The NFL Handbook – Week 3

I’ve analyzed the data for each of the 16 NFL games on tap in Week 3, and have compiled this handbook to help you identify which match-ups to target in your fantasy leagues, and the best plays should you find yourself in Vegas this weekend.

For the fantasy portion, I’ve broken each team’s fantasy relevant players into four categories:

  1. Ballers –  Either the guys you drafted early, and aren’t benching. Or, the ones with favorable match-ups.
  2. Under the Radar – Guys who may not be hyped, or haven’t performed up to par, but have a good opportunity to produce. *Good for dfs (DraftKings, Fanduel, etc.) as they should have low ownership.
  3. Temper Expectations – Proceed with caution. May be players you’d normally start, or the overly hyped “breakouts”, but might not put up the numbers needed to justify a start this week.
  4. Bums – It’s a good idea to just avoid these guys in your lineups.

You can find my full rankings here.

For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from sportsinsights.com. A lot of the lines have moved in reaction to the money, injuries, etc., but picking and choosing which current odds to use felt a bit too arbitrary. If you have any questions regarding the updated odds, feel free to comment or shoot me an email: leonard@maximizeyourodds.com.

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars

Spread: BAL -4

O/U: 40.5

The Ravens offense is still a work in progress as Joe Flacco makes his way back to full strength. They’re also dealing with a myriad of injuries. Yet, the Ravens find themselves ranked 2nd in point differential largely because their defense has been dominant through 2 games.

Well, neither the Bengals nor Browns are offensive juggernauts.

Didn’t take much.

Still, holding two NFL teams to 10 total points is an impressive feat no matter how you slice it, and while the Jags are better offensively than both the Bengals, and Browns, it’s not by much.

Jacksonville has scored 4 offensive TDs, which is 1 more than the Browns and Bengals have combined, but the strength of this Jacksonville team is their defense. A defense which just allowed 37 points to Tennessee – at home.

That Sacksonville high was very short lived, but both teams still rank among the best in limiting the opposition from the fantasy perspective. Here are the fantasy points allowed on a per game basis to start the season:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Jacksonville 11.58 (10th) 16.2 (16th) 12.6 (8th) 13.6 (31st) 5 (13th) 8 (16th)
Baltimore 3.05 (1st) 12.2 (9th) 12.3 (6th) 8.85 (23rd) 5.5 (15th) 2 (2nd)

Not exactly the best game to target, although there are some positives.

The Jaguars have allowed 4.51 yards per carry to opposing RBs this season, and 3 of the 5 TDs they’ve allowed have come on the ground. Thing is, the Ravens have placed 6x Pro Bowl G Marshal Yanda on IR, Terrance West is dealing with a soft tissue injury, and Danny Woodhead is also on IR.

The loss of Yanda dampens my Buck Allen love, but the Jags allowed the Texans backs to put up 49 yards receiving in Week 1, and the last time we saw Buck he was catching 5 of 6 targets for 35 yards and a TD.

He’s a solid PPR play this week.

There really isn’t much else to like in this one. I mean, I would suggest the Ravens TEs, but good luck predicting which one it’ll be. After last week, you have to figure it’s Watson – who saw 8 targets while Williams and Boyle saw 4 and 1 respectively – but, it’s a risky proposition.

In any case, being that this game comes to us from in London, I’m not touching the spread. These London games are always wild, and I can see this one going either way. But, if I had to, I’d take the 4 points with the Jags and I believe it’ll stay well under the total.

Ravens 16 – Jaguars 13

Ballers: Javorius Allen, Justin Tucker, Ravens DST, Jason Myers, Jaguars DST

Under the Radar: Mike Wallace, Ben Watson/Nick Boyle

Temper Expectations: Joe Flacco, Jeremy Maclin, Leonard Fournette

Bums: Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Spread: PHI -5.5

O/U: 43

There’s this rather handsome guy I know (won’t mention names, but he’s writing this post) who was born and raised a Giants fan. Through the years, it’s been a roller coaster, but I still have flashbacks of celebrating with my father in 1991 after Norwood’s famous “wide right” kick sealed Super Bowl XXV for the G-Men.

I long for the day that I’ll be able to reenact said celebration with my daughters, but it’s not looking like it’ll be any time soon.

The Giants are not a good football team, and the only real positive to be had about this game (as a Giants fan) is the fact that for the 1st time this season their terribleness will not be broadcasted nationally, in prime time.

Thank you, NFL.

Why am I so pessimistic? Well, only 4 QBs have been sacked more times than Eli Manning in 2017, and the Eagles are tied for 4th in the NFL with 8 sacks through 2 games. The Giants haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012, and the 3.2 yards per carry they’ve gained this season is good for 26th. Janoris Jenkins is questionable, and though Stafford was held to 122 passing yards Monday night, he completed 71.4% of his passes and added 2 TDs through the air with no interceptions…

Shall I continue?

Yeah?

Ok… Philly has won 7 of the last 10 against the Giants, and Eli is 10-16 in his career against the Eagles with a 6-7 record in Philadelphia. Now, the Eagles have 7 winning seasons since Eli came into the league in 2004 so it’s not like they’ve been on beast mode. Maybe he really enjoys cheese steaks, and overindulges before the games? Really not sure, but at 1-1, the Eagles look to be the early favorite to take home the NFC East crown this season.

Here are the fantasy points allowed per game, by position, for these two in 2017:

QB RB WR TE DST K
NY Giants 15.15 (20th) 13.65 (11th) 14.65 (12th) 11.2 (27th) 14.5 (28th) 11.5 (26th)
Philadelphia 13.37 (14th) 18.75 (21st) 13.1 (10th) 9.95 (25th) 8.5 (20th) 7 (13th)

If the Giants are going to get their run game going, it’ll be this week as the Eagles have allowed 4.8 yards per carry to opposing backs, and both tight ends figure to be very busy in this one. These two teams are tied for 13th in red zone TD%, having allowed the opposition to score TDs on just 40% of their red zone trips, so I like the kickers here as well.

While the Giants have done a good job in containing #1 receivers, Terrance Williams had a nice game in Week 1, and while Marvin Jones brought in just 1 of his 5 targets Monday night, it was good for a 27 yard TD. The Giants rank 26th in DVOA vs. #2 receivers making Torrey Smith very interesting, especially in daily fantasy.

With Odell Beckham back in the fold, Ronald Darby out another few weeks, and Rodney McLeod questionable, I think the Giants passing game will find enough success to pull off the upset. The Giants get their 1st win of 2017, cover the 5.5, and it’s right at the total of 43.

Giants 23 – Eagles 20

Ballers: Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, Zach Ertz

Under the Radar: Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard, Darren Sproles, Torrey Smith

Temper Expectations: Brandon Marshall, Shane Vereen, Giants DST, Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Eagles DST

Bums: Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, LeGarrette Blount

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills

Spread: DEN -1

O/U: 41

There have been many surprises to begin the 2017 NFL season, and one of the biggest has been the makeshift Bills somehow remaining competitive. Sure, I think we all expected they’d dominate the Jets in Week 1, but not many expected them to go into Carolina and come within yards of leaving with a W.

The defense deserves the majority of the credit, as they limited the Jets and Panthers to 1 TD and 21 total points. However, weeks 1 and 2 were a 3rd grade level spelling bee, they’ll be taking their GRE this week against the Broncos who rank 3rd in points per game at 33.

You might have noticed, but the Broncos know a thing or two about defense themselves having allowed just 19 points per game this season despite facing two talented offenses in the Chargers and Cowboys.

The Bills offense pales in comparison.

Speaking of surprises, the Broncos run defense has been Guinness stout. Melvin Gordon was limited to 54 yards in their opener, and Ezekiel Elliot put up 8 on Sunday.

And no, that’s not a typo.

The Broncos have allowed just 1.73 yards per carry to opposing RBs after finishing 18th in this metric a season ago, and the 52 rushing yards they’ve allowed per game is a significant improvement from the 133.1 they allowed in 2016. Which isn’t a good omen for this Bills team who’s primary source of offense comes on the ground.

Here’s a look at the fantasy points allowed per game by these defenses:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Denver 16.8 (25th) 9.85 (5th) 21.95 (22nd) 8.7 (21st) 5 (13th) 4.5 (9th)
Buffalo 10.65 (9th) 7.95 (3rd) 12.45 (7th) 4.75 (10th) 5.5 (15th) 9 (21st)

Again, match-ups are largely to thank here, but Denver’s numbers against the QB and WR positions are somewhat deceiving. While they’ve allowed 5 passing TDs (3 to WRs), they’ve yet to allow a receiver to hit the 60 yard mark, neither QB (Rivers/Prescott) reached the 250 yard mark, and among QBs who have started both weeks in 2017, Tyrod Taylor has the 2nd fewest passing attempts.

Have a feeling these numbers will look a bit different by the end of this game, and I just don’t see how the Bills move the ball. Let alone, put up points.

Broncos cover the spread with ease, and it stays under the total of 41.

Broncos 23 – Bills 6

Ballers: Trevor Siemian, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos DST

Under the Radar: Virgil Green

Temper Expectations: C.J. Anderson, Charles Clay

Bums: Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy, Jordan Matthews, Andre Holmes, Zay Jones, Bills DST

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Spread: CAR -6

O/U: 49

It’s kind of hard to win games when you can’t score, and it’s even harder to score when you can’t gain yards. The Panthers have allowed just 393 yards this season; only the Dolphins (367) and Buccaneers (310) have allowed less.

They’ve each played one fewer game than Carolina.

It only makes sense that the Panthers have yet to allow a team to put more than a single field goal on the board, and sit 2-0 to start the season.

Cam and co. haven’t needed to do much, but that’ll change on Sunday.

For starters, the Panthers have faced two anemic offenses in the 49ers and Bills. So, yeah, their defensive numbers are impressive, but they’ve yet to truly be challenged. You better believe Brees, and co. will challenge them. The Panthers have won 4 of the last 5 and 7 out of the last 10, but the last 3 between these two have been decided by 3 points each.

The Saints will put up a fight.

They always do.

I can assure you that the Saints will be the 1st team to score a TD on the Panthers in 2017 – odds are they’ll score a couple – so it’ll be interesting to see how Carolina’s offense responds since they seem to be taking the conservative approach with Mr. Newton.

Despite playing two sub par teams, they’re averaging just 16 points per game in 2017 – they’ll also be without Greg Olsen for at least a month.

Luckily for the Panthers, the Saints defense ranks near the bottom in damn near every defensive category imaginable. Here’s how both defenses look in terms of fantasy points allowed per game:

QB RB WR TE DST K
New Orleans 28.16 (32nd) 27 (29th) 32.4 (32nd) 13.35 (30th) -0.5 (3rd) 12 (27th)
Carolina 6.86 (3rd) 7.75 (2nd) 9.15 (2nd) 2.5 (5th) 8.5 (20th) 4 (4th)

Remember that stuff about the 49ers and Bills anemic offenses? Well, the Panthers limited the 49ers to 51 rushing yards in Week 1, and the Bills to 69 in Week 2 (55 from Tyrod Taylor). Ok, so? What’s the point? They’re good.

Yep, and so are the 49ers and Bills… At running the football. Despite being limited against the Panthers, both teams still rank in the top-15 in rushing yards, and are averaging over 100 rushing yards per game.

Still, what’s the point?

Glad you asked. Notice how the Vikings and Patriots DSTs – two of the top defenses in the NFL – have combined to average -.5 fantasy points per game against this Saints offense. The Saints rank 26th in rushing attempts/yards, but 6th in passing attempts and 2nd in passing yards.

The Bills? 29th in passing attempts, 25th in yards. 49ers? 20th in pass attempts, 29th in yards.

Point being, the Panthers played two run dominant teams, but the Saints? They’re the exact opposite. So, while the Panthers have proven their run defense is remarkable, the question is whether or not they can stop this Saints passing attack? Especially when you consider Carolina allowed the 5th most yards through the air a season ago.

The answer is no. No one can.

If the Saints were at full strength, I’d like them to pull off the upset on the road. But, they’re still without Willie Snead, Terron Armstead, and Zach Strief. So, while they’ll fare better than the two teams which preceded them, it won’t be enough. Panthers cover, and it stays under.

Saints 17 – Panthers 27

Ballers: Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Kelvin Benjamin

Under the Radar: Brandon Coleman, Ted Ginn, Devin Funchess, Ed Dickson

Temper Expectations: Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Panthers DST

Bums: Adrian Peterson

Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears

Spread: PIT -8

O/U: 46

Playing for one of the worst teams in the NFL must be painful – both figuratively and literally – as the Bears injury report is beginning to look a bit novelesque. You ever have one of those days, weeks, months, or even years when anything that could possibly go your way happens to not go your way? The proverbial straits?

Yeah… That’s the Bears right now, and what do they get in return for their misfortunes? A game against the Steelers and their +20 point differential (the Bears are -28).

Yay Bears! At least you have the Cubs, Chicago.

On the positive, we should see Markus Wheaton for the 1st time, and Ben Roethlisberger‘s September win percentage of 53% his the lowest of any month. I’m already reaching here, so instead let’s just look at all of the reasons why the Bears won’t win this football game Sunday:

  1. The Steelers defense is allowing an average of 13.5 points per game this season
  2. Jordan Howard is questionable
  3. Pittsburgh has allowed just 35.5 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, limiting the Bears secret weapon (Tarik Cohen)
  4. Pittsburgh has allowed just 4.2 net passing yards per attempt (only Carolina has allowed fewer – 4.1)
  5. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown don’t play for them

I could continue, but the value to be had from the few additional words is significantly outweighed by the increased risk of carpel tunnel I’ll receive by typing them.

There is one more positive, though. The Bears have allowed just 3.3 yards per carry to opposing backs this season so maybe they’ll be able to contain Le’Veon Bell who hasn’t impressed thus far.

Steelers 24 – Bears 13

Ballers: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Steelers DST

Under the Radar:

Temper Expectations: Le’Veon Bell, Jordan Howard – Q, Tarik Cohen

Bums: Mike Glennon, Markus Wheaton, Deonte Thompson, Zach Miller, Jesse James

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Spread: ATL -3

O/U: 49

This game will be the highlight of an otherwise humdrum week. 2-0 vs. 2-0, about $50 million worth of QBs, the 2nd highest opening point total of the week, and two mascots who find themselves near the top of the food chain (don’t sleep on the peregrine falcon).

I like it.

Hey, here’s a fun exercise! Wanna see how much I know about football? Let’s review my take on the Lions from my preseason power rankings shall we?

26. Detroit Lions

Cardinals, at Giants, Falcons, at Vikings, Panthers, at New Orleans, Pittsburgh, at Green Bay… The Lions 1st eight games of the 2017 season. It’s hard to imagine them winning more than one of those games, and that’s a pretty good indication of how this season is going to go.

Projected Win Total: UNDER 7 ½

Yikes! 26th?! Looks like I was off on that one. Yes, the schedule is tough, but I might have underestimated these 2-0 Lions just a wee bit.

As expected, both of these teams rank among the leaders in offense, but let’s take a look at how the defenses have fared from the fantasy perspective:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Atlanta 15.52 (22nd) 27.45 (30th) 23.95 (23rd) 6.95 (17th) 1 (6th) 6 (12th)
Detroit 10.26 (8th) 13.75 (12th) 15.75 (14th) 9.15 (24th) 6 (17th) 4 (4th)

Wait, could the Lions end the week 3-0?! I think so, fam. The Lions are one of the few teams in the NFL with the offense to score with the Falcons, and the defense to limit Matt Ryan and co.

True, both Palmer and Manning are passed their prime, but the Lions limited them to a combined 61.3% completion rate, 269 and 239 passing yards respectively, 2 TDs, and 4 interceptions. They’ve also yet to allow a receiver to hit the 75 yard mark while limiting opposing backs to 2.75 yards per carry.

Slightly impressive.

On the flip side, start Ameer Abdullah in all formats. The Falcons have allowed a RB rushing and receiving TD in each of their 1st two, an average of 71.5 receiving yards to opposing RBs, and 5.35 yards per carry to the running back position.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better match-up.

I went against the Falcons last week, and got burned. However, if Jordy Nelson and Mike Daniels don’t go down for the Packers, they complete the comeback. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. I’m also sticking with fading the Falcons.

Falcons 24 – Lions 31

Ballers: Devonta Freeman (PPR), Julio Jones, Matthew Stafford, Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron

Under the Radar: Austin Hooper, Tevin Coleman, Kenny Golladay

Temper Expectations: Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman (STD), Marvin Jones

Bums: Falcons DST, Lions DST

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

Spread: CLE -2.5

O/U: 41

If you want to know how I feel about this game, click here, and scroll to the bottom-ish (DST streamer)… My time is too valuable to waste on this nonsense, but I will include the defensive fantasy breakdowns – neither is very good.

QB RB WR TE DST K
Cleveland 15.15 (20th) 17.3 (20th) 15.5 (13th) 14.2 (32nd) 17 (30th) 4 (4th)
Indianapolis 16.05 (23rd) 16.1 (15th) 28.15 (30th) 6.5 (15th) 19.5 (32nd) 13.5 (31st)

Browns 19 – Colts 17

Ballers: DeShone Kizer, Rashard Higgins, Frank Gore, Jack Doyle

Under the Radar: Seth DeValve, Browns DST, Jacoby Brissett, Robert Turbin, Colts DST

Temper Expectations: T.Y. Hilton, Kenny Britt

Bums: Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Kamar Aiken, Donte Moncrief

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

Spread: TB -2.5

O/U: 40.5

At this point, it’s unclear whether Sam Bradford will play Sunday.

The Vikings will need him.

In Week 1, with Bradford at the helm, the Vikings offense put up 29 points, 23 1st downs, and 470 yards of total offense. And, in Week 2 without Bradford? 9 points, 14 1st downs, and just 237 yards of total offense.

Obviously, no one is mentioning the Saints d they faced Week 1 in the same conversation as the Steelers who they faced in Week 2. But, in the same breath, no one is mentioning Sam Bradford in the same conversation as Case Keenum.

Unless, the conversation is about uninspiring QBs who formally played for the Rams.

Now, if you like completely random and arbitrary stats, here’s one for you: Case Keenum has defeated the Buccaneers in each of the past 2 seasons. In fact, he’s started just 2 games against the Bucs; he’s 2-0, with 4 TDs, 1 INT, and a 118.8 QB Rate.

Didn’t see that coming.

Maybe the Vikings don’t really need Bradford, and let the Buccaneer slayer do his thing?

QB RB WR TE DST K
Tampa Bay 10.04 (6th) 5.5 (1st) 26.4 (27th) 4.2 (8th) 3 (10th) 1 (1st)
Minnesota 16.58 (24th) 11.5 (7th) 25.35 (24th) 7.05 (19th) 2 (8th) 15 (32nd)

The Vikings faced Drew Brees in Week 1, and Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2, so it should come as no surprise that their performance against the QB, WR, and TE positions rank towards the bottom in terms of fantasy points per game. However, they’re not giving up many TDs.

In fact, they’ve allowed the opposition to score on just 33% of their trips to the red zone, they limited Brees/Big Ben to a combined 3 passing TDs, have yet to allow a rushing TD, and no team has seen their opponents attempt more field goals than the 4 per game allowed by the Vikings – 53.3% of the points allowed by Minnesota this season have come from field goals.

Good thing the Bucs figured out that kicking situation.

Back to the aforementioned Buccaneer slayer… Heading into Week 2, Mike Glennon had 19 career starts, and had thrown for over 300 yards in just 2. He put up his 3rd 300 yard game on Sunday, and you might have noticed that the Bears receiving corps has been decimated by injuries. Sure, a good chunk of those yards (and the TD) came in garbage time, but the fact that Glennon was able to find some success bodes well for whomever is behind center Sunday for the Vikes.

The same can’t be said for the ground game, however, as Howard and Cohen combined for 20 yards on 16 carries. But, the silver lining? Cohen saw 9 targets, catching 8 for 55 yards, and Dalvin Cook has proven he’s a capable pass catcher out of the backfield.

This should be a fun game to watch, and I think the Buccaneers make an early season statement.

Buccaneers 17 – Vikings 13

Ballers: Mike Evans, Buccaneers DST, Nick Folk, Vikings DST, Kai Forbath

Under the Radar: DeSean Jackson, OJ Howard/Cameron Brate, Case Keenum, Adam Thielen

Temper Expectations: Jameis Winston, Jacquizz Rodgers, Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

Spread: NE -12

O/U: 44

Sorry Texans fans, but the parallels of the universe have triggered a flashback. Last season, the 2-0 Texans made their way to New England to face the 2-0 Patriots in Week 3. The Patriots were without Brady, Garoppollo, and were forced to give rookie Jacoby Brissett his 1st career NFL start. The Patriots then proceeded to thump the Texans, 27-0.

This season, the 1-1 Texans make their way to New England to face the 1-1 Patriots in Week 3. But, while rookie QB is on the Texans side this time, it’s hard to imagine him having similar results. The Texans have faced the Patriots nine times since becoming a franchise in 2002; they’ve defeated the Patriots once, and have lost 6 straight by an average of 18.3 points per game.

Houston, we have a problem. Actually, a few.

Although he finished the week with more fantasy points than all but six QBs, Deshaun Watson did not look comfortable in his 1st career NFL start. At all. Not good considering that the Patriots defense kinda returned to form after whatever the hell that was in Week 1.

True, Brees went for 356 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions against the Pats d in Week 2, but that’s a an improvement from the 368, and 4 TDs they allowed Alex Smith to hang on them a week prior.

Oh, and Watson is nowhere near either of those two at this point.

Now, you can question Bill O’Brien‘s coaching all you want, but he’s an intelligent football mind. The Texans ran the ball 30 times on Sunday, and though they were largely held in check, you have to figure B.O.B. will employ a similar approach this week. For starters, he has a rookie QB heading to Foxborough. And secondly, through 2 games, running backs have averaged 7.14 yards per attempt while accounting for 250 rushing yards against these Patriots.

The Pats should have Dont’a Hightower back this week, but if the Texans are to pull off an upset here, they’ll need Foreman and Miller to each go for about 100 yards.

No exaggeration, and that probably won’t even be enough.

I’m still waiting on someone to exploit this Texans secondary, and if it doesn’t happen this week, I’ll concede that they’re better than I expected. However, I don’t believe I’ll have to as you could combine Bortles with Dalton, and still not have Tom Brady. You’d just have some weird looking guy named Dalton Blake who makes a ton of bad reads.

Pats roll.

Texans 3 – Patriots 21

Ballers: Tom Brady, Mike Gillislee, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski, Patriots DST

Under the Radar: D’Onta Foreman

Temper Expectations: Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, James White, Danny Amendola – Q

Bums: Deshaun Watson, Ryan Griffin, Texans DST

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Spread: MIA -6.5

O/U: 41

Something about bad match-ups makes this damn carpel tunnel flare up…

Dolphins 21 – Jets 13

Ballers: If he plays for the Dolphins, start him. Also, Jermaine Kearse.

Under the Radar: Josh McCown

Temper Expectations: Anyone on the Jets who hasn’t yet been mentioned.

Bums: Jets DST

Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans

Spread: TEN -1

O/U: 44

The Seahawks start slow seemingly every season, then put it together around the midway point and become the dominant team we all expect them to be.

If adversity is their fuel, they’ll have a full tank heading into Tennessee.

Remember the “Test Your Might!” challenges from Mortal Kombat that would pop up randomly from time to time and require you to mash mad buttons until you worked up a sweat and then hit whatever button to trigger the guy to break some boards?

*audible gasp*

If you don’t, it was dope.

Anyway, the Seahawks faced a might testing challenge out the gates in Week 1; they lost 17-9, and  looked pretty terrible in doing so. They then returned home to face the woeful 49ers, and snuck away with a head-scratching 12-9 victory.

Now, many will point out their offensive deficiencies – the 10.5 points per game, the 537 yards of total offense, and all that jazz. But, has anyone else noticed that only 9 teams have surrendered more rushing yards on the season, and that they’ve allowed RBs to average 5.9 yards per touch?

Passing against the ‘Hawks is usually an uphill battle, so I guess logically, the rushing yards would make sense on the basis of additional volume (not the case per the stats). But, whatever the reason, the Titans rank 5th in the league at 4.8 yards per carry. Soooo, yeah, it’s not a good look for this Seattle d heading into this one.

Luckily, the Titans defense isn’t all that impressive, so maybe Seattle’s offense will actually show some signs of life this week.

Huge maybe.

Here are their fantasy points allowed per game:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Seattle 9.25 (4th) 17.15 (19th) 16.45 (14th) 4 (7th) 8 (19th) 8 (16th)
Tennessee 14 (15th) 16.2 (16th) 26.1 (26th) 2.8 (5th) 0 (4th) 12 (27th)

With DeMarco Murray dealing with a balky hamstring, I expect Derrick Henry to have a big game – especially if Bobby Wagner can’t go. Outside of that, it’s a dicey week to start any Titans. Including Marcus Mariota.

I know, Rodgers put up 311 on them in Week 1 and Seattle isn’t the same team on the road, but Mariota isn’t Aaron Rodgers, and Rishard Matthews isn’t Jordy Nelson. I guess Delanie Walker would be an ok start if Wagner doesn’t go, but odds are you can find a better option on the waiver wire for the week.

I’d err on the side of caution with Tennessee, and I have to say the same for Seattle until they prove otherwise. Their offensive line has been a mess, and while Carson brought some life to the run game in Week 2, I’m not quite ready to trust them after two duds.

If you have Wilson, and/or Baldwin, you’re starting them and hoping for the best. But, outside of that, my money is on more disappointment from Seattle.

Taking the Titans, and the under.

Seahawks 13 – Titans 16

Ballers: Doug Baldwin, Seahawks DST, Derrick Henry

Under the Radar: Paul Richardson

Temper Expectations: Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, Thomas Rawls, Jimmy Graham – Q, DeMarco Murray – Q

Bums: Marcus Mariota, Titans receivers

Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers

Spread: GB -9

O/U: 45.5

After going going 6-9-1 last season, this Bengals team looks determined to finish worse. Meanwhile, Packers fans haven’t seen consecutive losing seasons since ’90-’91, and Green Bay figures to be among the top contenders in the NFC come season’s end.

Talk about two teams headed in different directions.

The Bengals have had more Offensive Coordinators (2) than they have touchdowns this season (0), but the Packers have allowed 21.5 points per game and may be without several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball…

Could this be the week the Bengals find the end zone?!

I sure hope so because Brian Hoyer‘s 9-yard rushing TD now means the Bengals are the lone NFL team to have failed to score a TD this season, and while I couldn’t care less about the Bengals, I know the pain of being a wack team fan…

Looking at you Knicks.

I’m at a loss for words here (and that carpel tunnel thing is flaring up)… Aaron Rodgers will be fine though the Bengals have been solid against the pass, Ty Montgomery is the #3 RB in fantasy through 2 weeks and the Bengals have allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, the 6 sacks put up by the Packers d is the 5th highest number of any team and Dalton has been historically bad under pressure.

Not looking good for the Bengals, but wait! There’s more.

Only 7 receivers have seen more targets than A.J. Green this season, and his 141 receiving yards rank 9th among WRs. His fantasy owners haven’t felt the benefit though as again, the Bengals have score a TD, which means Green has failed to catch any.

This could be his week.

Through 2 games the Packers rank 26th in DVOA vs. #1 receivers, and Julio Jones just dropped 108 yards on them. So, assuming new OC Bill Lazor doesn’t have some kind of personal vendetta with Mr. Green, there’s a greater than 0% chance that he’ll ball out Sunday afternoon.

Problem is, the Bengals offensive line is painfully bad, they can’t run the ball, and one of the best defenses against Aaron Rodgers is to keep him on the sideline. I just don’t see how the Bengals accomplish that.

Bengals 16 – Packers 24

Ballers: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Ty Montgomery, Jordy Nelson

Under the Radar: Geronimo Allison, Martellus Bennett

Temper Expectations: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Davante Adams

Bums: Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Spread: KC -3.5

O/U: 45.5

Carson Wentz just hung 333 passing yards on this Chiefs d. I think it’s safe to say KC missed Eric Berry, and Steven Nelson. And, they’ll need to get used to the feeling because Berry is done for the year, and Nelson is expected to be out a couple months.

Philip Rivers, and his 523 passing yards, surely aren’t complaining.

While the Chargers are a solid team, they’re stuck in a division of good/great teams, and they need any advantage they can get to keep pace. The Broncos are 2-0 and look incredible, the Raiders are 2-0 and look incredible, the Chiefs are 2-0 and yes, they look incredible.

The Chargers are 0-2.

But, a solid 0-2… Here’s how the defenses have fared by position in terms of fantasy points per game:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Kansas City 17.75 (27th) 19.2 (23rd) 25.75 (25th) 7 (18th) 0 (5th) 8.5 (19th)
LA Chargers 17.88 (28th) 11.55 (7th) 24.35 (23rd) 6.2 (14th) 4 (12th) 10 (22nd)

There’s a reason this spread opened at 3.5 – The Chargers aren’t your typical 0-2 team.

This one should be back and forth, and there should be plenty of offense. Just bet the over, and start everyone (except the defenses, and temper expectations with Melvin Gordon) in fantasy.

Chiefs 30 – Chargers 24

Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins

Spread: OAK -3.5

O/U: 53.5

Both of these offenses rank in the top-15 in points scored per game, while the two defenses rank in the top-15 in terms of total yards allowed. Or, the bottom depending how you view it. Suffice it to say, they give up a gang of yards. And, with the highest opening point total of the week, our Sunday football action should come to an end in the same fashion in which Week 3 began – a shootout.

Now before I jump into the analysis, I want to address the whole “West Coast team traveling East, and visa versa”… It’s garbage, and I’m tired of hearing it. It’s 2017, these fools travel in jets, sleep in hyperbaric chambers, and have nutritionists breaking down their diets to the gram.  What’s a 3 hour time difference?

Yeah, regular Billy making a few back-to-back business trips will experience some jet lag. But, the greatest athletes in the world?! Come on.

And, it’s a night game.

The Raiders went 2-0 in Florida last season, defeated the Ravens at Baltimore in 2016, and have won at Tennessee in two straight seasons. If they lose this, it won’t be even the least bit due to travel.

Moving on to the fantasy points allowed:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Oakland 17.29 (26th) 11.25 (5th) 19.65 (20th) 4.4 (9th) -2.5 (2nd) 10.5 (24th)
Washington 13.97 (14th) 19.65 (26th) 16.05 (13th) 10.4 (25th) 11 (25th) 11 (25th)

Seeing that the ‘Skins held the Greatest Show on Turf 2.0 to just 20 points a week ago, this defense should be revered!

All jokes aside, they’ve allowed just one receiver to find his way into the end zone – which is good, and largely the reason why their numbers against QBs/WRs look solid.

However, they’ve allowed 13.3 yards per completion – which is not good, in fact, it’s 4th worst. They’ve also allowed exactly 104 receiving yards to TEs in each of their games – also, not good.

Meanwhile, the Raiders have allowed opposing offenses a point for ever 13.8 yards gained, just gave up 2 passing TDs to Josh McCown and the Jets, and have allowed 4.2 yards per carry to RBs. It may seem as if they can’t stop a nosebleed, but the held Mariota’s Titans to 1 TD (16 total points), and their pass defense actually hasn’t been terrible.

They’re also healthy.

I think this one gives us more defense than you might expect initially, the Raiders should be able to control the game on the ground, and frankly, are just the better team.

Raiders 24 – Redskins 20

Ballers: David Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, Chris Thompson, Terrelle Pryor

Under the Radar: Jalen Richard

Temper Expectations: Amari Cooper, Kirk Cousins, Robert Kelley – Q, Samaje Perine, Jared Cook – Q

Bums: Raiders DST, Redskins DST

Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals

Spread: DAL -3.5

O/U: 47.5

Last week I said that if the Cardinals lost, it’d be time for me to reevaluate how I view them. Well, the standings might show a W, but when arguably the worst team in the league takes you to OT… You lose.

It’s time to reevaluate how I view this Cardinals team.

Offensively, they’re not good. Defensively, they aite, but a far cry from some of the dominant units we’ve seen in recent years. There’s just not much, if anything, which inspires confidence.

Or, excitement.

The same can be said for this Cowboys team, but I’m not quite ready to write them off just yet. They’re dealing with a gang of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, but were respectable when healthy. And, as long as this Ezekiel Elliott suspension situation continues to linger, they’ll be fine offensively.

So, I’ll pump the breaks until further notice.

Here are the fantasy points allowed per game by both of these defenses:

QB RB WR TE DST K
Dallas 14.67 (17th) 20.75 (27th) 19.85 (21st) 6.95 (16th) 7.5 (18th) 4 (3rd)
Arizona 17.96 (29th) 14.1 (12th) 26.5 (28th) 5.4. (13th) 10.5 (24th) 7.5 (15th)

There shouldn’t be a shortage of offense in this one.

Both defenses have allowed their opponents to score TDs on 80% of their trips to the red zone (tied for the 2nd highest percentage), they’ve both allowed a point about every 13 yards (not good), and a combined 6 defensive starters have either already been ruled out or are listed as questionable.

This one should be fantasy gold.

Cowboys 31 – Cardinals 24

Ballers: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, JJ Nelson

Under the Radar: Cole Beasley

Temper Expectations: Kerwynn Williams

Bums: Cowboys DST, Cardinals DST

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: LAR -3

O/U: 42

In a time, not too long ago, the NFC West was considered by many to be the best division in football. If you, or anyone you know, still feels this way please seek help immediately.

Thing is, this division is likely to be wildly competitive this season because all of the teams suck. And, speaking of teams sucking, the NFL was kind enough to bless us with two sucky teams squaring off on a Thursday night for the 2nd week in a row.

We should all boycott.

The Rams are off to a 1-1 start, are slightly less sucky than the 49ers, and there is reason to believe they might be able to sustain their current level of play. The defense has been one of the more talented units for some years now, but the issues have been offensive.

Well, in a surprising turn of events, the Rams sit 3rd in points per game while also boasting a +30 point differential through the 1st 2 weeks of 2017. Now sure, the 46-9 victory over the Scott Tolzien-led Colts in Week 1 is the main contributor, but there’s also Carson Wen… Sean McVay.

McVay was the Offensive Coordinator for the Redskins from 2014-2017, which coincidentally happen to be the 3 best passing seasons of Kirk Cousins career. Now, Cousins was one of the best QBs in the NFL last season across nearly all metrics, and Jared Goff?

Well, he wasn’t, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Cousins 1st two games a season ago and Goff through 2 with McVay:

Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/C
 Kirk Cousins ’16 58 89 65.17% 693 1 3 78.35 11.95
 Jared Goff ’17 36 54 66.67% 530 2 1 102 14.72

Here are Goff’s numbers from his 7 starts a season ago:

 Jared Goff ’16 112 205 54.63% 1089 5 7 64.09 9.72

Yes, 2 games is a hardly a sample, but his passing yards have increased by over 100 yards per game, and his completion rate is up a full 12%.

Now, there’s a lot of football left to be played, but at this point, Goff is more Cousins than whoever he was last season. And, with the weapons they’ve brought in, there’s reason to believe it’s sustainable.

He’ll need some help from his run game, though.

The Rams 2.9 yards per rushing attempt is good for 2nd worst in the NFL, and if you think the run game doesn’t matter, just take a look at how 2x Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning has fared these 1st 2 weeks. The 49ers have allowed a respectable 3.3 yards per carry in 2017 – tied for 11th – so while Gurley looked good in Week 2, I’m not expecting a huge night as his fantasy production has been largely due to his 3 TDs; the 49ers have yet to allow a rushing TD on the season.

Offensively, San Fran has averaged just 6 points per game to start the season which is not only 2nd worst in the league, but would put them at 228th out of the 271 qualified NBA players a season ago. Right between Zaza Pachulia and Jerian Grant.

On the bright side, Carlos Hyde has looked incredible, and the Rams defense has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing RBs to start the season. Also, Los Angeles has just 5 offensive TDs despite scoring 66 total points on the season. The 49ers should be able to control the game on the ground, and limit this Rams offense.

I like the 49ers to cover the 3, and I’m going under.

Rams 17 – 49ers 20

Ballers: Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde

Under the Radar: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, 49ers DST

Temper Expectations: Sammy Watkins, Rams DST, Pierre Garcon

Bums: Jared Goff, Gerald Everett, Brian Hoyer, Garrett Celek

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to follow @maxingyourodds on Twitter, for additional fantasy advice and betting info.

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