Week 14 Street FA Report

Updated: December 7th 2017

For the playoffs, we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 70% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <20% of leagues as our Sleeper add. All of these players have flexible upside during the 3-week playoff span.

Add of the Week

Jermaine Kearse, WR – NYJ (Owned 69%)

Week 13: 9 Rec/157 yards

Jermaine Kearse was my week 1 WR add and if you picked him up you have enjoyed a nice bye week player with great upside throughout the season. While he has had some dud weeks, for the most part, he has been a solid flex option. Heading into the playoffs if he’s not already on a roster he needs to be added. The Jets play the Broncos, Saints, and Chargers over the next three weeks which might seem like a daunting group of defenses to face. However, looking at how the Jets have played over the last month it is clear that they trust Josh McCown and this group of receivers to be the identity of this team and are not afraid of being in a shootout. McCown has attempted over 36 passes in each of his last three games and that trend should continue in games that will range from competitive (Broncos, Chargers) to playing keep up (Saints). From a PPR standpoint, 10 points should be Kearse’s floor.

Suggested Bid: $4,000,000 – $10,000,000

RB Adds

Mike Davis, RB – SEA (Owned 19%)

Week 13: 16 Car/64 yards, 4 Rec/37 yards

The Seahawks have been trying to find a runner to take control of the backfield and it appears that Mike Davis has separated himself from Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls. Watching SNF it was clear that Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell have made Davis their RB1 in terms of traditional carries. The Seahawks rank tied for 8th in red zone trips with 41 but only 18th (53.7%) in conversions. With Russell Wilson’s ability to run the ball defenses have to be more honest around the goal line which should give Davis the opportunities to score more. If he continues to hold 82% of the carries and 73% of the snap counts like he did in week 13 Davis could be a sneaky RB2 for the playoffs.

Suggested Bid: $4,000,000 – $8,000,000

Andre Ellington, RB – HOU (Owned 46%)

Week 13: 2 Car/-4 yards, 5 Rec/56 yards

Hardly anybody noticed Andre Ellington being waived by the Cardinals and subsequently claimed by the Houston Texans but he was active for last week’s game and hauled in 5 of his 6 targets. Alfred Blue also left the game with a concussion and at this point, his status is uncertain for week 14. Ellington could end up being what I thought Tyler Ervin’s role was going to be in the preseason, an RB by name that is used more out of the slot as a receiver, while also receiving a couple of carries per game. He won’t have a consistent workload with Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman ahead of him but for PPR formats Ellington could see a serious amount of targets as a receiver. Both Braxton Miller and Bruce Ellington suffered injuries last week that also could open up a receiver spot for him.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000

WR Add

Marquise Goodwin, WR – SF (Owned 53%)

Week 13: 8 Rec/99 yards

The 49ers showed a spark with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center resulting in two receivers having over 90 yards receiving last week. Marquise Goodwin has filled in quite week nice Pierre Garcon was lost for the season and has had a safe WR3/4 floor in the past month. The 49ers have two even matchups coming up against the Texans and Titans that rank 7th and 9th in WR fantasy points allowed which should mean that Goodwin’s value will continue. Goodwin still has a stigma as being a boom/bust player but with a strong 8 catch showing in Jimmy G’s first game, he could be a great matchup flex for the next two week.

Suggested Bid: $3,000,000 – $5,000,000

TE Add

Stephen Anderson, TE – HOU (Owned 1.5%)

Week 13: 5 Rec/79 yards, 1 TD

For all the same reasons that I like the opportunity for targets with Andre Ellington I also like Stephen Anderson. I thought that C.J. Fiedorowicz was going to come back from his injury and totally reclaim the TE targets in Houston to be a second-half steal. Not only has that not happened but for the most part, he has been an afterthought to Anderson who played on 84% of the downs and had 12(!) targets last week. Tom Savage is not an aggressive QB and as mentioned previously with several other receivers being injured last week Anderson is earning more targets. Houston plays San Francisco and Jacksonville who are average to above average in TE points allowed. If you have been matchup-based with your TEs this season Anderson could be another option to seriously consider.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000

Sleeper Add (<20%)

Ryan Grant, WR – WAS (Owned 16%)

Week 13: 5 Rec/76 yards, 1 TD

This is my last chance to plead with every RSO manager to please go add Ryan Grant to your roster. He’s been featured 3 times already in this report and he is still unclaimed in over 4/5th of all leagues. In an offense where he is often single covered because he isn’t as talented as Josh Doctson or Jameson Crowder, he continues to makes plays and finds the end zone (2 TD in his last 3 games). Unless you play in an 8 to 10 team league that doesn’t have a lot of roster spots he needs to be owned. The teams that Washington play in the playoffs (LAC, Arizona, and Denver) all have good secondaries but Grant is one of those guys that could have a big game or two because of how game planning and matchups take away other options.

Suggested Bid: $3,000,000 – $6,000,000

Early 2018 NFL Free Agency Look

Updated: November 30th 2017

Week 13 is an important point for RSO GMs out there.  The fantasy regular season ends in most leagues along with the ability to extend players on your roster if using the new contract extension option.  Most teams have a good idea of where they stand heading into the playoffs.  It is never too early to start looking at next season for contenders and those out of the hunt alike.  I take an early view at some of the most fantasy relevant players with contracts ending this year.  This is not an exhaustive list as some players will sign early and others will be cut prior to free agency but it is still useful to view potentially significant changes which we should keep our eye out for.

*Free Agent Listings from Spotrac

Quarterbacks

Top Free Agents:  Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo

The quarterback position might provide us with some very interesting changes next offseason.  A number of high-profile players including future hall of famer Drew Brees, perpetually tagged Kirk Cousins, and recently traded Jimmy Garoppolo possibly hit free agency in 2018.  Garoppolo almost certainly stays in San Francisco after the 49ers gave up a likely early second round pick to New England for his services.  My sense is that Cousins moves on from Washington.  Neither Washington nor Cousins seems completely sold on one another having failed on multiple occasions to get a long-term contract done.  I would be looking to sell Cousins in my RSO league.  He is unlikely to land on a team with such a QB-friendly offensive scheme which fits his skill-set so well.  Brees likely remains in New Orleans.  The Saints finally devised a competent defense to go along with the high-powered offense and have the personnel to get deep in the playoffs for Brees’ final years.

There are a number of other interesting locations with possible openings next season to keep your eye on.  The Minnesota trio of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum all are free agents next year and I doubt anyone, including those in the Vikings organization, has a firm grasp on who of the trio remains.  Miami also might head in a new direction.  Ryan Tannehill, coming off a knee surgery, has shown little to suggest he is the long-term answer and has a contract which provides an easy out without a big cap hit. Jay Cutler is probably a one-year rental.  Denver does not appear to have the starting quarterback on the roster.  First round pick Paxton Lynch looks like a bust after failing to beat out backup-level talent Trevor Siemian for the starting spot in multiple seasons.  Arizona is another team who could be in the market for a quarterback if Carson Palmer retires following the year.

Running Backs

Top Free Agents:  LeVeon Bell, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell

The cupboard is not as full for quality NFL backs next offseason.  Bell is in a different league than the others on this list but probably stays in Pittsburg even at the cost of another franchise tag.  Hyde, Hill, and Crowell have all displayed the ability to be a solid lead back as part of a committee.  None possesses a true three-down skill-set.  They each have shown the ability to catch the occasional dump off or screen pass and handle pass-protection duties but no one will confuse them with dynamic route runners out of the backfield who an offensive coordinator actively tries to get involved in the passing game.

As usual, the New England backfield remains a mystery.  Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead assumed big roles this year but are free agents while recent acquisition Mike Gillislee was recently left off the active roster and can be cut without a cap hit.  Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon showed off some impressive playmaking ability at times this year and should provide a quality compliment to a new team with Dalvin Cook returning.  We should also note this might be the last season for Frank Gore who is still churning out yards for Indianapolis at the age of 34.

Wide Receivers

Top Free Agents:  Alshon Jeffery, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry

The wide receiver class, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded with top-end talent.  Alshon Jeffery, currently 25th all-time in receiving yards per game, is on pace for another solid campaign.  His best move is signing a long-term deal in Philadelphia with ascending quarterback, Carson Wentz, but may wish to test the market after betting on himself with a one-year deal this past year as a free agent.  Sammy Watkins hits free agency after an injury-filled stint in Buffalo in which the Bills failed to use the 5th year option on him.  Watkins, one of the more efficient receivers in the NFL, owns a big 16.3 yards per reception and over 9 yards per target average over his career.  Allen Robinson has a 1,400 yard / 14 touchdown season to his credit but injuries, Blake Bortles at quarterback, and consistency issues have limited Robinson’s overall effectiveness.  A franchise tag is certainly possible for Robinson who might not want to sign a reduced rate long-term deal coming off a lost season to an ACL tear.  Jarvis Landry amassed 363 receptions already in his four-year career but is likely headed to free agency.  Miami does not seem inclined to pay Landry big money with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker already signed through next season.  Landry might be disappointed in the free agent market as few teams utilize the slot receiver as extensively as Miami does and thus might not place a big priority on Landry.

There are a number of other notable free agents who also might be available.  Green Bay Packer Devante Adams is in the last year of his rookie deal.  Fellow Jacksonville 2nd round pick, Marqise Lee also belongs to next year’s free agent class and Allen Hurns could be cut with no cap consequences.  Seattle Seahawk Paul Richardson consistently flashed big play potential but is given limited opportunities in the Seahawk passing attack.  Mike Wallace and Eric Decker could provide veteran leadership to new teams after spending time with quarterbacks who struggled throwing the ball.  Most of the Arizona wide receiver core could be gone next year if Larry Fitzgerald retires.

Tight Ends

Top Free Agents:  Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert

NFL free agency rarely sees quality tight ends hit the free agent market.   There are few special players at the position and those are usually locked up with long-term deals.  This year is not an exception.  A 31 year old Jimmy Graham has the chance to hit free agency for the first time.  Graham is not the same player after returning from a devastating knee agency, lacking the rare speed and explosion he once possessed. A somewhat diminished Jimmy Graham is still better than the majority of tight ends in the league however.  He is still virtually unguardable in short areas with a big frame, powerful hands, and smooth athleticism that comes from a former basketball player.  Former first round pick Tyler Eifert joins Graham in headlining the tight end class.  Eifert’s early career has been marred by injuries throughout with Tyler playing only 2 games this season before a back injury finished his season.  Like Graham, Eifert is a very athletic weapon in the passing game.  Despite his injury history, the Bengal tight end should find multiple suitors bidding for his services.

We finish the article with the likely retirement of San Diego Charger Antonio Gates following the season as his contract finishes this year.  Gates has played all 15 years of his career with Chargers, is the all-time touchdown leader among tight ends, and a no doubt future hall of famer.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

RSO Staff Picks: Week 13

Updated: November 30th 2017

Week 12 Results

1. English – 12-4

T2. Papson – 11-5

T2. Wendell 11-5

Overall Standings

1. Wendell – 115-61

2T. Papson – 114-62

2T. English – 114-62

Well, I did not think it could get any closer, and it sure did. Kyle wins the week going 12-4, hitting both the Vikings and the Rams right on solo picks, but both Matt and I went a respectable 11-4, leaving just one game separating me (115-61) over both Matt and Kyle (both 114-62). With only five weeks to go, this is going to be one tight race down the stretch. The Redskins travel to Dallas in what essentially amounts to an elimination game for both teams (neither will be able to make the playoffs with a loss). Here are our picks for the Week! Enjoy the games and best of luck making the playoffs in your leagues.

NFL Game Picks

Game

Wendell

English

Papson

WAS @ DAL

MIN @ ATL

DET @ BAL

NE @ BUF

SF @ CHI

TB @ GB

IND @ JAX

DEN @ MIA

KC @ NYJ

HOU @ TEN

CLV @ LAC

CAR @ NO

LAR @ ARI

NYG @ OAK

PHI @ SEA

PIT @ CIN

 

Week 13 Street FA Report

Updated: November 30th 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Add of the Week

Dontrelle Inman, WR – CHI (Owned 28%)

Week 12: 4 Rec/44 yards

The trade deadline was an eventful week this season but there was one trade, the Chargers trading Dontrelle Inman to the Bears for a conditional seventh-round pick, which went pretty much unnoticed in the fantasy community. He was inactive for his first game with the Bears but since has become their most targeted receiver with 23 targets in 3 games. Inman is the best outside receiver the Bears have at this point so it’s likely that his target volume continues. With remaining games against the 49ers, Bengals, Lions, and Browns there should be plenty of opportunities to get in the end zone as well.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000

QB Add

Blaine Gabbert, QB – ARZ (Owned 13%)

Week 12: 22 for 38, 241 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 6 Car/17 yards

Gabbert did more than enough to stick it to his old team in week 12 and secure a victory against a tough Jacksonville defense. He has also shown enough to Bruce Arians and the coaching staff to be named the starter for the near future. In 2QB/Superflex leagues he’s a must own and in regular leagues, he’s a tentative add for any team entering the playoffs without a clear QB1 on their squad. After a tough matchup next week against the Rams, Gabbert has great playoff matchups against Tennessee, Washington, and the Giants. All are allowing over 17 points per week to QBs. If your starter has any questionable matchups in the playoffs it wouldn’t hurt to consider Gabbert if he plays as well as he did against Jacksonville.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 ($5,000,000 in 2QB/SFLX)

RB Add

Peyton Barber, RB – TB (Owned 4.5%)

Week 12: 5 Car/7 yards, 2 TD

Doug Martin left week 12 against the Falcons with a concussion forcing the Bucs to return to a committee for backfield touches. Jacquizz Rodgers led the team with 8 carries but it was Peyton Barber who scored two short touchdowns on his 5 carries. In week 10 I wrote about how Barber saw an increased amount of carries after the Bucs took Martin out in a blowout and it suggested that Barber might have a bigger role if Martin was to miss time in the future. While the team was in catch-up mode for most of the afternoon the Bucs showed that Barber would be more frequently used in traditional run formations especially around the goal line. If Martin’s concussion symptoms forced him to miss any additional time Barber could be a late season add that could pay off for a game or two.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,000,000

WR Add

Josh Reynolds, WR – LAR (Owned 33%)

Week 12: 4 Rec/37 yards, 1 TD

Earlier in the week, a report surfaced that suggested Josh Reynolds would be featured significantly more with Robert Woods declared out for their game against the Saints. “Coach speak” like this comes out weekly from every team so it wasn’t much to get up and check the wire to see if he was available. But after scoring his first career touchdown and accumulating almost 14 PPR points he should be on the radars. A rookie out of Texas A&M, Reynolds was Matt Waldman’s WR2 in his pre-draft RSP and described him as, “Tall and wiry. He’s built a lot like A.J. Green, and his style of play has similarities.” That’s high praise for a player that fell in the draft and subsequently lost a lot of stock when it came to rookie drafts this offseason. Still, Reynolds can win battles outside the numbers and get open in the end zone, like with his touchdown last week. With Robert Woods out a couple more weeks Reynolds could have another productive game next week against the Cardinals.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

TE Add

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE – ARZ (Owned 7.5%)

Week 12: 4 Rec/72 yards, 1 TD

Everyone who thought Ricky Seals-Jones’ 2 touchdown game in week 11 was a fluke raise your hand. Ya, me too. Well after he scored another touchdown in week 12 and added a respectable 72 yards receiving he’s must add now. For the same reasons that Blaine Gabbert could be a fantasy relevant player in the playoffs with decent matchups so to could Seals-Jones. While Tennessee is in the top third against TEs, Washington, and New York are two of the worst in terms of TE points allowed. It wouldn’t be surprising if Seals-Jones has another TE1 finish in at least one game during the playoffs.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR – OAK (Owned 9%)

Week 12: 3 Rec/72 yards

Michael Crabtree is suspended for two games after last week’s brawl and Amari Cooper had a pretty serious injury that resulted in him having both a sprained ankle and a concussion. This leaves Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts, and Johnny Holton as the remaining receivers that get to go up against the Giants this week. The Raiders like to use Patterson for gadget and trick plays because of his speed and quickness so I expect them to use him more over the next two weeks while they operate without their top two receivers.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

The Watch List: Conference Championship Week

Updated: November 30th 2017

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the storylines, players and matchups from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my weekly picks, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will continue to update you on who is fantasy relevant and worth your draft capital next year. 

Note: the rankings referenced below refer to the Week 14 AP poll.  CFP rankings were not yet available at the time of writing.

Storylines to Watch

  • Heisman Update:  Baker Mayfield finished off his regular season with a 281 yard, 3 TD outing.  The Heisman winner is Mayfield.  Moving on to more important topics.
  • Playoff Picture: Last week, I postulated that Alabama and Miami would be in danger of missing the playoff even if they lost and finished with one loss.  I was not expecting them to both lose!  Having them both lose keeps a potential playoff spot open for the other if championship results fall properly.  As of this writing on Sunday evening, I anticipate the Top 7 to be: Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, Miami and Alabama.  The order of Georgia, Miami and Alabama is tough but I put Alabama last because while their loss was “better” than Miami’s, they do not have as good of a win on their resume as Miami over #3 Notre Dame.  Two of the four spots are easy: the winner of Auburn/Georgia is in, as is the winner of Clemson/Miami.  If Oklahoma and Wisconsin win, they are obviously in too and the playoff is set.  Things get very interesting though if one of them loses, specifically Oklahoma.  If Oklahoma loses, there is no obvious replacement like if Wisconsin loses (a win against #3 Wisconsin might be enough to jump Ohio State to the #4 spot and squeak in, see below for an alternate possibility).  I think that if Oklahoma and Clemson lose, we might see Clemson hang in with the #4 ranking (they would have five Top 25 wins, a 3-point loss when their quarterback was hurt and a loss to my projected #6 in Miami – that is still a better two loss resume than others).  For now, I’m predicting chalk but am hoping for some chaos.
  • Undefeated UCF:  Here’s a fun thought experiment for you… is there anyway we get an undefeated UCF into the Top 4?  Probably not but here’s what I think you would need:
    • Stanford win over USC in the PAC-12 Championship so that both finish behind UCF in the final rankings.
    • Oklahoma win over TCU in the Big 12 Championship.  TCU would move up in the rankings and stay ahead of UCF with a win over Oklahoma.  Better for UCF to cede one of the playoff spots to Oklahoma and jump ahead of TCU.
    • Georgia win over Auburn in the SEC Championship.  Auburn would be totally out of contention with 3 losses; if Georgia loses they probably stay ahead of UCF with a strong two loss resume.  I think we’d all take Auburn in a head-to-head matchup against UCF but it’ll be hard for the committee to put an undefeated UCF behind a three loss team.
    • Clemson wins big over Miami in the ACC Championship.  If Miami loses two straight, especially an embarrassing one to Clemson, they should fall out of the Top 10.
    • Ohio State wins close over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.  If Wisconsin wins, they are in but the reverse is not guaranteed.  In three iterations of the CFP, we have not yet had a two loss team make the cut.  If Ohio State gets a close, unconvincing win against Wisconsin, is it possible that the committee leaves a two loss Ohio State out in favor of an undefeated UCF?  Maybe the injury to JT Barrett factors into the decision if it lingers and the committee says that a weakened Ohio State is not worthy of the playoff.
  • Florida State vs History:  Florida State will be playing this week but not in the ACC Championship as they would have hoped a few months ago.  Instead, the Seminoles will be battling 4-7 UL-Monroe (the game was cancelled earlier in the year due to Hurricane Irma).  Florida State has a lot of history riding on this inconsequential game because they have not finished with less than six wins in a season since 1976 which was Bobby Bowden’s first season at the helm.  What an incredible run of success for a team.  I don’t know for sure but I assume that has to be a record for most consecutive seasons with a .500 record or better.  It’s a little iffy to get that sixth win in a game like this but hey it counts in the record books and in a few years nobody will even remember the circumstance.

Players to Watch

  • Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn:  I haven’t been the highest on Stidham so far this season but boy did he standout against Alabama last week, especially with his legs.  One thing I have previously pointed out about Stidham is his efficiency.  Stidham’s completion percentage (68.5%) ranks 4th in the FBS; his passing efficiency rating (160.0) is 9th; his yards per attempt (9.1) is 8th.  If you only look at his games since Week 3 following the Clemson loss, Stidham’s completion percentage rises to 70.8%, including six games 74% or higher.  So, the rate stats are all fantastic but what about the counting stats?  They are less eye-popping because of Auburn’s tendency to lean on RB Kerryon Johnson.  Stidham has 2,682 yards and just 16 TDs but he has also only thrown 4 INTs.  Those only looking at the stats and not watching the film will underestimate Stidham’s athleticism and his rushing ability as I had.  The game logs say he only has 153 yards but don’t forget that factors in all of his sacks.  If I had to guess, I would say that that Stidham probably has gained about 300 yards rushing (figuring about 10-15 rushing yards per game lost to sacks).  Side note: if you don’t typically purchase Phil Steele’s annual preview magazine, this is one big reason why you should because they break down yards gained and lost to get a true sense for a quarterback’s rushing ability.  Going back to that Alabama game, Stidham went 21-28 for 237 yards in the passing game which is expected but what surprised me was the 51 rushing yards.  A few plays stood out, one passing and three rushing.  On one of the first plays of the game, Stidham double clutched to force the rushing lineman into the air for an attempted pass breakup so he had a throwing lane for the quick screen.  The color commentator compared it to a shot fake in basketball which was a perfect analogy.  To me, it showed Stidham’s composure under pressure when it would have been understandable for him to be skittish in the first drive of the biggest game of his career.  The next play I highlighted was a late third quarter scramble on third and long when Auburn was down 14-13.  Stidham took a three step drop out of shotgun so he was nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.  He goes through his progressions, evades a rusher, slips out of the pocket, beats CB Tony Brown to the first down and dives head first to ensure he gets enough yardage.  It was a turning point play in the game.  A few plays later he ran again for 13 yards right up the gut.  Those two runs kept the drive alive and led to a touchdown for Kerryon Johnson.  The last play where Stidham surprised me was in the 4th quarter with Auburn up 20-14.  Stidham fakes the handoff to Johnson on the zone read and keeps the ball himself.  He quickly directs his blockers and rolls left.  He accelerates as he turns up field and just beats all of the Alabama defenders to the goal line.  Ultimately five players were close enough to get a hand on him but he just wanted it more and made the play.  I knew Stidham was an efficient and effective passer and was really happy to see this side of his game.  Stidham is playing in his first season at Auburn after transferring from Baylor in 2015, so it’s probably more likely that he stays in college for another season rather than declaring for the draft.  As I was watching Stidham play against Alabama I saw Alex Smith.  They are very similar in size and speed and have a similar game.  If he stays in, he will be a preseason target of mine next season.

Games to Watch

  •  #14 Stanford vs #11 USC, Friday 8:00pm on ESPN:  The PAC-12 Championship isn’t worth all that much this season.  Neither team has a shot at the playoff and since the Rose Bowl is part of the playoff, a PAC-12 championship doesn’t even get you a bid into the “granddaddy of them all.”  If nothing else, this game will be a true showcase game for a few draft prospects, namely Stanford RB Bryce Love (who is within reach of a 2,000 yard season at 1,848) and USC QB Sam Darnold (whose wavering play has some thinking he’ll stay in college another season).  I’ll have my eye on USC WR Deontay Burnett too – he isn’t getting much draft love, mostly because of his size, but I really like him and am significantly higher than most.
  • #10 TCU vs #2 Oklahoma, Saturday 12:30pm on FOX:  Oklahoma has much more to play for than TCU so I’ll bet the Sooners come out firing and bury the Frogs.  Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is incredibly efficient (71.4% completion percentage and just 5 INTs) and is my no-brainer Heisman winner.  The good news is that TCU has the conference’s best passing defense (227.5 yards per game); the bad news is that puts them at 73rd in the FBS overall.  When these two teams last faced off, TCU’s conference-best defense allowed 333 passing yards and 200 rushing yards, forced zero turnovers and lost by 18.  Unless they hold Oklahoma to under 300 total yards they don’t stand a chance at keeping Oklahoma from their playoff berth.
  • #6 Georgia vs #4 Auburn, Saturday 4:00pm on CBS:  For me, this will be the best game of the weekend if Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson is able to play.  Johnson played through an injured shoulder against Alabama but it sounds like there is a chance he misses the SEC Championship.  Jonhson had 33 touches (for 125 total yards and a score) in the Alabama game which is the third time in four weeks that he has had 30+ touches, 125+ total yards and a touchdown.  Like TCU/Oklahoma, this game is a rematch from earlier in the year.  Auburn shellacked Georgia in that one by a final score of 40-17 (and it wasn’t even that close because of a late garbage time Georgia TD).  Georgia has the SEC’s second best defense, led by LB prospects Roquan Smith (100 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Lorenzo Carter (42-4), so I’ll bet that they’ll keep it closer the second time around.  This one is for all the marbles: the winner is onto the playoff without question while the loser is out of contention.
  • #7 Miami vs #1 Clemson, Saturday 8:00pm on ABC:  I have been picking against Miami all season long and it finally paid off with their upset against 4-7 Pitt.  I just don’t trust QB Malik Rosier because he is so inaccurate (55.2% on the season and 44.1% against Pitt).  Sophomore RB Travis Homer has filled in reasonably well for the injured Mark Walton but you’ll be hard pressed to find a tailback that can compensate for a quarterback missing half his passes.  Miami’s defense is 14th in points but 42nd in yards allowed which is an odd dichotomy.  Clemson has been my #2 squad for awhile and is now my top team.  I haven’t been a huge Kelly Bryant fan but he is a solid game manager as a passer and a dynamic rushing threat (639 yards and 10 TDs).  True freshman RB Travis Etienne is a burner who carved out a role for himself after a hot start.  Etienne has had more carries than incumbent Tavien Feaster in four straight games.  His stats have been mediocre but I am interested in seeing WR Deon Cain against Miami’s defense; Cain is a prospect that I have been lower on than the consensus.  I have highlighted many of the Clemson defensive stars (i.e. Austin Bryant and Christian Wilkins) but a name that you may not know is LB Dorian O’Daniel.  O’Daniel has 80 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 INTs (both of which returned for scores in key Top 15 wins over Louisville and Virginia Tech).  If I had to bet meaningful money on any of the championship games, this would be the one.
  • #3 Wisconsin vs #8 Ohio State, Saturday 8:00pm on FOX:  As a Michigan and a Rutgers fan, I don’t know who to root for in this one.  It’s a shame there are no ties in college football.  Since Ohio State isn’t a shoo-in for the playoff with a win, it’s probably best for the conference for Wisconsin to win it.  The bright spot on Wisconsin’s offense is freshman RB Jonathan Taylor.  Ohio State has the 13th ranked rush defense in the FBS (112.8 yards per game) and has held opponents to 100 rushing yards or less in seven games this season (including three straight after they were gashed for 243 yards against Iowa).  Taylor has 125+ rushing yards in seven of his last eight games and I expect him to continue that streak.  Wisconsin’s rush defense is actually better than Ohio State’s (1st in the FBS at 80.5 yards per game) so I doubt that either JK Dobbins or Mike Weber will be a major factor.  Much of this game will come down to whether JT Barrett can return from a knee injury sustained against Michigan.  Ironically, I think that the Buckeyes might be better off with Dwayne Haskins under center because he’s more of a pass-oriented quarterback.  Wisconsin’s pass defense is ranked 2nd so while it may be weaker it’s hardly a weakness.  Regardless of who is under center, I think Ohio State will struggle to move the ball like they did early against Michigan, and the Badgers will win a close one.

Note: When watching film for a player in the offseason, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, foxsports.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

RSO Staff Picks: Week 12

Updated: November 23rd 2017

Week 11 Results

1. Papson – 9-5

2. English – 8-6

3. Wendell 6-8

Overall Standings

1. Wendell – 104-56

2. Papson – 103-57

3. English – 102-58

There were lots of differences in picks last week and Wendell was on the wrong side of most of them. A subpar 6-8 week from him and an above average 9-5 from Papson and 8-6 from English in what was a tough week of picking games has all three neck and neck as we head into Thanksgiving week. Wendell is 104-56 and has a one game lead over Papson (103-57) and two games over English (102-58). The final six weeks are sure to be exciting. Below are our picks for this week. Only difference today is that Kyle likes his hometown Vikings and Wendell/Papson are on the Lions playing at home! Enjoy the games today and this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

NFL Game Picks

Game

Wendell

English

Papson

MIN @ DET

LAC @ DAL

NYG @ WAS

CHI @ PHI

TB @ ATL

CLV @ CIN

TEN @ IND

BUF @ KC

MIA @ NE

CAR @ NYJ

SEA @ SF

NO @ LAR

JAX @ ARI

DEN @ OAK

GB @ PIT

     

HOU @ BAL