Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 10

I think you can now officially believe the hype on Melvin Gordon.

He has 120+ total yards in each of the last 3 weeks. Call it the “sans-Danny Woodhead Effect” but he is also getting at least 25 touches in each of his last 4 games. He’s coming off the best game of his career (261 total yards and 2 touchdowns) and should be hungry to eat against a Dolphins defense that has allowed 113 yards a piece to DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Matt Forte.

 

Mail Time!

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Definitely NOT Allen Robinson. While he might be leaned on more with Allen Hurns banged up, I don’t trust the Jaguars offense as far as I can throw them. Kelvin Benjamin is the safest play. Despite not scoring a TD in his last 4, he’s still picking up at least 70 yards in each of those games and should thrive against a Chiefs defense that doesn’t move their cornerbacks with WR matchups. Also leave Matt Forte in, although I’m confused by that part of the question. Leave him in regardless.

 

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Yes, leave Zach Miller in, as he is a security blanket for Jay Cutler.

I do feel like there was a fire lit under Mark Ingram’s ass last week, despite the skew in production against San Francisco. Unfortunately, I like Tim Hightower’s game against the Broncos more than Ingram’s. The silver lining though: Broncos gave up 286 yards and 2 touchdowns to a similar tandem in Davonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. I also think you have to ride a hot RB until he slows down before resorting to Jordan Matthews.

 

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I think we’re learning now that Russell Wilson is simply a 2nd-half-of-the-season quarterback. We recall his gaudy numbers a year ago after his team’s bye week, but his matchup quite frankly sucks this weekend. The Seahawks are also a very different team on the road. Your safer bet is Carson Wentz.

 

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Can I say neither? The only plus among these two is the fact that Matt Asiata is a goal line back with Jerick McKinnon back. If you have to play either and there is nobody better on the waiver wire, play Asiata and pray to whatever omniscient being you worship.

 

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TE: Miller for the likely volume playing with Cutler.

Flex: If he plays, go with Doug Martin. Crowder is going to draw Terrance Newman in the nickel this weekend, and that will not be pretty.

 

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

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Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 2

Week 1 is in the books and man…did football get off the bus running or what?

A few new names made quite an impression on Fantasy Football enthusiasts, like Jalen Richard above. Or Eli Rogers and his ricochet touchdown catches.

However, the Week 2 edition of Thursday Night Football featured much of the opposite. The key offensive players on the Jets are all 30 and over: Ryan Fitzpatrick (33), Brandon Marshall (32) and Matt Forte (30). Forte ran the ball 30 times to rush for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. FitzMagic threw for 374 yards and 1 touchdown in a 37-31 Jets victory.

Quick Hits

  • Some of you were smart and drafted DeAngelo Williams in the 8th round or later (hopefully handcuffing him to Le’Veon Bell). Some of you were smart about picking up Spencer Ware on waivers right after, or drafting him late. Williams owners were treated to an AFC Offensive Player of the Week performance of 171 yards from scrimmage with 6 catches and 2 touchdowns. Ware owners were rewarded with 199 yards from scrimmage, 7 catches a touchdown. They may be placeholders for Bell and Jamaal Charles for now but Williams and Ware are playing at level that’s worth riding for as long as you can, considering they were both Top 4 in total yardage.

  • Carson Wentz impressed a lot of people across the league in his NFL debut. Completing 22 of his 37 passes for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns earned Wentz the 7th highest quarterback rating by a rookie on opening day. Although it doesn’t count for Fantasy points, there were more Wentz jerseys sold than any in the league over the 2 days following the opener. Wentz will have an opportunity to build on his success and become the 5th NFL quarterback since 1960 to start his career 2-0 against a shaky Bears secondary on Monday Night Football.

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  • On the flip-side of the Week 2 Monday Night matchup, Alshon Jeffery could be in for a big night. The Eagles will be without starting CB Leodis McKelvin and will depend on a 7th round pick Jalen Mills in his place. Also being counted on to cover Jeffery is Nolan Carroll, who was lit up by the BROWNS (all caps necessary) in Week 1. Jeffery became the first Bears player since Forte (in 2010) to record 100+ receiving yards in the first half, against Houston, and should do even more damage when Chicago hosts Philly.

 

Mail Time!

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I love the repertoire Willie Snead and Drew Brees have. Snead had the best game of his young career in Week 1 (9 catches, 172 yards, 1 TD) in a shootout with Oakland. A game with the Giants has potential for similar results, but I still lean toward Spencer Ware while you can still use him. The Saints have a heck of a wide receiver group and anyone can be in-store for a big day. Ware is guaranteed to get touches against a Texans defense that allowed 57 rush yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Langford a week ago. Alex Smith is also bound to continue dumping the ball off to Ware over the pass rush.

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Going back to the potential shootout between the Giants and Saints, I would go with Snead in this case…mostly because I think Eli Manning will be targeting Odell Beckham Jr. more than Victor Cruz after just 4 catches a week ago. OBJ is 9 catches away from becoming the youngest receiver to 200.

Remember the 52-49 game a year ago? Round 2 has a lot of hype to live up to.

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Flex: Safest play would be Golden Tate, who will be a target machine in his hometown of Nashville. Boom would be Demaryius Targaryen against a weak Indy secondary, but he’s dealing with a bad hip. Melvin Gordon may be taking a step back, as his team should be playing a lot of catchup against the high-powered (that’s right) Jaguars offense.

QB: I’m not particularly high on a less-mobile Russell Wilson against one of the best pass rushing front-7’s in football. Wilson has proved me wrong in the past, but I see the Seahawks attacking St. Louis better by handing off to the Rawls-Michael tandem. Trust the Jim Bob Cooter offense and Matthew Stafford this weekend.

 

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Einhorn. Sean Young, FTW.

 

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I do like Houston better, you’re right…but way more because of Whitney Mercilus than JJ Watt. The pass rush that they hoped to get from Jadeveon Clowney has arrived in the form of a man with a great football name, from the University of Illinois. While Cincy-Pittsburgh always lives up to its “rock’em, sock’em” reputation, but the Steelers offense is too good (even without Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell) to bet against.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-53-55-am I hope you didn’t go with McCoy…

A tandem of DJ2K (David Johnson) and Williams is a tough one to beat. They are also two of the most reliable backs you can find, with schemes that will always put the ball in their hands. Have fun.

 

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I like Stefon Diggs the most, as a receiver, but I don’t like the quarterback situation throwing him the ball. It will either be an under-prepared Sam Bradford or Shaun Hill against the Packers 3-4 pass rush. Does that inspire confidence in you? I didn’t think so…

Emmanuel Sanders may be the best option for the sole reason that he is the healthier than Thomas and he’s going against one of the worst secondaries in football.

 

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Jay Cutler and I think you should go with Will Fuller.

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

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 3.0

The quarterback position is the most important in the NFL game today, which was evident when the first two picks in the draft were quarterbacks despite them not being the best overall players. The game has evolved so much that throwing 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is considered average.

Yet while quarterbacks are valued and paid more than anyone else in the league, it has become customary in Fantasy Football not to draft the position until the 3rd round at the earliest. There are some quarterbacks who can win games for you all by themselves (Cam Newton), some who will give you a solid output week-to-week (Carson Palmer) and those who could lose games for you (Hopefully not ranked here).

After publishing the first list back in February and another on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, let’s take a look one last look at the Top-25 quarterbacks who will likely be drafted in your league this year.

1. Cam Newton, Panthers

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Cam Newton scored touchdowns, whether it was through the air or on the ground, in EVERY game he played during the 2015 season. He recorded 45 in total (35 passing, 10 rushing), plus 3,837 yards passing and 636 yards rushing. It was an unprecedented year for a quarterback, and sure it’s hard to expect him or anyone to do it again…but Newton’s talent and skill-set are too unique to doubt it.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

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Aaron Rodgers saw his numbers dip a little last season without Jordy Nelson. 31 TD/8 INT are nice for anyone, but down from the 38/5 the year before. Twice he threw 4 or more touchdowns in a game in 2015, but he wasn’t helping fantasay owners much down the stretch averaging just 1 TD and 1 INT a game in the final 3 games of the season. How often, though, have you seen Rodgers make throws and finish drives like the best quarterback in the league should? The Packers offense appears to be returning to normalcy in 2016, and that bodes well for the Discount Double-Check.

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals

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Carson Palmer consistently gave those who likely stole him in the middle rounds last year a stat line of 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game. That consistency goes a long way when everyone after Palmer on this list (outside of Tom Brady) has proven to give you a much worse output on any given Sunday. Palmer is 36 and not getting any younger, but the talent around him should continue the momentum he has built following his best statistical season to date (35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,671 yards).

4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

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If there was another quarterback who could put up similar numbers to Cam Newton, Russell Wilson may have the tools to do so. Take a look at 7-game sample sizes from 2015 where both quarterbacks completely lit it up:

Wilson (Weeks 10-16) – 25 total touchdowns, 1 interception

Newton (Weeks 8-14) – 29 total touchdowns, 2 interceptions

The Seahawks offense found an incredible groove in that span, and it was built around both Russell and Thomas Rawls. With most of the offense returning and hopefully a better Year 2 of Jimmy Graham, it’s not inconceivable to see Wilson sustain that production for a full season.

5. Tom Brady, Patriots

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The Patriots (and the rest of the league) appear to have accepted Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him by the 5th or 6th round. The caveat should be that you have your fill-in quarterback drafted not long after, but Brady will be returning after throwing the most touchdown passes in 2015. He’ll also have the best tight end combo in the league (Gronk & Bennett) to absolutely terrify opposing red zone defenses.

6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

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Despite being the most sacked quarterback in the league in each of the 2 seasons of his career, Blake Bortles was one of the most improved players overall from one season to the next. Additions to the offensive line and Chris Ivory should improve Bortles’ protection, and his wide receiver tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are one of the best in the NFL.

7. Drew Brees, Saints

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Although it’s been a slight decline year-to-year, Drew Brees has averaged 5,127.4 yards thrown over the past 5 seasons. Yardage hasn’t been a problem for the 37-year-old quarterback, neither have attempts or completions as he ranked 2nd in both last season. Also declining have been his touchdown numbers though, throwing 32 last season when he averaged 40 the four years prior. He did throw multiple touchdowns in 9 of his 15 games last season, including a 7-touchdown performance Week 8 against the Giants.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

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Despite missing 4 games last season, Ben Roethlisberger still got after it with the high-powered Steelers offense. For the 2nd season in a row, Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards per game (328.2). Even without Martavis Bryant, he’ll have Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Ladarius Green, and Le’Veon Bell available to make big plays for him.

9. Eli Manning, Giants

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There is only one Manning brother in the league, and he’s coming off a season where he threw the most touchdowns of his career. Eli Manning threw multiple touchdowns in 11 of his 16 games, 5 of which were for 3+ (including the 6-touchdown battle with Drew Brees). The Giants spent most of their free agency spending on the defensive side of the ball, but upgraded their pass catching group by drafting WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) and TE Jerell Adams (South Carolina). Year 3 of Odell Beckham Jr. should also lead to plenty more “throw it up and catch it” plays from Eli.

10. Andrew Luck, Colts

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 After awarding him with the league’s biggest contract, 6 years for $140 million, the Colts are betting a lot on Andrew Luck to be the quarterback who threw 40 touchdowns and 4,761 yards in 2014…not the one who only played 7 games in 2015 and threw just 15 touchdowns. When you invest that kind of money in a quarterback, the pressure is on for him to produce.

11. Derek Carr, Raiders

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Derek Carr is a star in the making. Like Bortles, Carr had a much better sophomore season by throwing 11 more touchdowns than he had in his rookie season. He also led the league in comeback victories with 4 total. I expect his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to improve even more, for Latavius Murray to compliment him better, and for their incredible offensive line to make all of that possible.

12. Philip Rivers, Chargers

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The pass-happiest quarterback of them all started out so incredibly hot in 2015. In the first half, Rivers averaged 344 yards per game with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Then EVERYONE around him got injured, including Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates and a majority of his offensive line. It was Rivers and Danny Woodhead against the world (which needs to be a buddy comedy). Ken Whisenhunt has returned to San Diego as offensive coordinator, who helped resurrect Rivers’ Pro Bowl production in 2013. He should be available in the middle rounds as a late QB1 or top tier QB2, and his weapons will be touch to pass on as well.

13. Andy Dalton, Bengals

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I found myself rooting hard for Andy Dalton last season. He always gets the Bengals to the playoffs but can’t get them out of the first round, so he takes a lot of heat for that. Before getting injured early in his 13th game of the season, Dalton was on pace to match his career high passing touchdown total (33). 9 of the 12 games prior, he recorded multiple touchdowns and added rushing TD’s in 3 of them. There’s some concern with the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, but #ADalt will still be throwing to AJ Green, Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert when he returns. Also, don’t sleep on new addition Brandon LaFell filling in the WR2 role.

14. Tony Romo, Cowboys

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ROMOLICIOUS is back! *he says with tongue-in-cheek*

Tony Romo will, in fact, return this season and the front office has provided him with a gift from the NFL Draft in Ezekiel Elliott. We saw what Romo and the rest of the Cowboys offense was able to accomplish with an every-down back like DeMarco Murray (34 touchdowns and 9 INTs in 2014). Enter Elliott, who can run, catch, block and everything Boobie Miles’ uncle talked about in the Friday Night Lights movie. Behind the league’s best offensive line, Romo has less pressure on him and more time to throw to his favorite downfield target, Dez Bryant. Your biggest concern should be “what will happen when he takes another big hit?”

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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Kirk Cousins stepped up big in his first full season of starting in the NFL. He threw 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,166 yards and that earned him a franchise tag from the Washington front office. His gamelogs don’t flash many multi-touchdown pass games, but he did record 5 with 3+ and 3 of those were for 4. He’ll be motivated even more to earn a longterm deal and the combo of Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson at their healthiest will be helpful in getting there.

16. Jay Cutler, Bears

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Despite injuries to his Top 3 WRs (Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Eddie Royal), #1 TE (Martellus Bennett), #1 RB (Matt Forte) and having to manage his offense in spite of a leaky defense, Jay Cutler produced his best statistical season since joining the Chicago Bears. He recorded multiple touchdowns in 8 of the 15 games he played with a receiver group that resembled one from the 4th quarter of a preseason game. A very much improved defense, a franchise tag motivated Jeffery, the debut of Kevin White, and offensive play-calling that compliments his strengths should help Cutler and his numbers immensley in 2016.

17. Matt Ryan, Falcons

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Despite having arguably the best WR to throw to and breakout RB Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan threw as many touchdowns (21) and MORE interceptions (16) than Jay Cutler in more games played. Just watching him week-to-week, you wanted to yell at your television out loud, “JUST THROW IT UP TO JULIO!”, but Ryan would appear overmatched by the pass rush. Ryan will have better protection with new offensive linemen, like Pro Bowler Alex Mack at Center, and new WR2 Mohamed Sanu. The improvements to the offense should help Ryan bounce back but this will be the last straw for many people.

18. Matthew Stafford, Lions

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There was Matthew Stafford before Jim Bob Cooter (not great) and Matthew Stafford AFTER the OC took over for Joe Lombardi in Detroit. It began with 4 touchdowns against the division rival Bears in Week 6, then 8 multi-touchdown games over the next 10 games (including a 5 TD performance against Philly). Stafford’s issues over his career have always been consistency. He threw 41 TDs in 2011 but then just 20 the next. Fantasy owners better hope history doesn’t repeat itself in the now post-Megatron era.

19. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

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Jameis Winston was clearly the best rookie quarterback last season after going #1 overall and backing it up with 22 touchdowns and 4,042 yards. Unfortunately for Winston, the Bucs didn’t do much upgrading around him on offense after elevating his offensive coordinator to head coach. If Doug Martin lives up to his new contract and Mike Evans catches more balls in the end zone than he drops, Winston could ascend to monster levels, like he had on the field at Florida State.

20. Brock Osweiler, Texans

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Brock Osweiler left Denver for an excellent situation in Houston. The Texans added multi-talented RB Lamar Miller and drafted two ridiculously athletic WRs in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to compliment the very elite DeAndre Hopkins. Osweiler showcased why he belongs in NFL with a comeback win against Chicago, a statement win against New England, and keeping pace with the high-powered Steelers offense. However, there were times when Osweiler wasn’t inspiring confidence, which setup the welcomed return of aging Peyton Manning. Head Coach Bill O’Brien will be excited to sculpt Osweiler into his kind of quarterback with a great set up weapons. It will be on Osweiler, though, to make it work.

21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

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Adam Gase should be the best thing to happen to Ryan Tannehill. Gase made TIM TEBOW work for a season, managed Peyton Manning’s offense, and helped Jay Cutler look like the quarterback he was meant to be. Tannehill is ridiculously skilled in play-action and option-style offenses, capable of running and throwing for big plays. With budding star WR Jarvis Landry as his #1 option, Tannehill can play more like the the QB who 4 touchdowns against JJ Watt’s Texans and not the one who contributed nearly nothing in 4 different 2015 games.

22. Marcus Mariota, Titans

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In 1/3 of the 12 games Marcus Mariota played in his rookie season, he threw 3+ touchdowns (tying Peyton Manning’s Rookie record). He became the first player to throw 3 touchdowns and 250+ yards, plus run for over 100 yards as well. Overall, he proved to be a big playmaker. The Titans comitted to continuity by sticking with interim HC Mike Mularkey and also their running game by adding DeMarco Murray and Heisman winner Derrick Henry. If Dorial Green-Beckham finally emerges as a true #1 receiver and the offensive line keeps him in one piece, Super Mariota could continue to grow as Fantasy producing force.

23. Joe Flacco, Ravens

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Joe Flacco’s 3-year extension was Baltimore’s attempt to answer the age-old question “Is Joe Flacco elite?”. He’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season but can surprise you with a 5-touchdown spot, like he did against Tampa in 2014. In Steve Smith Sr’s farewell season, it shouldn’t be far fetched to see Flacco throwing deep and often to bounce back from his injury-ended 2015 season.

24. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings

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Since coming into the league in 2014, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t taken the next step being a viable Fantasy option. 2016 looks like an opportunity for it though, as the Vikings bulked up their offensive line and added the best wide receiver from the draft, Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is excellent as possession option and Stefon Diggs emerged as a playmaker downfield last season. Now it’s on Bridgewater to make those plays.

25. Alex Smith, Chiefs

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Alex Smith is the safest spot-start option out of anyone that isn’t named on this list. He’s back to throwing touchdowns to wide receivers, has an excellent #1 option in Jeremy Maclin, mini-Gronk Travis Kelce, and Jamaal Charles returning. It’s also worth noting that he threw multiple touchdowns in 4 of the final 6 games of the season and has one of the league’s best defenses to enable him to score more.

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (3.0)

Quarterbacks (2.0)

Wide Receivers (2.0)

Tight Ends (1.0)

Follow for more and ask questions on Facebook and Twitter

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 2.0

On the day of the 2016 NFL Draft, let’s revisit the current Fantasy quarterback landscape. One of the biggest moves in Free Agency came at the position, but there were other moves that both helped and hurt the value for multiple QBs. See who rises or falls as you prepare WAY TOO EARLY for your draft this summer.

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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Save your Super Bowl 50 hot takes. It’s highly probable you reached your Fantasy Championship last year because you had Cam Newton starting down the stretch. The 13 touchdowns he threw in weeks 12-14 would suggest so. The offseason moves the Panthers made prior to this week would suggest they are committed to continue running with him and Jonathan Stewart. Letting Josh Norman walk freed up $14 million more of cap room to work with. Let’s see what else is added to Newton’s offense, on top of a returning Kelvin Benjamin.

 

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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(For now, Brady stays here until we know for sure that his suspension will hold up for the season)

Last year’s biggest steal for many (before his suspension was lifted) just added another scary red zone target in Martellus Bennett. Tom Brady was a magician last year with a depleted receiver group, yet threw the 3rd highest touchdown total of his career (36) and averaged 298 yards per game. He’ll be 39 as the 2016 season starts, but there wasn’t much evidence of him slowing down yet.

 

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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Okay, I’ve come to my senses. Aaron Rodgers is good at football, I know. I still wouldn’t recommend spending a 1st or early 2nd round pick on him, but adding Jared Cook to Rodgers’ arsenal helps in the red zone. The Packers aren’t particularly known for 2-TE looks, but they have that option now from 25 yards and in. If Eddie Lacy meets his “comeback” hype too, the Packers offense could be devastating and that would benefit Rodgers owners the most.

 

4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

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Carson Palmers numbers were very similar to Tom Brady’s last season. The Cardinals also brought the band back together, re-signing Jermaine Gresham, Chris Johnson, and Jaron Brown. They are 5 deep in quality WRs, and the Top 3 stack up with any group in the league. As long as the 36-year old can be held upright, you should get the consistent 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game at least.

 

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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Russell Wilson’s 21/2 TD-to-INT ratio from Week 10-15 are exactly why you put him in the Top 5. He put up his highest touchdown total in 2015 (34), which was 14 more than the season prior. What makes you hesitant is his annual slow start. Since being drafted in 2012, Wilson has averaged 1.3 touchdowns and 210.25 yards per game through through first 5 weeks of the season. What’s nice is that he hardly turned the ball over, but you’re hoping Seahawks play-callers stick to the formula they found last season, attacking downfield with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

 

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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In his first two seasons, Blake Bortles was the most sacked quarterback in the league. Improving his touchdown total by 24 (35 in 2015) was pretty encouraging though, as was finding chemistry with two of the game’s most consistent receivers. The Jaguars added some offensive line help picking up former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum and improved their defense by signing Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. Having Chis Ivory in the backfield too should also help forcing opposing defenses to fill the box. It’s safe to assume #BortlesKombat will continue to heat up.

 

7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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Eli Manning, of all people, has challenged Odell Beckham Jr. to improve for next season. I guess a quarterback and captain is responsible for that, but Beckham continued to be the best thing going for the Giants offense having scored 25 touchdowns in 2 seasons. Manning seems to finally be getting a healthy Victor Cruz back and Dwayne Harris made solid strides as the #3 guy. Coming off the highest touchdown total of his career (35), Manning should build on it with another year of OBJ and the same offensive play-calling should make.

 

8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees missed his first game since 2009 last season and still finished the season with 32 touchdowns and  4,870 yards (324 yards per game). He’s younger than Brady but might have a bit more wear-and-tear. However, the extension Sean Payton received makes me think he’s going to come out firing with his QB this year. Brees has an elite deep option in Brandin Cooks, two other solid receivers in Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead, a new red zone threat in Coby Fleener and two effective pass catching running backs…Things are looking bright.

 

9. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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After adding Donald Penn, the Raiders offensive line is now one of the best in all of football. When he wasn’t under pressure, Derek Carr had a passer rating of 96.4 last year. That and the 32 touchdowns he threw should improve as his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree do as well.

 

10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Losing Martavis Bryant hurts the Steelers offense a lot. He is a top tier talent and Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t necessarily his best during his 5-game suspension last season, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Roethlisberger’s longtime go-to tight end also retired. However, the Steelers upgraded at the position by signing Ladarius Green and they still have Antonio Brown, plus  Le’Veon Bell returns. I don’t know if you can trust Big Ben to stay in one piece all season, but his knack for 3+ touchdown games and average of 328 yards per last season make him Top 10 worthy.

 

11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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Which Andrew Luck will we get this year? The one who went 2-5 and threw just 15 touchdown passes last season, or the one who threw 40 the year before? The Colts didn’t add much to their offensive line to protect him but they do still have speedsters T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to throw downfield to. It will be interesting to see how Luck bounces back.

 

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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Philip Rivers could be had for great value. With a healthy Keenan Allen through 8 games, Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then Ken Whisenhunt rejoined the Chargers staff, who helped Rivers get his groove back in 2013, and they added the Cleveland Browns’ #1 receiver, Travis Benjamin. If everyone stays healthy, the Chargers could have a very high powered offense.

 

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Dalton had a great season before his injury last year. 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions are much better than the 19 and 17 before then. His #2 and #3 receivers, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, left via free agency but it doesn’t hurt to have weapons like AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Brandon LaFell also joins the Bengals offense and possibly a first round quality receiver too from this year’s draft.

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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Matthew Stafford is coming off his 2nd 30+ touchdown season of his career (32), but he’s going to be doing so without Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions did their best to fill the need at WR by picking up Marvin Jones, the best WR on the market after Alshon Jeffrey was franchised tagged, and Golden Tate has proven he can shine without Megatron. What’s also encouraging are the 17 touchdowns Stafford threw in the final 6 weeks of the season. His two running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, are strong in the passing game as well.

 

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I’m not sure how Kirk Cousins is supposed to feel about getting franchise tagged and then seeing Josh Norman get a $75 million contract after. If he wants to get paid more somewhere though, it would be in his best interest to play like the guy who threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over his last 3 games. He finished the season with a 101.6 passer rating and a healthy Jordan Reed can only help that continue in 2016.

 

16. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

It’s taken a long time but it finally appears the Chicago Bears are putting a proper offense around Jay Cutler. The franchise tagged the best WR in free agency, Alshon Jeffrey. They sured up the right side of their offensive line by adding tackle Bobby Massie and kicking Pro Bowler Kyle Long back to guard. They also get to find out what Kevin White is made of. Continuity in offensive scheme and better coaching should keep the arrow pointing up for Cutler.

 

17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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We go from one Adam Gase project to the next. Ryan Tannehill was on a steady track, improving on touchdown totals for his first 3 seasons, but took a step back in 2015 with a coaching staff that really didn’t seem to know what they were doing. He can throw and he can run. His new head coach specializes in utilizing quarterbacks with Tannehill’s talent in play-action, minimizing their mistakes. His Top WR, Jarvis Landry, also looks ready to explode.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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Matt Ryan should be much higher, but his 2015 season makes it very fair to doubt his abilities. With arguably the best WR in football, Julio Jones, and an emerging star at running back, Devonta Freeman, Ryan only threw 21 touchdowns last year. Only once did he throw 3 or more touchdowns in a game. Only ONCE in his career has thrown 30+ touchdowns in a season. Too often did you see him turn the ball over on scoring drives or get stopped because of his own inaccuracy. The Falcons upgraded his protection this year by adding Alex Mack at center and replaced Roddy White with Mohamed Sanu. It’s now or never, Matty Ice.

 

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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While Marcus Mariota started out hot, Jameis Winston may have finished the 2015 season looking like the better rookie quarterback. Despite losing 5 of his last 7 games, Winston’s numbers improved after a 5 touchdown performance against the Eagles. He also gets back the best RB that was available in free agency, Doug Martin, and hopefully Mike Evans finds a cure for “the drops”. It will be interesting to see how the team handles itself without Lovie Smith and with Dirk Koetter in charge.

 

20. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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It’s really tough to feel confident in Tony Romo as the #1 Fantasy quarterback on your roster. The backfield situation looks better with a committee of Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and a healthy Lance Dunbar. If those guys get going, you might get the 34-TD Romo. If they don’t, then you have to worry about another season ending injury. Health will be key for both Romo and Dez Bryant in 2016. If by chance they draft Ezekiel Elliott though, you can feel a lot better about the Cowboys in general.

 

21. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

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There was one quarterback signing in the offseason that made serious waves and that was Brock Osweiler to Houston. He traded throwing to Demaryius Thomas for DeAndre Hopkins and an offensive scheme that earned Brian Hoyer a 100+ passer rating in 5 of his 11 games started. It’s hard to predict how good Osweiler will be after such a small sample size. He threw 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 7 games with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his options. Do Hopkins, Cecil Shorts III, Jalen Strong and fellow signee Lamar Miller help him improve those numbers?

22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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“Is Joe Flacco a elite?” – One of my favorite Twitter jokes in sports.

Flacco’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in his career. He followed up his highest season total with a season-ending injury and just 14 TDs in 10 games. The Ravens are committed to Flacco though, extending him for another 3 years in the offseason. He’ll have Steve Smith Sr. playing his final season and wanting to go out with a bang. They also added Mike Wallace and Benjamin Watson to improve the receiving corps and prepare for for the annual Dennis Pita injury.

 

23. Marcus Mariota, Tenesse Titans

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Marcus Mariota had probably the most impressive start to his career you could ask for, throwing 4 touchdowns in the opener against his rookie counterpart, Jameis Winston. He’d match that total again vs. the Saints while adding 371 yards. However, he was shut out in the TD column 5 times and was only healthy for 12 games. Trading for DeMarco Murray shows the Titans are very committed to the run for 2016, which should help take pressure off Mariota in his sophomore season and set up his passing game better.

 

24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

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Alex Smith is a very good game manager, at this point in his career and he can at times be a decent waiver pickup when your #1 guy is on a bye. Twice in 2015, Smith threw 2 touchdowns and ran for another and he was finally back to finding wide receivers in the end zone again (that’s progress, considering the year and half long streak of not throwing TDs to WRs). Smith will also be getting Jamaal Charles back, who is monster when catching the ball out of the backfield.

25. Teddy Bridgewater

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In year 3 of the Teddy Bridgewater era, the Vikings bulked up their offensive line by adding Andre Smith and Alex Boone. After being sacked 44 times last season, that’s a welcomed upgrade for Bridgewater. He’s thrown only 14 touchdowns in each of his first 2 seasons and the Vikings have yet to improve their receiver depth, but more attention to Adrian Peterson by defenses should open things up for Bridgewater this time around.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (2.0)

Quarterbacks (1.0)

Wide Receivers (1.0)

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings – Quarterbacks

Not sure if you noticed, but the quarterback position in 2015 across the league got thin in a hurry. The fact that Brian Hoyer and Matt Hasselbeck were relevant was a HUGE problem.

Most of the quarterbacks below got the job done in 2015 and should be poised to do the same or more in 2016. Some, like Andrew Luck and Tony Romo, are looking for a healthy comeback.

(You’ll notice that Joe Flacco isn’t one of them. Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s play-calling and a lack of talent at wide receiver keeps him out of the Top 20)

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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I’ve harped on it here enough in the past 4 months, but Cam Newton was winning you multiple weeks in fantasy by himself in 2015. His 35 touchdown passes were tied for 2nd in the league…and then he added 10 more rushing. Newton also gets at least one more weapon next season with Kelvin Benjamin returning.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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Tom Brady is just a year younger than Peyton Manning, yet led the league in touchdown passes a year ago. Brady also chipped in nearly 300 yards per game, and made the most out of depleted receiving group. Heck, he even made Scott Chandler relevant for a week or two.

3. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

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Almost as reliable as Brady was Carson Palmer. He didn’t look great in the post season, but his loaded offense allowed him to average 291 yards and at least 2 touchdowns per game. Another healthy year like 2015 would warrant a much higher pick than where he was drafted on average a year ago.

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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Russell Wilson is weird. Yes for those reasons you just thought of, but also because of his streaky production. Through the first 10 weeks of the season in 2015, Wilson had just one game of multiple touchdown passes. Then he gave you 5 straight weeks of no less than 3 TDs per game. As the Seahawks look to probably move past Marshawn Lynch, it would be much more beneficial for them to let Wilson throw it and have Thomas Rawls compliment him.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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There are a lot of people who probably don’t like me having Aaron Rodgers this far down the list, but the truth is that the discount-double check got checked down last season. Rodgers was a different player without his old-reliable Jordy Nelson and his running game wasn’t bailing him out either when he needed it. Yes, the 2 Hail Mary’s proved he can still do whatever he wants when it matters most, but you should be able to get him with better value in the 3rd or 4th round…as of now.

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Blake Bortles jumped from throwing just 11 touchdown passes his rookie season to 35 in his sophomore year. #BortlesKombat has some room to grow, and probably will with a pair of very consistent scoring receivers like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars are a team that plays in a lot of comeback situations and shootouts that make Bortles excellent for Fantasy garbage points.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Ben Roethlisberger led the league with 328 pass yards per game, and you’d think it’s hard not to replicate that kind of production when you have Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to work with. The only question is whether or not he can stay in one piece.

 

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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I’m always skeptic about Eli Manning, as he seems to regularly fold in high pressure situations during the regular season. His 35 touchdown passes were no joke though, and having Odell Beckham Jr. there to make him look better is also hard to argue with. As his offensive coordinator from the past 2 years takes over the reigns as head coach, the offense shouldn’t look terribly different.

9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Dalton was as good as anyone in the first half of the season last year. He likely went undrafted in most leagues and became the hottest free agent in a hurry in yours. He went from throwing 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2014 to 25/7 in 2015. Had he been healthy down the stretch for the Bengals, there’s a good chance they would have beaten the Steelers over Wild Card weekend. His offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, might be elsewhere but it’s hard to imagine he’ll take a step back with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert still there to throw to.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees paired with Sean Payton as head coach will always get you the yardage. “Breesus” averaged 324 yards per game. The crazy numbers don’t kick in until around mid-season though, like ya know…7 touchdowns and 505 yards in Week 8. The fact Luke McCown made an appearance makes you nervous though and wonder if he can keep it up (NOT LIKE THAT, YA JERKS).

11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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Derek Carr made solid strides in 2015, throwing multiple TDs in 11 of the 16 games he started. Throwing 32 touchdowns after 21 in his rookie season and growing with Amari Cooper makes his projection in 2016 even more exciting.

12. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I don’t know which Kirk Cousins you’re going to get in 2016. The one that was just okay through Week 14, or the one that tossed 11 touchdowns in 3 games to will Washington to an NFC East title and will get him paid big time for it. The upside with a healthy Jordan Reed, and that 158.3 QB rating game in Week 10, has him ranked higher than he probably is….for now.

13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

I don’t think there was a quarterback who did more with less than Jay Cutler.

  • No 1st Round draft pick Kevin White
  • Only 8 games with Alshon Jeffery, 9 games with Eddie Royal
  • Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, and Cameron Meredith as a his only WRs multiple games

Yet he still played one of his best seasons as a Chicago Bear. Having continuity in playcalling next year and healthy receivers makes me feel better about Cutler than most next season.

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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Andrew Luck probably went in the first or 2nd round in most leagues last year. Those who drafted him that high got 7 games, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to show for it. As of this moment, I’m not sure if you’re going to get the 40 touchdown guy from 2014 or the injury plagued/turnover happy QB of 2016. His talent and ability will keep him higher though.

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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For the first 8 games of the season, Philip Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then he lost Keenan Allen for the year and it was 254 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game the rest of the year. Rivers still got paid big money and his head coach Mike McCoy was extended through 2017, so the organization seems to be banking on next year looking like the first half of 2015.

16. Tony Romo

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There’s been more talk about who will replace Tony Romo than his potential production when he returns in 2016. If you draft Romo next season, it’s to backup your #1 guy and the possibility he stays upright for 34 touchdowns like he did in 2014. If the Cowboys pick up a DeMarco Murray-like running back, maybe he will.

17. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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I don’t know how you can trust Matt Ryan anymore, coming off the worst statistical year of his career since his rookie season. However, he does have arguably the best wide receiver in football, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman can set him up better if his offensive coordinator can figure out how to use play-action.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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Before last season, Ryan Tannehill was improving every season. Then his coaches forgot how to coach. It’s cliche now, but Adam Gase worked wonders with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. So you can hold onto hope one more year with Ryan Tannehill as a backup.

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucanneers

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I get a feeling Jameis Winston is going to jump up this list a bit, and could very well be a starter for you if Mike Evans can avoid dropping the ball. What’s going to be key is seeing how his newly elevated head coach, Dirk Koetter, does handling the personnel after getting Lovie Smith launched.

20. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

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Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the “Fitzmagic” last season, throwing more than 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career. The Jets utilized their running game to set him up greatly in the red zone, and the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker combo ate because of it. Can you bank on Fitzpatrick doing it again though when couldn’t any of the 10 years before?

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

For more position rankings:

Quarterbacks / Running Backs / Wide Receivers

The Pro Bowl Sucked, But At Least The Seahawks Had Fun

The Pro Bowl is dumb. There’s no debate about that.

Last night, Russell Wilson was the only one among the Top 6 quarterbacks in the league to even be present in Honolulu, and that showed as he threw 3 touchdowns and won the game’s Offensive MVP award for it, I guess.

Meanwhile, one of his teammates took home the “Defensive” MVP award. I put that in quotes because DEFENSE is a relative term when it comes to the Pro Bowl. By the 4th quarter, the game devolved to touch football and nobody was even trying to tackle each other…and why should they when it’s just an exhibition game and nobody wants to risk getting hurt?

In my opinion, those in charge of the Pro Bowl couldn’t let Michael Bennett leave without any hardware after this attempt to make it fun for all involved.

 

Meanwhile, Richard Sherman attempted a Stone Cold Stunner on Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Sherman Stunner

“MAH GAWD, THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY!” Maybe.

While the players had fun hanging out and pretending to play football, one viewer was having an absolute blast watching this game. Safety Earl Thomas live tweeted the whole thing for the rest of us.

And we appreciate Thomas for apologizing on behalf of his teammates, but maybe he can say the same for his fellow players union members too who have it in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to keep this mess going.

 

As bad as the game was, there’s a good chance the Pro Bowl drew a better viewership than the NHL’s All-Star game…which I heard was great.

 

Follow along for more on Facebook and Twitter!

 

 

NFL Week 15 Fantasy Mailbag

If Fantasy Football and the NFL (or as some people call “Real Football”) have anything in common, it’s definitely the MVP race. After the Fantasy playoffs are over, we’ll award the best (and worst) from the season. Check out the results from last season here, where readers and I selected Comeback Player of the Year, Breakout Player of the Year, Steal of the Draft, Biggest Bust, and Most Valuable Player.

It’s funny how much we value running backs in the first round of the draft year to year, but the 5 most valuable players right now are definitely quarterbacks. By multiple fantasy websites, the common Top 5 looks like

  1. Tom Brady (The Revenge Tour Continues)
  2. Cam Newton
  3. Carson Palmer
  4. Russell Wilson
  5. Aaron Rodgers

The first skilled position player to pop up in Actual Fantasy Rankings is Odell Beckham Jr typically around 7th overall, and then finally RBs Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson to round out the Top 10. Your average league’s first 5 draft picks looked very similar to Jamaal Charles (IR), Marshawn Lynch (multiple injury stints), Le’Veon Bell (IR), Peterson (fine) and Eddie Lacy (benched at different points). If you’re still in the playoffs, you likely have any of the 5 quarterbacks listed above and/or navigated successfully around the unfortunate circumstances of the Top 5 running backs.

Quick Hits

  • Julio Jones owners have probably been scratching their heads for a while now. Jones hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since November 1st, 7 weeks ago. Fortunately his reception and yardage numbers have been solid enough to suffice as a decent #2 or #3 for you, but that’s not why you drafted him. Jones is on pace to shatter the Falcons’ single season receiving record with potentially 1,755 yards, despite just awful play from Matt Ryan. Your patience for a Julio touchdown may finally pay off now as he faces a Jaguars secondary that has allowed 10 touchdowns to WRs in their last 8 games.

Julio Week 15

  • The story of the Miami Dolphins 2015 season could easily be explained by how they use Lamar Miller. In games that Miller has 13+ carries, the Dolphins are 5-0. When he doesn’t they are 0-8. Many jobs could have been saved if they just gave Lamar the rock but here we are, Dolphins…On Monday night against the Giants, Miller had 7 carries for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns just by the 10:10 mark in the 2nd quarter. He only got 5 carries and zero targets the rest of the game and they lost…of course.

Lamar Week 15

  • A big part of Tom Brady’s case for MVP is his ability to continue winning and put up big numbers as everyone else around him goes down like characters on Game of Thrones. What’s encouraging though, especially for Fantasy owners, are that his playmakers are all making their way back (like perhaps SOME Game of Thrones characters, dun dun dun!). Gronk came back in a big way last Sunday. This week, Julian Edelman is back practicing in pads…like Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entrance music interrupting the entire league.

 

Mail Time!

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I think you’re certainly on the right track playing Denard Robinson this week. The matchup is juicier than a Juicy Lucy, which my Minnesota friends tell me is delicious. The Falcons have given up the most rushing touchdowns on the season with 15 and they are allowing more receptions to RBs than any other team. I know Todd Gurley seems sexy after his 2 touchdown performance and resurgence last week, but he’s going against one of the best run defenses in football. I would actually consider Matt Forte instead against a Vikings defense that could be missing Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith for a second week in a row. Forte also got 9 red zone carries to Jeremy Langford’s 2 last week.

If you feel strongly about Gurley, go for it and play him in your flex. Otherwise, I like Golden Tate in that spot against the New Orleans pass D. Excuse me while I puke think about them.

 

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QB: You likely took Aaron Rodgers late in the 1st or somewhere in the 2nd round. This week is why you picked him there. He’s coming off the worst 10-game stretch of his career, there’s no doubt of that, but he’s taking on a an Oakland defense that allowed more than 2 TD games TWICE to Philip Rivers. Mike McCarthy took the play-calling duties back too, and he wears his play card on his sleeve…his play card being his heart in this metaphor, so expect a lot of stab tries down the field. I’m also not as confident in the Fitzmagic against the Dallas secondary as I would be against the rest of the NFC East.

RB: As I recommended earlier, go with Shoelace aka D-Rob. Then I lean toward Latavius Murray…partially because I don’t know what you’re going to get from Bryce Brown or Brandon Bolden, but also because the Packers have allowed touchdowns to running backs in 3 out of the last 4 weeks and 162 yards rushing to the Cowboys. He’s also a red zone carry machine for Oakland, getting 8 of the last 10 tries since Week 12.

 

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Welcome to the Comeback Club, DB. I came back from an 0-6 start last season, only to get beat by my dad in the championship…

Third question in a row where I feel the need to drive home Denard Robinson. The Falcons have allowed more rushing touchdowns in the last 3 weeks (5), than 6 teams in the league have given up all year.

The 2nd choice I’m going to see what you feel better about. Out of your remaining options, I’m very intrigued by what Bryce Brown can do against the horrendous Browns run defense. It’s weird and scary because we have not seen him once all year, but he’s in line for a heavy workload. In the 4 games Brown had double-digit carries, he averaged 97 yards and a touchdown in each….Then there’s Bilal Powell, who has become a PPR beast in the last 2 weeks and is going against a Dallas team that allows the 4th most receiving yards and 8th most receptions to running backs. Potential upside’s higher with Brown, Powell is safer.

 

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QB: I’m going with the QB that throws to Odell Beckham Jr. Also, the Carolina Panthers secondary just took a hit with Peanut Tillman dealing with a partially torn ACL having to put Bene Benwikere on IR. They could be starting a player they signed off the street on Tuesday, Robert McClain, and Eli Manning should be able to expose that with either ODB or Rueben Randle.

WR: Weird week for him last week, but Allen Robinson is a must start now, with 5 touchdowns in his last 3 games. He’s a big reason why #BortlesKombat is giving everyone he faces a FATALITY, and you can look at the work DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham did on the Falcons to feel better, combining for 16-303-1.

Now you have one of those GOOD problems. I am going with Doug Baldwin against he Browns though, especially if the Bryce Brown experiment doesn’t workout. If you believe in hot hands, there aren’t any hotter than Baldwin right now.

 

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Lamar Miller, Randal. Lamar Miller.

(Read his “Quick Hit” above and you’ll understand why I’m not going into further depth on him.)

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!