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Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk: Redskins v. Titans

Colt McCoy

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ ugly 19-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. 

* * *

Despite the victory, the Redskins earned a ‘W’ in depressing fashion. For this week’s edition of Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk, we’ll make a list of reasons why.

 

– Because Kirk Cousins was bad. There was a point early in the game where he threw a pass off his back foot while fleeing an oncoming pass rusher and hit Niles Paul in stride down the right sideline on a wheel route — I thought, “Oh wow, nice pass.”

That acclaim didn’t last long. Cousins was benched at halftime.

– Because Colt McCoy stepped in and played decent, despite his limitations in the game plan. And yes that’s depressing, because the Redskins had to call on McCoy to win them a game.

– Because the Redskins only managed 16 first downs.

– Because the Redskins were 3-for-11 on third down.

– Because the Redskins were 0-for-4 in red zone efficiency.

– Because Alfred Morris ran for just 54 yards.

– Because the offensive line is bad, hence part of the reason why Morris ran for crap.

– Because it took until now for coaches to pull right tackle Tyler Polumbus. a

– Because Brian Orakpo reportedly hurt his pectoral muscle (again) and it’s always depressing when you remind yourself the Redskins are paying him $11 million.

– Because Kirk Cousins was so bad before being benched that Jay Gruden altered how he called plays, including a spot in the red zone where the head coach called a simple shovel pass in order to guarantee his team three points rather than taking a shot at the end zone.b

– Because that Kendall Wright touchdown made the Redskins defense look like they were playing a game of two-hand touch.

– Because that same Redskins defense only managed one sack.

– Because the Redskins STRUGGLED to beat the Titans.

– Because it took the Redskins a last-second field goal to win the game.

– Because the Redskins didn’t run any read-option offense. And I feel they should, regardless of which three quarterbacks are playing.

– Because field position sucked again. The Redskins’ best starting position was their own 42 yard line following Bashaund Breeland’s interception. Other than that, their best starting field position was never better than their own 29 yard line.

– Because DeMarcus Ware at 32 years old is way better than Orakpo ever was. Check out this move from Sunday night…

– Because Colt McCoy finished the game 11-of-12 for 128 yards and a touchdown, which is likely enough to turn some fans into bandwagon riders with firm belief that McCoy is “the guy”.

– Because special teams is moldy leftovers. Just so, so bad in that facet of the game.

– Because the Redskins have to travel to Dallas for a game on Monday night and the Cowboys are ROLLING. That game could get ugly.

– Because I’m probably not the only one wondering whether or not Robert Griffin III will be ready to play by Monday.

– Because what a difference seven games makes. Remember just two months ago when the preseason discussion was about a healthy RG3, an improved and UNSHACKLED defense, the effect of DeSean Jackson, etc.?

Dallas, San Francisco, and Indianapolis are still left on the schedule, and the Redskins have each division opponent one more time in succession to end the year.

  1. Although I get it, I guess, if they didn’t believe Tom Compton and/or Morgan Moses was any better. And that, in itself, is depressing.  (back)
  2. Not blaming Gruden here either, by the way.  (back)

Daily Fantasy Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 7

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

Some call me cheap. Others stingy. I prefer thrifty. And in the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week. 

* * *

Last week’s bin treated us rather fairly, but I owe you an apology if you followed those tight end picks. Larry Donnell and Owen Daniels combined for less than seven points and completely ripped apart what could’ve been an overall decent weekend.

On the brighter side, Tom Brady moved in as our most valuable quarterback pick of the year so far, throwing up better than 33 points for just a $6,000 salary. Thanks to Tommy boy, I stayed alive in the million dollar tournament over at DraftKings and finished somewhere in the 10,000-ish range. Mom would be so proud.

 

Quarterback

Colin Kaepernick ($6,500) @ DEN

Road game, in Denver, primetime, keeping up with Peyton — no, Colin Kaepernick won’t have an easy game on Sunday night. But he does enter this game with some confidence after throwing for nearly 350 yards and three scores last Monday (albeit against the Rams).

Not to mention, while the Denver defense is undoubtedly improved from last season, they’re allowing better than 17 fPts per game to opposing quarterbacks — and that’s including Drew Stanton’s sub-five point outing in Week 4. Take away Stanton’s stink and quarterbacks are averaging better than 21 fPts against the Broncos through five games.

Kaepernick presents a decent ceiling given his price point. The last dual-threat quarterback the Broncos faced was in Week 3 when Russell Wilson rushed for 40 yards and posted 24 points. There’s no reason Kaep can’t put up similar numbers.

Russell Wilson ($6,800) @ STL

St. Louis gives up lots on defense (see: Kaep last Monday night) and the Seahawks enter this game after dropping a tough one at home to Dallas last week. This one could get out of hand if Seattle comes into St. Louis with as much tenacity as we think they will.

Ben Roethlisberger ($5,700) v. HOU

Unless your name is Robert Griffin III, you’ve posted pretty good totals as a quarterback against the Texans this season. Houston is allowing almost 19 fPts to opposing quarterbacks through six games, including RG3’s 9.8 in Week 1.

Big Ben only has two multi-touchdown games so far this season, so his week-to-week outputs aren’t all that impressive. A modest stat line however, which should give you something like 17-19 points, is a decent return at his salary.

 

Running Back

Eddy Lacy ($4,700) v. CAR

102, 70, 264, 127, 85, 193.

Those are team rushing totals against the Carolina Panthers this season through six weeks. Needless to say, they’re susceptible to being gashed wide open.

Eddy Lacy has been beyond frustrating this season, so any concern or caution moving forward with this pick is understandable. But in addition to Carolina and their suspect run defense, Lacy is averaging close to six yards per carry and close to 80 yards per game when playing at Lambeau this season (opp: NYJ, MIN).

Meanwhile, the Panthers are giving up more than 140 rushing yards per game on the road.

If you’re in the belief that Carolina focuses on containing Jordy Nelson in this game, then things should open for Lacy both on the ground and in the passing game.

Justin Forsett ($5,600) v. ATL

Ya’know who’s worse at stopping the run than Carolina? The Falcons.

Through six weeks, Atlanta is giving up more than 141 rushing yards per game, and their very worst games have all come away from the Dirty Bird Dome this season, allowing more than 372 total yards and 31.6 points per game on the road.

One way or another, the Ravens are going to get their yards, and Justin Forsett is the best back in Baltimore. This is a good price for a dual-threat running back against a very weak opponent.

Ben Tate ($5,300) @ JAX

Averaging 18 fantasy points per game the past two weeks, Ben Tate has been on quite the run now that he appears healthy (which is always wishy washy and none of us ever really know).

The Browns travel to Jacksonville this week to take on a run defense who’s more than accustomed to being exposed. The Jaguars are allowing 117 rushing yards per game through six this season, and things won’t get any easier against this Cleveland ground attack.

 

Wide Receiver

Golden Tate ($5,900) v. NO

This might be the seventh week in a row that Golden Tate has made the bin, as his price tag always seems to be one of the friendliest on the market.

We can bitch all we want about just one lonely touchdown this season, but a better counter would be Tate and his six consecutive games with double-digit totals. And now with Calvin Johnson out with an injury, Tate is becoming an even more important part of the Lions offense.

Those low five grand salaries were a whole lot better than these flirting-with-sixes tags, but Tate is still great value this week against a New Orleans defense giving up close to 270 passing yards per game.

Jarvis Landry ($4,100) @ CHI

By far the riskiest play in the bin this week, Jarvis Landry is available for predictably cheap. His touchdown last week is all the reason for his $1,000 salary increase from Week 6, but his talent and linkup with Ryan Tannehill appears to be a real thing.

Anyone who knows me or reads my stuff knows I’m head over heels in love with Jarvis (check out my scouting report here), so this pick may be a tad bias. However, the Bears are giving up nearly 250 passing yards per game and have allowed 10 touchdowns through the air — all of which somewhat bodes well (fantasy wise, anyway) for a Dolphins team that will need to throw to stay in the game.

Landry’s performance last week would seem to be enough to keep him in the starting lineup, and if he plays the 78 percent of offensive snaps like he did in his new role, the $4,100 salary is a steal.

DeSean Jackson ($6,300) v. TEN

The story on DeSean Jackson will likely remain the same throughout the rest of the season: high ceiling, low floor.

While it’s hard to trust this Redskins offense, Jackson is not only the team’s BEST playmaker, but also (arguably) their ONLY playmaker right now. If the Redskins want to do things on offense, they’ll need Jackson.

After $4,600 and $4,900 salaries the past two weeks — and the nearly 54 combined fantasy points in those two games — Jackson’s price tag skyrockets enough this week to at least pause when assembling your roster.

Tennessee has allowed at least one 100+ yard receiver in four of their six games this season, so the Titans appear to be a favorable matchup. The concern, however, stems from the unpredictable game plan for Washington heading into this must-win. Do they pound the ball with Alfred Morris a? Or do they go for the jugular and air it out?

We’ve seen Jackson lay some eggs already this season in Week 2 and Week 4, but his floor this week feels more like a low-end double-digit total without a score. The $6,300 may be worth the upside.

 

Tight End

Jordan Cameron ($4,600) @ JAX

Jordan Cameron rose from the dead last week, posting 102 yards and better than 22 fantasy points, and he has a great opportunity to continue the resurrection (?) this week against a Jaguars team allowing an average of close to 300 passing yards and two touchdowns per game.

Jordan Reed ($5,000) v. TEN

He may be made of glass, but Jordan Reed is really, really good. Set durability aside for a second and Reed is arguably a top-five tight end in the NFL.

Having allowed more than 300 yards and four touchdowns through six games, opposing tight ends are averaging 12.7 fantasy points per game against this Tennessee defense. And while we must remind ourselves of the Redskins’ unpredictable nature, Reed seems to always be a critical piece of the game plan when healthy.

He’s constantly moved about the offense, he sees plenty of targets, and his hands are sure. Reed carries nice value this week against the Titans.

 

  1. Not a terrible option, by the way. And available for just $4,600.  (back)

Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk: Redskins v. Cardinals

Kirk Cousins Sad

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

* * *

- Brandon Meriweather, David Amerson, and Ryan Kerrigan were all taken to the locker room at different stages throughout the game for concussion testing. While Meriweather and Kerrigan were able to return to action, Amerson did not. Injuries are never good.

- This is starting to be a repetitive thing, but the frustration with Brian Orakpo and his play continues to build. Not only is he mostly ineffective as a pass rusher and very much not a playmaker, but his play against the run, which was at one time applauded, has also diminished. That dropped interception would have taken points off the board for Arizona, and could have possibly turned the game. A guy like Kerrigan doesn’t drop that opportunity.

- Four turnovers won’t win a game. Four turnovers in the final 15 minutes of a game will most certainly lose it.

- The Redskins running game was ineffective. Alfred Morris finished with 13 carries for just 41 yards and I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of “they didn’t run the ball enough!!!”

That’s probably a viable statement. But at what point is your run game so blah! that you move away from it and look to get the ball into the hands of your playmakers (ie DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed)?

While I love Morris and appreciate Roy Helu, I think we might need to see Silas Redd get some run moving forward. Not saying he should be the starter or that Morris isn’t good; just that Redd offers a different pace/style that wouldn’t hurt this 1-5 team.

- And speaking of the running game, you know what can help it and the rest of the offense? The 50 series offense. The read-frickin-option. Passing lanes open up, running lanes get a little wider, and defenses are kept guessing.

- When healthy, tight end Jordan Reed can really be a factor. Although I white-knuckled it the whole way praying to the football gods he didn’t go down with another injury, it was great to see Reed return to action with 92 yards on eight catches. He has sure hands, he’s a mismatch for defenses, and he can make plays after the catch.

- The best starting position for any of the Redskins’ 14 drives yesterday: their own 36 yard line.

Notice the trend, week in and week out, regarding the Redskins’ terrible field position. Whether it be turnovers or poor special teams play, Washington puts themselves into holes and they’re terrible at playing their way out of them.

- The Redskins were 2-for-10 on third down. Hahahahahahahaha.

- Remember when people thought Kirk Cousins was the savior for like, I dunno, 48 hours? That was fun. The narrative has to have changed by now. I’m sure those very same Captain Kirksters are dying to have Robert Griffin III back.

And that’s not a bad thing, by the way. You’re supposed to want your starting quarterback starting games. The flipping and flopping just happens to be amusing.

- Patrick Peterson is one of the top cornerbacks in the game today and DeSean Jackson the Playmaker was able to slice the Cardinals defense with three catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. That’s awesome. Unfortunately, outside the world of fantasy sports, Jackson’s contributions need the help of a defense, of special teams, and of consistent quarterback play.

- The Cardinals tried to kill themselves with 14 penalties for 108 yards. The Redskins were bad enough to still lose.

- The Redskins finished the game with one sack.

- Carson Palmer was in Denver “waking up the muscles around his throwing shoulder” just days before the game. He probably felt something around 80 percent, figured going against this Washington defense actually put him around 90 percent, came back to Arizona and threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

Understand how sad that sounds. Then remember it’s all true.

- Alabama safety Landon Collins. Redskins fans should familiarize themselves with the name.

- I hate us right now.

Daily Fantasy Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for Week 6

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

Some call me cheap. Others stingy. I prefer thrifty. And in the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week. 

* * *

 

Quarterback

Tom Brady ($6,000) @ BUF

Do we dare?

I dare we.

Tom Brady was chopped anchovies to start the season, but after he and the Patriots were blasted by the media following a blowout loss in Kansas City, Brady and Co. rebounded quite nicely to the tune of 43-17 against a pretty good Bengals squad last week.

Is Brady back? Meh, maybe. Maybe not. But as the schedule would have it, with regained swagger comes the Buffalo Bills — a team Brady is more than used to beating up on (22-2 lifetime against Buffalo, 54 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating better than 100).

 

Running Back

Lamar Miller ($5,800) v. GB

It feels like just yesterday I would take to Twitter with not-so-clever hashtags like #FreeLamar, mainly stemming from the crush I developed on the Dolphins running back Lamar Miller during his college days in Coral Gables. A couple years later and here we are — Miller is the leading man (kinda) in Miami and averaging 16 fPts per game through four weeks.

We expected better out of Matt Asiata last week, but don’t let his play serve as a barometer of Green Bay’s run defense. The Packers have allowed more rushing yards this year than any other team in the league, giving up 4.6 yards per carry and having allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns through five weeks.

There is some talk of Knowshon Moreno returning to action as early as this week, so be on the lookout for that. But even so, Moreno should be eased back in, as it’d be hard for coaches to ignore the fact that Miller is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Branden Oliver ($5,500) @ OAK

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of others who have no idea who Branden Oliver is.

But we’re not here for back stories. We’ve come to Oliver because he ripped a pretty good Jets front-seven last week for more than 180 total yards and 37 fantasy points. And because despite Donald Brown’s recovery from last week’s concussion, the Chargers have to like what they’ve seen from B.O. so far.

Although he’s far from a household name, there could be plenty of folk rostering Oliver this week after his explosion against the Jets, combined with his upcoming opponent. But that’s okay — that stuff happens. For the amount of opportunity he should receive against Oakland, $5,500 is too good to pass up.

Bishop Sankey ($3,500) v. JAX

There aren’t many things more unpredictably frustrating than Bishop Sankey’s workload, so starting the rookie this week will require some finger crossing and a few horseshoes.

If Sankey does get a fair share of the carries this week, however, he’s in a great matchup against a terrible Jacksonville defense, and his 4.7 yards per carry is well worth the lowly $3,500 price tag.

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know running backs do pretty well against the Jaguars defense, it’ll take some cojones to actually start someone as shaky (in terms of workload) as Sankey. If you roster this guy and he gets some run, you could see your team quickly creep the standings, while most of the opposition went with what they believed to be a safer option.

 

Wide Receiver

Golden Tate ($6,300) @ MIN

Now that Golden Tate’s salary has increased past $5,200 for the first time this season, there’s some concern for what could be buyer’s remorse if the Lions receiver turns in just a so-so game.

And when you weigh the massive $1,400 increase in salary from last week after scoring his first touchdown of the season, that concern ramps up even more.

You could also look at it another way. You could look at from the standpoint of maybe a higher salary moves owners away from Tate, making him more of a rarity on rosters than in weeks past. Perhaps people aren’t really in the know of the kind of work Tate is putting together this year (I’m head over heels in love), and instead were rostering Tate simply because he was a No. 2 receiver in a high-powered offense and available for cheap.

Either way, a higher salary isn’t turning me off. Tate is having an incredible season, the shadow of the no-touchdown cloud has since been removed, and his workload could actually increase with the injury to Calvin Johnson.

DeSean Jackson ($4,900) @ ARI

So the shoulder appears fine. After hauling in five catches for 157 yards and a score last Monday night, it’s safe to say DeSean Jackson can play (and be effective) despite a sprained AC joint.

The Redskins have to view this game as a must-win before slipping to 1-5 and watching from afar as their season unravels to shit. And in order to win, Jackson will need to play a big part.

On the bright side — for DeSean owners anyway — the Arizona defense is battling some injuries of their own, which plays well into the theory of rostering Jackson.

 

Tight End

Owen Daniels ($4,300) @ TB

I don’t particularly love Owen Daniels this week, but $4,300 seems decent for a guy who should receive something in the neighborhood of 7-10 targets, including redzone looks, against a pretty bad Tampa Bay defense.

Larry Donnell ($3,500) @ PHI

After posting a goose egg last week, it’s no wonder why Larry Donnell is at the bottom of the barrel this week. While some owners may back away from Donnell now that Odell Beckham Jr. is in the fold, others will see him as a unique add in a rebounding spot against a Eagles defense susceptible to the pass (*points to self*).

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk: Redskins v. Seahawks

Russell Wilson

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 27-17 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. 

* * *

– Hooray penalties! Or lack thereof for the Redskins. Only three penalties for 30 yards is doable, and much better than the standard double-digit totals we’re used to . No bullets in feet helps make for a better situation throughout the game.

– It’s hard to be too upset considering no one runs on Seattle, but the Redskins rush attack was a non-factor in this game. Finishing the game with just 17 carries for 32 yards, it was easy to see early on that the Seahawks weren’t budging in that department.

– The Redskins didn’t turn the ball over.

– The onside kick attempt in the third quarter was an awesomely aggressive idea, and one I’d support for this team moving forward. But the execution of said onside kick was brutal. This special teams unit can’t do much. (Note: the Seahawks didn’t score on the ensuing drive.)

– And by can’t do much, we should probably include coverage at this point too. Although it feels better than last year’s coverage unit, the Redskins aren’t good in that department. They allowed punt returns of 20 and 21 yards to some guy named Bryan Walters.

– 18 of 24 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, accompanied by 122 yards on the ground (the most ever by a quarterback on MNF) and a rushing score. How good is Russell Wilson right now?

– And that goes beyond statistics by the way. Russell is playing out of his mind, doing all the little things that should put him in the category of elite quarterback right now.

– Holy field position. Once again, the Redskins’ field position to start drives was absolutely horrendous. Not one drive through 58 minutes of the game did the Redskins start better than their own 20 yard line. In fact, 50 percent of their drives started inside the 20 yard line, including three of their four drives in the third quarter that started at their own 1, 8, and 9 yard line. Very tough to win games like that.

As a comparison, only 25 percent of the Seahawks’ drives began at or inside their own 20.

– I understand I can’t do this every week given my high blood pressure, but Perry Riley Jr. doing any sort of anything in pass coverage MUST BE ABOLISHED in the defensive game plan. It simply can’t happen because the player simply can’t do it.

– There were a few good plays out of Brian Orakpo last night (a decent shutter move against the left tackle, a drawn penalty, a time or two in which he showed decent speed), but his performance (yet again) wasn’t anything special. Such a frustrating situation week in and week out.

Tress Way had eight punts for 399 yards. EIGHT PUNTS. Terrible, yes. But Tress Way is the Redskins’ MVP right now.

– It’s not just Tyler Polumbus anymore. It’s the Redskins’ entire situation at right tackle. What a steaming pile of old bologna that is. Polumbus is terrible and goes down with an injury. Coaches decide to give rookie Morgan Moses some run, only to pull him two plays later because he’s so bad. Tom Compton eventually filled in until Polumbus returned. Dumpster fire indeed.

– Jim Haslett in the first half was gross. Jim Haslett in the second half was slightly less gross.

– That said, there was a lot of stress on the Redskins defense. Not only are the Seahawks the Seahawks, but Washington didn’t have a drive lasting more than four and a half minutes. For the game, seven of the Redskins’ 12 drives lasted less than two minutes.

Short drives and/or time of possession isn’t always a bad thing if you’re scoring. But the Redskins weren’t doing that. All three of their scores came on drives lasting longer than two minutes.

– Russell Wilson ate up this Redskins defense by way of the read-option, which Washington seemed to bite on every friggin’ time. They were also caught out of position on multiple plays where the outside pass rush would get too far upfield and leave the outside edges wide open.

Jon Gruden actually referred to this before the game, noting the San Diego defense and their effort to fill scrambling lanes and contain Russell Wilson en route to a Week 2 Chargers victory over the Seahawks.

– It doesn’t matter what your secondary consists of, DeSean Jackson can be a problem. Not breaking news, I know, but just saying. Even against Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, Jackson was able to pull off double moves, huge chunks of yards at a time, and a touchdown.

– Tight end Niles Paul didn’t have his best game blocking. At all.

– Defensive lineman and relative unknown Frank Kearse had a good game. He’s a fighter and a hustler and the Redskins defensive line needs that in the rotation.

Chris Chester. My word. He’s fading fast — but has been for the past couple years.

– I didn’t keep tally, but the Redskins defense made out fat in a few situations in which the Seattle receivers simply dropped the ball. And I’d say at least two of those drops were for would-be conversions.

– Special request: instruct/allow David Amerson and Bashuad Breeland (both physical, young corners) to press off the line. Tell ‘em to use their hands, use their muscle, push a guy around for those first five yards, and try and make a play. Death to that lackadaisical cushion coverage bullshit.

– Despite the rebuilding efforts in Washington, this quote from ESPN’s John Keim describing the post-game locker room atmosphere is concerning…

“…It was tough to tell, if you closed your eyes, whether they had won or lost.”

 

Daily Fantasy Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 5

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

Some call me cheap. Others stingy. I prefer thrifty. And in the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week. 

* * *

In terms of bargain bin metrics, we divide the player’s salary by the amount of fantasy points he scored (DraftKings format) and consider anything less than $400.00 a winning value play.

Certainly there are others who are stamped “valuable” despite weaker dollar per point numbers, but the guys rostered for less than $400 per point feels like we’re sticking it to the man (whoever He may be in the bullying world of daily fantasy).

Last week’s bargain bin was our most successful yet this season, as 53.8 percent of players came in under the $400 mark. Vincent Jackson ($418.03) was close, as was Ahmad Bradshaw ($439.39) and Markus Wheaton ($466.66). The better news, however, is that each week is yielding a higher percentage of value plays than the week before.

Here’s to holding that trend in Week 5.

 

Quarterback

Russell Wilson ($7,600) @ WAS

Russell Wilson is playing the quarterback position arguably better than anyone else in the league right now, and the Redskins defense proved itself susceptible to Eli Manning.

Ben Roethlisberger ($7,400) @ JAX

Don’t mind those fedoras Big Ben chooses to wear in postgame pressers — he’s still a respectable streaming option. And against a Jacksonville defense that helps define the word “struggle”, that $7,400 price tag is suitable.


Running Back

Matt Asiata ($4,700) @ GB

Green Bay has yet to hold any opponent to less than 115 rushing yards this season and the Vikings rely on their ground attack. With rookie Jerick McKinnon (who’s in fact the better back) nursing an ankle injury, we can expect Matt Asiata to get some run.

Giovani Bernard ($6,700) @ NE

The New England Patriots have been able to contain Matt Asiata and Darren McFadden. They’ve failed to stop Knowshon Moreno or Jamaal Charles. I like Giovani Bernard’s chances coming off a bye week against a reeling Patriots team.


Wide Receiver

Golden Tate ($4,900) v. BUF

Still no respect for Golden Tate as he’s once again priced under $5,000 despite posting double-digit scores in his first four games of the season and toting some of the best hands (statistically) in the NFL. Everyone from Ryan Tannehill to Ryan Fitzpatrick has passed on the Bills, so Matt Stafford and the Lions shouldn’t have any trouble.

DeAndre Hopkins ($4,800) @ DAL

Nuke Hopkins has been on an absolute tear to start the season, pulling in 18 catches for nearly 300 yards, three touchdowns, and more than 68 fantasy points.

Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick slinging the football, the Cowboys defense is a risk in this game, and recent history proves Hopkins as the beneficiary.

Andrew Hawkins ($3,500) @ TEN

The Titans haven’t held a receiver under 100 yards since Week 1 (although Donnie Avery was close) and Andrew Hawkins is a PPR stud muffin. He should have no problem eating in Tennessee this weekend.

Markus Wheaton ($3,300) @ JAX

Antonio Brown is a great play for the weekend for obvious reasons, but he’s the second-highest priced receiver ($8,100) and you’d have to think plenty of other owners will build their lineups around him.

And that’s why we look to No. 2 — Markus Wheaton.

Wheaton doesn’t have a touchdown this season, but you’re sure to get at least a handful of catches, and he has the speed to rip a defense (especially that of Jacksonville’s caliber).

Percy Harvin ($6,100) @ WAS

For many reasons. He’s a PPR monster, he’s going against a Washington defense capable of looking like melted butter, he’s fresh off his bye week, and his salary is more than fair considering his 13 fPPG average.


Tight End

Heath Miller ($4,000) @ JAX

After breaking out last week against Tampa Bay to the tune of 24.5 fPts, Heath Miller is officially on the daily radar and priced quite beautifully this week going against a Jaguars defense that has struggled to cover every tight end they’ve faced this season.

Travis Kelce ($3,000) @ SF

The Niners aren’t really budging on tight ends this season, but $3,000 is simply too low a price for a guy like Travis Kelce who is arguably the best playmaking talent in the Chiefs’ passing game. Opportunity is there because it has to be.

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk: Redskins v. Giants

Eli Manning Face

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 45-14 blowout loss to the New York Giants.

* * *

Consume too much terrible football, and this is what the morning after feels like.

For this week’s edition of Cloudy with a Chance of Knee Jerk, we’ll go with the old-fashioned breakdown of separating the Redskins’ play into two categories — the good and the bad — making for a horrifically lopsided affair.

 

First up, the GOOD…

– Late in the third quarter with the Redskins trailing 31-14, Tress Way crushed a punt 77 yards (a helpful bounce included). On top of that, the Giants committed a holding penalty, tacking on more yards to the end of the kick.

Tress Way punted from the Redskins 10-yard line. Seven seconds later the Giants were beginning their drive at their own 7-yard line. A net gain punt of 83 yards. By far the best play of the game for the Redskins.

 

And that’s about it, so we’ll just mosey on over to the BAD…

Perry Riley Jr. in coverage is a thing — but it’s not a good thing. It’s a terrible thing. It’s not an effective thing, or a useful thing, or even a tolerable thing. It’s just a thing that floats around with late reaction and inadequacy. It’s a thing with very little room for improvement, yet a thing that you really, really need. It’s a disgusting thing.

Simple dig for a first down? No problem.

Perry Riley I

In the redzone with decent position…

Perry Riley II

Doesn’t matter…

Perry Riley IIA

– There were a few bad calls in the game, no doubt. But 11 penalties for 88 yards is a very bad line of numbers if your team has any interest in winning the game.

Niles Paul took a serious shot down the middle of the field, and thoughts are with him during his recovery. He has become a real weapon in this offense and the Redskins will need him moving forward.

– Which reminds me — will Jordan Reed ever play again? How does one enhance the strength of glass?

– The Redskins lacked a sense of urgency against the Giants, which can’t be blamed on short rest, or the day of the week, or any other bullshit. They just didn’t look into it.

Brian Orakpo.

– Does anyone else find Tyler Polumbus fun to watch at right tackle?

Strip Sack

…anyone?

– While on the topic of the offensive line, left guard Josh LeRibeus sure is a hoot, huh?

He’s slow. Too slow. Less than a half-second after the snap and LeRibeus has his back to the LOS and he’s chasing his man. Either that or he’s being blown off the ball — literally.

Blown past.

LeRibeus I

Chasing.

LeRibeus II

Blown off (leads to INT).

LeRibeus III

– What an awful game for David Amerson. He was exposed all night long. Couldn’t tackle, couldn’t cover. At one point tight end Larry Donnell was split out wide and a simple dig route completely caught Amerson off guard. As if he’d never seen the route before.

Bashaud Breeland! My boy! He’s going to be a stud!

That was me last week. And while I do believe Breeland can be very good, last night wasn’t a great night. He was up there with Amerson as being NOT GOOD.

– Nice to have you back, Brandon Meriweather. Great stuff. Especially in the redzone. And with terrible angles. And when balls hit you right in the hands for should-be interceptions.

/sarcasm font

– Although there were a couple good coverage plays (ie Akeem Davis at some point), the Redskins special teams unit sucks. Unless your name is Tress Way, I don’t have anything nice to say to you.

– We go through this every year, so we might as well keep it fresh:

#FireJimHaslett

But, like, maybe for real this time?

Jay Gruden comes in, he and Haslett are buddies, it costs the Redskins less to keep the defensive staff, Haslett and Co. are retained. I get it. I get the whole thing. But at some point, when your defense not only looks bad, but also looks unmotivated and unprepared, that’s not something to be swept to the side and chalked up as a bad day.

Not to mention, it’s not like Thursday night was the first time we’ve seen the defense look like this.

Haslett’s defenses are good when they face bad offenses. He comes out with decent blitz looks when he plays teams he doesn’t feel threatened by. But put him up against a decent opponent or a threatening offense and he tinkles on himself — four-man rushes, no pressure, Cover 2 only, cushions on cushions, etc.

– Next up on the fry line…E.J. Biggers! Lost, confused, and, um, not good.

EJ Biggers II

– That’s really the meat of it. Everything on the defensive side of the ball aside from Ryan Kerrigan, maybe Chris Baker, and an injured Jason Hatcher came down to what appeared to be an unprepared, lost, and confused unit.

And to make matters worse, when said unit was confused, they just kind of looked around at one another, smirked, and joined in on this pre-school giggle.

(Not really, of course. At least I hope not.)

– After claiming he would try to avoid saying the R-word, Phil Simms did in fact use the R-word. Multiple times. He also wasn’t good at calling the game. He said things like, “You’re clearly not going to win this game, so there’s no reason to take chances with the football” when there were more than 13 minutes left.

I only list Simms under the BAD category because Simms himself is bad. In reality, Simms failing at simple tasks in reference to topics he’s so passionate about is amusing.

Eli Manning and his face. We all had to see it, and as always it was bad. We all hate it.

– Watching Eli Manning run for a touchdown.

Logan Paulsen‘s FUMBLE. Except not really a fumble. More like a here-you-can-have-it kind of handoff to the opposing team.

Paulsen Fumble

This one’s tough, though. Paulsen is a no nonsense kind of player and we always hear about how hard he works off the field, so you hate to see the guy get manhandled and robbed the way he did.

At the same time, you could argue that specific turnover as the turning point in the game. There was less than two minutes to go before half, the Redskins were down 21-7 and at the Giants 23-yard line. They were guaranteed at least three points, and then the ball to start the third quarter. Instead, Paulsen decides he’s in the giving mood and voila!

Kirk Cousins and his FOUR interceptions. From franchise savior to Rex Grossman 2.0 in about 72 hours.

- This series of events:

Following Paulsen’s charity event, the Giants are on their own 48, toss one deep and draw Breeland for interference. 17 yards.

Next play, 18 seconds left, Ryan Kerrigan sacks Manning and takes the Giants from the Washington 35 to the Washington 40. Very nice. Giants are forced to use a timeout.

Next play, 12 seconds left, incomplete pass. Great. Giants call a timeout with seven seconds to go.

Next play, on 3rd-and-15 from the Washington 40, Manning drops a pass in between whatever that shit is we refer to as a secondary for a 29-yard gain. Cruz then steps out of bounds with one second remaining.

Cruz Catch

Next play, Josh Brown nails a 29-yard field goal to extend the lead 24-7 heading into half.

That really happened.

– The plays described above pretty much summarize the entire game for the Redskins. It was bad, it was ugly, and it was borderline unprofessional.

Better luck next week.

(Next opponent: Seattle Seahawks)

(Seattle Seahawks: Defending Super Bowl Champions)

 

Daily Fantasy Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 4

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

Some call me cheap. Others stingy. I prefer thrifty. And in the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week. 

* * *

Last week’s bin featured plenty of performers, including Ahmad Bradshaw ($294.47/fPt) for the second consecutive week, Travis Kelce ($293.65/fPt) with his helpful diving score, and Julio Jones (187.03/fPt) with an incredible 40-point outing against the Bucs.

The most depressing part of NFL Week 4 has to be the lack of quality games on the schedule. And by quality, I mean entertaining. Thankfully, however, it doesn’t appear to effect the haul of players we can roster with cheap price tags.

Embrace the Bortles Empire; bleed the blood made from your love for Kirk Cousins; remember to walk, not run from Mike Glennon; and as always, best of luck.

 

Quarterback

Blake Bortles ($5,800) @ SD

The Chargers are a decent streaming option on defense this week, so playing Blake Bortles goes somewhat against the grain. Fact is, the greenhorn is the Jaguars’ best option at quarterback and he’ll get one helluva an opportunity at a replaceable position for less than $6,000.

 

Running Back

Ahmad Bradshaw ($5,800) v. TEN

Between Week 2 and Week 3, we saw an $800 increase in Ahmad Bradshaw’s salary. And now — after another solid performance and further recognition as to who the best back in Indianapolis is — we see an increase of $1,000.

Still, Bradshaw’s worth every penny. Not only is his 18.8 fPts per game enough proof, but that leaky Tennessee defense has allowed more than 320 rushing yards in their last two games.

At some point Bradshaw won’t be a bargain anymore thanks to rising stock price, but we’re not there yet. Roster Bradshaw and bank.

Pierre Thomas ($5,400) @ DAL

The Dallas defense actually totes some decent stats against fantasy running backs this season, but remember that their average received a boost following their Week 2 matchup against the “forceful tandem” of Dexter McCluster and Shonn Greene.

Khiry Robinson may be the guy receiving a bulk of the carries in New Orleans, but Pierre Thomas is your No. 1 in PPR formats.

Give me Thomas against a Dallas defense susceptible to effective offenses.

Donald Brown ($5,400) v. JAX

It’s the process of elimination in San Diego…

Ryan Mathews is out.
Danny Woodhead is out.
Donald Brown is not.

And then, of course, there’s the factor of opponent…

The Jaguars give up 160 rushing yards per game.
The Chargers play the Jaguars in San Diego this weekend.

And there you have it. $5,400 is a steal.

Matt Asiata ($4,500) v. ATL

Matt Asiata is not great. We’ll just get that out of the way. But he’s the lead guy in Minnesota right now and the Atlanta defense gives up gobs of points to opposing running backs.

Take last week for example. Even with the Buccaneers getting blown out and embarrassed on national television, Bobby Rainey was still able to rack up 15.5 fPts against the Falcons by rushing for 41 yards and hauling in seven passes for 64 yards.

That’s just the way it goes. Even if you fumble twice and don’t score, running backs eat against Atlanta. And for $4,500, you have to like Asiata’s odds.

 

Wide Receiver

Brandin Cooks ($5,300) @ DAL

Give up 330 yards and three touchdowns to Austin Davis and your defensive unit is officially on blast.

But even before the Cowboys screwed around and gave up seven catches and 75 yards to Jared Cook, Brandin Cooks was amassing targets to the tune of eight per game and the rookie is averaging better than 15 fPts through three weeks.

Golden Tate ($4,700) @ NYJ

Golden Tate hasn’t scored less than 10 fPts in a game so far this season, yet we see his stock price dip from a dumpster-diving $5,000 last week to just $4,800 against the Jets this Sunday. Not sure what to make of it, but positive I’m not ready to ditch him.

Tate is catching better than 75 percent of his seven targets a game in a high-powered offense. Despite the respect I have for the Jets’ defensive front, that secondary is not nearly intimidating enough to move me off Tate at his lowest cost so far this season.

Markus Wheaton ($4,200) v. TB

Did you happen to see Tampa Bay’s defense last Thursday?

Markus Wheaton isn’t Julio Jones. I get that. But the Bucs can’t be trusted.

Wheaton would be a nice add for the fantasy owner who fills in his core positions and then checks to see what he has left over to fill the flex spot. $4,200 is chump change.

DeAndre Hopkins ($4,800) v. BUF

DeAndre Hopkins is quietly piecing together a very nice three weeks to start the season, including more than 220 yards, two touchdowns, and nearly 51 fPts through three games.

The Houston offense is indeed limited by its quarterback play, but the Buffalo defense has been kind to the opposition thus far, giving up more than 267 passing yards per game.

It’s hard to gauge confidence in Hopkins week in and week out simply because it’s nearly impossible to trust Ryan Fitzpatrick. But at this price, you have to at least consider Nuke this Sunday.

Mike Evans ($4,200) @ PIT
Vincent Jackson ($5,100) @ PIT

These two are grouped together on purpose and they make the bargain bin for a couple of reasons.

  1. It feels weird saying it, but Mike Glennon is the best quarterback in Tampa. He’s expected to get the start this week and that actually increases the value of the Buccaneers’ giant outside receivers.
  2. The Pittsburgh defense was dealt a few blows last week in terms of injuries, one of which was cornerback Ike Taylor.

Again, I remember how terrible Tampa Bay looked last Thursday. I remember feeling bad for them, and wondering when we’d see Napoleon Dynamite enter the game, and how much longer head coach Lovie Smith would wait before walking off the field with his two hands in the air, middle fingers FULLY extended. I remember all that.

This is a risky play. Admittedly so. But I think it’s worth a thought.

Being that he’s the better receiver right now, Vincent Jackson is probably the better start. But at just $4,200, Mike Evans can catch two passes and a touchdown and you’re banking great value.

 

Tight End

Travis Kelce ($3,700) v. NE

When I say I’m obsessed with Travis Kelce, I mean it.

There’s not a better bargain tight end week in and week out than Travis Kelce. We did see a $700 increase in cost between his 12-point outing in Week 2 and before his Week 3 matchup against Miami, but a price below $4,000 is nearly undeniable on your roster.

Ladarius Green ($3,700) v. JAX

Jacksonville is to tight ends what Atlanta is to running backs.

In other words, tight ends love going against the Jaguars.

The only concern about Ladarius Green, however, is that despite his six targets compared to just one for Antonio Gates last week, the ratio appears to be a tough one to forecast.

Clearly Green is good enough to produce against the Jaguars, but I’d tread cautiously based on usage.

 

Film Breakdown: Kirk Cousins Week 3 vs. Philadelphia

Kirk Cousins II

During his weekly press conference late Monday afternoon, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked about the play of Kirk Cousins and the areas in which he could afford to improve.

Gruden wasn’t bashing Cousins by any means, but rather keeping it honest. While he praised the quarterback for leading an offense when trailing in the second half and soaking up valuable experience throughout, he also mentioned a few times where Cousins may have misread the pocket and rushed his throws — sometimes flinging a pass a bit too early when he could’ve (should’ve) waited that extra second, half-second longer in order to allow his receiver to get open.

Had the final outcome been different, perhaps it wouldn’t be the case. But because the Redskins lost on Sunday, Cousins’ brilliant performance of more than 400 yards and three scores is cast in the shadows of a couple poor throws in the final eight minutes of the game.

  1. With 7:34 left to go in the fourth quarter, Cousins drops back and attempts to drop one into Niles Paul down the right seam. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is playing single-high, reads Cousins’ eyes, and comes up with an outstanding diving interception.
  2. With 1:52 left to go in the game — on what would be the Redskins’ final possession — Cousins fires a pass left in the area of Pierre Garcon and misses him. After creating separation off the line, Garcon clips the top of his route with a nasty head-fake, slants in, and presents Cousins with a nice target. The ball sails behind the receiver.

Gruden didn’t go into specifics in terms of what throws he believed were the rushed ones and which pockets he thought Cousins could have done a better job at feeling. But given the timing and results of these two throws, it’s safe to assume the coach went back and took a hard look.

Looking first at the interception…

Cousins INT A

…the Redskins run curl routes with outside receivers DeSean Jackson (bottom screen) and Pierre Garcon. Andre Roberts will work the left seam from the slot position, and tight end Niles Paul will get out from his inline position and work down the right seam.

Meanwhile on defense, safety Malcolm Jenkins makes his way back to the single-high look before the snap.

Cousins INT II B

The above shot gives you an idea of the timing and angles behind the pass. Cousins has reached the peak of his drop, has planted his back foot, and is attempting to fire the pass.

You can see Jenkins has already given himself a great jump on where Cousins will ultimately go with the ball, and Paul (a tight end, remember) has yet to gain any separation from the defensive back in coverage.

Last week we saw Cousins freeze the Jacksonville defense by looking one way, selling the linebackers and/or safety, then resetting his feet and going elsewhere with the ball. A move like that would’ve been perfect in this situation, maybe taking a second longer to pump fake, thus moving Jenkins out of position, then repositioning his feet and firing down the left seam in a (typically) better matchup between a speedy receiver (in this case, Roberts) and a defensive back.

Cousins INT I

But does Cousins have time for a pump fake? Can he sell the safety enough with the amount of time his offensive line is giving him?

From the above screenshot, the answer would seem to be yes. But that’s easy for the chubby guy behind the computer to say.

With Cousins at the top of his dropback from this angle, you’ll notice Jenkins anticipating and beginning his path to the soon-to-be-throw. And also from the view of this angle, Cousins is investing a lot of confidence in his tight end to get behind/around the defensive back between the time of his release, and the ultimate landing position of the pass.

A couple other things to notice here, including left guard Josh LeRibeus who was subbed in for the injured Shawn Lauvao. Although LeRibeus appears to have decent position in this shot, defensive lineman Fletcher Cox is winning that battle.

Did Cousins feel the pressure from Cox up the middle and feel the need to fire? Or could he have shifted feet one time and fired left side?

Also, notice No. 29 for the Eagles on the left of the shot — that’s the guy covering Andre Roberts. Judging from his chase-like position, Roberts would appear to have a leg up on Paul in regards to beating his coverage (Roberts’ position in shot No. 2 shows this as well). If Cousins wanted to place a well-timed ball down the seam, Roberts would seem to be the ideal matchup in this situation.

Again, this an easy look and measure by yours truly. In game action, everything and everyone is moving at about 100 mph. Cousins needs to make decisions quickly and get the ball out even faster.

This throw, however, could be one Gruden was asking for another half-second out of Cousins to hang in there, adjust his feet, and take a safer shot elsewhere with a better chance for positive results.

And next a look at the final pass of the game for Cousins…

Cousins Miss A

…taking a look at Pierre Garcon (a pass-gobbling monster in this game) on sort of a dig route on the left side.

Garcon receives press coverage off the line, and the safety making his way back will protect against anything deep on that side of the field.

Cousins Miss IIGarcon cleanly and easily beats his man off the line, so his next bout is with the safety. His head fake outside gets the safety moving in that direction, in turn opening up his actual angle to the inside. Mr. Reliable shows up yet again, and prepares to give his quarterback a nice target on fourth-and-the-game.

Cousins Miss III

In the shot above, the ball is already out of Cousins’ hand, seemingly at the sign of Garcon’s initial move at the top of his route.

The pocket seems a bit congested, but with another half-second or so, Garcon is running into wide-open space and the safety on his side of the field wouldn’t have a shot at making a play on the ball.

This seems like a rush job by Cousins. It’s the final minutes of the game, your team is down, and it’s the final play to stay alive and you get a little antsy. Instead of anticipating where your receiver’s going to be, you throw it to where he is, and at that point it’s too late.

While this may or may not be a throw in which Gruden talks with Cousins about pocket presence and timing, the fact remains that if Cousins can throw the ball at all from this pocket, then he could’ve delivered a better pass.

Coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’. And again, couch quarterbacking is way easier than the real thing.

All said and done — and despite the loss and these couple of errant throws — there were good things to come out of the Redskins offense last Sunday, including Kirk Cousins.

 

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