NFL Week 9 Fantasy Mailbag

The second half of the fantasy season starts tonight with an AFC North rivalry matchup between the Bengals and the Browns. It’s likely been a serious waiver wire week for you with bye weeks and injuries to Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, Keenan Allen, Steve Smith Sr., and the entire Niners backfield all included. Let’s take a look at the best top waiver wire picks from this season. Coincidentally, a few will be featured in tonight’s game on NFL Network.

Quarterback – Andy Dalton, CIN

15 TD / 4 INT, 1,992 pass yards, 2 rushing TDs

Dalton TD

Any reason to recount that A-Dalt touchdown, I’ll take it.

In the first handful of weeks, people waited for Andy Dalton to fall apart and he didn’t. There was also a stretch of 4 games with potentially tough passing matchups (Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo), and Dalton averaged 319.5 yards and 2.25 touchdowns against them. Having AJ Green and Marvin Jones healthy and Tyler Eifert playing to his potential are huge factors for that and why his success should sustain.

RB – Dion Lewis, NE

229 rush yards, 2 TDs / 32 catches, 349 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Dion TD

When you’re a running back in Bill Belichick’s system and you get on his good side, your numbers are going to benefit greatly from it. Dion Lewis was expected to be Shane Vereen’s replacement, but he’s he’s Shane Vereening better than Shane Vereen could (if that makes sense). In the 6 games Lewis has played, he has had more with double-digit touches than Marshawn Lynch, has scored touchdowns than Adrian Peterson, and more 100+ total yard games than Frank Gore and Justin Forsett.

WR – Allen Robinson, JAX

34 catches, 586 yards, 6 TDs

A-Rob TD

As Blake Bortles’s stock has risen, so has A-Rob’s. You can’t really sit him when he’s averaged 5.5 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD over the last 6 games. Robinson also leads all receivers in receptions of 20+ yards with 14.

TE – Gary Barnidge, CLE

40 catches, 567 yards, 6 TDs

Barnidging

Oh you didn’t draft Gronk? No worries because Gary Barnidge was available for EVERYONE after the first 3 weeks of the season. 30 years old and playing better than the rest of the tight ends in the league, Barnidge has scored touchdowns or caught for over 100 yards in every game since Week 3.

Mail Time!

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QB – That’s a really nice problem to have. While Philip Rivers is going to continue throwing it more than anyone with crazy high volume, but Ben Roethlisberger has the better matchup with better weapons to throw to as well. The Raiders are allowing 312 pass yards per game, 2nd most in the league.

WR – I’m not as jealous as this group as I was your QBs. I feel the most comfortable about Eric Decker against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick being a little banged up means he’ll go to his possession option more which is Decker, and he has scored in 5 of his last 6 games. Then I go with Stefon Diggs despite facing a tough Rams defense. Diggs has earned the starting spot as the Vikings downfield playmaker. Not only do I hate Hilton’s matchup and quarterback (at the moment), the MRI he had on his foot and missing some practice doesn’t give me much optimism.

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Time for the “Reverse Rivers”…which isn’t as suggestive as you think, ya sicko!

Philip Rivers is going to throw a ton on Monday Night Football with the San Diego run game being weak and the Bears only giving up 2 rushing touchdowns all weekend. He’ll be without Allen, but he has to chuck it out of necessity. In games that Rivers has thrown at least 37 passes, he averages 381 yards and 2.4 touchdowns. The gameplan for the Bengals tonight should be very run oriented anyway as the Browns are giving up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.32.17 PM

Does Los Angeles count since they’ll be receiving the Rams soon?

I really wanted to pull the Lee Corso “Not so fast, my friend!” but I can’t, in my heart of hearts. Tavon Austin is the one decent option if your league counts return yards and you need a spots start out of someone. Austin has 6 total touchdowns with 2 coming on the rush, and 141 yards running too.

But Todd Gurley is the only viable option out of St. Louis and in a big big way…

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WR – Neither option is great and they are both going against incredible pass defenses, but I lean toward James Jones simply for the Aaron Rodgers factor.

QB – Big Ben for the reasons I listed above.

…and Todd Gurley is the realness. He’s the best running back in the league right now and if he stays healthy, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

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Go Home Bills Fans…You’re Drunk. The Drunkest In The League, Actually.

“Year One” of the Rex Ryan era has driven Buffalo Bills fans to drinking.

That’s not a joke. With data from smartphone breathalyzer app BACtrack, cross-referenced with Twitter’s fan allegiance map, Bills fans are leading the league in average Blood Alcohol Content.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.39.50 PM

BAC levels among NFL fans were gathered and examined from games starting in the pre-season through October 26th. Atop the list on game day were Bills fans with an average 0.076 BAC. Tied for 2nd behind Buffalo are Detroit Lions fans (0.069) and Philadelphia Eagles fans…with batteries in their pockets, waiting to be thrown.

Drinking the least on game day are Cincinnati Bengals fans (0.015) and Tennessee Titans fans (0.021). However, left off the list are Raiders, Jaguars, Jets, Rams and Buccaneers fans due to insufficient data. Curious Bears fans can see they are ranked 11th with a BAC of 0.054.

The study was conducted to find out if an NFL team’s record was had an impact on their fan base’s drinking habits. That correlation was unfound with the 1 win Titans being the “case in point.” Drinking levels were proven to increase with 2/3 the NFL audience as BAC averages rise from the pre-season to the regular season.

It should be noted that BACtrack Consumption Reports are released in order to provide insight to the drinking habits around the country so consumers can consider the effects of alcohol…

…or you end up like Dizzy Bat Guy below.

Dizzy Bat

For more, follow along on Facebook and Twitter

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Tight Ends

You have to love how the Tight End position has evolved over the years. Every since Tony Gonzalez hit the scene, former basketball players and big wide receivers have converted into heavy hitters in Fantasy Football. 

I wouldn’t take one in the first round, but here are my Top 20 and where you should look to take them.

1.Rob Gronkowski, NE

Gronk

2014: 1,124 rec yards, 82 catches, 12 TD

Regardless if it’s Brady throwing or if it’s Garoppolo, Gronk will smash. However, he’s not going to be 1st round worthy like he’s projected. Great player but he won’t carry your team enough to give up picking a high end point producing skilled player.

Pick 2nd Round

2. Jimmy Graham, SEA

Graham

2014: 889 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Graham was a bit inconsistent last season, partially thanks to Drew Brees and being injured. He’s being downplayed in Seattle, but I think he’s a perfect fit with Russell Wilson. Could be a touchdown machine.

Pick 3rd Round

3. Martellus Bennett, CHI

Bears vs. Vikings

2014: 916 rec yards, 90 catches, 6 TDs

Martysaurus could do big things this season. “Denver-Julius Thomas” big things. He was spread out in the first preseason game like Thomas was in the Gase system, and that makes him dangerous around the end zone. He was targeted nearly as much as Gronk last season and that shouldn’t change.

Pick 4th or 5th Round

4. Greg Olsen, CAR

G-Reg

2014: 1008 rec yards, 84 catches, 6 TDs

Olsen and Benjamin are Cam’s best two offensive options again this year. Olsen seems to be more helpful in between the 20s and that helps for reception and yard points.

Pick 5th Round

5. Travis Kelce, KC

Kelce

2014: 862 rec yards, 67 catches, 5 TDs

Kelce is solid and seems more reliable for Alex Smith than his receivers are. The offense runs through Jamaal Charles but on 3rd down and in the red zone, Kelce is key.

Pick 5th or 6th Round

6. Jason Witten, DAL

Witten

2014: 704 rec yards, 64 catches, 5 TDs

The more unsure we get about the Cowboys running backs, the better I feel about Tony Romo throwing more to Bryant and Witten. Witten isn’t as athletic as he used to be, but he is gets the job done.

Pick 7th Round

7. Jordan Cameron, MIA

Cameron

2014: 424 rec yards, 24 catches, 2 TDs

Cameron dealt with a mess last year in Cleveland. I would expect him to bounce back pretty well with Tannehill at quarterback, who will benefit from having a bigger target in the red zone.

Pick 7th Round

8. Zach Ertz, PHI

Ertz

2014: 702 rec yards, 58 catches, 3 TDs

If the Eagles quarterbacks are going to be any good, they’re going to have to rely heavily on Ertz, who is the best pass catcher they have. He’ll also be valuable as a compliment to pounding the rock with Murray.

Pick 7th Round

9. Delanie Walker, TEN

Delanie

2014: 890 rec yards, 63 catches 4 TDs

A rookie quarterback’s best friend is his tight end, and Delanie Walker is a fast one. Walker missed the first preseason game because he was coming back from a thumb injury, but I expect him to help calm Mariota’s nerves in no time.

Pick 8th Round

10. Kyle Rudolph, MIN

Denver Broncos v Minnesota Vikings

2014: 231 rec yards, 24 catches, 2 TDs

I think Rudolph will be a steal in mid to late rounds because Vikings OC Norv Turner LOVES his tight ends. Rudolph was banged up a bit last season but should play well with a further developed Bridgewater at quarterback.

Has 8th Round Value but you’ll find him available 10th round

11. Julius Thomas, JAX

Julius

2014: 489 rec yards, 43 catches, 12 TDs

Thomas was successful because of Peyton Manning and the Adam Gase offense. Now he’s in Jacksonville where star players can’t stay healthy and longtime Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis is also there. Thomas won’t get as many looks but has a chance to prove that he’s better than just a system receiver.

Pick 8th Round

12. Dwayne Allen, IND

Dwayne

2014: 395 rec yards, 29 catches, 8 TDs

Coby Fleener is also in Indy, but Dwayne Allen is the better receiver in the end zone. Luck targeted Allen 50 times last season, and I expect that to go up with Gore established in the run game.

Pick 10th Round

13. Owen Daniels, DEN

Daniels

2014: 527 rec yards, 48 catches, 4 TDs

Broncos HC Gary Kubiak always brings his favorite TE along, “old reliable” Owen Daniels. Sometimes Daniels looked very good as a TD threat, and a lot of times he was nowhere to be found. Decent late round backup

Pick 11th Round

14. Larry Donnell, NYG

Donnell

2014: 623 rec yards, 64 catches, 6 TDs

Larry Donnell is dealing with tendonitis in his Achilles but the Giants don’t seem worried about him missing Week 1. He put together some of the best games for tight ends, and sometimes didn’t do much at all. Expect him to be much more consistent in year 2 of the new offensive system.

Pick 11th Round

15. Jordan Reed, WAS

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2014: 465 rec yards, 50 catches

With Niles Paul out for the season, Jordan Reed is the man for Washington. RG-III plays well with TEs, especially in the red zone, and Reed is an excellent weapon when healthy.

Pick 12th Round

16. Antonio Gates, SD

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2014: 821 rec yards, 69 catches, 12 TDs

Even though Gates is missing 4 games for suspension, you aren’t drafting to use him that early in the season anyway. Although Ladarius Green will be getting an audition to start the season, Gates is still one of the best ever at the position and will be an excellent weapon to have in your pocket

Pick Late Rounds

Tyler Eifert, CIN

Eifert

2014: 37 rec yards, 3 catches

Eifert didn’t do anything last year, literally. But now Jermaine Gresham is gone and Eifert is the #1 TE in Cincy, so you have to think production will only go up from here.

Pick Late Rounds

18. Ladarius Green, SD

Ladarius

2014: 226 rec yards, 19 catches

Green is getting a crack at showing he can take over when Antonio Gates is done or hurt (or suspended longer). If Philip Rivers can’t make him worth your while, nobody can.

Pick Late Rounds

19. Josh Hill, NO

Josh Hill

2014: 176 rec yards, 14 catches, 5 TDs

Jimmy Graham’s replacement caught a decent number of touchdowns last year, but is taking reps with the 2nd team so far this preseason. Decent fill in for a back up spot, or an easy drop when you want to add someone better.

Pick Late

20. Heath Miller, PIT

Green Bay Packers v Pittsburgh Steelers

2014: 761 rec yards, 66 catches, 3 TDs

Heath is usually a fill in guy when you need a spot start at TE or someone gets injured. Really it just helps to have him already because Roethlisberger will always have him as a security blanket when he needs one.

Pick Late

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Quarterbacks

If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to start preparing for your upcoming Fantasy Football Draft. 

Whether you’re playing in Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, or some other website, you don’t necessarily want to base your picks off of their pre-draft rankings. That’s why I write up a CHEAT SHEET with players I prefer, based on their production last season, their team’s recent acquisitions, schemes/sytems, and injuries. 

Here are my Top-20 quarterbacks and where I would prioritize drafting them round-by-round. 

1. Andrew Luck, IND

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

2014: 40 TD/ 16 INT, 4,761 yards

Throws the ball A LOT. Just added Andre Johnson and a legit running back in Frank Gore to keep defensive backs honest. 5 Good WRs, 2 decent TEs…Yeah. The Beard’s ceiling has been raised.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd round

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Rodgers

2014: 38 TD / 5 INT, 4,381 yards

Doesn’t turn it over often and plays better down the stretch. Rodgers is missing his #1 receiver, but could make someone else into a star very quickly. Also scary in the red zone on the ground.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd

3. Drew Brees, NO

Buffalo Bills v New Orleans Saints

2014: 33 TD / 17 INT, 4,952 yards

Brees can be great or he can kill you. If Brandin Cooks stays healthy, he’ll bounce back and tear it up. May not throw as many TDs but he’ll pick up plenty of yardage and completions. Led the league in both last year.

Pick: 3rd or 4th round

4. Tony Romo, DAL

Sports Day

2014: 34 TD / 9 INT, 3,705 yards

Expect Romo to throw it more with DeMarco Murray gone. Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league and give him plenty of time to find an open man, and has sure hands in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Pick 4th Round

5. Peyton Manning, DEN

P Manning

2014: 39 TD / 15, 4,761 yards

I don’t believe Manning would have come back if he wasn’t healthy. He will still throw a ton. Plus Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are great after the catch.

Pick: 4th Round

6. Russell Wilson, SEA

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

2014: 20 TD/7 INT, 3,475 yards

Doesn’t get a ton of passing points but makes up for it with rushing yards and TDs on the ground. Also just added Jimmy Graham, so passing points should go up.

Pick 4th Round

7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

Roethlisberger

2014: 32 TD / 9 INT, 4,952 yards

Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell definitely help Ben get his points. He’ll throw 5 TDs one day, but none another. 

Pick 5th Round

8. Matt Ryan, ATL

Ryan

2014: 28 TD / 14 INT, 4,694 yards

New coach and OC, super young RBs, and healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White…Matty Ice is going to let it fly. 

Pick: 5th Round

9. Eli Manning, NYG

New York Giants

2014: 30 TD / 14 INT, 4,410 yards

Eli doesn’t have an excuse not to produce big time in year two of Odell Beckham Jr and having a healthy Victror Cruz back. Rashad Jennings provides solid relief in the run game when he isn’t sidelined, and Tom Brady could tell Manning how good Shane Vereen is on passing downs. 

Pick 6th Round

10. Tom Brady, NE

AP PATRIOTS RAVENS FOOTBALL S FBN USA MD

2014: 33 TD / 9 INT, 4,109 yards

This obviously can change if his suspension goes away, but Brady can be your first pick after most of the Top 10 go. Next couple QBs can bridge you to after he returns and he’ll be a boss when he does.

Pick 6th Round or a few after you pick your first QB

11. Phillip Rivers, SD

NFL: New York Giants at San Diego Chargers

2014: 31 TD / 18 INT, 4,286 yards

First half of last year, was Top 3 among QBS. Rivers just got paid too, which should motivate him to earn his keep. He also gets Danny Woodhead back to throw to and Keenan Allen should be better as well.

Pick 7th Round and beyond

12. Matthew Stafford, DET

Stafford

2014: 22 TD / 12 INT, 4,247 yards

This really depends on how healthy Calvin Johnson is. Megatron at his best is devastating and would make Stafford an awesome backup or even starter. Golden Tate proved to help him out too in Johnson’s absence. Theo Riddick and Joique Bell are proven to be solid pass catchers out of the backfield too.

Pick 7th Round

13. Jay Cutler, CHI

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears

2014: 28 TD / 18 INT, 3,812 yards

Jay is poised for a bounce back year and not just because #CuttyDoesIt. Former Peyton Manning OC Adam Gase has emphasized utilizing Cutler’s strengths throwing on the run and play-action. He’ll be missing Kevin White for at least the first half of the season, but finally has a true slot receiver in Eddie Royal. Also expect Martellus Bennett to be big when spread out, like Julius Thomas in past years. 

Pick 8th Round and beyond

14. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

Ryan Tannehill

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 4,045 yards

Gets better every year. Added proven veteran receivers, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, who can also play in uptempo offenses. Jarvis Landry will be Tannehill’s best weapon to stretch the field though.

Pick 8th Round and beyond

15. Cam Newton, CAR

Newton

2014: 18 TD / 12 INT, 3,127 yards

Newton is sliding in most drafts after losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season to injury. Rookie Devin Funchess isn’t as depended on as advertised with veterans like Jericho Cotchery and Ted Gin Jr. in the mix, but can put up Benjamin-like production. Ability to run for TDs makes up for lack of passing points too. 

Pick 8th Round

16. Joe Flacco, BAL

Flacco

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 3,986 yards

Lost Torrey Smith and his replacement, Breshad Perriman, is questionable. Flacco will be throwing a lot though with Marc Trestman as OC. Could be either really good or really meh.

Pick 9th round and beyond

17. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN

Bridgewater

2014: 14 TD / 12 INT 2,919 yards

The Vikings are a run heavy team, without question. Teddy has looked excellent in preseason though, and he has Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson to throw to. The training wheels are off in year two and you can expect Kyle Rudolph to provide a nice security blanket in the Norv Turner system

Pick 10th Round and beyond

18. Andy Dalton, CIN

Dalton

2014: 19 TD / 17 INT, 3,398 yards

Dalton’s last season was thrown off with AJ Green getting injured. The Bengals added Denarius Moore to go with Marvin Jones and Sanu. Don’t bank on him but he’s a nice backup with nice options.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

Colin Kaepernick, SF

Kaepernick

2014: 19 TD / 10 INT, 2,369 yards

The 49ers could potentially be the worst team in the NFL, but Kaepernick can still take over a game in desperate times. He still has Anquan Boldin, plus Torrey Smith and Reggie Bush who are both helpful in the passing. Kaepernick does run better than anyone on the team too. The defense will be awful so he’ll have to score plenty to stay in games.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

20. Derek Carr, OAK

Carr

2014: 21 TD / 12 INT, 3,270 yards

Carr showed flashes of the quarterback the Raiders need him to be last season. Drafting Amari Cooper helps along with a receiving group that also includes Michael Crabtree, Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes

Pick 12th Round and beyond

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet 

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet

#TBT Poll: Best Sports Moment of 1988

If you haven’t yet, check out this week’s Throwback Thursday Year in Review.

Not a bad year for sports, right?

#1.

Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins Dunk Contest

#2.

Kirk Gibson’s Walk-off Home Run, Game 1 of the World Series vs. A’s.

#3.

Joe Montana leads 49ers on 92 yard drive to win Super Bowl XXIII vs. Bengals

Anything else better than these 3 choices? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.