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Houston Texans -3 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 50
The Texans won a big game last week and all but claimed the AFC South ahead of the Titans thanks to their superior divisional record. It means that all they need to do is win one of their remaining games to clinch the 4th seed in the AFC. They’ve got this one and next week against the Titans again. If they win this it’s done.
So they’ve definitely got the motivation to go out, and they’ve got a bit of health finally. They welcomed back Will Fuller last week and have done well when they’ve got him, Hopkins and Stills all fit at the same time. Nuk Hopkins took over the game in the 4th quarter last week but it was Stills who paid the bills with 2 scores from his 3 receptions.
Deshaun Watson is an aweomse QB who’s capable with his arm and with his legs so is always a threat. They’ve had a decent enough run game this year with Carlos Hyde but come up against the best run defense in the league this week so it’s a fade of him for me.
The Texans defense isn’t great though ranking 26th vs the pass and 15th vs the run according to footballoutsiders DVOA.
I really enjoy Jameis Winston, he’s an infinitely fun player to watch as you know he’s bound to sling it downfield you just don’t know whether it will land by one of his players or the oppositions. He’s thrown an interception on the opening drive of 5 games this year already but ironically they’ve won 4 of those 5 games, so maybe that’s the key to him. He’s on target for 5,000 yards 30 TDs, and isn’t a million miles away from 30 Ints as well.
Obviously a lot of his yards this year have been to Evans and Godwin who have both been selected for the pro bowl but both will miss out of this one with hamstring injuries and their WR4, Scotty Miller looks like he may well miss out with a hammy as well. So it means that Breshard Perriman who had a career day last week with 3 TDs will be the WR1 in this one, Justin Watson the 2 and we’ll see whether Ishmael Hyman breaks through in this one as the third WR. I could get bloody should he break his duck for the first time and score a few… Urgh.
OJ Howard should get targeted a lot at TE and Brate might be more involved in the redzone but the TEs haven’t done a lot this year. Bruce Arians apparently said earlier in the week they’d have to pass the ball through their backs as they’re so low at WR options. So there’s a chance Ronald Jones gets some more receptions and if they’re trailing likely that Dare Ogunbowale gets a few more snaps. I’ll be looking for a line on him. Peyton Barber is an irritant but picks up the blitz so is used a lot.
Bucs have the #1 rush defense in the league and have been getting better against the pass, now ranked quite well at 15th, so just about in the top half of the league.
With the injuries I’ve got to take the Texans to win this one, and if they do that I’d expect them to cover. They’re the ones with something to play for and better health.
I like the overs still, it’s been a weird line, opened at 53, now dropped all the way down to 50 and 49.5 in places in the states. But I think both teams will put up points.
I want a line on Dare rec. yards but there isn’t one up yet. I’d probably take over on anything around 20, and I’m still tempted to take RoJo o22.5 on 365 and Skybet, but I’ll be waiting for a Dare line.
Justin Watson and Will Fuller both to score – 17/2 (Skybet)
Buffalo Bills +6.5 @ New England Patriots: 37.5
I took under 38.5 earlier in the week, I think this line had dropped below 37.5 but has rebounded slightly here.
Unfortunately while it would be great if this game could win the AFC East for the Bills, it seems unlikely as once again the Pats randomly have a tie-breaker against the Bills and as long as they beat the Dolphins in the final game of the year they’d win the East with the same record as the Bills.
This should be a tight affair with both teams having top 5 defenses, Pats are 1st, Bill 3rd against the pass and 7th and 19th respectively against the run.
Josh Allen has been pretty secure in recent weeks only throwing 2 interceptions in their last 9 games this year. Admittedly his worst game of the year for INTs came against the Pats earlier in the season which accounts for a third of his turnovers this year. He’ll probably be more dangerous with his legs in this one, he’s got 9 rushing TDs this season already although the Pats will know that and probably have someone spying him.
The passing game runs through John Brown as the deeper threat and Cole Beasley as the higher volume short pass WR. Beasley has scored in 3 of his last 4 games and averages over 7 targets a game over the last month while John Brown will likely get Stephon Gilmore coverage so is hardly worth talking about in this one to be honest. He’s just gone over 1,000 yards and has 7 TDs this year. In fairness to Smokey he’s got the pace to get free and can turn nothing into something. The tight ends get involved a lot with Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft both scoring this year. Kroft in fact was 45/1 last week when he scored, he’s still 25s this week if you fancy him repeating.
The run game has looked far better since Devin Singletary took the majority of carries from Frank Gore. He’s about half Gores age and has the pace and cutting ability to make something from nothing in every game. He hasn’t scored much as Gore still gets a lot of 10-zone carries but has put up 63+ yards in his last 5 games for the team and the Pats gave up over 130 yards to the Bengals with Mixon and Bernard last week.
I think the Pats will see the run game as the biggest threat and do what they can to stop Singletary and the run game and get Allen to throw the ball and try to force turnovers.
Tre’davius White and the Bills defense has been great this season especially in recent weeks, they should do well this one too.
What is going on with the Pats offense? It stinks. Tom Brady while the greatest player we’ve seen has been shite recently. He’s gone 9 games now without a passer rating above 100, he’s had fewer than 200 yards passing in 3 of their last 4 games and only has a 21:7 TD to INT ratio over the season. Their offensive line is beaten up and the Bengals got a lot of pressure on them last week.
Julian Edelman is expected to play but he was officially on the pitch last week as well in Cincinnati and did fuck all so they’ll be hoping he’s healthier for this one. Mo Sanu got a lot of targets last week, they mostly weren’t good targets but he was the main man nonetheless, 2 receptions from 8 targets for a whole 13 yards is not good. He was over-thrown at least once though, and N’Keal Harry is showing to be their WR3 on the offense.
The run game has been poor too this year although Sony Michel put up a decent yardage against a poor Bengals run D last week. He’s only scored in 4 of their games this year and hasn’t found the endzone for their last 7 games. The problem with the Pats run game is I’m never sure who will get the ball. They’ve got Michel, Burkhead, James White and even Brandon Bolden stealing carries in key areas.
Their defense and special teams are the key to this team, I’m sure they’ll force at least one turnover and get some good field position in this one at least once in the game and that could be enough.
I’m expecting a low scoring game in this one and I’ve got to lean to the Bills covering. But it’s the Pats at home in December. It’s foolish to bet on that.
I was going to have a Both Players To Score trixie, but I want nothing to do with this game so will have to be a double.
LA Rams +6.5 @ San Francisco 49ers: 44.5
The Rams are still technically in with a chance of making the playoffs. It’s a 3% chance and they need to win both while the Vikings lose both, but it’s still a chance and it means they should be motivated to win this one while the 49ers need to keep winning to give them a chance of taking the #1 seed in the NFC and home-field throughout. They’ve got the Rams in this one and the Seahawks next week so it’s in their hands.
It won’t be easy for them as their QB isn’t very good under pressure and punched a helmet last week and messed up his hand a bit. He wasn’t good until garbage time vs the Cowboys last week so will have to bounce back in this one and he’s capable of that but it’s been a tough year for Jared Goff.
The running game has been better recently as they focused on getting Gurley going with heavier sets, a lot of 2 TEs and Josh Reynolds in for Kupp as he’s a better blocker, and in theory that’s the way to attack the 49ers as they’re worse vs the run than the pass this year. Gurley didn’t have a good game last week yet still finished with 2 TDs. His knee clearly isn’t right but when you’ve only got two games left in the season you may as well load him up.
The passing game has been tough to call. The last month has been a shit-ton of Robert Woods but he disappointed last week. The first half of the season was largely Cooper Kupp and he’s bounced back in recent weeks, in fact he’s caught all of his last 14 targets in the last 3 games with a TD in each of them. Brandin Cooks is the forgotten man but is capable of 1 catch for 65 yards if he gets the chance down the field.
Tyler Higbee has been great recently with over 100 yards in each of his last 3 games, but all of those game without Gerald Everett being available so while I think he should still have a good game as the genie is now out of the bottle, the return of some competition at his position gives me pause.
The defense has been pretty good this year though, they’re 11th vs the pass and 6th vs the run so not too shabby at all.
The 49ers stumbled last week at home to the Falcons. But looking at their schedule now it was a standout let-down spot as they had the Ravens and Saints before that game and Rams and Seahawks this week and next, both of which were always going to be more significant, and it was a freak ending to the game as well so I’m pretty much ignoring it to be honest. They’ve lost 3 games this year by 3, 3 and 7 points (although last week was essentially 1 point)
The play calling and coaching for the 49ers has been great this year, on most plays there’s a couple of guys in acres of space and Jimmy Garoppolo is capable of finding them for the most part. He’s averaging over 100 passer rating this year, 27:11 TD to INT ratio and has got better as the season has gone along. I need to fully watch a niners game to be honest as I’m still not entirely convinced. Which is stupid.
The run game has got them through this year and the current main man seems to be Raheem Mostert who’s scored for 4 weeks in a row now and has led the team in carries in the last 3 of those games. He’s electric and hard to stop if he bounces it outside. Matt Breida is back and running with good efficiency while Tevin Coleman just isn’t running well so doesn’t get the touches. My man Juice scored last week and is 16/1 to repeat that in this one, he gets a surprising amount of targets for a full back but is good in the passing game as well. Juszczyk. (Just wanted to show I knew how to spell it without having to check, not that you know that I didn’t, but… honest, I didn’t)
The passing game is varied as well, the trade for Emmanuel Sanders looks like it could be the move of the year as he’s been great since he came over from the Broncos for very little cost. 157 and a touch against the Saints a couple of weeks back before he and every other WR failed last week. He and Deebo have been good over the last month and Kendrick Bourne gets a lot of redzone targets and therefore quite a few TDs. But the main man in the passing game is the tight end George Kittle who is Gronk reincarnated. He had a ridiculous 17 targets last week which turned into 13 receptions for 134 yards. He went over 100 yards in the first game against the Rams and has 4 TDs on the season, 3 of them in their last 5 games. The play at the end of the game against the Saints showed everything you need to know about sKittles, he’s a fucking beast.
They are hurt on the offensive line still but should welcome back Sherman and Williams in the secondary which helps them immensely back there as they’re ranked 2 vs the pass this season and 12th vs the run.
Actually quite a tough one to call, both teams should be motivated to go and win. If you think the Rams win them take them to win by 1-6. If you think the 49ers win then you can probably take them to win by 14+ points. It’s just a weird game to call as I’m not sure which of those scenarios is more likely.
Todd Gurley and Kendrick Bourne both to score – 7/1 (Skybet)
- Justin Watson and Will Fuller both to score – 17/2 (Skybet)
- Todd Gurley and Kendrick Bourne both to score – 7/1 (Skybet)
I don’t want to take 10/3 or less shot, so I’ll have a stab on these two as singles and a 67/1 double for a bit of interest in the Saturday games.
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