|Fantasy Football: Divisional round daily leagues||01.09.15 at 11:44 am ET|
If you are playing in one of the big contests this weekend, setting your DraftKings lineup is going to be a little tricky. The divisional round games help set up a rare dynamic in daily fantasy football. You have a small number of games (four) and most of the country watched these teams play last week. The exception would be the bye teams, but what’s left to learn about Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers or their respective offenses?
With familiarity at a high point and with available options at a low point, the number of unique fantasy rosters will be few. Good luck finding a contrarian move that half the league isn’t at least thinking about. Yes, it’s a tough week for differentiation. So tough, in fact, that you may want to steer away from it as a major point of strategy and focus more on matchups and lineup synergy.
This week I’m going to create two lineups — starting each with a different quarterback and working from there. The two quarterbacks I’m choosing will save me some money while not compromising upside.
Tom Brady (7,800 units), Patriots vs. Ravens
Tony Romo (7,600 units), Cowboys at Packers
These are not choices free of risk. Romo always comes with injury concerns and the tendency to go “tilt” at the wrong time, and Brady has a tough matchup for a less-then-mobile quarterback. That said, I see as much risk or more with all the quarterbacks who cost the same or more, and I have no interest in getting into the Joe Flacco or Cam Newton business. I’m not betting against the Patriots defense at home and certainly not Seattle’s.
|Fantasy Football: Week 4 starts, sits||09.26.14 at 9:31 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 4 starts and sits! Is it too late to recommend Larry Donnell? Oh well. Don’t fret, we have plenty of other ideas for this weekend. If you need more guidance than I could fit into this space, check out my full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our WEEI Sunday morning chat. It starts right here at 11 a.m. and I’ll tweet a link to the chat early Sunday morning as soon as it’s available. Follow me on Twitter to get all the fantasy football info we have to offer.
I will also be back on the air this weekend, so tune in Sunday morning for The Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host and good friend Jim Hackett. You can check out our latest podcast as well. I’ll also be on NFL Sunday with Dickerson, Price and DeOssie at about 10:45 as usual, so don’t miss it.
And, don’t forget to start your Week 5 with us on Tuesday, when I break down the best pickups in the Week 5 waiver wire.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Saints
He’s been shaky in his return from back surgery, but he battled back last week on the road against a better defense. I expect a high-scoring game and a solid fantasy output from Romo. Don’t hesitate to use him in any format.
Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Jaguars
He’s playing very well so far, and this is a very enticing home matchup. Treat Rivers like a QB1 in all formats in Week 4. He’s good for a solid outing.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars at Chargers
He’s a young QB making his first start on the road. That’s normally a red flag situation, but Bortles will be chasing a Chargers offense that can score points in bunches in good matchups like this one. Bortles can score points with his feet and with his arm. That should give him a solid fantasy floor. He can help you in big formats if you need some help in Week 4. If you are unfamiliar with the rookie’s skill set, check out my original scouting report on the UCF product.
Geno Smith, Jets vs. Lions
This is not a week with a lot of sits for quarterbacks outside of the obvious ones. Smith is a good passer to avoid this week because he struggles more than most when the pocket gets busy, and things certainly will get busy with Detroit’s front four in town. Factor in the injuries to Smith’s receivers and you have a recipe for bad play or at least limited success. Even on a slow week, there are better options out there than Smith.
|Patriots select QB Jimmy Garoppolo with their pick at No. 62 in second round||05.09.14 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Patriots took another step in the eventual replacement of Tom Brady on Friday night when they selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with their second-round pick, 62nd overall.
The all-time leading passer at Eastern Illinois (the school where Tony Romo played) is known for his quick release and his footwork. In his bio, Garoppolo listed his favorite NFL player as Tom Brady. Now he’ll get a chance to work with Brady every day in training camp and practice.
“I can’t imagine a better situation,” Garoppolo told the NFL Network moments after being selected. “I’m going to go to work every day like I am the starter and make it work.”
As a senior in 2013, he broke Romo’s school records for career passing touchdowns and yards, as well as passing touchdowns in a season. He also won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the Football Championship Series.
Garoppolo played football for Eastern Illinois from 2010-13. In his freshman year, he started eight games, passing for 1,639 yards and 14 touchdowns and earning All-OVC Newcomer Team honors. Garoppolo went on to start every further game in his time at Eastern Illinois, passing for 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011, 3,823 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2012 and 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013.
In his senior season he won the Walter Payton Award and set the school record for career pass completions. He also won the 2013 College Football Performance FCS National Quarterback of the Year.
With the selection of Garoppolo, speculation will intensify about the future of 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett. Mallett is set to become a free agent after this season and has been the subject of trade rumors on the eve of this year’s draft, with the Texans often mentioned as a possible landing spot.
|Peter King on M&M: ‘Every AFC team is flawed, and every AFC team has a decent shot’||12.27.13 at 12:56 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Patriots and news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the Patriots in line for a No. 2 seed — and the possibility of getting No. 1 or No. 3 — New Englanders have their eye on the playoffs in an AFC that lacks a dominant team.
“The problem with the AFC this year is that is that it reminds me exactly of the AFC last year,” King said. “The Baltimore Ravens could be the 6 seed; I think last year they were 5 [actually 4]. They could be a road wild card team, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Ravens make noise in the playoffs. Or I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Kansas City Chiefs get to the Super Bowl.
“I think every AFC team is flawed, and I think every AFC team has a decent shot. I don’t love a single team in the AFC. How can you? Every one of them has shown in the past month that they can be vulnerable.
“There’s a reason why there’s only been one time in the last 19 years that the two No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl. Think about that for a second. You’ve got all these advantages — you’re playing at home, you have a bye, you get to play both games at home to get to the Super Bowl. And imagine, it’s only happened once in the last 19 years. That, to me, is stunning. And it says that what [former commissioner] Pete Rozelle designed the NFL to be is exactly what it is. Which is, there’s 18 teams right now in play for the playoffs entering the last weekend of the season. Out of the 16 games this weekend, 13 — as of 1 o’clock anyway — have some playoff implications. It’s exactly what the NFL wants.”
Looking at the NFC, King said there’s also a great deal of uncertainty there, as the Sehawks and 49ers appear to have come back to the pack.
“Before Monday I would have said that San Francisco is the second-best team in football. Now I might say it’s Carolina,” King said. “San Francisco was on such a great roll coming into Monday, and then they looked pretty mortal. Just like Seattle looked mortal against Arizona on Sunday, also at home.
“I think the last couple of weeks going to back to New Orleans dismantling Carolina at home three weeks ago, I think that has shown us that every team in the NFC can be beaten, exactly like the AFC. And that’s why I think this postseason is as wide open as any I remember.”
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Seahawks still No. 1 despite loss||12.24.13 at 8:48 am ET|
The Seahawks stumbled but didn’t fall in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Despite suffering a setback in Week 16, Seattle stands pat because of its overall dominance. The 49ers, Panthers, Broncos and Patriots, who all have secured playoff spots, round out the top five.
As we head into the last week of the season, division titles and playoff spots still are up for grabs. Four teams are fighting for one spot in the AFC: the Chargers (11), Ravens (13), Dolphins (15) and Steelers (17). The NFC is wide open, with three divisions and a wild card spot on the line. The Eagles (12) will look to become the 11th consecutive team in the NFL to finish in last place and then go on to win the division the very next year, and it will take a win over the Cowboys (19) on Sunday to accomplish that feat. Philadelphia’s odds of winning the NFC East improved dramatically on Monday after it was reported that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be sidelined due to a back problem.
The conclusion of the 2013 regular season promises to be a wild one. Be sure to check in next week after all is decided for the playoff edition of the Power Rankings.
1. (1) Seahawks (12-3) – The NFC took notice that the Seahawks are vulnerable in Seattle. They lost at home for the first time in two years. Penalties and a struggling passing attack hurt Pete Carroll‘s team Sunday.
2. (2) 49ers (11-4) — They’ve clinched and now have won five straight. The Niners are the type of seasoned, well-balanced team that is capable of going into Seattle and winning if the situation were to arise.
3. (3) Panthers (11-4) — The Panthers have the tools to reach the Super Bowl. Cam Newton has proven this year that the big moment doesn’t negatively affect him. Carolina’s defense forces turnovers, rushes the passer well and allows the fewest points per game in the league.
4. (4) Broncos (11-3) — Much is being made about the loss of Von Miller, but the Broncos won their first six games this season when the Pro Bowl linebacker was suspended. If Denver doesn’t reach the Super Bowl, it won’t be because Miller is out.
|Fantasy Football: Week 16 starts, sits||12.22.12 at 11:30 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 16 starts and sits. If you are reading this article, then there’s a good chance you are in the championship game for your league. Congratulations on that. Now let’s see if we can give you a little guidance on some of this week’s tough lineup choices. I will also be hosting our final Sunday morning chat this weekend, so feel free to swing by if you have any tough choices. We kick off the chat at 11 a.m. If you need comprehensive lineup help, join us at Rotobahn, where I will have full lineup rankings posted later Saturday.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins at Eagles
If he plays, you should play him. Washington sat him last week, so you know the coaches have some standards in place. They won’t just throw him out there. The matchup is favorable and he’s an effective QB even without his typical mobility. Unless you happen to have another elite option, you should start RGIII and just accept the risks. His upside merits it in my view.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Saints
Dez Bryant proved that he can be a factor with his injury last week and this is a solid home matchup. Romo has been a fantasy asset over the last eight weeks and we expect that to continue in Week 16. Expect QB1 results in a high-scoring game.
Bradford is playing well, has a nice matchup and has a full complement of weapons to work with now that Danny Amendola is back. He makes a solid start this week if you are in need. Start him in all leagues.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers vs. Rams
Freeman is reeling along with the entire Bucs offense. After last week’s debacle, we’d be very leery of starting him against a solid yet inconsistent St. Louis defense. If you have another viable option, I’d use it.
Yes, we love this kid, but this is not a great week to use him unless you are weak at the position. Wilson is viable, but we have him ranked as an average QB2 this week, not the monster he was in Week 15. He’s not running for a bunch of scores on San Francisco. At least, we’re not willing to bet our season on it.
Jake Locker, Titans at Packers
For those in deep leagues, don’t let Green Bay’s recent defensive struggles tempt you into using Locker. He’s missing way too many throws right now for you to trust your title game to him. He’s an exciting young player, but he could let you down on the road in Green Bay and hasn’t topped 20 points since Week 3. If you are a Freeman owner looking for another option, keep looking and avoid Locker in Week 16.
|Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits||11.30.12 at 12:06 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 13 starts and sits. I know it’s a high-stakes weekend for a lot of you GMs. I’ve tried to look at the options that are not totally obvious as I usually do, but there’s no way I can get to every possible scenario. With that in mind, please feel free to join us for our Sunday morning chat, when I can address your specific lineup questions. There are full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com, so that is another good resource and I’ll be updating the rankings this weekend. Best of luck to all you folks fighting for a playoff berth and props to those who are sitting pretty or playing for a first-round bye.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Rams
He’s been very good so far and he gets you points with his feet, which raises his fantasy floor. If you need help at quarterback in Week 13, Kaepernick could be the answer in any league size. He’s actually available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which is a joke. This guy should be owned everywhere.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Eagles
Not only is Romo a good play this week, but it would not shock me if he is the best play at the position in Week 13. The Cowboys have a chance to light up the Eagles. Romo is a great option in any league.
Chad Henne, Jaguars at Bills
Need help? Henne can be the answer to your QB problem and he is available in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Start him in Week 13 if you are in need. He has QB1 potential. The one thing to check is the status of his starting receivers, but we expect Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon to play at this point.
Sam Bradford, Rams vs. 49ers
With injuries to his receivers and a rough matchup, Bradford should be avoided despite his modest success in recent weeks. Without a healthy Danny Amendola, Bradford might not have enough options in the middle of the field, and the 49ers will do a good job of taking away Chris Givens on the outside. Look elsewhere if possible.