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Week 6 – Fantasy Football Thoughts

SUNDAY, OCT. 16, NOON

SAN FRANCISCO (1-4) at BUFFALO (3-2)

STATS: 49ers have lost 4 in a row, while the Bills have won 3 straight. Bills TE Charles Clay has 5 catches in back-to-back games. SF has scored 14 TDs in 5 games. FANTASY: Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter could be a good streaming kicker this week. LeSean McCoy is a workhorse with new OC. QB Colin Kaepernick is back in the lineup – which could be good or bad. Carlos Hyde (6 TDs) and WR Jeremy Kerley (22 targets last 2 weeks) are SF fantasy weapons.

PHILADELPHIA (3-1) at WASHINGTON (3-2)

STATS: Eagles averaging 29 PPG. On defense they’ve allowed only 3 TD passes in 4 games. FANTASY: Philly’s Caleb Sturgis one of top fantasy PK. WR Pierre Garcon has scored in 3 of the last 4 games against the Eagles.

CLEVELAND (0-5) at TENNESSEE (2-3)

STATS: Titans D has allowed only 4 TD passes and has 12 sacks. They are second in the league in rushing. Cleveland D has allowed 2-3 passing TDs a game and are ranked 25th vs the pass. FANTASY: Isaiah Crowell could have a solid game (83.0yard average). Terrelle Pryor might give you some points from the QB spot. DeMarco Murray could go over 100 yards and get a TD. QB Marcus Mariota and TE Delanie Walker could have big days.

BALTIMORE (3-2) at NY GIANTS (2-3)

STATS: Ravens scoring less than 2 TDs per game and Giants are allowing the same. Ravens allowing 18 PPG. Giants have scored 5 TDs in last 4 games.

FANTASY: Terrance West is OK. Steve Smith and Mike Wallace were banged up last week, Wallace on the game’s final play. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz look better on paper than turf right now. Waiting for Eli Manning to wake up.

CAROLINA (1-4) at NEW ORLEANS (1-3)

STATS: In 4 of 5 games the Saints D has allowed 34 PPG. TE Greg Olsen is on pace to finish the year with 1,651 yards – over 300 more than any other tight end in the history of the league. Carolina has allowed over 20 points a game. FANTASY: QB Cam Newton should play, but how effective will he be to start. Will one hit send him to the bench? A healthy Cam should kill this defense (7 TDs in 2 games last year). QB Drew Brees in last 16 home games he’s averaged 342 yards, with 42 TDs versus 12 interceptions.

JACKSONVILLE (1-3) at CHICAGO (1-4)

STATS: Blake Bortles has thrown for only 194 and 207 yards the last 2 games as the Jags are running more. Bears D has allowed 5 TDs rushing and Jax has 2 scores. Bears have thrown for 300 yards in last 3 games and Jax has allowed 8 TDs in 4 games. FANTASY: Allen Robinson has caught 3 of Bortles 7 TDs. Jordan Howard is the guy to have in this game. Over 110 yards in each of last 2 games. Alshon Jeffery, Cam Meredith and Zach Miller (182 yards, 3 TDs last 3 games) give Brian Hoyer 3 good targets.

LOS ANGELES (3-2) at DETROIT (2-3)

STATS: Rams have 7 TDs in last 3 games. Detroit has allowed 14 TDs in 5 games. Brian Quick has gone for 51-69 yards with 3 TDs in last 3 games. Lions have 10 TD passes out of 12 scores. FANTASY: Todd Gurley (2.7 ave) is a must start. Tavon Austin is getting more involved in the offense. Detroit allowed 12 TDs to TEs last year and 6 already this year (Lance Kendricks?) Theo Riddick is more of a WR than RB and he’s active. Like Matthew Stafford-Marvin Jones.

PITTSBURGH (4-1) at MIAMI (1-4)

STATS: Steelers averaging 4.5 TDs per game. Miami has allowed 8 TDs in 5 games. Miami allowed 6 of 8 TDs to WRs (Antonio Brown time). FANTASY: Le’Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards in his first game and caught 88 yards in his second. Sammie Coates averaging 83 yards a game. Maybe Ryan Tannehill can throw 2 TDs against the Steelers 27th ranked defense. Jarvis Landry has caught at least 7 passes each game.

CINCINNATI (2-3) at NEW ENGLAND (4-1)

STATS: Giovani Bernard’s caught 20 balls for 182 yards, TD in 3 losses. Bengals have allowed 11 TD passes. Andy Dalton has been sacked 17 times. FANTASY: If you have to use a Bengal, use A.J. Green despite his road struggles. Tom Brady should be good for 2 TDs. The TE Twins (Gronk and Martellis) should score. LeGarrette Blount should get in the end zone, but not rush for big stats.

3 P.M.

KANSAS CITY (2-2) at OAKLAND (4-1)

STATS: Chiefs are 5-1 the last three years, with at least 20 points in every game against Oakland. Jeremy Maclin had 12 passes for 149 yards and 3 TDs vs. Oakland last year. Andy Reid is 15-2 coming out of byes. KC foes scored more in the air (54 TDs) than on the ground (14) in their last 36 games. FANTASY: Jamaal Charles should cut into Spencer Ware’s touches, but not near the goal line. Michael Crabtree had 8 catches and 2 TDs vs the Chiefs last year.

3:30 P.M.

ATLANTA (4-1) at SEATTLE (3-1)

STATS: The Falcons should score 2-3 TDs even though they are at Seattle. Only 24 passing TDs in 26 home games for Seahawks. Seattle’s allowed 5 TDs to WR in last 20 games. Only 6 teams have allowed more points than Atlanta. FANTASY: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones won’t have huge stats. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have combined for 200 yards per game, with 8 TDs in five weeks. Russell Wilson should be at full strength. Jimmy Graham has back-to-back 100 yard games and the Falcons have allowed 5 TDs to TE’s this year. Christine Michael and Doug Baldwin also have to start.

DALLAS (4-1) at GREEN BAY (3-1)

STATS: Ezekiel Elliott has 140, 138 and 134 yards rushing and 3 TDs in last 3 games. Packers have top run defense (43 yards a game). FANTASY: I like Cole Beasley and Jason Witten in this game. Dak Prescott will score twice. Aaron Rodgers should score at least twice. Jordy Nelson once. Like Mason Crosby in this game to hit double digits.

7:30 P.M.

INDIANAPOLIS (2-3) at HOUSTON (3-2)

STATS: Colts can’t run the ball, Texans can’t stop the run, but has 13 sacks. Andrew Luck has been sacked 20 times and has lost 2 fumbles. Hmmmm. Houston should score 2 TDs, maybe 3 against this defense. FANTASY: Frank Gore should score. Andrew Luck vs top-ranked passed D. Hmmm again. He’ll toss 2 TDs. T.Y. Hilton is a must start. Adam Vinatieri is the best in the league so far. I see Lamar Miller finally getting in the end zone. A struggling Brock Osweiler shouldn’t start even against this defense. He is holding back DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, but they should start. Like PK Nick Novak.

MONDAY, OCT. 17, 7:30 P.M.

NY JETS (1-4) at ARIZONA (2-3)

STATS: Jets have lost 3 in a row and allow 27 PPG. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Cards each have 5 TD passes scored and allowed this year, but Arizona has 18 sacks, 7 interceptions – advantage Cards. FANTASY: Matt Forte and Bilal Powell go against the 23rd ranked defense. Brandon Marshall has averaged 6 catches and 102 yards (2 TDs) the last 2 games. All 5 Cards TD passes have gone to WRs. A disappointing Carson Palmer has 6 TDs and averages 289 yards a game while Jets are 31st vs the pass. Play him. Larry Fitzgerald has 5 TDs in 5 games. Could be a good game for John Brown. Play David Johnson, but Jets are second in rushing defense.

 

 

 

 

A Tip of the Cap to the Brewers

Yes, I think there is a lot to be positive about for our local baseball team and it’s future. I predicted they would win between 68-72 games and they won 73, with one stud major-leaguer (Ryan Braun) in the line-up at season’s end.

I think GM David Stearns and his front office pals did a nice job making trades and pick-ups. Some of the moves were downright steals. Some of his moves were good for both sides, which I personally think that is the way trades should be made.

But we won’t really be able to judge several deals for at least two-three years because of the young kids involved like SS Isan Diaz, C Jacob Nottingham, RHP Bubba Derby, RHP Phil Bickford, C Andrew Susac, OF Lewis Brinson, RHP Luis Ortiz and OF Ryan Cordell to name a few of the new arrivals in 2016.

I  also think Craig Counsell did an excellent job of managing and keeping his team playing hard – heck, even winning – down the stretch, when some teams would have thrown in the towel. Even though some of the teams already clinched a playoff spot, a win is a win.

These kids were smart enough to realize they were playing for their baseball future and I credit them for that.

Some thoughts I have on next season.

Please don’t play Jonathan Villar at third base on a regular basis. You either make the play or you don’t at third base and I don’t feel he has the reaction time to play there. He could be either the second baseman or trade bait.  He had a terrific season and it was one of Stearns’ best moves.

Please find a regular third baseman so Hernan Perez can be the ‘super utility’ guy that Counsell wants. I was very upset when he was taken off the roster last year and said so on my twitter account. But I’m glad he accepted the offer as a non-roster player and came back. He is  better four day a week guy than a regular.

Chris Carter tied for first in home runs and games played with Nolan Arenado, Colorado’s superb third baseman. Another excellent signing. So he strikes out. Like former manager George Bamberger said, it’s better than hitting into a double play. Also looking forward to see how Orlando Arcia plays starting the season with the big club.

Keon Broxton was also my pick to start in center last spring. I’m glad on his third trip down he fixed his swing and had a great second half. Domingo Santana needs to stay healthy and that gives you two young starters, with a list of studs a phone call away. I think Brinson could break camp as a regular.

The Brewers have a catcher who can field but not hit in Martin Maldonado. He needs to be the backup. I’m hoping they either pick up a free agent or give Susac, formerly Buster Posey’s backup, a chance.

There are plenty of bullpen bodies on hand, led by Tyler Thornburg. Junior Guerra, another steal by Stearns, and Zach Davies, were solid, but must prove their performance was real. Just look at Taylor Jungmann and Jimmy Nelson if you don’t understand where I’m coming from. I still like both of those young men, though, and I hope they bounce back.

The pitcher I really like is LHP Josh Hader. He could be a fun pitcher to watch and a big part of the future and should have had a look in September. It will be fun in the spring to see some of these young men pitch.

Matt Garza needs to be traded (given away) because this a rebuilding team. Wily Peralta got his act together in the second half and I would also move him in the right deal this winter.

Finally there is the Braun situation.

You can keep him, which I don’t have a problem with, because despite his contract, the Brewers made money this year. He is their best hitter. Period.

Or you can trade him, but hopefully you would get more than four lower level prospects. He needs to bring you a ‘real’ major league starter – pitcher or hitter – or you don’t trade him.

One of the worst things you can do is bring in a ‘cancer’ and that is what Yasiel Puig is. This young clubhouse doesn’t need that. Everything Stearns has done in my book will go right out the window if he would bring a player like Puig here.

I am really looking forward to see the tweaks in the off-season the Brewers will make.

They get a C+ for their first year of rebuilding. I’m impressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief Fantasy Football Thoughts – Week 5

BYE WEEKJacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle will have the week off, so there will be several talented players missing.

THIS WEEK – Here are some brief fantasy facts and tips on each game.

PATRIOTS (3-1) AT BROWNS (0-4) – Browns are a bottom 10 defensive team, so New England will score some points. They have averaged 248 yards passing and have rushed for at least 120 yards per game, but they are facing New England. Look for the Pats to try and blow out everyone out now that Tom Brady is back. They might try to ease him back in, but I doubt it. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: Terrelle Pryor,  Brady and WR Chris Hogan, who could be a sleeper this year.

EAGLES (3-0) AT LIONS (1-3) – Is Philly rusty after the bye week and will the Lions be fired up to play well at home. Lions have bottom 12 defense vs run and pass (12 TDs). FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: TE Zach Ertz, sleeper RB Wendell Smallwood, Matthew Stafford and Eric Ebron (if he is healthy).

BEARS (1-3) AT COLTS (1-3): Indy has allowed 30-or-more points three times. Colts are averaging 371 yards and 27 points but Bears have seen Andrew Luck sacked 15 times in 4 games. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: RB Jordan Howard, WR Eddie Royal, Luck, WR T.Y. Hilton and PK Adam Vinatieri, still going strong.

TITANS (1-3) AT MIAMI (1-3): Miami’s defense has held up pretty well and Tennessee’s offense hasn’t scored more than 2 TDs in a game. WR Taje Sharpe hasn’t come through yet and TE Delanie Walker is the Titans most reliable receiver. Miami plays the next 4 games at home and could turn it around. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: RB DeMarco Murray and WRs Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.

REDSKINS (2-2) AT RAVENS (3-1): Only Cleveland passed for over 200 yards against Baltimore, but opponents do have 8 passing TDs. All four Ravens games by been decided by 6 points or less. He might not play much, but watch RB Kenneth Dixon, coming off a knee injury. He was Ravens’ best RB in August, but hurt his knee. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: QB Kirk Cousins, WR DeSean Jackson and TE Jordan Reed. RBs Dixon, Terrance West and WR Steve Smith, Sr.

TEXANS (3-1) AT MINNESOTA (4-0): All three Houston wins came at home. Vikings have played 8 straight games allowing 17 points or less. Brock Osweiler has led the offense to 5 TDs in 4 games. Minnesota has not allowed more than 4 kicking points in any game. Stefon Diggs has crashed and burned the last two weeks. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: RB Lamar Miller, WR DeAndre Hopkins and TE Kyle Rudolph.

JETS (1-3) AT STEELERS (3-1): Ryan Fitzgerald is averaging 253 passing yards, but has 5 TDs in 4 games. Jets defense has 11 sacks in 4 games. They have allowed 300 yards passing in 3 of 4 games. Ben Roethlisberger has tossed 46 TDs in last 16 home games. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: WRs Quincy Enunwa, Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell.

ATLANTA (3-1) AT DENVER (4-0): The Falcons face a good defense (16 ppg, 17 sacks, 5 interceptions, 3 recovered fumbles), so let’s see what happens as Atlanta leads the NFL in yards and points. Broncos have held QBs with 210 or less yardage four times in a row. Matt Ryan won’t reach his average here (368 yards). Trevor Siemian (left shoulder) day-to-day. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: TE Virgil Green (if he’s healthy), WRs Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders if QB healthy Julio Jones and RB Devonta Freeman.

BENGALS (2-2) AT COWBOYS (3-1): Dallas is 11th vs the run and Bengals defense is more than respectable. but they have allowed 10 TD passes. Andy Dalton is averaging 309 yards (third-best in league), but the Bengals will focus on the run. Still A.J. Green could pose a match-up problem. Ezekiel Elliott won’t rush for 100 yards, but Zak Prescott is the key here. Cole Beasley and Jason Witten get catches and yards, but no TDs, while Terrence Williams has two TDs the last two weeks. PK Dan Bailey has a bad back and Cowboys brought in kickers this week. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: RB Jeremy Hill and WR A.J. Green, WRs Brice Butler if Dez Bryant doesn’t play and Beasley, one of my favorites.

BILLS (2-2) AT RAMS (3-1): Anthony Lynn being moved to OC has helped this offense, but RB LeSean McCoy is the only fantasy guy worth anything. Bills allowed 13 (Baltimore), 18, (Arizona) and 0 (New England) points in 3 of their games. Rams defense seemed to stop good QBs and then blow it against average ones. In three of four games, the offense has managed 0 (SF), 9 (Seattle) and 17 (Arizona) points. Todd Gurley has a 2.6 average. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: RB McCoy and WR Brian Quick (2 TDs in last 3 games). Not much here.

CHARGERS (1-3) AT RAIDERS (3-1): Despite the records, this should be a fun fantasy game. RB Melvin Gordon leads all RBs with 6 TDs, but averages only 58 yards (3.2 YPC). anyway). QB Phil Rivers is amazing (278 YPG and 2 TDs). The Raiders rank 31st in run defense (134 yards, 5.1) and last in pass defense (333 yards), but they are third in yards and eighth in points offensively. San Diego is 20th or lower in yards (372) and points allowed (27). QB Derek Carr is becoming a stud. Tim Crabtree is better than Amari Cooper in my eyes. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: All 4 San Diego receivers (Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Hunter Henry) and Crabtree and Cooper.

BUCCANEERS (1-3) AT PANTHERS (1-3): Jameis Winston (277 yards, 9 TDs) is the best QB in this game if Cam Newton (concussion) is out. Bucs’ TE Cameron Brate has stood out the last 2 games (5 rec, 113 total yards, 2 TDs). Tampa Bay has 9 sacks. I don’t like any of the Carolina backs since Newton is their main running threat (hence the concussion). Derek Anderson should throw at least 2 TDs in this game. TE Greg Olson is their best receiver. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: QB Winslow and WR Mike Evans. Carolina WR’s Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn, Jr., Devin Funchess and Philly Brown. I also like the Carolina defense on MNF.

GIANTS AT PACKERS: Giants averaging 2 TDs per game, but they are overdue and I see 3 scores. Packers haven’t allowed 50 yards rushing against anyone. Eli Manning will throw at least 2-3 TDs unless the Green Bay defensive line pressures him. I look for Odell Beckham, Jr. to break out – who is going to guard him. If Pack O-line protects Aaron Rodgers he could have a big game. FANTASY PLAYERS I’LL WATCH: OBJ, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz and RB Paul Perkins for the Giants. Green Bay I want to watch Rich Rodgers being the top TE now and Eddie Lacy could get his first TD. Also curious to see if the other WRs get a shot to play and do something. The 2-3 WRs are way over-rated, but coach Mike doesn’t know that.

Brookfield, New Berlin, Tosa West shine on gridiron

Brookfield Central

Brookfield Central held off a determined Sussex Hamilton team, 28-20, and I tip my hat to gutsy RB Zach (What the) Heckman, who got banged up early in the game, but still ran for 132 yards in 30 carries and a TD. Look for a feature on Zach in Preps2pros.net in two weeks.

Jaiden Banda also ran for 79 yards in 10 carries and 2 scores and Drew Leszczynski continues to play QB like a seasoned veteran instead of a sophomore.

Central hosts Tosa East on Friday and then finishes the regular season at Menomonee Falls as coach Jed Kennedy’s crew shoots for their second straight title.

Brookfield East

The Spartans QB Jake Graf ran for two fourth-quarter TDs to put away Menomonee Falls, finishing with 95 yards in 14 carries. Sam Santiago-Lloyd is slowly getting up to speed from his ankle injury and scored a TD and rushed for 82 yards in 22 carries.

Graf has done a wonderful job guiding the Spartans with Santiago-Lloyd being sidelined or not at full strength.

East clinched a playoff berth but closes out with a tough schedule at Marquette and then Sussex Hamilton at home.

New Berlin Eisenhower

The Lions moved back into a tie for first place with a 17-7 win at Greendale. QB Bryce Miller and Devin Colburn each ran for a score and Jayden Olson rushed for 102 yards and Bryce Wesling, PK supreme, had two extra points and a 36-yard field goal.

Defense held the Panthers to one TD pass and knocked them out of a first-place tie.

Ike finishes with a ‘non-conference’ crossover game hosting Greenfield and then a conference crossover game at Shorewood/Messmer.

New Berlin West

Coach Ben Chossek’s Vikings improved to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the Woodland West by crushing Pius, 49-0. RB Mad Max Meleski scored 4 TDs (8, 14, 6, 1) and rushed for 104 yards.

West’s defense tossed it’s second shutout in a row.

The Vikings, still playoff eligible, host South Milwaukee in a ‘non-conference’ crossover game and travel to Whitnall in a conference crossover game.

Wauwatosa West

The Trojans crushed first-place Pewaukee, 39-10, behind RB Paris Howell, who rushed for 178 yards and 2 long TDs (42, 62).

Jamil Razza also scored a TD (8) and tossed a TD pass to Ernie Laspisa (51 yards). Lapisa also ran back a fumble 22 yards for a score and Ean Haller ran 73 yards for the opening score to set the tone.

The Trojans now host Brown Deer and travel to Cudahy to close out the regular season with a ‘non-conference’ and a conference crossover game.

Wauwatosa East

If the Red Raiders had any luck it would be bad, as they dropped a 21-20 decision to West Allis Hale.

Quarterback Luke Lindemann rushed for 92 yards and threw for 88 and a score (Matthew Kubicek) and scored a rushing TD.  Jeremiah King scored the other rushing TD.

They have games at Brookfield Central and then host West Allis Central, as they seek their first win of the year.

 

 

 

A Look at Fantasy Football – Week 4

MIAMI (1-2) AT CINCINNATI (1-2)

Bengals: Miami allowed an average of 137 yards rushing in its first two games and 148 yards to Cleveland last week, so Jeremy Hill is chomping at the bit to face the Dolphins. Andy Dalton is averaging 313 yards passing, with only two TD passes.

Dolphins: Forget about the rushing game and hope Ryan Tannehill, who has  averaged 353 passing yards with 5 TDs the last two games. WRs Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are the ‘big three.’

INDIANAPOLIS (1-2) VS JACKSONVILLE (0-3) IN LONDON

Set your alarm clocks early for this one, which starts at 8:30 am our time. There should be plenty of points on the board if the teams wake up on time.

Colts: Jaguars have allowed 3 TDs per game and Andrew Luck has averaged 330 yards per game vs Detroit and San Diego. I like RB Frank Gore a little bit and WR T.Y. Hilton.

Jaguars: For what it’s worth, Jacksonville beat Indianapolis 51-16 last December and the Colts have allowed the 2nd-most points in the league. I like Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson for sure and my dark horse is Allen Hurns to get in the end zone.

TENNESSEE (1-2) AT HOUSTON (2-1)

Titans: With J.J. Watts on the IR, the Texas don’t look as intimidating. Look for RB DeMarco Murray to be effective and watch Marcus Mariota dink and dunk. That’s about it.

Texans: Houston is 4-0 vs Tennessee the past two years. RB Lamar Miller might wear out with all the touches he’s getting before reaching the end zone. WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are struggling because of Brock Osweiler’s inability to get them the ball more.

CLEVELAND (0-3) AT WASHINGTON (1-2)

Browns: Their biggest hope is the Redskins have a let down after beating division rival New York Giants. RB Isaiah Crowell is second in the league in rushing, but a lot are garbage yards, which doesn’t matter in fantasy. The flavor of the week is Terrelle Pryor, who has come on as a WR but also plays in the wildcat in the red zone.

Redskins: Kirk Cousins has plenty of weapons in DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon. The leading kicker in the NFL is Dustin Hopkins, so pick him up if you need help at PK.

SEATTLE (2-1) AT NEW YORK JETS (1-2)

Seahawks: Injuries and a bad offensive line have decimated the Seattle offense. Can’t even count on Russell Wilson who is banged up – I know he’s my QB. Two bright spots, TE Jimmy Graham hit the 100 yard mark and scored a TD and gets better every game and RB Christine Michael had perhaps the best game of his career with 100 yards and 2 TDs. But against the Jets defense, I don’t expect a lot.

Jets: These teams are a mirror-image of each other. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 6 picks last week and WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are beat up. Matt Forte is being run into the ground, so enjoy it while it lasts. Look for WR3 Quincy Enunwa to be a dark horse here.

BUFFALO (1-2) AT NEW ENGLAND (3-0)

Bills: Their offense is pretty one-sided with LeSean McCoy getting most of the work. Tyrod Taylor isn’t living up to his contract, but an injured Sammie Watson’s absence is killing them.

Patriots: Three years in a row the Patriots have failed to score more than 20 points in one of their games against Rex Ryan’s defenses. QBs Jacoby Brissett/Jimmy Garoppolo have suited up in practice, but only Bill Belichick knows who will start. Play RB LeGarrette Blount and Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, but the latter two only if you’re desperate because of the QB situation.

CAROLINA (1-2) AT ATLANTA (2-1)

Panthers: Carolina should wake up against this defense, even with a limited running game. Cameron Newton should have a big game and Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin will bounce back. WR Ted Ginn, Jr. is my dark horse to get in the end zone.

Falcons: Matt Ryan is having a good season, but can he keep it up? RBs on Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been very good, while Julio Jones even struggled against the Saints last week (1 catch, 16 yards). Jacob Tamme has been solid at TE.

OAKLAND (2-1) AT BALTIMORE (3-0)

Raiders: QB Derek Carr has played well, but this is a tough test. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had 16 catches, 220 yards and 2 TDs against the Ravens last year.

Ravens: Joe Flacco is having a solid year (258 yards a game) and has TE Dennis Pitta and WRs Mike Wallace and now Steve Smith, Jr. playing well. RBs are vanilla in Justin Forsett and Terrance West.

DETROIT (1-2) AT CHICAGO (0-3)

Lions: Matt Stafford is having a good season, Marvin Jones has been awesome, Golden Tate disappointing, Anquan Boldin steady and TE Eric Ebron is coming on. There is no running game. This should be more than enough against the injured Bears defense.

Bears: Still looking for their first win, Brian Hoyer played well the other night, Jordan Howard is the FA flavor of the week for people seeking RB help and WR Alshon Jeffery and TE Zach Miller could do well.

DENVER (3-0) AT TAMPA BAY (1-2)

Broncos: If Trevor Siemian continues to improve the passing game, then suddenly DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are worth something once again. Toss in some C.J. Anderson and this team will be meeting the Pats in the AFC Title game.

Buccaneers: Jameis Winston has 8 TD passes, but he will be lucky to throw 2 scores against this defense. The running game is nil and Mike Evans has scored in each game. Watch two no-names – WR Adam Humphries and TE Cameron Brate – for future purposes.

LOS ANGELES (2-1) AT ARIZONA (1-2)

Rams: Their offense was supposed to be awful and it has been. Todd Gurley is averaging 3.1 YPC with 2 TDs and he is the only Ram worth starting.

Cardinals: Carson Palmer is struggling (287 yards average, 5 TDs) so the WRs are struggling, but Larry Fitzgerald is a good start, although he hasn’t scored against the Rams since 2013. But the best running back in the NFL might be playing for the Cards in David Johnson, who should start every game for you if healthy. He is the total package.

NEW ORLEANS (0-3) AT SAN DIEGO (2-1)

Saints: This team does have an offense and Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Mike Thomas and Willie Snead (groin) can score. Coby Fleener finally had a good game against Atlanta, but keep you eye on him.

Chargers: Tip of the cap to Phil Rivers and Melvin Gordon, who carry the offense. WR Travis Benjamin has been getting help from my dark horse Tyrell Williams. TE Hunter Henry is playing more because of a hamstring injury to Antonio Gates.

DALLAS (2-1) AT SAN FRANCISCO (1-2)

Cowboys: Plenty of weapons in dual threat Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant (hairline fracture of leg???). Dan Bailey is also an outstanding PK. This game might be lower scoring than people think. I hope not, I’m starting Prescott with Russell Wilson’s problems.

49ers: RB Carlos Hyde is a perfect example of a garbage time scorer, but in fantasy it doesn’t matter. A last minute TD in the opener kept me from being undefeated in one of my leagues. TE Vance McDonald is a sleeper to keep you eye on with bye weeks coming up.

KANSAS CITY (2-1) AT PITTSBURGH (2-1)

Chiefs: Alex Smith is a lower end bye week QB. Spencer Ware will carry the load – he got ripped off on a TD last week – but Jamaal Charles might play. But I think they will hold him off until after the Week 5 bye week. Jeremy Maclin is a solid WR and TE Travis Kelce has been disappointing. Cairo Santos is a good PK.

Steelers: Le’Veon Bell’s receiving skills should help out Antonio Brown, who isn’t getting much help from Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers. Ben Roethlisbeger will have to be strong in the pocket against the KC defense.

NEW YORK GIANTS (2-1) AT MINNESOTA (3-0)

Giants: No running game, but Eli Manning has Odell Beckham, Jr., Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz to throw to. Josh Brown is a solid PK. Should be a test for the Vikings fine defense.

Vikings: This team will live and die with Sam Bradford throwing to WR Stefon Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. PK Blair Walsh needs to be more consistent.

A TIP OF THE CAP TO PREP STARS

There were some nice performances by some of my former prep teams and I wanted to tip my cap  to them.  Here is a closer look with comments.

Brookfield Central running back Zach (What the) Heckman had a huge night as the Lancers (6-0, 4-0) probably clinched first in the Greater Metro Conference with a fourth-quarter 35-30 win over Marquette.

Heckman rushed for 238 yards on 42 carries (5.7 avg.) and scored twice in the fourth quarter to key the rally. Trailing 24-14, Heckman brought the Lancers back with a 60-yard touchdown run and followed it was a 3-yard run for a 35-24 lead.

Wide receiver Thomas Gibson grabbed 6 passes for 145 yards (24.2 avg.) and TD catches of 56 yards and 3 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Leszczynski was 7-for-10 for 170 and 2 touchdowns.

HUGE win for Lancers and coach Jed Kennedy.

First-year coach Ben Farley’s Brookfield East Spartans (5-1, 3-1) bounced back with a 49-0 win over Wauwatosa East. RBs Gavin Post rushed for a 58-yard TD 121 yards in only 10 carries (12.1 avg.) and Sam Santiago-Lloyd ran for a 15-yard TD and 74 yards in 9 carries (8.2).

East has to play at Menomonee Falls (2-2), at MUHS (3-1) and then hosts Sussex Hamilton (2-2) in their final three games.

New Berlin Eisenhower (4-2, 4-1) lost a tough game to Pewaukee, rallying for 17 points in the fourth quarter in a 26-24 loss.

Bryce (Air) Miller was 32 for 51 with 317 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Jake Belongia scored on a 5-yard rush and caught 8 passes for 138 yards and an 11 yard scoring pass.

New Berlin West blanked Wauwatosa West, 16-0, as QB Nate Egofske and Joe Robey connected on an 86-yard scoring pass and Mad Max Meleski scored on a 31-yard TD run and rushed for 119 yards.

But the biggest key was first-year coach Ben Chossek’s defense, which tossed the shutout.

A Look at Fantasy Football – Week 3

For those of you who know me, I am a fantasy football nut. I first began playing in 1984 BEFORE there were fantasy football sites all over the internet. I thought it would be fun to look at each NFL game from a fantasy football angle – for just that week only, not for the season.

So let’s get started.

NOON GAMES

HOUSTON AT NEW ENGLAND

The Texans are at New England, who is down to their third-string QB, in a battle of two 2-0 teams.

Houston (2-0): Fantasy-wise, Houston has three offensive TDs in two games. RB Lamar Miller averages 95 yards a game (3.6 YPC average).  DeAndre Hopkins caught a season-low 3 passes against the Pats last year.

New England (2-0): You knew Tom Brady wouldn’t be around, but did you know Jacoby Brissette will be starting at QB? He’s been sacked 8 times in 65 pass attempts (exhibition). Rob Gronkowski might play, while Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola are good, but whose is going to get them the ball. This game from a fantasy point of view comes down to LeGarrette Blount vs. the Texans’ defense.

ARIZONA AT BUFFALO

Arizona (1-1): The Cardinals scored at least 39 points in half their road games last year. Look for Carson Palmer to throw over 300 yards and at least 2 TDs. Ageless Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have the best chance to catch them. Watch for Jaron Brown who is starting over John Brown. If Matt Forte had a field day last week, look for David Johnson to have a big game.

Buffalo (0-2): The Bills scored 7 points in their first game and had TDs passes of 88 and 71 yards and a defensive score in last week’s loss. Not a lot of consistency. LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin and Charles Sims collectively averaged 3.1 yards per carry against them, so I don’t see LeSean McCoy breaking out. Add to that Arizona has only allowed 10 rushing scores in 18 games.

OAKLAND AT TENNESSEE

Raiders (1-1): Here’s a stat – 9 TDs in first two games (granted against New Orleans and Atlanta. Still impressive. Derek Carr (618, 4 TDs) is better than Shaun Hill (236 yds) and similar to Matthew Stafford (260, 1 TD, but 2 TDs called back) the Titans first foes this year. I like Tim Crabtree over Amari Cooper so far and Latavius Murray is in a timeshare, so he’s a gamble.

Tennessee (1-1): The Titans might have to play from behind again, even if they like running the ball. DeMarco Murray (5.2 YPC, 12 passes for 91 yards and 2 TDs). Marcus Mariota could have at least 2 TDs (Maybe one run) as the Raiders have struggled against the pass (7 TDs, 410 ave). Delanie Walker is the guy to look for on the other end since Oakland struggles against tight ends.

CLEVELAND AT MIAMI

Browns (0-2): Cody Kessler at QB – ugh. Isaiah Crowell is their best fantasy player with no QB to speak of. Corey Coleman looked good and fracture his hand. That’s it.

Miami (0-2): RBs Jay Ajayi, Isaiah Pead and Kenyan Drake (sleeper) don’t really scare any one. Ryan Tannehill looks like a top-10 quarterback this week. WR Jarvis Landry has a league 17 catches (stat of week). DeVante Parker caught 8 for 106 against New England, so watch for him.

BALTIMORE AT JACKSONVILLE

Ravens (2-0): The Ravens should score at least 24 points here, considering the Jags allowed 150 yards rushing at San Diego. QB Joe Flacco will toss at least two TDs, WR Mike Wallace and TE Dennis Pitta have been very good and watch and see if Steve Smith, Sr. can get all the rust off this week.

Jaguars (0-2): Won 22-20 last year with only 278 yards of offense. Brian Bortles has been good (300 yds, 3 TDs) and bad (3 picks, 5 sacks) and needs to straighten out or this team isn’t going anywhere. RB Chris Ivory needs to return because T.J. Yeldon has been terrible. Allen Robinson, one of the top WR in football, has caught only 9 of 20 passes; Allen Hurns has 9 of 15, so hopefully they will wake up against the Ravens.

DETROIT AT GREEN BAY

Lions (1-1): Matthew Stafford is off to a good start and he has tossed at least 2 TDs a game vs. Green Bay in his last 3 outings. Look for Theo Riddick doing a good job catching (his strength). A sleeper here is WR Anquan Boldin and I like Marvin Jones usually, but I think Golden Tate could score here. Eric Ebron is off to a good start and Packers struggle against TE’s.

Packers (1-1): I see Aaron Rodgers scoring 3 times, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson once and Eddie Lacy rushes for one. Either Richard Rodgers or Jared Cook will score. Also see Mason Crosby nailing at least 3 field goals.

DENVER AT CINCINNATI

Broncos (2-0): Brandon McManus is their biggest threat. RB CJ Anderson is assured of 20 touches, QB Trevor Siemian has one more TD pass than I do and WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders (10 rec, 137 yds, 3 TDs last 3 games vs Cincy) aren’t worth much until the kid QB comes around.

Bengals (1-1): Jets, Steelers and now Denver, who did the Cincy schedule! Andy Dalton (ankle) may be limited, but AJ Green is worth a TD. That’s it for WRs. Denver allowed 7 TDs to WR all last year. RB Jeremy Hill might sneak in for a short score. Should be a low-scoring game.

MINNESOTA AT CAROLINA

Vikings (2-0): Let’s see if this team is for real. Their defense better be good, because their offense won’t score 20 points. If a RB scores, my money is on Matt Asiata, the short yardage guy. QB Sam Bradford vs the Panthers’ defense – NOT. Stefon Diggs has to start. He will get yardage, but I think Kyle Rudolph scores the TD.

Panthers (2-0): I have the Vikings defense in my one league which has defense (I hate playing a defense). I do think it is a good defense, but the Panthers have the top offensive player in the league in Cam Newton, who can pass or throw for scores. Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin should get in the end zone as they both are off to a great start, but speedy Ted Ginn, Jr. and Devin Funchess are also threats. Graham Gano with this offense is a top PK.

WASHINGTON AT NEW YORK GIANTS

Redskins (0-2): Looking for their first win (2-0), QB Kirk Cousins (league-high 89 passes) must face a tough Giants defense, which has held them to 21 or less points in each of the last four games. DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and my favorite Jamison Crowder are each getting their share. But the Redskins have no running game.

Giants (2-0): Which Eli Manning will show up? He has 11 TDs in last 4 games vs. Washington and ran in a fifth score. Odell Beckham, Jr., Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz give Eli some good targets. I’m looking for a 28-24 type game.

Here’s a look at the 3-3:30 p.m. games

LOS ANGELES AT TAMPA BAY

Rams (1-1): It’s amazing that fantasy owners are thinking of benching Todd Gurley, but that’s how bad their offense is (2 TDs or less in last 11 games). I see him scoring a TD, but not having a big yardage game. I see Case Keenum (4-3 as a starter) throwing a TD pass to Kenny Britt or Lance Kendricks.

Buccaneers (1-1): Charles Sim could score a TD as Doug Martin’s replacement, but I think Jameis Winston will have a bounce back game (2 TDs, may one’s rushing) and WR Mike Evans might have a big game (2 TDs, 80 yards).

SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE

49ers (1-1): The 49ers haven’t scored more than 13 points in any of their last four games in the series, an average of under 7 points in those games. RB Carlos Hyde may hit the 60 yard mark and get in the end zone. Vance McDonald is the other 49er threat with Hyde in my book.

Seahawks (1-1): I have suffered with this team in fantasy. Russell Wilson needs to get healthy and I see him throwing 2 TDs here. Christian Michael will play a bigger role in the running game with Thomas Rawls being banged up. Ty Lockett had a better second game after being invisible in the first (He scored 3 times vs 49ers last year). But Doug Baldwin is banged up and must be healthy. TE Jimmy Graham is getting healthier and saw more action last week, but he didn’t do anything when he was healthy last season.

NEW YORK JETS AT KANSAS CITY

Jets (1-1): QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall (knee), Eric Decker (shoulder) and Quincy Enunwa (rib) are always a threat, although the Chiefs have a tougher defense than most. I’m predicting two TDs out of these three guys. Matt Forte is always a threat for yards, but I don’t see him scoring a TD.

Chiefs (1-1): Nothing exciting here, but both teams need a win. RB Spencer Ware, WR Jeremy Maclin and QB Alex Smith are solid – PERIOD. TE Travis Kelce needs to finally step up.

SAN DIEGO AT INDIANAPOLIS

Chargers (1-1): Despite the loss of key players (Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead), QB Phil Rivers has thrown for 463 yards and 5 TDs. RB Melvin Gordon should get in the end zone and look for WR Travis Benjamin to play well. My sleeper is WR Tyrell Williams.

Colts (0-2): QB Andrew Luck could throw 4 TDs this game, because the Colts have no running game right now and the offensive line is shaky. WRs T.Y. Hilton and Phil Dorsett (Donte Moncrief out 4-6 weeks broke scapula) should benefit. PK Adam Vinatieri is an option this week.

PITTSBURGH AT PHILADELPHIA

Steelers (2-0): With QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing to WRs Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton (shoulder), Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates and TE Jesse James, this could be a shootout. RB DeAngelo Williams should get in the end zone.

Eagles (2-0): Rookie QB Carson Wentz brings the Eagles into the game with top WR Jordan Matthews (13 rec, 185 yds, TD) leading the way. Watch for Dorial Green-Beckham in the red zone where he is most effective. In their last 18 games, the Steelers have allowed only 7 TD runs, not good for RB Ryan Mathews.

SUNDAY NIGHT

CHICAGO AT DALLAS

Bears (0-2): Positive – Alshon Jeffery has 9 catches for 201 yards on a bad team. RB Jeremy Langford has 2 TDs in 2 games and there is talk of him being replaced. Zach Miller is 7 for 47 receiving and is a solid TE. That’s it!

Cowboys (1-1): Look for QB Dak Prescott (should throw first TD), WR Dez Bryant and RB Ezekiel Elliott to have big days, with the latter two scoring. Jason Witten (12) and Cole Beasley (10) have 22 catches between them. PK Dan Bailey is perfect on FGs (6-for-6).

MONDAY NIGHT

ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS

Falcons (1-1): QB Matt Ryan and WRs Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu and TE Jacob Tamme should get on the board. Either Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman will score, with the latter being used on the goal line.

Saints (0-2): Warning – The Saints have scored only 23, 17, 20 and 14 points in four of the last six encounters. QB Drew Brees has one TD and over 300 yards in each of the games the last two years. WRs Brandon Cooks and Willie Snead have played well and should again Monday night. RB Mark Ingram could have a big day.

SUMMARY

Week 3 is here, let’s have some fun.

Packers – Who are these guys?

I have mixed emotions over the Green Bay Packers 17-14 loss to Minnesota on Sunday at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

Before the season I predicted that this would be one of the Packers 5 regular season losses. Then in the final minutes of the game when the Packers took over on offense, I told my son, Scott, Aaron Rodgers would throw an interception that would cost him them the game.

I nailed both.

My son said he wasn’t going to watch the games with me anymore because I was a jinx. I thought of myself as more of a genius (sarcastic).

It would have been better if Rodgers didn’t throw an interception and the Packers won and the heck with my predictions. But it is what it is.

Watching the Packers at the end of last season and the beginning of this season, all I could think of was the famous ‘Who are these guys?” line from the movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

So here are my thoughts on how to answer that.

OFFENSE

RECEIVERS – Jordy Nelson will eventually become the threat that he has been, just give the guy some time. He is coming off a major injury. Randall Cobb proved last year that between the dropsies and his inability to get yards after the catch (YAC) he can’t function effectively without Nelson. I look for him to get better now that Nelson is back.

Anyone who knows me knows I CAN’T STAND DAVANTE ADAMS. He has shown me next to nothing in his first two years, yet he is one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receivers despite the fact he’s getting worse, not better. Which makes me question A-Rod’s thought process (more on that later).

Not being a big Badger fan – I do cheer for them and I bleed red because that’s the color of my blood – so I am objective when I talk about Jared Abbrederis.

He is smart, knows how to run routes and has good hands – none of which Adams possesses. So why doesn’t he play more? Because he is not in Rodgers’ good graces. You tell me. His only negative is you ask WHEN will he get injured, not IF he will.

Ty Montgomery is supposed to be a bigger version of Cobb, yet he was invisible last night. I feel Montgomery and Abbrederis are BOTH better than Adams, but they are not a second-round pick.

Speedy Trevor Davis is coming off an injury and speedy/strong Jeff Janis has a club on one hand, which would leave him as trustworthy as Adams is with two hands, but they aren’t in the picture just yet because of the injuries.

Bottom line is this group is overrated. Not terrible, just overrated.

RUNNING GAME

It all starts with the offensive line which can’t run block against a good defensive line. They are better defending against the pass, but then you saw Rodgers running for his life last night.

I have never been a David Bakhtiari fan, but he is a good left tackle – just not worth the contract he signed. I feel the Packers have two good young centers in J.C. Tretter and Corey Lindsey, with the former being able to move to left guard where the great Lane Taylor is playing.

I feel T.J. Lang must be signed because of his leadership ability as well as his football skills, but Ted Thompson stuck it to Josh Sitton because he didn’t agree with some stupid decisions, so Lang better be careful.

Bryan Bulaga’s better days are behind him, but he is playable, and in Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy the Pack have people who can eventually fill in for him.

As for the backfield, I am not a fan of either of the running backs. I hope Eddy Lacy has a fine year, but he looks no thinner than he was last year and can’t gain a yard if his life depended on it. Sometimes good running backs have to open their own holes.

As for James Starks – why is he on this team and what does he add except for a some key fumbles.

QUARTERBACK

Aaron Rodgers – It all starts with the Packers QB. Something is wrong. Talk all you want about him being the Packers best player, but he needs to step up and play like it.

The fumbles Sunday night were terrible, but rare, and he moves around quite well. He still can make the miraculous throw, but it’s the easy ones he’s missing on and with some of his receivers they are limited when it comes to helping him out with great catches.

I think his biggest weakness is falling in love with receivers who can’t catch the ball. If he doesn’t trust you, you don’t play even if you are better than his favorites.

DEFENSE

I would never felt like I would say this, but if the Packers are going deep into the post-season this year it will be because of the defense.

It was very disappointing that the young defensive backs were taken to school by the Vikings 1-man wide receiver corps (Stefon Diggs), but the bottom line is Green Bay allowed 17 points – PERIOD. If this defense allows 17 points per game, they should win many games.

With Letroy Guion, Clay Matthews, Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett banged up, that’s a lot of injured experience, so they need to make it back quickly.

I like the young linebackers and Nick Perry and Datone Jones have played well and Julius Peppers stepped up and made a couple big plays.

I just hope it doesn’t come to this – the defense carrying the load – because this is not Denver.

IT DIDN’T WORK, MIKE

Coach Mike McCarthy talked about we’re only two games into the season and it takes awhile for the offense to get in step. But what this is, is the Packers exhibition season because everyone sat on the sidelines this spring wrapped in bubble wrap.

So now the offense is suffering and upcoming the schedule of Detroit, New York Giants, Dallas and Chicago doesn’t look that easy to me.

Playing at home will enable the Packers to play their ‘speed-up’ offense and that seems to get their offense going.

Let’s hope it works.

 

WEEK 1 PACK, TIP OF CAP TO BREWERS

PACKERS REVIEW, TIP OF CAP TO BREWERS

PACKERS

WEEK 1

The best thing about the Green Bay game on Sunday was that it was a win. The first game of the season is always a crapshoot, especially on an opponents field against a team with an improved defense with the stadium as hot as the Sierra Desert.

I felt the Packers deserved a C+ for their efforts on offense. Even though we’ve been hearing how great Lane Taylor is against the run and the new svelte Eddie Lacy (who are they looking at?) is playing for a contract (61 yards), their offense got by with a victory.

Aaron Rodgers was rusty – but effective – that’s why he’s A-Rod – and Jordy Nelson was eased back into action and had a TD.

But I felt the most impressive Packers on offense was WR Davante Adams, who is not one of my favorite players. He grabbed three catches for 50 yards with a beautiful diving catch of an impossible Rodgers’ throw, showing when his hands make an appearance, he can play in this league.

I felt the defense deserved a B- because they played – and will play short-handed – until DL Mike Pennel and Demetri Goodson serve their suspensions. Then Sam Shields got a concussion and DC Dom Capers moved his players around like chess pieces. People who don’t appreciate Capers just show how little football they know.

WEEK 2

If the Packers weakness right now – their defensive line – can control Adrian Peterson, who ran for 39 yards (1.6 average) against Tennessee – and I don’t think they can – this game might not be as close as people think.

The reason is their defense can survive because of the QB situation (Shaun Hill/Sam Bradford). But if AP runs wild like he has against the Pack, the Vikings excellent defense will give the Packers offense a hard time. Add to this the opening of the new stadium and the place will be rocking.

I did pick Green Bay to lose this game in August, but that was with Teddy Bridgewater, who I think is a good game manager, whose offense believes in. But a Packer win would be huge, because their schedule finds them playing Detroit at home, followed by a bye, and then three more home games against the New York Giants, Dallas and Chicago.

BREWERS

Want to take a minute to tip my hat to Brewers manager Craig Counsell. He has this team giving an effort in 99 percent of their games even though the final results are meaningless.

Taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs and splitting a two-game series at St. Louis was impressive.

Orlando Arica, Jonathan Villar and Keon Broxton are the kids who have stood out, Domingo Santana has shown some flashes when healthy and Hernan Perez has surprised everyone with his offense and versatility. Veterans Ryan Braun and Chris Carter have also done their share.

It will be interesting to see if the Brewers trade Braun in the off-season – and I wouldn’t do it for a head case like Yasiel Puig – because anyone who complains about Braun’s contract doesn’t know much about the finances in the game today.

My biggest worry is that “Dealin’ Dave” Stearns will sit on some of the young talent another year – it seems like the Brewers are the only team who can’t bring a stud up from Double A to make their roster.

Making their young stars play at the next level at a Mickey Mouse stop like Colorado Springs does nothing to develop talent. They say they can’t use it as a crutch, but why let it kill a young man’s confidence. On the hitters side it makes .300 hitters out of people who are average.

I would sooner see a Double A stud ease in with the Brewers than play at Triple A.

Overall, though, I’m seeing progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL WEEK 1 – WHAT TO WATCH

Let’s take a look at the first week of the NFL from different angles – match-ups, fantasy and my thoughts of the game. I am not really picking the winners – with the spread – because if I was any good at that I would have retired years ago. So please don’t place any bets on what I say. Just have fun with it.

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT DENVER BRONCOS

MATCH-UPLast year’s Super Bowl opponents, a game won by Denver’s defense behind OLB Von Miller (2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles) as neither offense stood out.  Will it be more of the same in the opener? Will QB Cam Newton return to MVP form? Will now healthy WR Kelvin Benjamin team with TE Greg Olsen and WRs Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn, Jr. to make a dent on the Bronco defense?

FANTASY – Watch TE Virgil Green, who has moved on to many experts Top 10 list.

I THINK – The big story is how will QB Trevor Siemian run the Denver offense. If he can connect with WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos could be one of the best teams in the AFC once again.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT TENNESSEE TITANS

MATCH-UPThe rugged Vikes defense will battle the Titans, who look to pound the ball this season. The defending NFC North Champions They have a solid defense, which will have to carry them if their QB situation (Sam Bradford/Shaun Hill) doesn’t develop. The running game will have to perform to give second-year QB Marc Mariota a chance.

FANTASYWatch Tajae Sharpe, the Titans’ top WR as a rookie. Might be on the waiver wire in your league. Also watch the time share RB program for Murray/Henry, the latter who could start for many teams.

I THINKWill DeMarco Murray and Derek Henry make a dent in Minnesota’s defense. If not, the Titans could be in trouble with one of the weakest receiving corps in football.

 

CHICAGO BEARS AT HOUSTON TEXANS

MATCH-UP Do you think JJ Watt will be fired up to hit someone after sitting out with back surgery?  It will be interesting to see what QB Jay Cutler, RB Jeremy Langford and WR Alshon Jeffery can do against the Texans defense? Not much, probably. Houston newcomers QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller join WR DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best in football. Edge goes to Texans.

FANTASYPlenty of things to watch here. Miller at RB, Osweiler at QB and former No. 1 draft pick Kevin White with the Bears.

I THINKHow quick Osweiler develops could be the key to Houston having a great season vs a good season. Josh Sitton or not, I think it’s going to be a long year for the Bears.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

MATCH-UP – RGIII debuts as a Brown against Eagles rookie Carson Wentz and that’s the story to look for. Key for Cleveland is to get something out of the RB-Tandem of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson and keep the ball away from Philly. But until Josh (Flash) Gordon is eligible, Cleveland doesn’t have a real threat for RBIII to throw. Ryan Mathews can have a good season if he can stay healthy because there is no real time-share in the backfield.

FANTASY Two good fantasy players to watch are TEs Gary Barnidge of Cleveland and Zach Ertz of the Eagles. Others – RGIII, rookie WR Corey Coleman and converted WR Terrelle Pryor for Browns. Same with Philly’s WR Jordan Matthews if he is healthy enough to play.

I THINK Neither of these teams will contend for anything this year, but in the screwy East Division, who knows. Eagles should win easily.

 

BUFFALO BILLS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

MATCH-UPUsually this a defensive battle, but Bills have suffered several injuries and Baltimore was not as good last year at in the past. But Neither offense is really exciting. RB LeSean McCoy, WR Sammy Watkins and QB Tyrod Taylor give the Bills a good starting point. Ravens have several RBs and WRs, but the talent is questionable.

FANTASYWatch the Bills’ Big 3. See Joe Flacco’s and Steve Smith, Sr.’s comebacks from surgery. Figure out who does what in the Ravens’ backfield (Justin Forsett, Terrence West) and look for the development of Baltimore’s Kamar Aiken and Breshad Perriman. The Ravens have been raving about Mike Wallace.

I THINKThere could be more points scored in this game than usual because the defenses aren’t as good. But that doesn’t mean anyone will reach 24 points.

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

MATCH-UP – Could be a game in the high 20’s – could be. Phil Rivers, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates are a good place to start. Danny Woodhead, you know what you have, and Melvin Gordon, you don’t, although he should be better. Alex Smith is a game manager, who sometimes can win a game by himself. Jeremy Maclin is what the doctor ordered at WR. Chiefs have plenty of RBs.

FANTASY Chiefs backfield is what to watch for as Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles will split time until the latter looks healthy, but Ware will be the goal line guy. Watch Gordon’s development and Gates will catch a TD.

I THINK Defense is the name of the game and only one team on the field has one, so I like the Chiefs.

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

MATCH-UP – Points should be quickly showing up on the scoreboard with David Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper and Tim Crabtree and Drew Brees, Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks all getting in on the action.

FANTASY – Want to see Carr’s continued development after a fine season last year. Also want to see Cooks become a big time WR. Plenty of fantasy talent here.

I THINK – Saints are hard to beat in the dome, but Oakland has a solid defense and offense and could make it interesting.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS

MATCH-UPThe better defense will win this game, but the game is at Atlanta. Might end up being a field goal game.

FANTASY Julio Jones is the best fantasy player on the field by far. Hopefully he is healthy (ankle). Watch how much he helps Mohamed Sanu or vice versa. See how much Tevin Coleman cuts into Freeman’s time. Watch Winston’s progress.

I THINK – Doug Martin vs Devonta Freeman/Coleman could be the key to victory. Matt Ryan needs to get his act together this year. Jameis Winston is growing.

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT NEW YORK JETS

MATCH-UP – Hard one to call because each has offensive weapons (Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Matt Forte) and solid defenses.

FANTASY – Watch how much NJY RB Bilal Powell takes away from Forte. Watch RB Giovani Bernard and WR Ty Boyd – is he really a threat for Cincy.

I THINK – Despite all the weapons, we’re looking at a score in low 20’s. I like Bengals defense better, but the Jets are at home.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

MATCHUP – Seattle at home will fillet the Dolphins. Russell Wilson, Christine Michael, Thomas Rawls, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett vs Ryan Tannehill, Arian (Yes I’m still playing) Foster and Jarvis (I don’t score TDs) Landry – SERIOUSLY?

FANTASY – Watch the C-Mich/Rawls breakdown and see how much Lockett plays since Kearse moved ahead of him in the depth chart. Watch Foster and see if he gets into the second half until he gets hurt.

I THINK – Add the famous Seattle 12th-man into the picture and this should be a runaway.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS

MATCH-UP – Could be a heck of a football game. Rookie quarterback and running back and All-Pro WR in Dez Bryant for Dallas. Veteran Eli Manning, All-Pro WR in Odell Beckham, Jr. and interesting rookie WR. It was only exhibition season, but the Giants offense was pitiful.

FANTASY – Should be fun watching QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. NYG WR Sterling Shepard is being hailed as a top rookie. Will Victor Cruz finally be a threat again?

I THINK – Giants improved defense will get their first chance to show something. The Dallas rookies are for real and the game is in Dallas, so I’m taking the Cowboys.

 

DETROIT LIONS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

MATCH-UP – Lots of points could be scored here, since neither team has a defense. Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Andrew Luck, Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief have the ability to put points on the board.

FANTASY – Want to see if Luck bounces back from injury and a terrible season. Want to see how Jones affects Tate and Moncrief affects Hilton.

I THINK – The game is at Indy and the Colts have more weapons and the Lions and Bears will fight to stay out of last in the NFC North. I think Indy’s Adam Vinatieri might have some key field goals.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

MATCH-UP – With Jimmy Garoppolo at QB and the game on the road, this will be one of the Pats’ losses without Tom Brady. RBs LeGarrette Blount and James White, WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski will have to carry the load. QB Carson Palmer struggled at the end of the year and Michael Floyd is the only healthy starter at WR. Larry Fitzgerald (knee) and John Brown (concussion) aren’t 100 percent.

FANTASY – Watch the health of the Arizona WRs and look for Chris Hogan to be a surprise fantasy contributor this year.

I THINK – David Johnson could be the best player on the field and he will key the Cards offense, despite all the weapons on the field.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS

MATCH-UP – Lots of firepower on both sides and should be high-scoring.

FANTASY – Second year in a row DeAngelo Williams will fill in for suspended RB Le’Veon Bell. See if WRs Marcus Wheaton and rookie Eli (I’m a sleeper) Rogers make up for Martavis Bryant and take some pressure off the best WR in football Antonio Brown. Watch for Redskins RB Rob Kelley behind the injury-prone Jones.

I THINK – It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh’s offense responds to the loss of Bryant who is suspended for the season. Is Kirk Cousins for real? Huge year for him contract-wise. TE Jordan Reed and WRs DeSean Jackson and a healthy Matt Jones gives Cousins weapons. The Steelers are the better team, but I think the Redskins will ride the Monday Night Football, Opening Night emotional wave and get the win.

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

MATCH-UPThe Rams must beat the 49ers – I think SF is one of the worst teams in football – because LA won’t beat a lot of other teams. Probably a low-scoring game since the Rams have Todd Gurley and the 49ers have a backup QB who gets all the attention for kneeling during the National Anthem because he’s not worth much on it.

FANTASY – Gurley and Carlos Hyde, but with the 49ers trailing all the time how much work will he get.

I THINK – The kickers will play a big part in this game, a 13-10 thriller.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

MATCH-UP – Saved the best for last. Both teams defenses are improved and the offenses have plenty of talent, but have struggled a bit in spring training or haven’t even played together. Aaron Rodgers, Blake Bortles, Eddy Lacy, T.Y. Yeldon/Chris Ivory, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

FANTASY – Watch how Jax uses Yeldon/Ivory. Watch Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery. One of them has to come through this year because the overrated Devante Adams won’t.

I THINK – I am very interested to how much sitting A-Rod down and not playing Nelson at all affects the offense. Watching all the young talent in the defensive backfield against Robinson and Hurns will be a real test. They are one of the best duos in all of football. Packers should win, but a Jaguars upset wouldn’t surprise me at all.