What a wild NFL season this has been, in both real life and fantasy. We saw huge games from Will Fuller and Antonio Gibson on Thanksgiving only to have Tyreek Hill and Derrick Henry assert their dominance over the landscape. And while we were without Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and (many) more, no fantasy-relevant players sustained injuries that should keep them out for an extended period.
We aren’t even done with Week 12 since the Baltimore Ravens game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved several times and is now set for Wednesday afternoon. This week’s waiver wire has at least one QB you probably never thought would be a top add, a running back that’s been there the entire time, and a wide receiver that recently returned from injury to make an impact in primetime.
*Remember, waivers will clear on Friday this week and we have the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on bye (the last of the season).*
A Pair of ’13’s Headline the Week 13 Waiver Wire
This wouldn’t have been a thing just a few weeks ago. Kirk Cousins was the QB25 on the season with 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Flash forward to now and Cousins was the QB3 in Week 12, is the QB12 on the season, and is coming off of back-to-back three-touchdown performances and third in four games. It was his fourth-straight game (a stretch in which he was the QB5) and eighth of the season with multiple touchdowns. All of this is even more impressive when you consider Dalvin Cook is second in the league in rushing attempts.
Cousins draws a cushy assignment in Week 13 as the Minnesota Vikings host the floundering Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags just fired their general manager and head coach Doug Marrone will likely follow after the season. But what matters for our purposes is Jacksonville is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and has given up 23 passing touchdowns, good for second-most. The only thing that could hold Cousins back in this one is if the Vikings get out to a lead large enough that they just ride the running game, leaving fantasy managers to hope his current touchdown explosion lasts at least another week.
FitzMagic is back, baby! After taking a brief hiatus while Tua Tagovailoa kept his spot warm, Ryan Fitzpatrick was back under center for the Miami Dolphins in Week 12 and led them to a 23-3 victory over the winless New York Jets. He had a modest day, just 257 yards and two touchdowns, but that was good enough to check in as the QB8 through Monday Night Football. In six starts earlier in the year, Fitzpatrick threw for over 1500 yards with 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions (four if you throw out Week 1) and was the QB8.
Truth is Fitzpatrick will start for as long as it takes for Tua’s injured thumb to heal. That should be at least another game and that sets Fitz up to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy is 17th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but have tied for the third-most passing touchdowns allowed with 22. Miami has thrown more than twice as many touchdowns (18) as they have run in (8). The only concern here, as with Cousins, is the Dolphins (who rank second in scoring defense) get out to such a lead you’re left counting solely on touchdowns.
We probably should have seen this coming. It’s just how 2020 has gone. When it was announced Gurley would miss Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, everyone assumed it would be Brian Hill, who had been spelling Gurley all season, to step into the lead role. Instead, Ito Smith came off the bench to take his 12 carries for 65 yards and a score and ranking as the RB10. Hill, who has out-carried Smith 3-to-1 on the season, took his 13 carries for 55 yards and former out-snapped the latter 39-28.
Smith out-targeted Hill 4-to-1 if you need another way to separate the two given how volatile touchdowns are. Atlanta faces the New Orleans Saints for the second time in three weeks and if Gurley misses another game, Smith needs to be the backfield option you deploy. The Saints are fourth against the run and have given up just three touchdowns on the ground. They’re fifth defending passes to backs too so it will be tough sledding either way. Smith has the easier path to fantasy relevance, albeit ever so slight.
Los Angeles Rams
We are entering troubling waters, my friends. Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers has received no more than 10 carries since getting 14 in the opener. He has just two games with 40-plus yards and has just one rushing touchdown. He is far and away third in snaps out of the backfield behind both Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown with a less defined role than either. But he keeps popping off for long runs, including the 61-yard scamper that set up his first rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday. He sits ranked as the RB16 (pending Wednesday’s results) in Week 12.
The Rams face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 but trusting Akers in lineups is quite the risky proposition. Sunday was literally his first time finishing with double-digit fantasy points. No, this is a move for the future. L.A. has talked of wanting to increase Akers’ workload as the season goes on. Don’t be fooled by Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers deter you, this offense is still seventh in rushing attempts. Imagine what Akers could do with a larger share of the workload.
Another week, another reminder that if your stud running back’s backup is sitting out there on the waiver wire you should change that. Unless you are ridiculously deep at running back you need this insurance. Just ask fantasy managers of Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon who missed out on Mike Davis and Giovani Bernard if they wish they had been proactive in this regard. This obviously doesn’t apply universally.
Hill is the best example of misreading the room. But in situations like Minnesota where Alexander Mattison is the clear backup to Dalvin Cook or in New Orleans where Latavius Murray has just seven fewer carries and 34 fewer yards than Alvin Kamara even though both have been active all season. Some other names to check the wire for are Devontae Booker, Jamaal Williams, and Boston Scott. These players have more value if you have the starter in front of them but if you have the bench space it’s not a bad idea to use it on a lottery ticket.
This was a situation similar to Hill’s as everyone assumed Cole Beasley would see an uptick in work for the Buffalo Bills with John Brown missing time. But Gabriel Davis caught three balls for 79 yards and a score, reverting back to his form of a couple of weeks ago when he caught four passes for 70 yards and a score. It was Davis’ fourth game this season with double-digit (PPR) fantasy points and has him as WR19 as of now but, again, it was second in three weeks.
The Bills take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 but it’s more of a neutral site game as the 49ers cannot play their home games at home and will thus host in Arizona. Who knows what impact that has but Richard Sherman’s return to the 49ers defense helped them keep the Rams in check. Something similar could happen to the Bills but Davis has the benefit of not being Stefon Diggs in that he won’t be the focal point of the defense.
Green Bay Packers
Just two weeks back from his core muscle injury that knocked him out for seven games Allen Lazard found the endzone against the division-rival Chicago Bears catching four of his six targets for 23 yards. Don’t get hung up on the yardage output. Despite being woeful for the last month-plus, the Bears defense is still fifth in yards allowed to receivers. Lazard had 18-plus PPR fantasy points in two of his three contests before getting hurt including a six-catch, 146-yard performance that saw him finish as the WR6.
The Green Bay Packers take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 and we all just saw that secondary get torched by D.K. Metcalf to the tune of 10 catches for 177 yards. This despite shadowing him with top-corner Darius Slay. Davante Adams resides comfortably atop the pecking order for the Packers but Lazard was making headway as the trusted second banana before going down. He could get back to it right in time for the playoffs.
We are playing with fire with this suggestion. There was already a good chance the Detroit Lions would get Kenny Golladay back from a lingering hip injury next week against the Bears. It’s probably all but a given after the Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia. If he does miss, though, Mohamed Sanu filled his role quite capably. Sanu corralled all four of his targets for just 32 yards but he managed to find the endzone. He’s the WR25 ahead of Wednesday.
The dangers are two-fold because Chicago is a tough assignment for receivers and Golladay, itching to prove it was Patricia holding this group back, could find his way back into the lineup. So put in a claim for Sanu at your own risk. It could wind up that those things work together and the Lions hold Golladay out another week so as not to face such a tough opponent fresh off of injury.
This week’s contestant on “just fall into the end zone”, formally known as the tight end position. We have actually had a good run of suggestions so let’s hope we can keep it going with Kyle Rudolph. He’s the TE8 in Week 12 with seven catches and 68 yards. All of those numbers represent season-highs as Rudolph has lost much of his receiving work in recent years and has ceded even more to Irv Smith this season.
Minnesota faces those Jaguars in Week 13 though. We can attack this matchup with as much fervor as Cousins as Jacksonville ranks 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. They also lead the league in touchdowns allowed to tight ends with nine. Now, Rudolph doesn’t catch many touchdowns, he has just one on the year. But the name of the game is finding a warm body with a chance at falling into six points.
Survivor Series led the way for another strong week for professional wrestling on WWE and AEW programming. In singles champion vs champion matches Roman Reigns beat Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn. Asuka fell to Sasha Banks and Street Profits knocked off the New Day. NXT saw Toni Storm turn heel and the build for War Games begin to take shape. AEW had the last word in preparation for Winter is Coming. Jon Moxley suckered Kenny Omega, Abadon frightened Hikaru Shida, and the Dark Order once again tried to lure Adam Page into their fold.
No Count Outs: Brotherly Relations – No Count Outs
The Fighting Illini return to Champaign, Illinois motivated after a canceled postseason campaign incited Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn to withdraw from the NBA draft. The Illini are intent on chasing an NCAA title. Joining them in their quest for basketball immortality will be a mixture of top 50 prospects, seasoned seniors, and unexpected international gems. How good will Illinois be and is a trip to the Final Four a possibility for them?
The Rise of the Fighting Illini
Last season they led the Illini to an impressive 21-10 record best win percentage since 2010., They also finished fourth in the Big Ten winning 13 of 20 games against conference opponents. Illinois was a strong defensive and rebounding team, not an uncommon style for a Big Ten club. They were also known for getting to the charity stripe effectively, ranking 13th among all Division I teams.
Struggles were very apparent for Brad Underwood’s side: perimeter shooting ranked 297th in attempts and percentage, and turnovers, a lowly 269th. The only bright spot from the outside was sophomore guard Alan Griffin who shot over 41 percent while the team as a whole shot just over 31 percent.
The team was projected to make it to their first NCAA tournament since 2013. All of that changed once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The virus dashed fans’ hopes at watching the Illini navigate a deep run in the tourney. Dosunmu made the All-Big Ten second team and Cockburn won Big Ten Rookie of the Year, a small consolation in a year that could have been much more.
Dosunmu and Cockburn looked to be headed to NBA futures, but unfinished business is still ahead for the dynamic tandem. On July 31st Dosunmu released a video on his Twitter.
“My dream has been to play in the NBA, but first I need that national championship.” – Ayo Dosunmo/Twitter
Later that same day Cockburn announced he will be withdrawing from the NBA as well to join Dosunmu, backing the orange and blue for one more season.
It wasn’t all good news over the summer, Alan Griffin, the team’s only sharpshooter transferred to Syracuse, and senior Andres Feliz, who was second in assists (2.9), rebounds (5.0), and third in points (11.0)) graduated.
The subsequent lockdowns in Illinois have hindered practices and training for Illinois. More of the onus was placed upon the players to stay in shape, eat well since regular structured offseason activities were not always possible.
The Freshman recruits
The incoming freshmen looking to fill in the gaps include Puerto Rico-born Andre Curbelo and Illinois’ own Adam Miller. In just the first three games Curbelo and Miller have had an enormous impact. In the opening contest against North Carolina A&T, Miller and his fellow Morgan Park High School Alum Dosunmu scored 28 points to beat the Aggies by a score of 122-60.
Miller went six of eight behind the arc helping Illini surpass the school record of three-pointers made in a game with 17. Against Chicago State the next day Curbelo contributed 18 points off the bench in just 20 minutes and was a big reason why the Illini routed the Cougars 97-38.
The last time the Fighting Illini were ranked in the preseason top ten in 2004 they went all the way to the national championship game. That team featured Deron Williams who would go on to have an incredibly successful NBA career. Will this team echo the Illini of old, or will the inexperience of this team leave them wanting more again?
The talent in Illinois is extraordinary, with more depth than any in Brad Underwood’s previous teams. Junior Giorgi Bezhanishivli, a former starter for the squad is a versatile forward that could add some experience to a bench that features mostly underclassmen and transfers. Underwood for his part has coached his previous schools to four straight NCAA tournament appearances for Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma.
The big unknown for this team is who will provide consistent offense when Dosunmu is on the bench or in the midst of a cold streak. Cockburn is a tremendous defender and physical presence on the inside but has been completely shut down on the offensive end by some of the premier Big Ten defenders like Iowa’s Luka Garza who held Cockburn to just six points in their first meeting last year.
Adam Miller could be that necessary spark. Miller averaged 21.5 points on 71% in his first two appearances but had a much tougher game against Ohio and it nearly cost Illinois due to Miller going without a bucket on the perimeter in a tight 77-75 against the MAC opponents.
Arguably the biggest key for a successful season has to be limiting turnovers. Averaging over 12 turnovers a game gave away too many chances for a team that prides itself on effort plays and high basketball IQ. Dosunmu needs to play within himself and trust his talented squad. His 81 turnovers were the fifth most in the Big Ten and will have to be improved if a national title run is in the cards.
Overall Illinois has a good chance at positioning themselves at the top of the big ten with a potential high seed going into Indy. A lot could hinge on the limited but important senior leadership of Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams who have spent every year under Brad Underwood’s tutelage.
Both are currently in the starting rotation but have been unheralded heroes of a core ripe with potential. Keep your eyes on Champaign this Wednesday as Illinois faces another top ten opponents in the number two ranked Baylor Bears.
We already know who’s had the best, but which teams have had the worst offseasons in the NBA so far? It’s been a little over a week since the NBA Draft and free agency has hit its lull.
There was a surprising amount of activity but not all offseason moves are created equal. There was also at least one team with a disturbing lack of activity.
Who Had the Worst Offseason in the NBA?
Perhaps this is being nitpicky, but a team that finished sixth in the Western Conference and got bounced in the first round (albeit in seven games) didn’t add anyone of consequence to their roster this offseason?
Outside of the return of (another) defense-oriented big in Derrick Favors and adding another in Udoka Azubuike with the 27th overall pick they must be counting on more 50-point explosions in the playoffs from Donovan Mitchell.
Or maybe they’re relying on the return of Bojan Bogdanovic and perhaps second-rounder Elijah Hughes (that’s sarcasm, though he was a near-20 PPG scorer at Syracuse last season). We may have seen this group peak already.
The Milwaukee Bucks listing here is even more nitpicky as they did manage to do some very nice things with their roster. Trading for Jrue Holiday is a move very much akin to bringing in another Khris Middleton.
A player who can handle the ball, perform off the dribble or as a spot-up shooter, and is a very capable defender. Milwaukee was also able to unload the albatross contract of Eric Bledsoe in the process.
Can he, D.J. Augustine, and Bobby Portis keep Milwaukee in contention for not only a championship but also retaining the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason? Their little snafu with Bogdan Bogdanovic probably didn’t help the situation.
5. Charlotte Hornets
It’s pretty hard to have a roster as bad as the Charlotte Hornets, take arguably the best players in the draft, and add a former 20-point per game scorer to the roster and still be considered among the worst.
Drafting LaMelo Ball third overall was a no-brainer. But that former walking dub, Gordon Hayward, will cost Michael Jordan and the Hornets just shy of $40 million a year. That’s his $30 million deal (already grossly overspending) plus an additional $9 million from stretching the remainder of Nicolas Batum’s horrendous contract.
And that’s the rub, this isn’t abnormal for the franchise formally known as the Bobcats. Cody Zeller has never averaged more than just over 11 PPG and has never averaged close to double-digit rebounds yet is making upwards of $15 million this season. And has anybody checked on Terry Rozier?
4. New York Knicks
Can anyone answer why a team that has been searching for a point guard since Linsanity was a thing decided to pass on arguably three of the best and go for an older prospect with questions about his fit at the next level? One Kevin Knox isn’t enough so you go and get one with a lower ceiling?
Nevermind Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, and Kira Lewis were all still on the board. Austin Rivers is here to join Dennis Smith in the endless recycling of once-promising lead-guard prospects. The additions of Alec Burks and Omari Spellman are cool in a vacuum for a good team.
Their acquisitions for the Knicks, at least in Burks’ case is puzzling. Then again, this is the Knicks we’re talking about. That’s why they aren’t higher on this list. You can only be so upset about something you expected to happen.
3. Detroit Pistons
Here we have a team that, while expected to do silly things, actually provided a glimmer of hope in the draft just to sabotage their own work with odd free agency decisions. The easier path to the playoffs in the East has the Detroit Pistons drafting for the future but working free agency largely for the now and overpaying in the process.
Jerami Grant’s deal will see him average $20 million based largely on his bubble performance. He’s a valuable, versatile player. But no one expected to see him sign a deal worth that much. We haven’t even gotten to Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor. Just why?
Again, you expect them to screw things up for themselves. But their promising draft which included Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey out of Villanova (one of the most underrated prospects in this draft) is overshadowed by poor free agency decisions.
2. Indiana Pacers
How have the Indiana Pacers done so little in the offseason check-in so high on the list of worst offseasons? That’s exactly how, actually. Indy finished fourth in the East but, like Utah, was a first-round out via sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat.
Their saving grace was that arguably their best player in Victor Oladipo wasn’t at full strength and they were without Domantas Sabonis who also could make a claim as their best player. But since their elimination, it has been reported that there is a rift between Oladipo and management resulting in the two-time All-Star seeking a way out.
For an organization that didn’t do much to add to its early-exit roster, losing an All-Star caliber player seems less than ideal. The entire thing looks even worse considering Oladipo could have opted-out to preserve himself but played to help in the playoffs.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
A second-round exit and subsequent implosion (that may have been taking place all season) are why the (still) star-studded Los Angeles Clippers find themselves atop this unflattering list.
Montrezl Harrell was a name continuously mentioned among those displeased and found his way to the rival Lakers; making his feelings on the situation very well known. They replaced him with Serge Ibaka and Landry Shamet with Luke Kennard.
Considering what the Lakers added and the fact the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead with many of the same players they’ll have this season, the latter has dropped the ball on what may be a pivotal offseason. Both Leonard and George can opt-out and become free agents after this season.
It’d be a shame if both left for greener pastures.
Week 11 saw the return of significant season-ending injuries and Week 12 is back to screwing with the schedule. After losing Joe Burrow and Rex Burkhead, among others, to injury last week we might lose an entire game due to COVID. An outbreak at the Baltimore Raves facility that has claimed Lamar Jackson and forced a shutdown until at least Monday. This obviously puts their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in even further doubt after the game was already moved from Thursday.
Moving that game may have been for the best. It was another week of taking it on the chin, going 1-3 in Week 11 which was an improvement over the week before. Undeterred, we must forge on with a two-game primetime slate. There’s still plenty of opportunities to make some money this week and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us (for a change, sheesh).
Staying on Schedule with Week 12 Primetime Moneymakers
Chicago Bears (5-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-3)
Spread: Packers -9
What a fall from grace it’s been for the Chicago Bears (5-5 ATS) who began the season 5-1. They went into their bye on a four-game losing streak and with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since 2017. As usual, their defense is among the best, ranking fourth in defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders and sixth in scoring. But their offense checks in at 29th in DVOA and 31st in scoring. You see the problem. Now, they turn back to opening-day starter Mitchell Trubisky with Nick Foles still on the mend. They also don’t know if Akiem Hicks will be available to stop the run.
The Green Bay Packers (6-4 ATS) should be 8-2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s fumble in Packer territory in overtime allowed for a game-winning field goal by the Indianapolis Colts. All three of Green Bay’s losses have been of a confounding nature for various reasons. They still rank ninth in total DVOA and second in offense DVOA. Their (sometimes glaring) weakness is their defense. After making tremendous strides last season, they have regressed some. They still rank 18th in defense DVOA (15th in 2019), but aren’t getting to the quarterback in the same way as before. Still, the trio of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones is as good of an eraser as there is.
There isn’t much mystery here as the Packers have owned the Bears since Bret Favre’s time in Wisconsin with some highly critical games along the way including an NFC Championship. Chicago hasn’t beaten Green Bay since 2018 and, with the current state of both teams as it is, they don’t appear poised to snap that streak in 2020. Trubisky, who was already benched this season, has only thrown four touchdowns (with three interceptions) in five games against the Packers. So it’s unlikely he is the answer to their scoring woes, let alone breaking out of their slump. This game opened at Packer -7.5 and has only grown. Follow that lead and take Green Bay laying the points. We’re leaving totals alone this week for…reasons.
Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)
Spread: Eagles +5
It was around this time last week that we were on the brink of eulogizing the Seattle Seahawks (6-4 ATS) in advance of their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. “Let Russ Cook” took a backseat as Russell Wilson tied a season-low with 28 pass attempts and set a new season-low with 197 yards. The Seahawks still managed a 28-21 victory in primetime. Seattle is much like Green Bay in that they are carried by their offense. They rank fourth in offense DVOA but 23rd in defense DVOA. So perhaps they can find a happy medium between letting Russ cook and their run-heavy approach of the past two seasons.
Carson Wentz is fighting for his career as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7 ATS) while they are fighting for the crown in the worst division in football. With a win, the Eagles would take over first place from the Washington Football team by virtue of having a tie in place of a loss. It’s a dubious honor but a loss could usher in the start of the Jalen Hurts era in Philly. The Eagles defense ranks 30th in DVOA thanks in no small part to Wentz’s league-leading 14 interceptions. But their defense ranks 13th bolstered by their stout run-stopping ability.
The Eagles have lost and failed to cover in each of their last two games and neither contest was against top-tier competition. On the other side, the Seahawks bounced back from implosion but have failed to cover on the road since Week 4 in Miami. Philadelphia is also getting healthier at wide receiver and tight end. Can they offset the juice seemingly added to Seattle’s pass rush by the addition of Carlos Dunlap? This feels like a trap after opening at -2.5, but home dogs have covered over 50 percent of the time making Philly plus the points feel best. Both defenses shut down the run meaning more passing which usually means more points. Pound the over.
Baltimore Ravens (6-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)
Spread: Steelers -4.5
This on-again, off-again affair is back on again for primetime after being moved from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, now to Tuesday night following an outbreak of COVID among the Baltimore Ravens (4-6 ATS). In the midst of what would be considered a down year offensively, the Ravens will face an undefeated opponent having not been allowed to practice until Monday at the earliest. On top of that, even if they end up playing the game, Baltimore’s 23rd ranked offense (DVOA) will be led by Robert Griffin III as Lamar Jackson has tested positive. They’ll be relying on their defense that ranks seventh in DVOA a little more than usual.
“Undefeated” might as well be a four-letter word as you won’t find many teams that will ever entertain the idea. The same goes for the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) who are having an incredible season. They’re third in total DVOA, first in defense DVOA, fourth in scoring offense, and first in scoring defense. This is a well-rounded machine even if it isn’t always well-oiled. Pittsburgh has scored at least 24 points in every game this season while allowing an opponent to score more than that just once. The Steelers also lead the league in sacks, just one more thing for fill-in RGIII to worry about come (hopefully) Tuesday night.
There is no way the Ravens can be as prepared to play this game as they need to be to have a chance. And that’s before factoring in a backup quarterback. When these two teams met back in Week 8, the Steelers came away with a 28-24 victory on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Chase Claypool late in the fourth quarter. It won’t get that close this time with the way this game is shaping up. 4.5 might not be enough for the Ravens to cover the first quarter, take Pittsburgh. And if you’re feeling frisky take the under. Baltimore might have trouble hitting their implied total of 20.5 and Pittsburgh could turn to James Conner and the run early with the Calais Campbell set to miss another game.
It’s been a week since the 2020 NBA Draft. With less than a month until the start of the 2021 season and free agency well underway, this is a good time to take stock of our favorite moves. Five teams, be it their draft decisions, free agency signings or trades, or both if they were really smart.
NBA Aftermath: Who’s Had the Best Offseason?
Honorable Mentions: Golden State Warriors/Miami Heat
You have to hand it to Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob. As trade acquisition Kelly Oubre said, Lacob is willing to spend to keep his team competitive. Oubre was taking a not-so-subtle jab at Phoenix Suns ownership, but the point stands. Lacob is spending upwards of $80 million due to the luxury tax. This even though Klay Thompson is out for the year with a torn ACL. It’s as easy to take Oubre’s words as just lip service as it is to dismiss the Warriors as contenders. But Oubre and James Wiseman is a good haul for a team in their particular situation.
There is a sense of underestimation with what the Miami Heat have done this offseason. The reigning Eastern Conference champs have flown relatively under the radar in a surprisingly active offseason. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been doing well though. Landing Precious Achiuwa with the 20th pick is a steal. In free agency, the Heat lost Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr, and Solomon Hill but retained Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard. They replaced them with a pair of hard-working, two-way players in Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley.
5. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are in a new phase in which they seek to add impact veterans to supplement and aid in the development of their young superstar point guard, Trae Young. That didn’t stop them from taking athletic, shot-blocking forward Onyeka Okongwu out of USC with the sixth pick. They hit free agency hard, going after and landing playoff point god Rajon Rondo and certified bucket Danilo Gallinari. Then, they went with younger vets in landing tough defensive guard Kris Dunn and signing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who shot 37 percent from three last season to an offer-sheet.
4. Phoenix Suns
On one hand, you have to like what the Phonix Suns have done this offseason. Even more so if you include their perfect 8-0 record in the bubble. They took their slide in the draft thanks to the lottery in stride, landing Jalen Smith, a veritable Jonathan Isaac clone, out of Maryland 10th overall. Chris Paul comes with hopes of recreating some of his magic from Oklahoma City. Crowder brings toughness and perimeter shooting along with E’Twuan Moore and Damian Jones is a good backup for Deandre Ayton. It’ll be up to Paul and Devin Booker to prove Oubre wrong.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
David Griffin, you clever so-and-so. Not one to be overshadowed by the Prestis and Moreys of the world, the former Cavs general manager continued his facelift of the New Orleans Pelicans centered around phenom Zion Williamson. Gone are, Moore, Jrue Holiday (via four-team trade), Derrick Favors (FA to Utah), and Jahlil Okafor. Griffin replaced them with Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe (both via the Holiday trade), and guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13th pick). He also extended Brandon Ingram. This will be a tough defensive group at worst.
2. Portland Trail Blazers
This has to be People’s Champ for best offseason. The Portland Trail Blazers brought back Carmelo Anthony (yes, there is some bias here) and Rodney Hood. They also brought rebounding savant Enes Kanter and potential-laden Harry Giles to bolster their big rotation along with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. They also signed Derrick Jones Jr, but the piece de resistance is Robert Covington. One of the absolute best 3-and-D players and just what Portland needs behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
The rich get richer. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers are still celebrating their championship while reigning Executive of the year Rob Pelinka is right back at it. Securing Dennis Schroder early was smart. Who knows what Presti could have extracted out of him further along in the process. “Stealing” Montrezl Harrell from the “rival” Los Angeles Clippers is a work of art. Granted, Harrell wasn’t going back to the Clippers after this past season played out how it did. But he will be motivated by what he clearly saw as slight from them. Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews bring good defense and enough outside shooting.
We also have to look at what Pelinka kept and got rid of. Moving Danny Green’s deal while bringing back Markieff Morris shouldn’t go unnoticed. Unsung playoff-hero Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns as well but, as a Klutch Sports client, duh. Ditto for the best “free agent” available in Davis. And they didn’t have to move Kyle Kuzma or Talen Horton-Tucker to do any of it. Losing Rondo and Howard can be overcome with the moves made. And they get to run it back with an integral piece from their Staples Center sub-lessee. The Lakers didn’t have many teams to be concerned over in the first place. It’s hard to imagine any team did enough to beat this squad fully-healthy.
Just six weeks are left in the regular season and playoff races are in full swing. The resurgence of the injury bug has taken its toll; both in real-life and fantasy football. Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback and first-overall pick Joe Burrow suffered a gruesome knee injury that will end his season. Rex Burkhead seems likely to have suffered the same fate. Theirs were the most-significant injuries but not the only. Kyler Murray injured his shoulder way back on Thursday so some may have forgotten. We also saw Julio Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster both leave their respective games early yet again.
You likely need injury-replacements if anything, as we have a bye week from bye weeks. Still, while always disheartening especially for the individual players, just means more opportunities to work the waiver wire for us. We have a trash-talking quarterback, a pass-catching running back, and a dirty bird wide receiver to fill out your fantasy roster.
Big Truzz for Ravens RB in Week 12’s Waiver Wire
Through the first five games of the season Philip Rivers was the QB26 on the season; completing better than 70 percent of his passes, but throwing just four touchdowns to five interceptions, there was no scoring to offset his averaging just 245 yards on 30 attempts per game. Since then, he ranks a modest but improved 17th among fantasy quarterbacks averaging 291 yards on 39 attempts with 10 touchdowns to just three picks.
He’ll draw the Tennessee Titans for the second time in three week in Week 12, a team he just beat 34-17 to regain control over the AFC South. Rivers only threw one touchdown in that game but he did cross the 300-yard threshold for just the third time this season. For their part, the Titans have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and had given up at least 249 passing yards in six straight games before facing Lamar Jackson on Sunday.
New York Giants
As the old adage goes, “no risk it, no biscuit”. Starting Daniel Jones comes with an insane amount of risk baked in due to his propensity to turn the football over but he checks in a few spots higher than Rivers on the year as the QB23. The rollercoaster has been mostly down for him this season, as he’s had six games with fewer than 15 fantasy points, three games with single-digit outputs, and only two games with 20-plus points (depending on your league’s scoring format).
Sometimes, though, a squishy opponent can allay concerns. The Bengals fall just into that category, ranking 19th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Before facing the Washington Football team on Sunday, Cincinnati had allowed over 300 yards passing in three of its last four contests and four of its last six. The Bengals have also allowed the third-most passing touchdowns on the season. If Ryan Finley can at least keep the Bengals on the board, Jones should be able to deliver.
Okay we’re breaking a few rules on this one but the circumstances justify it. Typically, you won’t see a player repeated here if they were listed in a prior week as Gus Edwards was in Week 9’s edition. You also wouldn’t see a player who scored fewer than one point that week unless they were on a bye or something injury related. J.K Dobbins was the star in the Baltimore Ravens loss to the Titans on Sunday.
But he and fellow back Mark Ingram were placed on the COVID-restricted list on Monday, leaving Edwards and Justice Hill as the only backs on a short week.the matchup is far from ideal. The Pittsburgh Steelers are third in fantasy points allowed to backs. Not that it matters much for Edwards, but they are equally as stingy through the air as they are on the ground too. Edwards got 16 carries in Ingram’s absence turning them into 87 yards and a touchdown when these teams met back in Week 8. With no Dobbins or Ingram this time around, it could be a big day for the big back.
New England Patriots
Everybody, say it with me now, “you can’t trust a New England Patriots running back”. Great now that we’ve got the legal disclaimer out of the way, James White could be a very useful piece to your fantasy roster down the stretch. Just the RB46 on the year in PPR, White has just three games with double-digit fantasy points. He also missed two additional contests with the tragic loss of his father. White finished as the RB15 through Sunday.
Burkhead vacates White’s old role as the pass-catching back in the Patriots backfield. That;s significant because neither Damien Harris nor they soon-to-return Sony Michel are utilized much if at all in the passing game. They face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. They’ve allowed three receiving touchdowns on the season, eighth-most. Meanwhile the Los Angeles Chargers, who they see in Week 13, have allowed the eighth-most receptions and 10th-most receiving touchdowns to backs.
As mentioned in last weeks edition, and will be mentioned every week until the playoffs, pick up your running back’s handcuff if you have or can clear the bench space. Nothing is worse than being caught flat-footed in the middle of a playoff chase because you snoozed on a player that was always more valuable to you than others. This is a time to be proactive and not wait for injuries to happen. Every owner could use another starting back. Don’t get caught needing one for some fringe wideout you’d never play.
Bye weeks can be very useful for fantasy managers. For one thing, when a player has a good game right before their bye, they often go overlooked on the waiver wire. Enter Cole Beasley, who had 11 catches (13 targets) for 109 yards and a touchdown in Week 10 before the Buffalo Bills went on hiatus. It was his first time hitting double-digit PPR fantasy points in three weeks but he’d hit the mark in six straight contests before that.
John Brown looks like he could miss some time with an apparent ankle injury suffered in that Week 10 contest. Beasley has averaged the 16th-most fantasy points per game with Brown out of the lineup. Buffalo also returns to face the Chargers, a defense we told you about earlier. They allow the short passes by design so Beasley could be set up for success regardless of whether or not Brown plays.
New England Patriots
After three weeks of being the number-one guy on the Patriots, Jakobi Meyers ceded the role to Damiere Byrd. Cam Newton’s former teammate with the Carolina Panthers delivered with 26.3 PPR fantasy points, good for WR4 through Sunday. It was a helluva bounceback for Byrd (six catches on seven targets for 132 yards and touchdown) after he was blanked in Week 10. He also carried once for 11 yards. It is a similar three game stretch to the one he had from Weeks 2-4.
The Cardinals roll into Foxboro for Week 12, meaning Meyers will likely see a good deal of Patrick Peterson. That means Byrd should see his fair share of Dre Kirkpatrick. He’s allowing nearly 77 percent of passes thrown at him to be completed at more than a first down per completion. Newton has looked *better* over these past few weeks and maybe that means this offense will start to click more down the stretch. Or at least produce two fantasy viable wideouts.
We’re breaking one of the rules we broke for Edwards yet again, this time for Atlanta Falcons wideout Olamide Zaccheaus. He only had one catch for 10 measly yards in the Falcons 24-9 whooping at the hands (and legs) of Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints. More disappointing that the situation being right, Julio Jones had to leave this one early. Worse yet is Zaccheaus was coming off 4/103/1 day against the Denver Broncos.
Jones’ injured hammy could be enough to keep him out by itself or due to an abundance of caution. Russell Gage had the better game this week, but it was Zaccheaus who stepped up when Jones re-aggravated the same hammy against Green Bay earlier in the year. Zaccheaus had eight catches for 86 yards in that one and looked like an explosive playmaker. The Las Vegas Raiders is 20th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Gage is probably an option too, but his role seems rather locked in.
In case you haven’t noticed, tight end is a wasteland for fantasy once again. So much so that we should rightfully be interested in anyone showing a pulse in the previous week as we are more often than not banking on a touchdown anyway. Well, Jordan Akins is your guy. The athletic Houston Texans tight end was the TE8 in Week 11 following his five-catch, 83-yard performance against the Patriots.
Be warned, this was just the second time all season Akins has produced double-digit fantasy points, and that’s in PPR. It was also just the second time he’s caught more than three passes or had more than 50 yards in a game all season. Again, anybody with a pulse. He’ll face a Detroit Lions team that is actually in the top-12 in tight end fantasy points allowed so, again, be warned. Just keep telling yourself, all it takes is a touchdown.