Tag Archives: football

Week 15 Primetime Moneymakers: An AFL Throwback

Entering Week 15 we must remember that every NFL season is full of “flukey” moments, sure. But this year has stood out for its wackiness. From the lack of a training camp and then preseason to the expansion of rosters and rescheduling of games. Nothing is as it usually is in the NFL and that has made picking games especially difficult. We had no baseline and just when we started to get a handle on things, coaching staffs across the league have made their typical adjustments. We just have to get back one step ahead.

If you listen closely, you can hear the fantasy gods stomping a mudhole in our ticket from last week. 0-3 is obviously as bad as gets but to have the Browns blow it for us in the fashion they did was just brutal. So much so that many sportsbooks refunded bets or gave site credit to the many bettors who almost had it. Nonetheless, there is still money to be won and if anybody is going to win it, it should be us. Fingers crossed, sheesh!

A Classic AFL Clash Leads Week 15 Primetime Moneymakers

Los Angeles Chargers (4-9) at Las Vegas (7-6)

Spread: Raiders -3

O/U: 53

It’s been an interesting season for the Los Angeles Chargers (6-7 ATS). They’ve had seven games decided by one score (eight points or less). They’ve only won two of those games. Such is life with a rookie quarterback as Justin Herbert has thrown an interception in all but three of his starts. And if it weren’t for a late field goal against the implosion specialist Atlanta Falcons they would be in the midst of another three-game skid. It was much needed after they were shutout 45-0 by the New England Patriots at home a couple of weeks ago.

The Las Vegas Raiders (7-6 ATS) are having a successful inaugural season in Sin City. But they’ve gone 1-3 over the last month with a 46-3 loss on the road to the Atlanta Falcons sticking out. Their lone win was a 31-28 edging of the winless New York Jets. Kansas City bottled up Josh Jacobs who hurt his ankle the following week against Atlanta and the running game has subsequently failed to hit the 100-yard mark in a month. Rushing stats are usually an indicator of winning. For the Raiders it the other way around. If they won it’s likely because they ran.

Neither of these teams has been a safe bet these last four weeks. L.A. hadn’t covered since Week 3 before last week. Vegas hasn’t covered since Nov 22. The specter of a possible coaching change for the Chargers can manifest in any number of ways, such as their late-game rally in Week 14. Las Vegas won this matchup last time thanks to an overturned touchdown call. It’s hard to sweep an opponent but taking the Raiders (minus the points) still feels like the smart call given the Chargers propensity for late-game collapses. Also going over here just because.

Cleveland Browns (9-4) at New York Giants (5-8)

Spread: Giants +4.5

O/U: 45

Even with all the hype they received in the preseason, this matchup looked like a snoozer in the preseason. Now, the Cleveland Browns (5-8 ATS) are in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Their harrowing defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens last Monday night snapped a four-game winning streak. That streak included a 41-35 manhandling of the Tennessee Titans. Cleveland is third in the NFL in rushing and 25th in passing, but Baker Mayfield has completed over 66 percent of his passes for 935 yards with eight touchdowns to just one interception over the last three weeks.

The New York Giants (8-5 ATS) had a four-game winning streak ended last week too. Theirs was a 26-7 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals but was due in no small part to quarterback Daniel Jones trying to play on a bad hamstring. That means Colt McCoy, who got the start and a win in Week 13, could be back under center. Still, their victory and defensive dominance over the Seattle Seahawks highlighted what has been a tremendous mid-season turnaround after they started the season 1-4.

Back-to-back big games are usually a recipe for a letdown the following week. Especially against a battered opponent. But the way the game ended last week can’t sit well with the Browns. It’s hard to see any way they let this team beat them. It has also been a safer bet to take the Giants to cover. But we cannot ignore Jones’ injury and what it does in a spot where New York would be an underdog regardless. Browns laying the points it is as the Giants have covered a spread of fewer than five points just once. We are also riding the under, but only if Jones sits.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1)

Spread: Bengals +13

O/U: 40.5

For weeks many talking heads have been pointing out the fluke nature of the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5 ATS) record. Over the last two weeks, the rest of us have seen that all bear out. Dropping back-to-back games is bad enough. But one of those came against a team from the feeble NFC East at Heinz Field. Last week’s loss to the Bills is more understandable except for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense’s struggles. Pittsburgh is still first in defense DVOA but they are dragging along the 20th-ranked offense. Perhaps they try to get the ground game going this week.

If we are being completely honest, this is the season the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6 ATS) needed as a franchise. Despite the season-ending knee injury, they appear to have their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. Now, they’ll be able to keep putting top-tier talent around him thanks to having a putrid record. Cincinnati is 31st in total DVOA (30th in offense, 29th in defense) and 30th in scoring offense. They are 22nd in scoring defense, though, for whatever that’s worth. This one could get ugly and that would be totally acceptable.

They should bring relegation to the NFL should Pittsburgh lose this game. Beating up on weak teams then losing to the sneakily competitive Washington Football team is one thing. A loss to these Bengals would be catastrophic. Pittsburgh needs to get their offense back in order and this looks like a get-right spot. But 13 points is a big number. The Steelers haven’t had, let alone covered, a spread that large this season while the Bengals have lost by double-digits six times this year. Just two of those were by more than 12 points. Pittsburgh will win but by how much? The under might be the safest play.

All line information courtesy of Covers.com

Week 15 Waiver Wire: MMMBop…

Just two more weeks left for most of us entering Week 15. Hopefully, you were able to advance to the next round of your league’s fantasy football playoffs. If so, you’re likely just one win away from the championship that you have fought all season for. Nothing would be worse than to come all this way just to lose because you missed out on the savviest pick-ups available on the waiver wire.

You’re here so that doesn’t happen. And even though we are so late in the season there is still value to be had out there. One simply needs to know where to look. This week’s wire features an old dog learning new tricks, a rookie former-Raider, and an out-of-nowhere wide receiver. Now, let’s get you through this week and set up to bring home that coveted trophy.

Chad Hansen and Lynn Bowden Headline Week 15 Waiver Wire

Quarterback

Nick Mullens

San Francisco 49ers

This move is not for the faint of heart.There’s exists the chance of an in-game quarterback change. That’s because Nick Mullens is the QB30 on the season, in part because he’s only started seven games. He was the QB26 in Week 14 and has thrown at least one pick in all but two games he’s played this season, including multiple picks in three contests, with three fumbles to boot.

But just two weeks ago Mullens threw three touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. He’s also thrown at least one touchdown in all but two games. He also gets the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. They were allowing 34 points per game the three weeks prior to shutting down the battered Cincinnati Bengals. On the year, Dallas is 32nd in scoring defense. So even though San Francisco is just 20th in scoring offense (one slot above Dallas), they should still be able to put up points on a defense ranked 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns

What a year the Cleveland Browns are having and Baker Mayfield is right in the thick of it. The QB20 on the season, Mayfield is coming off of back-to-back weekly finishes. Just a week removed from his QB4 performance against the Tennessee Titans, he was the QB2 for his work in a losing effort on Monday Night Football.

This isn’t a play for Week 15. Mayfield’s Browns head to New York to take on the Giants who will likely be without Daniel Jones. That means, in addition to facing a defense that ranks just 17th against the pass but ninth in scoring doesn’t shape up to be a big one for Mayfield. Instead, look to Week 16 against New York’s other team, the Jets, for your spot. They’re allowing the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and are tied for second-most passing touchdowns allowed.

Running Back

Jeff Wilson

San Francisco 49ers

Starting another position in the Bay, we turn to the 49ers backfield and Jeff Wilson. He’s actually been on several waiver wire lists in recent weeks with all of the backs in San Fran missing time at one point or another. Wilson got his first real crack in Week 3 against the Giants. He took 12 carries for a whopping 15 yards but added 54 yards on three catches. What allowed him to finish that week as the RB10 were the two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground.

He’s only had one other useful week, that coming in Week 7 when he ran for 112 yards on 17 carries and had three rushing touchdowns against the New England Patriots. In Week 15, he draws a defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. The 9ers system is legendary for backs, but keep in mind that Dallas is one of three teams that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.

Handcuffs

Just as with every recent installment, this is your weekly reminder that if you have a stud running back and that back has a clear, defined understudy, roster said understudy. We have seen all year the value of having the handcuff to some of the top backs. Mike Davis has been a fixture in lineups most of the season while we are getting more clarity of late in Baltimore and Los Angeles. This is also useful if you have the space on your bench, though it is less useful with just two weeks left in the majority of fantasy seasons.

Wide Receivers

Chad Hansen

Houston Texans

The story of Chad Hansen is one perseverance. The former fourth-round pick of the Jets bounced around the league for two years despite showing some promise as a rookie just to land in the perfect showcase situation. The Houston Texans were without Will Fuller (suspension) and Brandin Cooks (injury) on Sunday and Hansen caught seven balls for 56 yards against a stingy Chicago Bears secondary. That was his (relatively disappointing) encore to his five grab, 101-yard performance from a week earlier.

The 6-foot-2 Hansen is in a terrific spot. Fuller is done for the season and with the oft-injured Cooks dealing with multiple ailments, Hansen could stick through the end of the season. Keke Coutee is still around, and productive. But he is more of a deep-threat and player to get the ball to in space. Hansen is the big-bodied security blanket, an aspect of DeAndre Hopkins’ game that may have been underappreciated by former management.

Lynn Bowden

Miami Dolphins

Another chance to take advantage of dual eligibility! Rookie Lynn Bowden caught seven of nine passes thrown his way for 82 yards and even took a handoff, though that only netted two yards. That matters because Bowden is eligible as both a wide receiver and a running back in ESPN leagues. Everyone remembers the hubbub around Taysom Hill in his first start, some will remember how they avoided the issue entirely with Kendall Hinton. This though, being much more like Ty Montgomery a couple of years ago, is much more conventional.

Still, Miami takes on the New England Patriots in Week 15 with Bowden as one of the few healthy options for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki are both in danger of missing this contest (as is Jakeem Grant) which could open the door for the electric Bowden. New England is 28th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. There could be plenty of volume to offset any inefficiency though and that makes this intriguing. Well, that and the dual eligibility.

Tight End

Dan Arnold

Arizona Cardinals

Remember how our motto for tight ends is “chance at falling in the end zone”? Good because Dan Arnold has three of them over the last two weeks. He’s the TE6 over that span with only four catches and 88 yards, just to give you an idea of the state of the position. He’s surprisingly the TE22 on the year, further evidence of the wasteland that is the tight end position.

Not only is Arnold hot and playing for an offense that has run the fourth-most plays (opportunity is king), but he draws the Eagles in Week 15. They are 24th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have allowed a tight end to catch a touchdown in each of the last two games. All of this bodes well given Arnold is, at best, fifth in the pecking order.

All rankings courtesy of FantasyPros.com

Triple Zeros: Brad Spielberger 2.0

Happy to have @PFF_Brad back on Triple Zeros! We recapped his last visit, he indulged my Riddick-Harbaugh-Bears talk, and so much more! Be sure to check out his latest piece for @PFF too (https://tinyurl.com/bradpff)!

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Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. DangeRuss

Week 14 Primetime Monemakers: Lights, Cam-era, Action

Don’t look now, or quote us on this, but it appears we are back to a regular schedule in Week 14 in the NFL. We’re talking complete with Thursday Night Football and all. Just a week after having two games played at non-traditional times due to positive COVID tests with the Baltimore Ravens delaying their matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers from Thanksgiving night to the following Wednesday. Baltimore was the big mover. Others had positives along the way too though. It’s a position we saw the Tennessee Titans in earlier in the year, which also impacted Pittsburgh.

Last week was solid as we went 2-1. We ended up leaving the Baltimore-Dallas game alone. That was due to the uncertainty up until kickoff when they still had Dez Bryant test positive. In fact, the only thing that kept it from being great was the Washington Football Team upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our record sits at (an unacceptable) 11-15 even with the good week. But last week was just the start of our winning streak to close out the year. As always, there’s money to be made. If anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us.

Pats @ Rams Leads Week 14’s Primetime Moneymakers

New England Patriots (6-6) at Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

Spread: Rams -4.5

O/U: 44

Quiet as kept, the New England Patriots (6-6 ATS) have won two in a row and four of their last five. Cam Newton, averaging less than 200 passing yards per game, has cleaned up his act of late. He’s still well under 200 yards per and has thrown three touchdowns and just two interceptions. Major improvement after he threw seven interceptions but just two touchdowns over his first six games. His offense is 23rd in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. But it’s gone from averaging just over 19 points per game to more than 27 PPG in that same span. The defense, also 23rd in DVOA, has made a similarly positive switch. It’s gone from allowing 23 PPG to 17 PPG (the shutout helped).

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Rams (7-5 ATS) have won three of four since their bye. They’ve beaten Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Arizona in that span but did drop one to San Francisco. Still, they’re fourth in offense DVOA and fifth in defense DVOA. They’ve been mediocre scoring points, ranking just 17th despite them being third in yards. But their defense has been stingy, ranking fifth in points and second in yards allowed. Jared Goff has completed better than 73 percent of his passes. That’s a stretch of accuracy only outdone by his performance from Weeks 2 to 5. But he has thrown four touchdowns to four interceptions and has lost two fumbles in that time.

Both of these teams are 3-1 ATS the last four weeks, making this more complicated than it should be. They last met in Super Bowl LIII, a game the Patriots won 13-3. This one shapes up as another defensive showdown so the under is probably the most appealing play. The Rams are 4-1 at home but their (small) record against the Patriots doesn’t lend much confidence to backing them straight up. Can you talk yourself into taking the Pats given what we know about both teams over the last month? It’s tough, but take the Pats plus points. They’ve failed to cover a spread less than a touchdown just twice and haven’t lost to L.A. since 2001.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)

Spread: Bills -2

O/U: 48.5

In a loss that was equal parts surprising and a long time coming, the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-4 ATS) fell to the Washington Football Team in Week 13. As Chase Young and Monte Sweat mused after the game though, Baltimore had exposed some things the week prior. Pittsburgh has also failed to hit the century mark as a team on the ground in six of the last seven games. They’ve failed to crack 50 yards as a team in four of them. That’s a large part of why their offense is 17th in offense DVOA. Their defense is still first in DVOA but they just gave up 273 passing yards to the Football Team, the most they’ve allowed all season.

The Buffalo Bills (7-5 ATS) started 4-0 but went 3-3 over their next six games, including a loss to Arizona right before the bye. They’ve gone 2-0 since returning with wins over the Chargers and 49ers so it’s hard to say if they’ve truly regained their form from earlier in the year. They are 3-2 against teams currently in the playoffs. But their last such win came back in Week 9 at home against the Seahawks, who have gone 2-2 since. Buffalo, is seventh in offense DVOA and 16th in defense DVOA. They’ve been reliant on the passing game, hitting 100 team rushing yards in just five games (90-plus in two others) despite the threat of Josh Allen. Defense is the opposite.

Buffalo is 4-0 ATS the last four weeks while Pittsburgh is in the midst of a 0-2 skid. And while the Steelers still the analytics darling defensively, the Bills passing game certainly passes the eye test. Of course, there is something to be said for your head coach calling you out to to the media for your effort. It’s very possible for the Steelers to come out clicking at a level we haven’t seen for weeks. That puts the over squarely in play in a matchup of top-10 scoring outfits. It’s been mostly unders in Steelers games this year but they haven’t faced many offenses like the Bills. However, the Bills haven’t seen many pass rushes like the Steelers. Pittsburgh plus the points.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Cleveland Browns (9-3)

Spread: Browns +3

O/U: 47

This will be a good test of whether the Baltimore Ravens (6-6 ATS) really turned a corner last week or if they just beat up on a bad team in Dallas. Conventional wisdom might point to the latter being the case as they had lost three straight before that. But they were missing several key players due to injury and COVID issues so maybe the last month is just the side-effect of that. The defense is carrying the Ravens. It ranks seventh in DVOA while the offense ranks just 21st. Baltimore also has just one win against a playoff team all season; against the Colts back in Week 9. 

It’s a new day in Cleveland as the Browns (5-7 ATS) are will have a winning season for the first time since 2007. That’s amazing not only for that reason but also when considering how the talk around the team sounded just a few weeks ago when losses to the Steelers and Raiders had folks talking about the Browns beating up on weak teams. Flash forward and Cleveland’s current four-game streak seemed doomed for the same type of talk before they took the Titans to the woodshed in Week 13. Cleveland is 23rd in total DVOA making them the second-lowest ranked playoff team behind the Giants.

So which team would be beating up on a weaker opponent here? If it was in the preseason the easy answer would be the Ravens are the bully. But the last few weeks they’ve struggled to beat bad or similarly-struggling squads. That doesn’t bode well against a Browns squad that is feeling itself in the run-up to its first playoff appearance in over a decade. Cleveland has the worse record against the number. But a home dog against a questionable opponent seems too good pass on. The difference could be injuries along the defensive front for Baltimore. This game will be decided on the ground. That could also make the under attractive.

All line information courtesy of Covers.com.

2020 Fantasy Football Regular Season Awards

Finally, we are through the grueling fantasy football regular season. Well, not in leagues everywhere. But most of them for sure. If you were skilled enough (and had the right amount of luck) to make the playoffs, congratulations! Now the real, work begins.

But before we do that, we should take a look back at this season and recognize the players that got us where we are today. For some, that means appreciation. In regards to others, though, it will be a show of contempt for the disappointment.

Awards for 2020 Fantasy Football Standouts

Most Valuable Player

Kyler Murray

2020 has been a bit up-and-down for Kyler Murray; our preseason pick for league MVP. In his sophomore season, the diminutive passer has improved his completion percentage, touchdown rate, and is on pace to shatter his passing yardage total from last season. He’s even upped his rushing production.

What matters most for our purposes is that he went from 10th in overall fantasy scoring to first in a year. The QB5 with an ADP of 56 in the preseason, Murray gave you MVP-level production with an emphasis on the ‘value’.

We cannot do this without acknowledging the players who came closest to winning this. Patrick Mahomes, who missed out by five points, stands out as obvious, as would most any other top quarterback named. But of the four players to round out the top-10, none was a quarterback.

Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams outscored the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, and many others this year. Kamara has been without Drew Brees for the last three weeks while Cook and Adams both missed at least one game.

Bust of the Year

Saquon Barkley

Now the “winner” may be Saquon Barkley, but this one could have gone any number of ways. Some might consider Dak Prescott since he was the league’s leading passer when he went down in Week 5. Or maybe you say it’s his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott. He hasn’t missed a game but is the RB7 after being drafted as the RB3 with an ADP of third-overall. Or is it Christian McCaffrey?

No, it’s Barkley who lasted one full week before going down with just four touches in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears. Much was expected from the former second-overall pick. It’s the second year in a row he’s failed to come close to his ADP. Last year he was the first overall pick and finished as the RB17 (82nd overall). He was drafted second overall on average this season. Oof.

Rookie of the Year

Justins

Ok, so we’re breaking the rules a bit here and, no, that isn’t an error in the heading. Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers is the easy choice. A quarterback and the highest-scoring rookie in the NFL. But we don’t do ‘easy’ around here and so we have co-Rookies of the Year in Herbert and fellow-Justin, Justin Jefferson, wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

The latter has made a strong case for winning the award in real life too. Herbert’s case would be stronger with more winning and fewer critical turnovers. Still, he is the QB9 after going undrafted due to starting the year as a backup. Jefferson, drafted as the WR48 only to finish the regular schedule as the WR7. A tip of the cap, rooks.

Waiver Add of the Year

James Robinson

Herbert could have qualified for this award since he was a hot commodity on waiver wires after Tyrod Taylor was injured. But it’s another player that walks away with this esteemed distinction. The waiver wire is critical to any successful season and missing out on your preferred target is a different kind of pain. You probably didn’t have that problem with James Robinson.

After Jacksonville cut Leonard Fournette the discussion around this backfield was simple: Avoid. Most wrote that any potential production was negligible. Most of that was because without a preseason we didn’t know who the backup was or how they would perform. All Robinson did was finish the regular season eighth among non-quarterbacks and 20th overall in fantasy points. The undrafted rookie out of Illinois State is third in the NFL in rushing attempts and yards.

Comeback Player of the Year

Ben Roethlisberger

One of the beautifully weird things about fantasy football is how different the perception of a player may be compared to real life. Ben Roethlisberger is having a good season by most standards; over 66 percent completion and 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. But he’s just 12th in passing yards and his interception last week against the Washington Football Team proved to be costly.

Yet, after missing all but two games last year with an elbow injury, and contemplating retirement, Roethlisberger sits 16 overall in fantasy points and is the QB11 (better than his QB14 ADP). Imagine if he was operating a typical Steelers offense.

Most Improved Player

Davante Adams

Aaron Rodgers is an MVP candidate thanks in no small part to stellar wideout Davante Adams. The former Fresno State Bulldog is fourth in catches, sixth in yards, but is tied for first with 13 receiving touchdowns. Mind you, he’s missed two full games and part of a third this season. He missed four games last season and had 83 grabs for 997 yards and five scores.

All of those numbers, racked up in 12 games, are fewer than Adams has compiled through 10. Being in the second year of the offensive system has helped all of the Green Bay Packers and the connection between Rodgers and Adams appears stronger than ever. Adams was the WR32 and 87th player overall last year. He is 2020’s WR2 and 10th overall player through the regular season.

DST of the Year

Miami Dolphins

In real life, we acknowledge the best player on defense with the Defensive Player of the Year award. In most cases, fantasy football only has entire units. As such, we have to bestow this great honor to the Miami Dolphins. Yup, we’re breaking the rules again. It’s actually the Pittsburgh Steelers DST that leads the way in scoring.

With an ADP as the DST2, their production is only “mildly” impressive. Miami, however, was ranked dead last on average in the preseason. Now? They are ranked second. That’s a stunning turnaround from a unit that finished last season just as they were projected before this one.

All rankings and ADP information courtesy of Fantasypros.com

Triple Zeros: WTF, WFT?

Triple Zeros: WTF, WFT?

NFL

🏈Undefeated No Longer
🏈Gase Firing Folks

NBA

🏀Melo ‘7’ Again
🏀Bron Talks Kyrie
+More!
 
 

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Week 14 Waiver Wire: Playoffs?!

We’re hitting the Week 14 waiver wire hard. You fancy yourself a contender, huh? Good because you should! Reaching the playoffs (playoffs?!) in fantasy football is so much harder than anything that isn’t real should ever be. That’s why the joy that comes from it is equally as strong. Weeks turned to months as your meticulously put together roster took you on an emotional rollercoaster just for a shot to take home the championship.

But you didn’t join your league just to make the playoffs (playoffs?!), no. You should have every intention of winning it all. We are through all the bye weeks so your teams should be at full strength. That doesn’t mean there aren’t holes on your roster, though, so we can’t just rest on our laurels. With the playoffs trimming the field considerably, we’ll be giving our top pick-up at each position each week and a quick take on one player you could stash. So, let’s build a champion.

Shout Out to Jim Mora Sr in the Week 14 Waiver Wire

Quarterback

Sam Darnold

New York Jets

No, this is not ideal nor a suggestion that would be made under normal circumstances. This is instead a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option for those still waiting on the return of Drew Brees and/or those who stream quarterbacks. If you fall into either category, Sam Darnold might be the guy for you. Darnold took advantage of a porous Las Vegas Raiders secondary to be Week 13’s QB10 through Sunday.

The squishy matchups continue for Darnold in Week 14 as he draws the Seattle Seahawks. They’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and are stout against the run. Seattle’s secondary is so bad they let Carson Wentz put up a performance worthy of being the QB7 in Week 12. Wentz was benched this week for a second-round rookie. Darnold doesn’t have anyone breathing down his neck (yet)  and this matchup should offer him plenty of chances to rack up points.

Jalen Hurts

Philadelphia Eagles

In perhaps the most anticipated benching of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles sent 2016 first-round pick Wentz, who leads the NFL with 15 interceptions, to the bench. Jalen Hurts came in and threw a pretty looking touchdown to Greg Ward. He also only completed 41 percent of his passes and threw a pick so proceed with caution. Philly also takes on the Saints in Week 14. They’re third in fantasy points per game.

Running Back

Peyton Barber

Washington Football Team

It’s been quite some time since Peyton Barber was a useful fantasy asset. He had 57 yards on 11 carries in Week 12, but he hasn’t scored double-digit fantasy points since Week 1 when he scored 2 touchdowns on 17 carries that netted just 29 yards. Washington Football Team leading rusher Antonio Gibson was forced out of their big win against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a toe injury putting Barber right back on the fantasy radar.

Staying true to form, he only managed 23 yards on 14 carries so you know what to expect should Gibson sit in Week 14. Washington also heads West to take on the San Francisco 49ers who are fourth against the run and have allowed just six rushing touchdowns. Still, if the Football Team can get into scoring position, Barber is as good of a bet as any to take it in.

Ty Johnson

New York Jets

No, there isn’t a concerted effort to get Jets on this list. The war of attrition is just such that we are taking the “next man up” approach to our fantasy rosters as they do in real life. Ty Johnson is where those things intersect. La’Mical Perine is on IR and Frank Gore left their Week 13 contest with a concussion. Johnson stepped up with 104 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 13 yards. The still-winless Jets face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. They’ve been good against the run but just let Wayne Gallman run for 135 yards.

Wide Receiver

T.Y. Hilton

Indianapolis Colts

Are we finally witnessing a strong connection between T.Y. Hilton and Philip Rivers? The diminutive Indianapolis Colts wide receiver is the WR6 in Week 13 and has caught 12 of 16 targets for 191 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks. He had 194 yards on 19 catches (33 targets) and no scores in his six previous games combined. As Philip Rivers continues to play better (eight touchdowns over his last four games after 10 over the first eight), Hilton can deliver too.

Sunday’s big day came against the Houston Texans who rank 21st against the pass. The good news is he’ll see the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14 and they rank 24th against the pass and are allowing the 12th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Indianapolis would prefer to be a run-first outfit and the Raiders are susceptible there. But the trends show Hilton on the rise.

Keke Coutee

Houston Texans

Speaking of the Texans, they played their first game post-suspension of Will Fuller and had an unexpected (though not surprising) player step up in his absence. Keke Coutee (WR13) caught eight balls for 141 yards against the Colts which isn’t a cakewalk. With a matchup against the Chicago Bears on deck, Coutee could be in for another big game. The Bears are reeling and Deshaun Watson could look to show out on a team that passed on him in the draft for Mitchell Trubisky.

Tight End

Cole Kmet

Chicago Bears

And speaking of the Bears, Cole Kmet was the TE7 in Week 13 catching five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. The embattled rookie tight end caught just his second touchdown of the season, had more than one catch for just the third time and had double-digit yards for just the fourth time this season. All of that is disappointing for such a high draft pick but the Bears are searching, desperately, for answers and Kmet is a part of the future.

Houston isn’t the best matchup but they aren’t one to run from either. With folks in the organization fighting for their jobs, look for anything that can be construed as a positive in the last few weeks. Having Kmet turn out to be a quality player would certainly qualify. That might not save any jobs but he could definitely provide a boost to your fantasy team.

Picturing Perfect NFL Playoffs Payoffs

You go through an entire sports season (in this case a 16-game, 17 week NFL slate) and get amped up for a thrilling match just to get something with no appeal. Oh, you thought this was about quality of play? Nah. More than likely, if a team is in the NFL playoffs the game will be good. Often the least expected matchups wind up being the most entertaining.

But that does nothing for the personal investment of a storyline that really piqued your interest never coming to fruition. For years the quintessential matchup was Tom Brady and the New England Patriots taking on Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Or Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Well, Manning is retired now and the other three now reside in the same conference with Brady’s move to Tampa.

Ideal Payoffs For a Long Road to the Playoffs

For the Nostalgia

Some combination of Rodgers versus Brady versus Brees is still very much a possibility. Rodgers is a legitimate MVP candidate. He has 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions and completing passes at his highest rate since becoming a full-time starter. Brees’ top-seeded Saints are 2-0 with him on the mend from 11 cracked ribs. Brady is bringing up the rear for the trio. His Bucs are still 7-5 with the seventh-ranked scoring offense and the second-highest DVOA of the three defenses, per Football Outsiders.

It wouldn’t matter what leg of the postseason. If any two of these three were to meet it would be must-see tv. Brees-Brady has the most extensive history, despite being in different conferences. Brees owns a decisive 5-2 edge in their head-to-head matchups, including a sweep of the season series this year. Next is Brees-Rodgers, where the Packers passer holds a 3-2 lead after winning in Week 3 this year. Brady-Rodgers have faced off three times as starters and had taken one apiece before Brady’s Bucs stomped a mudhole in Rodgers’ Packers in Week 6.

Again, all would be great matchups but, given the comparative rare nature of a Brady-Rodgers matchup that might be ideal to some. But if we are going off of the current performance of the principles, Brees-Rodgers 6 would be the one. Both quarterbacks are playing at an extremely high level (or were in Brees’ case). Brady’s team might be the most talented. But the cohesion hasn’t been there and Brady has committed many uncharacteristic mental errors this year.

Air Forces

Conference Championship week has often been referred to as the best round of the playoffs. The two teams are the best of their respective conferences but tend to have a level of familiarity that adds both to the strategery of the game as well as the personal investment. Losing is bad enough, losing to a “rival” is unfathomable. In that vein, is there a more exciting potential meeting than the seemingly inevitable one of the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs?

It’s really a matchup of Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes, though they will never be on the field at the same time save for possibly the coin-toss and the post-game handshake. Still, Roethlisberger versus Mahomes is must-see programming at its finest. Mahomes has thrown 30 touchdowns to just two picks with 3497 yards to go with that. Roethlisberger, with his 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, hasn’t generated the same kind of buzz because his team is so well rounded. But he is still throwing touchdowns at his highest rate since 2012 and throwing interceptions at his lowest rate since 2010.

Home field advantage could play a significant part in this one; both locales are notoriously tough for visitors. That’s with fans though. With empty stadiums, the bigger deciding factor could be the defenses. This is where the Steelers could prove to be the kryptonite to Mahomes and the Chiefs’ Superman. Pittsburgh’s defense is first in DVOA, sacks, and scoring. Kansas City ranks 17th in DVOA and 23rd in sacks. They are sixth in scoring, though, so maybe that squares it.

Micro Machines

Remember those fun, tiny little toy cars where the spokesman in the commercial talked like he was hooked up to a caffeine drip? This is kind of like that. Unconventional as they may be, the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson and the Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray have proven they can hang with the big boys. Both of these players spent time as the MVP favorite this season. Wilson, who has never even received a first-place vote for the award, had a case for longer than Murray, but the latter was a popular preseason pick for MVP.

The season has been filled with ups and downs for both quarterbacks and franchises. Neither escaped the rash of severe injuries that hit the NFL so hard this season with Seattle losing their top-four running backs for different stretches of the season and Arizona losing stud pass-rusher Chandler Jones. The quarterbacks both had hands in their own undoing, with both having three-interception games at one point or another.

These two have split the series both seasons since Murray entered the league, with Seattle taking the most recent duel in primetime. Playing in what might be the toughest division in professional football, these teams have spent much of the season beating up on each other and that has led to many taking both to task for their flaws. But the NFC is wide open and both of these offenses can hang points on you in a hurry. Seattle is third in scoring and Arizona is eighth.

Picture Perfect NFL Playoffs Payoffs

There are just some of the potential NFL playoffs matchups that would be worth the price of admission. A playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins would be a throwback to the ’80s and ’90s. If they were healthy, seeing the San Francisco 49ers take on the Tennessee Titans might not be the Super Bowl the league wants. But seeing the game’s greatest rushing system and its greatest runner go at it for the ultimate glory just feels like an ode to its origins. At any rate, we’ll get to see the actual NFL playoffs pairings in just a few weeks. Hopefully, the payoff is worth it.

Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers: Four the Win

A week after having the NFL primetime schedule extended into Wednesday we will do so again in Week 13. It’s an attempt to get back on track. Week 12’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens took so long to be played that their matchups this week have been pushed back in response. Pittsburgh will play the Washington Football Team on Monday at 5:00 PM ET; technically not in primetime but the unique time lands it on the list. Baltimore will face the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday at 8:05 PM ET.

Sitting at 9-14 after a pair of brutal weeks, we finally hit it big going 3-0. We nailed Bears-Packers outright but only got Seahawks-Eagles and Steelers-Ravens covers because the spread changed. So what, we’ll take it at this point. The record now sits at 12-14 with a chance to go above .500 on the year for the first time. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of bad beats but there’s still money to be made. If anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Picking Four to Win in Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers

Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)

Spread: Chiefs -14

O/U: 51

Drew Lock should be back under center for the Denver Broncos (6-5 ATS). They had to face the New Orleans Saints with practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, a converted college quarterback. It did not go well as they lost 31-3. The Broncos average 22.7 PPG in Lock’s seven starts this season. They’ll need every bit of it with their opponent this week. Defensively they rank 10th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and seventh in sacks. That’s a testament to the job head coach Vic Fangio has done without Von Miller this season.

If ‘unbothered’ was a person, that person would be Patrick Mahomes. Undaunted by the reputation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense (which was largely overblown anyway), he and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5 ATS) put up 27 fairly easy points on them. They held off a late rally to reach double-digit wins for the sixth season in a row and seventh in eight years under Andy Reid (they won nine games the other year).

Perhaps in some alternate universe Lock is developed enough. And Miller and Courtland Sutton are healthy so the Broncos can keep up with the Chiefs. In this reality, though, he and the rest of the offense aren’t equipped to take advantage. The Chiefs defense ranks 17th in DVOA and has just 20 sacks on the season. Good luck to that secondary containing Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman. No secondary is that deep. Take the Chiefs but just moneyline. For some reason, 14 points feel like too many to lay against a divisional opponent even with such a lopsided matchup.

Washington Football Team (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)

Spread: Steelers -10

O/U: 42.5

The Washington Football Team (6-5 ATS) have had a surprisingly competitive season. And that’s not just because they play in the worst division in professional football which means they still have a chance to host a playoff game. It’s also because their defense is ranked fifth in DVOA despite the offense being 27th and 24th in scoring. Alex Smith has led the Football Team to back-to-back wins but has just three touchdowns to five interceptions.

By now the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3 ATS) have to be tired of COVID as much as anyone. On top of having their own problems with the virus, they have had their games moved twice already due to their opponents handling of it. Still, they are undefeated and coming off a disappointing win (per Mike Tomlin) against a depleted division rival. Can their offense (sixth in scoring, 15th in DVOA) take a break and ride the defense (first in scoring and DVOA) to another win?

Some might be questioning the validity of Pittsburgh’s record after watching Ben Roethlisberger and co. struggle against Baltimore but that’s just how those games go. Washington will need them to play as sloppily as they did in Week 12 to have a shot because a shootout guarantees a Steelers victory. Barring that this will make it 12 wins for Tomlin’s team but maybe not by the double-digit margin predicted. The quick turnaround might lead the Steelers to run more with guys still missing in action and that would be just fine with the Football Team. Steelers moneyline seems best as does the under.

Buffalo Bills (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

Spread: 49ers +1

O/U: 48

If it seems like the Buffalo Bills (6-5 ATS) aren’t losing much lately it’s because they aren’t. Since back-to-back losses to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs they have gone 4-1 with a huge win over the Seattle Seahawks included. Buffalo, led by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, is 10th in scoring offense and eighth in offense DVOA despite not having a ground game worth mentioning. Being so one-dimensional can be detrimental to any team, especially when your defense is 16th in DVOA and 18th in scoring.

Don’t look now, but the San Francisco 49ers (5-6 ATS) find themselve very much in the playoff hunt despite all of the games they’ve lost to injury this year. They’ve gotten some key players back in recent weeks including Richard Sherman and Raheem Mostert so maybe they can start stringing wins together. They still rank ninth in defense DVOA but are just 19th offensively. Jimmy Garoppolo (and likely George Kittle) won’t be walking through that door and Nick Mullens caps this team’s ceiling.

Location, location, location. The 49ers might appreciate the change of venue for this one since they’ve allowed 15 touchdowns at home compared to just 10 on the road. Their offense has also scored more on the road. Buffalo sees a drop in their offensive scoring, mostly in rushing scores. But their defense actually improves away from Bills Stadium. Additionally, even though it’s a small spread it’s worth mentioning the 49ers haven’t covered the spread in any game they haven’t won outright this season and that isn’t to be expected here. Take Buffalo and don’t be shocked to see over hit even with San Francisco so undermanned.

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Check back soon once the line is set for this game to get the pick!

Week 13 Waiver Wire: ’13’ Reasons Why

Time for the Week 13 waiver wire already? 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

Quarterback

Kirk Cousins

Minnesota Vikings

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.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Miami Dolphins

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.

Running Back

Ito Smith

Atlanta Falcons

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.

Cam Akers

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.

Handcuffs

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.

Wide Receivers

Gabriel Davis

Buffalo Bills

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.

Allen Lazard

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.

Mohamed Sanu

Detroit Lions

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.

Tight End

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings

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.