Teaching You How to #Win – NFL Conference Championship Fantasy Breakdown

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NE_TeamStats
As we look to breakdown the first matchup of the Conference championships, we start with the New England Patriots. As you can see our DiRT Canon projections have the Patriots favored in every team category with the exception being in rushing yards. Given the past of the Patriots, they might not even run the ball 10 times in this game and just let Brady do his thing in the short to intermediate passing game. This means that Edelman and Gronkowski would have huge games. In fact, let’s take a look at the player breakdown for the Patriots next.NE_PlayerStats

While Brady might only be 2 – 6 in Denver over his career, from a fantasy perspective, his numbers have been more than adequate in the previous few seasons. Having a Patriots stack this weekend is a strong play but also an expensive play with each player being towards the top in terms of salary cost relative to their position. The exception as pretty obvious is going to be James White. Don’t look for much production here unless he breaks a couple of long ones but rather expect Gronkowski and Edelman to get at least 25 combined targets in this game. Now let’s transition over to the Denver Broncos. DEN_TeamStatsThe Broncos have the opposite affect and really that shouldn’t be unexpected when only considering statistical information. Simply put, Peyton Manning had an awful statistical season and therefore the team wouldn’t have high projections of output when considering the immediate history. That’s why I wanted to give you a full breakdown and include a bit more for you this weekend. As we look at the team stats, the Broncos are expected to score the least amount of points of the 4 remaining teams according to both Vegas as well as DC*3PO. The main exception is in the run game for Denver with the Broncos projected to out perform the Patriots in that category this weekend. Aside from that, at the team level, statistically speaking the check marks go to the Pats.

DEN_PlayerStatsAs we look to breakdown the Denver players for this game, there are two strong considerations in CJ Anderson and Emmanuel Sanders. Some interesting facts about the rest of the key fantasy contributors are that Manning only averaged 7.1 fantasy points per game at home this season. Ronnie Hillman is only slightly below Anderson with a 19.1 average over the last 2 games against the Patriots. Last we have Thomas…..oh Thomas….can he even catch the ball anymore? That doesn’t mean he won’t get his opportunities but a fun fact in researching his stats for the year, the key metric that leads me away from him this weekend is the fact that New England held him to 4.6 fantasy points in their game earlier in the season and that was the only game in which Thomas didn’t reach at least double digits. Instead it has been Sanders in the passing game and for the price and value, he is the stronger play this weekend.

Overall, I have the Patriots winning fairly easily 31 – 20 and with the Broncos projected to score the least amount of points and produce the least amount of yards, the Patriots defense is in play for me this weekend.


 

ARI_TeamStatsIn our NFC Championship game, we have what is expected to be a higher scoring contest. It doesn’t mean closer as Vegas has both of these games at only a 3 point difference and in this case the home team has the edge. The Panthers come in only having lost 1 game all season and while they ended the game last week having given up 24 unanswered points, they still won by 7 because of the absolute demolition in scoring 31 first half points against the vaunted Seattle defense. The reality of that game is that Carolina played to not lose in the 2nd half knowing it would take a small miracle for the Seahawks to come back and so why take unnecessary risks. I agree with that strategy in the long run but we wouldn’t even consider the Cardinals in this matchup if they had continued to destroy Seattle.

ARI_PlayerStatsSo let’s breakdown the visiting team stats again with the Cardinals and how they stack up against the Panthers. All signs lead to a close one with kickers having a role. The projected Vegas outcome of this game is Carolina 25.25 to Arizona 22.25 as the over/under is set at 47.5 according to FiveDimes. DC*3PO isn’t all that much different with the same projected outcome, Panthers win but by an estimated 4.4 points instead of 3 like Vegas. From a fantasy perspective it should be noted that our DiRT Canon projections show that the Cardinals will throw for the most yards this Sunday but won’t rush the ball with much success. As we move into the player analysis for the Cardinals, this means that Palmer is a strong consideration for top QB of the week and really he should be. All season long, he has been in the top 3 in QBR, TD passes and total passing yards. He continued that last week with everyone in the ESPN community stating how terrible and awful he was but from a fantasy perspective, he put more fantasy points than Brady when the game was all said and done. All he did was go over 300 yards passing again and threw 3 TD’s with the last one in OT to bring the Cardinals home with a victory. Beyond Palmer however, there isn’t much else to look at when considering the previous matchup points. Not a single player is averaging more than 7 fantasy points against the Panthers but that is only a one game sample with these teams not playing each other very often. In looking at their away stats, you would lead with Fitzgerald then Brown and finish with Floyd. So if you are taking Brown to score more than Floyd, this is the week to make that selection as the deep ball is very much in play and that is John Brown all day as they say.

CAR_TeamStatsNow let’s get to expected winning team, the Carolina Panthers. From a team projection standpoint it is pretty much a 50/50 split, the Panthers will be able to run the ball and the Cardinals will throw it. What that really means is that if the Panthers can control clock, like they have done all season, run the ball with the effectiveness that they have had all season, they might run out to a big lead again and then have the Cardinals make a late run at them. It is very unlikely that you would get to see them put up 31 points in 22 minutes like last weekend but could it get to 20 – 3 or around there by half time, that is definitely in play here.

CAR_PlayerStatsFrom a fantasy player perspective, there really hasn’t been very many Panthers all season to hang your hat on outside of Cam. While he is the top projected QB at DiRT Canon, he should be considered for all of his play making ability. Just don’t be surprised if he throws for a couple hundred yards, runs for 40 yards and gets a TD. That won’t have him as the top QB this weekend but that might be enough to win the game itself. I have him as the #3 QB behind Palmer and Brady but the numbers are certainly in his favor. Some other key considerations for the Panthers would be Stewart, who looked amazing against a Seattle defense that absolutely stuffed Adrian Peterson the week before, and then Greg Olsen. Olsen has not had very much success against Arizona in the past but he is the most consistent guy in the Panther passing game. Something of note in researching the past is also that Ted Ginn has only 1 game against Arizona and had a -1 point performance in that contest but at home this year has averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game.

All in all, I am actually going to go with the Cardinals in this one to upset the Panthers and we will have both #2 seeds making it to the Super Bowl. There isn’t anything that definitively points in either direction but I like the overall team of Arizona, they have a lot more play makers on offense and if they can keep the rushing attack somewhat under control, I think Palmer hits a late TD and they win 30 – 27. Don’t forget to check back on Sunday as we will reveal our final NFL experts fantasy picks for the season as we look to have our first version of NBA ready for you next week!

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10 Things We Are #FridayFeeling

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1.

Is Peyton Manning playing his final games in the NFL? John Elway doesn’t know. The Broncos GM told James Palmer that Manning “is staying in this moment now.”

As storied as Peyton Manning‘s football past has been, his future in Denver remains just as unclear.

The 39-year-old Broncos quarterback is at the tail end of the worst statistical season of his career during which he missed six games due to a torn plantar fascia. Compound that reality with Brock Osweiler performing admirably in relief, questions concerning Peyton’s potential Denver departure have started swirling around the Rockies.

Read: Elway: Peyton Manning ‘is staying in this moment’ – NFL.com

2.

New England is just 2-6 in Denver with Tom Brady as quarterback.

There isn’t much Tom Brady hasn’t accomplished or been able to conquer in his New England Patriots career.

Except for figuring out how to win consistently in Denver.

Including the playoffs, the Patriots are 2-6 against the Broncos in Denver with Brady as quarterback, and with a 5-6 record against the AFC West club, the Broncos are the only team he doesn’t have a winning mark against in his career.

Read: Patriots looking to defeat their Denver history in AFC championship | Shutdown Corner – Yahoo Sports

3.

Is prayer the only defense against Tom Brady? Not exactly, but the Broncos can’t play soft like the Chiefs. Here’s the winning blueprint. After Further Review,

What are the secrets to stopping Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense?

Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed offered his analysis on Showtime’s Inside the NFLthis week.

“Pray,” he said.

Read: After Further Review: How Broncos can slow Brady, Gronk and the Pats – CBSSports.com

4.

Major League Baseball fans will soon have more options for watching their favorite team. And non-sports fans yearning for a cordless future will have reason to cheer as well.

MLB has settled a class-action lawsuit over its broadcasting practices and will offer discounted streaming packages for individual teams as well as limited streaming options for previously blacked-out home games, moving fans one step closer to cutting the cord from cable and satellite.

Read: Next Big Player in Digital Media: Baseball – Bloomberg View

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5.

Oakland and Tampa Bay just aren’t cutting it as major league homes, explains Christina Kahrl, who offers up new cities for both franchises that would maximize revenue for baseball.

The change: Baseball needs to figure out where the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays should be playing. This isn’t just about doing something about O.co Coliseum and Tropicana Field, two inadequate venues that aren’t coming close to filling up with fans. It’s about sorting out whether those teams should be serving those markets, or if baseball would be better off with one or both playing somewhere else.

Read: MLB 2.0: Reimagining baseball — Move the Oakland A’s to San Jose and the Tampa Bay Rays to Montreal

6.

Josh Smith is headed back to Houston, as the team acquired the veteran in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Rockets announced.

The Houston Rockets acquired Josh Smith in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Rockets announced Friday.

The Rockets sent the draft rights to Maarty Leunen to the Clippers for Smith and the draft rights to Serhiy Lishchuk. The Clippers also will send cash to Houston to cover the balance of Smith’s salary.

“I’m excited. I feel great,” Smith told Fox 26 Houston about the deal. “It’s a place that I probably should have never left.”

Read: Houston Rockets acquire Josh Smith in trade with Los Angeles Clippers

7.

BOSTON – Derrick Rose’s best defense of the year may have come Friday morning. Following the team’s shootaround at the TD Garden, Rose was asked about All-Star voting and his status in the NBA hierarchy as far as fans were concerned, and seemed to have little regard for the process. “Nope, not at all,’’ Rose …

Read: Derrick Rose gets defensive about the All-Star Game and where he is as a player

8.

With worries about terrorism heightened following attacks in France and California, baseball owners began their two-day meeting Wednesday by discussing threat protection with the U.S. Homeland Security secretary.

Read: Homeland Security head addresses baseball owners – StarTribune.com

9.

DENVER — The Rockies met on Thursday with representatives for free-agent right-handed starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. And MLB Network reported that the two sides will meet again on Friday. The Rockies’ interest in Gallardo fits with general manager Jeff Bridich’s mantra that the club will explore any avenue for improvement. Gallardo was extended a qualifying offer from his 2015 team, the Rangers.

Read: Yovani Gallardo, Rockies scheduled to meet | MLB.com

10.

LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles landed his second crucial in-state commitment in a 24-hour span Friday morning, picking up a pledge from prized defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence:

The 5-star prospect selected LSU over fellow finalist Ohio State during a ceremony at Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana

Read: Will LSU Keep No. 1 Class After Landing 5-Star DT Rashard Lawrence? | Bleacher Report

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