buy, but it’s an easy sell! Though Murray has won the 2018 Heisman Trophy, his decision was already made. Nothing will be able to change that, but maybe his dad!

I say that because this question has been on my mind since I first found out about who he is. Ironically, I had the honor of having a conversation with a former teammate of Kyler’s dad, Kevin Murray. As this conversation went on, he was telling me how Kevin also had the same plans. That was until he had a gruesome ankle injury that forced him to retire. You see, Kevin played in NFL and got hurt. He now spends his time as a high school football coach.

But the difference between Kyler and his father is the athleticism Kyler has. We have been able to see what kind of athlete he is on the football field, but I’m really interested in seeing what he will do on a baseball diamond.

Why Murray made the decision to play baseball over football, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of explosive plays he’ll make as an athletic player with incredible skills. Whether he sticks with MLB or does have a career in the NFL, Murray is going to become a household name.

 

RahimAli: The Five-Loss Patriots Are No Longer the Team to Beat in the AFC

Cullen: With Tom Brady still at the helm and Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, the Patriots will be the AFC team to beat until someone beats them in the playoffs. So I’m selling this.

They looked bad Sunday against the Steelers. This offense is not at all explosive. Rob Gronkowski looks like a shell of his former self, and Josh Gordon’s usage has been perplexing, at best. Brady, who won the MVP as a 40-year-old, definitely looks his age in 2018.

But that may be an advantage in the AFC playoffs. There will be some young quarterbacks in the playoffs for the first time in the AFC, from the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes II to the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson to the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. I’d feel more comfortable with Brady’s playoff experience than those young gunslingers’ potential. With the Chargers and Philip Rivers–they have had minimal, if any, success in the playoffs. The Patriots’ biggest threat may very well be the team that just beat them. But even the Steelers are playing incredibly inconsistently.

All this is to say, don’t count the Patriots out of the playoffs just yet.

Joel: I’m going to sell on the Patriots not being the team to beat anymore. New England may not be the best team in the AFC this season, but they’re still the team nobody except Patriots fans wants in the Super Bowl. Until the Patriots have been beaten in the playoffs and aren’t going to the Super Bowl again, they’re going to be the team to beat.

I agree with what Cullen said about the young QBs some of the AFC teams have. We haven’t seen too many young QBs have a lot of playoff success. Most of the time it’s the experienced QBs who come out on top. Tom Brady has a proven resume of winning in the playoffs, as evidenced by his eight Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl wins.

If the Patriots are in the playoffs, they’ll have a target on their back regardless of how bad they’re playing right now. Their bad play recently will go out the door come playoff time. It’s a new start for every team. It’s a new game. The Patriots have consistently won that game, making them the team to beat.

 

Joel: The Chicago Bears Will Grab a First-Round Bye

Cullen: Selling on the Bears getting a first-round bye. For that to happen, Chicago needs to win out, defeating both a suddenly decent-looking 49ers team in San Francisco and defeating a Vikings team that’s vying for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Rams, with whom the Bears hold a head-to-head tiebreaker, travel to the pitiful Arizona Cardinals and host the 49ers. The Rams are a game up on the Bears, and I think they’ll keep it that way.

Now, about how each of these teams fare in the playoffs, that may be a different story…

RahimAli: I will sell the Bears clinching a first round bye despite their victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. I sell it because it’s just too late in the season. I do expect to see the Bears finish the season strong and have a nice 12-4 record with wins over the Niners this week and divisional foe Minnesota Vikings in the season finale. But because of injury to QB Mitchell Trubisky earlier in the season, the Bears lost some ground on the Rams and NFC’s No. 1 team, the New Orleans Saints.

For the Rams (11-3), it’s coming down to two of their divisional opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, and the same Niners that will face the Bears. The Cardinals are looking to get one of the top three picks in the 2019 draft (currently no. 1), and the Niners are just looking forward for their key offensive players (QB Jimmy Garrapolo and RB Jerrick McKinnon) to return next season. But the real thing is that this will give Rams QB Jared Goff a few more games to get his act together and bounce back nicely after having several interceptions and a fumble in the last two weeks.

For the Saints, they could lose one of their next two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. I think they will lose to the Steelers as a pick in this week’s picks. Read my explanation there. But still one more loss will still leave the Bears a game back of the Saints. It’s okay though, because I really believe this Bears team could be the team to beat, and I’m a Rams fan.

 

Cullen: The Lakers Made a Mistake in Passing up Trading for Trevor Ariza

Joel: I buy it was a mistake passing on Ariza. Ariza may not be the player he once was, but he’s still a very effective player who could significantly help the Lakers. Just his presence as a veteran could help them. Look at what Tyson Chandler has done for the Lakers. He’s helped their defense and gives them valuable experience. I think Ariza would have done the same for the Lakers. Ariza is a very good defender, who is also capable of scoring. He’s shooting 36% from three this season and has been a pretty consistent three-point shooter throughout his career. With a guy like LeBron James demanding all the attention, Ariza wouldn’t have had to do much but move around and take open shots LeBron gave him. I think that would have worked out nicely.

When playoff time comes around, Ariza would have been very effective. The Lakers are going to need as many defenders as they can get if they want to beat the Warriors, Nuggets, Thunder, etc. in the playoffs. Ariza could have been one of the defenders the Lakers needed. They’ll be fine without him, but I believe they would have been better with him on their team.

RahimAli: As a Lakers fans since 1998, I’m buying this as a huge mistake.

When Ariza was first a Laker from 2007-2009, he wasn’t like what he is now, but I’ve always wished there was a way to get him back to the Lakers. I understand the reason for moving on the first time, but passing on him this late in his career, I don’t like it.

Looking at what was given up in the trade to get Ariza, you can’t tell me the Lakers don’t have pieces to move. I mean, they could’ve moved one of their veteran players like Lance Stephenson, Micheal Beasley or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and paired them with a rookie and a pick. I mean, the Suns are the worst team in the NBA and anything is better than what they have. They just waived Austin Rivers, too, as he was a part of the deal.

But for Lakers, it’s about getting the veteran presence around the young guys like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. That’s why the Lakers have made the moves they did signing all these veterans to one-year deals. Like Joel said, the addition of Tyson Chandler has already made a huge impact on the Lakers defensively, and Ariza would have been another great piece. Ariza not only is a good defender like he has been his entire career, but he’s become better and better every year. That’s what the Lakers need to do. Having the presence of a player with Ariza’s caliber to help Ingram, Kuzma and even Josh Hart defensively would’ve helped make the Lakers a better team and an instant top three team in the West. Although being fourth isn’t bad right now, how long will they be able to stay there with other teams like the Thunder and Warriors looking like tough opponents?

But I hope the Lakers do address the concern of more defense before the trade deadline comes around.

 

RahimAli: A Big Ten Team Will Win the National Championship in Basketball This Season, Ending an 18-Year Drought

Joel: It’s still too early in the season for me to really buy a Big Ten team winning the National Championship. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played and you just never know what will happen in College Basketball. However, as the top 25 sits right now, the Big Ten has the most teams out of any conference to be ranked. Seven teams, to be exact. Those seven teams are Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. It’s because of these seven teams being ranked in the top 25 that I’ll buy the Big Ten being home to the champs, but I’m going to leave that buy subject to change as the season goes on. The numbers are in favor of this happening right now, but again, you never know what can happen in College Basketball.

Cullen: Selling on a Big Ten team winning it all. It’s still too early to make that kind of prediction. So I’ll take the field. I expect the Big Ten teams to beat up on each other all through conference play and the Big Ten Tournament. That could do one of two things: make the eventual champion that much stronger, or weaken every team to the point that none go the distance in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, my guess is the latter situation playing out.

 

Joel: Luka Dončić is Already a Lock to Win Rookie of the Year

RahimAli: I will buy this! Out of all the players drafted in the top five, Dončić was put in the best situation. That situation was the Dallas Mavericks, who have always been known to make the playoffs. However, the past two seasons have been rough for the Mavericks.

With them losing so many games, it landed them into the draft lottery. It’s interesting though, because the Atlanta Hawks had drafted him third overall, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for PG Trae Young. Young is probably the only player right now who has a chance to catch Dončić. But Dončić has used the team around him to better himself and get the Mavericks into playoff position. Now I know it’s still early in the season, but I have told you previously in my “NBA Review” articles to watch out for the Mavericks. They might have had a few bad seasons, but this season will end with a playoff spot and the rookie of the year. There is no question about it! Dončić is the best player from the 2018 draft class and he will continue to show it as the season goes on. Playing alongside veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes will only help him in his progression this season. Let’s not forget about the 2017 Slam Dunk champion winner, Dennis Smith Jr. He and Dončić are the future of the Mavericks team. Boy does that look like a great future!

Cullen: I’ll sell that he’s already a lock for Rookie of the Year, but he is the favorite, for sure. I think he’ll win it. But it’s still so early. I wouldn’t completely count out Collin Sexton or Trae Young. One thing that could surely derail Dončić’s shot at Rookie of the Year is injury. Overall, I sell, yet if he stays healthy and, at the minimum, keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll get that hardware.

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There you have it! Our last thoughts of 2018. What does everyone else think?

  • What’s Kyler Murray going to ultimately do?
  • Will the Patriots show up for the playoffs?
  • Can the Bears get to help and snag a first-round bye?
  • Will missing out on Trevor Ariza hurt the Lakers?
  • Can a Big Ten basketball squad finally win it all this season?
  • Who can overcome Luka Dončić for NBA Rookie of the Year?

As always, thanks for reading. Hit us up in the comments with your thoughts on these six matters. See you all in 2019!

NFL fantasy waiver wire: Week 15 (championship)

Have you made it to the championship of your fantasy football league? Or maybe it’s still the semifinals and you need to figure out what players are available to help you win it all.

That’s what I’m here for! All season long, I have been here to help you figure out which players are must adds to help you with the tough matchups.

I’m talking to those of you who have star players either banged up or shut down in their last game. But don’t worry, we will all see those players bounce back.

It’s still not a bad idea to add more depth, because this week is the biggest one yet! Since it’s the last week, I will be giving eight players instead of five. I hope it helps as we try to win our league’s! So let’s look at who we have available to us this week!

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Ryan Tannehill” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Quarterbacks
  1. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 46.2 percent availability
  2. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, 51.2 percent availability
  3. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, 82.1 percent availability
  4. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, 50.4 percent availability
  5. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills, 83.1 percent availability
  6. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins, 94.6 percent availability
  7. Case Keenum, Denver Broncos, 87.5 percent availability
  8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 89.4 percent availability

Prescott, Mariota, Mayfield and Jackson have proven themselves to be likable adds to your team. All of their teams are still in the playoff hunt, which means they won’t be resting any of their players until they know for sure they’re in. The only one of them that’s close to that is Prescott, but he will be available for us regardless of a playoff berth.

Allen and the Bills won’t be in the playoffs, but he’s at least showing us all what to look forward too next season when he’s healthy and playing great.

Tannehill has returned from injury and has his Dolphins right back in playoff contention with a miracle win over the New England Patriots.

Case Keenum and the Broncos hurt their playoff chances with a loss to 49ers, but they still have a chance. You may not like Keenum because of the way the Broncos’ offense is run, but he should get more passing opportunities.

Derek Carr, who am I kidding right? The Raiders offense has actually started to look a little better over the past few weeks. They even beat the division leading (for now) Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

Running Backs
  1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, 43.8 percent availability
  2. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, 72.2 percent availability
  3. Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders, 41.5 percent availability
  4. Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons, 77.2 percent availability
  5. LeGarrette Blount, Detriot Lions, 56.2 percent availability
  6. Elijah McGuire, New York Jets, 88.7 percent availability
  7. Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins, 67.9 percent availability
  8. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens, 97.4 percent availability

Do you believe in Henry yet? Or you think that was just the luckiest game of his life? In case you missed, you can read all about it here.

You also still have Hines, Smith, Gore and Martin available. They are all important pieces to their teams’ success on offense. I wouldn’t expect all of them to break out at once, but if you missed on adding Austin Ekeler, Josh Adams and Jaylen Samuel, then these four guys can be a help to your team.

Blount, McGuire and Dixon all have had moments where they led their team in rushing. Their production depends on the status of the guys in front of them, like Kerryon Johnson, Isaiah Crowell and Gus Edwards.

 

Wide Receivers
  1. Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars, 72.1 percent availability
  2. Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins, 74.3 percent availability
  3. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, 52.5 percent availability
  4. Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers, 67.5 percent availability
  5. Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams, 58.9 percent availability
  6. Jamieson Crowder, Washington Redskins, 88.7 percent availability
  7. Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers, 80.4 percent availability
  8. Tim Patrick/DaSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos, 99.4/94.5 percent availability

Westbrook has been the Jaguars’ best receiver all season long. We fell out of love with him because of the struggles of the Jaguars’ QBs and offense. I know because I dropped him Thursday morning before the game and it hurt.

Cobb, Crowder and Stills have all returned from injury and looked great in their last games. Each of them scored a touchdown. We will continue to see that happen, regardless of whether these teams are in the playoff hunt.

Samuel, Reynolds and Pettis are WR threes on their teams’ depth chart, but they have the ability to out perform the top two guys, which we have been seeing them do as of late.

Patrick and Hamilton are now second/third on the Broncos’ depth chart with the Sanders injury.  They both had good games against the 49ers in their loss, but with teams starting to figure out how to slow down RB Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos will be forced to pass more. These two will be the beneficiaries of it, with all the attention going to Courtland Sutton.

 

Tight Ends
  1. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers, 41.8 percent availability
  2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35.9 percent availability
  3. Evan Engram, New York Giants, 34.6 percent availability
  4. C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals, 69.2 percent availability
  5. Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans, 98.8 percent availability
  6. Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers, 74.5 percent availability
  7. Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins, 95.1 percent availability
  8. Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans, 99.6 percent availability

McDonald, Brate, Engram and Uzomah are TE ones on their team and have proven they belong. With everything else circling around them, they don’t also get the looks we wish they would to help our teams. That’s why it’s been tough all season to keep them on our roster.

For both Jordan and Ian Thomas, it’s about taking advantage of the receptions they do get and making them into big plays.

For Davis and Firkser, it’s about the RBs and QBs first. Also the health of Jordan Reed and Jonnu Smith play a role too. Not sure if either one of them will have big plays, but they will be in the game for the small yard downs, with that potential break out play. It’s good for PPR when they can get you five to six receptions and 40 yards.

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Well that’s a wrap on the fantasy football waivers of this year. Good luck to those who are still in the playoffs and fighting for the championship. Thank you all for allowing me to help you through this long NFL season. If you ever need any advice, you are more than welcome to DM me on social media.

Twitter: @rahim8690

Instagram: Rahimm8690

Facebook: Rahimali Habib Merchant

NFL fantasy waiver wire: Week 14 (first round playoffs)

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Josh Allen” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Did you do just enough to get you the win in your league and make the playoffs? Or are you already in the playoffs because you have been one of the top teams all season? For me, it was a must win to get a first-round bye in one league and to capture a spot in another.

The one league I clinched the first-round bye in, was the league in which I have all PAC-12 players. After struggling early in the season, I have finished on a seven-game win streak and went from being completely out of the playoffs to the second best team in the league.

In another league, it was my all-SEC team. Due to the injuries to former Georgia players, Sony Michel and A.J. Green, my team has taken a hit. I also had to deal with Matt Stafford, Kenyan Drake and Jordan Reed’s struggles with no real WR depth. I was still so close to making the playoffs in a 12-man league that takes eight to the playoffs. Oh well, there’s always next year.

But for those of you who have made it to the playoffs, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the waivers this week. Since you’re looking at this now and you’re in the playoffs, something might have been going right for you over the season. As we start the playoff matchups, we’ll be looking for the best available players to help us win it all.

Have you found your replacement for Kareem Hunt yet? Did you fall under the impression that A.J. Green was actually going to do something for you before he was carted off? How about Trubisky continuing to miss time? Or maybe it was Greg Olsen getting injured again this season that makes you want to find a replacement? Well, let’s look at what we have available to us this week!

 

Quarterbacks
  1. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 47.3 percent availability
  2. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, 42.8 percent availability
  3. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, 80.4 percent availability
  4. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, 48.5 percent availability
  5. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills, 96.3 percent availability

Prescott didn’t have a great game against the Saints last Thursday, but he helped manage the game after finding RB Ezekiel Elliot for the touchdown and building a 13-0 halftime. He has continued to find WR Amari Cooper. The two of them should be looking to play well against the Eagles and keep sole lead of the NFC East.

Mayfield and the Browns got caught trying to do something against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Houston Texans. I do expect Mayfield to be able to rebound from a tough loss, in which he threw three interceptions. He did manage to throw for nearly 400 yards, but against the Carolina Panthers this week, things will likely be different. Mayfield could still throw just as many yards, but there won’t be as many turnovers either.

Mariota has continued to be a solid pick up week after week over the past few weeks. The only week in which he played bad was the week against the Colts, in which he got injured and left the game. If he can remain healthy, he could be the starting QB you need on your roster to get you over in your league, especially with the schedule he has left. Make sure you add him before it gets too late!

Jackson has stepped in well for the Ravens. It’s weird that each week he and the Ravens manage to win in a different way. Jackson doesn’t really have the explosive ability that we expect from our QBs in the fantasy world, but he could fill in for those of us who still have QBs who have been injured or just aren’t producing.

Allen is another rookie QB we expect to finish strong this season. He is finally healthy and looks great with what he has been able to do with the Bills offense. He has an easy schedule ahead of him for the rest of the season, so we could see him put up the numbers that give him a chance to finish as one of the top rookies in the NFL. He could also help us all get a win in our leagues and hopefully power you through to the championship.

 

Running Backs
  1. Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles, 33.3 percent availability
  2. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens, 45.3 percent availability
  3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, 42.4 percent availability
  4. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, 69.7 percent availability
  5. Jaylen Samuel, Pittsburgh Steelers, 96.8 percent availability

We didn’t really see much of Adams in the Eagles’ win against the Redskins, but that was because the Eagles finally found a way to move the ball through the air, as QB Carson Wentz was able to throw for 300+ yards and two touchdowns. I do expect Adams to be used a bit more in their next game against the Dallas Cowboys in a must win situation.

Like Adams, Edwards wasn’t used as much as we’d hope for, but he will definitely be in for a nice finish to the season, especially with Collins likely continuing to be out! Edwards and QB Jackson have fueled the Ravens to three straight wins. They could be looking to upset the Chiefs as they continue to stay in the playoff hunt. Edwards has a lot to do with the game management and he could help you manage a win in your league!

Henry has been on this list weekly. In a week that saw the Titans offense open up, Henry found himself in the end zone again! In a tough defensive game against the Jaguars this week, the ball may be given to Henry more than Dion Lewis or anyone else on the Titans’ roster. We saw how the Colts had to approach the Jaguars in a losing effort, but can Henry and the Titans do it on the winning side?

Speaking of the Colts, Hines emerged as one of the top targets for QB Andrew Luck and the Colts in their 6-0 loss against the Jaguars. In a PPR league, that is huge because of the number of receptions he had in the game. If he can continue to be involved in the offense for the Colts in their next game against Houston, he might start getting some more attempts at rushes too. But it’s good the Colts finally figured out how to balance their offense.

When talking about teams who need to figure out how to balance their offense, the Steelers aren’t one of them. But this week, at least for now, we will have wait and see what the status of James Conner is after a late injury in their Sunday night loss against the Chargers. If Conner can’t go, Samuel will be the one who will be leading the backfield. That might force the Steelers to pass the ball more than they would like to ensure that Samuel, their last remaining RB, doesn’t get hurt. Samuel will play a big role on both passing and running downs, as we saw in his late touchdown catch to tie the game at 30. Let’s keep an eye on this one before we get happy and add him for no reason.

 

Wide Receivers
  1. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, 88.7 percent availability
  2. Christain Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, 67.3 percent availability
  3. Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 58.9 percent availability
  4. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, 47.4 percent availability
  5. John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, 81.5 percent availability

Sunday night against the Steelers was all about Keenan Allen going crazy on the defense and QB Phillip Rivers going for the hot hand. That doesn’t mean we ignore Williams. The Chargers will be playing one more game without RB Melvin Gordon and the ball should likely be spread around amongst the WRs and RBs. Williams will likely be in play for a big game against the Bengals.

Kirk has continued to be a part of the Cardinals’ passing attack. In fact, this past week against Green Bay, it was all the rookies on offense having their way with the Packers defense, which probably led to the immediate firing of head coach Mike McCarthy (read about it here). Kirk didn’t score a touchdown this week, but he could come up big on offense again, with their next opponent being the Lions. Expect a strong finish on the season for Kirk.

With DeSean Jackson out this past week, Humphries and Godwin took over on offense. Even with Jackson likely back in the lineup, I expect to see more receptions for Humphries, as he has become one of QB Jameis Winston’s favorite targets. He has posted back-to-back good weeks and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he and the Tampa offense take advantage of the Saints’ defense.

Sutton and the Broncos’ offense are always tough to figure out. Phillip Lindsay is the only Broncos player worth the weekly start in fantasy, but Sutton has the boom or bust factor to him. This game against the 49ers will be another game we see Sutton get a touchdown and more!

Ross might not have done much this week, but no one in the Bengals’ offense really did. With A.J. Green’s return cut short by a season-ending injury, Ross will remain the second option for the Bengals’ passing attack. He doesn’t get many targets, but could be expected to get a touchdown, like he has in the three weeks prior to their loss against the Broncos. I’m not expecting much from the Bengals, but maybe Ross can find the end zone again!

 

Tight Ends
  1. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers, 41.2 percent availability
  2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 91 percent availability
  3. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans, 94.6 percent availability
  4. Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans, 99.3 percent availability
  5. Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers, 99.8 percent availability

McDonald hasn’t really been living up to the hype lately. You probably only have him because your starter got hurt. Well, if RB James Conner does miss some time, McDonald should start to get more targets to help ease the run game for Samuels. The Steelers are also in a must-win after dropping the last two games. Plus, we saw one of the best TEs in the game tear up the Raiders’ defense, so let’s hope McDonald can do just a bit more than he has been, like maybe a touchdown.

Brate has continued to be a good piece to have on our fantasy rosters. He had a quiet game in their win over the Panthers. That was only because the WRs and RBs were doing their job and Brate wasn’t needed much, but he will bounce back against the Saints this week and have a decent game for us as we look to win.

Smith and Ian Thomas have been injury replacement TEs for their team and haven’t always given us what we needed, but with both the Titans and Panthers fighting for a playoff spot, all pieces on their roster are addable.

We have seen some light from Smith, but it just hasn’t been enough to want to add him or start him. In their game against the Jaguars Thursday, Smith will likely get more touches and maybe a touchdown.

With Greg Olsen out of the season again, Ian Thomas will have to step up. He may not be as involved in the offense as we all wish, but with the Panthers TEs and WRs, Sunday could be the day. The Panthers are currently on a downward slope to missing the playoffs, but there are still games to be played. The first one is against Cleveland, so hopefully we’ll see Ian do something for the Panthers.

Jordan Thomas is a bright, young rookie on one of the best teams in the NFL. Thomas has been able to find himself the usage he deserves. QB DeShaun Watson likes to reward his teammates for great plays. Let’s continue to watch Thomas as he produces with the Texans and they continue to win games and their division.

 

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Good luck to everyone who made the playoffs. I hope all this week’s additions help you get a big win as you advance into the next round! I would also like to inform you all that I will continue to be with you through it all, regardless of whether or not I win my fantasy league. So make sure to return next week for the waiver wire picks that will give you the win in your playoff/championship matchup!*

*Based on four team playoff and next week will be the last time