2018 NFL Week 10 Picks & Previews: Contenders Arise in Unsurprising Outcomes

Welcome to my Week 10 NFL picks and previews.  Last week I went 8-5, putting my overall record at 76-56-2 (76-57-2 including TNF Week 10).  I’m still ahead of 2 ESPN experts and a CBS Sports expert. Don’t expect too many upsets this week.  I see this as a week where contenders will begin to rise after underwhelming starts.  This week will mark the beginning of the end of the surprise runs by teams like the Lions, Redskins, and Dolphins.  Meanwhile, expected contenders that have been struggling so far like the Eagles, Jaguars, and Packers will begin to rise. There will be a couple upsets, but who will pull them? Comment with your thoughts below, and keep reading to see my upset picks.  

Lock of the Week (SNF)

Look for QB Carson Wentz to start off the 2nd half of the season strong with a 3+ TD game.  The Eagles don’t have that difficult of a schedule remaining, which could provide an opportunity for Wentz to make a run for MVP with a big 2nd half.  Dallas should look alright on offense here, but Philly’s front seven will limit RB Ezekiel Elliott and overwhelm QB Dak Prescott. Philly will come out on top thanks to Wentz’s big game, as he connects with 7+ different receivers.  

Upset of the Week

Look for the TE duo of Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron to help the Colts offensively.  Jacksonville’s D will improve from the last couple of weeks, but I don’t see them holding Indy TD-less.  The Jaguars offensive rebound will make up for it. With RB Leonard Fournette healthy, this run game will thrive.  They suddenly have a lot of depth between Fournette, Carlos Hyde, and T.J. Yeldon. Look for QB Blake Bortles to improve as well.  He should have minimal issues against a rebuilding Colts defense that’s regarded as one of the NFL’s worst.  Indy will give up 30+ points in a loss here.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 52-21 Steelers)

Carolina should struggle to contain QB Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers.  But they will shut down a Le’Veon Bell-less Steelers run game. At this point, Bell will likely miss the whole season.  The Panthers should also be strong on offense again, as QB Cam Newton and his receivers lead Carolina to victory up against a mediocre Steelers defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

With TE Rob Gronkowski out, the Pats offense will not be up to full speed.  But expect a New England win anyway, as the Pats step it up on D against the young Titans offensive core.  QB Marcus Mariota will struggle to find open men as the Patriots defense keeps him and his receivers pressured.  The lack of WR depth will hurt the Titans in a loss.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

 

The Bills are down to their fourth string QB with Nathan Peterman struggling regressively and Derek Anderson and Josh Allen hurt.  However, the Jets are also without their starter, Sam Darnold.  Look for QB Josh McCown to succeed in filling in for Darnold, leading the Jets to a high scoring victory.  The defense will slip a little against QB Matt Barkley and the Bills, but Buffalo will not be able to put up enough points with Allen and TE Charles Clay injured.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Saints find themselves with a lack of WR depth with Dez Bryant, Cameron Meredith, and Ted Ginn Jr. all on IR now.  That being said, New Orleans will not be at their best offensively.  But the Bengals shouldn’t look much better without WR A.J. Green.  QB Drew Brees and his receivers should edge out a victory despite an underwhelming performance.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Matt Ryan and his receivers to put up another big game in Cleveland.  The Browns will try to keep up, but their young core won’t quite do it. The Falcons D will continue to struggle and give up a good number of points to the Browns, but the offensive dominance will be enough for Atlanta.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

This will not be easy for Kansas City.  QB Josh Rosen, RB David Johnson, and the Arizona offense should have a day against a banged-up Chiefs D.  However, QB Patrick Mahomes II should keep up the good work and this offense should be enough for the Chiefs to keep rolling at home despite defensive struggles that may cost them when it matters.  I’m honestly surprised they didn’t seek defensive help at the deadline.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to take advantage of his deep core of receivers to lead Tampa to victory here.  Also expect the Bucs D to surprise many with as they get in the way of QB Alex Smith and the Redskins offense.  Smith will struggle to find his receivers with the Bucs pressuring him and WR Paul Richardson sidelined with an injury.  The Buccaneers will play complimentary football and win triumphantly here.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Detroit’s offense will continue to miss WR Golden Tate as they struggle in Chicago.  Look for another big game by the Bears defense here.  QB Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago offense won’t be on their best either, but the shut down defense should be enough for the Bears to hold on for a victory.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Chargers D should look better than usual against a deep but struggling Oakland offense.  Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers and his receivers will put up another big game as Rivers throws multiple TD.  The combination of these two things will cause the Raiders to fall short again at home.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST (OT)

Look for another overtime thriller out of QB Aaron Rodgers and his receivers.  Expect the Packers D to nearly cost them the game as they struggle more than they should against a Brock Osweiler-led Miami offense, but look for Rodgers to come up clutch and save the Packers once again.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The dominance of the LA defense should continue with DE Dante Fowler Jr. on board.  Expect them to hold Seattle TD-less here.  The Rams offense won’t be at their best here, but QB Jared Goff and his WR trio will help lead the Rams to victory, supplemented by the shut-down D.  The Seahawks will continue to miss WR Brandon Marshall as the Rams keep Seattle’s other receivers well-covered for majority of the game.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

 

Expect the struggles of QB Eli Manning to continue as he throws just 1 TD and multiple picks.  RB Saquon Barkley will keep this close with a big game despite Manning’s struggles. But the Giants will fall short as the defense limits, but cannot stop QB Nick Mullens and the young 49ers offensive core.  

That’s all for this week.  Stay tuned for my NFL midseason report later today, and stay tuned for my MLB off-season coverage throughout the rest of November.  

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Fantasy Football Must-Starts and Must-Sits for Week 10

At this point in the season, from a fantasy point of view, things are getting harder to decide.  So it’s about time I give you some advice to help sort out your starters from your bench players.  First off, here are my rankings at the 4 major positions for this week.  I have included ratings that I have found by combining the what the player’s rank would be if your draft was today, and some match-up analysis ratings.

week10ratings

Okay, so I’m going to go through each match-up, and for each match-up I will have a must-start or must-sit and the rating for that player.  The ratings are from 0 to 60, 60 is absolutely insane, and 0 is terrible.  Most players are somewhere in between.  Anyone who I say has a must-start match-up should be started under all means.  A must-sit should not be started under any conditions.

gbpackers2.jpg @ tennessee-titans.

Must-Start

Image result for randall cobb Randall Cobb, WR, GB (43.5, WR11)

The Titans defense doesn’t have much against the Packers.  Their number 1 corner is Perrish Cox, and I think especially if the Titans offense presents a bit of a surprising challenge like they have several times this season, the Packers will rely on throwing to Nelson and Randall Cobb.  Nelson always gets a lot of points, but there would be a significant increase this week for Cobb, especially with the backfield lacking depth.

 

denver-broncos-logo @ nosaints

 

Must-Start

Image result for devontae booker DeVontae Booker, RB, DEN (40.5, RB13)

C.J. Anderson is likely out for the season, and despite being the underdog in this match-up, the Saints pass rush is pathetically bad, and it will cost them.  The Broncos will take advantage of this, and it will be easier to get big time yardage from running the ball, possibly even more TDs.  This will be good for Booker, as he should get most of this backfield work.  So he should get you at least 10 points.  Trust me on this.

 

Image result for los angeles rams @ Jets-Logo

Must-Start

Image result for quincy enunwa Quincy Enunwa, WR, NYJ (34.5, WR26)

With Eric Decker on IR, Enunwa has gotten a lot more work.  The Rams secondary isn’t great, so I would start both Enunwa and Brandon Marshall.  Trumaine Johnson is really the only reliable corner for the Rams, and he’ll be covering Marshall, making things even easier for Enunwa.  The Jets are in favor here, but they will have to pass.  Things will be tough because both teams have their weaknesses.  Enunwa will be a key factor in whether the Jets win or lose.

atlfalcons @ philadelphia-eagles-logo

Must-Start

Image result for carson wentz Carson Wentz, QB, PHI (36, QB12)

I know Wentz has struggled lately, but I just have a feeling that the Eagles will take advantage of the Falcons’ weaknesses at home, look like themselves from earlier this season, and take the win.  Wentz should have it relatively easy as the Falcons do lack depth on defense, and there will be match-ups that other Eagles players take advantage of.  Jordan Matthews will take advantage of the fact that the Falcons only have one strong  corner.  Zach Ertz will also take advantage of the defensive depth problems that could help Wentz.  So, this is definitely a good match-up for Eagles offensive players.  It’s all in the hands of Carson Wentz how well they do.

Image result for chicago bears @ tampabaybuccaneers
Must-Start

 Jameis Winston, QB, TB (42.5, QB8)

This is like the ultimate must-start here.  The offense should improve with Doug Martin back, and the Bears defense may not be able to handle the offense.  Their pass rush is pathetic and the secondary is lacking depth and superstars.  After what he did last week, Mike Evans should be a major target too, and this is a great match-up for him too, because it could be a close game that’s decided by big plays if the Bucs defense lets their guard down too.  Either way, Winston should get involved in the action.

 

min-vikings-logo2.gif @ washingtonredskins2

Must-Sit

Image result for kirk cousins Kirk Cousins, QB, WSH (28.5, QB21)

This is really a tough match-up for Cousins.  He will be under a lot of pressure against a defense that has scored multiple TDs this season, and is one of the fantasy leaders defensively.  With that, it’s got to be hard for opposing QBs.  This entire offense will have a challenge, and it’s not any easier without Matt Jones at his best and DeSean Jackson or Josh Doctson even playing.  It’ll be hard or the Redskins to even win, even with a strong secondary of their own.

 

kansas-city-chiefs-logo @ carolina-panthers-logo

Must-Start

 

  Spencer Ware, RB, KC (40, RB14)

Ware should come back strong this week, especially after what he’s done so far this year, most of it with Jamaal Charles active.  Charcandrick West may still get some backfield work, but he was semi-bust material last week, and Ware’s been awesome all year.  Ware might have earned the job for even when Charles is active.  I know the Panthers pass rush is a lot tougher than the secondary, but the Chiefs are lacking receiver depth with Jeremy Maclin out, so the Chiefs may have to run the ball.  Just the fact that he’s getting a heavier workload could be to his advantage.

hou-texans @ jacksonvile-jaguars

Must-Sit

Image result for allen robinson Allen Robinson, WR, JAX

I actually just traded for Robinson, because somebody wanted to sell him high, and I needed an extra receiver. I have three other good receivers to start though, OBJ, Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry.  Now that I did my research, I realized I need to take my own advice.  This Texans defense is very good, Robinson hasn’t lived up to his expectations, and is only at about the level of Allen Hurns this year, and the Jags have had a tough time against tough defenses.  The Texans have one of those defenses.

 

Dolphins-logo @ San_Diego_Chargers

Must-Start

 Image result for antonio gates Antonio Gates, TE, SD (43, TE5)

There aren’t many must start tight ends, but Gates is in a pretty good match-up for this week.  Gates should take advantage of a Dolphins defense that has it’s problems.  Hunter Henry is questionable, and Gates is back to full health.  I think the Chargers will win this game because they will tsake advantage of favorable positional match-ups, and Gates is favored in his match-up.

 

sf-49ers.jpg @ az-cards.jpg

Must-Sit

 Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (27, RB35)

Hyde is already questionable, and may be limited if he’s active.  The Cardinals defense is also very tough, so Hyde will have additional problems that the entire offense will face.  Even with the Cardinals slumping, this is a tough, unfavorable match-up.  Hyde is a bust for this week, whether he plays or not.

dalcowboyslogonew @pittsburgh-steelers

 Must-Sit

Image result for jesse james steelers Jesse James, TE, PIT (27, TE20)

Image result for jason witten            Jason Witten, TE, PIT & DAL (32, TE16)

Both of thse tight ends are in a bad position.  James won’t get as heavy a workload with Ladarius Green returning, and the Cowboys have decent defense that can pressure him and his offense.  Witten is facing a pretty tough linebacker corps, along with a strong week for a lot of tight ends.  Witten’s value is going down solely because he’s not a Top 12 tight end.  He’s also getting older, so he can only do so much for your fantasy team.  Tight ends won’t be targeted much in this game, especially with Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant healthy for it.

seattle-seahawks.jpg @ New_England_Patriots.jpg

Must-Sit

Image result for christine michael Christine Michael, RB, SEA (28.5, RB32)

Michael has not been as good in the last couple of games, and the Patriots defense won’t let him bulldoze through.  C.J. Prosise is cutting into his workload, and soon Thomas Rawls will too.  He’s not the lock-in RB1 at this point.  Michael has a very tough match-up, his workload is shrinking, and he’s not a reliable option this Sunday.  Michael could soon become a drop candidate if he does not have another big game.

cincinnati-bengals @ new-york-giants-logo

Must-Start

 

 Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR (36.5, WR24)

        Victor Cruz, NYG, WR   (33, WR29)

OBJ has a good match-up, but he’s not the only Giants receiver that will get a fantasy workload.  Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz could be deciding factors in whether the Giants win or lose.  They have good match-ups has the secondary’s attention will be on OBJ, so all three receivers will put up a lot of points.  If you have OBJ, Shepard or Cruz, start your Giants receiver this week.

Okay, so this week is going to be a week of close match-ups.  But there shouldn’t be any tough decisions fantasy-wise if you start the must-starts, sit the must-sits, and go by my rating index at QB, RB, WR and TE.

 

Scouting Report: San Francisco 49ers

Welcome to my preseason team by team scouting report series.  Each day in August and September 1, I will be previewing one team’s season, making bold predictions, answering team questions and telling you what sleepers and rising players to focus on.  I will also give my input on the team’s schedule and remind you of my season prediction for that team.

 

The 49ers may be one of the most stuck teams in the NFL.  Even the Browns have a better shot of bouncing back from these tough times.  The Niners have minimal defense, declining offense, and overall aren’t looking great. Chip Kelly doesn’t look to be the answer.  But could there be some positives hidden between all the misery?  How do I know?  That’s one of many things I will show you today.

 

3 Players to Watch For

1. Aaron Lynch, OLB

I could say the entire linebacker corps should be monitored.  They may not have stellar defense, or many stars, or enough to win more than 4 or 5 games, but they have some decent pass rushers all around.  They actually ranked 18th in total defense last season. DeForest Buckner could make an impact as a rookie, veteran Ahmad Brooks and Michael Wilhoite could also step it up beside NaVorro Bowman, even guys like Glenn Dorsey or Arik Armstead.  But I chose Lynch because of all these linebackers, Lynch has the most breakout potential.  Lynch put up decent numbers in his first two seasons, and 2016 could finally be the year for him to pile up some sacks.  Still, this defense isn’t great otherwise.

2. Bruce Ellington, WR

Although he is more established as a special teamer, and he’s playing behind Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton, Ellington could be a deep sleeper.  The 49ers could use another weapon for whoever starts at QB.  It will make up for the problems at quarterback.  Torrey Smith can’t do what he used to do anymore, and Quinton Patton never really established himself as a quality starter.  Sure, he had 394 yards and 30 receptions in 2015, but that’s nothing for an NFL starter.  If Ellington could do what he does on special teams on offense, that would be helpful.

3. Colin Kaepernick, QB

I know, Kaepernick has done nothing to prove himself in the last two seasons, and Blaine Gabbert looks to be the favorite to start unless training camp position battles change things, but if Kaep can get it done in training camp, he could win his job back.  Then comes the big question.  Will he ever return to his 2013, even his 2014 state?  I think if he works hard enough in the preseason and regular season in the next year or two, that could eventually happen.  Honestly, I think Kaep’s the starter around here.  He’s the fan favorite, Chip Kelly’s favorite, and in the few scenarios where he does bounce back to his 2013 or 2014 form, it pays off.

 

3 Questions That Must Be Answered

1. Who will win the battle at quarterback?

Personally,  I think that this is Colin Kaepernick’s job to win.  If he can have a strong preseason and stay in shape, I think he will win the job.  It doesn’t matter how well Blaine Gabbert does, he’s not fit for a starting job.  Kaepernick was once a quality starter, he just needs to prove he still has any willpower at all.  A few years ago this wouldn’t have even been a discussion!  I think Kaepernick will have a strong preseason, and things will come close, but in the end, Kaepernick will pull ahead and prove he’s still in starting condition.

2. Will we see major defensive improvements, finally?

I think we will see some guys step it up this season.  When they were good, the Niners had a powerful offense, and not the greatest defense, but they have a decent group of pass rushers, some veterans like NaVorro Bowman and Antoine Bethea, and an overall acceptable defense.  They haven’t lost much since then, except quality plays from the same group of guys.  I could see DeForest Buckner having an awesome rookie season, maybe Aaron Lynch or Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman will each give you a half dozen sacks, but nothing major.  The 49ers are already in hot water on offense, it would sure be helpful to have an above average defense again.

3. Will the offensive line make things even tougher under center?

The quarterback holes are already an issue.  If the offensive line continues to have problems too, it wouldn’t be any help.  They do now have Joshua Garnett at guard where Alex Boone was.  Joe Staley is still in the mix at tackle.  But there are still some problems on the right side, even though Kaep’s blind side is taken care of.  Anthony Davis was reinstated after coming out of retirement, but is he still elite, and will he be in football shape?  Who do they have behind him, Trenton Brown?   Zane Beadles will be a help, but the issues surrounding him at right tackle and center will definitely make things tougher under center if they don’t take the next step.

 

3 Bold Predictions For The Season

1. Not one, but two running backs will rush for 500+ yards

When someone asks me about Shaun Draughn, I would say, big sleeper.  Carlos Hyde is already a workhorse RB when he’s healthy.  He was the next man up when Frank Gore was still here.  He’s healthy, now it’s time to shine.  You can’t expect too much from Carlos Hyde in his first full season as a starter, no more Reggie Bush, and hopefully no more injuries.  But 500 yards isn’t too much to ask from a 2014 2nd round pick.  Shaun Draughn may also get some time in the backfield, especially if Hyde is still developing or getting hurt.  This guy has been bouncing from team to team, being cut numerous times, maybe he’ll finally have a nice stay with the 49ers and work some yardage as a handcuff to who was once one of the top breakout candidates in the NFL.

2. Three of the four 49ers starting linebackers will rack up at least 8 sacks

I know I only said minor improvements but come on!  Eight sacks is nothing, at least for two of them, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks.  The wild card here, Aaron Lynch.  I mentioned his name yet again.  This guy got 6 and 6.5 sacks in his first two seasons, it’s time for him to make the leap.  I could see 9 or 10 sacks out of him.  Bowman and Brooks could even rack up 11, 12 even 13 or 14 for Bowman.  I think the defense, especially the pass rush, could be the reason the 49ers win these games, at least the three I think they will manage to win.

3. Vance McDonald or Garrett Celek will lead the Niners in receptions

Half of you may have never even heard of one or both of these guys.  Neither of them are elite tight ends like Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olsen.  The 49ers just lack a wide receiver so badly that a low end tight end has a better shot at 750 yards than their #1 wide receiver.  I actually think the tight end two are a pair of sleepers, that could easily beat out Torrey Smith for the most receptions on the Niners.  I think which one of the guys leads in receptions has to do with who starts at QB.  It seems like Kaepernick prefers McDonald, but Blaine Gabbert threw to Celek more.  Will this happen?  I’m pretty convinced.

 

Schedule Breakdown

Any team at the Niners’ level’s schedule could be considered tough, but the 49ers do have a few winnable match-ups.  The Niners open up the season hosting the Los Angeles Rams.  The Rams have a strong pass rush but have holes scattered around the defense, especially in the puzzled secondary.  Todd Gurley leads an offense that lacks receiving weapons for rookie quarterback Jared Goff.  Tavon Austin had a decent 2015 season, but hasn’t fully proven himself yet.  With the home field advantage, the 49ers should be able to use their own pass rush and rushing game to get past the Rams.  I don’t actually see much the Rams have that the 49ers don’t, but both teams will have a tough time in 2016.

After that comes a 4-game stretch against some of the NFC’s best, Carolina, Seattle, Dallas and Arizona. They have decent match-ups against Buffalo and Tampa Bay after that, but they won’t get the W on the road, and the underrated Bucs should edge them.

Then comes another NFC South team, the Saints.  The Panthers and Bucs are out of the way, and personally, I think those two teams are the division’s only contenders.  They have both acceptable offense AND defense, so they will thrive.  Colin Kaepernick and Carlos Hyde should be all over the Saints D, and again they have home field, they’ll pick up the win.

After two more tough match-ups comes two road games, against the Dolphins and Bears.  Neither team is dominant, but both have the weapons to pick up a few wins themselves, and San Francisco will fall to them without home field advantage on their side.  The easy end of their schedule continues, but they might actually have a chance in the second part because in between two pairs of road games is a home game hosting the Jets.  Resigning Ryan Fitzpatrick will help the Jets, but the few 49ers sleepers should edge out the Jets D and win.

The Falcons and Rams are up next after that, on the road.  Neither of those teams are very good, but they should edge out the 49ers, considering they have home field advantage, and personally, I think the 49ers are the worst team in the league, despite having the ability to pick up a few wins.  In Week 17, even though the Seahawks may not need the game to make the playoffs, they’ll go for it and take down San Francisco to get past the Cardinals for the division win.

My Season Prediction

The 49ers won’t do much without a reliable QB or receiver, plus poor defense, but with a reasonable schedule, I think they pick up 3 or 4 games and make sure the worst team in the league has at least one win.  The 49ers should be able to pick up a few wins with a reasonable schedule, but you never know with this bad a team.

Projected Finish: 3-13, 4th In NFC West

 

FullSizeRender (14)

The 49ers are still an NFL team, but they won’t replicate one very well, and may have regressive offensive struggles throughout the season despite slight improvements on the defense, which was already close to average.