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DFS Lineups, DFS Value Plays, Fantasy Sleepers

Pat’s Picks; NBA DFS (Main – 02/12/19)

Today I’ll start a series called ‘Pat’s Picks’, where I’ll highlight my top choices that you should put into some or all of your lineups. My picks will cover both FanDuel and DraftKings.

Here are today’s games, with the lock time set at 7:30 P.M.:

Lakers @ Hawks (7:30 P.M.)
Magic @ Pelicans (8:00 P.M.)
Spurs @ Grizzlies (8:00 P.M.) (I only like one player from this game…)
Celtics @ 76ers (8:00 P.M.)
Jazz @ Warriors (10:30 P.M.)

Without further ado…

Kenrich Williams NOP

(Image courtesy of The Advocate staff. Photo taken by Scott Threlkeld.)

SG/SF Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans ($4,900 on DK, $6,400 on FD)

Williams has been highly impressive of late, scoring double-digit points as well as upping his rebounding over the last 3 games. He consistently sees 35+ minutes and has heavily increased his production since seeing starter minutes.

He faces the Orlando Magic tonight – not a bad defense, but with Williams’ new role in the offense, he contributes across the board too much to not insert into your lineup. He put up his first career double-double in his last game (99-90 loss to Memphis, a top defense), and he’s a threat to put up double-doubles on a nightly basis with his current usage.

On DraftKings, Williams is one of my top locks. He’s cheap and should get at least 30+ DK points tonight. On FanDuel, his $6,400 price tag has me second-guessing him.. but he’s still an amazing play (he’s a SF on FD). Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac could cause a few turnovers as he’s a pretty consistent defender, but Williams to me is almost a guaranteed 30+ fantasy point play tonight.

SG/SF Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic ($5,100 on DK; $6,400 on FD)

Another player who is priced way lower than they ought to be. I’m surprised Isaac hasn’t reached the $6,000+ range on DK yet; at $5,100, Isaac is a fantastic play against a mediocre Pelicans’ defense allowing a whopping 115 points per game to opposing teams.

Isaac has been scoring 25+ DK points in his last 8 games, and has had multiple blocks in his last 6! Isaac is able to stuff the stat sheet, notching steals and blocks while adding to his floor with his rebounding totals. He’ll be a fine play tonight against the Pelicans – preferably on DK, but his defensive abilities justify his $6,400 price tag on FanDuel as well.

Expect a solid 25-30+ from Isaac.

SF/PF Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers ($6,000 on DK; $6,700 on FD)

Over 38 DK points in his last two games, Kuzma is geared for another solid night as he takes on a weak Hawks’ frontcourt.

The presence of LeBron James as one of the game’s top facilitators has been a major factor in Kuzma’s scoring emergence of late. Don’t expect huge contributions in other areas outside of maybe rebounding, but if Kuzma can score 20+ points he’s bound to provide value. I’d be surprised if Kuzma was kept under 35 fantasy points on either DK or FD tonight.

SF/PF Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers ($6,600 on DK; $7,200 on FD)

I think Harris is going to be low-owned with the trio of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid commanding a higher percentage of ownership by players tonight. With the Celtics down Kyrie Irving tonight, Boston’s defensive attention will likely be spread too thin and allow Harris to slip through the cracks.

Of course Harris isn’t the top option on this high-powered offense, but his modest rebounding and assist totals make him very likely to hit value tonight. Boston is a good defensive team, but when they’re down Irving they’re playing from behind. I’m liking almost every 76er tonight including J.J. Redick, but I think Harris will help some people get some serious cash tonight.

C JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers ($4,800 on DK; $6,300 on FD)

I like his price on DK a lot. Atlanta’s weak in the frontcourt, and I think McGee provides amazing value on both DK and FD despite his $1,500 increase on the latter.

McGee put up a 20-point double double against the 76ers, who had both Harris and Embiid on defense; the Hawks have John Collins and a combination of Dwayne Dedmon and Alex Len. I’m not too worried about McGee meeting his floor, but of course it’s dependent on him maintaining the 27.5 minutes/game average he’s seen over his last two games.

I’d be surprised if McGee gave less than 25 fantasy points on either platform.

C Joakim Noah, Memphis Grizzlies ($4,000 on DK; $3,700 on FD)

Okay, so a little caveat; C Jonas Valanciunas is available to debut for the Grizzlies tonight after his immigration paperwork cleared (Valancuinas previously playing for the Toronto Raptors before being traded). HOWEVER….. I still like Noah tonight. He should see a solid ~25 minutes even with Valanciunas in the fold tonight, as the latter is recovering from a thumb injury he sustained in December. Valanciunas is expected to play as a backup to PF/C Ivan Rabb for the time being.

Noah saw 30 minutes against the Pelicans this past Sunday, with the veteran turning back the clock and putting up a strong double-double (19 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists). Even if Noah only sees a max of 25 minutes, he’ll easily meet his minimal price tag (which, weirdly, is cheaper on FD). Expect around 25-30 fantasy points out of Noah tonight.

NOTE: This is probably the only player I’d play from either team in the Spurs-Grizzlies matchup. This will be mostly a defensive contest. Studs like DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Mike Conley are going to be hard-pressed to match their usual point totals; I’d hold off on relying on players from this contest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DFS Lineups, DFS Value Plays, Fantasy Sleepers

NBA DFS General Tips

Does it seem like no matter how good your lineup is, you’re just barely out of the money? Do you need help getting ahead?

Here are some of my general thoughts when it comes to playing NBA lineups. I’ll give specific tips regarding FanDuel and DraftKings-specific lineups:

FanDuel

  • The player with the lowest score will be dropped, but don’t let yourself get too cute with lineup choices. You should be just as careful on FanDuel with risky plays as you are on DraftKings. You don’t want to play pure boom or bust players under the assumption that they could just be your drop score because if one of the other 8 players in your lineups has an off-night or gets injured during the game/sits last minute due to sickness or something, you’re boned.
  • With the above in mind, FanDuel is definitely the place to get a little creative. Taking a chance on a guy who might not be 100% certain to play can pay off; other players in large tournament games will steer clear so that they don’t fall victim to an automatic 0.. but if the player does take the court, you now have a player that’s lower-owned than normal. If the player is a stud, it could very well be a key difference-maker.
  • Your drop-score candidate should cost as little as possible so you can use the rest of your $60,000 to build as strong a lineup as you can. Let’s say a starter is out due to rest or an injury; their backup is now going to see extra run, and if the backup is anywhere from $3,500 – $4,500, that’s an IDEAL candidate for your drop score. He can hopefully set the bar somewhere in the fantasy point range of 20-25, so the rest of your lineup should combine for around 290+ to get in the money a majority of the time.
  • Try and get players that not only score a lot, but stuff the stat sheet. A huge part of getting high scores from your plays involve choosing players that can steal and block as well as get consistent assists and/or rebounds. All of these stats are worth more than points – this doesn’t mean points aren’t valuable, but try and get players that are able to contribute in multiple areas as their floors are a LOT higher than those that simply score.. unless the scorers can consistently hit 25+ a game.

DraftKings

  • Take advantage of the ability to customize your lineup. Because of the variation of slots (starting 5, guard, forward, utility), you can do plenty of different things. Play multiple big men, multiple guards, multiple small forwards.. whatever you feel will get you the most points that specific day.
  • Regarding the point above, centers tend to have incredibly safe and high floors as their ability to rebound gives most of them a solid chance of a double-double most nights.
  • Speaking of double-doubles, stacking centers is a good idea because double-doubles/triple-doubles give players who attain them bonuses. 1.5 points for a DDbl, 3 for a TDbl. So big men that rebound a lot are prime candidates for DDbls, which means a virtual lock for 30+ fantasy points.
  • Because you only have a $50,000 salary cap instead of $60,000 on FanDuel, your value plays should be no higher than $4,100-$4,300. This lets you stack players that eat up more cap but are virtual locks.
  • When building a lineup, try to play value plays FIRST. This is so you don’t get too cash-happy right off the bat and you can get the hard part out of the way. Why play a guy who’s worth $6,700 when his ceiling is around 35? He may be consistent, but you’re spending way too much to get a sure 30-40 point range from a player. I’d rather play a cheaper player who’s on a hot streak to try and get that same score. It saves money and lets you play others who have higher ceilings.
  • Try not to play too many top players – a lot of them will be high-owned as they’re well-known and bound to be one of the top scorers of the night. This doesn’t mean that you never play them, but don’t over-saturate your exposure of that player. Building lineups that include players who will be overlooked due to bigger names or maybe a bad matchup is essential in making your lineup different than the norm, which may get you in the money.

There’s so much more I could type here, but I’m going to stop now before I fall asleep at the keyboard. Best of luck in your DFS lineups! Feel free to reach out if you have questions!

DFS Lineups, DFS Value Plays, Fantasy Sleepers

NBA DFS Main Slate – 02/07/19

I’ve decided to try something different in terms of fantasy writing and switch gears to the NBA following the Super Bowl and the end of the NFL season.

With that in mind, I also enter the fold at an inopportune time; the NBA Trade Deadline was today, and prior to that a plethora of trades swept the league. A good lineup is likely going to involve taking advantage of one or more of the players that benefit most from the trades that occurred.

So on DraftKings, you draft the following positions:

  • Point Guard (PG)
  • Shooting Guard (SG)
  • Small Forward (SF)
  • Power Forward (PF)
  • Center (C)
  • Guard (PG/SG)
  • Forward (SF/PF)
  • Utility (PG/SG/SF/PF/C)

You have a $50,000 salary cap, or an average of $6,250 per position. You can certainly go high on players like Russell Westbrook ($11,300) or LeBron James ($10,400), but then you have to budget accordingly across the remainder of your lineup. What sets DraftKings apart from FanDuel is that you can customize a lineup in many different ways because so many players fall under multiple positions (ex. LeBron James can go in your SF, PF, F or Utility slot). Because of this, you could build a big man-centric lineup, a smaller team filled with extra guards, or try and even it out.

With this in mind, the games to be played tonight:

  • Clippers @ Pacers (7:00 P.M.)
  • Timberwolves @ Magic (7:00 P.M.)
  • Raptors @ Hawks (7:30 P.M.)
  • Lakers @ Celtics (8:00 P.M.)
  • Grizzlies @ Thunder (8:00 P.M.)
  • Spurs @ Trail Blazers (10:30 P.M.)

Top plays tonight, like I mentioned earlier, are likely players that will gain extra playing time as a result of the trades that occurred in the last few days. A lot of these players are incredibly cheap so they should match value and provide room to pad your lineup with extra studs.

Here are a few of my top plays tonight:

Ivan Rabb NBA

PF/C Ivan Rabb – Memphis Grizzlies – $5,100

C Marc Gasol was traded to the Toronto Raptors today in exchange for C Jonas Valanciunas, G Delon Wright, F C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This opens up plenty of minutes for Rabb in the Memphis frontcout. Rabb started on February 5th against the Timberwolves with Gasol sitting out due to trade talks picking up, notching a double-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, an assist and a block in 33 minutes.

The Thunder have given up the 5th-fewest points-per-game to opposing defenses (105), but Rabb should have a high floor as he’ll see plenty of run tonight. At $5,100, it’s hard not to consider him a lock.

SG/SF Terrence Ross – Orlando Magic – $5,100

The Magic didn’t see any movement outside of sending G/F Jonathan Simmons to the Philadelphia 76ers (along with a first-rounder and second-rounder) for 2017 #1 overall pick, G Markelle Fultz. However, Ross has been a scoring machine of late, scoring 25+ points in two of his last three games despite averaging 26 minutes/game during that stretch.

Expect Ross to have a decent floor tonight as he faces a Minnesota defense that’s depleted in the backcourt; PGs Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones are both out while PG Jeff Teague (foot) has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable – even if Teague plays, Ross should have plenty of opportunities to score. Ross also boosts his floor with his defensive ability – he’s had 6 steals in the aforementioned span of games. Ross isn’t a surefire lock, but he’s another reliable value play tonight that might not be as highly owned as some of the top SG/SF options like the Pacers’ Bojan Bogdanovic or the Grizzlies’ Justin Holiday.

SF/PF Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder – $10,000

I don’t think much needs to be said here… George has 35+ points in his last 5 games. As a member of an offense that includes PG Russell Westbrook, it’s insane that he’s scoring that much consistently.

George is up against a Grizzlies’ team that has played extremely defensive basketball this year, but is incredibly short-handed due to trades. Absolute lock.

C Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers – $7,900

The Spurs will have LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) back tonight, but I still love Nurkic here. He only played 23 minutes in his last game due to foul trouble, and even with lingering knee soreness, I think Nurkic has a solid floor. His value at $7,900 makes him one of my favorite C plays tonight.

 

Best of luck on your fantasy lineups tonight, everyone. I’m definitely still a football-first kind of guy, but maybe this NBA thing will work out. I don’t know.. let me know what you think!

DFS Lineups, DFS Value Plays, Fantasy Sleepers

Super Bowl LIII Single-Game Contests (FanDuel)

We’re talking FanDuel here, so five players instead of six on DraftKings, and you have a $60,000 salary cap.

Luckily the MVP isn’t worth 1.5x the money on FanDuel, otherwise you’d be paying far too much for a quality player in this slot.

Sony Michel

(Image courtesy of Pro Football Reference)

I have to go with Sony Michel for my MVP for the same reasons I talked about in my previous article; Michel is clearly the hot hand in the Patriots’ offense right now. Five rushing TDs in two playoff games? He’s going to see at least 20 carries in the Super Bowl, so no doubt Michel should get the nod. Despite being $14,500, he’s worth it.

The prices on FanDuel are jacked up a bit considering the extra $10,000 in salary cap.. like I said on my previous article, Tom Brady is worth $10,600 on DK but a whopping $15,500 on FD. I honestly think it’s a good idea to fade from Brady on FD – save your money, as I think Super Bowl LIII is going to be a running-heavy game. With Michel at MVP, stack him with Rex Burkhead for $10,000. Burkhead and Michel both rushed for paydirt twice against the Chiefs. Burkhead should see plenty of usage in order to give Michel and James White a breather.

Julian Edelman is Brady’s top option in the passing game and should be a core play at $14,000. He’s a quality option who should be moved around the field to make the most of his route-running prowess.

I’d round out the remaining $20,500 with Brandin Cooks ($11,500) and Greg Zuerlein ($10,000). Cooks will see plenty of targets against his former team. I like Zuerlein because the Patriots play great defense in the red zone. I see Zuerlein getting at least 2 opportunities to kick a field goal.. potentially more if some big plays occur.

Best of luck on Super Bowl Sunday!

 

DFS Lineups, Fantasy Sleepers

Super Bowl LIII Single-Game Showdown Thoughts (DraftKings)

The 2018 NFL season boils down to one final showdown between two juggernauts – the AFC’s New England Patriots against the NFC’s Los Angeles Rams. A rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI will play out this Sunday night, with the CBS duo of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo set to call play-by-play and color, respectively.

Now, for the upcoming single-game showdown…

In case you’re unaware of how a DraftKings (DK) single-game contest works, you pick 6 players from the game that you think will score the most fantasy points within a $50,000 budget and the more points your lineup scores, the more money you win. The thing is, you need at least one player from each team in order to make a valid lineup.

You pick one player to be your ‘Captain’, who earns 1.5x the points a player would normally earn – this means a receiving or rushing TD is worth 9 points instead of 6 for this player only, so you basically slot in the guy you think will kill it.

That being said, DK operates differently from FanDuel (FD) with single-game contests, with the key differences being:

  • FD’s single-game contests have 5 players while DK’ has 6.
  • FD’s salary cap is $60,000 while DK’ is $50,000.
  • DK offers kickers AND defense/special teams in their single-game contests, while FD only offers kickers out of the two.
  • DK calls the top player in your lineup the ‘Captain’, while FD refers to them as the ‘MVP’.
  • FD prices players at a set price, with the MVP costing the same as if he were a flex player… conversely, DK prices players regularly, however the Captain costs 1.5x his original price. (So Tom Brady on FD is worth $15,500 but he’d cost the same if he were your MVP.. if you pick Brady on DK, he’s worth $10,600 normally. In your Captain slot, he’d go for $15,900!)
  • Lastly, FD operates on a .5 PPR scoring system, so each reception is worth half a point. On DK, each reception is a full point. Also, DK offers bonuses for players, namely for 300+ passing yards and 100+ receiving/rushing yards.

Noting these differences, an ideal way to save money and stack multiple studs in your DK lineup is to pick a Captain that is normally pretty cheap to play. In this Patriots-Rams matchup, a guy like Rex Burkhead ($7,200 Captain cost) or Chris Hogan ($5,700 Captain cost) could be a solid Captain play. Both players are seeing a lot of snaps despite their low cost. Burkhead of late has been seeing a lot of goal-line work, which earned him 2 TDs against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game, including the game-winner.

With this all in mind, don’t only play cheap plays at Captain. Chances are one of the top-priced guys will be the one to explode. My top guy in this game is Sony Michel. While I respect what Tom Brady has done in his past two Super Bowls with his arm, I’m thinking the Patriots lean more on the running game in this one. Michel has seen a whopping 53 carries out of the backfield in two playoff games, rushing for 242 yards and 5(!!) TDs. Clearly the Patriots love the young Georgia product, and up against his former teammate in Todd Gurley, Michel will want to put up major numbers. With the workload he’s been getting, a Captain salary of $10,200 is honestly a steal. On the year, the Rams were fairly run-of-the-mill against the run, allowing 114 yards per game to opposing rushers. However, in their last three games, the Rams have stifled opposing backs to 75 yards a game. Against the Rams’ defensive line featuring Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, running won’t be easy.. however, the Patriots have made their way to the Big Game through the run. The “three-headed monster” of Michel, James White and Burkhead make the Patriots very effective at time management and ball control, which I think will be huge factors in this game.

sony michel (espn)

(Image courtesy of ESPN.com)

Putting Michel at Captain leaves $39,800 for the rest of my lineup. That’s room to fit in guys that are sure to score some points, like Tom Brady ($10,600) and Julian Edelman ($10,800). These three leave $18,400 left for three flex spots. At this point, choosing someone cheap will help to spread out the remaining money effectively. Tyler Higbee ($2,200) has seen 4 targets in each of the Rams’ playoff games thus far, including scoring a TD against the Saints. He could see a few more targets if Super Bowl LIII ends up being a back-and-forth shootout, so he may be a sleeper play. Stephen Gostkowski ($3,200) is one of the best kickers in the league (and in NFL history, let’s be real), and he’s made all three of his field goal attempts thus far in this playoff run. Expect him to see at least one or two FG opportunities while also having a safe floor with extra points; if Gostkowski gets you 8-10, that’s a pretty decent score from a low salary like his.

Choosing Gostkowski leaves you with $15,200 for two flex spots.. you could go high and choose Jared Goff ($10,000) for the chance of him throwing 300+ yards, Todd Gurley ($9,000) or C.J. Anderson ($5,200) in the hopes that they bowl over the Patriots, or choose one of his receivers in Brandin Cooks ($8,200) or Robert Woods ($7,800) and hope they go off. I like Cooks personally for this matchup – it’s a second-straight rivalry game for him as he faces the team that traded him away. Cooks caught 7 of his 8 targets for 107 yards, and while he didn’t score, the 100+ yard bonus added to his day for DK players that played him during the Championship weekend. Consider him a borderline must-start against New England.

Slotting in Cooks leaves me with $7,000. I typically don’t like leaving more than $300-$600 of cap space, but in this case, I’m going for it. Rob Gronkowski ($6,000) has been utilized more for his blocking ability than his pass-catching of late. This doesn’t translate well on the fantasy side of things, but I have a hunch the Patriots will try and get Gronk the ball early and often in this one. Now don’t get me wrong – Gronk will still block, as having him as an “extra offensive lineman” on running plays is a big part of the Patriots’ recent success on the ground – but Gronk is a big part of the passing attack that should see plenty of use as he’s been on this stage more often than most guys. With Rams’ cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib shadowing guys like Edelman and Hogan, I think Gronk is that X-factor that’s going to see attention, particularly in the red zone. Leaving $1,000 worth of salary hurts a bit, but I’m hoping my hunch of Gronk pays off this weekend.

So to recap:

CAPTAIN – RB Sony Michel, $10,200
FLEX – WR Julian Edeman, $10,800
FLEX – QB Tom Brady, $10,600
FLEX – WR Brandin Cooks, $8,200
FLEX – TE Rob Gronkowski, $6,000
FLEX – K Stephen Gostkowski, $3,200
TOTAL – $59,000 — $1,000 remaining

Best of luck to you all this Super Bowl weekend!

General

Thoughts on 2018 AFC Playoff Teams

If you had told me at the start of the year that two AFC South teams would be in the playoffs, I might have laughed at you. Between the competition in the AFC North (Steelers, Ravens and Bengals always being in the hunt) and the AFC West still having the Chiefs and Chargers, my last thought was the Colts and Texans getting in to the postseason.

The AFC this year, like years past, seems to have quite a disparity once you travel down the list. The top two seeds, Kansas City and New England, are clearly the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.. but Baltimore represents a sneaky option to come out on top based on their defensive success. The Chargers could make a case as another sneaky option, but they have to prove themselves against Baltimore after losing to them Week 16.. otherwise they won’t get the chance, which to me is a little insane.

I think the playoff seeding system should see a slight transformation for upcoming seasons, and I would be happy to submit this proposal to the NFL; change the seeding system so that teams are ranked in order of their records, regardless of their division.

In my new system, the current seeding would look like this:

1) Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
2) Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
3) New England Patriots (11-5)
4) Houston Texans (11-5)
5) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
6) Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

Of course, tiebreakers like head-to-head record, division record, etc. would all stay the same.. but make it so a 12-4 team isn’t the friggin’ 5-seed just because they didn’t win their division. That’s all I’m gonna say on that.

Without further ado, what I think on each team in the AFC playoffs:

(6) Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck has led this team to 9 wins in their last 10 games, and this team is getting hot at the right time. Having T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron to throw to, Luck is finding himself the beneficiary of an overall strong passing attack. Marlon Mack has overall been far more efficient than most of Indy’s running backs in the past.

That being said, the defense for this squad is middle-of-the-pack. Outside of LB Darius Leonard, this defense doesn’t pop out at you in any way. I don’t have much confidence in this team’s ability to stop the Texans on the road – these teams have both changed a bit since Indy’s 24-21 win over Houston earlier this month. If the Colts beat Houston this weekend, it’s because Luck out-duels Deshaun Watson and passes for 350+ yards.

Even if this team does win against Houston, I don’t have them getting past the divisional round. I don’t see them keeping up with Kansas City.

 
(5) Los Angeles Chargers: I don’t think anyone would have guessed the Chargers would end the season 12-4. There’s definitely a lot of talent on this team, from Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen on offense to Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Casey Hayward and Derwin James on defense.

Where I worry is in their recent performances. Rivers had a few consecutive bad games (Week 17 being a little more understandable as the running game and defense were featured far more). With the Chargers struggling offensively of late and a rematch with the Ravens on the horizon, this team will need to be on their A-game to topple Baltimore’s stingy defense.

If the Chargers make it past Baltimore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go to the AFCCG. They’ve done well against the Chiefs this season and I think could give Kansas City a run for their money in the divisional round.. assuming they can topple the defensive juggernaut that is Baltimore.

 
(4) Baltimore Ravens: This team has done a makeover of their offensive identity, heavily leaning towards the run thanks to the style of rookie QB Lamar Jackson. The combination of Jackson and RBs Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon make for a rough combination to stop – this team has been averaging north of 200 yards/game on the ground since Jackson took over for the injured Joe Flacco.

Defensively, this team has been lights out. CB JImmy Smith’s return from his suspension early in the season added to an secondary that already was excellent at blanketing opposing pass-catchers. They host the Chargers in the Wild Card round, and I can’t imagine why they’d have trouble containing Melvin Gordon in order to force Philip Rivers into errant throws.. you know, like they did not too long ago.

Overall, the defense has a chance to carry this team far.. the biggest weakness of Baltimore is their lack of an effective pass attack. If Lamar Jackson can beat people with his arm, the rest will fall into place as there are going to be too many elements to stop.

 
(3) Houston Texans: Like the Colts, the Texans have been on a roll, with the latter winning 10 of their last 12 games. QB Deshaun Watson is as much of a dual threat as Russell Wilson was back in 2013-2014, making him a sharp thorn in the side of opposing defenses.

With WRs Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) and Keke Coutee (hamstring) sidelined lately, the passing attack has seen its moments of inefficiency. DeAndre Hopkins keeps his name in the “best WR in the league” conversation week by week with solid performances. RB Lamar Miller is always capable of a breakout performance if you don’t respect the running game.

Defensively, this team could be better, and that is what will kill them in these playoffs. A strong front seven on paper featuring J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Bernardrick McKinney, they lack effectiveness in big games (see the Week 16 loss to the Eagles for instance). The Colts scored a combined 58 points on Houston this season, and will likely put up another 24 or 27 points at the very least this weekend.

I have the Texans trending in the right direction, but ultimately falling in the divisional round to New England.

 

(2) New England Patriots: It pains me as a Patriots’ fan to say this, but I just don’t think this is their year. They clinched a first-round bye, sure.. but they’ve been so inefficient on the road that it kills me.

This team doesn’t seem to have the passion that they had in the Super Bowl runs of old. They ended 11-5, which isn’t a bad record at all, however for Tom Brady-led Patriots team, it feels like a letdown. They’ve consistently put up 12-4 or better records for the last decade or so, with the last time they did worse than 12-4 being in 2009 (10-6).

They still have Gronk, and Julian Edelman continues to be effective in his 30s. The two-headed threat of Sony Michel and James White out of the backfield, with splashes of Rex Burkhead, has been monstrous through much of the season. Defensively though, this team feels underwhelming.

Getting to the AFCCG shouldn’t be a huge struggle with the first-round bye and all. The only way NE plays Baltimore is if Indy wins their game against Houston to advance against KC. Any other team, I’d have NE coming out on top (just barely against LAC). However, I think if a NE-KC rematch occurs, the game being at Arrowhead would tip the scale in KC’s favor.

 

(1) Kansas City Chiefs: What. A. Year. QB Patrick Mahomes became the third QB in NFL history to throw for 50+ touchdowns in a season (P. Manning and Brady being the other two). What’s crazier is that this is Mahomes’ first season as a starter. You won’t find a single Chiefs fan that misses Alex Smith (hope he can potentially recover from that awful leg injury from earlier in the season).

Even with the release of RB Kareem Hunt due to the video of him accosting a woman at a hotel going public, the Chiefs have been high-flying and multi-dimensional. RB Damien Williams has filled in nicely, and I think it would be a shame for the Chiefs to try and start a committee between Williams and Spencer Ware. Williams is more than capable of handling the lion’s share of the work.

WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce round of the most explosive offense of 2018, both taking advantage of the strong-armed Mahomes to maximize their potential.

What this team lacks sorely is a consistent defense. The trade of CB Marcus Peters to the Rams this past offseason severely crippled their secondary. The Chiefs rely on winning shootouts against good offenses because their secondary has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

This strategy didn’t work against the Patriots or the Rams earlier this season, however. The way to beat Kansas City is to force Mahomes into turnovers. He fumbled multiple times against the Rams and threw 3 INTs, so losing by 3 (54-51) is actually an incredible feat. The Patriots forced 2 turnovers of their own, although miraculously the Chiefs lost that game by 3 as well (43-40).

If Mahomes can make smarter decisions with the football when rolling out to either side, this team would be virtually unstoppable. They fall by shooting themselves in the foot.

General

2018 NFL Playoff Predictions

I love the playoffs because they’re the most exciting time of the year for avid NFL fans. Even if your team isn’t chasing a Super Bowl title, watching some of the other games can be just as fun.. plus the chance to win some money on playoff bets is always intriguing!

One thing I don’t like though about the playoffs – they’re a reminder that the season’s nearing an end. Then we have to wait until next September for more meaningful NFL action.

Here’s how I think the 2018 NFL playoffs play out:

Wild Card

(6) Colts @ (3) Texans
34-27 HOUSTON
QB DeShaun Watson: 4 total TDs

(5) Chargers @ (4) Ravens
24-20 LOS ANGELES
WR Keenan Allen: 10 rec., 84 yds., 2 TD

(6) Eagles @ (3) Bears
31-20 CHICAGO
TE Trey Burton: 8 rec., 136 yds., TD

(5) Seahawks @ (4) Cowboys
24-17 DALLAS
RB Ezekiel Elliott: 115 total yds., TD

Divisional

(3) Texans @ (2) Patriots
38-31 NEW ENGLAND
TE Rob Gronkowski: 9 rec., 149 yds., 2 TD

(5) Chargers @ (1) Chiefs
31-27 KANSAS CITY
WR Tyreek Hill: 6 rec., 173 yds., TD

(3) Bears @ (2) Rams
27-24 CHICAGO
RB Tarik Cohen: 188 total yds., 2 TD

(4) Cowboys @ (1) Saints
34-28 NEW ORLEANS
WR Michael Thomas: 12 rec., 145 yds., TD

Conference

(2) Patriots @ (1) Chiefs
42-41 KANSAS CITY
RB Damien Williams: 3 total TDs
QB Tom Brady: 521 passing yds., 3 TDs

(3) Bears @ (1) Saints
30-22 NEW ORLEANS
RB Mark Ingram: 3 rushes of 20+ yds.
RB Alvin Kamara: 2 total TDs

Super Bowl LIII

Chiefs @ Saints
48-44 KANSAS CITY
QB Patrick Mahomes: 472 passing yds., 5 TD
QB Drew Brees: 390 passing yds., 4 TDs
Super Bowl MVP: QB Patrick Mahomes