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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.

SOME LITTLE THINGS THAT BOTHER ME…

BREWERS

  • Please explain to me how the Milwaukee Brewers ‘offense’ has totally fallen apart after the Jonathan Lucroy trade.  I loved Luc and everything he stood for, but he was one player and the offense was not built around him. To say this offense is struggling would be an understatement.
  • I am waiting to see who the Brewers bring up after Sept, 1, especially the starting pitchers.  If we have to look at Matt Garza, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson the entire month of September, then please don’t tell the fans you are rebuilding. Give them a chance to build up some trade value, but don’t punish the young pitchers that need to be looked at (see my last blog). Even if you give them a couple starts or use them in relief, they need some big league exposure.
  • We need to bring up an outfielder or two, because only Ryan Braun and Keon Broxton should be brought back next year with the idea of starting.
  • With Jeremy Jeffress’ latest brush with the law – which no one ever wants to see happen – the Texas deal is looking better.  I’m still curious to see the PTBN in the deal based on what’s been promised.
  • I know they will get a better draft pick as the team plays worst and I know the effort is being made – which is a credit to Craig Counsell – but I hate to see them go down the toilet since they have been competitive most of the season. I don’t care if they finish last, because Cincinnati is a better team which had been playing worst.

PACKERS

  • Those who follow me know that I like Ted Thompson. I am not a ‘FireTedThompson’ guy and people who are know very little about football, so when they say things I find it as ridiculous as me talking about Calculus and Physics. But one thing I really admire Ron Wolf for was his ability to cut bait with his draft choices. He was very candid about his team. I will never forget his ‘we were just a fart in the wind’ comment when the Packers blew the Super Bowl to Denver.So seeing Thompson sign tight end Jared Cook for a reasonable price (that’s important)  instead of sitting on his hands, trading OLB Lerentee McCray to the Buffalo Bills for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2018 and finally cutting the embarrassing punter Tim Mastay gave me hope. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about his replacement Jacob Schum except that he is NOT Tim Mastay. Being a good holder is no reason for keeping a punting job.
  • It will be interesting if the Packers go with Brandon Burks as their third running back or sign one of the many RBs who will be let go in the final cuts. I am not among the many people who think Eddie Lacy will run for 1200 yards and score 12 TDs (ALTHOUGH I WOULD  LOVE TO SEE IT) and I have never been a big fan of James Starks, who fumbles and gets hurt too much. I do think the No. 3 back will be important.
  • The depth the Packers have put together at defensive back (love Joe Whitt) and linebacker is outstanding, but I wonder if the lack of depth in the front line (because of injuries and stupid suspensions) will end up off-setting them.
  • If Jody Nelson can be 100 percent, hopefully Randall Cobb will be better. Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery (a bigger Cobb) need to stay healthy and Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis (if healthy) are good special teamers at least.
  • I like Janis. When I hear things like ‘he’s stupid, he doesn’t run routes’ I wonder if these people watched him play down the stretch. That one is on Aaron Rodgers as much as anyone. Janis in a couple games did more than Davante Adams did all season. Thompson will keep him because he is a high draft choice despite the fact he has hands of stone. It’s moves like this that could hurt the Packers.

 

THOSE REBUILDING BREWERS

With the Milwaukee Brewers approaching the final month of the season, I thought I would take a look at the first year of the club’s rebuilding process. Some good, some bad. Some promise, some disappointment.

I thought I would do that by breaking down the roster – infield, outfield, catcher, starting pitcher and bullpen – and sharing my thoughts.

INFIELD (B-)

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not going ga-ga over Jonathan Villar. When I see a player consistently making the same mistakes over and over and over, I have a tendency to wonder how much baseball smarts this player has.

Some people compare him to Carlos Gomez, but I’m not one of them. Gomez was a terrific fielder at a different position. Every time someone hits a ground ball to Villar when he was at shortstop, with runners on and two outs, for example, I held my breath. Making the spectacular play and blowing the easy one at one of the most important positions is not a good thing.

I can see how Villar is compared to Gomez on the base paths – they hurt you as much as help you with some of the dumbest base running I have seen in years. And when I see that repeated, it bothers me more than it seems to bother the Brewers.

In my own opinion, I think Villar has individual goals (stolen base title) at the top of his mind, knowing if he’s successful he will help his team. I don’t see him as a selfish player.

The other reason I can’t compare Villar to Gomez is his approach at the plate. Most of the time he is patient and his on base average (.381) and batting average (.298) through August 24 is excellent. You don’t see him screw himself into the plate trying to hit homers like Gomez did.

I’m not sure where Villar’s future lies. He’s at third base for now, but he might be a better second baseman. But there lies another situation.

What do the Brewers do with Scooter Gennett, who has worked hard to show he can hit lefthander’s when given the opportunity this season. Villar and Gennett have similar doubles/triples stats, the same amount of homers and Villar has a slight edge in RBIs. However the biggest difference is BA (.298 to .268) and OBP (.381 to .322), which gives Villar a bigger advantage.

I see Villar as a placeholder at third, but his future might be at second base, if he is not used as trade bait in the off-season.

Speaking of placeholders, that is what Chris Carter is. What you see is what you get. A .223 BA and a .323 OBP. You would like to see both improve a little (.235, .340), but he is getting paid – and not a lot of money at that – to hit homers (30) and drive in runs (70) and he has done that. With no first baseman or third baseman on the horizon for a few years, GM David Stearns has to find placeholders like Carter for now.

The other big surprise – and this is something I predicted last spring – is Hernan Perez. He can play the corner outfield positions and any infield spot – but his bat is what has him up here. He is hitting .282 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs with 20 less games than Villar and Gennett. He needs to work on his .308 OBP, though. But every team needs a player like Perez and he has been one of the biggest surprises this season. A great utility player for a good team, but one who sees every day action now with a rebuilding squad.

The Brewers brought Orlando Arcia up to take some of the attention away from the Jonathan Lucroy-Jeremy Jeffress deal which has Texas at the top of the American League right now. I am interested in seeing who they got as the third player since they keep saying he is a very quality player. He better be.

The Brewers can deny it all they want, but that was the major reason for Arcia’s promotion. I just hope they don’t make the same mistake with him that they did with Keon Broxton (more on that later). Arcia has struggled and has been in and out of the lineup a little, but now is the time to throw him in there and have him play since they are ‘rebuilding.’ Sitting Arcia on the bench helps no one.

OUTFIELD (D+)

Ryan Braun is having an excellent season. He is batting .316 with a .378 OBP and 13 stolen bases. His power numbers (22 HRs, 71 RBI) would be better if he played more (104 of 125 games) because of the rest he has been given (back). Of course, without that rest, Manager Craig Counsell probably couldn’t have gotten that much out of him.

Ironically the contract Braun signed is not as much of a burden if the Brewers wanted to trade him because of some of the moronic signings by other owners last spring to lesser players. Since the Brewers are not paying anyone else besides Matt Garza, a payroll dump is not something they need to do.

They don’t need to trade Braun – and they don’t have to – since he is the closest thing they have to a major league hitter on the current team, which is struggling to be respectable offensively in the last few weeks.

Wasting their time with the likes of Ramon Flores – and it was a waste of time – and playing Kirk Niewenhuis in more than just a utility role left huge holes in two-thirds of the outfield.

Domingo Santana’s various injuries couldn’t be helped, of course, and now he lost most of the year and the Brewers have no idea whether he can be a good – ‘good’ is the key word here – major league outfielder.  Fact was Perez was the Brewers second-best offensive threat in the outfield behind Braun when Counsell moved him to right field.

Then there was Keon Broxton, who I felt was the favorite for centerfield going into spring training. He struggled to start the year going 0-for-24 and since his return on July 25 he is batting.329 (26-for-79, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 10 SB) in 26 games since being recalled from Triple-A. But the Brewers kept messing with him playing the yo-yo game when they had nothing on the MLB roster which was better. He was on the roster from Opening Day through April 16, May 20 through June 3 and June 10 through July 3 before bringing him up for good.

To Broxton’s credit, he worked on his batting stance, dropping his hands and hopefully now this is a sign of the future. But if you ‘claim’ you’re rebuilding, sending him up and down so many times is not the way to go about it.

The Brewers have several outfielders among their top position players in the minors. Hopefully they are smart enough to see if someone has the ability to jump from Double A to the bigs next spring they shouldn’t hesitate to try it like other clubs do. Give people a reason to buy tickets.

CATCHING (D+)

It will be interesting to see what Stearns does here. Martin Maldonado knows the pitching staff, has a good arm but his offense is hit and miss, with emphasis on the latter. But to be fair, that’s not what he gets paid for.

In his first 13 games, Manny Pina hit .308 with a .438 OBP. He had a nice Triple A (.329, 5 HR, 43 RBI), but he isn’t the answer either. Besides Maldonado is 30 and Pina is 29. Andrew Susac, 26, who came in the Will Smith trade and is injured, is a journeyman. Their top catching prospect Jacob Nottingham is at least two years away.

It will be interesting to see what they do.

STARTING PITCHING (D+)

A 31 year old rookie and a pitcher who can’t break a pane of glass. These are the highlights of the 2016 starting pitching staff.

I couldn’t imagine where the Brewers starting staff would be without Junior Guerra and Zach Davies. Guerra is 7-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 starts with 90 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. Opponents have only hit .206 with a WHIP of 1.09.  Those stats are outstanding.

Davies isn’t impressive looking (6-0, 155 pounds) but the 23 year old is 9-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 starts. He’s fanned 100 in 127 innings with a .264 BAA and a 1.26 WHIP. I have not enjoyed watching a pitcher work a hitter in years like I have watching Davies.

Davies reminds me of former Brewers Pete Vukovich, as his goal is to make you hit his pitch. He works the corners, works the inside of the plate, throws a lot of off-speed pitches, which make his 90 MPH fastball look more impressive.

He might look way younger than his age, but when he opens his mouth he is an intelligent young man who gives a good interview.

His problem is if he has an off-day or if his pitches catch a bigger part of the strike zone than he wanted to, you could usually find them somewhere in the bleacher seats. Not a lot of margin for error.

The only goal the front office should have with two other starters (Garza and Wily Peralta) is simple. Pray they pitch well enough to have some value to be moved in the off-season. I actually prefer Garza, who will be harder to trade because of his contract, more than Peralta, who is tradable. I have never be excited about Peralta – he reminds me too much of Yovani Gallardo – way over-hyped and too inconsistent to start for a successful team UNLESS they’re desperate (i.e. Baltimore Orioles).

Chase Anderson to me is ‘just a guy’ with a 7-10, 4.99 ERA, who opponents hit .270 against and who puts too many guys on base (1.42 WHIP).

How fast this ‘rebuild’ can happen will depend a lot on the pitchers.

Needing to bounce back QUICKLY are pitchers like Jorge Lopez and Taylor Jungman (I haven’t given up on him yet), for example. I think their best starting prospect is Josh Hader and I see no reason he isn’t given an opportunity in September.

Hiram Burgos (8-9, 4.60 ERA), impressive stats at Colorado Springs, Aaron Wilkerson, acquired in the Aaron Hill deal and Wei-Chung Wang, they held on to him as a Rule 5 Draft pitcher when he couldn’t contribute, so why not see if he can now since he has had a good season. Besides, he’s lefthanded. And don’t put him in the bullpen!

Brandon Woodruff also deserves a chance (7-8. 3.63 ERA, 98 K in 91.2 IP, 1.15 WHIP).

BULLPEN (B)

Speaking of the bullpen, Stearns has done a great job of putting it together and Counsell has done a great job of using them.

They traded their two best bullpen pitchers (Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith) and never missed a beat with Tyler Thornburg taking over the closers role. I didn’t agree with adding Carlos Torres, but it was a brilliant pickup by Stearns, as Torres is 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 62 strikeouts in 64 innings and a .213 BAA and a 1.17 WHIP.

Corey Knebel has pitched well (3.44 ERA, .215 BA, 1.36 WHIP) when he wasn’t on the disabled list. Michael Blazek, Jacob Barnes, Damien Magnifico, have pitched well when healthy, but because of the injuries some of the stats don’t show it.  Brent Suter, who started at Triple A, will work out of the bullpen, giving the team a lefthander.

SUMMARY (C-)

I thought the Brewers would win 68-72 games – I was optimistic, I guess. I cheer for them every game, but when they lose I don’t shed any tears. Most of the year they stayed in games and if they lost, it happened late in the game so they got me to stick around.

My grades reflect that the outfield and the starting pitching were big disappointments in 2016.  But the bullpen and the infield leave hope for the future. With a month to go, it will be interesting to see what happens in September.

Stearns made a statement last week that he won’t be bringing up many prospects ‘because he doesn’t want a crowded clubhouse.’ I hope he was kidding, because now is the time to get a look at what’s in store for 2017.

That’s part of  ‘rebuilding,’ David.

HERE’S HOW I SEE IT

I recently retired from my position at Community-Now Newspapers and web sites, but I am far from retired. I still cover sports events for my former employer and I write stories for the Milwaukee Brewers ‘Game Day’ Program. But I found something to keep me busy and keep my passion for all sports going.

And that’s Preps2Pros – my main ‘retirement’ project.

PREP FEATURES

I did a great deal of writing – mainly reporting the sports news – the last 14 years. However, I found myself doing less and less of what I enjoy the most – writing feature stories on prep athletes and seeing them as people, not just stats and individual accomplishments. This is what I hope to do with the major feature of Preps2Pros.

I plan on featuring a story on a local athlete every week.

My first one is Brookfield Central’s outstanding outside linebacker Reggie Jennings, the first junior to receive a scholarship in Wisconsin, as the Badgers made him an offer last spring.

In the next few weeks I will also have features on …

  • Brookfield Central junior Emily Balding, the defending Greater Metro Conference Golfer of the Year.
  • Brookfield East senior mammoth guard Max Aslin, one of the key lineman who opens
    holes for All-State Running Back Sam Santiago-Lloyd.
  • Brookfield East tennis players – senior Emma Corwin and sophomore
    Emily Horneffer – who are following in the steps of their brothers, who were three
    outstanding tennis players, with three state titles among them.

BLOG

Every week I will have a few blogs, depending on what is going on in the professional sports world. I will focus on the Brewers, Packers and Bucks, but I can write on anything.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter @skyskibosh know I have a tendency to be candid. Some of my followers feel that my objectivity is negative. Now I am a fan of all three teams, of course. I hope they all have winning records and eventually win a championship when ready.

But I don’t wear blue, gold and green – colored glasses. Having worked for the Brewers for 19 years and having been a sports writer for 14, I have a different view of what goes on behind the scenes and I am not afraid to share it.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, know that I start the day with ‘SKY’S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY,’ a quote which I try to tie in with what is happening, usually in the prep sports world. I will do that on my web site as well as on my Twitter account. Based on my retweets and likes, people enjoy them.

STILL TO COME

In the next month I will be adding a section (THE BOOK) on my first book – ‘If You Wanna Have Fun, Go someplace Else’ – a humorous inside look at major league baseball. This is a behind the scenes look at my Brewers career. The first element available will be an audio version, which can be downloaded. We then will look to have a printed version which can be downloaded a little further down the road.

Even further down the road I will have my second book available – ‘You Wanna Hear Something Funny?’ This is a humorous – and emotional – book that looks at my personal life as well as my career, including my jobs with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, the Brewers and CNI-Now Newspapers. I have some great stories on several topics which I am looking forward to sharing.

So this is my first blog. Hope you enjoy the web site and please pass on the web site to your friends.

It should be fun!

OUR TEAM

My son Marty Skibosh, a film editor in Hollywood, currently working on the popular Sci-Fi series ‘Supernatural,’ is my web site editor.

My photos are handled by one of the best photographers in the area – Al Hertzberg – who does outstanding work for the local high schools.

They make me look good.

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