Fantasy Sleepers, General

Seahawks Release WR Doug Baldwin, S Kam Chancellor

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks

Image courtesy of Troy Wayrynen, USA Today Sports.

WR Doug Baldwin was unable to pass his physical and was released today by the Seattle Seahawks due to the cumulative effects of injuries suffered, including various knee, shoulder and groin injuries as well as recovery from a sports hernia surgery.

Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Baldwin caught 493 passes for 6,563 yards and 49 TD during his tenure with Seattle. He also was part of the Super Bowl XLVIII-winning team that trounced the Broncos 43-8; Baldwin caught all 5 of his targets for 66 yards and a TD in an effort that saw the Seahawks dominate in all three phases of the game.

We here at Far From Fantasy wish Baldwin the best of luck in his future endeavors.

In other Seahawks news, the team has also released S Kam Chancellor as he also failed his physical. Two iconic players in the team’s franchise history are gone, just like that.

Chancellor was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was an integral part of the feared ‘Legion of Boom’; the legendary secondary consisting of Chancellor, free safety Earl Thomas III and cornerback Richard Sherman. Chancellor finishes his Seahawks’ tenure with 641 combined tackles (17 for loss), 9 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 44 passes deflected, and 12 interceptions.

Due to the nature of both players’ injury histories, it’s unlikely either play in the NFL for another team. Far From Fantasy wishes Chancellor well in his life post-NFL.

 

 

Fantasy Sleepers, General

Patriots Sign Veteran TE Benjamin Watson

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

Image courtesy of Chris Graythen, Getty Images.

 

After going from team to team, Watson’s career has come full-circle.

The veteran tight end has signed with the New England Patriots, the team he was drafted by in 2004 (32nd overall). The deal is for one-year, worth $3M.

Watson joins a tight end room that includes Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck. With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, there will be a multitude of passes going the way of a few of the aforementioned guys in the 2019 NFL season.

Watson’s retirement was clearly a short-lived one. Heading into the 2019 season, Watson has 5,885 receiving yards and 44 TD receptions; 20 of them were with the Patriots from 2005-2009.

We’ll find out in short order which of these TEs makes the final roster. My prediction? ASJ, Watson, and LaCosse with a possible fourth being Beck.

General

PSA: The New England Patriots Aren’t Done

Tom Brady defied Father Time yet again and helped lead the New England Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl championship. At age 41, Brady became the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. The question on everyone’s mind now; when will the Patriots’ dynasty give way?

If you’re not a Patriots fan, I’ve got bad news for you: it’s not going to be the 2019 season. It might not even be the 2020 season either.

Tom Brady defies Father Time by getting the ball out of his hand so damn fast, reading pressure, picking apart defenses and taking advantage of key matchups in the secondary. He continues to work on improving despite storied success that has been unparalleled in the history of the NFL. In the words of many, including Shannon Sharpe, “You’re never going to see anything like this [Brady] again.” How right he is.

That being said, the Patriots’ window is surely closing – no doubt about that. Their long-term future obviously relies on the talent a successor to Tom Brady can bring to the team. They had plenty of talent in Jimmy Garoppolo before shipping him off to the San Francisco 49ers. New England should start getting serious about grooming a potential replacement in the event Brady gets injured in some way or his level of play falls tremendously.

The 2019 NFL Draft should be kind to the Patriots, who have 12 total picks including 5 in the first 100 (AND they have #101 overall). This gives them capital that could help land them a player like Antonio Brown, a star that clearly wants out of his situation in Pittsburgh with the Steelers – if they so choose. With Brady not getting any younger, the team could very well go into “win now” mode to maximize the remainder of his career. Acquiring Brown would do just that.

I think the Patriots need to prioritize signing DE Trey Flowers to a long-term deal. His versatility along the defensive line was a huge part of the defense’s 2019 success. Drafting another capable pass rusher to complement Flowers and the potential of Derek Rivers would be a great way to ensure a youthful defensive front for years to come.

New England has a bright future despite the sun setting on Brady’s career. If you’re hoping for a collapse sooner rather than later, you’re likely going to be disappointed.

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