Thursday Night Football picks

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Jon                 Joey

Colts            Texans

 

Chuck         Tammy

Colts             Colts

Fantasy Sleepers to Pick up for This Week

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Four weeks into the regular season and fantasy football is still in a whirlwind. Talent from last year isn’t transferring over to this year and backups like Devonta Freeman are becoming instant legends and making the person who started him look like a modern day Vince Lombardi. Quarterbacks aren’t putting up very high numbers and unless you own Rob Gronkowski or the tight end that is playing the Raiders, chances are your tight end isn’t performing well on a consistent basis. Running backs such as C.J. Anderson are producing little to no points week in and week out but then there are the rare outbreaks like the one Matt Jones had in week 2. It’s impossible to know who is going to have a good week based off of the previous Sunday and even last year. The waiver wire targets are really making or breaking most fantasy player’s seasons, and I’m here to help you identify which of these sleepers to pick up, and which ones to leave behind.

Allen Hurns, WR Jacksonville Jaguars

It might not be known to a lot of people, but the second year man leads Jacksonville in receptions and is not far behind his wide receiver counterpart, Allen Robinson, in targets. He’s quietly developed quite the rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles and has caught a touchdown in back to back games. With a favorable matchup against Tampa Bay this week, Hurns is definitely in the mix for the Flex spot in your lineup on Sunday.

Advice: Pick up if available and Start if in need of a Flex

Leonard Hankerson, WR Atlanta Falcons

In case you haven’t been paying close attention to the Falcons this year, Hankerson has zipped past the aging Roddy White in terms of production so far. It’s clear that Hankerson is Matt Ryan’s number 2 option behind Julio Jones and he has proved to be quite the commodity in the passing game. He hasn’t dropped too many passes and has tallied a pair of touchdowns in the past three weeks. He’s not someone I would start for this week, but he’s certainly a receiver I would pick up now before he starts making more headlines.

Advice: Pick up if available

Duke Johnson Jr., RB Cleveland Browns

At the beginning of the season, many of the fantasy analysts predicted this the rookie out of Miami would have a breakout year due to the production issues the Browns backs had last year. However, it was Isaiah Crowell who got most of the touches through the first couple of weeks, although Johnson did get his fair share. After a lackluster week 3 for Crowell however, Johnson got his chance in week 4 and made the most of it. It wasn’t in the rushing game where he succeeded, but the passing game, where he caught 9 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Pair that with 6 catches the week before and a decent amount of carries out of the backfield, and you’ve got a risky Flex play, which is what Johnson is at this point.

Advice: Pick up if available and Start if in need of a Flex

Eddie Royal, WR Chicago Bears

To be honest, there should only be three players on the Bears that you should own: Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte. Yes, Eddie Royal did have a touchdown last week but that that was without Jeffrey in the lineup and now that he’s back from injury, Royal should see only about 4-5 targets a game, nothing that will justify dropping another player for him.

Advice: Don’t Pick up

Alex Smith, QB Kansas City Chiefs

With weapons surrounding him at all angles, the Chiefs quarterback should merit more consideration in the starting QB conversation. He’s got Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce, who are all dynamic and reliable player makers. He’s had one off game that came in week 2 but other than that has put up at least 17 fantasy points each game. If you own Cam Newton or Ryan Tannehill, who are on bye this week, and need a quarterback, Smith is a solid option as he plays a weak Chicago secondary.

Advice: Pick up if in need of a quarterback

Robbie Gould, K Chicago Bears

In a league where there are no safe options at kicker, except for Stephen Gostkowski, Adam Vinateri and Justin Tucker, you should always be on the prowl for kickers in your fantasy league. Robbie Gould of the Bears proved last Sunday that he is capable of being trusted. He hasn’t missed this season and came up clutch last Sunday against the Raiders, kicking the game winning field goal. If your kicker is on a bye or isn’t performing well, Gould is as close to a sure fire option as you’re going to get this year.

Advice: Pick up if in need of a kicker

Charles Clay, TE Buffalo Bills

After a disappointing start to the season, Charlie Clay has emerged as a top tight end in the league. Tyrod Taylor has connected with him for 14 catches and 193 yards over the past two games with a touchdown, makes him an extremely solid option at tight end.

Advice: Pick up if available

As a side note, there are multiple players that are returning from suspension this week. Greg Hardy and Ronaldo McClain return to the Cowboys defense, making them a little tougher but they face a difficult task in defending Tom Brady. On the offensive side of the ball, both Antonio Gates and Martavis Bryant come back to their

respective teams, with one being way more valuable than the other. Bryant is behind Antonio Brown and has Mike Vick at quarterback, making his fantasy value less than that of Gates. Last year, he and Phillip Rivers developed a great connection, especially in the redzone. If he’s available, pick him up and start him no matter what (except if you have Gronk). Bryant on the other hand, if you’re in need of receiver depth, give him a shot but it’s more likely that he won’t see great production until Big Ben returns.

Other Notable Waiver Wire Targets: Crockett Gilmore, Ronnie Hillman, Sam Bradford, Kendall Wright, Kamar Aiken, Michael Crabtree, Doug Baldwin, Reuben Randle, Darren McFadden, Stevie Johnson, Tavon Austin, Jamison Crowder.

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Detroit Lions in low place after dropping to 0-4 on the season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Losing is one of the most destructive things that can happen to a football team’s morale. Players become frustrated and lose faith in the coaching staff. While coaches seem lackadaisical and begin to disconnect from their players. Fortunately for the Lions they seem to be holding it together due to Jim Caldwell’s clam presence. Or so it seems. Caldwell’s calm demeanor might be able to give the impression that the sky isn’t falling in Detroit. Yet the record speaks for itself. This team is on the verge of letting this season spiral out of control and each loss takes this franchise closer to the 0-16 season that they had to face in 2008. Caldwell was praised by Detroit fans last year when the roster was loaded with talent. Now he is being picked apart by local fans for being an under performing coach. To be fair the talent level of this team is much inferior too last years team. So in some respects it truly isn’t Jim Caldwell’s fault that this team is taking a step back. The offensive line has been absolutely atrocious through these last four games and although they played a little better against Seattle. They still have to find a way to allow Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford time to go through his progressions. This team chose to be an offensive first team when they chose to let Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley walk. Two former first round picks for this team who helped the defensive line become one of the best in the league. Now this team has neither a dominant offense, nor a dominant defense. Leaving the team without a true identity. It will be up to Caldwell to get things in order in Detroit or he will be sent packing. He isn’t coaching to make it to the playoffs anymore. He is coaching for his job.

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Eli Manning willing the Giants back into NFC East contention:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

With the NFC East all tied up with Dallas, Washington, and New York all sitting at 2-2 on the year. Much praise must go to Eli Manning. His efforts in the comeback have been phenomenal and he has recorded 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception this season. It’s Manning’s ability to handle the pressure when his back is against the wall that is most impressive. After the Giants started 0-2 on the season Manning willed this team to 2 straight victories. One against NFC East rival the Washington Redskins and the other against the much improved Buffalo Billis. In those games Manning had to overcome the loss of Giants receiver Victor Cruz who has been sidelined with an injury. Yet that didn’t stop Manning from rising to the occasion time and time again and doing really what he has done all his career. Step up, when the team needed him the most. How many times has this team struggled only to see Manning rise up and lead this team to a Super Bowl win? While it seems like the Giants have been down in recent years, it must be noted that the defense this year has been stellar. Which could be a formula for success moving forward during the season. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has led the team to a first overall ranking in run defense. Which makes Manning’s job on offense that much easier. A good defense will allow the Giants’ offense to have more time of possession on offense. Which is always a good fundamental for success in football. While two weeks ago this team was in the dumps and we were all writing them off. They are now tied for the division lead, and could easily come out the big winner in the NFC East now that Tony Romo is injured. Right now you have to go with the Giants in the NFC East. It’s all because of an improved defense and Manning’s ability to limit turnovers offensively.

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Do the Bengals have what it takes to win the AFC?

Bengals at Ravens 9/27/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Since the turn of the century, in order to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, a trip to Beantown is usually on the docket. The Patriots have been terrorizing the AFC for years now, and it’s very rare that another team besides a Peyton Manning led squad makes it past New England. Tom Brady just seems to find a way to win in January, and that makes it extremely difficult for another team to gain entry to February football. The Broncos have done it once and the Ravens did it a few times in the past but there is just a consistency to having the Pats in the Super Bowl that is unprecedented. However, there is a team on the rise this year in the AFC that looks poised to give the Patriots a run for their money. They’re unproven in the playoffs but an extremely hot start to the year has people wondering if this is the year they finally make it over the hump. That team is the Cincinnati Bengals.

In years past, the AFC has been the Patriots stomping ground, and to be honest, that probably won’t change anytime soon. As long as Tom Brady is still healthy, the No. 1 or 2 seed in the AFC will be occupied by New England. Although, just like both the Ravens and Jets have in the past, the Pats can be beaten; and with no other immediate threat, with the exception of Denver, Cincy looks to be in position to have a great chance at terminating the Patriots trip to Santa Clara. They have the talent, the right coaching staff, and the benefit of a relatively easy division with the Ravens barely staying afloat and the Steelers without Big Ben for the next four weeks. They even have the praise of another NFL head coach, as John Harbaugh of the Ravens called them “the most talented team in the league”. While that might be a tad bit exaggerated, it’s not too far off from the truth. Let’s take a look at the roster: at quarterback, they have one of the most underrated players in the game in Andy Dalton, who is more known for his blunders than accomplishments. He’s performing close to the level of Rodgers and Brady so far, and with a great dynamic core of players around him, it seems like he will only get better. One of those players is receiver A.J. Green, who is easily one of the best pass-catchers in the game. He’s capable of breaking the 100-yard receiving yard every game, which is simply a deadly weapon to have at your disposal if you’re a quarterback. Running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are perhaps the best “1-2” backfield punch the NFL has to offer and continue to wreck havoc for opposing coaches and defensive lines. However, in order for a great team to succeed, they need talent on both sides of the ball, and the Bengals certainly have their fair share of talent on defense. Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson are a terrific pair up front on the line, and A.J. Hawk and Rey Maualuga are adept linebackers that get the job done. Adam Jones is a bit underwhelming as a number one cornerback but he’s been performing okay for the most part of the season.

All the talent is there for the Bengals, and it’s showing thus far in the season. They’re 4-0 and rank second in the league in offense (behind who else, the Patriots) and are doing a fair job on defense. They’ve managed to skim by in a couple of their games, the Baltimore game especially, but overall have been playing some extremely

decent football. However, they’ll be tested to the fullest next week when they take on Seattle and we’ll get to see what this “Who-Dey” team is really made of. Although, as of now, they’re playing great, gelling very well, and are having fun as a unit. They’ve got a tough task come January when they try to win their first playoff game under head coach Marvin Lewis but if they can pull out a win, a date with the New England Patriots and maybe even Santa Clara, California is certainly a possibility.

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The Most Surprising Unbeaten Team

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

In every NFL season, there are the teams that start the year with more flare and intensity than the rest of the league. The Patriots, Packers, and any Peyton Manning led team are usually the constants of those teams, starting 3-1 or 4-0 nearly every year for the last 6 years. But there are always a few unexpected teams that are alongside them in the standings, sitting unbeaten or with one loss on the season. However, there is an unusual amount of undefeated teams this year, 6 to be exact. So which unbeaten squad has been most surprising so far? The Atlanta Falcons.

The past couple years in the ATL have been disastrous to say the least. A lot of talent was squandered due to poor coaching and a lack of execution by both the offense and defense. You could say that former head coach Mike Smith was the reason for that squandering, and you would be mostly correct. Smith didn’t use the personnel he had at his disposal the correct way, which resulted in back to back losing seasons that only accumulated 10 wins and also cost him his job. Julio Jones was being wasted in an offense that favored the run even though a lackluster Steven Jackson was the primary running back, causing a ton of three and outs and giving kicker Matt Bryant a workout most games. The offensive line wasn’t doing anything to protect Matt Ryan but the starting group remained virtually unchanged. The defense played uninspired at times and let opposing offenses walk all over them both on the ground and through the air. Enter new head coach Dan Quinn. Under Quinn, the Falcons look like an entirely different team. They’re playing with a tenacity not seen in Atlanta since the NFC Championship game run of 2012 and are playing every down like they’re playing in the Super Bowl. Rookies like Vic Beasley are stepping up tremendously and veterans such as Matt Ryan are making minimal mistakes. Desmond Trufant is proving to opposing quarterbacks that he not to be reckoned with, and Julio Jones is cementing his case that he is one of the best, if not the best, receivers in the NFL. Jake Matthews and the offensive line is performing extremely well, only allowing 6 sacks on the year so far, compared to 11 through 4 games last year. However, perhaps the most unanticipated surprise for the Falcons has been their run game and the emergence of Devonta Freeman.

Devonta Freeman was drafted in the third round of last year’s draft, and was expected to backup Steven Jackson and platoon with Jacquizz Rodgers, which is what he did. He rushed for 248 yards and found the end zone once in what was a decent rookie campaign. This year, after Atlanta let Steven Jackson walk, Freeman was thought to lead the Falcon backfield until ATL drafted Tevin Coleman out of Indiana in the third round. Thus, Freeman was thrust back into the backup role after losing the starting job in training camp to Coleman. But, just like Tom Brady and Tony Romo won their gigs, Coleman went down in the second game of the year, and Freeman got his shot. And boy did he make the most of it. In the past two games as a starter, he has accumulated 7 touchdowns and 342 total yards and made himself an instant fantasy football legend. Along with Julio Jones and Matty Ice, Devonta Freeman has been one of the main focal points on offense for the Dirty Birds. He’s

been running wild for two weeks now, and although it’s still early, the Falcons look like a legitimate threat in the NFC with a dynamic offense and capable defense.

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Philbin firing a lack of production with an upgraded team:

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins

Photo credit: June Rivera

Author: Jon Kuzma

When Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross opened up his checkbook to re-sign Ryan Tannehill and sign coveted off-season free agent Ndamukong Suh he did his part in improving the team. Clearly Ross felt that Joe Philbin wasn’t doing his part as a coach with those upgrades. The team who loss to the Jets in London fell to 1-3 on the year and looks like a team that is depleted of morale. There were talks earlier in the season that Ndamukong Suh was freelancing in the defensive scheme. Choosing to do what he prefers rather than what his coaches were expecting of him. In Suh’s defense he most likely had little faith in Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Who has this team ranking near the bottom defensively in most team rankings. Still Suh has to be a professional and except that he has to follow his coaches lead regardless of that coaches competence level. A team in cohesion will always have more success than a team that is out of sync regardless of what scheme or philosophies are implemented. That lack of connect between the players and coaches is what most likely started to stand out to Stephen Ross. That and the fact that Philbin was too calm in his demeanor. Football is a sport that is played with a lot of passion and emotions can run high at times. While a head coach is supposed to be poised Philbin was to reluctant to get his hands dirty when the team clearly needed someone to take action. You can’t stick to the script when the script is a formula for failure and that is exactly what Joe Philbin did. While the guy seems like a great guy in terms of character it was clear his lack of football expertise was not going to elevate this Dolphins team. Look for interim coach Dan Campbell to come in and try to changee the tone of this team. If he is able to he might be a frontrunner for landing the job permanently.

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Charity of the day: Humane Society of the United States

Charity of the day: AARP

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Brees Leads Saints to Victory in Overtime Match up Against Cowboys:

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Photo credit: Ed Schipul

Author: Jon Kuzma

Drew Brees returned from a shoulder injury to help the Saints knock off the Dallas Cowboys last night in Sunday Night Football. The Saints were able to obtain their first win of the season outscoring the Cowboys 26-20. C.J Spiller made his presence felt for the Saints by scoring the game winning touchdown in overtime for the Saints. That play came on the second play of overtime, where Brees hit Spiller on a wheel route up the right sideline. Spiller had been lined up as the right slot receiver while the Saints offense was in an empty formation. When the z-receiver (receiver furthest to the right) ran a slant route. It opened up separation for Spiller to run freely up the right sideline and catch the pass. The other thing that play did was put a Dallas Cowboys linebacker in charge of covering Spiller, clearly a mismatch every time. Fortunately for the Saints Spiller was able to finish that play in the end zone for six points and a much needed team win. Brees finished the game with 33 completions on 41 passing attempts for 359 yards and 2 touchdowns. A stellar performance for a player who was playing through a bruised rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. An injury that is a major concern for a position like quarterback. As far as Spiller goes believe it or not he was better through the air than on the ground. He led all Saints receivers with 99 yards and a touchdown. Mark Ingram also had a notable performance for the Saints offense contributing 77 yards rushing the ball. He also was able to record 6 receptions for 51 yards. Showing that he can be a big factor in this Saints offense. The team will travel to take on the Eagles next Sunday, where both teams find themselves entering the game with a 1-3 record. Each team will be somewhat desperate to get the win and get a step closer to .500. A victory would go a long way for either team especially in terms of playoff aspirations. Keep an eye out for that match up in Philly.

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Time for the Philadelphia Eagles to press the panic button:

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Photo credit: Kevin Burkett

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Philadelphia Eagles who were 3-1 in the preseason and showed all the promise in the world, now find themselves 1-3 in the regular season. It was easy to get caught up in the Chip Kelly “sell the house” mentality as he shipped former Eagles Lesean McCoy, Brandon Boykin, Trent Cole, and Cary Williams all packing. Kelly made it clear in those moves that his goal was to invest in the future by clearing cap space, and landing draft picks in return for some of the players mentioned above. What Kelly forgot to take in account however is the NFL is a “win now” type of league. Even though Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has recently came out and backed Kelly. It might be the players who have been turning against Kelly at an alarming rate that eventually lead to the coaches doom. It doesn’t matter if the owner backs Chip Kelley and Chip Kelly is indeed a coaching mastermind. If the players don’t believe the Eagles are a desirable destination then it will be tough for the team to win. In football the inferior team talent wise usually gets trounced by the superior team lined up across from them. While the Eagles can go out and make moves in the future to improve this team. The moves they have made this far have caused this team to regress in the present moment. Former Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles looked pretty good today for the St. Louis Rams passing for 3 touchdowns and a win against the Cardinals. While Chip Kelly’s hand selected quarterback Sam Bradford has only led this team to 1 win on the year. What made that deal even worse for the Eagles is they also gave up a fourth round pick this year and 2nd round pick next year to obtain Bradford. A player who was already a downgrade from Foles. That deal was so tilted in the Rams favor Jeff Fisher and company didn’t even think twice about shipping Bradford off with a fifth round pick. While some of the moves Kelly made weren’t that bad for the team he will likely regret that quarterback swap and unfortunately for Kelly that position is the most important to any football team. Kelly and the Eagles luckily have a future loaded with cap room and picks to fall back on. How bad will it get before then though? If this team loses all momentum, Kelly might be out before you know it.

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Charity of the day: Futures for Children

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Week 4 picks by Endzoneblog.com

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Jon                        Joey

Steelers             Ravens

Jets                    Jets

Panthers           Panthers

Bengals            Bengals

Colts                 Colts

Chargers          Chargers

Packers            Packers

Saints               Saints

Bills                  Bills

Raiders            Raiders

Falcons            Falcons

Eagles              Eagles

Broncos           Broncos

Cardinals       Cardinals

Seahawks       Seahawks

 

Tammy            Chuck

Steelers         Ravens

Jets                Jets

Panthers       Panthers

Bengals         Bengals

Colts             Colts

Chargers       Browns

Packers        49ers

Saints          Cowboys

Giants          Bills

Raiders        Bears

Falcons        Falcons

Redskins     Eagles

Broncos       Broncos

Cardinals    Cardinals

Seahawks    Seahawks

 

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