Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 6

So, I think I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth when it came to fantasy football last week. Despite starting two less-than-stellar running back, I won one match-up by about four points. In another league, I played without a QB and with just one RB due to bye weeks…I won by about 30 points. I had most of my team on a BYE in another league and won 91-90. I won one matchup by 10 points despite just scoring 67, and won another league’s game 112-106…

In the NFL, however, it’s a whole different story. The New York Giants are savaged with injuries and an 0-5 record. Ben Roethlisberger had a raspberry-worthy performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. And somehow, someway, the New York Jets are 3-2, Mitchell Trubisky is starting for the Chicago Bears, and Cam Newton thinks all women know nothing about sports.

It’s a crazy time in the NFL. But, fantasy football goes on. And I usually try to not go with the obvious who the experts are going with, but I’m in complete agreement. Thus, here we go with the Week 6 start ’ems and sit ’ems.

Start ‘Em:
QB Deshaun Watson: Just wow. Three weeks, 12 touchdowns, 90 fantasy points. And a match-up against the Cleveland Browns this week. If Watson isn’t in a fantasy starting lineup in a fantasy football league, that’s crazy.

NFL: Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers

RB C.J. Anderson: One team’s curses is another team’s opportunity. And, boy, oh boy, is the opportunity truly there for Anderson. Nothing has gone right for this Giants team — they’re coming off a bad loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, thanks in part to another abysmal performance by the offensive line. Most of their receiving unit is injured, with Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall both done for the year. It’s not a fun time to be a Giants fan, but it’s going to be a big game for Anderson, as the G-Men’s defense has given up 12-plus PPR points to four runners in five weeks, and 28.10 PPR points per game to running backs in general. Maybe that’s why Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walked out on the team.

CJ Anderson 2

WR Adam Thielen: I know, I know. Here it comes: Am I crazy for choosing to start a guy against the Green Bay Packers defense? Well, yes, but there’s no reward without a little risk (I mean, look what I did last week…). The Packers have let up an average of 186 receiving yards thus far in the year, they have given up the fourth-most PPR points to wideouts on the road, and slot receivers have three touchdowns on that defensive unit. Not to mention, if Stefon Diggs can’t go, Thielen’s output could increase.

jea 2529 gophers ucla.JPG

Sit ‘Em:
QB Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger had five picks against Jacksonville, and after the game he stated he’s not sure if he has it anymore. Well, as someone who is working as a combat sports writer, UFC President Dana White always states, “If the R word comes into your head, maybe it’s time to get out.” Doesn’t help the Steelers offense has had its fair share of struggles all around, and the team is 3-2. Not to mention, he’s struggled consistently on the road since 2014, and he’s playing in Kansas City, against an undefeated Chiefs team. Not looking good for Big Ben.

Ben Roethlisberger

RB Adrian Peterson: So AP has moved from the New Orleans Saints to the Arizona Cardinals. Maybe Arizona is desperate with their running game since David Johnson’s probably not coming back until December, when it’s likely too little, too late to save the season. So, instead, they get the experienced Peterson (not to mention cut Chris Johnson, who ironically stated on Twitter that Peterson needed more reps in New Orleans). While a new team presents new opportunities, a matchup against the hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the first week on a new team isn’t exactly the best risk option right now. Not to mention Arizona needs to rebound after a bad loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Could AP have a spark late in the year? Maybe. But, not feeling him this week.

Adrian Peterson 2

TE Martellus Bennett: I was banking on Bennett this year, but my fantasy patience might be wearing thin. Yes, him and his team are facing the Minnesota Vikings — but like I hinted with Thielen, maybe there are some Vikings you should consider starting and some that need to sit. Bennett has been in No Man’s Land with this Green Bay offense, ranked 25th on the tight end rankings of fantasy football. He has yet to get a touchdown this season. How much longer do we need to wait on him? I say, until he does something productive on the field fantasy-wise, it’s wise to stash him a spot on your bench.

Martellus Bennett

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Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 5

By Thomas Albano

If there’s anything last week in the NFL proved to us, it’s that we are still living in bizarro world. Now we enter Week 5, and it’s time for the bye weeks to give all of you fantasy owners hell. Sometimes what would be a guaranteed win may be a struggle now if your best guys are all out in the same week.

But as is weekly tradition, here are my start ’em and sit ’em picks for this week. And spoiler alert, my start ’ems for this week is a WR triple threat.

Start ‘Em:
WR Larry Fitzgerald: I want to personally give this man a hug for helping me secure a win in one of my leagues last week with his touchdown in OT against the San Francisco 49ers. And for the past two weeks, Fitzgerald has done his part. In week 3, he saw 13 receptions and turned that into 149 yards and a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Last week against the Niners, Fitzgerald only saw four receptions and 32 yards, but he was still able to give his owners some decent fantasy points. I’m hoping he continues his roll against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

San Diego Chargers v Arizona Cardinals

WR Adam Thielen: Sure, Thielen was only able to put up five receptions and 59 yards last week — and he’s fumbled the football a couple of times — but he has shown against the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers that he can hold his own. There’s also some potential that Sam Bradford could return to the quarterback helm on Monday. And with a matchup against the Chicago Bears, who have let up the second-most touchdowns to slot receivers thus far, it feels like this could be the week Thielen finds the end zone at last.

Adam Thielen

WR Stefon Diggs: And while we’re on the topic of the Vikings and their quarterbacks, Diggs hasn’t been hurt too much by Case Keenum taking over the role in place of the injured Bradford. And truthfully, Diggs’ Week 2 outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers seems to be the only down spot in his production thus far. If Thielen deserves a start, then so does Diggs. Hell, if you have both, use both.

Stefon Diggs

Sit ‘Em:
QB Mitch Trubisky: I know, this may sound obvious to some. But there are others out there who feel maybe Trubisky is worth a start because the Vikings may not be expecting what Trubisky can pull out. Also, some people are just that desperate thanks to bye weeks. To those people, I say “NO! Don’t you even dare!” And even if he does prove to do well against Minnesota, only rub it in my face if he does well against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6, or against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7, or against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10. Point is, Trubisky has to prove his worth after the stupid move the Chicago Bears pulled off in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Mitch Trubisky

TE Julius Thomas: There was thought going into this season that maybe Thomas can prove himself to be at least a backup TE or a FLEX play. But Thomas has struggled in the Miami Dolphins’ first three games, getting no more than three receptions this week with little yardage to show. He may be in the 30s-range in TE rankings, but there’s no point in trying to trust him.

Julius Thomas

Green Bay Packers D/ST: I know it’s Green Bay, but the Dallas Cowboys have let up more than five points to just one D/ST so far. If there’s a better option out there, don’t use Green Bay for this week.

Clay Matthews

Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 4

By Thomas Albano

So last week in the NFL was…maddening, wasn’t it? Not only did we have the war of words and protests between the NFL and President Trump, but we also had several big shockers, upsets, and players that came out of a nowhere  — many of whom were probably left on fantasy benches.

But it’s the birth of a new week, so let me give my start ’em and sit ’em recommendations for Week 4.

NOTE: Remember that Sunday’s New Orleans Saints vs. Miami Dolphins game will take place in London and start at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Start ‘Em:
QB: Dak Prescott: Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys struggled against the Denver Broncos in Week 2, but there was a certain bounce back in Week 3. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, Prescott went 13-for-18 for 183 yards and two touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown. And with a match-up against the LA Rams this week, Prescott definitely may have a top ranking among QBs this week.

Dak Prescott

RB: C.J. Anderson: Last week was a rough outing for Anderson, Between producing just 43 yards last week in Buffalo, as well as sharing carries with Jamaal Charles, it’s fair to say he let down all of his fantasy owners. But, honestly, I feel last week was just a bad week. He’s still getting most of the load compared to Charles, and he scores at least 19 points at home in PPR leagues.

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos

WR: Larry Fitzgerald: Just because Fitzgerald is an aging veteran, it doesn’t mean that Fitzgerald is damaged goods. In fact, some may say he ages like a fine wine. Last week, he saw 149 yards and a touchdown on 13 receptions. Despite the loss to the Cowboys, Fitzgerald has the chance for another great game against the San Francisco 49ers and its weak defense.

Larry Fitzgerald

Sit ‘Em:
TE: Evan Engram: Remember when I said in Week 2 that the only Saints you should be starting are Drew Brees and Mark Ingram? Well, for the Giants (and this pains me to say as a Giants fan), I wouldn’t start anyone other than the defense and Odell Beckham Jr this week. An 0-3 Giants against this year’s Bucs team doesn’t sound good. Engram has arguably brought in the most offensive production (at least among the first 11 quarters of the G-Men’s 2017 season), but the Bucs’ defense has done well against tight ends thus far.

Evan Engram

QB: Jacoby Brissett: Brissett put up an unexpected performance this week, throwing 259 yards and a touchdown. It’s certainly a relief for Colts fans to see, even if it’s against a team that still has yet to get a win this year. But against Seattle? That’s too scary of a match-up to hope for a second strike of good lightning from Brissett.

Jacoby Brissett

RB: Frank Gore: Gore has run at least 40 yards over the last three weeks, along with a rushing touchdown in each of the last two games. But against the Legion of Boom? It sounds like some of his production will decrease this week and he may not live up to expectations, even with the run-focused Indianapolis offense.

Frank Gore

Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 3

By Thomas Albano

It’s Week 3 of the NFL season, and either your fantasy team is off to a strong start (2-0), a normal one (1-1), or you may be thinking about next season already (0-2). But no matter your situation, don’t worry, Cheap Seats Tom is here to help! Here’s my take on three guys you need to start, and three that should absolutely warm the bench.

NOTE: Remember that Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game will take place in London and start at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Start ‘Em
RB Ty Montgomery: Despite a loss to the Falcons, Montgomery had quite the day — 35 rushing yards, along with 75 receiving yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). This was also the second consecutive week Montgomery has seen 65+ snaps. And if Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb aren’t good to go in Week 3 (or are limited), Montgomery’s value definitely increases. He may be entering RB1 territory if he keeps it up.

Ty Montgomery

QB Cam Newton: Last week, Newton went 20-for-32, throwing 228 yards, but he was also sacked six times. Newton seemed more on-point with his throws against the Buffalo Bills, but he still missed at least one passing touchdown attempt. We’re not sure if he’s overcome his shoulder problem in full, but Newton and the Carolina Panthers have a very favorable match-up this week against the struggling New Orleans Saints.

Cam Newton

Miami Dolphins D/ST: Yes, you read that right. Miami. I know it may seem hard to trust — the Miami D let up 17 points to Phillip Rivers and the LA Chargers last week. But, they’re facing the New York Jets. Plus, Miami did nab the win last week. If you’re a streaming defense person, there’s no time better than now to take a chance on the Dolphins.

Miami D

Sit ‘Em
WR T.Y. Hilton: This is definitely shaping into a “what could have been” kind of season for Hilton, on both the real and fantasy level. Limited to just 57 yards against the LA Rams and 49 against the Arizona Cardinals, things don’t look too bright for the Indianapolis wide receiver. Sure, the team is facing the also 0-2 Cleveland Browns, but if you ask me, Cleveland might be the favorite in that game. Start Hilton if you dare, but you’ll probably be sorry when it’s too late.

Colts Jets Football

QB Russell Wilson: What the hell is going on with Seattle’s offense? A combined 21 points while opening up the season 1-1 doesn’t smell all that great. Their defense might be the Legion of Boom, but for these past two weeks, the Seahawks offense has been the Legion of Poop. In Wilson’s case, it means two straight weeks of failing to throw 200 yards, completing just a little more than half of your passing attempts in the first two weeks, and a fumble in Week 1. I get it the nightmare of Super Bowl XLIX must run around Pete Carroll’s head a lot, but no one on this offense is getting the job done. Don’t waste your time with any of Seattle’s guys this week…

Russell Wilson

TE Jimmy Graham: ESPECIALLY THIS GUY! Just eight yards on three receptions in Week 1 plus one yard on one reception in Week 2? Bench until further notice!

Jimmy Graham

TE Tyler Eifert: Eifert sort of made up for Week 1 with 3 receptions and 42 yards…but sort of won’t cut it here. He has barely been targeted at all in Cincinnati’s horrific offense (so horrific their offensive coordinator was fired two weeks into the season). Plus, Eifert is questionable as of Wednesday night, as he’s pretty banged up. Give him some rest.

Tyler Eifert

Canelo vs. GGG Preview

By Thomas Albano

We are mere hours away from one of the most anticipated boxing matches in recent history — a historic unified middleweight championship bout. Gennady Golovkin defends his WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and IBO middleweight world titles against The Ring‘s middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (with the vacant lineal title on the line as well).

This bout has been over a year in the making, as negotiations for this fight were first in early-mid 2016. However, Alvarez ended up surrendering the WBC Middleweight Championship, which would be awarded to Golovkin, and fought at light middleweight in a title bout with Liam Smith and a catchweight bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. But following that win over Chavez back in May, Golovkin entered the ring where Alvarez was standing, and the match became official.

Fighter background: Gennady Golovkin (GGG)
GGG (37-0, 33 KOs) made his professional boxing debut back on May 6, 2006, winning his bout in 1:28. Golovkin’s journey of gold started when he defeated Milton Nunez in August 2010 to become the interim WBA Middleweight Champion. He was promoted to sole, full-time champion two months later, after then-WBA champion Daniel Geale signed on to fight Anthony Mundine, which forced the WBA to strip Geale of his title.

Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin followed this up by winning the then-vacant IBO Middleweight Championship in December 2011 with a first-round knockout of Lajuan Simon. After a streak of title defenses over those next two years, Golovkin added to his collection in October 2014, when he defeated Marco Antonio Rubio via second-round KO to win the interim WBC title. And in October 2015, GGG defeated David Lemieux to win the IBF championship. He was then promoted to full-time WBC champ following Alvarez vacating the organization’s world title.

Fallout from GGG vs. Jacobs
In his most recent bout, back in March, Golovkin retained his titles against Daniel Jacobs with a unanimous decision win. It was the fourth time in 37 fights that GGG couldn’t get a KO/TKO, and the first time this happened since 2008. Plenty of people criticized GGG for not finishing Jacobs, and some even speculated GGG may have been holding back. In fact, Jacobs’ may have been Golovkin’s toughest test to date, as the scorecards in the end did read 115-112, 115-112, 114-113.

But there are still some (including this journalist), who feels that people wrote off Jacobs too quickly and underrate his ability. In fact, Golovkin stated in an interview with Yahoo that Jacobs proved to be a great learning experience for him. In addition, GGG, along with his trainer, the legendary Abel Sanchez, admits he may have held back a little in the Jacobs bout, but claims had he finished Jacobs, Alvarez would have backed away from this showdown. Alvarez faced severe criticism last year after turning away from GGG and giving up the WBC title, choosing to drop down to light middleweight.

Fighter background: Saul (Canelo) Alvarez
Speaking of which, let’s look at Alvarez’s resume. Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) made his professional boxing debut on Oct. 29, 2005, at just 15 years old, winning his first bout via fourth-round TKO. He didn’t lose in 43 bouts (though fifth bout, in June 2006, ended in a split draw).

Canelo

After winning several regional and Latino championships, as well as the WBC Silver light middleweight title, Alvarez won the then-vacant WBC Light Middleweight Championship on March 5, 2011, defeating Matthew Hatton via unanimous decision. After five succesful title defenses, Alvarez defeated Austin Trout via unanimous decision to not only retain his title, but to also win the WBA (Unified) and The Ring‘s light middleweight titles.

In Alvarez’s next bout, in September 2013, he tasted defeat for the only time in his professional career thus far. Alvarez lost to the now-retired and undefeated Floyd Mayweather, losing his titles as well as the then-vacant lineal title.

Alvarez then fought two fights at a catchweight of 155 lbs., defeating Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara. Alvarez then fully moved up to middleweight, and on November 21, 2015, he defeated Miguel Cotto to win the lineal, The Ring, and then-vacant WBC middleweight titles. He retained the titles in May 2016 against Amir Khan.

As mentioned earlier, Alvarez then vacated the WBC title and moved down to light middleweight once again, defeating Liam Walsh to win the WBO Light Middleweight Championship. After defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6 by decision, the fight with GGG was announced, and Alvarez moved back up to middleweight and vacated the WBO Light Middleweight Title days later.

Prediction
Both men have pure knockout power, and their punches can rock anybody. Both are capable of finishes and each provides a well-enough case that they can win. But only one can. Golovkin will be coming into this bout as the favorite, though there are plenty of people out there (including a couple I have talked to) who feel that Alvarez will be the one to finally end Golovkin’s undefeated run.

Canelo GGG Weigh In

There are some who feel Golovkin is slowly starting to crumble; some who are hesitant to believe in GGG after his performance against Jacobs. Again, I believe some people just underrate Jacobs. But even then, if what Golovkin is saying is true in that he held back against Jacobs, then will it come back to haunt him?

But on the other end, it will be Alvarez’s first fight at middleweight in a couple of fights. His last two fights have been against the likes of Liam Smith and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. That’s not to knock those two, but is that well-enough preparation for someone like GGG?

In the end, don’t be surprised if this one goes the distance — it’s a distinct possibility. And Alvarez winning is a distinct possibility. But unless there are freak circumstances, don’t knock GGG if one of those two things happen. GGG, regardless, is one of the best boxers (not just middleweights) in history, let alone the world today.

That being said, however, I still feel Alvarez needs to prove himself a little, and GGG still has something he wants to live up to. I can see a late finish from the G-Man, on his journey to unify the middleweight division in boxing.

My prediction: GGG by 10th-round KO/TKO

Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 2

By Thomas Albano

So, I was decent in my Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em predictions last week. Dalvin Cook performed well, as did C.J. Anderson, but Kelvin Benjmain busted and Matthew Stafford exceeded my expectations. I ended up doing fairly well in week 1 fantasy, but lost several players due to injury, with other team members affected by said injuries, and other players just not living up to expectation.

Throw in David Johnson’s injury, and you have one of the most bizarre week 1s you could have (Week 1 is traditionally strange already, but this year may take the cake). So, what should you do for Week 2? Here’s my take on three guys you need to start, and three that you shouldn’t.

Start:
QB Derek Carr: Carr went 22-for-32 last week at Tennessee, throwing 262 yards for two touchdowns and leading the Oakland Raiders to a 26-16 win. And this week, the Raiders take on the juggernaut known as…the New York Jets (aka that team with the most probability of an 0-16 season). The Jets D let up about 18 fantasy points to Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor. I think it’s safe to say you should expect good things from Carr in your lineup this week.

Derek Carr

RB Marshawn Lynch: And with starting Carr, you know who else should be in starting lineups? (I can’t believe I’m going to say this but…) Marshawn Lynch. I will admit, I was wrong in the very short-term. He had 18 carries and rushed for 76 yards last week, and he looked like he hadn’t missed a day of an NFL season. I’ll admit, while there’s still 15 games to go, he exceeded my Week 1 expectations. Now watch him run over the Jets, who let up nearly 30 points to Buffalo’s running game last week and, again, most likely team to be 0-16.

Marshawn Lynch

RB Terrance West: Yes, yes, it may seem like I’m just picking on some of the lesser teams in the league, as West and the Ravens gear up to face the Cleveland Browns this week. But it’s not about as it is about Danny Woodhead’s injury. With Woodhead leaving the game last week, West stepped up and had a nice day against the Cincinnati Bengals, who were the only team shut out in Week 1. And as long as Woodhead is out, expect West’s production to continue to be in, at least, the RB2/3 category.

Terrance West

Bonus Sleeper Pick: RB Jacquizz Rodgers: Due to Hurricane Irma, the Bucs will open their season this week with a battle against the Chicago Bears. Last season, with 129 rushing attempts, Rodgers ran for 560 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to 98 yards on 13 receptions. There’s a lot of hype around this young man, and many are considering him to be a sleeper for this week, if not this season. If there’s room in your lineup at RB2/3 or FLEX, give Jacquizz a chance.

Jacquizz Rodgers

Sit:
RB Adrian Peterson: I was really hoping for something better from AP last week, but alas, he was a flop. In fact, he was so bad, he may be demoted on the depth chart in favor of rookie RB Alvin Kamara. I would say unless you’re absolutely desperate and would take the chance, sit him on your bench for the season. Also, if you’re really thinking about starting any Saint other than Drew Brees and Mark Ingram, don’t. Remember: they’re playing the Patriots…a team who is probably out for blood after being manhandled by a rookie last week.

Adrian Peterson

WR T.Y. Hilton: In most cases, I would not be playing Hilton this week. The fact that QB Andrew Luck will not be cleared for Week 2, and is probably out until October, really hurts the potential of receivers on that Indianapolis squad like Hilton. Not to mention, this week Indy plays the Arizona Cardinals, projected to be one of the better defenses in fantasy this season, even if they let up 35 points to the Detroit Lions. The only way I’m starting Hilton is if there are no potential sleepers on your team, and/or as a last-resort FLEX play.

T.Y. Hilton,Robert Nelson

TE Julius Thomas: On paper, this might be one of the better matchups for QB Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins (I’m surprised Cutler has an NFL job again, too.) But, still, there’s not a lot of expectation for Thomas this week. Anyone in Miami outside of RB Jay Ajayi doesn’t deserve a top fantasy starting spot because it’s such a risky wild card of a team. Doesn’t help that Los Angeles gave up just 4.1 catches per game to tight ends at home last year. There’s not a lot of hype for LA’s tight end, Hunter Henry, this week either. But if you were to hold a gun to my head and make me start either of the two, I’d pick Henry over Thomas in the blink of an eye.

Julius Thomas

Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 1

All the long waiting and suffering is over — fantasy football is back! Now that your league has drafted and your team is set, it’s time to figure out who you should put in your starting lineup and who should be locked into your bench come game time. Here’s my advice on a few players to watch out for this week.

Remember: The Tampa Bay-Miami game is POSTPONED TO WEEK 11. Don’t blame me if you forget to take those guys out of your Week 1 lineup.

Start:
QB Marcus Mariota: Last season, Mariota threw 3,426 yards for 26 touchdowns and a QB rating of 95.6. There’s a lot of hype in Tennessee this season and a lot of thoughts that Mariota could emerge as the next big quarterback in the AFC. He’ll have his whole receiving corps against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and that team gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year. Unless you have another big fantasy QB (ex: Rodgers, Brady), then Mariota better be in your lineup this week.

Titans Jaguars Football

RB C.J. Anderson: I know, I know. Anderson has a bit of a streak of not living up to his potential or getting hurt when it comes to fantasy. But, he had a decent preseason and should place ahead of Jamaal Charles and De’Angelo Henderson as the Denver Broncos’ main running back (Devontae Booker will be out due to injury). But, it’s the start of a new season. And with the Los Angeles Chargers — who let up the eighth-most points to RBs last year — missing middle linebacker Denzel Perryman this week, the opportunity is there for Anderson.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos

RB Dalvin Cook: It’s Cook’s NFL debut; all aboard the hype train! Even if Latavius Murray gets most of the touches, Cook’s production shouldn’t be hurt too bad. The New Orleans Saints finished let up the third-most points to backs last season, and the expectation is that trend will continue. Even if its just RB2/FLEX value, Cook should still provide for a fair showing for fantasy owners in his first NFL game.

Cst 46341 Vikings training camp

Bonus start: WR Kelvin Benjamin: Oh, look, it’s a matchup against the San Francisco 49ers — sounds like a gimme. Well, it kind of is. Last season, the 49ers were second in most touchdowns allowed, and ninth in most targets allowed and in most fantasy points given up to road wide receivers. Benjamin’s stock value didn’t really rise until late, but if there’s any time for him to show what he can do, it’s against what is still (at least I feel) a very, very weak San Francisco team.

CARvsTEN 2016 Preseason

Sit:
QB Matthew Stafford: If you must (due to anything from being in a 2-QB league to having him as your only active QB), then start Stafford. But, this matchup with the Arizona Cardinals is a little tricky. He gave up three interceptions to the Arizona defense the last time the Detroit Lions faced off with them (in 2015). Even though it may have lost a step here or there, Arizona’s still got some tough backs on defense. Let this be a “prove me” week for Stafford, but if possible, you may want to reserve a spot for him on your bench.

MatthewStafford

QB Phillip Rivers: If you’re depending on Rivers for this fantasy season, you better have a good excuse, or stop playing fantasy immediately. Denver’s defense is still one of the toughest in fantasy, and it’s already bad enough Rivers has gotten 20+ fantasy points against this defense just one time in six years. Rivers rarely (if ever) deserves a fantasy starting slot.

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

WR Kenny Britt: On paper, no surprise sitting a Cleveland player. But Britt finished 26th in fantasy points for WRs last year, so he’s definitely got the ability to produce. But a matchup for Cleveland against Pittsburgh? Yeah, one to avoid.

Kenny Britt

My Take: Why Sasha Banks’ Loss is Not Her Being Buried

By Thomas Albano

(Cheap plug before I begin: I’ll be starting up a new podcast for professional wrestling, MMA and boxing soon, called “Combat Mania.” Please check it out!)

Eight nights after losing her championship at SummerSlam, Alexa Bliss regained the WWE Raw Women’s Championship last Monday night on Raw by defeating the woman she lost to at the pay-per-view, Sasha Banks. And the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) exploded.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 11.32.03 PMScreen Shot 2017-08-30 at 11.32.46 PM

While I can understand some fans’ frustrations, to say that WWE is intentionally burying Banks, in my opinion, is untrue.

Hot Potato Belts
Plenty of fans know that this isn’t Banks’ first short title reign, as all four of her title reigns now have been less than 30 days in length. And as pointed out in the storyline heading into Monday, Banks had not (and still has not) made a successful title defense — she has been a constant transitional champion.

And, of course, this isn’t the first feud where Banks has experienced short title reigns. Her feud with Charlotte from the start of the brand extension until the end of last year was filled with short title reigns among two — with Banks winning the title on three different episodes of Raw before Charlotte won the title back at whatever the next pay-per-view was.

While one may point out that was when Charlotte had her pay-per-view winning streak, it’s far from the first time WWE has had “hot potato syndrome” with one of its titles. In fact, until Jinder Mahal’s reign started at Backlash in May, the WWE Championship was sort of in a “hot potato” status this year. After AJ Styles’ title run was ended at the Royal Rumble, the title went from John Cena to Bray Wyatt to Randy Orton to Mahal within a span of about four months — and the only one to have one title defense was Wyatt, and it was just that one.

And the Intercontinental Championship? Oh boy, talk to anybody in the IWC and they can tell you about the WWE’s treatment of that title, especially prior to 2016. Between From 2008 through 2015, very few got past the 100-day mark in an Intercontinental Championship title reign. And even with those that did, it gets slimmer in terms of those who had a good, effective title reign.

Heck, even though we may praise the Attitude Era and Ruthless Aggression Era, the title bounced around there, too. After Ken Shamrock lost the title at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 1999 (his 125th day of his reign), no one held the title for 100+ days again until Randy Orton in 2003.

So, the history of WWE and playing “hot potato” with its titles is pretty clear. As to how we can chalk up Banks’ title reigns? Well…

Playing Up to Moments
If there’s one thing we should have taken away from these past few years watching WWE, it’s that WWE doesn’t care as much for story as they do for having big, trending, talked about moments.

Let’s analyze Banks’ title wins a little further. One came on the first episode of Raw in the new “Brand Split” era. Another came when she and Charlotte faced off in the first Raw to have a women’s match main event since 2005 (and only the third in history). One was another Raw main event, and the first women’s falls count anywhere match in WWE in many years, too. Finally, as for the win at SummerSlam, well, SummerSlam is one of the big four. And both brands’ women’s titles changing hands this year (as well as both tag titles and the cruiserweight title) was certainly a talking point.

Let’s even go back, again, to the WWE title earlier this year. Cena’s win at the Royal Rumble marked his 16th world championship in his career, tying Ric Flair for most career world title wins — quite the historical feat. Then, just two weeks later, he loses the title to Bray Wyatt inside the elimination chamber. Hell, Cena wasn’t even in the final two — he was eliminated before the final fall!

New Day’s record-setting title run? It ended not long after passing Demolition’s record. The Dean Ambrose U.S. title reign where he rarely defend the title? It ended after he passed MVP’s record run from 2007-2008.

WWE has even played the “lose in your hometown” card three times within the past year when it comes to the Raw Women’s Title! When Banks and Charlotte faced off at Hell in a Cell 2016, it was the first time a women’s title match (or a women’s match at all) main evented a pay-per-view, and it was the first time a women’s match took place inside Hell in a Cell.

Charlotte-Sasha-HIAC

That event took place in Banks’ hometown of Boston, and she lost. Just weeks later, when the Falls Count Anywhere Match happened, it was in Charlotte’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina…and she lost. Then, when Bliss had her first Raw Women’s Title run this year, what was the whole thing behind it? Oh, right, she beat Bayley in Bayley’s hometown.

Heck, even Bliss’ title win wasn’t the main talking point coming out of Monday (at least it shouldn’t have been). It was Nia Jax’s betrayal of Bliss, ending their alliance and setting up a feud between the two.

(And as a side note: WWE booking a lot of title matches on TV shows recently, in my opinion, is just their usual, yearly, last-ditch effort to keep fans from tuning out once Monday Night Football starts back up).

WWE lives for the moment. They just want the publicity and to be talked about, throwing away logic and history if it meant that as the end result.

Booking of Women
Now, WWE has, of course, come a long way in treating their female active roster members from how they have in years past, even as little as early 2015. They’re no longer called “Divas”. They get spotlight time (and as mentioned, some main event spots). Their matches are usually not less than five minutes anymore (minus the occasional squash match). The women are seen as competitors rather than just eye candy. Basically, the women have a much better rep.

But, not everything is perfect.

On this same most recent edition of Raw, the one that featured Bliss vs. Banks in the main event, as well as an outstanding promo with John Cena and Roman Reigns, we got…the hashtag match.

Seriously, why this absolutely ridiculous stipulation of a match? I know they’ve had the Emma/Women’s Revolution/hashtag storyline going for a couple of weeks now, but why this so suddenly? And, honestly, I’m not finding this storyline interesting. So why have it at all?

But, I mean, it’s one bad storyline. After all, we’ve got the first-ever Mae Young Classic women’s tournament ongoing. In recent times, The women have competed in matches like Ironwoman matches, Falls Count Anywhere, Hell in a Cell, etc. There’s some speculation we could eventually see a Women’s Royal Rumble or Women’s wrestleMania main event someday.

Hell, this year, the Smackdown women even participated in the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

Oh, right, you pissed people off then, too, WWE. (Though I think Carmella has become a great heel since, because of these events).

So, maybe there are things that still need to be done, and this rant has gone on for quite a bit. So, I’ll end it with one last thought.

To those of you who claim WWE is trying to purposely bury Banks, do you remember that she wasn’t originally scheduled to challenge Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title at SummerSlam? It was Bayley. And if Bayley wasn’t injured and competed at SummerSlam, don’t you think the same results would have happened to her?

This is This is SportsCenter

By Thomas Albano

Author’s Note: I know I haven’t been quiet for some time, but I’ve been working on other projects. But, I’ll save my plugs for the end. Let’s just get into the article

So, there’s been a lot going on in this world recently. So, let’s talk about something else — commercials. Commercials that are a guaranteed laugh in the sports world — the This is SportsCenter commercials.

Just some background info — the This is SportsCenter commercial series started in 1994, and advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy is responsible for writing the series. It’s a “mockumentary” of sorts that talk about life at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, and a bunch of athletes and noteworthy ESPN personnel appear.

Now, let me take you through some of my favorites.


Here’s one of the earliest, if not the first, This is SportsCenter ad. Roger Clemens and Cam Neely appear to be having a hard time trying to find where SportsCenter is.


Here’s one of the earliest I remember — an ad from around 2000, a time where Tiger Woods was at the top of his game (and, well, what he’s not today)


Here’s what is probably my favorite of these commercials, however. John Clayton is, well, the man. And it’s hard not to laugh when you see him act like he is here. This commercial is just about universally loved. I also recently learned Clayton got let go about a couple of months ago, which saddens me. But I’m glad he’s getting work on radio still, and as a Seattle Seahawks commentator.


Arnold Palmer is another G.O.A.T. Even watching him make his Arnold Palmer tea is amazing. RIP.


The good ol’ Manning family, and of course it’s Peyton and Eli who are the ones messing around. Why? Because does poor Cooper even matter?


What? Stone Cold studying. What? Takes a chair to the back. What? Better than having a 5-Hour Energy. What? WWE legend. What?


Now this is just a great tribute.


Maybe it’s because I like the Rangers. Maybe it’s because I liked Lundqvist from the time I first got hooked on the Rangers. And maybe it’s because I loved The Muppets as a young child. But it’s a huge win in my book for this commercial to exist.

I can go on and on about these commercials and show more. But, honestly, have a fun search on YouTube for these.

And credit needs to be given to the folks at ESPN and Wieden+Kennedy. Even if some may say not every commercial hits a home run, this series’ reputation in the land of TV is certainly Hall of Fame worthy.

So for my loyal readers, I know I’ve been away. I’ve been putting my focus onto The Unspoken Podcast — which is now on iTunes. So, please, go to its YouTube channel and iTunes page and hit the subscribe button for both. I’m also starting a wrestling/boxing/MMA podcast soon. So, stay tuned for that! And hopefully my next post here will come sooner!

UFC 214 Predictions

We’re less than a day away from the start of the biggest MMA event of the year thus far, let alone the summer — UFC 214. The card is stacked with notable names in the undercard, and two exciting main card bouts with three title fights. It will all culminate with the long-awaited re-match between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.

With that in mind, let’s get into my predictions for the event.

Quick Predictions:
– UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: (c.) Daniel Cormier def. Jon Jones via fourth-round TKO to retian.
– UFC Welterweight Championship: Demian Maia def. (c.) Tyron Woodley via split decision to win the title.
– For the vacant UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship: Cris Cyborg def. Tonya Evinger via second-round TKO to win the title.
– Donald Cerrone def. Robbie Lawler via third-round KO
– Jimi Mauwa def. Volkan Oezdemir via second-round TKO
– Jason Knight def. Ricardo Lamas via split decision
– Renan Barao def. Aljamain Sterling via unanimous decision
– Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano via split decision
– Andre Fili def. Calvin Kattar via second-round TKO
– Alexandra Albu def. Kailin Curran via first-round submission
– Jarred Brooks def. Eric Shelton via unanimous decision
– Drew Dober def. Josh Burkman via second-round submission

Thoughts:

cormier-vs-jones.jpg

Cormier vs. Jones: This is the re-match fight fans have been waiting about two-and-a-half years for. Ever since Jones’ troubles caused him much time away from the Octagon since early 2015, Cormier has made his way to the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division and defended his crown twice (along with a third, non-title win over Anderson Silva). Now, some will say that Jones is a much better fighter than Cormier, and it’s reasonable considering he unanimously decisioned Cormier in their January 2015 encounter. But, keep in mind, Jones has fought just once since that first fight with Cormier — an interim light heavyweight title fight against Ovince Saint Preux in Spring 2016, and it was a unanimous decision win where many thought Jones was not the Jones we’re used to seeing in the cage.

I will call this one of my old classic cases of “prove me wrong.” Yes, Jones is a great fighter, but he’s had a lot of personal struggle over the past couple of years. At least Cormier has been the active fighter. Jones will have to prove me wrong and show me he has no true ring rust.

(Also, on a side note, even if Cormier wins, I think he’ll get his in the next title defense — maybe against Manuwa if he wins? As for Jones, well, if Brock Lesnar does somehow find a way back to the UFC, I can see Jones living up to his word and stepping up to face Lesnar, even if he surrenders the light heavyweight title to do so).

(I also just had a thought of a December or January card that looks like this, should I be wrong and Jones wins but steps up and faces Lesnar:
(c.) Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, or Nate Diaz
(c.) Michael Bisping vs. (ic) Robert Whittaker
For the vacant LHW Title: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa
Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar
Heavyweight Main Card Opener
Bantamweight Prelim Main Event

Woodley vs. Maia

Woodley vs. Maia: With Tyron Woodley, there’s one of two things that will happen — he can finish a guy off quickly or cause a massive brawl (i.e. his title win vs. Robbie Lawler), or the bout can drag (i.e. his last title defense vs. Stephen Thompson). Woodley’s looking for the big money fight with the likes of someone such as Georges St-Pierre, but he shouldn’t be overlooking Demian Maia. Maia has been one of the hottest welterweight contenders for a while now, and he’s on a seven-fight win streak. With UFC President Dana White recently proclaiming the winner of this bout gets GSP, I think Woodley’s head is getting a little too big. If Woodley can’t finish Maia off quickly and Maia can get Woodley to the ground, and I think he can, Maia may sneak away with this one.

Cyborg vs. Evinger

Cyborg vs. Evinger: It’s Tonya Evinger’s UFC debut, and what a debut it is — facing off with Cris Cyborg for the vacant women’s featherweight title. Evinger is great, but Yana Kunitskaya has shown she can be beat (despite the result being overturned to a No Contest). Evinger also has losses on her record to current UFC stars Alexis Davis and Sara McMann. Cyborg, on the other hand, has been unstoppable for a while now, and she finally has her division in the UFC and a chance at the title. I don’t think it’d be right to say it’s now or never for Cyborg, but she is certainly hungry, so now is the perfect time.

Lawler vs. Cerrone

Lawler vs. Cerrone: Other than the main event, this is the bout on the card I’m most looking forward to. Both men can start out slow, but both have tremendous power that can end a fight rather suddenly. It might just be my status as a Cerrone fan, but I can see this fight being like Cerrone’s UFC 206 bout with Matt Brown — Lawler wins the first two rounds, but one sudden shot in the third from Cerrone ends it.

Manuwa vs. Oezdemir

Manuwa vs. Oezdemir: Manuwa is currently ranked sixth on ESPN’s light heavyweight rankings, and he’s ranked third in the UFC’s rankings of the division; meanwhile, Oezdemir is fifth in the UFC rankings. Oezdemir has an impressive track record; I wouldn’t write off Oezdemir completely, he does own a win against Saint Preux. But I can see this being Manuwa’s fight to lose. And because of that, as well as what could be riding for him, I don’t see Manuwa losing. Don’t be surprised if he calls out the Jones-Cormier winner, too.