Inside The Pylon : Same NFL, Different Week

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NFL Fandom Map of the U.S.A.

 

WEEK 3 RECAP

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America demanded scoring from the NFL after the pitiful output the first two weeks provided. As the NFL always tends to do, just as you’re ready to throw in the towel, it ropes you in like a hopeless, virgin cattle. Scoring you asked for and baby, scoring is what we all got – in bunches. Starting with a wildly entertaining Thursday Night Football game (completely out of left field) with new in-state rivals, 49ers & Rams. Jared Goff got the last laugh, Rams 41 – 49ers 39. It played perfect foreshadowing for Sunday, in particular the 1pm EST slot of games. I can’t recall a more exciting hour of football watching in the past decade. Praise lord for the Redzone Channel. Over a 27 minute period the NFL had five games decided in the final seconds. Complete madness. Chicago Bears somehow outlasted Pittsburgh Steelers in OT, 23-17, in a game defined by wackiness (including a perfect Leon Lott impersonalization). The Detroit Lions beat defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, 32-30, taking the lead for the first time of the game with :08 seconds on the clock. A quick slant to Golden Tate on 3rd & Goal was ruled a TD and then naturally was reviewed. Whelp, as true Detroit Lions luck would have it – Tate was ruled down at the 6 inch line with no timeouts remaining and :08 seconds to go. Naturally, the easily forgotten 10 second runoff rule applied immediately ending the game. Lions go from 3-0 to 2-1 in mere seconds. Tom Brady worked his magic again after Houston decided to “trust it’s defense” and punt on 4th & 1 instead of seal the upset by gaining one yard. Brady to Cooks (Brady’s 5th TD and 2nd to Cooks) from 38 yards out with under 30 seconds provided the dagger in this game, Pats win 36-33. Philadelphia thoroughly dominated the New York “football” Giants for 3 quarters, leading 24-0. Until Eli Manning rose from the dead and found his lost superstar Odell Beckham Jr. for two 4th qtr TD’s, reeling off 24 unanswered points to miraculously tie the game and force OT barring a last-second Philly hail mary. Wait – is that the kicker? He’s never made a kick over 52 yards? But this would be a 61 yard FG (7th longest in NFL history). Of course, Jake Elliot blasted the ball through the uprights for a walk-off win. Lastly, the Packers denied the Bengals their first W of the season completing the overtime comeback, 27-24. Very hard to believe in Aaron Rodgers illustrious career he had never beaten the Bengals and even crazier he’s never won an overtime game – he shedded two monkeys off his back with one last second Jordy Nelson TD grab. You can choose to believe me or not that all these crazy NFL finishes took place in one week – when we hardly had a single NFL game match the excitement of any of these coming into the week. If you don’t believe me – here’s a recap video of the wildness that was Week 3.

NFL Week 3 Wild Finishes

This week I’ve decided to instead of promoting a few players whom I believe should be “added” in your respective fantasy leagues – to mention players more universally owned with changes to their usage patterns – therefore increasing/decreasing expected opportunities. Opportunity can be described in many ways on the football field, but the best stat(s) to help predict future performance are targets and snaps. Old school research would see a 6 reception game and base future value off of something as unpredictable as receptions are. For a moment please consider all the factors involved to actually compete for a reception, crazy right? The past few weeks, while my “rising” players were solid free agent recommendations to add to your roster –  it may have even been applicable to your league’s waiver wire. The fact is that with leagues coming in all shapes, sizes & colors these days it’s nearly impossible to name players on ALL free agent pools. Besides, wouldn’t you rather know about higher scoring players that you should try to target in trade talks or conversely sell before the bottom falls out? I thought so… With that in mind. Let’s play a quick round of WR blind auction. Which WR would you rather have this season:

Player A : 13 rec 194 yds 2 TD’s

Player B : 14 rec 160 yds 1 TD’s

Player C : 12 rec 142 yds 2 TD’s

Player D : 14 rec 186 yds 1 TD’s

Well without the all-important “target” data, blindly you’d select player A and C followed by B & D. Well, let’s add the target info for these mystery men (A=14, B=26, C=14, D=28). That skews your thought process a bit doesn’t it. Who do you like best now? Here are the answers (let me know in the comments if you guessed any of them correctly) Player A = Sammy Watkins Player B = Mike Evans, Player C = Allen Hurns, Player D = Alshon Jeffery aka target monster! Given this beneficial knowledge… Here we go!

RISERS

Quarterbacks

Trevor Siemian (QB – DEN) : After the lackluster season put together in 2016 by Siemian, Bronco country knew to keep their expectations low for 2017 (most hoped Paxton Lynch would win QB battle). However, three weeks in and no complaints in Denver. He’s proven his elite accuracy and with numerous 20+ yard completions so far, he’s forcing defenses league wide to fear  the deep ball – especially with known clutch weapons in E.Sanders and 88 – DT. Trevor is inside the Top 10 in QB’s this week and don’t be surprised if he finishes there as well.

Jared Goff (QB – STL) : Do they offer any awards to players after 25% of the season mark? No, they don’t? Well…. If they did, can you guess who’d win Most Improved Player in an absolute landslide? Mr. Jared, #1 overall draft pick, Goff. I could spit out dozens of stats to validate that claim, but I’ll just quick compare his ‘16 rookie season (7 starts) to his ‘17 weeks 1-3. Comp. % (54.6%, 70.4%) Yards (1089, 887)* TD/INT Ratio (5/7, 6/1) Yds/Att (5.1, 10.1). Wow. Kid is legit.   * (7) games started to (3) !!!!

Running Backs

Joe Mixon (CIN – RB) : The Bengals fired their long time OC after a pathetic 0-2 start to the season and new OC Bill Lazor instantly told the media that the “best” RB would earn the majority of snaps as the season progressed. The rookie hit career highs in week 3 and looked extremely explosive doing so. He more than doubled his snap count from Week 2 with 34 offensive snaps and Cincinnati would be dumb to reduce his role any. It looks like your early round gamble may pay off after all.

Todd Gurley (STL – RB) : What on earth happened in 2016? Gurley lit the world on fire in ‘15 rookie season. So much, in fact, he did enough to warrant a top 3 fantasy pick in next years fantasy drafts. Sorry if Todd burned you last season, hopefully you swallowed your pride and give him a 2nd chance. Through (3) games he has 6 TD’s and is averaging an obsurd 29 FPPG (PPR), easily leading all skill position players. If anyone in your league has dangled Gurley on the open market, run, scratch that – SPRINT to your computer and trade anyone he wants for his ass! Win your league now, thank me later (% of fantasy profits work just fine :).

Christian McCaffrey (CAR – RB) : In what’s been a reasonably slow start to his career, the 1st round draft pick has shown off his explosiveness in week 3 – already surpassing the vaunted 100 yard plateau. It should come as no surprise it was in the passing game in which he achieved the feat. With Carolina banged up at WR and Cam Newton looking like a shell of himself – the Panthers likely want to limit mistakes and give their QB easy, quick routes to target – as it turns out these are McCaffrey’s bread and butter. As crazy as this sounds, I could see McCaffrey finishing the season with more receptions than rushes and will almost certainly finish 1,200 all-purpose yards – unfortunately big bruiser Jonathon Stewart will hog many goal line TD’s – but our boy should find pay dirt 4-6 times

Wide Recievers

Jordan Matthews (WR – BUF) : The Buffalo offense has been one of the lowest volume offenses all year, and that is going to see a radical change against Atlanta. Matthews’ five targets last week were equivalent to a 19 percent target share of the Bills’ offense. Not only do I expect that rate to increase, but this game against Atlanta likely will be Tyrod’s heaviest passing volume game of the season, and JMatt is going to be the largest beneficiary. He is a real WR1 waiting to happen and he can be had for free.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI) : At 33 years old, it seems every year for a decade National Pundits proclaim “this” is the year Fitz falls off the cliff. Well, he’s now posted back to back 100+ rec, 1000+ yds seasons – totaling 15 TD’s. I don’t care who you are, what league you play in and how skewed against WR’s your league settings are.. these are legit WR1 numbers and anybody who plays our game would gladly plug him into their lineup every week. Larry – go get ‘em kid – 33 is the new 23, at least so I’ve heard…

Emmanuel Sanders (WR – DEN) : While I liked Sanders in the offseason, I likely underrated his ability to get open and what that sort of safety valve would mean for a quarterback like Siemian. Demaryius Thomas is one of the best-contested catchers in football, BUT a quarterback like Siemian who is trying not to make mistakes is less likely to make those throws. Sanders’ shiftiness and ability to lose defenders near the line of scrimmage will make him one of the leading target getters in the NFL this season

Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN) : Us Vikings fans are very familiar household name that is, Stefon Diggs. He blasted onto the scene in ’15 as a 5th rd rookie out of Maryland. Similar to Mr. Gurley, Diggs seemed to take a small step back last season. I’m here to exclaim that was simply due to worthless line play and uber conservative playcalling. Three weeks in and this offense not only looks competent, it looks downright dynamic (with our without Sam Bradford) and Diggs has been a major part of that. Stefon matches his uncanny route-running ability with his freakish ability to high point any pass to dominate on Sunday. Three games into ’17 he has seen 25 targets and has already tied his career TD mark with 4. Flying under the radar (as most stars in Minnesota do) Diggs has easily been one of the top 2 or 3 WR’s this season, averaging 18 FPPG (standard) & 23.4 FPPG (PPR).

Tight Ends

Charles Clay (TE – BUF) :  Clay and Tyrod Taylor have been clicking, with the latter finding him for two touchdowns through the first three games and sending 18 targets in his direction overall. Clay can certainly explode for the occasional big gainer but really knows how to roam the middle of the field. With a somewhat thin receiving corps in Buffalo, Clay figures to continue in a prominent pass-catching role

** Ran out of time to go into detail on each of the players listed below. Feel free to mark them each down a notch from an ROS (rest of season) production standpoint.

FALLERS

QUARTERBACKS

Joe Flacco (QB – BAL)

Derek Carr (QB – OAK) :

RUNNING BACKS

Lamar Miller (RB – HOU) :

Ameer Abdullah (RB – DEt) :

Marshawn Lynch (RB – OAK) :

WIDE RECIEVERS

Amari Cooper (WR – OAK) :

Martavis Bryant (WR – PIT) :

Terrelle Pryor (WR – WAS) :

Donte Moncrief (WR – IND) :

TIGHT ENDS

Austin Hooper (TE – ATL) :

Hunter Henry (TE – SD):

BEATIN’ THE BOOK

The consensus for Week 3 was, overly exciting to watch and that unbearable to watch if you had any significant moolah on the games (especially the 1pm slot).  Given the craziness that went down last week, most wise guys across the nation looked downright foolish. All the more reason for me to brag about my still winning record 😉

Week 3 W/L : Wins – Rams, Bears, Bills, Saints, Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, Bengals, Cowboys (9)

Losses – Ravens, Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Lions, Eagles, Redskins (7)

Overall Record : 28-18-1 Best Bet : 3-0

Early Games :

Saints (-3) @ Dolphins (9:30 am EST – LONDON) New Orleans is riding high after plowing through Newton and his Panther’s last week, even the defense showed up (1st time in years) snagging 3 INT’s. Where the Dolphins laid a big fat egg against a team we were debating if was the worst of all-time in New York Jets. Don’t overthink this game. Saints 28-21

Panthers (+9.5) @ Patriots : New England isn’t the dominant team the media made them out to be during the preseason, with all that 19-0 talk. But boy has Cam Newton fallen far from grace since his amazing Super Bowl run over 2 years ago now. The Pats will allow some points but expect Tommy to pull away late. Lay the points. Patriots 31-17

Rams (+6.5) @ Cowboys : This is a very tough game to predict and I likely would not bet on it – however I can still predict it. LA looks like a formidable team this year and 3 weeks in holds the #1 passing offense. While Dallas is on the other side of the coin and coming off a short week. I think Ezekiel Elliot will eventually be too much for the Rams, but LA covers the almost TD point spread. Cowboys 24-21

Lions (+2.5) @ Vikings : My excuse for not submitting my picks until the weekend… Vegas wouldn’t release a point spread for this game until yesterday. Apparently, Bradford would make some massive difference if he played. So far the Vikings look crisp on both sides of the ball, especially on home turf. Detroit is 1 overturned play away from being 3-0, and then likely favorites in the game. However, Minnesota got swept in the season series with Detroit last season and it certainly left a bad taste in their mouths. You know Coach Zimmer will have the boys ready to play and get after it from the opening whistle. Love this bet, invest on the home favorite. Vikings 27-13

Titans (-1.5) @ Texans : No idea how DeShaun Watson nearly walked into Foxboro and left with a win, probably never will. Tennessee finally proved themselves to be legit in the big game with America watching against the Seahawks. They’re the type of team that travels well and given the way this supposedly vaunted Texan defense has played (allowed 36 to NE and 29 to Jax) – I like the Titans to take care of business. Titans 30-10

Jaguars (-3.5) @ Jets : Easily the two most surprising winners in last week’s chaotic slate of early games. Of the two, one seemed feasible and the other seemed like a rabbit out of a hat, perfect storm, wouldn’t have again if played every week all season. Can you guess which game was which? The London Jags legitimized their defense across the pond while the J-E-T-S must’ve drugged Jay Cutler during the pregame because his performance was beyond putrid. If Miami was smart that game film will have been destroyed before it was every seen again by human eyeballs. This should be a game of skill and tactical strategies, therefore take the London Jags and bet them large. Jaguars 21-9

***Bengals (-3) @ Browns : The classic early season, must win game some call the toilet bowl – I just call it the 0-3 bowl. The Bengals offense finally woke up last week with the hiring of a new O.C. They legitimately gave that game back the Green Bay and should’ve shocked the cheese head faithful. Cleveland, meanwhile, was favored on the road for the first time in over 6+ years. Naturally, they got outplayed by a 3rd string QB and a 67-year-old RB in Frank Gore. All the money you’ve been saving for this fall, now is the time to double it up. Lay the goddamn wood! Bengals 34-14

Steelers (-3) @ Ravens : Las Vegas isn’t perfect guys. You want to know how I know? They sometimes post a line backwards and don’t notice or like to assume the betting public won’t either. It’s far past documented Big Ben’s struggles on the road and its a given in this league Baltimore plays tougher at home. Expect nothing less than a knock down drag out war between these two long-time AFC North rivals. This matchup is of two evenly talented teams but in Baltimore should be a spread closer to Ravens -2. Gladly bet the home dog. Ravens 19-12

Bills (+8) @ Falcons : Another difficult game to predict as both teams have shown signs of greatness yet have exposed glaring weaknesses as times. Buffalo was impressive all day last week, beating the powerful Denver Broncos. Atlanta struggled to put away Detroit last week and it nearly came back to bite them on the last play of the game. This game has sneaky shootout potential and would rather bet the over than the game itself. But I think Buffalo plays tough game and it’s tied into the 4th. Julio Jones finally makes his mark on the young season by snatching a long TD over a defender in the final minutes. Take the points, then watch and enjoy. Falcons 34-28

Late Afternoon Games :

Giants (+3) @ Buccaneers : All the hype surrounding this game would lead you to believe the Bucs were some huge underdog. Seriously, it’s one week the Giants are washed up and Eli can’t hit the broad side of a barn – then after one half of sound football (thanks OBJ for realizing the season started) all of a sudden they’re prepared to knock off solid team in Tampa Bay on the road. I think not. The Bucs got embarrassed last weekend and the Jameis Winston I know doesn’t lose back to back games – he also won’t pass up an opportunity at free crab legs either! Take the contrarian pick here, the home favorite. Buccaneers 23-17

Eagles (+2.5) @ Chargers : Recall every week Vegas does this at least once? A “trap line”. Well, here you go. I wouldn’t bet this game with a 40 ft pole. Whenever a line seems so stupid, for lack of a better word, it usually means Vegas is begging you to take this line for one reason or another. Instead of following my guy (typically best way), I’m going to play this hand the way Vegas doesn’t prefer I do. Hold your nose and back the 0-3 favorites – gulp. Chargers 27- 24

49er’s (+6.5) @ Cardinals : The Cardinals are probably the better team, but I don’t like them off a short week. San Francisco proved they can at least hang around with teams last week in TNF. Plus, the David Johnson-less Cardinals are laying basically a full TD (recommend buying .5 pt here to get full TD) against a  well-rested Niners squad. Take the points 

Raiders (+3) @ Broncos : I absolutely love this game. Two very talented teams coming off disappointing losses. Major rivalry game for them both. Denver lost to a lesser team in the Bills last week, but this is the NFL and if you don’t play at your peak performance every Sunday – you will lose games. Plus, it was the first test on the road for Siemen. Oakland on the other hand was obliterated on national television against the 0-2 Redskins. I like Denver’s world-class defense to force some turnovers (finally) and have a huge bounce back game and for Trevor Siemen to take advantage of this weak Oakland secondary. Lay the wood. Broncos 28-10

SUNDAY NIGHT

Colts (+13) @ Seahawks : This is your classic example of a revenge game, for both teams. Seattle got pummeled against a tough Titan team, but it was heart-breaking since they’ve also been waxed in Green Bay (both games on National Television). Indy is praying for more games on their schedule against Cleveland and the Jets, that’s about the only way they can seem legit these Luckless days. As much as I’d love to take the near 2 TD spread, and to be plan on watching an entertaining SNF game this week – I don’t believe it’ll be the case. Seattle will get 2 non-offensive TD’s in this game and their all-time garbage O-Line holds in one piece while Indy’s defensive front will constantly be sucking for air with the amount of time on field they’re expecting. Lay the points. Seahawks 34-14

MONDAY NIGHT
Redskins (+7) @ Chiefs : This may be the logic of a true simpleton, but it hasn’t failed me yet. Kansas City has the look of a Super Bowl contender, and is strong in all facets of the game. They’ve covered every spread they’ve been against this season and I just don’t see it with the Redskins. I hear more mixed thoughts about these Redskins than any other team in the NFL. Back the NFC West leading Chiefs and do it before Monday as I anticipate the line to shift even higher before kickoff – possibly all the way to 8-8.5. Chiefs 27-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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