Week 10. Fresh off a Ravens victory where not only did I stream the Ravens defense to give me a cool 14 points, I also sat Terrance West who crapped out a whole bunch of nothing thanks to Joe Flacco tossing 3 touchdowns. On the surface the Ravens season is slowly coming together but I generally don’t trust their offense to remain consistent enough to keep them in games, let along the playoffs. Hell, weirder things have happened. Like Donald Trump becoming President……ok we won’t go there but just goes to show, go for the job you want, even if you are not qualified!
Now before I do my usual bit about the non-televised games, the TV games look GREAT. Falcons vs Eagles. Points for the birds all around. Even the Eagles won’t be able to ground the Falcons but they have forced mistakes and utilized specials teams so it should be a close one. Cowboys vs Steelers, on paper this looks amazing as well. Big Ben didn’t really look like himself last week, I know he fired in some lasers but he also had some bad misses. Steelers offense looks a bit clunky and despite have arguably the best running back and best receiver in the game, here they are sat at.500. I hate to say it but I think the Cowboys keep rolling. Possibly the best match up of the year last on Sunday, Seahawks @ Patriots. Man oh man this will be a good one. Brady keeps setting the standard at QB and you really don’t see the guy slowing down. He is playnig pissed off, and he is as dangerous as he has ever been. The Pats game script better than anyone else in the league and they can change their style to whatever is needed to win. I think a lot of 2 TE sets and both Gronk and Martellus Bennett explode (not literally obviously) and shut down the Seahawks.
Kansas City @ Carolina
Did anyone see the Chiefs last week? They sucked. They also won. The Panthers should provide a better challenge than the woeful Jaguars. The Chiefs get primary contributors Alex Smith and Spencer Ware back from injury so I would fully expect that the Chiefs look a heck of a lot better. They will need it however as the streaky Panthers suddenly look like they are getting their claws back (sorry!). Wasn’t a great win against the Rams and Newton got hit a lot but they got a win and winning ugly is just as important as winning outright. Expect business as usual from both starting tight ends, Kelce and Olsen, both will have a good days unless both starting QBs suddenly go blind. Carolina will need their run game to succeed to keep away a feisty Chiefs D who lead the league in takeaways AND who should get Justin Houston back from injury. Same really goes for Kansas City but Spencer Ware has just as tough a job against a Carolina front 7 that allows just 3.1 yards per carry over the last 4 weeks. Both QB’s can run so I would start both of them this week also. I am massively high on Kelvin Benjamin who happens to play most of his snaps on the left side of the field. Why is this important you ask? Because top CB Marcus Peters usually stays on the opposite side of the field so he has tremendous upside this week, providing Cam Newton can stay upright himself. Potential flex starters with the Chiefs receivers but I wouldn’t start any of them personally as Smith is very good at distributing the ball evenly. Both needs wins this week or their respective paths to the playoffs take a massive hit.
Winner – Carolina
Houston @ Jacksonville
I have a lot invested in this game believe it or not. I have Allan Robinson and Deandre Hopkins in one fantasy team. On paper, couldn’t believe my luck. In reality, both have sucked. Robinson is still a good play based on pure volume so for me he gets the nod over Hopkins this week. It is telling, and extremely concerning for Texans fans that Brock Osweiller cannot do what FOUR different QBs did last year by getting the ball to Hopkins. Stat of the year so far which I heard on the Around the NFL Podcast this morning was that when throwing the ball to Hopkins, the QB has a passer rating of less than 45. This means that whenever Osweiller throws to him, literally nothing happens. This is the lowest single figure between a QB and WR of any team this year. Stunning. Houston do still have a decent D but I don’t think they have what it takes to carry on their winning record in to the second half of the season. Yes the Jags suck but they are at home and if they can build on the running game from last week, it will help Bortles actually hit one of his open receivers. I don’t really have anything much else to say on this one other than the players that you thought would be stars this year, Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, Hopkins, Robinson, Bortles, Ivory have all just been disappointing. If you have the Texans D, I would feel happy about scoring some points but without future HoF’er JJ Watt, it isn’t enough to win games. I actually think the home team takes this one, not due to their talent, but I don’t think the Texans are good enough to win away from home.
Winner – Jacksonville
Denver @ New Orleans
Drew Brees is playing great this year. Similar to Matt Ryan, he doesn’t seem to fall off even when playing against great defences. Step in Denver, who have a great defense. Well, their run D is allowing over 120 yards a game and has been surprisingly leaky. If you figure in that top cornerback Aqib Talib then the Saints offense has a chance to succeed. The pass rush is always there with Von Miller and Demarcus Ware but Dree Brees is an expert with short, precise timing routes with his WRs and it is honestly a beautiful thing to watch. He shredded the Niners last week with many of those types of throws so I would expect more of the same mixing in with Tim Hightower and to a lesser extent Mark Ingram. Don’t be fooled by Ingram’s stats last week. Take away the big run, he didn’t play that well so Hightower is your better play from a fantasy standpoint. Denver get their inspiration from their defence and they will get a few sacks but I don’t think they force any turnovers. Denvers weak offense, like the Niners last week do have a chance to put up nice numbers against the Saints D, no one is believing that they are anything but crap so Siemien and his duo of Thomas and Sanders have a chance to bounce back. Don’t expect RB1 production from Devontae Booker just yet, he might need a bit more time to figure out the nuances of the NFL run game but you can put him in the flex again even though he tanked last week. Strength on Strength in this one, I think the Saints at home are stronger than the Broncos away.
Winner – New Orleans
Los Angeles @ New York Jets
My god. For the three great TV games we have this week, we have some stinkers in the other fixtures. First the Thursday night game of the Ravens and Browns and then Rams and the Jets. These teams both stink but for very different reasons. Jeff Fishers ‘no 8-8 or 7-9’ comments on Hard Knocks will probably be the only thing that is remembered during his tenure with the Rams. I respect what Jeff has done over his career but you can only assume he doesn’t have much time left with the Rams. It isn’t that he is a bad coach but you just don’t see any development on the offensive side of the ball (why isn’t Jared Goff playing? I don’t care if he isn’t ready, why take him number 1? 5 other rookie QB’s have started this year and actually played well). We all know that the Rams are a nasty front 7 and have the talent on that side of the ball but like in Denver, Minnesota and Houston, you need your offense to at least be average, or have average QB play in order to be successful with that style of football. Nothing really to play for other than pride in this one. The Jets are done and face a lot of questions with their aging roster. I would expect to see Fitzpatrick on the bench and Bryce Petty starting before too long. Potentially the same with the Rams and Goff taking over when they are mathematically out of the playoffs.Forte has found some success this year but he will get hit, and hard this week. Todd Gurley’s year doesn’t seem to be getting any better and certainly won’t get better this week. The Rams still have to face all their division rivals before the end of the year along with the Patriots and the Falcons so they may potentially lose every game from here on out. I think Fitzpatrick gets the nod again this week and starts the Rams down a murky unpleasant road to irrelevance.
Winner – Jets
Chicago @ Tampa Bay
See above. Ok no I’m kidding. This one has a kind of interesting narrative at least. Jay Cutler’s revival. Ok no I’m kidding. He’s terrible. I love Mike Evans and he again is a must start, but it’s not like anyone needs telling that. The Bucs have quite a favourable schedule for the latter part of the season so if you have any Evans, Doug Martin etc they could seriously help you win you some games. Like the Jets and Rams, this feels like another irrelvant game. Only saving grace is that Jameis Winston and Cutler should do their fair share of chucking the ball up 30-40 times with exciting results. Not necessarily good for their respective teams but exciting non the less. I like Zach Miller in this game, he and Alshon Jeffrey have a lot more upside now that Cutler is behind center. Feel bad for Cameron Meredith but maybe he is a guy for the future as I doubt the Bears keep Jeffrey or Cutler beyond this season. The Bears running game is a committee and John Fox will be keeping that way till some one gets hot so very hard to predict if Jordan Howard is going to get the majority of touches. In conjunction with this, the Bears did beat Minnesota in their last game so the production is going to be there. I like the potential of the Bucs but bad coaching decisions and injuries have derailed their season.The Bears have only allowed 53 points in their last three games so advantage, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, goes to the Bears.
Winner – Chicago
Green Bay @ Tennessee
Ah thank god. A game to look forward to! Both starting QBs are looking great after slow starts. Mariota firstly has been great and if you have seen his career red zone numbers, they are god like. He has a great match up against a injured GB secondary and I like his odds of continuing his recent hot streak. The Tennessee running game has been good but not quite as expected. The ‘exotic’ ground and point of Murray and Henry just hasn’t been necessary because of how well Murray has been playing. Nothing to do with Henry not being good enough, just Murray being so good. Henry looks like he is out anyway so more of Murray. I don’t think the Green Bay run D will affect it too much but I would think that they might throw a little more this week. Green Bay looked like they had a formula for no running game for a few weeks and then went away from this plan and lost to the Colts. THE COLTS. I picked the Pack to win and I seriously don’t understand how they could move away from what was working. I think Ty Montgomery has a minimum 10 fantasy point floor so roll with him if you have him. Adams and even Jordy Nelson should put up decent numbers in a flex spot. Tennessee’s D has been good but not great but I like Aaron Rodgers chances against their secondary. If he avoids Richard Rodgers and goes back to a more up tempo short passing game then I think they could sneak a win. I do like Tennessee in a morbid AFC South and both these teams have flashed greatness, but also played badly enough to leave them both at the .500 mark or below at the mid way point of the season. The only player to beat the Pack on the ground was Zeke Elliott and I don’t think that Murray will quite match his production so advantage goes to the Pack in a high scoring game. Oh and start Delanie Walker, always start Delanie Walker.
Winner – Green Bay
Minnesota @ Washington
Fresh off a bye week, you have to be feeling good if you are the Redskins right? Your opponent started off hot but since lost 3 games in a row? They shouldn’t undertimate the Vikings though as they still have a great defense who can shut down opposing attacks. However, they can only sustain it for so long and being on the field for too long is bound to break down eventually. To his credit, Sam Bradford is not the problem, as I have talked about several times, you win in the NFL at the line of scrimmage and if you are on your ass or your face at the end of most of your passing plays then there really isn’t much you can do. Their running game is as laughable as the Giants so once you make your team one dimensional, everything becomes much harder. The Vikings have used a much more up tempo offense to combat a few of these issues but again that leaves the defense on the field for much longer than it should be. Washington have been playing great through Kirk Cousins and the WR core along with TE’s Reed and Davis. Reed and Davis offer such a mismatch that it frees up the entire field for Cousins to dissect opposing secondary’s. Funnily enough usually finding Reed or Davis. In London, they seemed to move the ball quite effortlessly and then all of a sudden he had over 400 yards passing. He won’t get that, not even close playing the Vikings. Especially as Matt Stafford struggled his way through their last game with them and only just scored 20 odd points thanks to his winning TD in overtime. Vikings will need big days from Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen in order to pull a win out on the road. This is another intruguing match up but if the Redskins score more than 17 points then it is game over.
Winner – Redskins
Miami @ San Diego
IF Miami had a passing game, this would be my favourite match up of the week. This game, and rightly so, will be a tale of two second year players Jay Ajayi (529 rushing yards the last 3 weeks) and Melvin Gordon (over 250 scrimmage yards last week). Both written off in their rookie years for various reasons have bulldozed their way through defensive lines and scoring with reckless abandon. These two will score points and I think there will be a bunch of them. The key therefore will be mistakes. Whoever wins the turnover battle will walk away victorious. I was never that keen on QB Rivers but watching him this season, playing without 3 favourite targets for most of the season has been inspiring. His wide receivers have stepped up when called upon so it is hard to see who to play from a fantasy perspective but Rivers is very much able to just find the guy who is open. The San Diego D is the difference in this one for me, they disturbed and unsettled Marcus Mariota in to some key turnovers and Miami just don’t have the power to fight back in the air if they fall behind.
Winner – San Diego
San Francisco @ Arizona
Just two weeks ago, I wouldn’t even bother watching this game. The Cards weren’t playing great but they were okay, the Niners were just tanking games between the 3rd and 4th quarters. David Johnson will carry this team once again but I am not so sure about Carson Palmer anymore. This Arizona team has the same players from last year but is just not as potent and it starts with Palmers play. No fearless long balls down field. Anyone not named Larry looks downright pants. However, their D is still very good and has Colin Kaepernicks number in recent years. I wouldn’t mind our chance scoring points on Arizona providing there are no mistakes but with 2 fumbles in oppenents territory last week, I think the Niners have discovered they they like losing as well as playing historically bad against the run. Which brings me back to David Johnson, if they funnel everything through him and use the play action to freeze our child like linebackers then they should stroll through this game. I am hoping I am wrong but I am hoping that Carlos Hyde and Dejuan Harris have great games and give Kap some time to throw the ball. Again I think it could be high scoring but with no legitimate defence, it is hard to bet against the Cardinals on this one.
Winner – Arizona (but by god I hope I am wrong).
I will be handling the Monday night game this week so I leave you with my likely Fantasy football starting line ups for the weekend:
League 1 – 6-3
Brady, Ajayi, Elliott, Evans, Robinson, Walker, Demaryius Thomas, Bryant, Ravens
League 2 – 5-4
Brees, Hightower, Gordon, Brown, Evans, Kelce, Montgomery, Bailey, Chargers (Spencer Ware is in the mix as a flex – game time decision)
Good luck to all!