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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

It started off as a great day of football but the decision to have just two 4 p.m. games quickly backfired when the Dolphins-Jets and Bucs-Packers became blowouts after the first quarter. Another decision that is still, and will continue to be, scrutinized is the Texans decision to go for two. It was the right decision. Houston's defense was awful Sunday and Romeo Crennel, a defensive guy, knew his team wouldn't be able to stop Tennessee. A two-point conversion would've iced the game. They had the right play, the receiver was wide open, but the ball got deflected. I'm always in the belief when you can control a situation and finish something, then go for it.

Underdogs went 9-5 against the spread with six outright upsets. The biggest was the Broncos beating the Patriots in Foxborough which knocked out around 20 percent of remaining entrants in pools. Majority of entrants chose the Dolphins which required no sweat in an easy win against the Jets. My survivor plays went 3-1 straight-up. The Vikings were an avoid and they got blown out.

Week 7 kicks off with the Giants at the Eagles Thursday night. The Colts, Dolphins, Ravens, and Vikings are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 7

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 7; Bills -13.5 @ Jets, Chiefs -9 vs. Broncos, Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars, Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 7

Bills -13.5 @ Jets

Not only are the Jets winless but they're also 0-6 against the spread. There's really not much to say about this game, only whether the Jets will cover. It's really remarkable to not have covered a game yet but that should eventually end.

Bills 30 - Jets 19

 

Packers -3.5 @ Texans

Both these teams have similarly explosive offenses, but the one difference in the stats are the Packers are fifth in converting third down's while Houston is 21st. Green Bay hadn't been tested before Sunday and they got a refreshing wake-up call, especially their defense. The Texans Defense though is so bad giving up 6.1 yards per play, 27th, and 23rd in opponent third-down conversion percentage. Aaron Rodgers should pick apart the secondary.

Packers 31 - Texans 23

 

Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

The Chargers could really be 5-0. They should have beaten the Chiefs, had a great chance to beat the Panthers, and blew leads to the Bucs and Saints. Justin Herbert has been getting better by the week. Their defense ranks 17th in yards per play, 10th in getting off the field on third down, and fifth in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. But they have looked a lot better than the stats and they're fresh off a bye.

I wrote this last week about Jacksonville; "the Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team." The Chargers should finally cruise to a win.

Chargers 26 - Jaguars 14

 

Chiefs -9 @ Broncos

Denver played a great game Sunday in New England but six field goals just won't come close to cutting it against Kansas City. I don't care how great your defense is, you won't hold Kansas City to less than 17 points or less. The Broncos offense ranks 27th in yards per play, 29th in third down conversions, and 30th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They may very well cover but you can't beat the best offense like that.

Chiefs 28 - Broncos 20

 

Rams -5.5 vs. Bears

Chicago keeps winning despite an offense similarly bad to Denver's; 28th in yards per play, 27th in third down conversions, and 26th in touchdowns in the red zone. Their defense is in the top six in those defensive categories. The Rams though have had all their wins come against the NFC East. They've lost to the Bills and 49ers. Jared Goff struggles in bad weather and a good pass rush. The weather will be fine in LA but the Bears pass rush will put him under immense pressure. Sean McVay better have a good plan to get the ball out of Goff's hands quick.

Another point is if the Bears are actually good and since the Rams have played a cake schedule, shouldn't this line be three. I think that's a big tell from the Vegas bookmakers.

Rams 24 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

 

Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers

This game goes either two ways; the Saints come off their bye and win convincingly or struggle immensely. I can't get over the memory of last year when New Orleans came off a bye at 7-1, and were double-digit favorites over the Falcons only to be beat 26-9. The Saints don't look like a team that should be favored by more than a touchdown over anyone. Not even Carolina despite them looking awful against the Bears. However the Panthers have been up-and-down and this is a divisional game which usually tends to be close.

Saints 23 - Panthers 21

 

Browns -3.5 @ Bengals

This teams met on Thursday night football in Week 2 with the Browns winning 35-30. The game was not as close as the score was but Joe Burrow would not go down. Both teams are off losses, but Cleveland got blown out and you wonder how they'll respond. A road divisional favorite of 3.5 is too much with a guy like Burrow on the other side.

Bengals 23 - Browns 21

 

Best Bets for Week 7

  • Packers -3.5 @ Texans
  • Dallas -1.5 @ Washington - Cowboys are off an embarrassing blowout loss on national television. Teams in that situation usually rebound the following week.
  • Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 9-9
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 6) - Targets and Avoids

Five weeks into the season and we're starting to see who some teams really are. We already knew the Jets and Giants were awful, but are the Rams actually good? They're 4-1 with all their wins coming against the NFC East and their lone loss against the Bills. It'll also be real interesting to see how the Saints play in the coming weeks with Drew Brees unable to zip a throw in.

Underdogs went 8-6 against the spread with four outright upsets. The biggest was the Raiders beating the Chiefs which knocked out around 25 percent of remaining entrants in pools. The Dolphins beating the Niners did a little damage too. My survivor plays went 5-1 straight-up. None of my avoids lost but the Saints and Seahawks both had to come back late to win.

This is a difficult week with only three teams favored by a touchdown or more, but there is one play I really like and it's a team you won't want to choose again. There is no Thursday night football this week due to COVID rescheduling. The Chargers, Raiders, Saints, and Seahawks are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 6

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 6; Colts -8 vs. Bengals, Ravens -8 @ Eagles, and Dolphins -8 vs. Jets.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 6

Lions -3.5 @ Jaguars

You won't get another chance to take the Lions. They fit one of my favorite gambling trends; road favorite off a bye. The trend is 63-26 since 2002. RJ Bell explained why the trend is so successful.

"The team that's traveling is clearly better. Because you can't be favored on the road unless you're clearly better. But because you're clearly better, you have the distractions on the road. You might be looking ahead. You might be a little beat up from last week. Whatever it is, it's going to cause you not to play your best game; you're more susceptible to a team you think you should easily beat, even more susceptible on the road. That's why road favorites are so dangerous. Well, when you have a bye, all that stuff goes out the window. If you haven't played for two weeks, you're not going to look ahead. You're going to be focused on that team. You're not going to be tired. All the things that make traveling tough, you have that total focus."

The Lions are 1-3 and have held a double-digit lead in all three of their losses. The Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team. They surprised many with their Week 1 against the Colts but have since lost four in a row. The stats point to Jacksonville but the eye test points to Detroit. If the Lions shore up their defense, particularly in the red zone and on third down, they could run away with this one.

Lions 27 - Jaguars 16

 

Colts -8 vs. Bengals

Cincinnati better figure out a way to protect Joe Burrow because he's been getting crushed. Now they face a ferocious Colts Defense that's first in opponent yards per play. Phillip Rivers was awful Sunday but should rebound against an average Bengals Defense. They allow 159 rushing yards per game, 29th in the league. That will allow Indy to go back to the running game to open up the passing game. Colts will control this through and through.

Colts 24 - Bengals 13

 

Ravens -8 @ Eagles

As I keep saying, Baltimore beats up on bad teams. Are the Eagles bad though? It's unclear because their win over the 49ers two weeks ago doesn't seem so good after they got blown out by Miami. Philly is off a tough loss to Pittsburgh in which their defensive front looked better, but will they be able to stop the Ravens rushing attack? They're 17th in that department and even if they do slow down Baltimore, their offense won't be able to keep up. Baltimore is fifth in opponent yards per play, and fifth in getting off the field on third down.

Ravens 30 - Eagles 20

 

Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears

Chicago is the most overrated 4-1 team I can ever remember. They should've lost to the Lions, barely beat the Giants, should've lost to Falcons, were a no-show against the Colts, and somehow beat the Bucs last Thursday. Their offense is bottom-ten in yards per play, third-down conversions, touchdowns in the red zone. But their defense is top-ten in all those statistical categories. But the defense will have their hands full with the Panthers offense. They rank sixth in yards per play and are sixth in converting on third down. Teddy Bridgewater has looked better and more comfortable each week. If they can put up 20 points in this one, they should win.

Panthers 23 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Dolphins -8 vs. Jets

You probably think I'm crazy to lean toward the Jets here but, Miami is off their biggest win of the season. This is a divisional game with an over/under at 47.5. That's pretty low for current NFL standards with 59 percent of games going over the total. A lower total means less points will be scored which gives you a lean to the underdog. The stats are pretty even for these teams with Miami's defense ranking 27th in opponent yards per play and the Jets, 22nd.

Dolphins 23 - Jets 21

 

Vikings -3.5 vs. Falcons

Minnesota may be an appealing survivor pick because they're playing the putrid Falcons and when would you be able to take Minnesota again? Atlanta is also off firing their general manager and head coach. Their owner won't even commit to Matt Ryan in the future. The team is a mess. But there are just too many question marks with not only the Falcons but Vikings too. How will Minnesota respond after a gut-wrenching last-second loss in Seattle. Their defense seems to be much improved in the past two weeks but the Falcons will throw, throw, and throw. I don't trust the Vikings in this spot.

Vikings 31 - Falcons 30

 

Best Bets for Week 6

  • Lions -3.5 vs. Jaguars - Road favorite off a bye.
  • Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears - Chicago will get exposed in this spot.
  • 49ers +3.5 vs. Rams - Niners have lost two in a row, and looked awful Sunday. Rams haven't beat anyone good yet. I'll take the home team and the hook.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 7-8
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 5) - Targets and Avoids

A month into the season and coaching is somehow getting worse and worse. The Chargers were in every position to upset the Bucs but Anthony Lynn had them run the ball up 24-7, with under a minute to go from their own 10. The Chargers proceeded to fumble and Tom Brady converted for a touchdown. 24-14 at halftime and that was it. If you've been reading this column for some years, you know I've been an early Bill O'Brien hater and been saying for four years he shouldn't be the coach.

Favorites went 10-5 straight up in Week 4 and 7-7-1 against the spread. My best bets went 1-2 against the spread, survivor plays went 3-0 and avoids went 0-3. The Ravens and Rams were the plays in survivor pools last week. LA gave everyone a scare but came through. The 49ers were the biggest favorite to lose outright.

This week we have another full slate kicking off with the Bucs and Bears Thursday night. Bye weeks also begin with the Lions and Packers off.

 

Survivor League Week 5

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 5; Chiefs -13.5 vs. Raiders, Ravens -13.5 vs. Bengals, Cowboys -9.5 vs. Giants, Rams -8 @ Washington, Seahawks -7 vs. Vikings, Saints -7.5 vs. Chargers, Steelers -7 vs. Eagles, and Cardinals -7 @ Jets.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 5

RAVENS -13.5 vs. Bengals

Baltimore beats up on bad teams. They get into trouble when facing elite teams. The Ravens, who average 160 rushing yards per game, third most, will be able to run the ball all over Cincy. The Bengals allow 158 yards on the ground per game, 27th in the league.

Joe Burrow is going to be very good, but he's taking way too many big hits. Baltimore will blitz Burrow and get to the rookie.

Ravens 31- Bengals 14

 

CHIEFS -13.5 vs. Raiders

Kansas City is the best team in football. They rarely make mistakes, and when they do, you better make them pay. Just ask New England. The Raiders don't have the offense or defense to keep pace with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Chiefs 37 - Raiders 21

 

Rams -8 @ WASHINGTON

Are the Rams actually good? Their three wins have come against the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, all NFC East teams. Their lone loss was against Buffalo where they fell down 28-3, then scored 29 unanswered, and then lost. It's too early to know about the Rams. The fact that they couldn't blow out the Giants was telling though. Jared Goff was 25-32 for 200 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. 55 of those passing yards came on a Cooper Kupp catch-and-run. Goff is not good when facing a good pass rush, which Washington has. He's also bad in cold weather, which it shouldn't be cold Sunday, but there is a chance of rain.

Washington is 30th in yards per play and Aaron Donald is going to constantly pressure Dwayne Haskins. However, Washington's defense will make some plays, but the Rams pull it out late.

Rams 24 - Washington 19

 

STEELERS -7 vs. Eagles

The Eagles offense is abysmal. They're averaging 4.5 yards per play, tied for last with the Jets. The Steelers are off a bye (COVID postponement) and have a defense that's second in opponent yards per play with 4.8. Pittsburgh's offense is average and Philly's defense does rank in the top-five in yards per play and third down's. But how much can their defense hold up against a legitimate two-dimensional offense with an offense that stinks?

Steelers 21 - Eagles 13

 

COWBOYS -9 vs. Giants

The Giants Defense somehow ranks sixth in opponent yards per play, but now they face a statistically great offense. Dak Prescott has been putting up such good numbers, because their defense is so bad. The Giants offense is 29th in yards per play, 27th in third-down conversion percentage, and dead last in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. If there's a game the Cowboys Defense can play well, it's this one.

Cowboys 28 - Giants 10

 

Cardinals -7 @ JETS

Can it get any worse for the Jets? Their loss to practice squad quarterback Brett Rypien on a short week was embarrassing. Sam Darnold gave the team a chance, but the defense couldn't get off the field and make the stops when they needed to. Now the defense faces a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Kyler Murray, and plethora of weapons.

Arizona's defense is average but if the Jets can't convert touchdowns in the red zone, like they couldn't last week, then this game is over.

Cardinals 23 - Jets 14

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

SAINTS -7.5 vs. Chargers

The Chargers put up a really good fight Sunday in Tampa Bay and they should have won. This game in April seemed daunting but without fans on a Monday night in New Orleans, it seems to be just another game. Drew Brees's arm strength is shot and the Chargers Defense has looked good. They're above average in opponent yards per play and third-down conversion percentage, but they force field goals in the red zone ranking third in that category. The Saints are 12th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. That's the key to this game.

A7.5 is too much to lay especially considering how much Justin Herbert has been improving by game.

Saints 27 - Chargers 26

 

SEAHWKS -7 vs. Vikings

Seattle has finally taken the leash off Russell Wilson and their offense has looked dominant. Wilson's rainbow throws are pure beauty. Their offense is second in yards per play and they're averaging 35.5 points per game, second in NFL. They should have no problem against a Vikings Defense that ranks 25th in opponent yards per play. But Seattle's defense has not shown me anything. They're 29th in opponent yards per play and 30th in getting off the field on third down's. The Vikings have two very good offensive weapons in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson that will expose the Seahawks secondary.

Seahawks 38 - Vikings 35

 

TEXANS -6 vs. Jaguars

Houston will either blow out Jacksonville or lose a close one. They have a new interim head coach in Romeo Crennel so this game is really a crapshoot.

Texans 24 - Jaguars 17

 

Best Bets for Week 4

  • Vikings +7 @ Seattle - Notes above. Backdoor cover will be wide open late too if they're down two scores.
  • Washington +8 vs. Rams - Washington's front-seven will keep them in this game.
  • Panthers +2.5 @ Falcons - I'm getting points against a team that is nothing short of a mess. The Falcons are poorly coached, can't play defense, and make one boneheaded play after another.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 1-2
  • 2020 season total: 5-7
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 4) - Targets and Avoids

Another great week of football that saw comebacks, blowouts and even a tie. And now we're dealing with the first COVID outbreak in the NFL. Hopefully everyone is healthy and if any games get postponed, they will be played.

Favorites went 9-6-1 straight up in Week 3 and 9-7 against the spread. My best bets went 1-2 against the spread, survivor plays went 3-1 and avoids went 2-1 with the Bengals and Lions coming through. The Colts were the big play in survivor pools last week and they easily took care of business. The Chargers and Cardinals losing, and the Eagles tying, knocked out more than 30 percent of remaining entrants.

This week we have another full slate kicking off with the Broncos and Jets Thursday night.

 

Survivor League Week 4

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 4 per The Action Network (home team in caps); Ravens -13 @ WASHINGTON, RAMS -13 vs. Giants, BUCS -7.5 vs. Chargers, PACKERS -7.5 vs. Falcons, CHIEFS -7 vs. Patriots, 49ERS -7 vs. Eagles, Seahawks -6.5 @ DOLPHINS

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 4

Ravens -13.5 @ Washington

The Ravens were exposed by the best team in football. The Chiefs were able to stop the run and dare Lamar Jackson to try and throw to beat them, which he couldn't do. But the Ravens beat up on non-elite teams. Washington is a nice team with a good front-seven, but they won't be able to match the Ravens scoring output. I also love backing a team that's off a big loss on national television.

Ravens 38 - Washington 14

 

RAMS -13 vs. Giants

The Rams are off a really tough loss where they came back from a 28-3 deficit, to take a 32-28 lead and then were hosed on a defensive penalty on 4th-down when the ball was uncatchable. The Rams offense has been very good ranking third in yards per play. The Giants are 27th. The biggest edge though is the Rams will be able to sustain long drives; they rank first in third-down conversions and the Giants are dead last in opponent third-down conversions.

The Giants have no big-play capability. They have eight plays of 20 yards or more, bottom half in the league, while the Rams are third in the league with 17. The Giants can not throw 5-yard passes and think they'll win.

Rams 31 - Giants 13

 

PACKERS -7.5 vs. Falcons

How does a team recover from not one, but two straight losses after being up by 16 and 17 points late in the fourth quarter. Now they have to play the Packers on Monday night football with the 31st ranked pass defense. The Packers meanwhile rank sixth in passing yards per game. Aaron Rodgers is an MVP frontrunner through three games, and will be salivating over this matchup.

Packers 38 - Falcons 24

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

CHIEFS -7.5 vs. Patriots

The way to beat Kansas City is to run the ball, go on long drives, and score touchdowns when in the red zone. New England is first in rushing yards per game, seventh in time of possession, and 18th in the red zone. The Patriots have the system to beat the Chiefs, but their defense will have to get off the field on third down. The Chiefs are first in converting on third down and the Patriots are seventh defensively. That will be the key to this game.

Chiefs 24 - Patriots 23

 

BUCS -7.5 vs. Chargers

It's really interesting to see the Chargers rank higher in yards per play than the Bucs. You'd think the Bucs would be a lot higher based on the fact they're averaging 27 points per game and the Chargers are averaging 17. Tampa's defense is second in opponent yards per play and should be able to hold the Chargers in check.

Tom Brady does not do well against a fierce pass rush and the Chargers Defense had that but are without pass-rusher Melvin Ingram. Still, 7.5 is too much.

Bucs 20 - Chargers 17

 

Seahawks -6.5 @ DOLPHINS

What makes me nervous about taking Seattle is that they're allowing 430 passing yards per game, last in the NFL, 80 yards more than the next team. They're also 29th in getting off the field on third down and 31st in opponent yards per play. I have no doubt Russell Wilson will have this offense humming along but their defense will keep the Dolphins in this game with a good chance to pull off the upset.

Dolphins 27 - Seahawks 24

 

Best Bets for Week 4

  • Lions +4.5 vs. Saints - Drew Brees is really struggling to throw the ball down the field. The Lions finally have a two-dimensional offense and should be able to move the ball to cover this line.
  • Browns +4.5 @ Cowboys - Dallas's defense has looked awful. Cleveland should be able to run and open up the passing game.
  • Patriots +7.5 @ Chiefs - Notes above.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 1-2
  • 2020 season total: 4-6
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 3) - Targets and Avoids

Week 2 saw another great day of action, but some teams will begin looking very different after devastating injuries across the league. Saquon Barkley, Nick Bosa, Courtland Sutton, are all out for the season with torn ACLs. Malik Hooker is done with a torn Achilles. Christian McCaffrey and Drew Lock will miss some time. Jimmy Garoppolo too. It's tough to fathom how anyone could replace Barkley, Bosa, and Sutton but I'm reminded of the famous football saying, 'next man up.'

My best bets against the spread went 1-2 but my survivor picks went 6-0 straight up. Nothing to brag about when favorites went 14-2 straight up (Rams and Raiders were sole outright underdogs winners.) Underdogs though went 9-7 against the spread. With Week 2 seeing nearly all the favorites win, it can only mean one thing for the coming weeks; beware, survivor doomsday is nearing.

This week we have another full slate kicking off with the Jaguars and Dolphins Thursday night.

 

Survivor League Week 3

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 3 per The Action Network (home team in caps); COLTS -10.5 vs. Jets, PATRIOTS -6 vs. Raiders, EAGLES -6.5 vs. Bengals, BROWNS -7 vs. Washington, CHARGERS -7 vs. Panthers, CARDINALS -6.5 vs. Lions, BUCS -6 @ Broncos.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 3

COLTS -10.5 vs. Jets

The Jets may be the worst team in the NFL. The offense ranks bottom five in many statistics like yards per play, rushing yards per game, and rushing yards per game. They have no playmakers. Sam Darnold looks like he's taken a step backward. The team looks lost. They'll have real trouble moving the ball Sunday against a Colts Defense that's first in the league in opponent yards per game with 208. The Colts offense is averaging 5.9 yards per play which ranks in the top half of the league.

Colts 27 - Jets 14

PATRIOTS -6 vs. Raiders

Vegas is off a huge win to open their new stadium. They gave a 110% percent going all out in a physical game against the Saints. I'm not sure if that will take a toll on a team traveling east for an early 1 p.m. game.

I loved the Steelers last week because the Broncos played in the second Monday night game and then had to travel east. The Raiders are in the same situation. Records for West Coast teams from 2003 to 2018 were 80-133 (37.6%) straight up, a 37.6% win percentage. Jon Gruden is very good at scripting plays early on, but so is Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

Patriots 24 - Raiders 16

Bucs -6 @ BRONCOS

This game is more about the injuries to Denver. They're without Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Von Miller. Bradley Chubb has looked nonexistent in two games with only three tackles, one for a loss, and one quarterback hit. The way to beat Tom Brady is to pressure him and they won't be able to do that. Plus their offense is going to struggle to score without its top playmaker.

Bucs 28 - Broncos 16

CHARGERS -7 vs. Panthers

The Chargers gave one valiant effort against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. As of this writing, it's unclear if Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert will start. Herbert looked a lot better but this game won't be about the Chargers offense. Their defense is one of the league's best and the Panthers have no offensive firepower with the absence of Christian McCaffrey.

Chargers 24 - Panthers 13

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

EAGLES -6.5 vs. Bengals

Philly has played one good half of football so far. Carson Wentz is unpredictable. How could he throw an interception into double coverage in the end zone against the Rams. The Eagles Defense has good statistical numbers but when you watch them, they don't look so good. They've given up 27 and 37 points. Joe Burrow and the Bengals will come in with nothing to lose and play fearless. They've had an extra few days to prepare for this one too.

Eagles 23 - Bengals 21

BROWNS -7 vs. Washington

This game will come down to Washington's front seven against the Brown's offensive line. Cleveland has allowed two sacks while Washington has 11 sacks. Baker Mayfield is really bad under pressure and if they can't get their running game going, it's going to be a big problem for the offense. Washington isn't going to score a lot but their defense can keep them in games if they can hold the opponent to around 17-20.

Washington 17 - Browns 16

CARDINALS -5.5 vs. Lions

The Cardinals look like the highest-octane offense in football through two games while the Lions look like the same hapless team. Detroit is going to give their all in all attempts not to fall to 0-3. It's hard to believe but they've held double-digit leads in both losses this year.

Lions 31 - Cardinals 27

 

Best Bets for Week 3

  • Patriots -6.5 vs. Raiders - Also really like Patriots first half in case Raiders come out sluggish with early 1 p.m. start.
  • Titans -2.5 @ Vikings - Minnesota looks like one of the bottom-five worst teams. I know it's only two games but their offense looks dreadful. Tennessee can play defense and score points.
  • Rams +2.5 @ Bills - Buffalo beat the Jets and Dolphins while the Rams beat the Cowboys and Eagles. Let's see how Buffalo plays against a team with an actual offense.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 3-3
  • 2020 season total: 1-2
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

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Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Betting Picks - Sports Bets, Wagers, Advice Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 2) - Targets and Avoids

A full Sunday slate of football, watching the Red Zone channel, and not having to change the channel finally felt like a return to normalcy. What felt even more normal was Phillip Rivers throwing a late-game interception, the Lions losing in heartbreaking fashion, the Broncos losing yet another close one, and Baker Mayfield looking lost.

My best bets against the spread went 2-1 but my survivor picks went 1-2 (Colts lost to Titans, Lions lost to Bears, and Steelers beat Giants). The Colts held a 7-0 lead with the ball in the red zone late in the first. They proceeded to have fourth-and-one from the three when Nyheim Hines got stuffed. Right then and there, Colts backer knew we were in trouble. I even in-gamed Indy -13.5 in the red zone so that was a loser right there. As for the Lions, this is the second year in a row where the Lions held a lead of 17 points or more in the fourth quarter to then blow it (they tied the Cardinals last year.) Then for D'Andre Swift to drop the ball was nauseating. Even more sickening, I have Detroit to win division, make playoffs, and over their win total.

The Colts losing knocked 25 percent of survivor entrants out of my pool. The Eagles knocked out anther nine. Favorites went 7-6-1 against the spread, 9-5 straight up with underdogs winning five games outright. Two games were pick 'em. This week we have another full slate kicking off with the Bengals and Browns Thursday night.

 

Survivor League Week 2

Teams favored by seven or more in Week 2 per The Action Network (home team in caps); TITANS -9.5 vs. Jaguars, BUCS -9 vs. Panthers, 49ers -7 @ JETS, CHIEFS -8.5 @ Chargers. There are several games where the line is around six.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 2

49ers -7 @ JETS

I'm usually hesitant about taking west coast teams traveling east for a 1 PM ET game. Records for West Coast teams from 2003 to 2018 were 80-133 (37.6%) straight up, a 37.6% win percentage. But this is more how about how putrid the Jets are than the Niners having to travel east. As a Jets fan, I couldn't even watch their game against the Bills. This was the Jets drive summary in the first half Sunday.

Just embarrassing. The 49ers, like the Bills, will jump all over the Jets early. The 49ers Defense seemingly struggles with mobile quarterbacks, but Sam Darnold is not a dual-threat. The Jets Defense looked awful and the Niners have more weapons than the Bills do.

49ers 24 - Jets 13

 

STEELERS -6 vs. Broncos

As I ignore the trend of a west coast team coming east, I now veer to it. But this one I like more because Denver played in the last game of the week, the 10 p.m. Monday game and then have to travel to Pittsburgh for an early 1 p.m. start Sunday. Pittsburgh also played Monday night but it was the early game and it was in New Jersey, not that far from Pittsburgh.

The Steelers Defense, as expected, stifled Daniel Jones and the Giants offense. The Steelers offense picked it up as the game went along. Meanwhile the Broncos looked just how they did last season. Good defense, an offense that doesn't take too many chances, and then losing with less than 30 seconds left. Drew Lock did not face too many good defenses last season, but Pittsburgh has one of the best.

Steelers 27 - Broncos 14

 

Chiefs -8.5 @ Chargers

Having no fans this year is actually beneficial to the Chargers because the opposing teams fans can't take over the stadium. Anyway, this is simple; the Chargers offense won't be able to keep pace with Kansas City's. Tyrod Taylor is a solid quarterback but you need around 30 points to beat the Chiefs. Since Taylor became a starting quarterback in 2015 for Buffalo, and several games with Cleveland, he's started 47 games with their team scoring 30+ points 12 times.

Chiefs 35 - Chargers 17

 

TITANS -9 vs. Jaguars

One week is not going to change my perspective on the Jaguars season outlook. I wasn't the biggest fan of Tennessee's to begin with, but they got the win Monday night and that's what matters. They have a lot more talent than the Jaguars and are better coached. This line is too high though.

Titans 24 - Jaguars 17

 

CARDINALS -6.5 vs. Washington

This feels like letdown game written all over it for Arizona. They're off a huge win against the Super Bowl runner-up. Washington is also off a great come-from-behind win where they scored the final 27 points winning 27-17. The Football Team looks like a vintage Ron Rivera team; run the ball, play good defense, and be extremely physical. But the Cardinals just have one too many weapons with DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Kenyan Drake, and then Kyler Murray's running ability too.

Cardinals 28 - Washington 19

 

BEARS -6 vs. Giants

Taking the Bears gives me the jitters, but their defense should be able to do enough to keep the Giants under 17 points. If Mitchell Trubisky can get this offense to score more than 20, they should win.

Bears 21 - Giants 16

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

BUCS -8 vs. Panthers

I'm not sure what warrants this line being eight. The Panthers were moving the ball Sunday. Teddy Bridgewater went 22-34 for 270 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Christian McCaffrey was his usual self running for 96 yards and two touchdowns. They scored 30 points narrowly losing to the Raiders.

The Bucs did not look in sync and need more time to gel. After they scored the first touchdown Sunday, the Saints outscored them 34-16. You're paying a Tom Brady premium here if you bet Tampa.

Panthers 31 - Bucs 30

BROWNS -6 vs. Bengals

I'm not sure how this line isn't three. Just from Week 1, these teams looked very even. I'd highly advise not put tingyour survivor pool life into the hands of Baker Mayfield.

Bengals 16 - Browns 14

 

Best Bets for Week 2

  • Steelers -6.5 vs.  Broncos - As discussed above, I love the angle of Denver having to travel East after a late Monday night game that ended in a crushing loss.
  • 49ers -7 @ Jets - San Fran has too much talent for the Jets.
  • Panthers +9 @ Bucs - Just way way way too many points for a solid Carolina team.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 1) - Targets and Avoids

Believe it or now, Week 1 of the football season is here. It's hard to believe how fast these last few months went. The season seemingly snuck up on us with no preseason games, but did we even miss those? However, without the preseason, it's making Week 1 more difficult than usual. There are two things I'll be looking at to help you navigate Week 1 and advance on.

Returning starters vs. roster turnover. How many starters are returning from last season and which teams have the most new players? Continuity is going to be so important this year with teams unable to build chemistry in preseason. The Steelers have 20 of 22 starters returning. The Ravens are returning 19 of 22 starters. The Patriots, a team of consistency for years, not only lost Tom Brady but had several defensive starters opt-out.

Another indicator to help me navigate the early weeks is regular-season win totals. If you're unsure if teams are even, check out who's win totals are higher.

 

Survivor League Strategy

I usually have several rules but this year that's all out the window. Survive and advance. We have no idea what's going to happen so make this a week-to-week game. What if one week the Jaguars, who are expected to be one of the worst teams in football, are playing the Chiefs, but the Chiefs are missing several starters to COVID. My point is you have no idea what will happen with the swirling questions. This year it's a week-to-week game.

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple: pick a team to win each week; if they win, you move on to the next week. But you can't use that team again. There's no point spread involved.

Teams favored by seven of more in Week 1 per The Action Network (home team in caps); CHIEFS -9.5 vs. Texans, Colts -8 @ JAGUARS, RAVENS -8.5 vs. Browns, 49ERS -7 vs. Cardinals,

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved. Lines I'll be using are from topbet.eu.

With gambling now legal for some of you, I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize the team I like. It will look like this for example: Chiefs -7 vs. Broncos.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 1

Colts -8 @ JAGUARS

This is going to be one of the most popular plays survivor plays of Week 1. Jacksonville is so bad. Their quarterback is Gardner Minshew and running back is James Robinson. It feels like they're getting ready to throw this season away, fire their entire front office, head coach, and restart with Trevor Lawrence.

In a way, I know I'm going against my lead of this column regarding continuity taking the Colts with new quarterback Phillip Rivers but he's a veteran. Head coach Frank Reich is a quarterback's coach. I feel the turnover for the Colts won't be an issue.

Take a look at these two win totals too. The Colts are at nine and Jaguars 4.5.

Colts 27 - Jaguars 20

Steelers -6 @ GIANTS

This line opened at three and has been bet all the way up to six. The big question here is Ben Roethlisberger. How will he look after missing nearly all of last season. There's a lot of consistency around him with 20 of 22 starters returning. The Giants don't have much turnover, but this is Joe Judge's first game as head coach. Pittsburgh's continuity will be enough for them in Week 1.

As for win totals, Pittsburgh's is set at 9.5 and the Giants 6.5

Steelers 34 - Giants 17

LIONS -3 vs. Bears

This line opened at Lions -1 and has now moved to -3. Matthew Stafford was having a career year last season before being lost to the season in Week 9. Their defense has four Patriots starters and third overall pick, cornerback Jeff Okudah. What have the Bears done? Added Jimmy Graham who's underperformed for the past several seasons. I'm sure their defense will be good but with Mitchell Trubisky leading that offense, how are they going to keep up with Detroit's offense?

Lions 24 - Bears 14

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

BILLS -6 vs. Jets

The Bills are everyone's darling pick to win the AFC East this season but are we sure we trust Josh Allen? Buffalo has a good defense with most of its defensive starters returning. The Jets though have a lot more turnover on its roster. But it is the second year of Sam Darnold and head coach Adam Gase to further their chemistry.

These two teams usually play close games and I expect yet another one. Buffalo will not have their raucous crowd so we'll see how much of a part that plays.

Jets 23 - Bills 20

PATRIOTS -7 vs. Dolphins

As I mentioned earlier in this column, New England has had so much turnover yet are big favorites Sunday. Cam Newton is the starter but they've had no real games to build any chemistry. Miami has Ryan Fitzpatrick starting who's a good quarterback and helped the Dolphins get to 5-11 last season, something not many expected. They even beat New England in Foxborough in Week 17 last year. I think this line is too high and you're paying the Belichick Patriots tax.

Patriots 20 - Dolphins 17

 

Best Bets

  • Lions -3 vs. Bears - Notes are above.
  • Cardinals +7 vs 49ers - Arizona has a ton of speed. Will San Fran's conditioning be ready to go a full 60-minutes to slow down the Cardinals offense? The Super Bowl hangover is another aspect. Seven is too much to lay in a Week 1 divisional game.
  • Saints -3.5 vs. Bucs - I hate going against Tom Brady but New Orleans has so many of their starters returning. Tampa has had their entire team re-done. I don't believe the Bucs will be bad this year but it may take a little time to get going.

 

Season Picks

AFC                                NFC

1 - Chiefs                          1 - Cowboys

2 - Ravens                        2 - Saints

3 - Colts                            3 - 49ers

4 - Dolphins                    4 - Lions

5 - Steelers                       5 - Bucs

6 - Titans                          6 - Seahawks

7 - Patriots                        7 -  Rams

Wild Card:

Ravens over Patriots          Saints over Rams

Colts over Titans                 49ers over Seahawks

Steelers over Dolphins       Bucs over Lions

Divisional:

Chiefs over Steelers         Bucs over Cowboys

Ravens over Colts            Saints over 49ers

Conference Championships:

Chiefs over Ravens          Saints over Bucs

Super Bowl:

Chiefs over Saints



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NFL Prop Bet Picks - Super Bowl LIV Predictions

The biggest game of the football season is upon us, but it's a melancholy game. We all are excited to watch and find out who wins, but as each second passes, the closer we are to not watching a meaningful football game for seven months. That's why you need to make the most of this game. Most people do that by gathering with friends for Super Bowl parties. However, most of those people don't know anything about football. They cheer for meaningless plays and don't understand the basic concept of 1st-and-10. In fact, for some people, the Super Bowl is the only NFL game they'll watch all season. For us hardcore fans, at least Vegas gives us many wild and crazy prop bets to follow so that we can focus on something meaningful.

In this column, I will be breaking down the big game including several prop bets, whether it's a player prop or game prop. These props were found in VSIN's 78-page prop bet compilation, as well as DraftKings and FanDuels sportsbook My best advice would be to handicap the game as to what you think will happen and bet accordingly. If you expect a shootout, then go over on pass attempts and completions. If you expect a ball-control, low-scoring game, then go under rushing yards, etc. I'd highly advise not betting the coin toss. That's because you have to bet $102 to win $100 on a 50/50 chance. You're better off betting that with a friend and this way don't have to pay the extra juice.

I can't stress enough to shop around for the best value. If you're in Nevada, you have a robust amount of sportsbooks to choose from. If you're in New Jersey, DraftKings and FanDuel are both options. If you're unfamiliar with gambling, -110 means you have to lay $110 to win $100. If the line is +110, that means you bet $100 to win $110. Now, let's get to the final game of the NFL season and pick some props that will hit.

 

Super Bowl Picks - Player/Game Props

Shortest touchdown of the game under 1.5 (-155) - Circa

This is heavy vig, but it's worth it to lay the extra money. This prop hit in all four divisional-round games as well as both championship games. With referees reviewing every scoring play, how often is the runner down just before the goal line which then sets up the 1-yard touchdown?

First pass attempt of Patrick Mahomes incomplete (+180), Jimmy Garoppolo (+165) incomplete - DraftKings

Last year, both Tom Brady and Jared Goff threw an incompletion on their first attempt. How will that impact this game? There is absolutely no correlation but if you bet both and one of them throws an incomplete pass on that first pass, you win, because you're getting plus money on both.

Matt Breida OVER 15.5 rushing yards (-110) - South Point

Raheem Mostert is all the talk of Niner fandom after his 220-yard, four-touchdown performance in the NFC Championship game. But Breida has been consistent all season, going over 15.5 yards in all but two games. One of those games was the NFC Championship. Even if Mostert gets the bulk of the carries, the 49ers' motto lately has been to run, run,  run. Why stop that against the Chiefs when the recipe to beat them is controlling the clock by running the ball? Add in a run defense that was sixth-worst in the league and this seems like an obvious bet. The other 49ers running back is Tevin Coleman but he's been dealing with a separated shoulder. All you need is Breida to break one or two runs for a decent-sized gain and you'll cash this ticket.

Matt Breida OVER 3.5 rushing attempts (-110) - South Point

The only game in which he didn't have 3.5 rushing attempts was the NFC Championship.

Three unanswered scores by either team? YES (-170) - Circa

So you may think this prop should be plus-money, but it hits more often than not. That's why Vegas has heavy juice on the "yes" on this.

Patrick Mahomes UNDER 29.5 rushing yards (-110) - William Hill

Mahomes's highest rushing games have been 59, 54, 54, 53, 25, 21 and so forth. So only in four of 16 games (including the playoffs) has Mahomes gone over 29.5. I'm nervous about Mahomes escaping the pocket on a four-man rush and beating this prop on one play, but that's gambling.

First quarter under 10 total points (+105) - Circa
First half under 27 total points (-120) - William Hill

I'll put these two unders together. It takes teams a little while to get out the jitters of playing in front of the world. I also expect the 49ers to come out and try and slow the game down with a ton of runs and long drives. The 49ers Defense allowed the fewest number of passing plays of more than 20 yards and second-fewest plays of more than 40 yards this season.

 

Cross-Sports Props

Miami (FL) points +15.5 vs. Raheem Mostert rushing yards (-110) - Superbook

The Hurricanes average 72 points per game. They play in Pittsburgh Sunday and the Panthers allow an average of 63 points a game. Say Miami scores 67, Mostert would need 83 rushing yards or more to lose the prop. He's hit that number three times this year: Week 2, Week 13, and the NFC Championship game. I think everyone is making way too big a deal about the game against the Packers. Their defense was suspect all season and they were finally exposed. Kyle Shanahan rode the hot hand, which was Mostert, but that could very well be Breida this game.

George Kittle receiving yards +3.5 vs. St. John's points (-110) - Superbook

St. John's averages 75 points per game while their opponent Sunday allows, Georgetown, allows 73. However, St. John's played Villanova Tuesday night and they couldn't finish a layup or hit wide open threes. It was a really poor shooting performance. Kittle's receiving yard total is set at 70.5. So even if St. John's gets to 70 points, you're getting 3.5 yards. Kittle is the 49ers' engine and I expect the Niners to get him going early.

 

Super Bowl Score Prediction

These teams have had two weeks to prepare for this game so they'll know each other's tendencies. The 49ers are the better overall team but the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes. As I mentioned above, the recipe to beat Kansas City is to sustain long drives, chew the clock, and run the ball. It's also being able to get pressure on Mahomes without blitzing, something the Niners can do very well. When you have a defense like the Niners, it's really hard to not go with them in the Super Bowl. Top defenses usually win. Think Broncos against Panthers in 2016, Seahawks against Broncos in 2014, and Ravens against Giants in 2000. It really does feel like Andy Reid will finally get his Super Bowl but you can't bet with emotion.

49ers 27 - Chiefs 24

 

Thanks for reading my columns all year. I'll be back writing my NFL Survivor Picks series in the fall!

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 17) - Targets and Avoids

The Raiders (+7.5) and Cardinals (+8) scored the biggest upsets of Week 16. Oakland beat the Chargers and Arizona handled Seattle. The Packers (+4.5), Jets (+3), Eagles (+2.5), and Dolphins (+1.5) also won in smaller upsets.

Week 17 is upon us and if you’ve made it this far in your survivor or loser survivor pool, it’s surely been an amazing ride. Hopefully you can end the season with a win and then split the pool or be the last one standing. If you’re out, this column will have plenty of gambling tidbits.

This is a really difficult week because teams that have locked up their playoff seed will have nothing to play for and therefore bench their starters. Most teams will be playing their final game of the season, but don't get caught up in the notion that they have nothing to play for. Coaches want to win because they want to keep their jobs or impress another team. The same goes for players. Now, it seems like some teams have called it quits. Previous stats won’t be as applicable as in recent weeks but if they are, I’ll be looking at yards per play, third-down conversions, and red-zone touchdown scoring. I also look at sacks and turnovers.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 17

Chiefs -9 vs. Chargers

The Chargers looked like they had vacation on their minds Sunday against the Raiders. Now they have to travel to cold Kansas City. If the Chiefs win, and New England loses, KC gets the No. 2 seed and the bye. I don't see that happening but the Chiefs will still play with that slim chance of getting the bye. The Chiefs will charge out of the gates and LA will be rushing to get out the cold.

Chiefs 41 - Chargers 13

 

Saints -13 @ Panthers 

New Orleans has a shot at the No. 1, 2, or 3 seed so they'll be playing to win. Carolina has lost seven in a row. The only bright spot on the Panthers is Christian McCaffrey. Besides that, they are a mess. The Saints will absolutely pummel Carolina in this one.

Saints 38 - Panthers 13

 

Patriots -15.5 vs. Dolphins

New England isn’t losing this game. If they win, they get the No. 2 seed. The only question is will they cover? They’ll get out to an early lead and keep their foot on the gas. Miami has been playing super hard and they’ll attempt to finish the season strong, but this will be an extremely cold game for a Florida team not used to the cold. New England’s defense will stymie Ryan Fitzpatrick. This game will be a blowout.

Patriots 38 - Dolphins 10

 

Packers -12.5 at Lions

Green Bay will be playing because they have a shot at either the No. 1 or 2 seed. Detroit has lost eight in a row and is just an awful team. While I believe the Packers are extremely overrated (bottom half in yards per play last three weeks) their defense will control David Blough and the Lions offense. The Pack will be able to run (Detroit is 21st against the run) and that’ll open up the passing game for Aaron Rodgers.

Packers 35 - Lions 13

 

Broncos -3 vs. Raiders - This is an interesting game. The Raiders have a slim shot at the playoffs. They need to win, the Colts have to beat the Jaguars, the Texans have to beat Titans, and Ravens need to beat Steelers. I don't think Oakland wins themselves though. First of all, why is this line Denver -3? Wouldn't Oakland with everything to play for be favored? Then there's this; teams in must-win situations are 62-101 against the spread, according to Dr. Bob Stoll. As he told Gill Alexander on the Beating the Book podcast last week if teams need to win why weren't they good enough to have done so and why are they now in this position.

Denver's defense is really good and Derek Carr struggles immensely in cold weather. From the Las Vegas Review Journal, "With Carr behind center, the Raiders have lost their last nine games when the game-time temperature was below 50 degrees. Carr has a 65.9 career passer rating when the temperature is below 50. That number improves to 94.7 when the temperature is 50 or above. This year alone, Carr struggled mightily in cold weather in Weeks 12 and 13, when the Raiders lost to the Jets and Chiefs on the road. In those games, he threw for 349 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions."

Carr will be in real trouble with Josh Jacobs being treated for a skin infection. I'm not sure how they move the ball.

Broncos 23 - Raiders 16

 

Colts -3.5 @ Jaguars

The Jacksonville offense is horrendous. In their last three games, they rank 28th in yards per play, 32nd on third down, and 30th in the red zone. They've scored 20 points or fewer in seven straight games. The Jags defense is no better ranking 32nd in yards per play the last three games and 31st on third down.

Colts 24 - Jaguars 10

 

Cowboys -11 vs. Redskins

Dallas needs to win and the Eagles need to lose to make the playoffs. The Cowboys usually beat up on bad teams and Washington is just that. The Redskins Defense is 28th in yards per play the last three weeks. But Case Keenum will be starting for the Redskins and he can keep them in this game. Dallas wins, but Washington covers.

Cowboys 31 - Redskins 24

 

Eagles -4.5 @ Giants

So many people I've heard think the Eagles are going to lose this one. Really? The Eagles have had their backs against the wall the last three years and continue to defy expectations. They are not going to have a letdown after beating the Cowboys.

Eagles 31 - Giants 13

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Browns -2.5 @ Bengals

The Bengals are locked into the first pick of the draft (hello Joe Burrow) while Cleveland's miserable season will finally come to an end. I don't understand how the Browns are favored in this one. Haven't they thrown the towels in? Players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry continue to act like divas and who knows if they'll have any interest in playing this one. The Bengals, on the other hand, will want to beat their Ohio rivals. The Browns beat Cincy in Week 14 by a score of 27-19, but a different score will ensue this time around. The Browns have completely given up on defense. They've allowed the second-most yards per play the last three weeks. The Bengals have an offense with Andy Dalton and he'll want to play well knowing this could very well be his last game in a Bengal uniform.

Bengals 24 - Browns 16

 

Titans -3.5 @ Texans

Houston could get the No. 3 seed if the Chiefs lose but that isn't happening. There is no real reason for the Texans to play their starters but Bill O'Brien said he'll play the starters. If Tennessee wins, they're in. But the Texans are a division rival and it's hard for me to get past the fact that Houston would let a rival into the playoffs.

Texans 27 - Titans 24

 

Steelers -2 @ Ravens

Similar to the game above, even though Baltimore is sitting their starters, are they really going to roll over and let Pittsburgh win and have a chance at the playoffs? How is Pittsburgh going to move the ball with Devlin Hodges too? Their offense is 30th in yards per play the last three weeks. Not good at all. Like I said the last two Pittsburgh games, first to 17 wins.

Ravens 17 - Steelers 13

 

Bills -1.5 vs. Jets

The Bills are locked into the No. 5 seed yet head coach Sean McDermott said the majority starters, including quarterback Josh Allen, will play. But how much will they play is the question? It could be a series or two and then Matt Barkley will take over. The Jets are going to want to end their season strong. It's too risky to have a starter play deep into this one. My presumption is the Bills pull their starters midway through the first quarter and then the Jets roll.

Jets 26 - Bills 13

 

The Rest

Bears +1 @ Vikings - This line was seven before Minnesota’s loss to Green Bay Monday night. The Vikings are now locked into the No. 6 seed. As of Thursday, it's unclear if Mike Zimmer will be playing the starters. This is a stay away.

Bucs pick'em vs. Falcons - Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention. Atlanta has been rolling having won three straight games. The Bucs are coming off a loss to Houston but they will never give up. Jameis Winston will throw and throw and throw. If I had to bet, I’ll take Tampa.

Arizona @ Rams - No line because of Kyler Murray's uncertainty.

Seahawks +3.5 vs. 49ers - This game is for the NFC West. Despite how beat up the Seahawks are, everyone is going to be on the Niners. I get home field and the hook plus the Russell Wilson doing Russell Wilson things.

 

Best Bets for Week 17

  • Chiefs -9
  • Broncos -3
  • Packers -12.5

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 22-24-2

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 16) - Targets and Avoids

The Atlanta Falcons delivered the biggest blow in Week 15 to whatever remains of survivor pools with a last-second win against the 49ers as 10-point road dogs. Just more than six percent of entrants took the Niners on Run Your Pool's site-wide distribution pick. That's because San Fran was the sixth-most selected team. There was only one other big upset, the Jaguars as seven-point dogs in Oakland.

Looking ahead to Week 16, Thursday games are over but we get three Saturday games. All three figure to be good games. One of those games will have survivor implications while the other three big ones go on Sunday.

Teams I pick against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets at the bottom of the column. When I say the stats I look at, I'm referring to yards per play, third-down conversions, and red-zone touchdown scoring. I also look at sacks and turnovers.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 16

Broncos -6.5 vs. Lions

How in the world is David Blough going to muster more than 14 points in Denver against that pass rush? He had a nice game against Chicago on Thanksgiving but since then, his yards per attempt have been 5.13 and 6.05. That's really bad. Detroit also can't run the ball averaging 73 yards the last three games, 28th in the league. Drew Lock will be able to rip apart the anemic Lions secondary as Detroit has allowed 337 passing yards per game the last three, dead last in the league.

Broncos 24 - Lions 9

 

49ers -6.5 vs. Rams

The Saturday nightcap has big playoff implications for the 49ers. They need to win to stay alive in the hunt for the No. 1 seed. I usually get scared off from lines like this because Vegas is begging you to throw a 6.5-point favorite in a tease, but the Niners are too good to get tripped up. The recipe to beat the Rams is to pressure Jared Goff. The Niners have one of the best pass rushes in football. It hasn't been so good of late, but off a bad loss to Atlanta and in needing a win to stay alive for the NFC West title, San Fran should respond. The Niners offense has averaged 152 yards per game the last three weeks, fifth in the league, while the Rams have allowed 148 rushing yards in that span, 30th in the league. Running the ball will open up the passing game for Jimmy Garoppolo.

49ers 31 - Rams 17

 

Saints -3 vs. Titans

How will New Orleans fare in the chilly Nashville weather? Well, Sunday in Nashville has a high of 56 and low of 40. The Saints have only played three games in temperatures below 48 degrees since 2015. In Week 10, 2017, they crushed Buffalo 47-10. Week 10, 2018, they destroyed the Bengals 51-14 and then Week 15 of that year, beat the Panthers 12-9. This team can go on the road and be their dominant selves. I also believe the Titans' magic has run out.

Saints 28 - Titans 21

 

Seahawks -9.5 vs. Cardinals

On Run Your Pool as of Monday, Seattle is being picked at a 24 percent rate. It's easy to see why with them being near double-digit favorites. However, divisional games are usually tight because the teams are so familiar with each other. The over/under is set at 50 so expect a high-scoring game. Both teams are top 10 in rushing the last three weeks but also bottom 10 in stopping the run. Both teams are also bottom 10 in that span against the pass. When it's expected to be a high-scoring game, take the points.

Seahawks 33 - Cardinals 27

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Steelers -3 @ Jets

How can you trust a Steelers team that's averaging 17.7 points per game the last three weeks? They have a great defense but the Jets also have a very good one. These teams are so similar but the Jets have the quarterback edge with Sam Darnold. Like I said last week with the Steelers, first to 17 wins.

Jets 17 - Steelers 13

 

Colts -6.5 vs. Panthers

Both teams started off the season playing really well but the Colts have dropped six of their last seven while the Panthers have lost six in a row. Carolina has decided to go with rookie quarterback Will Grier. Indy's season ended Monday night after their blowout loss to the Saints. Both teams are bad in the stats I look at so this line shouldn't be 6.5 but rather 3.

Panthers 26 - Colts 21

 

Falcons -7 vs. Jaguars

Both teams are coming off big road upsets in the Bay Area last week. There is letdown potential here for both teams which is why I think the line should be closer to four. Atlanta has the statistical advantage but Jacksonville will control the line of scrimmage. The Falcons have allowed the second-most quarterback hits this season while Jacksonville is tied for the fifth-most sacks.

Jaguars 23 - Falcons 17

 

Chargers -6 vs. Raiders

Both teams are equally bad and I'm not sure why this line is six considering there will be tons more Raiders fan at this game than Chargers fans. However, in the last three games, the Chargers are second in yards per play while Oakland is 15th. Defensively, LA is third and Oakland is 27th. That's a major edge, but Oakland should still cover.

Chargers 24 - Raiders 20

 

Patriots -6.5 vs. Bills

The second game of the Saturday slate is an AFC East battle. The Bills narrowly lost to New England in Week 4. But Buffalo has the recipe to beat the Patriots; they can pressure Tom Brady and also have a dual-threat quarterback in Josh Allen. The Patriots have struggled to stop dual-threats in recent weeks (Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson). This is going to be a low-scoring defensive game and 6.5 seems way too many to lay.

Patriots 20 - Bills 16

 

Ravens -10 @ Browns

I don't think I've went with the Ravens against the spread all year and I'm too stubborn to change that now. Baltimore hasn't lost since Week 4 when they got destroyed by Cleveland at home. They will probably have revenge on their minds. However, if Cleveland's skill players like Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt come to play, they'll be able to move the ball on the Ravens. The Jets were able to last Thursday night.

Ravens 34 - Browns 27

 

The Rest

Bucs +3 vs. Texans - This is the first of the Saturday slate. Houston has won three of their last four, but their defense has struggled statistically. Through their last three games, their defense ranks 28th in yards per play, last in third-down conversions and last in red-zone touchdowns. Their defense has been bad and they don't get to the quarterback with only six sacks in the last three games. Jameis Winston leads the league in passing yards and in the last two weeks has thrown for 914 yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions. Even without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Winston will continue to sling it.

Dolphins -1 vs. Bengals - What is there to say about this game between two of the worst teams in football. You're better off not having any action on this.

Redskins -2.5 vs. Giants - This game has major draft implications because both teams will be in the hunt for Chase Young with both teams already drafting a quarterback this past draft. The Giants played their Super Bowl this past Sunday sending Eli Manning off with a win. I think they're done now.

Cowboys -2.5 @ Eagles - If Dallas wins they clinch the NFC East, if Philly wins they need to beat the Giants in Week 17 to win the division. The Cowboys are so much more talented than Philly and the Eagles are hampered by injuries.

Chiefs -5 @ Bears - KC's offense has been clicking, their defense is really improving and I don't see how Chicago will be able to keep pace with them on Sunday night.

Vikings -4.5 vs. Packers - I've been waiting for this game for a couple weeks. Finally, a team that can expose the overrated 11-3 Packers. Minnesota possesses the formula to beat Green Bay; pressuring Aaron Rodgers and running the ball. I'm nervous about the running game for the Vikings with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison banged up but the Packers rank 24th throughout the season stopping the run. Kirk Cousins will finally get his first win on Monday Night Football.

 

Best Bets for Week 16

  • Broncos -6.5
  • 49ers -6.5
  • Vikings -4.5

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 21-22-2

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 15) - Targets and Avoids

Week 13 was a pretty chalky one with just three underdogs winning outright. The biggest upset was the Broncos absolutely annihilating the Houston Texans who were still celebrating their "Super Bowl" win against the Patriots the week prior.

Three weeks remain and I'd be a fool to think there are hundreds who are reading this column because they're still alive in their survivor pool. There may be several at best still alive, unless pools have restarted. So while the title of this column is survivor picks, this information is still valuable because I will go through each game and break it down with gambling tidbits. I'll still have the usual format and give the top survivor plays though.

It's a pretty good card for Sunday, highlighted by an AFC South showdown and a Sunday night game between two AFC Wild Card contenders. I'll have my three best bets and pick each game against the spread. Teams I pick against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets at the bottom of the column. When I say the stats I look at, I'm referring to yards per play, third-down conversions, and red zone touchdown scoring. I also look at sacks and turnovers.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 15

Bucs -3.5 @ Lions

Prior to Sunday's game against Minnesota, Detroit had led in every single one. Yet their record is now 3-9-1. They lost both Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel and you wonder when they'll just throw the towel in. The Bucs have won three in a row behind a very surprising defense that's been number one in opponent yards per play the last three weeks. In that span, they're also fifth in both opponent third-down conversions and allowing touchdowns in the red zone.

Now that there are two weeks of film on Lions quarterback David Blough, the undrafted rookie will look really begin to look worse and worse. Todd Bowles is a veteran defensive coordinator and will make life miserable for Blough.

James Winston can throw a game away but the Lions are tied for the least amount of interceptions with five on the year.

Bucs 34 - Lions 17

 

Chiefs -10 vs. Broncos

I say this every week, the way to beat Kansas City is to run the ball. Denver is 30th in rushing the last three games. However, I like Drew Lock and expect him to keep them in the game.

Chiefs 28 - Broncos 21

 

Seahawks -6 @ Panthers

Carolina looks dead. Their offense ranks 28th in yards per play the last three weeks. The defense isn't much better, ranking 29th. Their offensive line has allowed the second-most sacks in the league. Their head coach was fired. It looks like Carolina's five-game losing streak won't end this week against Seattle who needs to bounce back in a big way.

Seahawks 34 - Panthers 17

 

Patriots -9.5 @ Bengals

New England is really struggling and Cincinnati comes up on their schedule at the perfect time. The Patriots will win this one but the only question is will they cover. Andy Dalton is a seasoned quarterback but he's going to really struggle against this Patriots Defense.

Patriots 24 - Bengals 13

 

Dolphins +3.5 @ Giants

I really can't remember the last time I put an underdog in this section, but I absolutely love the Dolphins. They've been super competitive of late with an offense that ranks 13th the last three weeks in yards per play. They should have won Sunday against the Jets except a bogus pass interference was called. It's baffling how the Giants are 3.5-point favorites. They collapsed Monday night against the Eagles and you wonder how they'll respond. Their coach and general manager are probably done after the season as well, so it is tough to know what the motivation is here. Saquon Barkley appears injured, Eli Manning has nothing left in the tank, the defense stinks. There is no reason the Giants should be laying three points here with the hook.

An odd schedule quirk to note; this is the second time a team who is not the Jets or Giants have played consecutive games in MetLife Stadium. The Bills had consecutive games there in Weeks 1 and 2 and now the Dolphins have done it the last two weeks.

Dolphins 20 - Giants 17

 

Saints -9 vs. Colts

Indianapolis lost a game they should have won Sunday. It seems like their season is lost and it does not get easier this week. New Orleans is off a really tough loss to San Fran and it's extremely hard to believe they'd lose two in a row at home. This is also a Monday Night Football game and the Saints may pour it on.

Saints 31 - Colts 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Ravens -15 vs. Jets

This is an enormous line against a team that isn't that bad. The Jets have their issues and are average at best but 15 points?! That's ridiculous. I understand the Ravens have beaten teams in every way possible, but the Jets have the fifth-best defense in terms of yards per play in the last three games with 4.6 (Baltimore is tied for first with 4.5). But here's the real shocking stat, through the last three games, the Jets have recorded 5.3 yards per play while the Ravens have averaged 5.2. Both teams are fairly close in other statistical categories as well. However, the Ravens will blitz the Jets constantly and Sam Darnold will have no protection because New York's offensive line is no good. That will be the difference, but the Jets Defense will at least keep them in it. Their rush defense has allowed an average of 78 yards the last three games, second best in the league. The Ravens rushing attack averages a league best 200 yards per game, 72 more than the next team, so something has to give. Maybe just maybe the Jets can slow down Lamar Jackson.

Ravens 24 - Jets 20

 

49ers -11 vs. Falcons

San Fran should win this game but you wonder how they'll play after their biggest win of the season. Atlanta has literally nothing to lose in this game. They are 3-2 since their bye and have been playing loose. The stats all favor the Niners but I sense a letdown or a backdoor cover by Atlanta.

 

Packers -4.5 vs. Bears

There are to ways to beat Green Bay; run the ball and pressure Aaron Rodgers. I loved Washington last week because they have shown the ability to do both. They averaged 4.3 yards on the ground and got to Rodgers four times. The Bears have averaged 101.3 rushing yards the last three games which is pretty close to average in the league, but they have the pass rush to frustrate Rodgers all afternoon.

Even though I liked Washington, I didn't think the game would be so tight Sunday. They are the most overrated 10-3 team in some time and finally face a legitimate team that's won three in a row. The most shocking stat though; Green Bay's offense is 30th in yards per play the last three games, behind the Lions and Giants.

Bears 23 - Packers 20

 

The Rest

Titans -3 vs. Texans - Tennessee is the hottest team and Houston is off an embarrassing home blowout to the Broncos. I will have no part in gambling on this game but if I had to pick, I'd take the Titans. They have the number one offense in yards per play the last three weeks.

Redskins +4.5 vs. Eagles - If Monday night's game showed anything, Philly stinks. The only viable pass-catcher left on the Eagles is Zach Ertz. Alshon Jeffery is out, Nelson Agholor is questionable, but I don't think he'll play. To lay 4.5 points on the road with an offense that banged up is too much.

Cardinals +2.5 vs. Browns - Arizona's offense has been dreadful the last three weeks averaging 3.9 yards per play, dead last. Their defense is 27th in that span but I really can't trust the clown-show that is the Cleveland Browns.

Raiders -6.5 vs. Jaguars - This line opened at 4.5 and moved to two points. That's because Jacksonville has lost by an average of 23.4 points per game during their five-game losing streak. They seem to have quit and have a head coach that is bound to get fired. Their defense has given up 7.4 yards per play the last three games which is the worst in the league. Oakland is 31st in that stat but they've given up 6.8 yards per play. The Jags offense is 31st in yards per play in the last three while Oakland's is 19th. This is also the last game ever in Oakland for the Raiders. Last year was thought to be the last game and Oakland crushed Denver 27-14.

Vikings -2.5 @ Chargers - Of course now the Chargers come out and play when they were eliminated from playoff contention. Go figure. Minnesota needs this game not only to stay in NFC North hunt but also to keep their Wild Card spot. This will feel like a home game for Minnesota which means Kirk Cousins will feel no pressure.

Rams -1 @ Cowboys - Both teams come into this game going in different directions. Dallas has lost three in a row while the Rams have won two in a row and find themselves firmly back in the playoff picture. Dallas's record stands at 6-7 and not one of those wins have been against a team with a winning record. The Rams have gotten back to their basics running Todd Gurley which in turn helps Jared Goff immensely. The numbers back it up. Goff has completed more than 70 percent of passes in the last three games. Prior to that, he hadn't had one game all year where he completed 70 percent of passes. Dallas has allowed quarterbacks to complete 65 percent of passes the last three games. If the Cowboys lose, their record becomes 6-8, yet they still control their own destiny to the playoffs. All they need to do is beat the Eagles and Redskins and they'd win the NFC East at 8-8. Crazy.

Steelers -2 vs. Bills - It's really remarkable how Pittsburgh has is 8-5. They're averaging 19.7 points per game their last three yet have won them all. They're doing it behind their defense and special teams. In the last three games, the defense ranks first in opponent yards per play, top-five in both third-downs and touchdowns in the red zone. This will be an old-school football game as both defenses are stifling. Points will come at a premium. First to 17 wins.

 

Best Bets for Week 15

  • Jets +15
  • Dolphins +3.5
  • Bucs -3.5

Last week: 0-2-1

Season total: 20-20-2

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 14) - Targets and Avoids

If there were a dozen people left in a survivor pool this past week, odds are those pools are down to just several. The upsets began Thursday when the Bills beat the Cowboys, and continued Sunday when the Dolphins and Redskins won as 10-point underdogs.

If you're somehow still alive in your pool with just four weeks to go in the season, what a remarkable job you've done. I was eliminated in my loser survivor pool (where you have to pick the loser of each game). The last two weeks I've had to choose two teams so this past week, I was down to a dearth of options. I went with the Raiders who lost to the Chiefs, but I also took the Texans to lose to the Patriots. If you're going to go down with a team, then it's best to go down with New England. 19 people entered Week 13 and only 11 made it through.

Four weeks remain in the regular season and it's getting real slim-picking out there. While there are some big spreads this week, you may have used those teams. There are some off-the-radar picks I'll break down and if you're out of survivor pools, don't worry I'll have my three best bets and pick each game against the spread. Teams I pick against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 14

Vikings -13 vs. Lions

Minnesota is off a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks on Monday night. They'll rebound well against David Blough. Although, nearly two touchdowns in a divisional game is a lot to lay.

Vikings 38 - Lions 27

 

Packers -13 vs. Redskins

The chances of Green Bay losing this game in Lambeau are slim, but Washington will easily cover this spread. How you beat Green Bay is by running the ball, they rank 25th against the run, and pressuring Aaron Rodgers when your defense is on the field.

The Redskins rank 20th in rushing yards per game with 99 yards, but their last three has seen that number shoot to 129 yards, which ranks seventh in that span. Derrius Guice, who's been dealing with an assortment of injuries in his young career, finally looks like the second-round draft pick he was supposed to be. He ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries against the Panthers. Adrian Peterson also ran for 99 yards on 13 carries, so they should be able to run the ball against the Packers anemic run defense.

Now, can Washington get any sort of pressure on Rodgers? Well, they rank ninth in total sacks on the year and recorded 13 sacks in the last two games. Now that's a recipe to hang with Green Bay.

Packers 24 - Redskins 13

 

Eagles -8.5 vs. Giants 

I put Philly in this section last week and they lost to the Dolphins 37-31. Luckily for the Eagles, they face the Giants at home on Monday Night Football. New York is on an eight-game losing streak and looks awful. They've turned the ball over 28 times, tied for the league most, and while the other stats I look at aren't too bad, they fail the eyeball test massively. I'm forced to watch this team being in a New York market, and it is not fun. I do have RedZone but you need to have multiple TV's and it's awful having the Giants on one of the three screens. There is no spark in that team and they will be a complete dud on national television.

Eagles 31 - Giants 10

 

Steelers -3 @ Cardinals 

You may need to take a shot with a team if you're nearly out of options and the Steelers are a very solid option. Their offense isn't good but they'll be able to run the ball against the 24th ranked rush defense. The Steelers have been averaging 113 rushing yards per game the last three weeks, 11th in the league. So running the ball will help Devlin Hodges. However, Pittsburgh will win this game because of their phenomenal defense. They are first in takeaways, fifth in opponent yards per play, ninth in getting off the field on third down, and 11th in opponent red-zone defense.

The Cardinals offense has sputtered the past three weeks averaging just 4.7 yards per play, down from their season average of 5.3 yards. In that span, they're also dead last in converting third downs.

Steelers 20 - Cardinals 16

 

Jets -5.5 vs. Dolphins

Two weeks ago the Dolphins went to cold Cleveland and got rocked. Now, after a huge win at home against Philadelphia, they head to cold windy New York, where it's gotten significantly chillier the past couple days. The Jets Defense will stymie the Dolphins, as New York is tied for first in opponent yards per play the last three weeks.

It would also be really really bad for Adam Gase to lose to his former team twice in the same season.

Jets 28 - Dolphins 13

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Bucs -3 vs. Colts

You may be tempted to take the Bucs in your survivor but I'd highly advise against it. Just because they are off a dominating win and the Colts off a crushing loss, doesn't mean you should pencil in Tampa. The Colts have looked dead several times this season, beginning with a Week 3 home loss to the Raiders, only to rebound the following week and beat Kansas City in Arrowhead. Then they lost in Weeks 9 and 10 to the Steelers and Dolphins only to come out in Week 11 and crush the Jaguars. Once again, they've lost two in a row and everyone is counting them out. Not so fast.

These teams are so even in the stats I look at (yards per play, third-down conversions, red zone scoring) but then you have to add in the fact that Jameis Winston can literally throw the game away.

Colts 24 - Bucs 20

 

Titans -2.5 @ Raiders

This is one of my favorite bets for the last couple of weeks. The red-hot Titans have won three in a row against the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Colts and are now everyone's darling. Oakland was everyone's darling two weeks ago after they won three in a row to push their record to 6-4. But the last two weeks have seen the Raiders get blown out by the Jets and Chiefs. It is crucial to note those games were in cold weather and Derek Carr is now 2-10 in games that kick off in under 50 degrees. Luckily for them, Oakland returns home and no one is giving them much of a chance.

The stats won't back me up on this because Oakland's defense stinks. Tennessee's offense is number one in yards per play the last three weeks so that doesn't help my case but I really just think these hot teams flame out sooner rather than later. I can't get over the fact that the media is obsessing over Ryan Tannehill, who's had three consecutive good games. Do we all not remember how average he was with the Dolphins? This is also desperation time for Oakland because if they lose this game, they fall to 6-7, which would all but knock them of the playoffs.

Raiders 24 - Titans 21

 

Browns -8.5 vs. Bengals

Cleveland shouldn't be favored by nine over anyone in this league. For that team to average just 5.2 yards per play the last three weeks with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt is ridiculous. Andy Dalton will keep the Bengals in this game and get the back-door cover.

Browns 26 - Bengals 20

 

Texans -9.5 vs. Broncos

Houston is off an enormous win, finally beating the Patriots. They'll have a let-down factor after that win. Deshaun Watson will be running for his life against the Broncos pass rush. I'm not calling for the upset but Houston better not take the Broncos lightly.

Texans 27 - Broncos 26

 

The Rest

Bears +3 vs. Cowboys - Statistically, Dallas has a great offense but they fail the eyeball test. They've won six games and not one of them has come against a team with a winning record. I'll take the three points with the home team on Thursday night.

Panthers +2.5 @ Falcons - These two teams played just three weeks ago when Atlanta pummeled Carolina 29-3. Both teams come in on losing streaks; Panthers have lost four in a row, and just lost their coach this week. The Falcons have lost two in a row, and probably should have lost their coach already. Both of these teams are relatively similar, but Carolina has more firepower offensively with Christian McCaffrey. However, it will be the Panthers defensive line which will make the difference. They rank first in team sacks, which doesn't bode well for Matt Ryan, who was sacked nine times Thanksgiving night. Additionally, I like taking teams after they've just fired their head coach.

49ers +3 @ Saints - This game you just want to sit back and enjoy. I lean San Fran because their pass rush is outstanding and Drew Brees will feel pressure like he hasn't all season.

Bills +5 vs. Ravens - Buffalo had an extra three days to prepare for this one after their enormous Thanksgiving win in Dallas. I think they will bring everything they have to stop Lamar Jackson and have a great chance to cover this spread.

Chargers -3 @ Jaguars - How could anyone want to have their hard-earned money on this game? Maybe the Chargers will lose this week on a last-second blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Nothing is off the table with the Chargers.

Patriots -3 vs. Chiefs - I love love love the Patriots this week. Why? Because there are so many pundits, columns, talking heads asking the question if the Patriots dynasty is over. Some aren't even asking the question, but rather just stating it. Tom Brady is too old. They have no weapons on offense. Just stop. We've heard this so many times before, and countless times New England goes out that next week and just rolls over their opponent. The Patriots looked in control against Houston early, driving all the way down the field on their first possession but had to settle for a field goal. They pounded the run on that drive, going with jumbo formations. It was old school football at its finest, but then after a Houston three-and-out, New England got the ball back and Brady threw an interception. Houston scored a touchdown and the momentum had fully shifted. It was Houston's game. I expect New England to come out Sunday, and run the ball. Kansas City is allowing 141 rushing yards, 30th in the league. And through their last three, the Chiefs have allowed 146 rushing yards. The Patriots will control the clock, keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field, and play their usual stellar defense. Plus, when are you able to get value on the Patriots only laying three points at home?

Rams +1 vs. Seahawks - These teams last played in Week 5 when the Rams missed a potential game-winning field goal. This is such a tough game to pick but I like the home dog on Sunday night.

 

Best Bets for Week 14

  • Colts +3
  • Raiders +2.5
  • Patriots -3

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 20-18-1

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 13) - Targets and Avoids

Week 12 came and went with nary an upset. The biggest upset was the Washington Redskins beating the Lions as 4-point underdogs. The Panthers should have beaten their division rival Saints as 10-point dogs, but Joey Slye missed two extra points and a 28-yard field goal.

Survivor pools are desolate at this point in the year. Some pools have "restarted" or there are second-chance pools. This week there are several games with point-spreads of more than seven; Panthers -10 vs. Redskins, Chiefs -10 vs. Raiders, Eagles -9.5 at Dolphins, Cowboys -7 vs. Bills, and Saints -7 at Falcons. Thankfully, we also have a full slate of games with no more bye weeks anymore.

The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 13

Panthers -10 vs. Redskins

When Carolina's offense is clicking, it's really hard to stop. The offense starts with Christian McCaffrey and Washington allows 137 rushing yards per game. The Redskins won't be able to keep pace with Carolina because Dwayne Haskins stinks and they average 13.1 points per game, worst in the league. They are also 29th in yards per play, and dead last in third-down conversion as well as touchdowns in the red zone.

Panthers 38 - Redskins 13

 

Eagles -9.5 @ Dolphins

The last time you could have picked the Eagles was in Week 5. If you didn't, now is the next best chance. I understand the Eagles offense has been non-existent but they'll be able to run, run and run all over Miami. They rank 31st in opponent rushing yards per game. Also, the Eagles Defense has been phenomenal their last three allowing the ninth-fewest yards yer play in that span. Miami's offense is the worst in the league in yards per play.

Eagles 24 - Dolphins 10

 

Bears -3 @ Lions

This is the opening game on Thanksgiving Day. Normally, I'd never advise anyone to take a team with an offense that averages 4.4 yards per play (tied for last with the Dolphins) but the Lions are 26th in opponent yards per play. However, the reason I'd take the Bears is that you have the fifth-ranked defense in opponent yards per play going against quarterback David Blough. That's right, Jeff Driskel probably will not play because of a hamstring injury so the undrafted rookie out of Purdue will get his first career start. The Bears Defense featuring Khalil Mack is not one you want to play against in your first start.

Bears 20 - Lions 9

 

Packers -6.5 vs. Giants

Like I said last week, a team needs two things to beat the Packers, put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and be able to run the ball. The Giants are 28th in their last three games running the ball. Saquon Barkley has barely been heard from in those three games. In total he has had 88 rushing yards on 44 carries. Additionally, the Giants have recorded just four sacks in their last three games. Aaron Rodgers will have his time to throw against the 26th-ranked passing defense.

I also love the notion of backing a team who are off an embarrassing blowout loss on national television.

Packers 31 - Giants 14

 

Saints -7 @ Falcons

The Falcons are back to their normal selves after the Buccaneers rolled them Sunday while New Orleans narrowly escaped the Panthers. These two teams played two and a half weeks ago and the Falcons shocked the Saints. No two teams should be playing twice in that short of a span, and now the Saints have tape on what they did wrong and they'll right it Thursday night.

Another key facet to this game is Atlanta's offensive line has allowed the third-most quarterback hits while the Saints pass rush is tied for 10th in sacks.

Saints 31 - Falcons 21

 

Chiefs -10 vs. Raiders

Andy Reid is 17-3 off a bye in his career. Teams are 10-18 this season off a bye, but Reid has been so good, it shouldn't impact him.

The way to beat KC is to run the ball. Josh Jacobs has been amazing so far, but Oakland has only rushed for 86 yards on average the last three games, way down from their 122 season average. The other big thing with Oakland is Derek Carr in cold weather. He's 2-9 career in games under 50 degrees. Sunday in Kansas City will be a high of 40, low of 27 with swirling winds. Carr is in for a bad game just like the one he had Sunday in cold, windy New York.

Chiefs 31 - Raiders 13

 

Jets -3.5 vs. Bengals

The Jets are rolling. They've won three in a row and just gave up three points to the Raiders. The Bengals are 0-11, and are now going back to Andy Dalton as their quarterback in favor of Ryan Finley. It really doesn't matter who starts because the Jets Defense is allowing an impressively low 3.9 yards per play through their last three games, tied with 49ers for best in the league. In that span, the Bengals rank 26th. Cincy's offensive line is in the bottom half of the league while the Jets have 13 sacks in the last three games.

Sam Darnold being completely healthy and mono-free has elevated the Jets offense to 10th in the league through the last three games in terms of yards per play. The Bengals Defense is 32nd throughout the year. While the Jets offensive line is bad, the Bengals are 31st in sacks with just 16 the entire season. As I wrote before, the Jets have 13 sacks in the last three games.

Jets 27 - Bengals 16

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Cowboys -7 vs. Bills

The Bills beat up on bad teams, and well the Cowboys do the same. Now both of these good bad teams face-off on Thanksgiving Day. You have the number one team in yards per play with Dallas against the number-three defense in Buffalo. The Bills' defense is also fifth in opponent third-down conversions. I expect a slug-fest and seven points are too much.

Cowboys 23 - Bills 20

 

The Rest

Colts -2.5 vs. Titans - It seems like every team in the AFC South has a roller-coaster of a season every year. The Titans had a great game Sunday against the Jaguars while the Colts had a bad one last Thursday night in Houston. Time for the Colts to bounce-back while the Titans play a letdown.

Steelers +2 vs. Browns - Devlin Duck Hodges gets the start in a massive revenge game against the Browns. These two teams played two weeks ago and that was when Myles Garrett socked Mason Rudolph with the quarterback's helmet.

Bucs +1 @ Jaguars - I want nothing to do with this game. How can you back either of these teams? Since I pick every game, I'll take Tampa and their high-scoring offense.

49ers +6 @ Ravens - This game should be at 4 p.m. because these are the two hottest teams in football. Six points is too much to give the 49ers and their pass rush.

Rams -3 @ Cardinals - Do I love backing teams off blowout embarrassing losses on national television? Absolutely! The Cardinals are off a bye and this season, teams off a bye are 10-18 straight up. Jared Goff looked awful Monday night but the Cardinals are 30th in opponent yards per play and dead last in opponent passing yards per game.

Broncos +2.5 vs. Chargers - How much worse can it get for the Broncos after their three-point showing Sunday in Buffalo? The Chargers are off a bye and that hasn't favored teams this year as I said in the games above.

Patriots -3 @ Texans - This is the Sunday night game. Bill Belichick will take DeAndre Hopkins out of the game just like the Patriots held Amari Cooper to zero catches Sunday. Deshaun Watson has been sacked eight times in the last three games and I expect New England to get to him. While New England's offense did not look good Sunday, they were without Mohamed Sanu and had a hampered Julian Edelman. But they'll get back to their basics come Sunday by running the ball. The Texans have allowed 168 rushing yards the last three weeks, second-most in the league.

Vikings +3  @ Seahawks - Both secondaries haven't looked good recently. In the last three games, Seattle is allowing 257 yards passing, 25th in the league, while Minnesota is 297 yards, ranking 30th. I expect a high-scoring game and because of that, I'd rather take the points.

 

Best Bets for Week 13

  • Panthers -10
  • Packers -6.5
  • Rams -3

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 18-17-1

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 12) - Targets and Avoids

Sunday was one of the worst Sunday's Vegas has had all season and remaining entrants in survivor pools nearly had the same fate. However, the Vikings rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit, the 49ers scored late, and the Cowboys win was much narrower than it should have been. The Saints, Bills, and Ravens took care of business while the Raiders and Rams pulled away late. The Jets and Falcons were the two upsets, but you could have perhaps seen both of those coming.

Survivor pools are a near wasteland at this point in the season. I was apart of a survivor pool where you pick the winner. It started with 2,871 people. Eight are now left. I'm somehow still apart of a loser survivor pool (where you pick the loser), 1,840 began and now 21 are left. You had to pick two teams beginning in Week 10 in the survivor pool and two beginning in Week 11 in the other. It's getting really slim-picking out there.

This week there are only two games with point-spreads of more than seven; Browns -11 vs. Dolphins and Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers. This is also the final week of byes and four teams are off; Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, and Vikings. If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 12

Browns -11 vs. Dolphins

If you haven't picked Cleveland yet, now is the time. As bad as they can be, they aren't losing this game. Even though the loss of Myles Garrett is really bad for the Browns Defense, it won't impact them too much in this spot. You also have a warm-weather team traveling to cold Cleveland.

Browns 27 - Dolphins 17

 

Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers

If you're still alive in your pool, you may have already taken the Saints, but the Panthers may still be available to those in loser survivor pools. Carolina has lost two in a row, most recently a blowout loss at home to the Falcons. Their stats have gotten significantly worse the last three weeks, opponent yards per play has allowed 6.4 yards, 30th in the league, whereas through the season that number has been 5.5. They're 22nd in opponent third-down conversions and dead last in allowing touchdowns in the red zone. The Saints are top-10 in those three stats through the last three weeks.

While the Panthers are number one in sacks, the Saints have allowed the seventh-fewest sacks and fourth-fewest quarterback hits. The Saints have a good pass rush that creates pressure and the Panthers are eighth in sacks allowed, and ninth in hits allowed. The one stat that keeps popping out to me is turnovers. Kyle Allen has been reckless lately, tossing nine interceptions (four last week) in the team's last four games. With the pressure that New Orleans creates, and their ability to create turnovers, 13th in the league, Carolina is in trouble. It's also problematic for Carolina that New Orleans has given the ball away just six times, best in the league.

It seems like the Saints game two weeks ago was a fluke and they got back on track in Tampa Sunday.

Saints 31 - Panthers 21

 

Steelers -6.5 @ Bengals

Pittsburgh may not have a very good offense but their defense is stifling. The Bengals point scored the last five games; 17, 17, 10, 13, 10. They aren't getting more than 14 on the Steelers. Pittsburgh has enough to get more than that.

Steelers 17 - Bengals 14

 

Lions -3.5 @ Redskins

Washington is such a bad team, and even more so a horrendous franchise. They may not win another game this season. They get blown out in so many games and it seems like the players have thrown in the towel. Dwayne Haskins may be good, but he is not ready to play yet. Jeff Driskel for the Lions has improved the last two weeks and should have no problem against this Redskins Defense in a stadium that may not even reach half capacity.

Lions 30 - Redskins 17

 

Patriots -6.5 vs. Cowboys 

The way to beat New England is by running the ball. Their defense has allowed an average of 150 rushing yards the last three weeks. Ezekiel Elliot is one of the best backs and the Cowboys rank seventh in rushing. However, the last three games they've averaged 99 yards on the ground, which is right in the middle of the pack. Elliot has run for 45 and 47 yards the last two games while Dak Prescott has thrown for 397 and 444 yards the last two weeks. I think the Patriots will follow the Vikings strategy and make Prescott beat them. New England will sell out to stop the run. While the Vikings secondary is average, New England's is the best. They rank first in opponent yards per attempt and second in opponent passing yards per game. They're also first in opponent yards per play, third-down defense, third in red-zone defense, and third in sacks.

The way to beat New England is pressuring Tom Brady and Dallas has a decent pass rush, 14th in the league in sacks. But the Cowboys secondary has been bad the last two weeks allowing 220 yards and a 71.9 completion percentage to Kirk Cousins and 209 yards, 57.7 completion percentage to Jeff Driskel. If the Patriots can block up front, they'll have no problems.

Patriots 27 - Cowboys 21

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Bears -6 vs. Giants

The Giants have nearly a full yard more in offensive yards per play and are averaging 10 more points per game. But will Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley be able to do anything against the Bears Defense? I know Chicago won't be able to do anything offensively. This is a vintage Bears offense; throw 5-yard dinkers and give your defense no help. This is way too many points for the Bears to lay and the over/under is somehow 40.5.

Bears 16 - Giants 14

 

Bills -4 vs. Broncos

Certain teams have been my demise this season. The Broncos are one of them. I bet them over 7.5 regular-season wins and then took them in games several times in the earlier weeks. I've really paid attention to their games because of that and their 3-7 record should be closer to 5-5. They should have beaten the Bears in Week 2. That's when there was a bogus roughing the passer call and the refs gave the Bears the extra second to kick the game-winning field goal. Two weeks later, they blew a 17-3 lead to the Jaguars. Three weeks ago, they blew a game to the Colts and on Sunday, a 20-0 lead to the Vikings.

Now let's look at who the Bills have beaten. The Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans, Dolphins, Redskins, and Dolphins again. They played the Patriots close, but got blown out by the Eagles and narrowly lost to the Broncos. This team is so overrated and the stats prove it.

Yards per play; Bills ranked 19th, Broncos 23rd. Opponent yards per play; Buffalo 4th, Denver 8th.

3rd-down conversion; Bills 20th, Broncos 30th. Defensively; Bills 6th, Broncos 7th.

Touchdown percentage in the red zone; Bills 3rd, Broncos 27th. Defensively; Broncos 2nd, Bills 23rd.

The Bills turnover margin is 0, Broncos -2.

So the stats lean slightly toward the Bills, but the smart money does not. The line opened with the Bills -5.5 yet despite 53 percent of the bets are on Buffalo, the line has come down to four signaling major early wiseguy money on the Broncos. These teams should both be 5-5 and I think this line should have opened at three.

Broncos 14 - Bills 10

 

Raiders -3 @ Jets

The battle in this one is the Raiders' good rushing attack led by Josh Jacobs against the NFL's number one ranked rush defense. In all the other stats, these teams are pretty even. But the Raiders have to travel across the country for an early 1 p.m. game.

Jets 23 - Raiders 20

 

The Rest

Colts +3.5 @ Texans - Indy beat the Texans a month ago and this time they will pull out another close one. Bill O'Brien is such a bad coach while Frank Reich is one of the better ones. The Colts are a physical defense, one that's allowing the fourth-fewest opponent yards per play through their last three while the Texans are 31st in that span. Also, how could you be that bad off your bye last week?

Bucs +4 Falcons - I can't forecast these teams. Is Atlanta really back? They've won two in a row after their bye and haven't allowed a touchdown in those games. The Bucs have lost five of their last six. I'll take the points with no confidence.

Eagles -1.5 vs. Seahawks - This is really a must-win game for the 5-5 Eagles. Carson Wentz will be able to pass against the 28th-ranked passing defense. Russell Wilson should also be able to move the ball so I expect a lot of points.

49ers -3 vs. Packers - The Packers can't stop the run, 25th in the league, and the Niners love to run it, as they rank second. Green Bay's offensive line ranks in the bottom half in sacks and quarterbacks hits allowed, while San Fran is tied for the most sacks.

Rams +3 vs. Ravens - I really wonder what would have happened had the referees called a pass interference against the Ravens on DeAndre Hopkins Sunday. It would have been 7-0 Texans and who knows what else may have happened. Nonetheless, the Ravens smoked them, but I still am not sold on their defense. Sean McVay will work his magic and their offensive line is revamped.

 

Best Bets for Week 12

  • Broncos +4
  • Jets +3
  • 49ers -3

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 16-16-1

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 11) - Targets and Avoids

Doomsday finally arrived. The Falcons' domination of the Saints eliminated the majority of remaining entrants in survivor pools. If you avoided the Saints, odds are you took the Colts in the late game. Of course, the Dolphins beat them as well. More upsets were found as the Titans beat the Chiefs, the Steelers manhandled the Rams offense, and the Seahawks outlasted the 49ers. The Packers did survive as a home dog against the Panthers and the Ravens buried the Bengals, which might have kept some people alive last week.

If you are somehow are still alive in a survivor pool or loser survivor pool (where you have to pick a loser of each game), job well done to just make it this far. In most pools now, you'll need to pick two teams to either win or lose. This week we have three big favorites; 49ers -11.5 vs. Cardinals, Vikings -10.5 vs. Broncos, and Raiders -10.5 vs. Bengals.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column. Teams on bye this week are the Giants, Packers, Seahawks, and Titans.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 11

49ers -11.5 vs. Cardinals

No two teams should play each other in a three-week span. It's just too close apart. That's why I like the Cardinals with the points because of familiarity, but I do think the Niners should win. They're a much better all-around team.

49ers 24 - Cardinals 20

 

Raiders -10.5 vs. Bengals

Oakland has three extra days to prepare for this one against the lowly 0-9 Bengals. Oakland will not lose this one. They will pound the ball with Josh Jacobs against the 32nd ranked rushing defense.

Raiders 31 - Bengals 13

 

Vikings -10.5 vs. Broncos

We all know Denver has a very good defense (top-10 in the yards per play, third-down conversion percentage, and red-zone defense). The problem lies with their offense which averages 16.6 points per game, 28th in the league. The Vikings also have one of the better defenses so the Broncos will have trouble scoring. However, Denver is off a bye which makes me nervous because Brandon Allen has more time to prepare.

The other big question that makes me nervous is how will Minnesota play coming off a massive road win on national television. They rank fourth in yards per play, ninth on third-down, and seventh in the red-zone. Kirk Cousins has also been protected; the Vikings offensive line allowing the sixth-fewest sacks and seventh-fewest quarterback hits. For comparison, Denver's offensive line has allowed the eighth-most sacks. That will be an issue against the Vikings whose pass rush has the seventh-most sacks.

Again, the letdown factor is real, but I don't think Denver can score enough.

Vikings 24 - Broncos 13

 

Cowboys -3 @ Lions 

This game is hugely dependent on the status of Matthew Stafford. So we'll just focus on the Cowboys offense and Lions Defense for now. The Cowboys are a surprising first in yards per play, first in third-down conversion percentage, and 17th in the red zone. The Lions defense is 26th in opponent yards per play, 27th in getting off the field on third down, and 28th in red-zone defense. The Lions also allow 129.7 yards on the ground, which could signal a big game for Ezekiel Elliott.

Even if the Lions have Stafford, I do like the Cowboys pass-rush. Detroit is a one-dimensional team and Dallas will know they'll be throwing all game. I think Dallas controls the pace of the game and dominates behind their offensive line.

Cowboys 31 - Lions 17

 

Panthers -5.5 vs. Falcons

I really like Carolina and their offense. Christian McCaffrey is a game-changer and Kyle Allen can sling it. They are off a brutal loss to Green Bay, in which they outplayed them but were robbed by the refs just before halftime.

Whereas the Falcons are off their biggest win of the season at New Orleans, essentially their Super Bowl, meaning this is a prime let down spot. Their defense has been improving over their last three but it's still not good.

Panthers 30 - Falcons 20

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Rams -6.5 vs. Bears

All signs are telling me to take the Rams here. They average 25.1 points per game (10th in the league) while the Bears average 18 points, 27th in the league. Chicago's offense has been so bad but this game is right in the public teaser range. Vegas is just begging the public to tease the Rams, meaning all they need to do is win. This game is also the Sunday night game meaning the Rams will be the second or third leg of countless teasers.

The way the Bears win this game is their pass-rush against the Rams anemic offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Rams have the third-worst pass-blocking grade and are now without their center or tackle. Chicago's pass-rush will harass Jared Goff all night and I'm calling for the upset.

Bears 16 - Rams 14

 

Bills -6 @ Dolphins

How can you lay 5.5 points on the road with an offense that averages 19.3 points per game? Just read that sentence again. That point amount ranks 25th in the league. Through their last three, Buffalo has averaged 17.7 points while the Dolphins have averaged 18.7 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the Dolphins a very good chance to win and he's always fighting.

Dolphins 20 - Bills 19

 

Saints -5.5 @ Bucs

This game seems like a layup, but the stats from both teams are very even. The one key difference is turnover differential, the Saints are +4 while Bucs are -6. That's all because of Jameis Winston chucking the ball around non-stop. The reason I like Tampa is not only because I'm getting 5.5 points with a home dog, these two teams played several weeks ago when Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback and the Saints won 31-24. These two teams are now familiar with each other and this many points just seems too many.

Saints 30 - Bucs 28

 

The Rest

Steelers +3 @ Browns - This is the Thursday night game. The Steelers have won four in a row while the Browns ended their four-game losing streak Sunday against the Bills. I said last week that the Bills would struggle to score and that was the case Sunday. It may seem Pittsburgh has struggled to score, but their offense has been better recently. They've been averaging 23.3 points their last three (Cleveland's averaging 17 over that span). The Steelers Defense is also looking really good, and they didn't allow an offensive touchdown against the Rams on Sunday. What this game will come down to is the Cleveland offensive line against the Steelers pass rush. The Steelers have the third-most sacks in the league with 33.

Colts -3 vs. Jaguars -  The two big question marks for this game are the quarterbacks on each team. Will Jacoby Brissett play and how will Nick Foles fair in his first time back since his injury in Week 1? On the other side of the ball, both defenses are very equal in the stats. Therefore, I think this comes down to who makes the fewer mistakes (both are -2 in turnover differential).

Texans +4 @ Ravens - I want no gambling part for this game. You should just want to sit back and watch Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. The Texans are off a bye and Bill O'Brien has a 4-1 record in those situations. I'll lean them against a vastly overrated Ravens Defense that is 22nd in opponent yards per play.

Jets +1 @ Redskins - Dwayne Haskins has not been any good in the brief time we've seen him play. The Jets have an offense with Sam Darnold fully healthy. That will be the difference.

Eagles +3.5 vs. Patriots - New England hasn't played much of anyone yet and their first real test, they got clobbered by the Ravens. Both teams are off a bye and I get the home team with 3.5 points. Plus, the way to beat Philly is chuck the ball around and Tom Brady is really only throwing short routes right now.

Chargers +4 vs. Chiefs (played in Mexico City) - The way to beat KC is to run the ball and the Chargers have not one but two running backs that can do that in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

 

Best Bets for Week 11

  • Cowboys -3
  • Bears +6.5
  • Dolphins +6

Last week: 0-2-1

Season total: 15-14-1

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 10) - Targets and Avoids

Week 9 was one of the rare weeks where every single home team, bar the Jaguars in London, not only won on the Sunday slate but covered as well. As for survivor pools, the 49ers, Bills, and Cowboys won without much of a sweat. The Seahawks just got by the Buccaneers, and had Seattle lost, then a third of remaining survivor pools would have been eliminated. The Packers losing to the Chargers did a little damage, but not as much had Seattle lost.

This week we have three big favorites; Saints -13 vs. Falcons, Colts -10.5 vs. Dolphins and Ravens -10 @ Bengals. Two of those games are divisional bouts which usually makes me nervous but we'll get to those below.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column. Teams on bye this week are the Broncos, Eagles, Jaguars, Patriots, Redskins, and Texans.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 10

Saints -13 vs. Falcons

Both teams are off a bye and going in completely opposite directions. The Saints have not lost since Week 2 against the Rams, while the Falcons haven't won since Week 2. It's shocking Dan Quinn is still coaching the Falcons and it seems likely he'll ride out the season at this point. Nonetheless, I don't care if Matt Ryan or Matt Schaub are quarterbacking this team because it doesn't matter. The Falcons issues reside in their defense; 24th in opponent yards per play, dead last in opponent third-down conversion percentage, 31st in opponent red zone scoring, last in sacks, and tied for last in forcing turnovers.

The Saints are a very smart team that doesn't make mistakes, with the second-fewest giveaways in the league this season. I think the only way Atlanta covers is a backdoor touchdown. Even that though, won't be enough to ruin survivor pools.

Saints 31 - Falcons 14

 

Ravens -10 @ Bengals

There is no reason the Ravens should lose this game to Ryan Finley and the Bengals. The only reason they could lose is they overlook this game because of their enormous win against the Patriots last Sunday night. The letdown potential is real and that's why I think Cincy could at least cover.

The Ravens Defense is nothing to brag about as they're 24th in opponent yards per play, but they should have their way for the large part against this rookie quarterback.

Ravens 23 - Bengals 16

 

Colts -10.5 vs. Dolphins

Whether Jacoby Brissett plays or not will make no difference to who wins this game, with his presence or absence likely to only affect only the point spread. Miami just had their big victory of the season, and they very well may not win a game again this season, which ownership will be totally fine with. Even when tanking, you don't want to go win-less because then you go down an infamy. Anyway, the Colts Defense is the reason they'll win. Their last three games; they rank 12th in opponent yards per play, fifth in getting off the field on third-downs and fifth in opponent touchdowns in the red zone.

Another reason why it doesn't matter if Brissett or Brian Hoyer starts is that the Colts will run the ball. They're ninth in rushing yards per game while the Dolphins are 31st in stopping the run, and allow 150 yards on the ground per game on average.

Colts 24 - Dolphins 10

 

Chiefs -3.5 vs. Titans

I said it last week but Tennessee really struggles to score. They rank 26th in points per game with 18.7 while KC averages 28, ranking sixth. If Patrick Mahomes is back, the Chiefs offense becomes nearly impossible to stop. The Titans Defense is generally pretty good, but no team can stop the Chiefs offense at full strength.

I also wrote last week that the Titans struggle to protect the quarterback (they rank last in sacks and 30th in quarterback hits allowed). Well Ryan Tannehill got sacked four times Sunday. The Chiefs Defense isn't the best but they do at least get to the quarterback, ranking seventh in sacks, and get stops when they need to. This line is too low.

Chiefs 35 - Titans 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Bucs -4.5 vs. Cardinals

Tampa may be a team you're considering using this week, but it'd be wise to avoid them. These teams have the exact same number of yards per play and are similar in the rest of the stats I look at. The one thing that stood out to me while handicapping it, is Tampa and Arizona both have allowed the same amount of sacks, 30, but Tampa has allowed 17 more QB hits. On the defensive side, Arizona is 12th in sacks while Tampa is 23rd. Combne that with both teams turnover differential, Tampa -5 & Arizona +3, and those stats could be the difference in this one. I also like that the Cardinals had three more days to prepare.

Cardinals 34 - Bucs 30

 

Packers -5 vs. Panthers

These teams are virtually dead even in statistical rankings, except for Carolina ranking dead last in allowing touchdowns in the red zone. However, the Panthers have the most team sacks and I think their constant pressure will get to Aaron Rodgers.

Another reason why I am taking the Panthers in my loser pool is because Christian McCaffrey is terrifying to bet against. He can break off long touchdown runs at any point and change the game. The Packers are currently allowing an average of 128 yards on the ground, which ranks 24th. This game could be a high-scoring one and I don't trust the Packers Defense.

Panthers 30 - Packers 28

 

The Rest

Chargers -1 @ Raiders - This is the Thursday night game. The Chargers are 4-5 and Raiders 4-4. The loser of this game will have their playoff hopes severely impacted. I really like how both of these teams have been playing recently, but the Chargers have a historical trend of surging in the second half of the year. They're getting healthy again and very well may have turned their season around with Sunday's win against Green Bay.

Browns -3 vs. Bills - This is one of the weirdest lines I've ever encountered. Cleveland stands at 2-6 while the Bills are 6-2. The Browns can't get out of their own way, and quite frankly the team is just a mess. Buffalo is doing what they should be doing and beating up on the bad teams. So, how is Cleveland a standard three-point favorite here? Vegas is begging you to take the Bills and the points which means you should take the Browns.

As for the stats, these teams are pretty even. Cleveland is so desperate for the win here while Buffalo has played a very easy schedule and hasn't really been tested. It's not like the Bills will blow the Browns out because they only average 19.8 points per game while Cleveland averages 19. I'm still alive in a loser pool and I am going to take the Bills. I'm still shocked at this spread.

Jets +2.5 vs. Giants - This is such a miserable game between two horrendous teams. You should have no money depending on this game.

Lions +2.5 @ Bears - The Bears have become a very similar team to what they used to be in the early 2000's, no offense but a great defense. Tough to pick them laying any points.

Steelers +4 vs. Rams - I'm going against one of my favorite gambling trends; road favorite off a bye, which did win last week with the Cowboys. The trend now moves to 63-25 since 2002. In case you missed my column last week, here's the logic behind taking a road favorite off a bye from RJ Bell on the Against All Odds podcast with Cousin Sal at the 47:35 mark.

"The team that's traveling is clearly better. Because you can't be favored on the road unless you're clearly better. But because you're clearly better, you have the distractions on the road. You might be looking ahead. You might be a little beat up from last week. Whatever it is, it's going to cause you not to play your best game; you're more susceptible to a team you think you should easily beat, even more susceptible on the road. That's why road favorites are so dangerous. Well, when you have a bye, all that stuff goes out the window. If you haven't played for two weeks, you're not going to look ahead. You're going to be focused on that team. You're not going to be tired. All the things that make traveling tough, you have that total focus."

But I'm going to go against it because this game is a late-game in Pittsburgh and Jared Goff struggles mightily in the cold. The weather in Pittsburgh on Sunday is going to a high of 48 and low of 34. Since this game is 4:25 p.m. and it will be dark already, let's assume temperature dips to 40 degrees by kickoff. Goff has played in three games below 40 degrees.

                                        
Date       Time Opp Week  Result  Cmp  Att Cmp%  Yds    TD   Int  Sk   Yds Rate Roof     Temperature
2017-12-24  1:00 TEN   16 W 27-23   22   39 56.4  286    4    0    1   15 113.8 outdoors  39.0
2018-10-14  4:05 DEN    6 W 23-20   14   28 50.0  174    0    1    5   27  54.8 outdoors  25.0
2018-12-09  8:20 CHI   14  L 6-15   21   45 46.7  162    0    4    3   25  18.9 outdoors  29.0

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table

The game in Tennessee was in Week 17, 2016. That's when Todd Gurley went off and took a screen-pass about 75 yards for a touchdown. That helped boost his stats. But look at those other two games. Goff was born and bred in California and is not used/does not like the cold. The Bears Defense last year crushed him and made him look so bad in the cold. The Steelers Defense is a good one and I think he struggles mightily yet again in this weather.

Vikings +3 @ Cowboys - Dallas is a good bad team. They beat up on bad teams and struggle against good ones. However, Kirk Cousins also struggles mightily in prime-time games (6-14 record). I like the Vikings though because I think Mike Zimmer will have Dak Prescott confused all night.

Seahawks +6 @ 49ers - What a Monday night football game this will be. This line feels a point too high, but I think Seattle will at least cover thanks to a Russell Wilson garbage-time touchdown. Wilson just never gives up and Seattle seems to always score in garbage time.

 

Best Bets for Week 10

  • Chiefs -3.5
  • Browns -3
  • Bengals +10 (I'm only including this because I give three picks per week but if I didn't have to, this wouldn't be a best bet. I like Cincy only because of the home dog getting 10).

Last week: 3-0

Season total: 15-12

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 9) - Targets and Avoids

Week 8 was one for the favorites, as only two underdogs won outright, the Chargers and the Eagles. This means that only a scant number of entrants were knocked out of survivor pools. And of course, you had those fools who forgot to submit an entry and were eliminated. How can someone still be alive this far in, but forget to submit their pick?!

As I said last week, it's getting much more difficult to make these decisions, and this week is one of the hardest all season. There are only three teams favored by seven or more; Bills -10 vs. Redskins, 49ers -9.5 @ Cardinals, and Cowboys -7 @ Giants. Odds are you've already used all those teams to get to this point. But there is one other play this week, as well as one of the best gambling trends that does not arise all that often.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column. Teams on bye this week are the Bengals, Falcons, Rams, and Saints.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 9

Bills -10 vs. Redskins

You've probably used Buffalo two weeks ago against Miami -- but in case you haven't, fire them up here because luckily for them:

Washington does not have an above-average offense but rather are the 28th-ranked team in terms of yards per play. However, the Bills are also offensively challenged, and only average 19.1 points per game while the Skins average 14 points on the road. That is why I like Washington with the points.

Bills 20 - Redskins 13

 

49ers -9.5 @ Cardinals

It's tough to not have the Niners as one of the top plays. San Fran is vastly better than Arizona, but this is a divisional game on Thursday Night Football so crazy things can happen. Arizona is off a pretty big loss against Saints while the Niners are undefeated. This game will come down to red-zone scoring. The Cards are dead last in scoring touchdowns in the red zone while San Fran has the second-best red-zone defense. They also have the best defense in terms of yards per play as well as one of the best pass-rush groups in the league. That will be enough to get them the win.

49ers 23 - Cardinals 19

 

Cowboys -7 @ Giants

This game fits in to one of the greatest gambling trends of all time; road favorite off a bye are 62-25 against the spread (71 percent) since 2002. RJ Bell was on the Against All Odds podcast with Cousin Sal several years ago and explained this trend at the 47:35 mark.

"The team that's traveling is clearly better. Because you can't be favored on the road unless you're clearly better. But because you're clearly better, you have the distractions on the road. You might be looking ahead. You might be a little beat up from last week. Whatever it is, it's going to cause you not to play your best game; you're more susceptible to a team you think you should easily beat, even more susceptible on the road. That's why road favorites are so dangerous. Well, when you have a bye, all that stuff goes out the window. If you haven't played for two weeks, you're not going to look ahead. You're going to be focused on that team. You're not going to be tired. All the things that make traveling tough, you have that total focus."

Dallas is also number one in yards per play, first in third-down conversion percentage, and ninth in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Their defense is also second in getting off the field on third-downs. The Cowboys beat up on bad teams and struggle against good ones and the Giants are a bad one.

Cowboys 31 - Giants 13

 

Jets -3 @ Dolphins

You may think I'm crazy for putting the Jets in this section, but Miami is on a short week, and well it is Miami. The Jets really are not that horrible of a team. Their head coach, Adam Gase, used to coach the Dolphins so you would expect he knows that team inside-out.

Miami's defense ranks in the bottom-five of the stats I use to make these decisions. They can't protect their quarterback allowing the most quarterback hits allowed this season. Keep fading those Fins!

Jets 23 - Dolphins 13

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Seahawks -6.5 vs. Bucs

I'm still alive in a loser pool and I'm highly considering taking the Bucs but this game terrifies me. For one, it's in the teaser zone. Every amateur gambler will have the Seahawks in a teaser. Vegas wants you to put Seattle in a 6.5-point teaser which tells me they may just very well win outright.

So let's delve into the stats. I always look at yards per play, touchdown percentage in the red zone, and third-down conversions. Those are the three-plus a small glance at sacks and turnovers. Seattle is a shocking 30th in opponent yards per play and they don't get to the quarterback much either as they have fifth-fewest sacks. Jameis Winston, who is a turnover machine, should have ample time to survey the field to find the open receiver.

Seattle will have a major advantage in the red zone, they rank second to Tampa's 25th-ranked red zone defense. Everywhere else they're pretty even. We must factor in Seattle's home field, but I feel like Winston loves playing in front of a raucous crowd. I keep thinking of Week 11, 2016 when the Bucs defeated the Chiefs in Arrowhead behind Winston's 335 yards (8.5 yards per attempt) and an interception-free game to win.

Another factor I like here is Bruce Arians. He beat the Seahawks several times in Seattle when he was the coach of the Cardinals as hefty underdogs. I originally had this game in top survivor play sections, and now I've talked myself out of picking the Bucs in my loser pool. This line should be around Seahawks by four.

Bucs 34 - Seahawks 30

 

Eagles -5 vs. Bears

I have no faith in either team. Mitchell Trubisky is just a bad quarterback and their head coach Matt Nagy is afraid to open it up and risk losing it because of that. On the other side, you have a good quarterback in Carson Wentz and a head coach who goes for it on fourth down and takes chances all the time. But the great equalizer in this one is the Bears pass rush. When Wentz is pressured, he gets happy feet and makes mistakes. The Bears Defense will have to win this game for them and even though I think they keep this low-scoring, I expect the Eagles to just eke it out.

Eagles 20 - Bears 17

 

Steelers -1 vs. Colts

So the Colts are 5-2, have played really solid football and are a one-point underdog in Pittsburgh? Vegas is trying to tell you something here because this line doesn't make sense.

The Colts offense is average but they protect the ball well, only turning it over seven times, fifth-fewest in the league. However, they aren't explosive. They are tied for 27th in passing plays of 20+ yards and have only one play of 40+ yards. The Steelers Defense is also continuing to improve. They're allowing 5.1 yards per play on the season, but over the last three, that number has dipped to 4.5. The defensive line constantly pressures the quarterback without blitzing, as they are ranked joint sixth in sacks. They also have the second-most takeaways, which is a major plus.

Pittsburgh's defense will win this game.

Steelers 24 - Colts 17

 

The Rest

Jaguars +2 vs. Texans (London) - It's so hard to bet a London game and this is one I want zero part in. There is one bet I'd considering playing; first quarter under. There have been a combined 13 total points in the first quarter of the three London games this year.

Vikings +2.5 @ Chiefs - This game depends on if Patrick Mahomes will be playing or not. With or without Mahomes though, the Vikings have the formula to beat KC and give the Chiefs their fourth straight loss at home. They can run the ball effectively with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison providing the work in their third-ranked rushing attack.

Panthers -3.5 vs. Titans - What do you make of the Titans? They are so up and down and are average at best. The difference in this one is the Panthers pass rush. They have the second most sacks while the Titans offensive line has allowed the most sacks and fourth-most quarterback hits.

Raiders -2 vs. Lions - Oakland is a lot better than their record is. They've played really well in their last three games and now they finally return home for their first home game since Sept. 15. Detroit should have won by 30 last week but let the Giants hang around and hang around. I'll take Oakland.

Broncos +3 vs. Browns - Joe Flacco will not be playing due to injury. Brandon Allen will be starting and I expect them to open up the offense a little after Flacco called out the offensive play-calling.

Packers -3.5 @ Chargers - This is going to be played in Los Angeles, but it's really a Packers home game with all the Green Bay fans that will be there. Yet, the line is only three. So essentially, you're getting Green Bay as a standard three-point favorite in a "home" game. Sign me up.

Patriots -3.5 @ Ravens - This is a pros vs. joe's game. This line opened at 6.5 and despite 69 percent of the bets being on the Patriots, the line has dropped three points. Even so, I'll be a joe in this one and take New England. Bill Belichick owns quarterbacks under the age of 25 (Lamar Jackson is 22). I think he dares Jackson to beat them with his arm and stuffs the box. The Ravens are also 29th in opponent yards per play so New England should have no problem moving the ball.

 

Best Bets for Week 9

  • Cowboys -7
  • Steelers -1
  • Panthers -3.5

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 12-12

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 8) - Targets and Avoids

Disaster averted. The Bills found themselves trailing against the lowly Dolphins but pulled it out late. Had Buffalo lost, more than 50 percent of remaining entrants in survivor pools would have been knocked out. The 49ers did their part in the monsoon in D.C while the Patriots cruised against the Jets. All my picks to avoid - Chiefs, Jaguars, Packers - all won and covered.

It usually gets tough to pick survivor pool winners this time in the season, but luckily this week, there are several options. The Vikings are 15.5 point home favorites against the Redskins on Thursday night, the Rams are favored by 13 against the Bengals in London, the Patriots -13 vs. Browns, and the Steelers are -14.5 vs. Dolphins on Monday night. Then there are more massive favorites like the Saints -9.5 vs. Cardinals and the Lions -7 vs. Giants.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column. Teams on bye this week are the Cowboys and Ravens.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 8

Steelers -14.5 vs. Dolphins

Keep fading the Fins! It's been such a great strategy and now you get to use a team that you will not use again. Pittsburgh's defense is fourth in opponent yards per play the last three and fifth in team sacks. Old man Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in for a tough Monday night.

Steelers 28 - Dolphins 10

 

Vikings -15.5 vs. Redskins

Ever since the Vikings six-point outing in Chicago in Week 4, they've scored 28, 38, and 42 points. They are clicking on all cylinders an rank third in yards per play. The Redskins hideous defense hasn't played really difficult offenses recently, but they are one to allow Mitch Trubisky to complete 25 of 31 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. I do think Washington covers because 15.5 is a ton to cover.

Vikings 27 - Redskins 13

 

Seahawks -3.5 @ Falcons

All the Seattle and Russell Wilson love is gone after one poor game. It's truly amazing how recency bias can play such a factor in a game like this. Seattle is an above average team that didn't play its best Sunday. So be it. Wilson will have no problem getting his groove back against the atrocious Falcons Defense. Atlanta has given up the second most yards per play through its last three games, as well as 31st in opponent points per game, and 32nd in opponent third down percentage. I think Wilson struggled last week because Baltimore kept pressuring him, but he won't have that issue against Atlanta's pass rush that is non-existent; they rank dead last in team sacks with just five on the season.

On the offensive side for Atlanta, Matt Ryan is questionable, they just traded Mohamed Sanu, and head coach Dan Quinn will be getting fired any day. The Falcons are a dumpster fire and I'm shocked Seattle isn't a bigger favorite.

Seahawks 35 - Falcons 13

 

Rams -13 vs. Bengals (in London)

I hate London games that start at 1 p.m. What's the point of going over there if it's not a stand-alone game at 9:30 a.m.? Anyway, the Rams seemed to find their groove against the Falcons while Cincinnati is win-less and looking more and more pathetic each week.

Rams 30 - Bengals 13

 

Saints -9.5 vs. Cardinals

It's pretty remarkable New Orleans is 5-0 since Drew Brees got injured, but they can thank their defense who's allowing 4.2 yards per play through their last three games, ranking fifth. The defense is also eighth in getting off the the field on third down, and fifth in sacks.

Arizona has won three in a row against the Bengals, Falcons, and Giants. That's not murderers row by any means. Kyler Murray is in for a big awakening Sunday in the Dome.

Saints 31 - Cardinals 13

 

Patriots -13 vs. Browns

I can not wait until Baker Mayfield gets destroyed by the Patriots Defense. New England is rolling and this Browns team will not cause them a hiccup.

I know I put New England in the picks every week and you've probably already used them, but if you're still alive in a loser pool where you pick the loser, the Browns are the picks. I know they're my pick.

Patriots 30 - Browns 16

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Lions -7 vs. Giants

I understand the Giants are bad but the Lions shouldn't be a touchdown favorite. They can't get out of their own way and their defense is 27th in opponent yards per play. The defense also ranks 26th in opponent third down conversion percentage, 18th in red zone defense, and have allowed 33 points per game the last three. The Giants offense was just getting all their skill players back last week like Saquon Barkley and Even Engram, and looked rusty. This week they won't.

Giants 17 - Lions 16

 

Colts -6 vs. Broncos

Indy is off a huge win against division rival Houston and are a contender in the AFC, yet this line is only six against the 2-5 Broncos who were trounced on national television by a Mahomes-less Chiefs team. This line is the perfect teaser number and I like teams who were just embarrassed on national television bouncing back.

When I dug into the stats, I was expecting to see Indy overwhelmingly better than Denver, but that isn't the case at all. The Colts are 23rd in yards per play while Denver is 26th. The Broncos Defense is sixth in opponent yards per play while Indy's is 29th. The Broncos defense also gets off the field on third-downs ranking sixth while the Colts are 23rd.

An easy way to throttle the Broncos offense is to pressure Joe Flacco, who really can't move anymore, but the Colts are only 19th in team sacks. This has a letdown feel for the Colts.

Denver 23 - Colts 20

 

Jaguars -6 vs. Jets

This game is just like the one above; falls into teaser category and the Jets are off an embarrassing blowout on national television. I also can't lay six points with Gardner Minshew and an offense that averages 20.6 points per game. The Jets Defense also ranks seventh in opponent yards per play the last three weeks.

Jets 20 - Jaguars 17

 

Texans -6.5 vs. Raiders

Another teaser game! Oakland had one of the closest 18-point losses I've ever seen against the Packers. They turned it over twice inside the one-yard line and threw a pick in the end zone. Derek Carr is competing 74 percent of passes and the Texans have allowed quarterbacks to complete 67 percent of passes, 22nd in the league.

The Raiders Defense is 30th in opponent yards per play while Houston is fourth in yards per play. But for some reason their offense doesn't seem to always click.

Raiders 30 - Texans 28

 

The Rest

Chargers +4 @ Bears - Both teams are trending downward, but how can you back Mitch Trubisky. His yards per attempt is 5.2 which is abysmal (7.5 is average).

Bucs +2.5 @ Titans - Both of these teams are so hard to figure out so I'll just take the points.

Eagles +1.5 @ Bills - Carson Wentz has not looked good this season and I think it's because of all the pressure he's received (hit 38 times, 13th most). The Bills rank 22nd in team sacks so Wentz should have time to throw. Philly's backs are against the wall and can't go to 3-5.

Panthers +5.5 @ 49ers - These are two of the hottest teams in football, the Niners are undefeated and Panthers have won four in a row and come off their bye. This line opened at six and has been bet down to 5.5 signaling sharp money taking Carolina.

Chiefs +4.5  vs. Packers - This is a very contrarian play without Patrick Mahomes. But I think the Andy Reid will have Matt Moore ready to go with 10 days to prepare for this Sunday night showdown. Plus, Green Bay's defense has given up the most yards per play the last three games with 7.3.

 

Best Bets for Week 8

  • Seahawks -3.5 
  • Jets +6
  • Chiefs +4.5

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 11-10

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

Another week, more upsets. The Cowboys, Chiefs and Chargers all went down knocking out about 15-20 percent of remaining entrants in survivor pools, including myself. The Baltimore and New England wins were never in doubt, but the Redskins and Packers just barely squeaked out wins.

If you've made it this far, you've done a job well done. While it has felt easier this year with some massive favorites, underdogs are on the prowl going 54-35-2 against the spread (60.7 percent). That just shows how close these NFL games are, and how well the dogs are playing. This week there is one enormous home favorite, two heavy favorites, and the rest are projected to be tight games.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column. Teams on bye this week are the Browns, Bucs, Panthers and Steelers.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 7

Bills -17 vs. Dolphins

This will be the only time you'll be able to use Buffalo. Their defense will throttle Miami. There is not much else needed to be said about this game.

Bills 24 - Dolphins 3

 

49ers -10 vs. Redskins

Washington ran the ball well last week (33 attempts for 145 yards), whereas they threw 25 times for 166 yards. I assume they'll take a similar approach against the Niners, but San Francisco is sixth in opponent rushing yards per game. I do think the Redskins will come through with a backdoor cover though.

49ers 20 - Redskins 10

 

Patriots -9.5 @ Jets

This game will be a close one with the rejuvenated Jets at home on Monday night. I expect a low-scoring game, which gives the Jets a decent shot.

Patriots 17 - Jets 13

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Packers -5.5 vs. Raiders

This line opened at seven and has been bet down to 5.5, which is surprising because the Packers are usually a public team especially when playing in Lambeau. But Green Bay is overrated and had no business beating the Lions on Monday night. Their offense is in the bottom half of yards per play (18th) -  and their defense, which looked really good early, is ranked 18th and they've allowed 6.5 yards the last three games (third most). They also are really struggling to keep the chains moving on third downs ranking 27th. It is important to note that Oakland's defense ranks in the bottom half of the league according to the stats I looked at. But, they are off a bye so they will be fresh.

The Raiders offense is fairly good ranking 13th in yard per play, eighth in third-down conversion percentage, and 13th in the red zone. They also are ninth in controlling the clock, meaning they'll keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

Finally, Vegas is begging you to put the Packers in a teaser, which means they think Oakland has a legitimate shot to win.

Raiders 27 - Packers 24

 

Chiefs -3 @ Broncos

It's fairly obvious how to beat the Chiefs; run the ball and control the clock. The Broncos are 14th in rushing yards per game and 15th in yards per attempt (Indy and Houston were both top-five in yards per game). Denver is 20th in time of possession. Are those stats good enough to beat KC? I'd lean yes. Patrick Mahomes' ankle is still an issue, and the Broncos Defense is finally living up to their preseason hype allowing 13 points against in the last three games.

Chiefs 23 - Broncos 21

 

Jaguars -3.5 @ Bengals

Jacksonville may seem like a sneaky survivor play against the winless Bengals, but it's tough to back a team that averages 19.5 points per game (23rd in the league). The Bengals Defense is not good, but they rank seventh in red zone defense. That's huge against a Jaguars team that ranks 29th in red zone touchdown percentage. I think that makes the difference.

Bengals 17 - Jaguars 16

 

The Rest

Rams -3 @ Falcons - I still haven't given up on the Rams, and if there's one team to play when the offense is seemingly broken, it's Atlanta. They are 27th in opponent yards per play, 27th in opponent passing yards (331 yards allowed in the last three games), 32nd in opponent third-down conversion percentage, and 31st in red zone defense. The Rams will find their offensive mojo again.

Vikings -1 @ Lions - This will be a close one, and Detroit hasn't been able to close out close games. Ultimately Minnesota's offense (third in yards per play) will be too much for Detroit.

Colts -1 vs. Texans - Houston seems to be back on track after a huge win in Kansas City, but I don't trust them. The Colts are a really physical team and will be fresh off the bye.

Giants -3 vs. Cardinals - These teams are literally dead even. It's unknown if Saquon Barkley or Even Engram will be back - but either way, this is an early 1 PM start on the East Coast for a West Coast team.

Titans -2 vs. Chargers - This line opened at pick'em - and despite 68 percent of the bets coming on the Chargers, the line has shifted to Titans -2 which means the smart/sharp/wiseguy money is all on Tennessee.

Saints +3 @ Bears - New Orleans can win with scoring, or win ugly in a tight-defensive battle. The Saints have more play-makers on offense, and how can you trust Mitch Trubisky on offense? Plus, the Bears "vaunted" defense has allowed too many game-winning touchdown drives.

Seahawks -3.5 vs. Ravens - I'm scared of the hook here with the half point, but the Ravens will finally be tested Sunday afternoon and the league will finally see how bad their defense is. They rank 30th in opponent yards per play and Russell Wilson will expose them.

Eagles +3 @ Cowboys - The way to beat Philly is by throwing downfield like Kirk Cousins did to them on Sunday. Dak Prescott has not looked like he could do that of late.

 

Best Bets for Week 7

  • Raiders +5.5
  • Rams -3
  • Eagles +3

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 10-8

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 6) - Targets and Avoids

The two double-digit favorites, Patriots and Eagles, did their part Sunday cruising to wins. However the Bears “great and vaunted” defense allows yet another game-winning drive, the Broncos Defense stifles the Chargers, and the Chiefs lose outright to the Colts at home knocking tons of entrants out in survivor. I rightly gave out the Patriots and Eagles which were easy plays, I also gave out the Vikings, but missed on the Chiefs and Bears. I did have the Chargers as my top avoid.  I was 2-1 against the spread last week raising my season total to 8-7.

We're five weeks into the season and it’s getting harder and harder to choose what teams to choose. And this week is extremely difficult. Here are the teams that are favored by seven or more, per The Action Network; Patriots -16.5 vs. Giants, Ravens -11 vs. Bengals, and Cowboys -9 at the Jets. It may seem easy this week, but I'm only on one of those teams. I'm sniffing a doomsday-type week.

If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. Teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 6

Teams on bye this week are the Bills, Bears, Colts, and Raiders.

 

Patriots -16.5 vs. Giants

Another week, another time with the Patriots as a double-digit favorite and my top survivor play. If you haven’t taken the Pats, you can’t go wrong using them Thursday night. Bill Belichick owns rookie quarterbacks at home. He’s never even lost to one!

Now, if you’re still in a loser survivor pool where you must pick a loser, the Giants are the easy pick. I even plugged in the Giants in my loser survivor pool while the late games were happening! Daniel Jones looked like a true rookie against the Vikings and now faces the best defense in Foxborough. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and even Even Engram won't be playing.

Patriots 34 - Giants 10

 

Chiefs -5 vs. Texans

This is more of a play against Houston than it is a play on KC. Bill O'Brien is the most overrated coach in football. I don't even know how he still has a job. He's too micro-managing, and his play-calling is horrid. Let's not overreact to their "romp" of the Falcons. That game was much closer than the scoreboard showed. A major reason why Houston racked up 592 yards on 8.8 yards per play is because Atlanta is a bottom-ten defense and they are tied for last in sacks. The way to stop Deshaun Watson is to pressure and sack him. The Chiefs aren't the best, but not the worst in the department ranking 19th with 11 sacks.

The way to beat the Chiefs is by running the ball and controlling the clock. The Texans are 10th in running while KC is 30th against the run. But Houston is only 17th in time of possession. That is how Houston can win, but I don't trust their defense. They are 20th in opponent yards per game. They also can't get off the field on third down ranking 25th, which will be an issue facing the third-best team on third down. Now this all is a moot point if Patrick Mahomes is actually hobbled, but I think he's fine. He'll be ready to feast on this bad Houston secondary. The Texans do rank ninth in team sacks, but the Chiefs offensive line has allowed the fifth-fewest sacks and are 19th in quarterback hits allowed.

Chiefs 38 - Texans 20

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Ravens -11 vs. Bengals

There are several reasons why I will not pick Baltimore this week. For one, they're very overrated. They beat up on the Dolphins in Week 1, barely beat the Cardinals in Week 2, were handled by the Chiefs in Week 3, were beat up by Cleveland in Week 4, and then this past week, a third-string undrafted rookie quarterback out of Samford named Devlin Hodges almost beat them. Baltimore got lucky to win that game. Hodges played briefly but looked good completing seven of nine passes for 68 yards. And Hodges isn't the only one to have had success in the air against Baltimore, but rather every team. The Ravens are 21th in opponent passing yards per game, 31st in opponent yards per play, and it may get worse this week. Safety Tony Jefferson is out for the year after tearing his ACL Sunday.  Andy Dalton isn't an outstanding quarterback but he won't face pressure (Ravens are 24th in team sacks) and should have time to hit the open man against the depleted Ravens secondary.

The other major issue is Baltimore fares well against bad defenses and Cincy is a bottom five one. Still, I can't lay more than 10 points with a defense as bad as Baltimore's. Additionally, Dalton is 3-2 in Baltimore the last five years and every match-up has been decided by a possession.

Bengals 20 - Ravens 19

 

Cowboys -9 @ Jets

You're probably thinking I'm crazy avoiding Dallas at the Jets this week. The Cowboys are off consecutive losses to the Saints and Packers (combined record 8-2) that made them look like an average team. They seemed great at first, but they beat up on the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins (combined record of 2-12). So it would fit the script if the Cowboys just unleash in the Meadowlands Sunday. Not so fast though.

The Jets seem like the worst team, but they've been so ravaged by injury. Quarterback Sam Darnold is finally back this week but it’s unclear if linebacker and quarterback of the defense C.J. Mosley returns. Even without Mosley, the Jets Defense hasn't been as bad as it seems. They're an average one, but can stop the run allowing the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game, 87.5. That is how you beat the Cowboys. You need to stop Ezekiel Elliott and dare Dak Prescott to beat you. In two of the Cowboys three wins, Zeke had at least 100 rushing yards. In their two losses, he had 35 and 62.

You can't fairly evaluate the Jets offense because they're down to their third string, and like I keep saying, been decimated by injuries. The offense looked good in the preseason when Darnold was fully healthy. That's not a good way to evaluate any offense, but Darnold has talent and he gets to put that on display Sunday. The Cowboys are a tough defense to get a gauge on because they crushed the bad teams, but the Packers offense was clicking Sunday. I'l go out on a limb and take the Jets in an upset.

Jets 23 - Cowboys 19

 

Redskins -3.5 @ Dolphins

Some people may think Washington is a good play this week because they are playing Miami. Both of these teams are awful. Miami has actually been playing a little bit better each week and are off a bye week. Now, neither are remotely good at all. They are both bottom five in nearly every stat I look at. The Dolphins win this because the Skins are a dumpster fire. They fired Jay Gruden Monday and teams are 9-14 in the game after losing their head coach.

Also, wiseguys are on the Fins.

Dolphins 23 - Redskins 21

 

Chargers -6.5 vs. Steelers

How much worse can get for Pittsburgh? Terrible injury luck. Unlucky breaks. They could be 3-2 if not for awful game-deciding turnovers against the 49ers and Ravens. The good news is they play a virtual home game in Los Angeles. Steelers fan travel and the Chargers rental stadium always has more of the visitors fans.

As for the game, the Chargers have struggled recently losing to the Lions, Texans, and Broncos. Those are games they should have won, but of course the Chargers did Charger things. Their offense has not looked good and that will be an issue against an underrated defense. It seems like Pittsburgh has struggled on that side of the ball, but when you look at the numbers, the Steelers are eighth in opponent yards per play, third in red zone defense, and third in sacks.

I also think Devlin Hodges will have time to pass because the Chargers are 15th in sacks while Pittsburgh has allowed the second fewest sacks and quarterback hits.

Last week I said Vegas installed the Chargers as a 6.5-point favorite in the late window when there were only two games, meaning they wanted you to tease the Chargers. They lost outright. Vegas is trying to have you tease the Chargers again and they'll lose again.

Steelers 24 - Chargers 20

 

The Rest

Panthers -2 vs. Bucs (in London) - Better get your excuses ready for the wife/girlfriend because this game kicks off a 12+ hour day of football. This may not seem so appealing of a standalone game but Christian McCaffrey is playing and that makes this a must-watch. It’ll be really interesting to see how he fares against this second-ranked rush defense. McCaffrey’s only bad game has come against Tampa in Week 2 when he was bottled up for 37 yards on 16 carries and held to two receptions for 16 yards. He’s been otherworldly in his other four games. But in that Week 2 game, Cam Newton was the quarterback and he could not throw. Now with Kyle Allen, they’re 3-0 and he is actually keeping defenses out of the box with his threat of passing. Here are both their stats this season.

Newton: 56 percent completion rate, 6.43 yards per attempt, zero touchdowns, one interception

Allen: 66 percent completion rate, 7.49 yards per attempt, five touchdowns, no interceptions

Kyle Allen is better for this team, right now. I think him being able to throw will open up running lanes for McCaffrey.

Browns +1 vs. Seahawks - Seattle will be on 10 days rest while Cleveland is on a short week after getting romped on national television in San Francisco. A major key to this game will be red zone scoring; Seattle is first while Cleveland's defense is 30th. The only reason I'm taking Cleveland is because I always like to take a team that was embarrassed on national television.

Jaguars -1 vs. Saints - Both of these teams have been hot of late with backup quarterbacks. Both of these defenses are above average. I view the Saints a point better on a neutral field which means I think the Jags should be favored by two. Sharps are on the Jags too.

Eagles +3 @ Vikings - Everyone is back on the Vikings bandwagon after they crushed the Giants, but they're such an up-and-down team. Philly pretty much had the week off playing the Jets. I'm really excited for this one. I wouldn't bet it, but if I had to, I'd take Philly.

Rams -3.5 vs. 49ers - The Niners are off an enormous blowout on national television that showed the world they are to be taken for real. Now they head to LA on a short week for a divisional bout against the Rams who will have an extra four days to prepare. Jared Goff really isn't that bad and the Rams will bounce back.

Falcons -2.5 @ Cardinals - Arizona is off a win while the Falcons are looking to end their three-game losing streak. This is going to be a high-scoring game and the Falcons will come away with it.

Broncos -2.5 vs. Titans - It'll be interesting to see how Denver plays off their first win of the season. Luckily for them, the Titans don't have any semblance of an offense. That plays into Denver's strategy of slowing the game down, running the ball, and playing good defense.

Packers -4.5 vs. Lions - Green Bay is an incredible first quarter team as they're third in points with 8.6. What's even crazier is the defense is tied for first allowing 0.6 points. So if you're to bet this game, just bet Green Bay first quarter and first half.

 

Best Bets for Week 6

  • Patriots -16.5
  • Bengals +11
  • Rams -4.5

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 8-7

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 5) - Targets and Avoids

Week 4 was finally a week where the underdogs came through. More than a quarter of entries in pools were knocked out thanks to the Rams, Colts,  Texans and Ravens all losing. My survivor plays were 4-2 last Sunday, as I managed to avoid the Texans and Ravens, with their opponents, the Panthers and Browns, among my best bets against the spread. After a tough 1-5 start, the last two weeks have seen my best bets go 5-1 to get back to .500 on the season.

This is a tougher week than most but three teams favored in the double-digits per The Action Network: Patriots -15.5 @ Redskins, Eagles -14 vs. Jets, and Chiefs -11 vs. Colts

The Lions and Dolphins are both on bye this week which is not good news for your survivor pools as you cannot take the easy road and pick against Miami. If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday.  Teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 5

Patriots -15.5 @ Redskins

If you haven't used New England yet, this would be a good time to. They are not losing this one to the putrid Redskins. As of the time of writing, it's unclear who Washington will start at quarterback Sunday. If it's Dwayne Haskins, well Bill Belichick owns rookie quarterbacks. Even if it is Case Keenum or Colt McCoy it likely won't make a difference.

Patriots 31 - Redskins 9

 

Eagles -14 vs. Jets

Philly is a great play if you've already used New England. The Jets are not the same football team without Sam Darnold and therefore all of the hate they have been getting isn't fair without their franchise quarterback on the field. Even if Darnold is back this week, which I would be shocked about, he won't be 100 percent. Additionally, if you look ahead at Philly's schedule, you won't get to pick them again anytime soon; @ Vikings, @ Cowboys, @ Bills, vs. Bears, vs. Patriots, vs. Seahawks. You can use them in Week 13 when they play at Miami, but that's too long to wait. The Eagles secondary is not very good (22nd in opponent yards per pass attempt) but Luke Falk isn't beating them over the top, so this is the week to pod up the Eagles.

Eagles 28 - Jets 13

 

Chiefs -11 vs. Colts

This is a monster line against a solid Colts team, but Indy does have a ton of injury questions from T.Y. Hilton, to Marlon Mack, to Darius Leonard. The only way to keep up with Kansas City is chunk plays. The Chiefs Defense allows the sixth-most plays for 20+ yards, but the Colts are also just 26th in that offensive stat. Monitor the injury report for Indy, but if Hilton and Leonard are not playing, then I don't even think they'll cover in this Sunday night spot.

The pick below assumes Hilton and Mack play.

Chiefs 38 - Colts 28

 

Vikings -5.5 @ Giants

Despite the horrendous play of Kirk Cousins Sunday, the Vikings are STILL a 5.5-point road favorite against a hot Giants team. That tells me all I need to know about this one, but I'll go a step further. This Vikings Defense is incredible, and will make Daniel Jones look like a rookie.

The Vikings are sixth in opponent yards per play and fifth in getting off the field on third-downs. I even think Kirk Cousins will rebound against a bad defense (don't get sucked into thinking the Giants Defense is good just off last week against Washington).

Vikings 30 - Giants 13

 

Bears -5 vs. Raiders (game is in London yet it starts at 1 p.m. If there's a London game, start it at 9:30 a.m!)

In addition to the Bears being an incredible defense that should stifle the Raiders offense, Jon Gruden HATES to travel. Here's what he said last year before going to London, “I hope I can make it, honestly... I’m not great. Claustrophobic. My son was a weight-lifter, he won a power-lifting championship in Belarus. I had to fly 14 hours. I had to fly home 14 hours. I had vertigo for a month. I couldn’t even lay down. The house was spinning. So I hope I don’t get vertigo."

The Raiders lost their London game last year to Seattle 27-3. And no way Gruden will feel any different this time. I don't even think he'd be able to game-plan against Chicago's defense if this game were in Oakland.

It doesn't even matter who's playing quarterback for the Bears because I think both Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel are pretty even.

Bears 23 - Raiders 7

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Chargers -6.5 vs. Broncos

There are only two 4 p.m. games (this and Cowboys-Packers). So why does that matter? Because everyone gambling will have the Chargers in some sort of teaser with another team and will be relying heavily on this game. Vegas put this game in the "perfect" teaser spot, all the Chargers need to do is win and you win that leg. It looks too easy. Only a touchdown favorite against an 0-4 team with a defense that can't hold a lead and an offense led by Joe Flacco. Something doesn't seem right at all. At least the Broncos pass-rush finally got to the quarterback Sunday with six sacks. Even so, I think this line should be closer to nine. Vegas is scaring me off.

Chargers 20 - Broncos 19

 

Texans -5 vs. Falcons

I don't understand how this line is five. Both of these teams are so underwhelming and disappointing, but the Falcons have better stats. Atlanta is ninth in yards per play, and 10th in opponent yards per play, while Houston is 17th and 16th. The Falcons are also fifth in third-down conversions while Houston is 19th in getting off the field on third-down. The only thing I don't like is Atlanta has only recorded five sacks all season. As you're well aware, Houston can't protect Deshaun Watson, who was sacked another six times Sunday. Still, this line should be three.

Falcons 23 - Texans 21

 

Saints -3.5 vs. Bucs 

I liked the Saints in this one but the line opened at 6.5 and the wiseguys pounded it down to 3.5. That scares me. Tampa can score and play defense and it seems like the Saints are playing so well without Drew Brees. But when I delve into the stats, I now understand why this line has been driven down three points. Tampa is ranked higher in yards per play and opponent yards per play. But the deciding factor will be touchdowns in the red zone. The Saints are 29th in that department while the Bucs are fifth in defending in the red zone. New Orleans is 25th. And Tampa is also better in getting off the field on third-down.

This is also a divisional game so you should avoid this one.

Bucs 17 - Saints 16

 

The Rest

Rams +1.5 @ Seahawks - Last year the Rams won both of the games by a total of two and five points. These teams are very even in the stats and I think the Rams should be favored in this one. Everyone is taking countless shots at Jared Goff, but I really don't think he's that bad.

Bills +3 @ Titans - Buffalo just played its heart out against New England and their defense was phenomenal. Tennessee picked up a pretty decisive win in Atlanta. These teams have a similar style of play; good defense and ugly offense. I expect a low-scoring game and when I can get three points in an ugly game, I'll take it every time.

Steelers +3.5 vs. Ravens - Another line I completely disagree with. I think the Ravens are grossly overrated and were the beneficiaries of a schedule of Miami and Arizona the first two weeks. They were handled by the Chiefs, but the scoreboard was closer because of a fourth-quarter comeback and the Browns crushed them Sunday. I was shocked to see the Ravens are tied for last in opponent yards per game. Their defense is not good at all. Can Pittsburgh exploit that? I'm not so sure, but I do know their defense looked fantastic Monday night. This game is in Pittsburgh and I think Lamar Jackson will struggle.

Jaguars +3.5 @ Panthers - I like how both of these teams continue to battle despite losing their starting quarterbacks. These teams feel dead even and the line should be three.

Bengals -3.5 vs. Cardinals - This is such an awful game between winless teams. You should not bet on this game no matter what.

Cowboys -3.5 vs. Packers - This is the second 4 p.m. game Sunday. Green Bay can't get anything going after the first quarter. They are a bad 23rd in yards per play. Dallas has a good defense and I think they win in a close one.

49ers -3.5 vs. Browns - The third time this young season we get to see Baker Mayfield and the Browns in prime-time. The battle in this one will be Cleveland's pass rush against San Fran's offensive line. The Browns are fourth in sacks, but the Niners have allowed the fewest sacks, two, and second-fewest quarterback hits. The Niners did only play in three games but that is impressive. Another crucial stat in determining this game will be touchdowns in the red zone. San Fran's defense is second while Cleveland's offense is 13th. This will be a fun Monday night game.

Best Bets for Week 5

  • Vikings -5.5
  • Bears -5
  • Steelers +3.5

Last week: 3-0

Season total: 6-6

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 4) - Targets and Avoids

Through three weeks of the season, it sure looks like we'll see a Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship rematch. Both of those teams look unstoppable. My one qualm with New England is they've yet to face a formidable opponent. The combined record of New England's opponents is 0-9. Now they get a real test on the road against the 3-0 Bills.

My survivor plays were 3-1 Sunday, with the Bucs as my lone loser.  My best bets last week were 2-1, the only loser being the Broncos. They lost 27-16, falling just short of covering the seven-point spread. I even responded to the NFL's tweet below that said the Packers rolled:

https://twitter.com/SethFinkTV/status/1175866031581093889

They really didn't roll. The Broncos were down 10-7 in the second when Emmanuel Sanders got called for this bogus holding call.

They ended up settling for a field goal, and the Packers then went three-and-out. Denver got the ball back and then Joe Flacco got strip-sacked. A couple of plays later, touchdown Packers. So back to my Twitter beef. I got lambasted for my comment saying they didn't roll.

To my defense, the Packers touchdown drives were 75 yards, five yards, and 37 yards. The Packers offense is not clicking and wait until they run into an offense that can actually do something, which is Thursday night.

Teams favored by seven or more in Week 4 per The Action Network: Chargers -16.5 at Dolphins, Rams -10 vs. Bucs,  Ravens -7 vs. Browns, Patriots -7 at Bills, Colts -7 vs. Raiders.

Bye weeks also begin this week with the Jets and 49ers both idle.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday.  Teams I like against the spread will be italicized. My three best bets against the spread are on the bottom of the column.

It's also worth noting survivor doomsday has not come yet. Last year Week 3 knocked everyone out when the Bills shocked the Vikings as 19-point underdogs. I'm nervous that week can happen anytime now.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 4

Chargers -16.5 @ Dolphins

If there's one team that would lose to the Dolphins it's the Chargers. They are the team that loses in the most unconventional ways. Remember, they were the only team to lose to the 2016 Browns. San Diego is coming off two losses, games they should have won. This is a game the Chargers MUST win. Miami is 31st or 32nd in all the stats I look at (yards per play, third-down conversion percentage red zone scoring percentage (touchdowns), and turnover margin. Miami is so bad, they even have the worst offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus. But the Chargers can not take them lightly.

Chargers 31 - Dolphins 13

 

Colts -7 @ Raiders

The Raiders are in the second week of their long road trip (they will not return to Oakland for a game until Nov. 3 which is mind-boggling). Now they play the red-hot Colts who could very well be 3-0. I was surprised to see these teams have similar stats in the ones I look at (see above) but the one thing that differentiated the two is red-zone touchdown percentage. Indy is seventh and Oakland is 18th. I think that is the difference in this one.

Colts 24 - Raiders 20

 

Rams -10 vs. Bucs

LA looks really good through three games, but when you look at the numbers you'll see the Rams are a shocking 22nd in yards per play while the Bucs are 20th. People are also knocking Jared Goff but he's a much better quarterback at home than on the road. He's played the same exact number of home and road games, and at home has thrown for 791 more yards, five fewer interceptions and his yards per attempt is nearly a yard higher.

Both have top-10 defenses in opponent yards per play. I think the difference in this one is once again red zone scoring. The Rams rank 12th while Tampa is 31st. The only thing that scares me is Bruce Arians. He's a really good coach. Rams win but Jameis Winston pulls off a backdoor cover.

Rams 34 - Bucs 28

 

Chiefs -6 @ Lions

A battle of undefeated teams although Detroit's Week 1 tie feels like a loss. It is shocking the Lions won their last two. They had no business beating the Chargers and beat the Eagles thanks to a kick return touchdown, Nelson Agholor literally putting the ball on the turf, and more dropped touchdowns from Philly. Kansas City won't do that. They may be the best offensive team since the Greatest Show on Turf.

Chiefs 35 - Lions 17

 

Patriots -7 @ Bills

The battle of 3-0 teams who have yet to face a real test. New England's combined opponents are 0-9 and Buffalo's are 2-7. We all know New England is one of the top teams with a defense that has yet to allow a touchdown. Their defense will stymie Josh Allen. I need to see more from the Bills before backing them against the Pats. Also, Tom Brady is 15-2 in Buffalo.

Patriots 24 - Bills 13

 

Seahawks -4.5 @ Cardinals

It may seem like the Cardinals offense is clicking but they're 29th in yards per play. Seattle is 11th. It is going to be tough for an Arizona defense that is 26th in opponent yards per play to slow down a Russell Wilson led offensive attack. The Seahawks are 4-0-1 in Arizona the last five.

Seahawks 31 - Cardinals 20

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Texans -4 vs. Panthers

Bill O'Brien would be out of a job if it weren't for Deshaun Watson. His play on Sunday got them the win in LA. The Texans are so overrated and I would highly highly advise you not use them this week in survivor. They can't protect Watson ranking fifth in sacks allowed and quarterback hits allowed. That's bad news when facing a Panthers Defense that is tied for the third-most sacks in the league. Their defense is also second in opponent yards per play so I expect this one to be a low-scoring game. Kyle Allen looked terrific on Sunday, but Houston's defense is tough at home. Panthers in a low-scoring tight battle.

Panthers 16 - Texans 13

 

Ravens -7 vs. Browns 

This line is a few points too high. Yes, Cleveland has underwhelmed, but Baltimore hasn't done much to convince me they should be a seven-point home favorite. They demolished the Dolphins and then just got by the Cardinals. They were then down 30-13 to the Chiefs after three quarters before Kansas City let them score. Baltimore's defense is not that good ranking 26th in opponent yards per play. The Browns are an offensive mess right now, but I think their defense, which has 10 sacks and ranks 12th in opponent yards per play, keeps them in this one.

Ravens 23 - Browns 21

 

The Rest

Eagles +4.5 @ Packers - Just when you think the Eagles are left for dead, they come alive. They were really banged up on Sunday but are expecting to have Alshon Jeffery back. I'm not high on Green Bay and think they finally get exposed against an offense that can put up points.

Titans +4 @ Falcons - This is an interesting one. Atlanta always blows a random home game to a team they shouldn't lose to. Tennessee has had an extra four days to prepare. I like the Titans and the points.

Giants -vs. Redskins - It's really difficult to bet Washington any week and they are facing a rejuvenated Giants team led by Daniel Jones!

Vikings +2.5 @ BearsThis is going to be a low-scoring game that will be decided by a late-game turnover. I prefer Kirk Cousins to Mitchell Trubisky. Vikings in a close one.

Broncos -3 vs. Jaguars - Denver is reeling but comes home to face a rookie quarterback. Everyone loves Gardner Minshew, but he's in for a long day against a defense that will be hungry to get their first sack and first win.

Saints +2.5 vs. Cowboys - Whenever you can get the Saints as a home underdog in a night game, you have to take them. Dallas has looked spectacular, but they've faced the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins. Time to see what they're made of.

Steelers -4 vs. BengalsI love the Steelers in this Monday night game. I'm still on their bandwagon and it's the perfect team to face to their first win of the season. The Steelers pass rush will decimate the Bengals offensive line. Andy Dalton is a career 4-16 in prime-time games. Pittsburgh is also 5-2 in its last seven at home to Cincy.

 

Best Bets for Week 4

  • Panthers +4
  • Browns +7
  • Steelers -4

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 3-6

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 3) - Targets and Avoids

The Patriots look unstoppable, the Steelers look like toast, and the Ravens look like they'll control the AFC North. I gave out the Pats and Ravens, got burned on Pitt, but wisely avoided the Panthers. 

Like I wrote last week, don't overreact just yet. It's only two games. I understand it's already an eighth of the way through the season, but much will be different come Week 9, maybe even Week 5. Many are counting the Steelers out without Ben Roethlisberger, but their brass is not. They just traded their first-round pick for Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. I'm not ecstatic about ripping up my futures on Steelers over 9 wins, division winners, Super Bowl winners, and most passing yards just yet, so let's pray Mason Rudolph can play. 

I've historically had very strong Week 3 performances. There are some teams that are so overvalued in the market at this point, and the public just looks blindly at records and scores without remembering their thoughts prior to Week 1. It's only two games so don't let that sway your opinion. There are also some massive point spreads this week.

 

Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple: pick a team to win each week; if they win, you move on to the next week. But you can't use that team ever again. There's no point spread involved.

  1. Try to save the top teams for the end of the season. You don't want to be alive in Week 10 choosing between the Dolphins and Cardinals. Try to pick teams you won't use later.
  2. Avoid divisional rivalries (generally), although in some weeks, it'll be pretty hard due to lack of options. Anything can happen in a divisional game.
  3. Point spreads are crucial in reading games. Vegas knows a lot more than you do, so respect their outlook.

Teams favored by seven or more in Week 3 per The Action Network: Patriots - 22.5 Jets, Cowboys -21 vs. Dolphins, Packers -8 vs. Broncos, Vikings -8 vs. Raiders, Eagles -7 vs. Lions.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

With gambling now legal for some of you, I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize the team I like. It will look like this: Patriots -7 vs. Jets.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 3

Cowboys -21 vs. Dolphins

Going against Miami is becoming the easy play now. Dallas is a top-five team with a really good defense and an offense that is clicking.

Cowboys 38 - Dolphins 13

Patriots -22.5 vs. Jets

In terms of who wins this game, nothing needs to be said. For the point spread, Bill Belichick historically owns young quarterbacks.

Patriots 34 - Jets 10

Vikings -8 vs. Raiders

Uh oh. I'm really going to go with the Vikings after they burned me last year as 18-point home favorites to the lousy Bills? This will feel like an 11 a.m. game on Oakland's body clocks. Kirk Cousins threw Sunday's game away, but Minnesota will run the ball, opening up the deep ball for Cousins. The Vikings also have an elite defense.

Vikings 27 - Raiders 13

Bucs -6.5 vs. Giants

Normally I'd be scared of taking the Bucs because Jameis Winston can literally hand the game away like he did in Week 1, but head coach Bruce Arians will have them ready for this one. The defense is coached by old Jets head coach Todd Bowles and has only allowed one offensive touchdown thus far. The Giants have had their first drive perfectly scripted in the two games and then their offense stalls. Daniel Jones is playing, but a rookie in his first game against a good defense isn't a formula for success.

Bucs 26 - Giants 16

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

49ers -7 vs. Steelers

This is the quintessential fool's gold game. The 2-0 Niners, who just scored 41, head home for their opener against the depleted 0-2 Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger. The public will be all over the Niners because an unknown quarterback Mason Rudolph will be starting behind center. There are several things of notes here, the first being the point spread. After the news of Big Ben being lost to the season, Jeff Davis, the director of trading at Caesars Palace, tweeted the line out.

https://twitter.com/The_Junkyard/status/1173629781759234049

Wait, what? These teams would be equal on a neutral field?

https://twitter.com/The_Junkyard/status/1173633355192995840

The line has since moved but I expect wiseguy buyback on Pittsburgh.

As for the Niners defense, know that Jameis Winston threw three pick-sixes in Week 1. The Bucs then stayed on the East Coast between Weeks 1 and 2, a genius idea, and routed the Bengals who were receiving so much unwarranted love. Cincy isn't a good team and San Fran simply exploited that.

Vegas is begging you to tease the Niners here because the line is seven and public bettors say to themselves, 'On a 6.5 point tease, all the Niners need to do is win and I win that leg.' Wrong. I've been burned plenty of times by thinking that and it just shows Vegas is suckering you in.

Pittsburgh has the nobody believes in us factor going for them. They fully believe in Mason Rudolph because they wouldn't have traded a first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Rudolph isn't a rookie. He sat behind Roethlisberger all of last season and will have a complete grasp of this offense. Let's take a shot.

Steelers 27 - 49ers 23

Packers -8 vs. Broncos

Green Bay looked like they were rolling Sunday after three touchdowns on three possessions and then this.

What happened? Green Bay is a paltry 30th in yards per play at 4.3. Even Denver who has looked horrific is 22nd, 5.4. Are we sure Aaron Rodgers is alright? In his first game, he averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and 6.1 Sunday. He may be spinning the ball but I don't think he's completely comfortable in the new offense yet. A big reason Green Bay has won has been their defense who've come up with five turnovers.

Denver's defense is really phenomenal. That last drive of Chicago was completely garbage. First this abhorrent roughing call,

and then the clock not running out and the refs letting Chicago kick the field goal. Many will count out Denver in this game because it's the 2-0 Packers in Lambeau against the 0-2 Broncos.

Broncos 23 - Packers 21

Bills -6 vs. Bengals

I'm not buying the Bills. They beat the Jets and Giants who are both in the bottom ten of the league. The Bengals hung with Seattle and then got blown out to the Niners. There are too many question marks with these teams and six points is based off records and a blowout of the Giants.

Bengals 19 - Bills 18

Eagles -7 vs. Lions

Philly should win this game but they have too many injuries. Detroit is average at best. The Eagles injuries are the one thing not allowing me to take them in survivor.

Eagles 24 - Lions 19

 

The Rest

Jaguars +1.5 vs. Titans - This is the Thursday night doozy. A lot of Vegas sharps use the stat yards per play to handicap the games. It's only two games but the Jags are 5th and Titans 24th. Despite scoring 12 points Sunday, Jacksonville had 4.8 yards per play to Tennessee's 4.1. The Jags defense will stifle Marcus Mariota and that mediocre offense.

Colts -2.5 vs. Falcons - This is a ridiculous line. The Colts are a really underrated team and this will be their season opener. Atlanta narrowly got by Philly and the Eagles were without Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert, and Corey Clement. Carson Wentz was also banged up. And Atlanta needed a fourth-down conversion to win. Matt Ryan is a surprisingly 9-12 on the road in domes.

Chiefs -6.5 vs. Ravens - This is the game of the week. These are two hottest teams with the two hottest quarterbacks. The Ravens are second in yards per play and Chiefs are three. Now we really find out if the Ravens are for real because they crushed Miami and just got by the Cardinals.

Cardinals +2.5 vs. Panthers - The Panthers would really be a nine-point favorite if this were in Carolina? I find this line really troubling. My best friend who doesn't watch football anymore because it's too violent happened to catch a glimpse of last Thursday's game and even said, something is really wrong with Cam Newton. I'd much rather bet the young, athletic, electric Kyler Murray at home.

I wrote the above before the news of Cam Newton (he may not play Sunday).  I liked Arizona before and like them more now.

Chargers -3 vs. Texans - Bill O'Brien is such a bad coach. I've been saying that for years and maybe people are starting to realize that. The Texans have such a bad offensive line and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will feast.

Saints +4.5 @ Seahawks - So the 2-0 Seahawks only get 1.5 points extra at home against Teddy Bridgewater. Many will discount the Saints because of how Bridgewater looked Sunday, but there's a reason they paid him around $7 million because he's a reliable backup.  Vegas wants you to take Seattle so that means you take the Saints.

Rams -3 @ Browns - Cleveland's offensive line is so bad. Baker Mayfield is continually pressured and sacked eight times already. Now they have to find a way to block Aaron Donald? The Browns are also the most undisciplined team. They have 27 penalties, seven more than the next team. Freddie Kitchens has no control of this team.

Redskins +4 vs. Bears - I think the Bears will win but how can you trust Mitch Trubisky especially on the road in a Monday night game?

 

Best Bets for Week 3

  • Steelers +7
  • Broncos +8
  • Colts -2.5

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 1-5

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 2) - Targets and Avoids

Seattle squeaks by the Bengals and a third of all survivor pools breathe a sigh of relief. On to the next week where hopefully you don’t need to sweat one out again. My other survivor play was the Broncos and they barely showed up.

Most love to overreact after Week 1. Such thoughts seem to be Lamar Jackson will win MVP, the Steelers are awful, and the Bears need a quarterback. It’s only one game. Remember all this stuff a month from now in Week 5 and see how much has changed. Try not to let Week 1 play a vital role in how you pick games for Week 2.

Throughout the season, I'll be giving out survivor picks, as well as weekly bets, mixed in with some daily fantasy football tidbits.

 

Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple: pick a team to win each week; if they win, you move on to the next week. But you can't use that team ever again. There's no point spread involved.

  1. Try to save the top teams for the end of the season. You don't want to be alive in Week 10 choosing between the Dolphins and Cardinals. Try to pick teams you won't use later.
  2. Avoid divisional rivalries (generally), although in some weeks, it'll be pretty hard due to lack of options. Anything can happen in a divisional game.
  3. Point spreads are crucial in reading games. Vegas knows a lot more than you do, so respect their outlook.

Teams favored by seven or more in Week 2 per The Action Network (home team in caps); Patriots -18.5 @ Dolphins, Ravens -13.5 vs. Cardinals, Texans -8.5 vs. Jaguars, Chiefs -8 @ Raiders

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

With gambling now legal for some of you, I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize the team I like. It will look like this: Patriots -7 vs. Jets.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 2

Patriots -19 @ Miami

This is one insane line. If this game were in Foxboro, around 25 points. New England usually struggles in Miami, but after the Miami Miracle last year and given how bad the Dolphins are, the Pats will roll. If you have multiple entries, I'd advise taking them in one. If you just want to advance, take them. If you want to save them, the other options are below.

Patriots 38 - Dolphins 10

Ravens -13.5 vs. Cardinals

I think this line is a massive overreaction to the Ravens in Week 1. This line should be more in the 10 range. Having said that, the Ravens should win, and they are a good option for survivor. For some reason, I get an odd feeling about them this week. But the Cardinals are a West Coast team going east for an early 1 p.m. start. Kyler Murray does scare me, but the Ravens should do enough to win.

Ravens 27 - Cardinals 20

Steelers -4 vs. Seahawks

This is going to be a risky play in survivor but you need to take chances especially when you have more than one entry. I was extremely high on Pittsburgh before the year and a blowout loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions will not play a factor into how I handicap this game. Pittsburgh is 3-1 in their last four home openers. I like the angle of a West coast team going east for an early 1 pm game, which is really like 10 am on their body clocks. But I really love the angle of a team who is embarrassed on national television bouncing back in a huge way the following week.

Also, look at how Pittsburgh played last week and you’d think this would be a standard 3-point spread. Andy Dalton ripped apart Seattle en route to 418 yards passing, 8.2 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. Big Ben will be fired up in their home opener knowing they need a win in a big way. 

Steelers 35 - Seahawks 27

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Texans -8.5 vs. Jaguars 

Major overreaction to this line. Houston’s defense collapsed against New Orleans.  Jacksonville wasn’t too good against KC, but the Chiefs have the best offense in football. Deshaun Watson was sacked six times by the Saints and the Jags will dismantle the weak offensive line of the Texans. Jacksonville didn’t sack Patrick Mahomes once, but they did hit him four times and even injured him. A bad offensive line is the great equalizer.

Texans 21 - Jaguars 17

Panthers -6.5 vs. Bucs

If not for Christian McCaffrey, who knows what would have been with the Panthers offense Sunday. He accounted for 61 percent of the offensive yards while Cam Newton only threw for 6.3 yards per attempt. Jameis Winston looked awful for the Bucs but I still believe in their team solely because of Bruce Arians. This is his seventh year as a head coach in the NFL and his worst season was 7-8-1. The Bucs will rebound. The fact that this is also a Thursday night divisional game makes me want nothing to do with it.

Bucs 24 - Panthers 23

Chiefs -8 @ Raiders 

This is not only a divisional game but also a team you want to save for later on. I know I know, the Patriots-Dolphins is also a divisional game, but that one is a complete mismatch. There's no stopping the Chiefs offense, but you can move the ball easily on their defense. Rookie Gardner Minshew was 22/25 for 275 yards, 11 YPA, two touchdowns, and one pick against the Chiefs. Before he was knocked out, Nick Foles was 5/8 for 75 yards, 9.4 YPA, and a touchdown. If Derek Carr has a similar game to the one Monday night, 22/26, 259 yards, 10 YPA, one touchdown, no picks, the Raiders will keep this game really close.

Chiefs 38 - Raiders 35

 

The Rest

Chargers -2.5 @ Lions - San Diego is the one team that bucks the trend of a West Coast team going east for an early 1 p.m. start. The Lions are in real trouble after their collapse against the Cardinals. The Chargers should cruise.

Colts +3 @ Titans - I think Indy is a better team than Tennessee. Baker Mayfield threw some really bad passes and the Titans Defense played really well. Colts in a low-scoring affair.

Cowboys -5 @ Redskins - So long as Dak Prescott doesn't turn it over, the Cowboys Defense should stifle the Skins in an NFC East battle.

Vikings +3 @ Packers - This is a really exciting game. Both teams are 1-0 off big wins in Week 1. Minnesota has more firepower and the Vikings Defense is an elite defense.

Bills -2 @ Giants - Buffalo will be in the Meadowlands for the second consecutive week. The Giants had such small expectations for the season and lived fully up to them in Dallas. The Bills were so bad, but pulled out the win against the Jets. Bills in a tight game.

49ers +1 @ Bengals - Many are saying Andy Dalton and new head coach Zac Taylor are a perfect fit after Dalton's great game in Seattle. Let me see it one more time.

Broncos +2.5 vs. Bears - The loser of this game will fall to 0-2 and face an uphill battle at the playoffs. Chicago will have 10 days to prepare after their 10-3 loss last Thursday night. But here's the one x-factor. Vic Fangio is the Broncos head coach. He was the Bears defensive coordinator for the last four seasons. He will have the defense ready to throttle Mitch Trubisky and the offense. This is going to be a really low-scoring game, but I think the altitude will do the Bears in.

Rams -3 vs. Saints - A rematch of the NFC Championship game. The way New Orleans played Monday night, they should in no way be only a three-point dog to the Rams. LA is a vastly superior defensive team and Jared Goff will be able to put up at least 30 on the Saints Defense.

Eagles -1.5 @ Falcons - Could this be the last game for Dan Quinn as the Falcons head coach? This is the Sunday night game and if Philly beats Atlanta handily, owner Arthur Blank may say, 'that's it.' The Eagles have the capability to crush Atlanta and I think that happens.

Jets +2.5 vs. Browns - The loser of this game falls to 0-2 and how great would it be if the Browns are that team. Cleveland also has the Rams up next on Sunday night football. This could get ugly. The Jets season could also rely on this game with a trip to Foxborough looming. If you read my column last week, you'll know I don't believe in Cleveland but do in the Jets. I'm not giving up on this Jets season just yet.

 

Best Bets for Week 2

  • Steelers -4
  • Vikings +3
  • Rams -3

Last week: 0-3

Season total: 0-3

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 1) - Targets and Avoids

It’s that time of the year again. You can smell it in the air, football is back. Some are excited about fantasy football, but I'm ready for all the pools that come with it, including survivor pools.

Week 1 is always a tough week because there’s no prior games for these teams except for bogus preseason games. But there are a couple things that can give us hints. Per VSIN's Mike Lombardi, road teams are successful. Last year seven road teams won, in 2017 eight teams won, and in 2016 nine road teams won.

Another thing per Lombardi, look at conditioning. Are teams in shape to play an entire football game? Can they play it in the heat of Florida like the Bucs and Dolphins are used to.

 

Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple: pick a team to win each week; if they win, you move on to the next week. But you can't use that team ever again. There's no point spread involved.

  1. Try to save the top teams for the end of the season. You don't want to be alive in Week 10 choosing between the Dolphins and Cardinals. Try to pick teams you won't use later.
  2. Avoid divisional rivalries (generally), although in some weeks, it'll be pretty hard due to lack of options. Anything can happen in a divisional game.
  3. Point spreads are crucial in reading games. Vegas knows a lot more than you do, so respect their outlook.

Teams favored by seven of more in Week 1 per The Action Network (home team in caps); Eagles -9.5 vs. Redskins, Ravens -7 @ Dolphins, Cowboys -7 vs. Giants, Saints -7 v. Texans

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

With gambling now legal for some of you, I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize the team I like. It will look like this: Patriots -7 vs. Jets.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 1

Seahawks -9.5 vs. Bengals

This will probably be the most popular survivor pick of the week. The hapless Bengals led by Andy Dalton, with a new coach, no AJ Green travel to one of the most vaunted stadiums. Seattle’s defense is reloaded with the newly-acquired Jadeveon Clowney. They should be able to pummel Dalton and the depleted Bengals offensive line. Seattle’s offense is always dangerous with Russell Wilson behind center. Chris Carson is poised for a big year as well. This is a lot of points, but for survivor, it’s a must-play.

Seahawks 20 - Bengals 10

 

Broncos -1 @ Raiders

The huge news is Antonio Brown is not playing. Just another distraction for the Raiders.

The fact that Denver is a road favorite in Week 1 against a divisional rivalry shows just how much Vegas thinks of them over Oakland. The Broncos season win total is seven and the Raiders is six. So one game between the two teams and Denver would be a seven-point favorite at home?

The Broncos Defense should rebounds strongly with the addition of head coach and former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He'll out-coach Jon Gruden.

Broncos 24 - Raiders 19

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Ravens -7 at Dolphins

Everyone is pegging Miami to be the worst team and rightly so. They also seem to be tanking but that doesn’t go through the players minds or new head Brian Flores. They aren’t playing to lose. Baltimore’s offense isn’t gonna blow any team out. They are a power rushing team out of the 1980s. Lamar Jackson isn’t going to throw for 300 yards on any team this year. That all leads to them letting the other team hang around and hope their defense, who lost CJ Mosley in free agency, to finish off the game. This game is also in the heat of Miami. Will Baltimore be conditioned to handle the Florida heat for four full quarters?

Ravens: 20 - Dolphins 17

 

Browns -5.5 vs. Dolphins

The Browns are one of the most bet teams for futures. Let them show something before I back them. If the Browns are so good, then you'll want to save them for later in the season. Also, I have barely heard anything of the Titans this off-season. I was high on them last year with Mike Vrabel, and they missed out on the playoffs by one game. But their offense was horrendous. I think they're being overlooked and need to see the Browns before I start backing them like the entire world.

Browns 24 - Titans 20

 

Eagles -9.5 vs. Redskins

This would normally be an automatic play at this spread with a home team but this is a divisional game. That always scares me. Washington is also getting no respect from anyone. I think the Eagles are re-loaded for another Super Bowl run, which is why I would save them.

Eagles 24 - Redskins 19

 

Colts +6.5 @ Chargers

Everyone is counting out this Colts teams once the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brisett isn’t that bad. He’s been a viable starter in the past and shouldn’t be counted out against a team that underwhelms and finds ways to lose in unthinkable ways. This is also in LA but they don't have a home field.

Colts 27 - Chargers 21

 

Cowboys -7 vs. Giants

Another divisional battle. The Giants look lost, but even with Zeke back, he hasn't practiced with the team all of training camp.

Cowboys 21 - Giants 17

 

The Rest

Bears -3 vs. Packers - This game opens the season Thursday night. Because of the NFL 100th season, they put these two legendary teams on instead of the defending-champion Patriots. Ridiculous. I'll take Bears in this one. Need to see something from this Packer team with a new coach.

Jets -3 vs. Bills -  I am a Jets fan and haven't been this excited for a Jets season since 2011, when the Jets were off an AFC Championship loss to the Colts. New York sports talk has killed new head coach Adam Gase. Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts won't even give the guy a chance. Gase is a very underrated head coach. With an offense led by Ryan Tannehill, Gase managed to 10-6 (playoff berth), 6-10, and 7-9 last year. Not good but not bad. His offensive background will take Sam Darnold to new heights. Just look at what he did in the preseason. The defense is coached by Gregg Williams who's a very good coordinator. They finally have an up-and-coming defense. Here's a look at how first year Jets head coaches have done:

Herman Edwards (2001) 10-6, made playoffs
Eric Mangini (2006) 10-6, made playoffs
Rex Ryan (2009) 9-7, made playoffs
Todd Bowles (2015) 10-6, lost tiebreaker for playoffs

Bet the over on the Jets and the Jets to make playoffs.

Vikings -4 vs. Falcons - I like both teams to rebound this season but the Vikings Defense is better.

Jaguars +4 vs. Chiefs - I like the Chiefs to win by three because I think the heat gets to them.

Rams -3 @ Panthers - The public isn't so keen on the Rams after their Super Bowl loss but that was in February. Carolina is tough at home, but LA is better.

Cardinals +2.5 vs. Lions - Many are out on the Cardinals after their poor showing in Week 2 of the preseason against the Raiders on national television. That was in the pre-season though. The Lions are going to be a bad team this year. Cardinals outright.

Bucs pick'em vs. 49ers - I like the Bucs to surprise with Bruce Arians as the new head coach. Arians took a terrible franchise with the Cardinals to within one game of the Super Bowl. He is a great coach. Plus, I don't like the Niners in the Florida heat.

Steelers +5.5 vs. Patriots - New England isn't the best in September. I'm extremely high on the Steelers this season. More on that below.

Texas +7 @ Saints - How can the Saints rebound off back-to-back ways heartbreaking ways to end the season. How will the Texans play with all their late flurry of trades. Too many points for a team that isn't as good in the Superdome as some think. Also, remember Week 1 last season when they lost to the Bucs.

 

Best Bets

  • Broncos -1
  • Jets -3
  • Bucs pick'em

 

Season Picks

AFC:                                     NFC:

1 - Steelers                             1 - Eagles
2 - Patriots                             2 - Rams
3 - Chiefs                                3 - Vikings
4 - Titans                                4 - Falcons
5 - Chargers                           5 - Cowboys
6 - Jets                                    6 - Seahawks

Wild Card:

Chiefs over Jets            Vikings over Seahawks

Chargers over Titans          Falcons over Cowboys

Divisional:

Steelers over Chargers       Eagles over Falcons

Patriots over Chiefs            Vikings over Rams

Conference Championships:

Steelers over Patriots          Eagles over Vikings

Super Bowl:

Steelers over Eagles

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Daily Fantasy Golf DraftKings Picks (PGA DFS): The Open Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers! In the final tune-ups before The Open Championship, Dylan Frittelli won the John Deere Classic (-21), while in Scotland, Bernd Wiesberger took home the Scottish Open.

In this article, I will be providing you with my  DraftKings PGA DFS lineup picks for the Open Championship. My goal as always is to help put together your optimal daily fantasy golf lineups. You can also track my selections against every other fantasy golf expert on dailyoverlay.com.

If anyone has lineup questions before the start of the tournament Thursday morning, feel free to contact me via Twitter @SethFinkTV.

 

The Open Championship - PGA DFS Overview

The entire golf world will have its eyes on Northern Ireland this week. Royal Portrush plays hosts to the final major, the Open Championship. The course is a 7,340 par-71. The last time this course hosted anything was the 2012 Irish Open, but since then, it's been completely renovated so no one knows anything about this course. We do know it'll be windy and rainy.

One trend I do like is the fact that experience vastly matters here. Here's a look at this decade of Open's.

2010: Lee Westwood, then 38, runner-up to Oosthuizen.

2011: 42-year-old Darren Clarke breaks through to capture his first ever major. Mickelson, then 40, finishes runner-up.

2012: 41-year-old Ernie Els captures his second Open.

2013:  Then 43-year-old Mickelson finally gets his elusive British Open title.

2014: McIlroy defeats fellow youngsters Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

2015: 39-year-old Zach Johnson shocks the golf world winning at St. Andrews.

2016: 40-year-old Henrik Stenson captures his first major defeating then 46-year-old Mickelson in a duel.

2017: Spieth plays inarguably the greatest five-hole stretch golf has ever seen defeating 39-year-old Matt Kuchar.

2018: 35-year-old Francesco Molinari wins.

Why do older players do well at this major? Because you don't need to overpower a links course. You need good ball striking, touch, and play around the greens. That's why the older players have a much much better chance of winning this major than the Masters or U.S. Open.

Let's take a look at the stats:

Player Strokes Gained Total

(Last five Open's)

Rory McIloy 52.22
Jordan Spieth 47.97
Henrik Stenson 45.97
Sergio Garcia 40.53
Phil Mickelson 38.81

 

In Vegas, as of Tuesday on sportsbook.ag, Rory McIlroy is the 8-1 favorite. Brooks Koepka is 10-1. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Tiger Woods are 16-1.

My custom stat model will be focusing on the following: NOTHING. Not too many stats to look at, plus European Tour players aren't factored into the Fantasy Golf National.

 

Fantasy Golf Lineup Picks for DraftKings (PGA DFS)

High-Priced DFS Players 

There are five players this week priced above $10,000;

Rory McIlroy ($11,600) - McIlrot is odds-on favorite and fan-favorite. This major is in his home country. Many people are picking him. I'm not fading him, but I'm not going with him. Here's why; while McIlroy played great at THE PLAYERS, he hasn't at the three majors. Now he has finished in the top-10 in all, but it's completely misleading. McIlroy shot a final-round 68 at The Masters vaulting him into the top-10. At the PGA, it was a 69-69 on the weekend and the U.S. Open saw him shoot even-par on the weekend. The U.S. Open was the only major he was in contention, but he couldn't do anything with that on the weekend. He's finished in the top-five his last four Open's, but I don't trust him to make the putts when they count.

Brooks Koepka ($11,400) - Koepka has extra ammo this weekend with McIlroy being the betting favorite over him. He's had a mixed history here with two top-10's his last four Open's. His caddie is also a member of Royal Portrush. You can't bet against Koepka in a major.

Dustin Johnson ($10,900) - His U.S. Open was the most disappointing I've ever been with a player. His putting was simply atrocious. Can't trust him when he can't make a 10-foot birdie.

Jon Rahm ($10,600) - The Spaniard is on a tear; T-3 at U.S. Open, T-2 at the Andalucia Masters, and winner at the Irish Open last week. He's a popular pick, but his best finish in three tries at the Open has been a T-44. He's 24 and so immature that when one thing goes wrong, it's over.

Tiger Woods ($10,200) - He hasn't played since the U.S. Open. The last time he took a long layoff was after he won the Masters, and then proceeded to miss the cut at the PGA.

 

Middle-to-low-priced DFS Players

Rickie Fowler ($9,300) - No one is talking about Fowler after his disaster at the U.S. Open. His odds are 27-1 to win. There is no pressure on him at all. He has not been playing well of late and is off a missed cut at the Scottish Open. I just like that he's seemingly forgotten.

Adam Scott ($8,800) - It makes me nervous he hasn't played since a T-7 at the U.S. Open, but he was playing great before that; runner-up at Memorial, T-8 at PGA, T-18 at Masters, and T-12 at PLAYERS. He's made his last nice cuts at The Open with four top-10's.

Matt Kuchar ($8,700) - He fits the bill of the older/more experienced type player. He was runner-up two years ago and T-9 last year. Kuchar is off a T-20 at the Scottish Open.

Matt Wallace ($8,100) - The 29-year-old Englishman is coming in hot; T-3 at BMW International Open, T-55 at Irish Open, and T-14 at Scottish Open. Last year was his first Open where he was cut.

Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,500) - T-3 at BMW International Open, T-4 at Irish Open, and T-9 at Scottish Open. That's his last three tournaments. Made six of seven cuts at the Open, but only one top-20.

Bernd Wiesberger ($7,100) - This price is a steal. The Austrian is off a win at the Scottish Open, T-2 at the Irish Open, and T-16 at BMW International Open. He's 3/5 in Open cuts made with his best finish being T-64. But he's coming in playing the best golf of his career.

 

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Daily Fantasy Golf DraftKings Picks (PGA DFS): Travelers Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers! Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open (-13) by three strokes over Brooks Koepka.

In this article, I will be providing you with my  DraftKings PGA DFS lineup picks for the Travelers Championship. My goal as always is to help put together your optimal daily fantasy golf lineups. You can also track my selections against every other fantasy golf expert on dailyoverlay.com.

If anyone has lineup questions before the start of the tournament Thursday morning, feel free to contact me via Twitter @SethFinkTV.

 

Travelers Championship - PGA DFS Overview

The PGA Tour heads to Cromwell, Conn for the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands is a par 70, 6,841-yard course. There are four par-3's, 12 par-4's, and two par-5's.

The greens are Poa, firm, and fast. The rough length is long.

 

Let's take a look at the stats:

Stat TPC River Highlands Tour Average
Driving Distance 281 283
Driving Accuracy 66% 61%
GIR Percentage 68% 66%
Scrambling Percentage 57% 57%
Average three-putts per round 0.49 0.56

 

Player Strokes Gained Total
Paul Casey 39.57
Bubba Watson 35.59
Brendan Steele 28.03
Charley Hoffman 27.96
Brian Harman 27.70

The two-time defending champion is Bubba Watson. He also won in 2015 and 2010.

In Vegas, as of Tuesday on sportsbook.ag, Brooks Koepka is the 7.5-1 favorite. Patrick Cantlay is 10-1, Jordan Spieth 16-1, Justin Thomas and Paul Casey 18-1.

My custom stat model will be focusing on the following:

 

Fantasy Golf Lineup Picks for DraftKings (PGA DFS)

High-Priced DFS Players 

There are five players this week priced above $10,000;

Brooks Koepka ($11,800) - I would avoid him here. His price is huge and this is not a major. Even though he's my number-one ranked player, I don't think he's going to bring his full attention. At the Canadian Open, he finished T-50. Was T-19 here last year.

Patrick Cantlay ($11,300) - Off a very disappointing U.S. Open where many picked him to win. He ended up finishing T-21. Number-two ranked player. He usually plays well at events like these. Will look to do better than a T-15 last year.

Jordan Spieth ($10,700) - I thought he was over his putting woes, but that was not the case at Pebble. Until he gets his mind right, I'd avoid him. He did win here in 2017, finished T-42 last year.

Francesco Molinari ($10,300) - I don't have a real feel for him at a tournament like this. He placed T-25 in 2015, T-47 in '16.

Jason Day ($10,000) - Off a disappointing T-21 at the U.S. Open. He should be competing at a much-higher level but for whatever reason, he's not. Was cut here in 2017, T-12 last year.

 

Middle-to-low-priced DFS Players

Paul Casey ($9,500) - Casey is a player who players well at the lesser tournaments, but in the majors, he can't put four rounds together. For example, at the U.S. Open last week he finished T-21. The PGA saw him place T-29. Solid performances, just not good enough for a player of Casey's caliber. This is the perfect tournament for Casey. He has the most strokes gained here the last five years. His last four finishes here; second, T-17, T-5, and T-2 last year.

Bubba Watson ($8,900) - Forget that Watson's last three tournaments have been bad (cut at PGA, T-63 Canadian Open, and cut last week at U.S. Open. But when he likes a course, he plays well. This is a course he loves. Three-time champion and second in strokes gained the last five years.

Daniel Berger ($8,000) - Another horse for the course type. T-5 in 2016, second in '17, but a T-67 last year. Made his last seven cuts.

Viktor Hovland ($7,900) - Love this youngster. Was the low amateur at the U.S. Open finishing a remarkable T-12. This is his first tournament turning pro. Gotta have a piece of him this week.

Brian Harman ($7,400) - Made his last three cuts. Finished third here in 2015 and T-6 last year. I love his tenacity and fearlessness.

Brendan Steele ($6,700) - Last time he competed was the Memorial where he finished T-41. He's third in strokes gained here the lat five years.

 

Custom Rankings

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Daily Fantasy Golf DraftKings Picks (PGA DFS): U.S. Open

Welcome back RotoBallers! Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 61, (9-under), to capture the RBC Canadian Open (-22) winning by seven strokes. Now, before you start penciling him in for a top-position at the U.S. Open know this stat,

In this article, I will be providing you with my  DraftKings PGA DFS lineup picks for the United States Open. My goal as always is to help put together your optimal daily fantasy golf lineups. You can also track my selections against every other fantasy golf expert on dailyoverlay.com.

If anyone has lineup questions before the start of the tournament Thursday morning, feel free to contact me via Twitter @SethFinkTV.

 

U.S. Open - PGA DFS Overview

The PGA Tour heads to Pebble Beach, Calif. for the third major, the U.S. Open. This is the best tournament in my opinion. The United States Golf Association, who oversees the U.S. Open, makes this the toughest test. They want the winning score to be even-par and I love that. Players get no easy holes and everything must be earned. This is the hardest test in golf players must be great all-around players to win.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a par-71, 7,040 yards. There e four par-3's, 11 par-4's, and three par-5's. The 18th hole is a par-5 that saw a birdie rate of 30.7 percent and eagle rate of 1.3 percent. The greens are Poa Annua and tiny in size.

This course does host the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am annually, but the course is so much different from what it was in February. The rough is completely grown out and a mess of a situation. The fairways are narrower. The greens are faster and one of the par-5's has been changed to a par-4.

Let's take a look at the stats:

Stat Pebble Beach GL Tour Average
Driving Distance 268 283
Driving Accuracy 70% 61%
GIR Percentage 63% 66%
Scrambling Percentage 58% 57%
Average three-putts per round 0.47 0.56

 

Player Strokes Gained Total (last five U.S. Open's)
Brooks Koepka 65.29
Dustin Johnson 56.35
Louis Oosthuizen 39.29
Patrick Reed 36.79
Tommy Fleetwood 36.59

The two-time defending champion is Brooks Koepka. The last time Pebble Beach hosted the U.S. Open was 2010 when Graeme McDowell won with a score of even-par.

In Vegas, as of Tuesday on sportsbook.ag, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy are the 8-1 favorites. Tiger Woods is 10-1, Patrick Cantlay 14-1, and Jordan Spieth 16-1.

My custom stat model will be focusing on the following:

 

Fantasy Golf Lineup Picks for DraftKings (PGA DFS)

High-Priced DFS Players 

There are six players this week priced above $10,000;

Brooks Koepka ($11,600) - The two-time defending U.S. Open and PGA champion is off a T-50 in Canada. He comes in ranked 53rd in my custom rankings. Now, that's because I didn't factor in any percentage points to driving distance because Pebble doesn't reward driving distance. Koepka is obviously not someone you want to fade, but I may just avoid him in all head-to-head matchups.

Dustin Johnson ($11,300) - Last time the U.S. Open was played at Pebble was 2010. DJ was 6-under heading into the final round and held a three-shot lead. But the final round of a major got to him. He triple-bogeyed the second and doubled the third, completely derailing his round He ended up shooting an 82 finishing T-8, 5-over. Don't think he forgot that. I'm sure he's had this tournament circled on his calendar for a while now. I'm going with him to win. I hate taking someone at a low-price like he is, but he's a great U.S. Open player. Just look at his U.S. Open results the last five years.

The big thing with DJ is can he putt when he needs to? Well, Poa Annua is his best surface by a wide margin. He gains 0.47 strokes on it. The PGA at Bethpage was Poa Annua and he gained three strokes putting there. In the last 24 rounds putting on Poa, DJ ranks fourth gaining 20.6 strokes.

Pebble Beach can also get windy with its location right on the Pacific Ocean. When its really windy, that's where DJ gains the most strokes.

Tiger Woods ($10,700) - Woods lapped the field at the U.S. Open here in 2000 winning by 15 strokes at a score of 12-under. He was the only player to shoot under-par and he did it at 12-under! That was 19 years ago and that was Tiger's heyday. He comes in ranked ninth for me and as long as he continues to not be super aggressive, take the shots he can get, and put the ball in the fairway, he's going to be around late Sunday. He can also play in the wind. Forget his putting, Tiger can make any putt when needed.

Rory McIlroy ($10,500) - Not only is McIroy coming in really hot but he's also having a great season. However, both majors this season have seen him be way out of contention Sunday only for a good final-round to put him in the top-25 making the majors look good from the outside. Last week was his first time in seven tournaments (Arnold Palmer Inv'l) that saw him in the green in splitting fairways. He's also missed three consecutive cuts at the U.S. Open. Rory has said in the past he doesn't like to play in the wind and his major wins have come when its damp and long. Pebble is not that.

Jordan Spieth ($10,300) - It's great to see Spieth back to his old ways after three consecutive top-10's. I think his finesse around the green and on the green will be a major advantage to him this week. He's over his putting yips and he's an amazing putter on Poa surfaces.

Patrick Cantlay ($10,000) - I was very surprised to see him here. I know he's off winning The Memorial two weeks ago and a T-3 at the PGA, but I don't agree with him being in this range over the likes of Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood. His stats are telling me he has the all-around game to be a threat here, but my gut is not.

 

Middle-to-low-priced DFS Players

Jason Day ($9,100) - It's really surprising he hasn't won the U.S. Open yet. He has the all-around game for this major and has had two runner-ups and three other top-10's. However, he's missed the last two cuts at this event. His last time out saw him cut at the Memorial, but I'm just gonna go with him because I know he has what it takes to play well on this type of course.

Francesco Molinari ($9,000) - Since he fell apart on the back-nine of Augusta, he's fallen off the map. He somehow is not a good putter on Poa Annua surfaces, but I don't care. This guy is such a clutch putter. He knows how to save par and saving par is a formula to win at the U.S. Open.

Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900) - If DJ doesn't win, I think it'll be Fleetwood. This man can go low when he needs to on the weekend of a U.S. Open. He finished fourth two years ago and second last year. It's only a matter of time before he breaks through for his first major.

Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800) - Matsuyama's stats are good across the board. He's been playing great golf of late with a sixth-place finish at the Memorial. He's had three top-20's at the U.S. Open in the last four years including a runner-up in 2017.

Xander Schauffele ($8,700) - Throw out all the stats with the X-Man because he is a big-game hunter. He plays his best at the biggest tournaments. He surged onto the scene with a T-5 at the 2017 U.S. Open and backed it up last year with a T-6.

Matt Kuchar ($8,500) - He missed last year's U.S. Open cut but made the eight previous. He can accurately split the fairway, is a good putter, and scores well on par-70. He's also had top-10's in the past three tournaments.

Paul Casey ($8,300) - He continues to burn me in big tournaments so why not get burned once more by the Englishman. His stats are really good and he comes out as my fifth-ranked player.

Webb Simpson ($7,700) - My number-one ranked player is off a runner-up last week at the Canadian Open. Simpson has made seven of eight U.S. Open cuts including winning in 2012 which was also in California.

Brandt Snedeker ($7,500) - His price has already dropped from 100-1 to 50-1. He's a two-tine winner of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and is coming off T-4 in Canada. He also finished T-16 at the PGA and T-19 at the Charles Schwab. He may not be the most accurate in terms of proximity, but he is so accurate off the tee. Sneds has also three top-10 finishes at the last five U.S. Open's.

Zach Johnson ($7,000) - ZJ is a good player when it's a short course and there's wind. Think the British Open he won in 2015. He splits the fairway at ease and has made his last five U.S. Open cuts.

Scottie Scheffler ($6,700) - Surprised to see him priced this low when you look at his stats. This will be his third U.S. Open (missed cut in 2016 and was T-27 in 2017).

Devon Bling ($6,200) - The 19-year-old UCLA sophomore is set to play in his first U.S. Open. I heard something good about Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) on him so I'll take my chances.

 

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Daily Fantasy Golf DraftKings Picks (PGA DFS): Charles Schwab Challenge

Welcome back RotoBallers! Brooks Koepka went wire-to-wire to capture his second consecutive PGA Championship (-8) by two strokes over Dustin Johnson. Koepka becomes the only player to hold the last two PGA's and U.S. Open's. While going wire-to-wire and defending a title is an amazing accomplishment in itself, the fact that Koepka talked the talk, backed it up, and then went out and pretty much dominated is incredible.

In this article, I will be providing you with my  DraftKings PGA DFS lineup picks for the Charles Schwab Challenge. My goal as always is to help put together your optimal daily fantasy golf lineups. You can also track my selections against every other fantasy golf expert on dailyoverlay.com

If anyone has lineup questions before the start of the tournament Thursday morning, feel free to contact me via Twitter @SethFinkTV.

 

Charles Schwab Challenge - PGA DFS Overview

The PGA Tour heads to Fort Worth, Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge. This tournament used to be called the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial Country Club is host to the event. The course plays 7,200 yards and is a par-70. plays to around 7,400 yards. There are four par-3's, 12 par-4's, and two par-5's. The par-5's are two of the three easiest holes.

The greens are bentgrass, tiny and average in speed. There are 84 bunkers on the course and four water hazards.

 

Let's take a look at the stats:

Stat Colonial CC Tour Average
Driving Distance 276 283
Driving Accuracy 56% 61%
GIR Percentage 64% 66%
Scrambling Percentage 58% 57%
Average three-putts per round 0.47 0.56

Last year's cut line was three-under.

Player Strokes Gained Total (last five PGA's)
Jordan Spieth 49.11
Danny Lee 31.11
Kevin Kisner 30.42
Brian Harman 30.11
Harris English 26.57

The defending champion is Justin Rose. Past winners are Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk, Adam Scott, Boo Weekley, Zach Johnson, David Toms, and Johnson again.

In Vegas, as of Tuesday on sportsbook.ag, Justin Rose is the 10-1. Jon Rahm is 11.5-1, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler 14-1, and Francesco Molinari and Xander Schauffele at 16-1.

My custom stat model will be focusing on the following:

 

Fantasy Golf Lineup Picks for DraftKings (PGA DFS)

High-Priced DFS Players 

There are five players this week priced above $10,000;

Justin Rose ($11,400) - Rosey is the defending champion and my number one ranked player. He checks all the boxes except for fairways gained, but he did gain 0.2 fairways gained at the PGA on what was a really difficult course so perhaps he's trending in the right direction.

Jon Rahm ($11,200) - Runner-up in 2017 and T-5 last year at this tournament. But despite that, I'm passing on him this week. His putting on bentgrass is bad (ranked 82nd through last 24 rounds) as is his fairways gained (70th through last 24 rounds).

Jordan Spieth ($10,900) - I'm not following my rankings here (he's ranked 66th) and that's because Spieth may be turning it around after a T-3 at the PGA. Now, he plays in a tournament he won in 2016 and finished runner-up in '15 and '17.

Rickie Fowler ($10,500) - Besides for splitting the fairway, he ranks high in the rest of the stats I'm focusing on. He's also a really good wind player. He finished T-14 last year.

Xander Schauffele ($10,000) - His stats tell me he'll make the cut but not be in competition come Sunday. He struggles to split the fairway and play in the wind. He finished T-48 in 2017 and missed the cut last year.

 

Middle-Priced DFS Players

Paul Casey ($9,300) - My second-ranked player hits it impeccably straight, approaches the green well, and is a strong wind player. He was T-10 in 2017. Casey isn't the greatest during majors, but here, there will be no pressure.

Emiliano Grillo ($8,700) - He's off a really nice T-23 at the PGA. Grillo has made 13/14 cuts this season and is strong in nearly all of the stats I'm keying on. He also finished third last year.

Chez Reavie ($8,300) - I'm picking him because he's first in fairways gained through the last 24 rounds. His last three tournaments have been at RBC Heritage, T-28, Wells Fargo, T-18, and T-14 at PGA.

Russell Knox ($7,400) - Strong stats and a good wind player. He's off a missed cut at PGA, but made last three cuts here including a T-20 last year.

Jim Furyk ($7,300) - He can do everything except his the ball long. It's a high-risk high-reward play.

Corey Connors ($7,200) - Has strong stats in most departments except putting on this surface. He finished T-64 at the PGA and T-8 at this event last year.

Brian Stuard ($7,100) - He doesn't hit the ball long, but he's made his last three cuts here so that's good enough for me.

 

Low-Priced DFS Players

Kevin Streelman ($6,900) - He's a really strong wind player and has made three of the last four cuts here. He also finished sixth at the Texas Open several weeks ago.

Cameron Champ ($6,700) - He's never competed here but him being able to mash the ball will give him a solid shot at doing just enough to make the cut at this price.

Brendan Steele ($6,500) - He's long and accurate. Steele has not competed here but T-42 at the Texas Open.

 

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Daily Fantasy Golf DraftKings Picks (PGA DFS): PGA Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers! Sung Kang won the AT&T Byron Nelson (-23) by two strokes over Scott Piercy and Matt Every.

In this article, I will be providing you with my  DraftKings PGA DFS lineup picks for the PGA Championship. My goal as always is to help put together your optimal daily fantasy golf lineups. You can also track my selections against every other fantasy golf expert on dailyoverlay.com

If anyone has lineup questions before the start of the tournament Thursday morning, feel free to contact me via Twitter @SethFinkTV.

 

PGA Championship - PGA DFS Overview

The PGA Tour heads to Farmingdale, N.Y. for the PGA Championship. This is usually the final major of the season played in August, but with the the schedule change, it's been moved up to May making it much more relevant.

Bethpage State Park Black plays to around 7,400 yards.  There are four par-3's, 11 par-4's, and two par-5's. The par-5's were the easiest holes in terms of scoring average during the 2012 and 2016 Barclays. Bethpage has also recently hosted 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open. The 15th hole has been the hardest hole at those U.S. Open's.

The greens are Poa annua, small and fast. There are at least two bunkers per hole, around 75 in all, and only one water hazard (par-3 8th hole).

Now, it rained all day Sunday and Monday in New York so the course is going to be very soft and players will go low. It's also going to be chilly in the mornings and windy throughout the weekend.

 

Let's take a look at the stats:

Stat Bethpage State Park (Black) (2012, 2016 stats) Tour Average
Driving Distance 289 283
Driving Accuracy 60% 61%
GIR Percentage 63% 66%
Scrambling Percentage 55% 57%
Average three-putts per round 0.61 0.56

Last year's cut line was three-under.

Player Strokes Gained Total (last five PGA's)
Jason Day 61.68
Brooks Koepka 58.68
Rickie Fowler 45.55
Henrik Stenson 37.84
Jordan Spieth 36.39

The defending champion is Brooks Koepka. Past winners are Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner, McIlroy again, Keegan Bradley, and Martin Kaymer.

In Vegas, as of Tuesday on sportsbook.ag, Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka are the co-favorites at 10-1. Dustin Johnson is 11-1 and Rory McIlroy is 12-1.

My custom stat model will be focusing on the following,

 

Fantasy Golf Lineup Picks for DraftKings (PGA DFS)

High-Priced DFS Players 

There are five four players this week priced above $10,000;

Tiger Woods ($11,300) - I don't think Woods should be the highest-priced player, but that means there's plenty of value elsewhere. However, this is a course Woods knows well. He won the 2002 U.S. Open here (after winning the green jacket that same year), was T-6 at the 2009 U.S. Open, and T-38 at the 2012 Barclays. His scoring average through those 12 rounds is 70.17. Woods is ranked 16th in my custom rankings and I think that's fair. He hasn't played since the Masters and like I said, there's plenty of value elsewhere. You have to pay the Tiger premium to go with him.

Dustin Johnson ($11,100) - DJ ranks second in my custom rankings. His game is tailor-made for this course. He can out-drive all other players on tour setting himself out for a 125-yard approach shot. How nice would it be to go driver, pitching wedge, putter every single hole. When DJ is clicking, that's the only three clubs he needs. His putting is usually what scares me, but through the last 24 rounds, he's first three-putt avoidance, second in strokes gained putting. That's putting on all greens, but his last 24 rounds on Poa Annua, he's first in three-putt avoidance and third in strokes gained putting. Poa is actually his best putting surface by a wide margin.

He's coming in under-the-radar and that's because all eyes are on Tiger.

Rory McIlroy ($10,900) - Here's my top-ranked player. McIlroy was the hottest player on tour going into the Masters and he ended up finishing T-21, which is disappointing for him. He has a similar game to DJ with how far he hits it, but his putting statistically is not good. Despite that, the softer greens will greatly benefit him. I also like that he played since Augusta, recording a T-8 at the Wells Fargo.

Brooks Koepka ($10,400) - How can you not pick the defending champ here? This guy lives for majors. He only cares about majors. Koepka's length will be a major boost. And I don't even care that he's 31st in my custom rankings. He's off a fourth-place finish at the Byron Nelson so his game is in form.

Justin Thomas ($10,100) - JT hasn't played since a T-12 at Augusta. There's nothing from his game that pops out to me. He'll finish in the top-20, but if he's to make a serious charge at the championship, he'll need to be outstanding. JT has withdrawn due to a wrist injury.

 

Middle-Priced DFS Players

Jon Rahm ($9,500) - We have not seen Rahm since a T-9 at the Masters. He has good stats for the course, but the only thing that could get in his way is himself. If he gets frustrated, he can implode.

Rickie Fowler ($9,300) - If you only read my columns for the majors, you'll know I pick Fowler to win every time. I've bet him to win the last nine majors and will continue to until he wins that first one. I love that he's coming in under-the-radar off some good performances. After a quiet T-9 at the Masters, he went out and finished T-4 at the difficult Wells Fargo Championship. I firmly believe Fowler gets into the top-10, but he'll need to overcome traditional Sunday struggles at majors. At least he has experience here with a T-7 at the 2016 Barclays.

Xander Schauffele ($9,100) - The X-Man has put himself on the map thanks to great performances in majors including most recently, a runner-up at Augusta. Besides for fairway accuracy, he checks all the boxes.

Jason Day ($9,000) - This is my pick to win this week. He's been having a good quiet season. The Aussie has been struggling to split the fairway this season, but man can he putt. He's first in strokes gained putting on Poa greens in the last 24 rounds and seventh in three-putt avoidance. He was T-4 at the 2016 Barclays so he has the experience needed to win his second PGA Championship.

Paul Casey ($8,300) - This is my third-ranked player. I understand he burned a lot of people after his disastrous performance at Augusta last month, but he bounced back with a T-4 at the Wells Fargo. While he ranks 54th in driving distance through the last 24 rounds, he is first in GIR's in that same span.

Patrick Cantlay ($8,200) - Cantlay comes in off great form; T-9 at the Masters and T-3 at the RBC Heritage. His stats are good, and he's also a solid Poa putter.

Adam Scott ($8,100) - He has not played since a T-18 at the Masters. He struggles to putt on Bermuda and Bentgrass but on Poa, he thrives.

Bubba Watson ($8,000) - This is my boom or bust play. He'll either miss the cut by a lot or finish top-15. Here's why I like him; he can drive the ball a mile, he's a good Poa putter, and he's also finished inside the top-20 in all three of his Bethpage appearances.

Sergio Garcia ($7,900) - Expect a low-ownership for Sergio after most people remember he was cut at the Masters. He did however rebound very nicely with a T-4 at the Wells Fargo. This won't be his first time facing this difficult golf course as he was T-10 at the 2010 U.S. Open. He's a great ball striker and that's why he ranks seventh in my custom rankings.

Joel Dahmen ($7,300) - Dahmen is looking to build off a solo runner-up at the Wells Fargo last week. He's in the green in a lot of the stats I'm focusing on. His ability to split the fairway and put it close to the pin will keep him through the weekend.

Keegan Bradley ($7,200) - Through the last 24 rounds, the 2011 PGA Champ is second in ball striking and proximity. The problem is he isn't a good putter on Poa surfaces. But with the greens being soft for at least the first two days, that could get him to the weekend.

Ryan Palmer ($7,200) - We always get a random PGA Champion every once in a while from the likes of Jimmy Walker to Y.E. Yang. Could Palmer be it? Who knows, but I do know Palmer can stroke the ball. He does have trouble on Poa surfaces. However, he did finish T-13 at the 2016 Barclays.

Jhonattan Vegas ($7,100) - Vegas can really hit it off the tee which is why he's 15th in birdies or better gained in the last 24 rounds. He was T-22 at the 2016 Barclays.

 

Low-Priced DFS Players

Max Homa ($6,900) - Homa comes in hot after winning the Wells Fargo two weeks ago. He should have enough birdie opportunities to make the cut.

Cameron Champ ($6,900) - I'm only going with him because he can absolutely mash the ball and that's a major benefit on a long course like Bethpage.

Russell Knox ($6,700) - All his stats are good except for his putting, but hopefully the damp greens benefit him.

Adam Hadwin ($6,500) - He's made his last two cuts, RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo, so he comes in in good form. I was shocked to him priced this low with the stats he has. See below.

 

Custom Rankings

NOTE: The rankings were messed up due to six players being ranked in the top-six due to only have one stat showing. To find out the actual rank, just subtract six from the my rank column.

 

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