Fantasy Football Mailbag: Week 3

For those of you questioning the selection of a 40-year-old quarter back in toward the end of the 3rd round in many Fantasy Football drafts this season, see the following:TB12 to Rex

Through 2 weeks, Tom Brady has totaled 714 pass yards, leading Aaron Rodgers (654), Drew Brees (647) and the rest of the NFL. Against New Orleans, Brady threw touchdown passes on each of his first 3 drives in the first quarter, and could have thrown even more.

Yes, a handful of quarterbacks can have games like that on any given Sunday…but Brady has recorded 52 games with 3+ touchdowns, an NFL record. He also rushed for more yards (9) than Ezekiel Elliott (8) on Sunday.

 

 

Mail Time!

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Jessica Kleinschmidt is one of my favorite people in the business, and when I tell people that the “Fantasy Mailbag” is open, responses like this are more than fair. So, without further ado…Kip Moore shirtless.

Kip Moore

You’re welcome.

NEXT!

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You have to go Alshon Jeffery, regardless of the matchup. The Eagles are throwing the ball too much not to. I need to see more from the practice squad hero, Rashard Higgins, to feel comfortable enough to play him (even against the Colts). As long as Sam Bradford plays, start Adam Thielen. If it’s Case Keenum again, forget about it.

 

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Truthfully, the matchups look great for both Stafford and Cutler. The volume of passes should be higher for Stafford, but Cutty has the better weapons and a worse team to face. #CuttyDoesIt

 

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Sam is making a tough decision. Letting OBJ put on his uni or not:

Odell Beckham Jr’s struggles in Week 2 were a product of his team’s more than him. Having a game to shake off his injury though, he’s still a Top-3 WR in the NFL and can make the plays to decide a game all by himself. He’s active, so you have to dress him. Yes.

 

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Duuuuuuuuude…

If DeMarco Murray is out, you have to play Henry. 

Don’t give up on Jordan Howard yet, especially if they have to take the Bears have to take the ball out of Mike Glennon’s hands some more. He has a better matchup this week as well.

Then it becomes a question of “Who gets the most touches” of your remaining players. Chris Carson is the feature back in Seattle now, and I don’t think you can deny the volume of carries Pete Carroll looks to dish out to his hot-hand at RB.

 

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You saw what Tom Brady just did to the Saints D, right?

Cam Newton’s offensive line is preventing him from lighting ANYTHING up so far, but this is the game that should tell whether or not he’s worth the start for a while. Dak has been efficient, but the upside is still with Cam going into this week.

 

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Which Bryant?

Since you didn’t specify, I’m going to assume Martavis and say him, go with him against the Bears.

 

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QB – Based on matchups, I like Alex Smith much more. We’re also still waiting for the Titans pass offense to wake up finally.

Flex – As I mentioned earlier, if DeMarco is out – definitely Henry. If not, Henry. At least you know he’s getting touches.

 

If you have more Fantasy Football questions, ask on Twitter or TUNE IN to the Fantasy Fix Facebook Live – Thursdays at 1 PM. 

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Fantasy Football Mailbag 2017: Week 2

Welcome to Year 5 of the Fantasy Football Mailbag.

Diggs

2017 started off with a doozy, as rookie running backs made you question your first round picks, a little (sorry, David Johnson owners. There’s no way you could have seen that coming.)

  • Kareem Hunt, KC – 17 carries, 148 rush yards, 5 catches, 98 rec yards, 3 TDs
  • Dalvin Cook, MIN – 22 carries, 127 rush yards, 3 catches, 10 yards
  • Leonard Fournette, JAX – 26 carries, 100 rush yards, 3 catches, 24 yards, 1 TD
  • Tarik Cohen, CHI – 5 carries, 66 yards, 8 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD

While Fournette should have been drafted in most of your leagues by the 3rd round, the other 3 RBs mentioned may have been mid, to late round, or even available on waivers (props if you took a flyer on Cohen). Could 2017 be another great year for rookie running backs, after Ezekiel Elliott and Jordan Howard led the league in rushing a year ago?

Mail Time!

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Although Kenny Golladay’s touchdowns didn’t come until the 4th quarter in Week 1, they were enough to prove he’s a real red zone threat, especially in a Lions offense that loves to chuck it. Meanwhile, Eric Decker will be on the road against a Jacksonville defense that is finally looking scary enough to worry about. While I think Decker will be an eventual target machine for Marcus Mariota, wait-and-see this week and ride the hot hand, Golladay.

 

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Two things that make you want to go with Kerwynn Williams here.

  1. Starting back.
  2. He’s going against the Colts.

However, the Cardinals are going to be taking a committee approach with Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson all expected to get touches. Especially, if you’re in a PPR league, go with Bilal Powell because you know the Jets will be playing from behind against Oakland and they’ll be forced to throw to him. I’d rather see Williams earn “bell cow” status before starting him over someone who is proven.

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QB – Never doubt the passing volume of the Jim Bob Cooter offense. Stafford.

DEF – You saw what Kansas City did to New England AT Gillette last week, right? I don’t necessarily like either of these matchups, but at least the Broncos are at home.

 

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I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Cooper F’n Kupp is a safer bet here. Tevin Coleman may play better at home (and away from the Chicago Soldier Field “turf monster”), but he was still out-touched by Devonta Freeman 14-12. Kupp led the Rams in receiving in his NFL debut and I would anticipate his PPR value rising week-to-week.

 

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I’m going to install a new rule here, mostly because I’m getting up at 3 AM on Thursday mornings to write this before going to work. You get up to 2 position questions per week.

  1. As hard as it might be to sit Martavis Bryant, at least Cooper Kupp had #1 receiver stats. Granted, Big Ben and the Steelers offense are much better at home…I’d still like to see Bryant boom first, than bust like he did last week.
  2. Ride the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week, Alex Smith. It’s weird to say, but I don’t like Mariota against the Jaguars’ pass rush.

 

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  1. Crabtree vs. Jets is a must-play.
  2. I know a lot has been made about DeVante Parker in Miami, but Jarvis Landry is a more proven receiver and the Chargers defense let Benny Fowler (who?) torch them for 2 scores. I also don’t like Pryor against the Rams defense.

 

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Umm…woof.

At least you know Paul Perkins is the Giants’ starting running back. I would anticipate he gets a lot more work against a Lions defense that can easily be run on.

 

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Yes, I took Cooper Kupp over Coleman earlier BUT, at I am way more comfortable with Tevin getting more touches at home than Emmanuel Sanders. If Denver had a better quarterback, I’d feel much differently.

 

Have more Fantasy Football lineup questions? Ask me on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03! 

Game of Thrones Character Power Rankings: After Season 7

Previously, in the Power Rankings…

Considering that the entire epic season was packed into 7 episode, it seemed fair to wait for the whole thing to play out before ranking each of following 60+ surviving characters.

For those new to the Power Rankings, these are based on each character’s significance on the show, power moves made, status and more importantly…safety.

1. The Night King

Night King S7

At this point, The Night King is exactly who everyone fears. He has an undead army that’s 100,000 strong (with giants, beasts, others like him on horseback). He has blue fire breathing dragon. And he just took down The Wall…If you currently live in the North, maybe reconsider.

2. Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen)

Jon Snow S7

AeJon (as I’m now referring to him, pronounced like Akon) is the rightful heir to the throne. He also is the key to Daenerys finding acceptance among the Northerners. Whether or not his standing in Winterfell changes, he’s currently the King of the North and he’s aligned (in more ways than one) with the Mother of Dragons. He also knows how to kill White Walkers.

3. Cersei Lannister

Cersei S7

Does she have anymore moves to make after burning her fake alliance and hiring The Golden Company? Outside of the literal nuclear option that she keeps under King’s Landing, not really. But when you play Tyrion like a fiddle all season long, leave the opposing faction to deal with Winter, and defy the odds of most Season 7 deadpools…You’ve earned the Throne you sit upon.

4. Daenerys Targaryen

Daenerys S7

One “Dracarys” and it’s over for just about anyone, right? Jon has bent his knee to Daenerys, she has 2 dragons, two armies, and a “Dream Team” of advisors. So why do I rank her 4th?

Heading North, she needs Jon’s influence to win over the northern houses. Even Sansa sees Daenerys as an enemy and it will take some doing to convince her otherwise.

5. Sansa Stark

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The Lady of Winterfell just took out one of the game’s most dangerous players, and with the support of her very powerful siblings. In Jon’s absence, Sansa has also won the favor of the houses pledged to hers. Conflict certainly awaits the King of the North and his dragon-riding lady friend.

6. Bran Stark

Bran: “I’m the Three Eyed Raven.”

Sam: “Oh…I don’t know what that is.”

It’s okay, Sam. Even we knew what it was and didn’t really get Bran’s deal. Bran knows more than anyone on the show, and knowledge is power (as we’ve seen with Varys and the newly departed Littlefinger.” However, Bran seems to pick and choose when it’s necessary to share what he knows…and sometimes it’s unnecessary (like Sansa’s wedding night to Ramsay). Still, he was the one person to know Jon’s true parentage and has the power to warg into ANYTHING. Fingers STILL CROSSED for a dragon.

7. Arya Stark

All 3 Stark siblings are lined up perfectly in this final ranking of the season because of what they showcased when they are all align. Sansa rules, Bran knows and Arya kills.

The Dexter Morgan of Westeros still has some work to do and now she has the support to get it done.

8. Drogon

Khaleesi’s favorite child can take out entire armies (as Jaime knows too well) and has so far survived 2 different spear attempts on his life. The battle will be epic when he has to face his undead brother fire and ice clash.

9. Zombie Viserion

Yes, the zombie dragon just took down the last thing that was keeping the White Walker army out of Westeros, but…the moment the Night King is taken out, so is Viserion.

10. Rhaegal

When will we see Jon ride Daenerys’ OTHER weapon of mass destruction? It’s hard to separate the 3rd lizard sibling from the pack, considering how important each one is to their respective side.

11. Euron Greyjoy

“The Joker” of Game of Thrones villains currently owns the season with his Ironborn fleet and it’s pretty next to Cersei, especially with Jaime out of his way. (Still not Cersei’s type, but he’ll take what he can get.)

12. Davos Seaworth

Davos has the adopted the role of Jon’s Hand at this point, and continues to be the king of one-liners. He is also still the calm voice of reason among several big personalities, and will be needed again when Jon and Daenerys head to Winterfell.

13. “The Hound” Sandor Clegane

Each character to survive “Beyond the Wall” should have a ton more respect points than they already had. They fended off hundreds of Wights and The Hound held is own as well as anyone. Finding his purpose is one thing, but having free will gives him the edge over his equally skilled zombie brother.

14. Qyburn

Hand of Cersei, weapons engineer and director of intelligence. One wonders when he sees fit to jump ship when the eventual Mad Queen finally loses it.

15. “The Mountain” Gregor Clegane

What The Mountain has over The Hound is zero consciousness for anything other than killing and protecting his queen. The Hound has relationships that may distract him in an upcoming “Clegane Bowl”, but at least he’s free to do as he pleases.

16. Bronn

Bronn may have the best situation of anyone. He is owed by the Lannisters and can remain with Cersei’s side if he pleases, but he also has Jaime, Tyrion and Podrick to vouch for him if need be.

17. Brienne of Tarth

Brienne didn’t have much of a role in Season 7 but she was exactly where she needed to be. She can finally fulfill her promise to Catelyn Stark and protect her daughters, but she also had the opportunity to reason with Jaime when it was most crucial. And who didn’t love seeing her act like a proud parent telling The Hound that Arya was alive?

18. Jorah Mormont

Jorah has been through a lot. He redeemed himself from exile from his queen, fought his way out of slavery, and survived grayscale. Back alongside Daenerys is where he wants to be. Will he also get back into the good graces of his House in the North?

19. Grey Worm

Daenerys’ top general pulled off an impressive win at Casterly Rock, but didn’t have much to do after that. To be honest, I thought Euron’s fleet had him cornered and that he could have been done for when we didn’t hear from him again. The commander of the Unsullied also has Missandei still glowing, so that’s worth a Top 20 spot in itself.

20. Lord Varys

Before the season began, Varys was in a position that was even more prominent than his counterpart, Littlefinger, after uniting Daenerys with Dorne and The Queen of Thorns. Both pieces fell off the board very early in the season and The Spider hadn’t contributed much since. I wouldn’t count him out when the diplomacy begins between Daenerys and the Northern houses. And, to be fair, he’s the only one whose main concern is for the people of Westeros…not those who rule them.

21. Tyrion Lannister

It’s fine. We can still love Tyrion. But wow did he get his ass kicked by his Lannister siblings. He’s still the Hand to the Mother of Dragons though, and can be reunited with his brother on the “right” side very soon.

22. Samwell Tarly

Sam essentially held the key (thanks to Gilly) to Jon’s destiny when he helped Bran discover the truth about the “new” dragon’s lineage. Being reunited with his best friend Frodo…I mean Jon…will be the best thing ever as well.

23. Yohn Royce

For a while, Yohn Royce seemed like a puppet to both Baelish and Robin Arryn, but the commander of the Vail army held his own in the final confrontation between Littlefinger and the Starks. With his lord being about as passive as Eeyore, Royce becomes Sansa’s most important supporter with the North’s biggest army at his command.

24. Archmaester Embrose

Maester Jim Broadbent knew exactly what he was doing by giving Sam the scrolls that coincidentally held the most important information in the entire story so far…

Well played, Broadbent. Well played.

25. Tycho Nestoris

Yes, this is basically Game of Thrones‘ Mycroft Holmes. And yes, he plays it very similarly. But wow did the Iron Bank make things much more interesting for Cersei…

26. Lyanna Mormont

We’re long overdue for another Lady Mormont verbal-smackdown, right? Looking forward to her eventual meeting with Ser Jorah.

27. Missandei

Who else is going to remember ALL of Daenerys’ titles when she meets the Stark siblings?

28. Gendry

The bastard of Robert is not only vital to helping produce dragon glass weapons in the upcoming great war, but he’s also THE FASTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD. You saw those cross country skills in “Beyond the Wall.” Arya’s going to be so impressed.

29. Lord Commander Edd

The Night’s Watch may have taken a huge L for the wall coming down, but Dolorous Edd is still Lord Commander…and that matters to somebody. He also knows what it’s like facing the Night King and will probably be the next line of defense against his army.

30. Gilly

Gilly is BAE, and deserves way more credit from Sam…especially when she was the one that discovered the annulment info.

31. Jaime Lannister

Jaime will EVENTUALLY be much higher on this list, but for now…he’s in very dangerous territory. Brienne was his only protection when he last ventured the north on his own. “The North Remembers” the Red Wedding still and being a Lannister puts a big red target on his back. A Lannister always pays his debts, and joining Daenerys to fight Winter is exactly what he’s sworn to do…with some vouching from Tyrion and Brienne.

32. Qhono

How cool was it to finally see the Dothraki army in action against an enemy? It’s crazy that Qhono went from threatening to do terrible things to Daenerys with the khalasar, and is now her Dothraki general.

33. Jaqen H’ghar

The many faced god is now done with Arya and it’s fair to believe that everything she has done is according to Jaqen’s plan…

34. Melisandre

The Red Woman isn’t too shy to brag about bringing “Ice and Fire” together. She also seems to have gotten under Varys’ skin, and should be returning to see some things come to fruition in the final few episodes.

35. Kinvara

The Red Priestess should be returning to the story with Melisandre soon, and there’s a mysterious about her that I can’t wait to see unleashed.

36. Podrick Payne

When do we get a spinoff for Pod and Bronn adventures?

37. Theon Greyjoy

Well, now we know that kicking Theon below the belt gives him confidence…and he’s using that to go save his sister.

38. Ser Beric Dondarrion

Many of us are wondering if the flaming sword-wielding knight is still alive after the Wall came down. Like Tormund (below), I think we would have seen the 6-time returning character die much more dramatically than that.

39. Tormund Giantsbane

Tormund HAS to be alive. Because #Briemund HAS to happen.

40. Aeron Greyjoy

One wonders if Aeron will have anything to with Yara’s escape, or if he’ll just go along with everything Euron commands of him.

41. Daario Naharis

I don’t know how, but I can’t imagine Daenerys will go up against both the Night King and Cersei without the help of the leader of the Second Sons…especially when another sell-sword company is joining the fight.

42. Robin Arryn

Only thing odder than watching Bran grow up is watching watching Robin Arryn grow up. Unsure if he’s matured at all, but he does have the North’s biggest army pledged to him.

43. Robett Glover

Always a heel in Northern “committee” meetings, but at least he’s been more outspoken than his fellow lords.

44. Wyman Manderly

We haven’t heard from Wyman since he began the “King of the North” chant at the end of Season 6. Still think he has Jon’s back when he returns.

45. Cley Cerwyn

Not really a factor in season, but likely valuable when needing to unite the North for Daenerys and Jon.

46. Meera Reed

You have to feel bad for Meera after getting the literal cold shoulder from Emo Bran. But at least she’s home. Her experience against the Night King should come into play, as well has her father’s relationship with Ned.

47. Alys Karstark

The Karstark and Umber lords have to keep a look out for the other northerners, no thanks to their kin who aligned with the Boltons. But they are still lords with influence.

48. Ned Umber

Samesies.

49. Maester Wolkan

Probable the most confused Maester on the show. He’s had to help the Boltons, Littlefinger, and now the Starks.

50. Melessa Tarly

Now the Lady of Horn Hill.

51. Talla Tarly

How pissed is she that Gilly stole her dress?

52. Hot Pie

Alive and happy baking.

53. Baby Sam

Shockingly, growing up way quicker than Judith on Walking Dead. And was born after her…?

54. Bernadette

If you don’t know who Bernadette is, she has lasted as long as anyone in King’s Landing. More here.

55. Marei

One of Qyburn’s “Birds” that helped kill Maester Pycelle, and I don’t think she’s done.

56. Ghost

WHERE WAS GHOST IN SEASON 7?! IS HE OKAY!?

57. Nymeria

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Arya’s direwolf, which weirdly shares the same name as one of the late Sand Snakes.

58. Yezzan zo Qaggaz

Still happy to not have been killed, unlike his fellow “Masters”.

59. Edmure Tully

Did anyone ever let Edmure out of his cell after Arya butchered the Freys?

60. Yara Greyjoy

If there’s anything worse than being Euron Greyjoy’s prisoner…

61. Septa Unella

…it’s being Cersei Lannister’s prisoner…

62. Ellaria Sand

…and Ellaria has it the worst.

Anyone ranked too high or too low? Let me know on Twitter at @Mike_Piff03. If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Nerds in Sports Podcast to hear week-to-week recaps of each Thrones episode!

 

My Favorite 30 Movies of 2016

You don’t go to movies almost every week for a year NOT to write up a list like this. With hours before the Oscars begin, here are my 30 favorite films of 2016.

30. Don’t Breathe

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Stephen Lang, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette

What I love about Don’t Breathe is how much it values suspense more than shock (although it will shock you in some ways). From the minute three young thieves break into a blind war veteran’s home, to the end of the film, you do exactly as the title of the film suggests.

29. Pete’s Dragon

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Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford and Karl Urban

I’ll go ahead and say it, when comparing Bryce Dallas Howard films…

Pete’s Dragon > Jurassic World 

Many of us know the trippy live-action/animated film from the 70’s, but this one has more heart and makes you want to believe in a kid’s pet dragon. Robert Redford’s narration is a warm touch as well.

28. Doctor Strange

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Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelson and Tilda Swinton

Just because I have several films ranked ahead of it doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Doctor Strange. It was a very different Marvel film, with influences from both The Matrix and Inception.  The supporting cast was as impressive as any among standalone Marvel films (Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Stuhlbarg) and Mikkelson played a villain as memorable as any the MCU has produced.

27. Kubo and the Two Strings

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Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Rooney Mara

The action and animation were incredible. The adventure and the story were even better. Rooney Mara’s voice still haunts my dreams though.

26. Everybody Wants Some

everybody-wants-some

Blake Jenner, Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch 

Like most of Richard Linklater’s films, Everybody Wants Some doesn’t really have much of a story but it’s fun and stays consistent with the theme of “living in the moment”. Good comedies are hard to come by these days, and what makes this movie, about college baseball players in Texas, good is how natural the humor is.

25. Nocturnal Animals

nocturnal-animals

Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon

Tom Ford’s literal story-within-a-story is actually way better than whatever is going on in the depressing reality of the film’s universe. Michael Shannon certainly earned his nomination for Best Supporting Actor, which is a testament to the excellent year he had on the big screen. Count Jake Gyllenhaal as someone who is well overdue for a Best Actor win as well.

24. 10 Cloverfield Lane

10-cloverfield

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher

The Cloverfield sequel was one of the best kept secrets by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and thankfully NOTHING like the original. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an up-and-coming star, John Goodman is scarier than any monster the franchise has nightmare’d up, and John Gallagher (Mr. Indie film) provides the charm and relief a film this intense desperately needs. So when do we get the 3rd?

23. The Accountant

the-accountant

Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and Jon Bernthal

I didn’t expect this to be Ben Affleck’s best movie this past year (not sorry, BvS), but I’m very glad it was. In terms of one-man-wrecking-crew films, Affleck’s Christian Wolf can definitely give John Wick a run for his money. I also appreciated every reference to Chicago’s west suburbs that get a shoutout throughout the movie.

22. The Nice Guys

the-nice-guys

Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Matt Bomer

I’m not sure if I ever stopped laughing when Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling were on screen together. Shane Black gave us everything we liked about Lethal Weapon, set it in the 70’s, and did it better (in my opinion).

21. Zootopia

zootopia

Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin and Idris Elba

On top of great humor, awesome animation, and a very necessary social message…the references to The Godfather, Chinatown, Breaking Bad, LA Confidential and Speed were too good to ignore.

20. Arrival

arrival

Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker

When I left the theater after seeing Arrival, I thought it was one of the best films I had seen in 2016. It did a better job explaining the parallels of time than Interstellar and took a unique approach to the idea of communicating with aliens. It may not have left the impression that the films I ranked after it did,  but it belongs among the nominated Oscar pictures.

19. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts

Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell and Dan Fogler

Don’t hurt me but, I had more fun watching Fantastic Beasts than any of the previous Harry Potter films. It helped knowing a few thing and some of the lingo, but I was captivated by Redmayne’s weirdness, Fogler’s “aw shucks” awkwardness, and every magical thing that came out of that suitcase.

18. Loving

loving

Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton and Nick Kroll

This movie couldn’t have come at a better time and the story is beautifully told. Something I have noticed with Jeff Nichols’ films (and there is another one on the list, a few sports down) is their value of silence. There are few things more powerful than letting a moment overcome an audience without sound, script or music to dictate it.

17. The Jungle Book

jungle-book

Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Ben Kingsly 

Some of the best CGI work you’ll ever see in a movie. And with a cast full of stars, like the one Jon Favreau assembled, everyone seemed to buy-in for their voice work. Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, even Gus from Breaking Bad (Giancarlo Esposito), all made the experience as intense and fun as it was.

16. Moana

moana

Auli’i Cravalho, Dwyane Johnson and Jermaine Clement

As someone who loves going to see animated movies in the theater, 2016 was a great year for them. However, the film that moved and impressed me the most was Moana. Amazing music, incredible animation, and a story that keeps you invested all the way through. If someone told you it was “the new Frozen”, it was better than that.

15. Edge of Seventeen

edge-of-seventeen

Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson and Blake Jenner

The ‘Young Adult’ genre has been miraculously on point as of late. One of my favorite films a year ago was Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, and while Edge of Seventeen wasn’t quite as good, it still had an honest perspective and the kind of dialogue that most comedies in recent years wish they had. What Edge of Seventeen does beat Earl and the Dying Girl in a surprisingly cooler student-teacher combo in Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. The start of the film establishes this very quickly.

14. Midnight Special

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver

This is the 3rd Michael Shannon flick to make this list and it’s definitely my favorite of the three. Midnight Special was released before Stranger Things and I think the mysterious sci-fi storytelling of the former made me appreciate the latter even more. The father-son angle and the dilemma of “how far would you go to keep your child safe” made the film especially gripping.

13. Fences 

FENCES

Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Stephen Henderson

The performances that Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give are too great to deny acclaim for this film. They carry a movie, whose story becomes more and more tedious and difficult to find hope in.

12. Don’t Think Twice

dont-think-twice

Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key and Mike Birbiglia

It’s a film about an improv troupe and how a group is effected when one of its members is selected to join a ‘Saturday Night Live’ type show. The interaction between the members and the improv scenes are so well-written, that they feel real and spontaneous.

11. When a Monster Calls

when-a-monster-calls

Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones

Prepare for one of the hardest cries of your life when you see this movie. Tear ducts weren’t prepared for how this film develops, as if Inside Out was live-action…with a monstrous giant tree-being that talks like Liam Neeson.

10. Captain America: Civil War

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Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan

After many of us were disappointed by how Batman v. Superman turned out, Marvel came to the rescue to show geeks how it’s done again. The Russo brothers did such a good job presenting the sides of both Captain America and Iron Man that you didn’t really want to pick a side. And for a film full of so many heroes, including the the introduction of the new Spider-Man, it exceeded all expectations. Can’t wait for what’s next.

9. Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures Day 25

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae

If you didn’t know the story already, you sure were interested to learn more about the women who helped send John Glenn and many others into space. Great performances by all involved and it was just as relevant as anything released this past year.

8. Deadpool

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Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin and T.J. Miller

The fact that people considered Deadpool potentially Oscar-worthy should say enough about how good it turned out. It was one of the biggest surprises at the box office and probably the best comedy of the year as well.

7. Lion

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Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara

It’s a story that seems too incredible to be real…but it is. Nicole Kidman’s performance also hit very close to home for me personally, and they payoff at the end is as good as any film from the last year.

6. Sing Street

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Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor and Aiden Gillen

For the first half of 2016, Sing Street was my favorite movie. The original music is as good as any from John Carney’s catalog of soundtracks. The analysis of UK 80’s music is fascinating. And I became a big Jack Reynor fan after.

5. Hell or High Water

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Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges

For anyone that was looking for an instant-classic in the modern-western genre, here you go.

4. Moonlight

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Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae

When it comes to Moonlight, I won’t forget where I was and when I saw it. I didn’t want to watch ANY election coverage so I went to the Clark Cinema past Wrigleyville. And it turned out to be the perfect film to see that evening. In any other year, especially with its subject matter and storytelling, this film would probably win Best Picture at the Oscars.

3. Rogue One

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Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk

After taking a few months to look back and reflect on Rogue One, it’s still my all-time favorite Star Wars story and makes me hopeful for what’s to come in the franchise, with the new generation of innovators and storytellers in film.

2. La La Land

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Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and John Legend

The music, the choreography, the story, the performances…It’s almost a perfect film and it should be my favorite of 2016 but…

1. Manchester by the Sea

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Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler

Manchester by the Sea did more than than any film could to my emotions. It was so devastating, but the writing and interaction between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges gave it the best balance possible.

Where did your favorite movie rank on the list?

Let me know on Twitter

Favorite 35 TV Shows of 2016

The Golden Age of Television lives on, even after Walter White and Don Draper. Storytellers and innovators are finding new and exciting ways to keep us at the edge of our seats, wanting more after the closing credits of every episode. Sometimes we have to wait a week. Sometimes we just hit “next episode” until we’re met with the disappointment of the season being over.

I listed out every TV show I watched in the last year and it came out to being upwards of 50 (yes I watch a lot of television). It wasn’t easy cutting the list to only 35. I also say “Favorite” instead of “Top” because I’m just not that full of myself…I

t also may come as a surprise, but I haven’t watched EVERY TV show that aired this past year. So recommendations are more than welcome on the Facebooks or Twitters.

35. The OA

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Netflix – Brit Marling, Emory Cohen and Jason Isaacs

The OA is a very weird show. It’s complicated, hard to follow, strange, and sometimes fights you when you want to keep spending time on it. Somehow, someway though, every episode gives you a reason to continue binge-watching. The last 5 minutes of the first season make it all worth it, on an emotional level. Emory Cohen also gives a performance that makes you wonder why he wasn’t chosen to be “Young Han Solo”, with an excellent follow up to his part in Brooklyn.

34. Banshee

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Cinemax – Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic and Ulrich Thomsen

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Banshee but I did binge watch the entire series in nearly a month’s time. I wouldn’t call it a “good show” but it’s so absurd that you can’t look away. Banshee is like a lovechild of True Blood and Into The Badlands, and it’s supremely more fun than both.

33. Orange is the New Black

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Netflix – Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling

So far I’ve felt that OITNB’s best season was their 2nd, but their latest certainly knew how to throw the haymakers to your emotions. Some of your favorite characters became easy to turn on. Others became more important than the original stars, including Piper. And then there was the one that completely tore your heart out…

32. Ash vs. Evil Dead

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STARZ – Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago

This show is gross, cheesy, and kinda REALLY dumb…but that’s also why it’s so much fun. It’s hard to deny that when Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi team up on either big or small screen. Warning: There is blood…LOTS OF BLOOD (That’s for the kids who didn’t like how gory The Walking Dead premiere was).

31. Supergirl

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The CW – Melissa Benoist, David Harewood and Mehcad Brooks

If there was a Most Improved Player category for TV shows, Supergirl could be at the top of the list. The move from CBS to CW was more than necessary for its tone and overall quality.  The show hasn’t held back on it’s commentary of topical social issues and it did something that the DC films have failed to as of late…make Superman likable.

30. Vice Principals

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HBO – Danny McBride, Walton Goggins and Kimberly Hebert Gregory

It should be noted that our two stars play absolutely terrible people on this show. Danny McBride is an expert at making bad guys almost worth rooting for (i.e. Kenny Powers) and Walton Goggins is simply one of the best actors in television today (watch Justified, if you don’t believe me). The under-the-radar sweetness of Shea Whigham, which is a complete opposite of McBride’s character, is reason enough alone to watch this show.

29. House of Cards

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Netflix – Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly

House of Cards lost a bit of mojo once Frank Underwood made it to the oval office. Once he became president, he was no longer hunter but rather playing survivor instead. Robin Wright carries the 4th season much more than her male counterpart and Joel Kinnaman makes for an awesome heel as the adversary candidate in their race for reelection. What makes me hopeful for the 5th season is how scary both Francis and Claire are by the end of 4th.

28. Preacher

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AMC – Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Jackie Earle Haley

Preacher had of the best pilots of the year, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It matched the crazy and action that’s packed in the comic series, and set the tone for what should be a wild ride of a series. The season itself had its ups and downs, sometimes standing in place and other times with the pedal to metal. It never lacked suspense or humor though, due to the unpredictable nature and writing of the characters.

27. The Crown

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Netflix – Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow

The Crown is absolutely stunning. The cinematography, the costumes, the pageantry, and the acting are all top notch. The real life story of Queen Elizabeth and her royal family are fascinating too but there was a disconnect for me…It’s hard to be emotionally invested and sympathetic in the problems of British Hierarchy. But Lithgow as Winston Churchill is inspiring.

26. Black Mirror

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Netflix – Bryce Dallas Howard and Michael Kelly

This British anthology series is the modern Twilight Zone, with technology, and it’s terrifying. Excellent and recognizable actors in each story/episode and themes that make you question your own behavior when it comes to, well, everything…

25. The Flash

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The CW – Grant Gustin, Candice Patton and Tom Cavanaugh

Everyday I wonder why Warner Bros. doesn’t just let the TV DC universe carry over to their film universe…Grant Gustin belongs there and they are making a big mistake by not capitalizing on the charm, fun and popularity he has brought with Barry Allen.

24. Insecure

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HBO – Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis

Issa Rae is awesome. The show is comfortable and honest. It doesn’t try hard to speak on behalf of its audience yet is still relatable. It was also refreshing after every half hour following Westworld episode trying to blow your mind.

23. Grace and Frankie

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Netflix – Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen

I love Grace and Frankie. Ever since Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen chose to come out to their wives (Fonda and Tomlin) in the show’s first episode, it’s been an absolute delight. Can’t wait for the third season.

22. Veep

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HBO – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky

It shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point that Veep is really good, and will probably be especially relevant in the next couple years. When you have Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, Diedrich Bader and HUGH LAURIE as recurring supporting characters, what’s not to love?

21. BoJack Horseman

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Netflix – Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul

BoJack is Netflix’s best comedy and that’s really saying a lot. All I have to do is point to the episode that was set in 2007 (WOW, TEN YEARS AGO NOW) and how effective every episode specific to that year was.

20. Last Chance U

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Netflix

It’s the one docu-series that I have listed here but it’s a great one. Following a junior college school of student athletes trying to overcome their personal and academic issues and catch the eye of D1 programs (while also dealing with their egotistical head coach) is some of the most compelling television you’ll find in the last year.

19. Bosch

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Amazon – Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick

Related to the Lincoln Lawyer universe of novels, Bosch is an adapted Michael Connelly detective series that plays like a modern noir. Titus Welliver has always been “that guy” on TV shows, usually a supporting or guest villain, but shines when given the spotlight as the title character. If you were a fan of The Wire, then you are going to LOVE all the alums who star and appear on the show.

18. Mozart in the Jungle

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Amazon – Gael Garcia Bernal, Malcolm McDowell and Lola Kirke

How this series hasn’t received love from the Emmys is beyond me (at least on thing the Golden Globes gets right). One of the easiest binge watches you could ask for, with great writing and soul-searching music. Bernal is also one of the best actors you’ll find on television today and makes you feel as romantic the maestro he portrays.

17. Ray Donovan

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Showtime – Liev Schreiber, John Voight and Steven Bauer

Now that we’re moved on from Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, it’s time to start recognizing Liev Schreiber’s Ray Donovan as one of the most complex and well-acted characters on current running series. It took a few years, but the show is now hitting its stride in writing, acting, and casting…while the soundtrack to Season 4 could be pound-for-pound as good as any.

16. Billions

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Showtime – Damian Lewis, Paul Giamati and Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff is the x-factor to a show that already features two heavyweight lead actors. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis and Giamati definitely fit the bill. But Siff goes well beyond what we remember from her character, Tara, on Sons of Anarchy, and deserves as many nominations as she can get. The show itself is like if The Big Short didn’t treat its audience like a bunch of idiots and faster paced. Great Metallica appearance too.

15. The Americans

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FX – Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich

I’ll be honest, I’m still catching up on The Americans. It’s well-regarded as being one of the best shows today, if not THEE BEST, but it took me a while to get interested enough to check it out. I’m sure by next year it will be significantly higher on the list.

14. Silicon Valley

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HBO – Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani

I don’t know if there is a show that has a better sense of humor than Silicon Valley. Every episode oozes with Mike Judge’s cynicism, nature and experience in the industry and it’s fantastic. Is it a little exhausting that guys of Pied Piper continue to get crapped on after they find success? Yes…but that’s the heart of its story: overcoming the continuous struggle.

13. The People vs. OJ Simpson

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FX – Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance 

The very first episode of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson reminded us how great Ryan Murphy can be as a director and storyteller. You knew what was going to happen, but the suspense was absolutely killer and he let the evidence tell the story. The acting was superb by a great cast, but then Murphy couldn’t get out of his own way. Yes, Robert Kardashian’s friendship was significant to Simpson, but did they have to be so gratuitous with the attention to his ex wife and daughters? And why was every extra or background actor more annoying and awful than the next? Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta made the miniseries every bit as compelling as it was though.

12. Daredevil

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Netflix – Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll

Season 1 of Daredevil was an absolute adrenaline rush that was capable of doing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t accomplished yet: like give us a memorable and even sympathetic villain (Vincent D’onofrio). This time, it was an antihero that took The Defenders series to the next level…Jon Bernthal’s variation of The Punisher is dark, brooding, heartbreaking, badass, and even more interesting than the title character.

11. This Is Us

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NBC – Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia

One of the best new shows on television, This Is Us has this uncanny ability to make you laugh, cry and repeat over and over every episode. It’s honest, it’s smart, and it’s one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. The show also never ceases to keep you on your toes.

10. The Night Manager

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AMC – Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Elizabeth Debicki

Sexy, suspenseful and super unpredictable, The Night Manager was unbelievably good, even by AMC’s standards. If it was an audition for Tom Hiddleston to play James Bond, he passed. If Hugh Laurie was trying out to be a Bond villain, he’d be way better than most…Rather than go with the obvious Bond girl comp, I’ll just say Elizabeth Debicki is my new TV crush and I feared for her life the entire miniseries.

9. Narcos

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Netflix – Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal

The best way I can describe how good Narcos S2 was, I literally couldn’t close my laptop while streaming it…I actually let it play on top of my washer while I did my laundry because I couldn’t hit pause on the action that was cranked to 11, compared to season 1. Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar is more than award worthy as well.

8. Atlanta

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FX – Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield

Donald Glover is making a really strong case for coolest dude on the planet. Even cooler might be Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton) and everything his character does on Atlanta. Every episode is different in its own way but they are all consistently real and also surreal at the same time.

7. Better Call Saul

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AMC – Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean

Better Call Saul is proof of 2 things: Vince Gilligan is a genius and comedic actors are brilliant in dramatic settings. It’s incredible to see how enthralling the stories can be of Breaking Bad’s supporting characters. The shows are very different in tone, but the suspense, cinematography and classic Gilligan wit are all there…sometimes better. Oh, and it look’s like Gus is coming next season.

6. Luke Cage

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Netflix – Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Theo Rossi

While watching Luke Cage, I couldn’t help but think it was my favorite of The Defenders  series. Mike Colter’s Luke Cage isn’t afraid to be the hero, nor does he hide behind an alias and that avoids the unnecessary drama that you find in Daredevil. The show doesn’t hold back on facing social issues and the women on the show are all complete badasses in their own way. Also love the music and how Harlem is treated like a character itself.

5. Westworld

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HBO – Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins

The mystery of Westworld’s end game throughout the first season was so enthralling that you couldn’t help but keep watching until it came to fruition. Every twist kept you on your toes, the setting was gorgeous, and the music was haunting. Almost every character was dynamic, man or machine, and whom you were rooting for was entirely up to you.

4. Stranger Things

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Netflix – David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown

Stranger Things was the new show that many of us geeks needed over the summer. Sci-fi, horror, 80’s references, adventure, action and all the wonderment through the eyes of kids of that era made this show worth binge watching over an entire weekend.

3. Game of Thrones

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HBO – Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey

Television’s most talked about show gave us its biggest payoff of a season. Every episode gave fans a win, whether it was characters being reunited, the advancement of a few others, or the death of a few hated ones…Don’t forget, I had Power Rankings for the entire season too.

2. The Night Of

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HBO – Riz Ahmed, John Turturro and Bill Camp

After every episode, week to week, I couldn’t help but say that The Night Of was the best show of the summer. It was. From the premiere, which made you scream “NO NO NO NO NO!” with everything Riz Ahmed did, to John Turturro’s amazing performance, to the back-and-forth “Serial Podcast” style guessing of who-done-it…every episode was worth the wait. Would have loved to see what the first one would have been like with James Gandolfini in Turturro’s role.

1. Goliath

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Amazon – Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello

I haven’t seen it on many year-end lists, but here I have it as my #1. Why? If you’re a Billy Bob Thornton fan, everything you like about him is on display in Goliath. He’s funny, commanding, and unbelievably easy to root for. The battle between a giant corporation and the “little guy” victims was too good to pause during a weekend to myself. It was also the most fulfilling of any series I have listed above. It’s the first thing I suggest to anyone who asks for a recommendation too.

 

If you have any thoughts or recommendations for next year’s list, let me know on Twitter or Facebook. Stay tuned for the Favorites of 2016 Movie List. 

Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 15

In 3 less games played, Le’Veon Bell is just 98 yards behind Ezekiel Elliott for being the league leader in yardage. He’s actually leading league in yards-from-scrimmage on a per-game basis and it’s not even close. And be honest…he totally won your Week 14 single-handedly, right? He is the only player to ever out-gain an entire opposing team by himself.

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If you’ve got him, ride Le’Veon to your Fantasy League’s championship.

 

Mail Time!

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Seahawks defense, for starters. The Rams are team asking to get their butts whipped and that’s going to happen in Seattle.

QB – I answered this one for you a week ago and I think it’s safe to stand pat on Carson Palmer. The last time he played the Saints, he lit them up for 307 yards and 3 TDs. That game also has a lot of potential to be a high-scoring affair.

TE – Tough call, as both TEs are playing tough matchups. However, Delanie Walker is the one who has a better nose for the end zone and he’s gotten there in 3 of his last 4 road games.

 

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I don’t trust Kenneth Farrow yet, but really like both Falcons RBs against the Niners. Did you see what Bilal Powell did to them? Go with Tevin Coleman. 

Pick 3 – Not Kelvin Benjamin.

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QB – I don’t like either one, but I would take Russell over Alex – if those are your best options. I hate depending on a quarterback on Thursday night but I also wouldn’t let your playoff game be decided by Alex Smith.

FLEX – While I like the volume that Kyle Rudolph gets from Sam Bradford, Michael Crabtree is Derek Carr’s favorite target. He’s getting 9.5 looks over his last 4 games, compared to the 6.5 that Amari Cooper has.

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Quoting Russell Crowe in Gladiator: “IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?!”

I’m seriously asking. I like D-Jax’s matchup better, but Golden Tate is averaging 6.5 catches in each of his last 5 games. Go with consistency.

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DEF – Atlanta is facing a Niners offense that just doesn’t belong in professional football. They’ll get out to a big lead and force San Fran to press and turn the ball over.

WR – Tyreek Hill and Jamison Crowder. Reek has 5 TDs in his last 4 weeks (more than anyone over that span) and Crowder has the best matchup.

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RB – Gotta go Mark Ingram for the fact that I do not trust Farrow enough to play him in a week this crucial yet.

WR – It’s weird even to consider not playing Julio, but here are you are waiting for him to play a 3:30 PM game. If you’re not willing to wait on him, roll with Sammy Watkins against Cleveland.

QB – I don’t like how limited Stafford looked last week, despite gutting out the win against my beloved Bears. Based on that, Dak Prescott is the safer play.

Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter