Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 4

Bears safety Chris Prosinski was just minding his own business, serving as a backup on defense and contributing on special teams. Next thing you know, he’s forced into the game because of injuries and is immortalized on posters for years to come…because Ezekiel Elliott did this to him.

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Aside from the shame that Prosinski has to harbor, in film sessions and highlight shows for years to come, the Cowboys have something special on their hands. Elliott had his coming out party against Chicago on Sunday Night Football last week, rushing for 140 yards and adding 20 more receiving. He was a workhorse down the stretch. Gashing a beat up Bears defense, but running harder on every down. He is currently the league’s 3rd leading rusher, with 2 touchdowns, and should only impress more behind the NFL’s best offensive line.

The Cowboys are also led by another rookie at quarterback, who is making a lot of us wonder how he fell to the 4th round in this year’s draft. Dak Prescott doesn’t have gaudy numbers, yet, but he appears to be looking better by the week. He threw his first career touchdown pass in Week 3, averages 33 attempts per game, and goes up against the 28th ranked pass defense on Sunday (San Francisco). He won’t necessarily carry your team, but a spot start by Prescott doesn’t appear shabby in Week 4 if you need one.

Quick Hits

  • Terrelle Pryor became the first player in NFL history to record over 140 receiving yards, 20 rushing yards, and 30 passing yards all in the same game. He is the Browns’ best source for offense and even played safety, at one point, against the Dolphins in Week 3. You can also tell that Cleveland coach Hue Jackson is scheming specifically to put the ball in Pryor’s hands AND in open space…because why wouldn’t you, when the guy is 6’6, 240 pounds and can run a 4.4 40-second drill.

 

  • Christine Michael looked like he was in a video game in the first quarter against San Francisco in week 3. 9 carries, 71 yards and 2 touchdowns (the first on his first touch for 41 yards). He came back to Earth though, only rushing for 35 on 3.1 yards per carry after that. Michael is the guy many people have waited on, with all the physical tools to be a star in the league. The injuries Thomas Rawls has dealt with have given Michael his 3rd or 4th chance to prove it, as it seems. He has a tough matchup this week against the Jets, a Top-3 rush defense.

 

  • In tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup, your first thought for best fantasy option may be AJ Green, but I lean toward Jarvis Landry. He is commanding 30% of his team’s targets, is lethal in the return game, and is LITERALLY putting up Antonio Brown numbers (even though he went 4 rounds later in your draft). Landry is tied with Brown for the league lead in receptions (24) and has recorded more yards in 3 games (314). He’s even stealing Brown’s touchdown celebrations…

 

Mail Time!

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If Dez Bryant plays, he’ll be doing so with a fractured knee…So, I’ll let you decide on that one.

 

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For PPR’s sake, you’ll for sure want to start Mark Ingram. The Chargers are allowing NINE CATCHES PER GAME to running backs, so far this season. Being without Manti Teo (who is still without his imaginary girlfriend. Sorry too easy), makes the Chargers way more susceptible to the run.

Carlos Hyde may have gone off on the Seahawks, but they didn’t allow Arian Foster or Todd Gurley to go over 51 yards the weeks prior. Travis Benjamin will continue to get is targets and shoot EAT against the Saints secondary.

 

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The Giants have done some impressive things rushing the passer and against the run, but they are THE WORST against the pass through 3 weeks this season. Stefon Diggs should be in for a solid day of receiving yards on Sunday.

Despite facing his toughest matchup of the season, I have to recommend Mike Evans over Emmanuel Sanders because he is 2nd in targets this season to Antonio Brown. Jameis Winston may not play particularly well, but you can count on him at least throwing it Evans’ way.

 

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This one will be quick:

League leader in receiving yards Marvin Jones against the depleted Bears secondary. Then Brandin Cooks, for the real potential of a shootout with San Diego.

 

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You have to play Julio Jones if you have him. Last week was a bit of an enigma with him. Look for Julio to take advantage of a young Panthers secondary that has only faced Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert, and Sam Bradford so far this season and Matt Ryan has all of a sudden shown up as a top quarterback again. I get the temptation for Marvin Jones, but Julio is far more proven and that deal needs to be sweetened much more for me to trade him.

 

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Hey man, I just give advice. I don’t lock your lineup for you.

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

Fantasy Football Awards 2015

Has your Fantasy Football withdrawal kicked in already? Are you already thinking about next year’s draft? Yeah, me too…That’s why I’ll be frequently updating my draft boards on MichaelPiff.com starting next week.

But first…

We have some awards to hand out from the 2015 season!

 

This season was wild. Injuries, suspensions, surprises, Gary Barnidges, backup quarterbacks, drama and more drama…We’ll look at all the impact players, and some of the worst, that dictated your fantasy season this past season.

 

MVP

CamVP

Cam Newton, Panthers

Every year you do your Fantasy draft, who usually goes off the board first?…Running backs. Then someone drafts Aaron Rodgers (probably Andrew Luck this year too) ridiculously high and some wide receivers will round out your first round. Quarterbacks don’t typically start to go in bulk until the 4th round and Cam Newton wasn’t even being considered until the 8th. His average draft position was 77.1 overall, average round was 8.4.

Those who rolled with Newton, and weren’t afraid of the lack of hype around his wide receivers, reaped ALL the benefits of #1 scoring quarterback in football. He finished the season leading the league in total touchdowns with 45 (35 passing, 10 rushing) and added 4,473 yards from scrimmage (3,837 passing, 635 rushing). Newton’s stretch from Week 11-15 (19 total touchdowns) likely helped carry you to your league’s championship too.

Next Best: Carson Palmer

Hard not to consider Carson Palmer as an MVP as well since he regularly gave you at least 290+ yards and 2-3 touchdowns through the air.

Biggest Bust of the Year

Lacy Bust

Eddie Lacy, Packers

I can’t fault players who miss time or underperform due to injury. The top tier of the running backs almost all suffered this, besides Adrian Peterson. Eddie Lacy wasn’t hurt though. Lacy was a Top 5 pick in most leagues, and he gave you just 3 rushing touchdowns and 758 yards on the ground in 15 games. He was out of shape, missing curfews, and just simply…bad. If any of his 3 games of 100+ yards helped you, I imagine it was because you were desperate at running back. It took Lacy until Week 11 to do so.

Next Worst: Dez Bryant 

I’m probably breaking my injury rule here, but you likely picked Bryant late 1st or early 2nd round, held on to him while he was injured, and got just 3 touchdowns and 401 yards in 9 games for your patience. Tony Romo or not, Bryant is supposed to be a game changer…not THAT.

 

Draft Steal

Devonta Steal

Devonta Freeman, Falcons

If you paid close attention to the Falcons in the offseason, you were weighing your options of taking rookie Tevin Coleman or 2nd year RB Devonta Freeman as one of your flier picks. If you picked Freeman, you CHOSE WISELY. Freeman went 119th overall on average, 2 rounds or so after Coleman, and he gave you 1,639 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns (most in the league). He also helped you stack up some wins from Weeks 2-6 with 10 touchdowns (9 rushing, 1 receiving).

Next Best: Tom Brady

If you picked Tom Brady before his suspension was lifted, you got him at backup value in later rounds. If you took him after, you still enjoyed his #RevengeTour with 36 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers

While Le’Veon Bell served his 2 game suspension to start the year, DeAngelo Williams filled in with 204 yards and 3 touchdowns (all in one game). After Bell went on IR following Week 8, Williams gave you high-end RB1 production, averaging 125 yards from scrimmage and finishing tied with Freeman for the league’s lead in rushing TDs.

Next Best: Gary Barnidge

Might gut went with Gary Barnidge initially, but Williams’s value after Bell went down was just too strong…Barnidge was certainly the breakout player of the year, posting 1,043 yards and 9 touchdowns on 79 catches at the age of 30. Before this year, Barnidge’s career totals were 604 yards, 44 catches and 3 touchdowns over 7 years.

Comeback Player of the Year

DMartin Comeback

Doug Martin, Buccaneers

I’ll admit it. I wrote off the Muscle Hamster. After recording nearly 2,000 yards yards from scrimmage his rookie season, the guy barely hit half of that total over the next 2 years because of injuries, bad offensive lines and worse offensive coordinators. Bucs OC Dirk Koetter figured it all out though and made Doug Martin into the league’s 2nd leading rusher, picking up 1,402 yards on the ground. For someone who went in the 9th round on average in most fantasy drafts, I think you’d take that.

Next Best: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the definition of a journeyman quarterback. 6 teams in 10 years, never making the playoffs and a career high of 24 touchdown passes in both the seasons he started all 16 games…until this year. Surround his beard with 2 excellent possession receivers, a quality offensive line, and 2 viable running backs and Fitzpatrick turns into FitzMagic throwing 31 touchdowns. He threw multiple touchdowns in 12 of his 16 starts…Who figured Geno Smith getting punched in the face would benefit them so well?

 

Rookie of the Year

Gurley Rookie

Todd Gurley, Rams

It’s hard not to picture Todd Gurley being drafted in your first round next season. In 12 starts, the rookie out of Georgia 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground (2nd highest in the league). Gurley was the Rams’ only source of offense, which explained some of the slow down in production down the stretch as opposing defenses keyed in on him. Expect Gurley to just get stronger and scarier now that he’ll have a full offseason without rehabbing an injury.

Next Best: Jameis Winston

It’s easy to compare Jameis Winston with Marcus Mariota, both rookie QBs with Heisman trophies in their mantles. Winston separated himself from Mariota with big play ability, ranked 2nd in yards per completion (13), and was more consistent for scoring in the 2nd half of the season.

 

Best Lineup

QB: Cam Newton, Panthers – 3,837 yards, 35 TD passing / 636 yards, 10 TD rushing

WR:  Antonio Brown, Steelers – 1,834 yards, 136 catches, 10 TD

WR: Julio Jones, Falcons – 1,871 yards, 136 catches, 8 TD

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – 1,521 yards, 111 catches, 11 TD

RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings – 1,485 yards, 11 TD rush / 30 catches, 222 yards receiving

RB: Devonta Freeman, Falcons – 1,061 yards, 11 TD rush / 73 catches, 578 yards 3 TD receiving

FLEX: Odell Beckham Jr, Giants – 1,450 yards, 96 catches, 13 TD (15 games)

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – 72 catches, 1,176 yards, 11 TD 

K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots – 33/36 FG, 52/52 PAT

DEF – Denver Broncos – 52 sacks, 14 INT, 16 fumble recoveries, 5 TD

 

Rising Lineup

QB: Kirk Cousins, Washington 

WR: Allen Robinson, Jaguars 

WR: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks 

WR: Brandin Cooks, Saints 

RB: Todd Gurley, Rams 

RB: David Johnson, Cardinals 

FLEX: Lamar Miller, Dolphins 

K: Brandon McManus, Broncos 

DEF: Minnesota Vikings 

 

Who are your picks for our Year-End Fantasy Awards? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter! Stay tuned for year-round Fantasy Football info for next year’s draft!

 

 

 

 

NFL Week 7 Fantasy Mailbag

Before we get into the meaningful and important information you are dying for in order to set your lineup, can we enjoy the worst play call in the history of football once more?

Colts Fake Punt

The Colts have become an easy target as of late, especially on this site, but you can’t help but ask “How did you think this was going to go?”. Fortunately, the internet blessed us with a fantastic TECMO reenactment for us to watch over and over again.

Of course Bill Belichick’s Patriots are no stranger to teams acting a fool against them. For #ThrowBackThursday, they recalled another great football folly that their opponent this weekend (and Mark Sanchez) will never forget.

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Quick Hits

  • This year’s “Hard Knocks” team is on the struggle bus, as the Houston Texans are just 2-4 on the season so far and Bill O’Brien’s seat is rising in temperature by the week. Fantasy owners with DeAndre Hopkins on their roster aren’t mad though. Hopkins is riding a 4-game streak of 100+ yards (148 or more in his last 3), has only caught less than 8 passes once this season, and is on pace to top 190 targets this season. Since 2007, only Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson have accomplished that.

DeHop

  • If you kept Todd Gurley stashed on your bench after drafting him, you’re reaping all the benefits now. In just the last two games, Gurley has run for more than 300 yards and has accumulated more 20+ yard runs than Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, and Devonta Freeman have all season. Gurley also has a plum matchup this weekend against a Browns team that has given up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

Gurley

  • Do they even run the ball in San Diego anymore? Philip Rivers (Batman Woo!) threw 65 passes last week against the Packers, completing 43 for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rivers has thrown for 350+ yards in each of his last 3 games, 4 of his 6 games this season, and you can’t expect him to slow down against a Raiders secondary that’s allowing 308 yards per game passing this season. The fact Rivers leads the league in pass attempts this season, 42 per game, is encouraging for Rivers owners…Not so much if you have Melvin Gordon, but very much so for Keenan Allen.

Mail Time!

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I included both your questions together for one reason and one reason only…

#BORTLEKOMBAT!

I plan to rock that hashtag throughout the Jaguars/Bills games in London this weekend, but that’s not why you called…

#BortleKombat has been on full assault the past two weeks as Blake has thrown 7 touchdowns and 4 picks in that time. His matchup this weekend is pretty sexy this week as he takes on Rexy (see what I did there) and his Bills defense. The Allens (Robinson and Hurns) are are licking their chops over facing a secondary that has given up the 3rd most passing touchdowns this season…However, everything is coming up Breesus as the King of the Drews is finding comfort in tight end Ben Watson and the downfield tandem of Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks. What’s worse than the Bills pass defense? The Colts pass defense. They have given up 300+ pass yards for the past 4 weeks and Vontae Davis can’t cover everyone.

Two answer both questions I’m going Breesus > #BortleKombat > Eli’s Face.

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When Andre Johnson went to Indy, I was pumped to see how he would with a real quarterback. Unfortunately, he looks like an old school tight-end in an Andre Johnson jersey. Unless you can handcuff him in a trade, Johnson’s value is simply for dropping in order to pickup a more useful player.

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I am assuming you are the one picking up Forte and Lewis, and if that’s the case…DO IT! People have stashed Dez Bryant hoping he’ll come back and tear things up again. I doubt Bryant returns this week, but he isn’t too far away. Until Tony Romo returns, I’m concerned about who is throwing him the ball. Dez will catch anything that’s thrown within 5 feet of him though…Matt Forte and Dion Lewis down the stretch are a hell of a starting RB combo. If Team 1 has Marshawn Lynch and Chris Ivory already, I understand them making the deal. I don’t see a loser, but Team 2 is getting the better value heads-up.

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Anyone who asks me about starting Antonio Brown will get this from me.

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Big Ben is practicing and his status is questionable. Yes, I’m saying there’s a chance…Regardless though, Landry Jones proved he can sling it last week. Brown is arguably the best football playing in the sport. Despite some weird weeks lacking targets, you have to play him. Both Roethlisberger and Jones will target him and should do so.

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I like Dion Lewis a lot, but not this week against the Jets. On the other sideline, I love Chris Ivory. His aggressive running has helped set up the surprisingly efficient passing game for New York. He also has the 3rd most rushing yards in the league at this point.

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Stefon Diggs has been a sexy waiver name this week and rightfully so. Finally, someone not named Adrian Peterson is producing for the Vikings and he has a nice matchup going against a Lions defense that even let Marquise Wilson of the Bears blow by them last week. I like Robert Woods, but I’m very skeptical of EJ Manuel throwing as opposed to him running. Prioritize Diggs > Woods.

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This is now a weekly question with you, and I’m okay with that…Anywho, you have one more week with Pierre Garcon as a #1 wideout, as it looks like DeSean Jackson is a week away from returning. Go ahead and start Garcon as Jordan Matthews has a rough matchup against Carolina this week.

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Melvin Gordon is such a tough read because you don’t know if the Chargers even want to run at this time with their banged up offensive line. At least I know he’s getting the ball. If it was a PPR league, I would recommend The Duke, but he’s only used in passing down situations and is now sharing a backfield with not only Isaiah Crowell but Robert Turbin as well. The only thing I trust from the Browns against the Rams offense is Gary Barnidge in the end zone. Go with Gordon.

I, like you, also picked up Christine Michael to have stashed and I’m also going to wait a week to see how the Cowboys use him. A young athletic back behind that Cowboys offensive line should be great, but your combo of Bell and Murray makes him more of a luxury than a necessity. He’s too unknown on the field to confidently trot him out. Going against the Giants is a nice measuring stick though.

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! 

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Mailbag

FOOOOOOTBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

I know that’s exactly how you woke up this morning.

Your drafts are in. You’ve either comfortably sat on your lineup or you’ve been toying with who is best for your flex position every minute of the day….The latter is much more likely.

Quick Hits

  • While the NFL season kicks off tonight, so does the #BradyRevengeTour. That hashtag is meant to be tongue in cheek, but Tom Brady has an excellent matchup this week against a Steelers defense in transition to a new system and the same bad personnel as last season. 9 of the 10 quarterbacks they faced last season threw for multiple touchdowns and they were lit up by the BILLS QBs in Week 3 (gross). 

Brady vs Steelers

  • Opposite Brady will be Ben Roethlisberger, who would benefit greatly from a shootout. No Le’Veon Bell means an iffy backfield, and more throws downfield to arguably the best offensive weapon in football…Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger averaged 2.6 touchdown passes last year and faces a Patriots defense that’s now without Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. 

Big Ben vs Patriots

  • Another game I’m incredibly interested in is the Broncos vs. Ravens, and not for Peyton Manning vs. Joe Flacco…Two of the league’s breakout running backs last season were CJ Anderson and Justin Forsett, and neither were starters in their opener a year ago. Forsett led all starting running backs with 5.4 yards per carry. Since taking over #1 duties week 9, Anderson averaged 132.1 yards from scrimmage per game. Now that Forsett’s OC a year ago is guiding Anderson, it will be fun to see how the two follow up their pro bowl seasons. 

CJ Anderson TD vs Forsett

  • Giants vs. Cowboys could be quite the show as well. Tony Romo OWNED the Giants last year throwing 7 touchdowns in both games against them. In their first meeting, Dez Bryant caught 9 passes for 151 yards and then 2 touchdowns in the second. It was against the Cowboys though where Odell Beckham Jr. really came onto the scene. Beckham scored 2 touchdowns in the first game, then 10 catches, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns the second time around. Similar to tonight’s NE vs PIT game, this matchup has barn burner potential. 

Odell vs the Cowboys

Mail Time! 

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I think the highest ceiling from this group will eventually be Ameer Abdullah, but Lions have a mirky RB situation with Joique Bell still listed as the starter and Theo Riddick #2 on the depth chart. My rule with Week 1 is to go with your proven players while watching how your bench guys develop. DeVante Parker has a great matchup against Washington, but there are only so many balls to go around with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings. Wait and see on his usage…I lean toward Danny Woodhead over Charles Johnson. Woodhead is Philip Rivers’s guy on passing downs and will be relieving rookie Melvin Gordon plenty against the tough Lions run defense. I trust Woodhead getting more touches than Johnson, as the Vikings will be focused on riding Adrian Peterson against the Walking Dead 49ers.

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Start with Jeremy Maclin. I really liked how he and Alex Smith looked working together in the preseason, and he’s the undisputed #1 guy for an offense that needs to use it’s receivers more in the red zone…Both Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson have tough secondary matchups this week. Johnson is in a crowded WR group going against the Bills and Marshall will draw Joe Haden. I like Marshall as a red zone option more than Johnson though. Obviously Johnson has the better QB throwing to him, but how much will he be thrown to?

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Appreciate ya, Matt…Despite my worry of Melvin Gordon going against Detroit, Alfred Blue may have an even tougher one against Kansas City. I also don’t get the impression that the Texans are all that in love with Blue, considering they were willing to try 3rd string cornerbacks at running back in the preseason. Let Gordon loose out there.

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Although he is getting the call with Martavis Bryant out, I don’t trust Markus Wheaton yet like I do two starting running backs. Washington is a dumpster fire, but you can feel better about their running game with Alfred Morris way more than their quarterbacks and wide receivers. And take advantage of having Jonathan Stewart while he’s healthy. The key in Week 1 is starting guys that you know will be getting touches, and plenty of them. Only 5 times did Wheaton catch 5 or more passes last season.

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Amari Cooper is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the league and he’ll show it sooner than later. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be this weekend as his quarterback may be eaten alive by the Bengals front 7. Jordan Matthews should be strong play though as the new #1 WR in Philly and going against a Falcons pass defense that was putrid a year ago.

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I don’t love Brandon Marshall at all and I don’t think his quarterbacks will be helping him much or vice versa. However…the Washington offensive line could easily get Kirk Cousins killed this weekend against Ndamukong Suh, and D-Jax simply won’t get great opportunities to make plays for you. Your chances are better with Marshall. 

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! 

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Wide Receivers

As the NFL trends toward more passing and scoring, the receiver position has become more and more valuable. If you play in a PPR league, receivers are as important and some even more than running backs.

There are a handful of WRs who are worth taking before the big producing quarterbacks (Luck & Rodgers), and one who can be as good as any player in the league. Here’s my Top 40 to help you prepare for your upcoming draft. 

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

Antonio

2014: 1,698 receiving yards, 129 catches, 15 TDs, 319 return yards

Brown is probably the best offensive weapon in football. Incredible speed, always has the ball thrown his way, and he scores from everywhere on the field. Has also proven it 2 years in a row

Pick: Middle-Late 1st Round

2. Odell Beckham Jr, NYG

ODB

2014: 1,305 receiving yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 171 return

ODB accumulated those numbers playing less games than most starting NFL receivers. Absolute difference maker for fantasy teams and carried some to the playoffs and championship last year.

Pick: Late 1st Round

3. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Damaryius

2014: 1,619 rec yards, 111 catches, 11 TDs

Manning has a year or two left and he’s going to go out guns blazing. Thomas is his go-to guy with both Julius Thomas and Welker gone. Expect him to get the ball early and often.

Pick: 2nd Round

4. Dez Bryant, DAL

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2014: 1,320 rec yards, 88 catches, 16 TDs

Dez is the best in the red zone. Without a designated feature running back, expect Romo to be throwing more than last year and likely throwing to Dez.

Pick 2nd Round

5. Julio Jones, ATL

Julio Jones, Quentin Jammer

2014: 1,593 rec yards, 104 catches, 7 TDs

Julio used to have an annual injury that holds him out for significant time but he held his own pretty well last year. One of the fastest guys on the field, even when injured, and Matt Ryan’s favorite target.

Pick 2nd Round

6. Calvin Johnson, DET

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

2014: 1,077 rec yards, 71 catches, 8 TDs

It’s weird ranking Megatron behind multiple guys, but he is getting older and coming off of an injury plagued season. Healed up, he still has the ability to win games by himself, and I trust him the most on the Lions roster.

Pick: Late 2nd Round

7. AJ Green, CIN

AJ

2014: 1,041 rec yards, 69 catches, 6 TDs

Big reason for Andy Dalton’s drop-off was AJ Green’s injury last year. Green is back healthy and will be as solid as ever if Cincinnati sets him up with their running game.

Pick: Late 2nd – Early 3rd 

8. Randall Cobb, GB

Cobb

2014: 1,287 rec yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 112 return

Ridiculous how Cobb and Nelson were able to have such high numbers last season, but that’s how it works in the Green Bay system. With Nelson down, Cobb jumps up in value, but by how much? That’ll depend on how the next man up performs?

Pick: 2nd-Early 3rd Round

9. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

2014: 1,133 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Alshon has a chance to be a superstar with Brandon Marshall gone. He’ll be expected to play a Demaryius Thomas role in the new Bears system that will be set up by the run. Eddie Royal in the slot will also help get Jeffery open. He’s missed time in the preseason due to injury but is expected to be good to go for Week 1.

Pick: 3rd Round

10. TY Hilton, IND

T.Y. Hilton

2014: 1,345 rec yards, 82 catches, 7 TDs

Colts still added a few more weapons for Andrew Luck, but T.Y.’s still the #1 guy. He’s always downfield and, if anything, Andre Johnson will help him get more open.

Pick: 3rd Round

11. Mike Evans, TB

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

2014: 1,051 rec yards, 68 catches, 12 TDs

Jameis Winston looks okay so far this preseason and is a much better quarterback than Josh McCown. All Mike Evans needs is someone who can throw the ball down field and he’ll go get it. 

Pick: 4th Round

12. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

Hopkins

2014: 1,210 rec yards, 76 catches, 6 TDs

This will be the guy that jumps up people’s draft boards because of Hard Knocks. This time, I think it will be justified because DeAndre is the best player on that offense not named Arian Foster (who is out because of injury). Brian Hoyer was just named the starting QB, and Hopkins should feel better about his consistency. 

Pick: 4th Round

13. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

2014: 1,404 rec yards, 101 catches, 9 TDs

Sanders went under the radar as one of the most productive WRs last year, and he’s going under the radar here too because of the low expectations for Peyton Manning. Just like Randall Cobb a year ago, Sanders gets open when Thomas gets more attention. Could be a really good WR2.

Pick 4th Round

14. Brandin Cooks, NO

Cooks

2014: 550 rec yards, 53 catches, 3 TDs

Cooks started last season as one of the best rookie WRs in a great class…and then got hurt. If Breesus is going to bounce back after an up-and-down season, Cooks will be the key to that. Best athlete on their team.

Pick 4th or 5th Round

15. Jordan Matthews, PHI

Matthews

2014: 872 rec yards, 67 catches, 8 TDs

Philly is trying to sell people on Matthews being a stud, but the truth is that there is nobody better ahead of him. If Jeremy Maclin’s #1 receiver production a year ago is any indication, the Chip Kelly system may pay off big time for owners. 

Pick 5th Round

16. Andre Johnson, IND

Andre

2014: 936 rec yards, 86 catches, 3 TDs

Andre dealt with a really bad quarterback situation in Houston the past few years but also wasn’t getting open in the end zone. With so many weapons demanding coverage for Indy, he will have better opportunities to score. Andrew Luck will see to that.

Pick 6th Round

17. Golden Tate, DET

Golden

2014: 1,331 rec yards, 99 catches, 4 TDs

Based on last year’s production, Tate should ranked higher. A lot of that was thanks to Megatron either being hurt or drawing coverage away from him. I wouldn’t expect the same catch and yardage numbers, but he would make a solid low end WR2/Flex guy.

Pick 6th Round

18. Julian Edelman, NE

Edelman

2014: 972 rec yards, 92 catches, 5 TDs, 299 return

Tom Brady’s favorite receiver will have to step it up if #12 misses any time. Not very consistent but gets a lot of catches for PPR and will pick up those random return yards that make you mad if you sat him. (Personal experience)

Pick 6th or 7th Round

19. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

Brandon Marshall

2014: 721 rec yards, 61 catches, 8 TDs

Brandon Marshall’s starting quarterback just got punched in the face and is out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw. The Jets don’t have any quarterbacks and Marshall isn’t getting any younger either. I would also be worried about his injuries from last season being a sign that he may miss time again. Still has potential to have big TD games, but I wouldn’t depend on him for yardage.

Pick 7th Round

20. Amari Cooper, OAK

Amari

Rookie

Definitely the best of the rookies in this year’s class. Could give you great value if he plays to his potential right away. Fast and has knack for getting to the end zone.

Pick 7th Round

21. Keenan Allen, SD

Keenan

2014: 783 rec yards, 77 catches, 4 TDs

Allen was one of the most targeted players in the league last year but wasn’t making the catches. He settled in later on, but the Chargers seem like a run heavy team going into the season. With Eddie Royal gone, he’ll definitely get more attention from Rivers (Batman-Woo!)

Pick 7th Round

22. DeSean Jackson, WAS

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

2014: 1,169 rec yards, 56 catches, 6 TDs

I don’t like the Washington offense at all. RG-III is a broken player and that makes DeSean a hit or miss player. He’ll have great games because of speed, but then he’ll be invisible because nobody can get him the ball.

Pick 8th Round

23. Sammy Watkins, BUF

Sammy

2014: 982 rec yards, 65 catches, 6 TDs

Sammy is clearly the best receiver in Buffalo, but the bad trio of quarterbacks battling for the starting spot make you worried as to how consistent his production will be. They are going to run a lot and that may open things up for Sammy. WR isn’t a very valuable position on Rex Ryan teams.

Pick 8th Round

24. Jarvis Landry, MIA

Landry

2014: 758 rec yards, 84 catches, 5 TDs, 1,158 return

Landry was an under-the-radar productive rookie last year and I expect him to play even better in his second year. With Wallace gone, he’ll be much more depended on by Tannehill.

Pick 8th Round

25. Davante Adams, GB

Davante

2014: 446 rec yards, 38 catches, 3 TD

Davante just became a lot more valuable with Jordy being lost for the season. Week 1 will be an audition for him to see if he can fill the role opposite Cobb. He had flashes last season but also dropped some important passes. The best bet is to draft him later and take the risk than pass up on Rodgers’s next best WR.

Pick 8th Round

26. Victor Cruz, NYG

Cruz

2014: 337 yards, 23 catches, 1 TD

With two knee surgeries in as many years and currently a calf injury that is keeping out of the Giants’ 3rd preseason game, Victor Cruz seems like a liability going into the 2015 season. Cruz is confident he’ll be good to go in Week 1 and could put up his old production with defenses paying more attention to Beckham. 

Pick 8th Round

27. Eric Decker, NYJ

Decker

2014: 962 rec yards, 74 catches, 5 TDs

Oddly, I trust Eric Decker more than I do Brandon Marshall in New York. You can see Marshall getting double-teamed and opening things up over the middle and deep for Decker, which is something that works better for Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback…Marshall is going to hate Fitzpatrick.

Pick: 8th Round

28. Jeremy Maclin, KC

Maclin

2014: 1,318 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Maclin was one of the best receivers in the league last year. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is his quarterback now. Kansas City WRs didn’t catch a TD pass until the backend of the season. Maclin may improve those numbers reuniting with Andy Reid, so he could be steal here.

Pick 8th Round

29. Roddy White, ATL

Roddy

2014: 921 rec yards, 80 catches, 7 TDs

Roddy is a pass catching machine and sometimes gets to the end zone. His issue in recent years is staying healthy, but should benefit from Julio getting most of the attention.

Pick 9th Round

30. Mike Wallace, MIN

Wallace

2014: 862 rec yards, 67 catches, 10 TD

Wallace is very good at finding the end zone and is the most proven among the Vikings receivers. As Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as an NFL quarterback, I would trust Wallace the most in the group.

Pick 9th Round

31. Steve Smith Sr., BAL

Smith Sr.

2014: 1,065 rec yards, 79 catches, 6 TD

I expect Steve Smith to go way too early in drafts because he’s a name people know. It’s his last season, so he’s going to try to ball out, but that’s only going to work if Joe Flacco can get him the ball. The WR group in Baltimore is pretty thin so if Flacco is playing well, so will Smith Sr.

Pick 9th round

32. Anquan Boldin, SF

Boldin

2014: 1,062 rec yards, 83 catches, 5 TDs

Boldin is a badass and he has good chemistry with Kaepernick. You can expect, the Niners to play a lot of catchup this season because their defense is so depleted, which means Boldin will be getting a lot of targets.

Pick 9th Round

33. John Brown, AZ

NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

2014: 696 rec yards, 48 catches, 5 TDs

Among the Cardinals receivers, John Brown is the Home Run player for Carson Palmer to throw to downfield. May be boom or bust if Michael Floyd returns and stays healthy. Theoretically can be open a lot if Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd draw most of the coverage. 

Pick 10th Round

34. Vincent Jackson, TB

VJax

2014: 1002 rec yards, 70 catches, 2 TDs

I always feel like VJax would be a better player on a different team, but he makes due with the quarterbacks throwing to him. If Jameis Winston is able to read defenses quickly, VJax will benefit from it. Mike Evans will be the first option, but the floor isn’t very low on VJax either.

Pick 10th Round

35. Allen Robinson, JAX

ARob

2014: 548 rec yards, 48 catches, 2 TDs

It’s easier to trust Jacksonville RBs than their WRs, but Allen Robinson can be a stud. His problem is staying healthy, as he broke his foot last year after heating up. Blake Bortles can sling it though, so keep an eye on A-Rob late.

Pick 10th Round

36. Eddie Royal, CHI

Royal

2014: 778 rec yards, 62 catches, 7 TDs

I think Eddie Royal is going to surprise a lot of people this year with the Bears. He’s reunited with Jay Cutler, and both players had their best statistical seasons playing together. Royal provides something Cutler hasn’t had in years, which is a true slot receiver. So as Alshon Jeffery is getting covered deep and Martellus Bennett is drawing attention, Royal will be open in the middle.

Pick 10th Round

37. Kendall Wright, TEN

Wright

2014: 715 rec yards, 57 catches, 6 TDs

Kendall Wright has been inconsistent for a long time, and part of that is thanks to bad quarterbacks being in Tennessee. Early reviews though, are that he’s playing well in practice with Marcus Mariota and that’s encouraging. If Mariota transitions well, he should be able to extend plays with his feet and that helps Wright downfield a lot.

Pick 11th Round

38. Stevie Johnson, SD

Stevie

2014: 435 rec yards, 35 catches, 3 TD

Stevie was in a bad situation with San Francisco, as that offense turned out to be a mess. In San Diego, he’ll be depended on a lot more especially with Antonio Gates out for the first 4 weeks. Coaches say that he can average 7+ catches, which could make him a steal this far back.

Pick 11th Round or later

39. Nelson Agholor, PHI

Algohor

Rookie

Agholor is expected to do big things for the Eagles as they selected him in the first round. He’s now taking 1st team reps, and should be a starter Week 1. If Chip Kelly’s weird offense works, Agholor could be big if Jordan Matthews is getting the attention most people expect him to.

Pick 11th round or later

40. Michael Floyd, AZ

Floyd

2014: 841 rec yards, 47 catches, 6 TD

Floyd is returning from a dislocated finger injury but is on track to be ready for Week 1. If he can stay on the field, Floyd can do big things as John Brown takes the top off opposing defenses. Potential steal late in your draft. 

Draft 11th Round or later. 

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

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet

Sports Crazies: Who Belongs in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’?

It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?

The early reviews are in on ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and it sounds like every synonym that applies to “epic”. The post-apocalyptic franchise returns after the last film hit theaters 30 years ago with a new leading man (the VERY MAD Tom Hardy) and a setting that gives zero F-words to the original timeline. However, it’s directed by George Miller, who created this mad world, so any worry of integrity and fears of Hollywood reboots can be set aside.

Mad Max gif

In the REAL WORLD, our professional sports universe is filled with all walks of life. Good guys, bad guys, heroes, cheaters…gentlemen & ladies, scumbags and…I don’t even know.

Here, we are going to focus on the CRAZIES in pro sports. Not necessarily the guys you would qualify as “bad guys”, but more of the unhinged, whacky, screw-loose variety…And Monty Williams.

MLB

Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

Just one home run away from the 400 club, a 4-time All-Star, an MVP runner-up in 2004, stats comparable to Dave Parker, Al Kaline, and Eddie Murray (according to Baseball Reference)…Adrian Beltre is all of these, but he’s also a ticking time bomb. It’s been thoroughly documented on that Beltre hates when people touch his head, yet his teammates and opponents continue to do it. If you ask me, he is one Elvis Andrus prank away form yelling “BELTRE SMASH!”

Beltre gif

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper is a hot item these days and likely will be for quite a while. He made it into our Mad Men of MLB list a month ago, but the home run “hair flip” keeps the momentum going. Not only is he hitting out of his mind (12 HRs, 31 RBIs, 1.119 OPS in 35 games), he’s challenging umpires to Thunderdome too…Okay not exactly, but bat flips and hair flips will get it done.

Bryce Harper Hair Flip

NBA

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell. Is. Crazy.…And he’s crazy good. Had his team made the playoffs, Westbrook could and probably should have been the NBA’s MVP this season. He earned the NBA’s scoring title by averaging 28.1 points per game, recorded 11 triple-doubles, yet none of it mattered to him…

On top of the accolades and establishing himself as not the Robin to Kevin Durant’s “Batman” (he’s more Superman, or a second Batman), he has no regard for his own safety…and it’s entertaining as hell.

Russell Westbrook hits his head

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

This description comes from Boogie’s scouting report from Jonathan Wasserman before he was drafted from Kentucky in 2010.

“Cousins’ lack of maturity and mental focus is evident in his negative body language and lack of composure … He tends to lose his head, looking disinterested or frustrated if things don’t go his way. Also does not appear receptive to coaching, tuning out his coaches when they attempt to give him advice on the bench …”

Since then, the 5th overall pick has averaged a double-double with 18.9 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, was named an NBA All-Star this past season, and was a member of last summer’s FIBA Champion Team USA squad….and he’ll also be the “Blaster” to any of his teammates’ “Master”.

Cousins Blaster

…and you don’t want to get in Boogie Blaster’s way.

Cousins Destroy

NFL

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

When you get a FOX Sports camera basically dedicated to your every movement on the sidelines, you probably deserve a mention in this post…As the Dallas Cowboys continue the all-time worst PR roster this year, Dez Bryant remains a figure of intrigue while he accepts the team’s franchise tag. Bryant was the center of rumors that seemed to gain steam in the winter regarding a video that was said to have made Ray Rice look like a choir boy. It remained just a rumor though…Bryant hasn’t signed his tender yet but once he does, the Cowboys sidelines will remain much anticipated theater.

Dez Bryant crazy

Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

Martellus Bennett is a different kind of cat, to say the least…He’s not demonstrative like Bryant, but he certainly is out there. It’s very cool how in-touch he is with his creative side. He’s into animation, writing children’s stories and challenges his Twitter following to open their imaginations…That odd side doesn’t necessarily translate to the field, but more so off the field in front of the local media. When he was first introduced to Chicago after signing his current contract, he asked to be referred to as “The Black Unicorn”, the “Orange Dinosaur”, and “Martysaurus Rex”…But don’t mistake his fun and soft side as weakness, Rookies…

Martysaurus Slam

NHL

Andrew Shaw, Chicago Blackhawks

Really you could apply this post to EVERYONE in the NHL. Guys pull their teeth out during games just to get comfortable. Fighting is legal. Reporters on the ice get hit with pucks, bleed, and shake it off to keep doing their jobs…

In anticipation of the Western Conference Finals coming up, we’ll go with the scrappiest (and craziest) guy you’ll see on the ice, Andrew Shaw. The 5’11, 23 year-old forward isn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone, anywhere…even from the bench. The fact that he sold his bloody stitches from the last Stanley Cup Finals he won for charity should be enough to qualify him as Fury Road material.

Andrew Shaw crazy

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

If the Mad Max franchise has provided anything, it’s a litany of freaks and things of the unimaginable. Fury Road sounds no different, so why not include the NHL’s most impressive circus attraction…Zdeno Chara. Chara is 6’9 without skates and carries a very heavy stick, but apparently the Slovak skater also grew up in a castle that housed history’s most infamous female serial killer. So there’s THAT the next time Chara comes barreling into you on skates.

Zdeno Chara slide

Who else belongs in Mad Max: Fury Road? Going to see the movie this weekend? Lets talk about it on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.

NFL Week 12 Fantasy Mailbag

Playoffs?!

Yes, Jim…playoffs.

A few of you aren’t stressing too bad about the idea because you’ve either clinched your playoff spot already, or your record indicates that your season is already over.

Many of you, though, are fighting tooth and nail for the last available spots in your league. The difference between keeping your season alive or playing in the superbly underwhelming consolation bracket could be an Andrew Luck pass to his left tackle…

Anthony TD

(Good for you, Anthony.)

…or a Joe Haden interception.

Joe Haden INT

So who will be the difference maker for your squad when EVERY…POINT…COUNTS? You’re looking for who’s hot, who’s consistent, and who has the best matchup:

Who’s hot?

Aaron Rodgers, that’s who. Rodgers has led his team to back-to-back 50 point games. He averaged 328 yards and 4.5 touchdowns without having to play in the 4th quarter of either of those games. His top 2 wide receivers, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, are on pace to break the league’s record for combined touchdown catches in a season, set by Wes Welker and Randy Moss in 2007. Now Rodgers faces a Vikings defense that has allowed a 75% completion percentage in their last 4 meetings and 3 or more touchdowns in 5 of the last 8 games against him.

Who’s consistent?

Despite the team’s turmoil in the offseason, and having to deal with a pair of touchdown vultures in Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro, Justin Forsett has been one of the league’s most consistent backs not named “DeMarco Murray”. Forsett has totaled at least 85 yards in each of his last 8 games and leads the league with 5.4 yards per carry. The Ravens are coming off a bye week to face the Saints on Monday Night Football and that should bode well for Forsett. The Saints have allowed a total of 430 yards to Jeremy Hill, Frank Gore, and Eddie Lacy in 3 of the last 4 weeks.

Who has the best matchup?

Aside from the guys who Rodgers throws to, it’s Dez Bryant against the Giants. Bryant leads the league in targets from within the 5 yard line with 7, which is more than the carries that most of the top running backs are getting from that distance. Bryant’s been on a scoring tear since his catching 9 passes for 151 yards in Week 7 against the Giants. He’s averaging 6 catches and 94 yards in his last 5 games against New York who will be without Prince Amukamara this weekend.

Dez vs Cowboys

Quick Hits

(I don’t apologize for embedding this at all.)

  • Why isn’t JJ Watt available as a tight end yet in most league? He officially kicked off the Ryan Mallett era in Houston last weekend catching his 2nd touchdown pass of the season…and I’m sure Mallett would love having Watt line up for him in the red zone for the rest of the season. Note: Watt has 4 touchdowns total this season. If the Texans actually made a run at the playoffs, he could be your MVP this season.

Watt TD

  • Speaking of MVP candidates, is Gronk in the conversation? He should be. A big reason for New England’s turnaround since Week 4 is Rob Gronkowski returning to form. He has 5 touchdowns in his last 3 games, and 9 total on the season. Gronk is also doing it after the catch, which makes life easier for Tom Brady.

And on that note…mail time? Mail time.

DB Moenning on Facebook: “Who to start – Denard Robinson v. Colts, Trent Richardson v. Jags, Jonas Gray v. Lions?”

If you hadn’t asked about him, Denard Robinson would likely have gotten a shoutout much earlier in this post for his consistency. Since taking over #1 running back duties in Week 7, he’s averaging 97 rush yards per game and scored 4 touchdowns in the 4 weeks before the bye. He faces a Colts defense this week that has allowed 140+ total yards to backs in 3 of their last 5 games. And they also let *gasp* Jonas Gray happen…By now, you know the story. His 200 yards and 4 touchdowns last week against Indy are probably why Jonas Gray is a part of this question right now. It was a classic Bill Belichick game plan. If his opponent is weak against the run, he will stomp them with whoever lines up in the backfield. That won’t be the case this week against the league’s best run defense. Expect more work for Shane Vereen through the air…While Trent Richardson isn’t a bad play against the Jaguars and no Ahmad Bradshaw, Robinson is your guy this week.

Pat Bauers on Facebook: “Owen Daniels or Vernon Davis?”

Does Vernon Davis still play for the Niners? You really couldn’t tell by the way he’s been used this season. He had a plum matchup against the Giants last week and caught just one pass. Based on the way this entire season has gone for Davis, I really don’t expect anything special from him this weekend…even against Washington. Go with Owen Daniels. Saints haven’t allowed much to tight ends, but Jermaine Gresham did score twice last week against them. Daniels is also another week healthier coming off the Ravens bye week and was picking up more and more targets going into it.

Craig Bucy on Facebook: “Charles Sims, Chris Ivory, or Jerick McKinnon?”

Not very high on any of your options, but Jerick McKinnon is your best bet. He and Matt Asiata combined for 118 yards against the Packers in their previous meeting, and it will be in the Vikings best interest to play the “time of possession” game this weekend. The Packers are also allowing the 8th most rush yards this season, and McKinnon is clearly the best run option up until the Vikings get to the 5 yard line…Next best will be Chris Ivory who has slipped as of late, but did score 2 TDs against the Bills in their previous meeting.

Billy Quesse on Facebook: “Flex: Mohamed Sanu, Cecil Shorts, Cordarrelle Patterson or Fred Jackson”

With Sanu losing targets dramatically because of AJ Green’s return, Fred Jackson having to face the stout Jets run defense and not 100%, and Cordarrelle Patterson just being bad…go with Cecil Shorts. He’s picking up all the targets that Allen Robinson left by going on IR. Allen Hurns is more boom or bust on the opposite side of the field while Shorts is the possession option.

Feel free to ask more questions through the weekend on Facebook and Twitter.