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!