Tag Archives: Derek Carr

Week 11 Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking Into a Mirror

After weeks of having at least one stinker on the primetime NFL slate, we finally get treated to great matchups across the board in Week 11. All six teams are in the playoff hunt and two of the games feature divisional opponents. We also have no fewer than four MVP candidates and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. You could say it’s pretty loaded.

Week 10 was a rough one. We committed a cardinal sin in betting: betting with the heart and not with the mind (looking at you, Chicago Bears), resulting in an 0-3 week. It’s the first winless week of the year and it stings. The record now stands at 8-11. Yuck. It is what it is and we won’t be dissuaded. As usual, there’s money to be made and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking in a Mirror

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Spread: Seahawks -3

O/U: 57.5

Arizona Cardinal’s (5-4 ATS) Kyler Murray Hail Mary’ed himself back into the MVP race with his late-game heroics in Week 10. A 43-yard heave found stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone in the middle of three Buffalo Bills defenders. After starting the season 2-2, the Cardinals have won four of their last five to pull into a tie with their opponent in this very game. Arizona leads the league in total yards, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. They’re also seventh in points per game. And they’re far from one-sided, ranking ninth in scoring defense and have allowed just 23 touchdowns, four off the league-lead.

Russell Wilson has seen his MVP stock dip in recent weeks. He threw 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions through the first five weeks. He’s thrown nine scores to seven picks and lost three fumbles in the four games since. The Seattle Seahawks (5-3 ATS) need Wilson to play perfectly because their defense is as porous as they come. Seattle ranks 32nd in total yards and passing yards allowed. They’re a respectable fourth against the run but are 28th in scoring defense. It’s why they’ve lost three of their last four after starting off 5-0. Letting Russ cook has led to them getting burned.

This is the matchup that started the recent woes for the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was dominant and D.K. Metcalf famously hawked safety Budda Baker but the Cardinals won 37-34 in overtime.  A Wilson interception essentially sealed that one too. Arizona has won the last two meetings between these two squads after losing the previous three. These two teams are trending in different directions heading into this battle for a leg up in the chase for the NFC West crown. Ride the heater and take the Cardinals plus the points. Speaking of points, expect a lot of them. Arizona has allowed an average of 32.6 PPG over its last three contests while Seattle has allowed 32.7 in their last four.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)

Spread: Raiders +8

O/U: 56.5

Led by MVP-frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3 ATS) sit just behind the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs are first in offense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, tied for first in points per game, and fifth in total yards. Mahomes is third in the NFL with 25 touchdown passes to just one interception. Kansas City may also get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back this week as well. He hasn’t played since Week 5 when these teams last met. They will be without tackle Mitchell Schwartz, however. Their defense is no slouch either. While they rank 14th in defense DVOA, they are sixth in scoring defense, allowing just over 20 PPG.

It’s been about as good of an inaugural season in Sin City as the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3 ATS) are off to their best start since 2016. They finished that season 12-4 but lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round. Derek Carr was an MVP candidate that season but suffered a broken leg in Week 15. Flash forward and Carr is having the best statistical season of his career while the Raiders offense is eighth in scoring, ninth in DVOA, and 13th in total yards. Their defense is ungood so they rely on a run game ranked fifth in rushing attempts and touchdowns, and seventh in rushing yards to keep them looking average statistically.

Las Vegas pulled off the shocker last time these two met, walking out of] Kansas City with a 40-32 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. The Raiders are 3-1 since that game and have averaged 34 PPG over their last two contests. Too bad for them they are facing an Andy Reid team. His record coming off of extra rest is the stuff of legend. Add in the extra incentive of revenge and this could be a recipe for disaster if, unlike last time, the Raiders fail to establish the run. Look for the Chiefs to be aggressive early to eliminate that threat and protect their 27th ranked (30th in DVOA) run defense. Take K.C. but just moneyline as the Las Vegas ground game could keep this one close. That also makes the under appealing.

Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

Spread: Bucs -4

O/U: 48

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Los Angeles Rams ( 5-4 ATS) of late. Despite coming off their bye week to beat the Seahawks, they’re just 2-2 in their last four games after starting the season 4-1 with road losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. Jared Goff is 12th in passing attempts and 11th in passing yards but has just 13 touchdowns (and six picks) to show for it. L.A. is eighth in rushing and their 14 rushing touchdowns rank second but they’re only 18th in scoring. The Rams defense is second in total yards, third against the pass, and fourth in stopping the run.

Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) are second in total DVOA while he leads the league in pass attempts and sits fourth in pass attempts. This is the Bucs best start since 2010 when they also started 7-3. They finished 10-6 that season but still missed the playoffs. That shouldn’t be an issue this year as they sit behind the 7-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South but Drew Brees just went on IR and Taysom Hill is starting his first-ever game in the NFL. The Bucs could easily find themselves in the catbird seat with a win. Tampa also boasts the number one defense in DVOA, though the unit has allowed 26 PPG over the last four games; nearly four points higher than their season average.

L.A. is looking for just its third win this season over a team with a winning record after beating the Chicago Bears a few weeks back in addition to the Seahawks last week. Tampa is still seeking its first. If we look at the season, all three of the Buccaneers losses have been against teams in the top-five in DVOA. Their only win against a team in the top half of the league in defense DVOA is against the Denver Broncos. The Rams are eighth. But Los Angeles is just 2-3 on the road this season while Tampa Bay’s lone loss at home was to the Saints. Both teams are just 2-2 ATS over their last four, so we revert back to home-field advantage (and Goff’s disadvantage). That makes the Bucs the preferred play and with these defenses, hit the under.

NFL Week 9 Waiver Wire

Another week in the books just means more opportunities to work the waiver wire. It wasn’t a great week for quarterbacks or running backs; save for Patrick Mahomes and Dalvin Cook, respectively. Tight end has been another issue altogether. We did hit on Joe Burrow and Brandon Aiyuk in Week 8, but it was a rough one overall for our suggested pickups.

There were, as usual, more injuries that will have a fantasy impact. However, they aren’t as pertinent as the status of injuries we were already monitoring. They still provide us with some fill-ins with the Bengals, Brown, Eagles, and Rams all on bye. What might be most shocking is there were a couple of rookies who had strong performances without an injury to a player ahead of them on the depth chart.

NFL Week 9 Waiver Wire: Lock Your Carr

Quarterbacks

Drew Lock

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos pulled the upset and got the win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday thanks in no small part to Drew Lock. The second-year pro threw for 248 yards and three scores against L.A. He struggled in his first two games back from injury, completing just 53 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and four interceptions. But Lock completed better than 63 percent of his passes on his way to being the QB7 through Sunday’s games.

He gets the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, in Week 9. Only three quarterbacks have finished outside the top-12 against them; Teddy Bridgewater (in the rematch), Matthew Stafford, and Nick Foles. Lock is a solid option for those going without Burrow this week.

Derek Carr

Las Vegas Raiders

Staying in the AFC West, we land on the most senior quarterback in the division. Derek Carr is in the middle of a career-year in real-life. That hasn’t necessarily translated to fantasy, though, where he’s just QB20 on the season. But he has had usable weeks, peaking as the QB9 in Week 5. He should be back on the streaming radar in Week 9 as Las Vegas takes on the divisional-foe Los Angeles Chargers.

They’ve allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and just traded away a member of their already depleted secondary. Lock was able to get himself untracked against them, scoring more than 20 fantasy points. Burrow (QB20), Bridgewater (QB21), and Gardner Minshew (QB14) are the only two passers to not crack the top-10 against the Chargers.

Running Backs

Zack Moss

Buffalo Bills

Despite the fairly even overall split of the carries, Zack Moss is the more desirable back going forward for the Buffalo Bills. Devin Singletary (14 carries, 86 yards) drew the start and had more yardage. But Moss (14/81/2) got the ball in high-leverage situations, including all the work inside the 10-yard line. Week 8 was also the first time Moss got the majority of the snaps. Perhaps Moss can help solve Buffalo’s rushing woes.

His Week 9 opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, are tough on backs but this could be a long-term play on the waiver wire. They’ve also allowed 145 yards to Chase Edmonds and 112 yards to  Alexander Mattison in recent weeks. Moss obviously won’t score two touchdowns every week. And Josh Allen, who was playing at an MVP level earlier in the year, is always a threat to take it himself around the goal line. But Moss might be the next best option for a team that led the league in red-zone plays entering the week.

Jordan Wilkins

Indianapolis Colts

What seemed to be out of the ordinary actually has a logical explanation. Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich came out Monday and said rookie starting running back Jonathan Taylor is dealing with an ankle injury. Taylor still managed 11 totes but he could only turn them into 22 yards. Instead, third-year man Jordan Wilkins turned his 20 carries into 89 yards, also catching his lone target for 24 yards. This is Taylor’s role when healthy and Nyheim Hines gobbles up the receiving work pretty effectively.

There is also the matter of the Baltimore Ravens, Indy’s Week 9 opponent. They’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to backs in 2020. Though, if we’re being honest, four of the seven backs they’ve faced have been the RB17 or better. And two of the other types of performances came over the first two weeks. Wilkins might have a tough time reaching the top-15 considering he gets almost zero action through the air. But he can certainly be a top-24 play in Week 9.

Damien Harris

New England Patriots

You cannot trust a New England Patriots running back. You cannot trust a New Patriots running back. You cannot tru…you get the idea. That’s typically the case but we may be seeing a shift in philosophy that has been looming since Tom Brady left for Tampa. James White has enjoyed the most stable role in this backfield, serving as a safety valve for Brady. But with the Patriots going with a more run-heavy approach with Cam Newton, Damien Harris might be emerging as the most trustworthy asset.

Harris has gotten 10-plus carries in three of four games he’s been active and has hit the century mark in two of them. New England lost all four games; hopefully easing at some concern over his being phased out by game script. He isn’t without worry, though. White isn’t likely completely gone from this offense and Rex Burkhead is the quintessential vulture. But Harris has been playing for Sony Michel and has given no reasons why he shouldn’t continue doing so.

Gus Edwards/J.K. Dobbins

Baltimore Ravens

For one week, at least, fantasy players finally got a glimpse of how the Baltimore Ravens backfield would produce with just two mouths to feed as opposed to three. The results were both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins finishing in the top-15 in Week 8. Should Mark Ingram (ankle) miss another week, Edwards and Dobbins could be right back in the top-15 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Which of the two should be a priority might depend on your format. Edwards had one more carry and got the lone tote inside the 10-yard line so it’s likely him if your league is standard scoring. But Dobbins out-gained him (113 to 87) and was the preferred third-down option. He should be first-priority in PPR leagues.

Wide Receivers

Marvin Jones

Detroit Lions

Things have a way of coming full circle in sports. That usually manifests in the form of a veteran player signing for a final year, or even a one-day, contract to retire as a member of the team that drafted them. For Marvin Jones, it’s a little different. He was generally drafted toward the end of the eighth round or so as part of what was supposed to be a high-octane passing attack. He is just the WR52 on the year. In Week 8, however, he was the WR8.

A large part of why he was able to reach the ranking he did in Week 8 was because he caught two touchdowns. He caught two of them against the Colts; his just his second and third of the year. But he also got more opportunity due to Kenny Golladay exiting early with a hip injury. Golladay has already missed three games this season so perhaps Detroit takes the extra precautious approach. The Lions face the Minnesota Vikings who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers; just ask Davante Adams.

Darnell Mooney

Chicago Bears

We have had reason to suspect this was coming but it was nice to actually see Chicago Bears rookie receiver Darnell Mooney on the receiving end of a deep pass from Foles. For one thing, the Bears need all the offense they can muster. But, more important for fantasy purposes, it was the process paying off. Mooney has received three-plus targets in every game and has at least five in every game from Week 3 on.

Anthony Miller led Chicago in targets in Week 8 but that includes Allen Robinson; something no one should expect to happen again barring injury. He also still played fewer snaps than Mooney yet again. If one of these two performances was an outlier, it’s probably Miller’s. Sunday was his first game with more than four grabs all season. He’ll need to put together a couple more outing like this to regain the trust he began the year with. But the Tennessee Titans (seventh-most points to wide receivers) on tap, Mooney could yet again crack the top-16 like he did this week.

Kendrick Bourne

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are probably the most injury-riddled team in the NFL. They’re already down one All-Pro pass-rusher and two other key pieces from their vaunted defense. They are also without their top running back and lost his backup in what was his first game back. Now they will be without stud tight end George Kittle for basically the rest of the season. All of this is to say someone has to catch passes and in Week 8, at least, Kendrick Bourne was one of those people.

Bourne registered just one fewer target and had just 10 fewer yards than Brandon Aiyuk who led the 49ers in both categories. He’ll make for a better asset in PPR than standard, touchdowns will be harder to come by with Jimmy Garoppolo also set to miss an extended period of time. Nick Mullens has shown he can get the ball to his playmakers and with Deebo Samuel set to miss a couple more games, Bourne could be a nice FLEX play.

Tight Ends

Trey Burton

Indianapolis Colts

Another week, another rushing touchdown for Trey Burton. No, he hasn’t switched positions. He has just landed in one of the friendliest offenses for tight ends in the NFL. Frank Reich’s system helped revive the career of Eric Ebron and might be doing the same with Burton. He’s already surpassed his yardage and touchdown totals from 2019 with the Bears and he’s done so in half the games.

Mo Alie-Cox started in this role but got injured a few weeks back. This has allowed Burton to emerge for Reich, whom we won a Super Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. There are obvious risks. Philip Rivers hasn’t been great this year, Jack Doyle isn’t going away, and Burton is still a part-time player. Indy also plays the Ravens in Week 9. Their sturdy defense has been just okay at stopping tight ends and allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers Eric Ebron to catch four passes for 48 yards and a score.

Free Agency Best and Worst: AFC West

We are 75 percent of the way through our trip around the NFL judging the best and worst from the free agency period. We arrive at our final two divisions, the Wests. As we have done with our other installments, we will go over the AFC West first. This is the division of the world champs whose grip on it shouldn’t be expected to loosen any time soon.

AFC: North | South | East

NFC: North | South | East

Best and Worst of Free Agency: AFC West

Denver Broncos

Best Move: Landing a Workhorse

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is a defensive-minded coach. Those types almost always build their offenses around strong running games. So it shouldn’t have been a big surprise to see Denver be in on one of the most versatile runners in the NFL today, even with local-son Phillip Lindsay in tow.

Lindsay has amassed 2048 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons. But at 5’8” and under 200 lbs, the Broncos have been reluctant to ride him. Melvin Gordon (6’1”, 215 lbs) doesn’t carry the same worries. Gordon is also a better weapon out of the backfield with 490 receiving yards in 2018 (his last full year) to 437 for Lindsay in his career.

Worst Move: None

This is another where it may seem like a cop-out. But the reality is Denver is smack dab in the middle of a rebuild. Expecting them to be major players in free agency is flawed. Sure, they could have been and could have used the available talent. But building through the draft and making smart free-agent acquisitions is never the wrong choice.

We could certainly nitpick and say they didn’t do enough to upgrade their pass protection or that replacing Chris Harris with A.J. Bouye isn’t a safe bet. We could say they should move Von Miller (they shouldn’t) to cash in on his name while his value is still high. But they have a nice mix of veterans and young guys right now. It’s a good blend.

Next Move: Find WR2

Courtland Sutton has the looks of a stud wide receiver. He turned 124 targets into 72 catches for 1112 yards and six scores with poor quarterback play. But after him, Denver is less than thin. Their second-leading receiver was Emmanuel Sanders who was traded midway through the season, with 30 catches for 367 yards.

The Broncos picked a good time to need a receiver. This draft is believed to be deep enough to produce starter-quality options well into the second day of selections. With their top option at receiver, workhorse and scat backs, and their quarterback of the future, all Denver needs is a receiver to take the top off the defense. That is if you think the offensive line play will hold up.

Kansas City Chiefs

Best Move: Retaining Dominant D-Lineman

Chris Jones is a dominant force for the Kansas City Chiefs. A Pro Bowler last year, Jones had a better season in 2018 than in 2019. He finished fifth in pressures that season and while that number fell in 2019, he still made an impact. Jones was credited with three pass deflections in Super Bowl LIV. He also missed three games explaining at least some of the drop from 15.5 sacks to nine (still a good total).

Slapping Jones with the franchise tag is far from solving the problem. Jones wants, deserves, and will get paid. Whether or not Kansas City is the organization to pony up remains to be seen. Rumors of potential trades have swirled since before he signed is tender. But that is a worry for another day. For now, the Chiefs did well to keep him in town.

Worst Move: Missing the Flash Sale

This one might take some convincing, but the Chiefs missed the boat letting the Broncos poach Gordon from the Los Angeles Chargers. Now, if you are done laughing yes, the Chiefs just won the Super Bowl with Damien Williams and all of his 498 regular-season rushing yards and 213 receiving yards.

Kansas City doesn’t need Gordon, that much is true. But the potential of this offense and Patrick Mahomes with Gordon’s dual-threat abilities is scary high. Kansas City had their way with much of the league with Williams and the ghost of LeSean McCoy. Adding Gordon would have made the Chiefs prohibitive favorites to win the whole thing again.

Next Move: Find Another Sammy

Sammy Watkins returning to the Chiefs is a win for Mahomes. Tyreek Hill is the top option, but Watkins has performed like a number one receiver on more than one occasion. Kansas City restructured Watson’s contract to keep the band together but they shouldn’t rest on their laurels just yet.

Watkins has had a problem staying healthy in his relatively short career, only appearing in a full 16 games just once; his rookie season. That injury history is a large part of why the Chiefs were ever able to get him. Had he stayed healthy he might still be in Buffalo catching passes from Josh Allen. Instead, the Chiefs need to remember his body of work and not just his 2019.

Las Vegas Raiders

Best Move: Physically Moving

The Raiders last winning season came in 2016. Before that, it was 2002. That’s one winning season in 17 years. That kind of awful streak is sure to breed apathy among a fan base. So, despite the decrying from nostalgia nuts, the move from Oakland to Las Vegas is not only welcome but long overdue.

Waning attendance and (the bigger issue) a contract dispute over the Coliseum led to this and no one should be upset. If fans in Oakland are, they should be with their elected officials, any deal that they want to be done typically gets done. But the rest of us should indulge in this. In the imagery of the team with the pirate logo and colorful past now reside in Sin City. Glorius.

Worst Move: Spending on MLB

This is splitting hairs a bit. Las Vegas needed a middle linebacker anyway, but especially after letting Tahir Whitehead walk in free agency. They remedied that by signing former Chicago Bears reserve Nick Kwiatkoski to a three-year, $21 million deal. It’s not a large deal but there are definitely risks coming with it.

Kwiatkoski made for a nice fill-in player for the Bears. At different points, he has either come off the bench or started in place of starters Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith. But he has never been tasked with starting more than half a season. That’s plenty of tape to draw a conclusion, but that’s not the issue. Kwiatkoski is limited (the logic for Chicago choosing Trevathan) and Oakland needs a dynamic playmaker in the worst way.

Next Move: Keep Trucking

Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have taken plenty of flack for their decisions (drafting Clelin Ferrell fourth overall comes to mind) and for just being them. But they have a clear vision for the type of players they want and what they want this franchise to be on the football field. Realizing that vision is always a matter of chance. But Gruden and Mayock have been far more competent than we initially gave them credit for.

In that vein, the Raiders need to keep doing what they have been doing (didn’t think you’d get to read that when Gruden got hired, did ya?). Continue to build through the draft and even the reclamation projects like Marcus Mariota are smart. That one, in particular, is one to watch. It’s no secret that Gruden and starting quarterback Derek Carr have been anything but a match made in Heaven.

Los Angeles Chargers

Best Move: The Patriot Way

No, this isn’t  insanity, the Patriot Way definitely made its way West. Philip Rivers leaves the Chargers the all-time leader in passing yards on franchise history. He also leaves retaining every bit of the gunslinger mentality that fans undoubtedly came to both love and loathe at times.

Rivers averaged just over 28 touchdowns per season in 14 seasons as the full-time starter. He had 23 last season and 32 in 2018. He averaged a little over 14 interceptions in that same span and had 20 in 2019 and 12 in 2018. So, it would seem, his 2018 when the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time in five years, was the outlier. Smart move, Los Angeles.

Worst Move: Falling For It

Earlier in this piece, the Broncos received praise for giving a running back a new contract. On their side were the short length and relatively-small dollar mount (two years, $16 million with $13 million guaranteed. Los Angeles handing Austin Ekeler four years for $24.5 million and $15 million in guarantees. That’s a risky proposition for a player with no more than eight starts in any given season.

Next Move: Finding QB1

Naturally, after Rivers moved on to the Indianapolis Colts, and really even before, names were getting linked to the Chargers for 2020. From Jameis Winston to Cam Newton to Tom Brady, Los Angeles was viewed as a top landing spot. They settled on Tyrod Taylor, even announcing as much. But he is, at best, a stop-gap option.

With the NFL Draft just a few days away and an older (and average) starter in place, it makes sense for the Chargers to be looking at one of the top passers coming in. Do they trade up for Tua Tagovailoa whose game is like Taylor’s on steroids or maybe Jalen Hurts who might be somewhere in between those two, or Justin Herbert who is more like the departed Rivers?