General

What Kevin Durant’s Injury Means for Golden State

KD Warriors

Image courtesy of Kevin Jairaj.

Two words: Absolutely nothing.

The Warriors were winning championships¬†before¬†KD put on the blue and yellow. Don’t get me wrong, KD being out of commission is not ideal, but the Warriors are a team that can survive without him.

You have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green still balling out. Andre Igoudala will certainly have an increased role in a Durant-less Warriors attack, but guys like Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut will no doubt have additional minutes doled out to them.

The Warriors have the 3-2 lead over the Rockets, and I don’t see them dropping two straight just from the Durant injury. Expect Curry, Thompson and Green to have big games in an effort to put the series away tomorrow (Friday) night in Houston.

DFS Lineups, DFS Value Plays, Fantasy Sleepers, Start/Sit

NBA Showdown (Playoffs; 04/25/2019)

The NBA Playoffs have been in full swing for a little while now. The slate for tonight (Thursday, April 25th) consists of one game – Game 6 between the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs, which starts at 8:00 P.M. EDT.

With there not being many options for your Showdown lineup, let’s evaluate some of the top Captain options, depending on your strategy:

Value Captain Plays

SG Gary Harris, DEN ($10,500, $7,000 regular)

My most expensive value play of the night, Harris has been struggling over his last two games. He’s scored less than 25 DK points in both games, while adding little statistical contribution other than in points (23 points combined during the aforementioned span).

I’m predicting a rebound night for Harris, which will land him somewhere in the 30-35 DKP range (the 32.3 DKP on 04/16 being his highest total of the series thus far). His rebound totals over the series thus far have been modest at best, landing between averaging between 3-5 most nights. For Harris to be worth playing in your Captain spot tonight, he needs to put up 15+ points, 5+ rebound and at least 2 assists. A block, steal or both would be nice as well. Like I said, 30-35 DKP is a good night for Harris, although you may want to go cheaper with guys like…

C Jakob Poeltl, SAS ($8,400 Captain, $5,600 regular)

Poeltl has been getting steadily better over the series, scoring double-digit points in two of his last three games and consistently putting up 7+ boards as his assist numbers slowly rise. He’s up against a tough matchup in Denver’s Nikola Jokic (an obvious top play of the slate), but he’s getting 23-26+ points out of a guy this cheap is not a bad idea to help stack the rest of your lineup. Ideally, Poeltl needs at least 10+ points and get himself close to a double-double with 8+ rebounds. If he can notch a block or two, any assists are just gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. Getting ~40+ DKP out of Poeltl in your Captain slot is a good night (that mean’s he’ll need at least 26.75 DKP normally).

SG Torrey Craig, DEN ($5,700 Captain, $3,800 regular)

Okay, so Craig had a relatively bad night in an 18-point win Tuesday night, scoring just one point.. but he salvaged what would have been a terrible night with 10 boards. Keep in mind Craig only attempted one field goal (1-2 FT). He attempted 16 FGs over the previous two games, so look at Tuesday’s performance as an outlier. With Craig being implemented as a starter over teammate Will Barton, he’s seen heavy minutes over his past two games, and I don’t see that changing tonight. As long as Craig is starting, expect him to be a candidate for 25+ DKP (although admittedly, it’s a little more of a gamble than guys like Harris or Poeltl). I can see Craig scoring 13 points tonight, hitting 4 of 8 FG attempts (2-5 3PM/A, 2-2 FT). Along with 13 points, a rebound total of 7+ along with a steal or two would solidify Craig’s justification in the Captain slot, ending his night at 26.75 (40.125 in Captain slot) assuming he gets two steals.

Stud Captain Plays

C Nikola Jokic, DEN ($17,400 Captain, $11,600 regular)

Not really much to say, he’s clearly going to be a top Captain play due to his consistent numbers across the stat sheet. Jokic has failed to get above 45 DKP just once thus far in the series, which means he’s almost a lock for 67.5+ DKP in the Captain slot tonight.

The one downside to putting Jokic at Captain of course is the limitations it places across the rest of your lineup. Of course, Craig and Poeltl normally only take up $9,400 your $50,000 salary.. but Jokic alone takes almost 2/5th of that at $17,400. So the three combined at $26,800 leaves $23,200 for three positions.. not a lot of room to add another top stud like LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan or Jamal Murray.

PF LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS ($14,700 Captain, $9,800 regular)

Aldridge is not as strong of a lock in the Captain slot as Jokic, however he’s put up 35+ DKP over his last four games. Aldridge is a constant candidate for an explosive night as the Nuggets continue to place defensive attention on teammate DeMar DeRozan (as evidenced by the latter’s FG% over his last two games, not so coincidentally due to the change-up by Denver to bring Torrey Craig into the starting lineup).

Of course, in your Captain slot, Aldridge would ideally score 60+ DKP (40+ regular).. this isn’t out of the realm of possibility, since it’s happened twice thus far this series, but it’s not a guarantee. A great part of choosing Aldridge is the $2,700 you save over having Jokic at Captain. That extra flexibility could be a good thing and help set your lineup apart.

PG Jamal Murray, DEN ($13,500 Captain, $9,000 regular)

Murray’s had a strong series overall, albeit a miserable Game 3 on April 18th, only scoring 11.3 DKP in the 118-108 loss. In all of Murray’s strong games this series, he’s topped 20+ points scored – his last two games have also seen him notch 13 assists.

I don’t think Murray will score 40+ DKP again tonight, however 35-39 is a strong possibility. His last two strong games AGAIN correlate with the implementation of Craig in the starting lineup. Murray is, in my opinion, one of the safer plays of the slate.

 

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