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Pat Fitzmaurice

The Football Girl

Featured Pros: Bounce-back Candidates
Thu, Jun 14
Featured Pros: Bounce-back Candidates
Name one WR you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2017 campaign.
After ranking as a top-25 fantasy receiver in each of his first three seasons with the Broncos, Emmanuel Sanders plummeted to a Moncrief-ian WR62 finish last year. Don't blame Sanders. The horses in Denver's 2017 QB stable weren't fit to give $2 rides to 4-year-olds at a street fair. Case Keenum isn't exactly the Justify of NFL quarterbacks, but he's a much sturdier steed than the ones Denver trotted out last year. At a FantasyPros ADP of WR36, Sanders should turn an easy profit.

Name one RB you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2017 campaign.
I hate to be Chalky McChalk, but the easy answer is Joe Mixon. In his rookie season he was asked to run behind an offensive line that couldn't have opened holes if opposing defensive linemen were made of cotton candy. The Bengals have since signed LT Cordy Glenn and drafted C Billy Price, so Mixon should have at least a little more space in which to operate. In light of his athletic profile and his college tape, Mixon is a strong bounce-back candidate.

Name one QB you expect to bounce back strong from a disappointing 2017 campaign.
Jameis Winston lowered his interception rate last year and boosted his completion percentage, yardage per attempt and passer rating, but the improvements were obscured by a shoulder injury that cost him three games and tamped down his counting stats. Winston's FantasyPros ADP of QB18 suggests that drafters have fallen out of love with him -- and makes him arguably the best QB value of 2018.

NFL Draft Winners & Losers
Mon, Apr 30
NFL Draft Winners & Losers
Give us the rookie whose stock is on the rise the most by virtue of the situation he walks into (team/depth/etc). How early should he go in a rookie draft?
This is a pretty mundane rookie WR class, but Michael Gallup gets a nice value bump by landing in Dallas, where his target competition is a pu pu platter of mediocre veterans. Not that Gallup is necessarily a future star -- on a different team he might have been doomed to a year or two of invisibility -- but he should be fantasy-relevant right away. Highly productive at Colorado State, Gallup is a springy athlete who might be able to do a passable impersonation of Dez Bryant (recent-vintage Dez, at least). It's worth considering Gallup near the end of the first round in rookie dynasty drafts.

Last season, Alvin Kamara offered great value despite flying under the radar as a mid-round pick. Name 1 rookie that has the best shot to be a surprise stud this season.
Fifth-rounder Jordan Wilkins could eventually start for the Colts, who dramatically upgraded their offensive line over the weekend and should become much more efficient in the running game. Indy drafted Nyheim Hines a round before taking Wilkins, but Hines is a passing-down back, not an early-down guy. Marlon Mack will enter training camp atop the depth chart. I'm not a Mack enthusiast, and I think the quick-footed Wilkins has at least a puncher's chance to be the Colts' lead back by late September.

What veteran player walks away as the biggest winner based on the new addition(s) to his team and how does it affect how you value him this season?
It has to be Jerick McKinnon. Not only did the 49ers decline to spend any of their nine draft picks on a running back, but they spent a top-10 pick on an offensive tackle (Mike McGlinchey). I have McKinnon ranked RB17 for redraft leagues and even that might be too conservative.

Featured Pros: Dynasty Risers & Fallers
Wed, Mar 21
Featured Pros: Dynasty Risers & Fallers
After free agency, which player has risen up your dynasty rankings the most and by how much?
Jerick McKinnon is probably going to be the popular answer here. Thing is, I'll be surprised if the 49ers don't draft one of the top prospects from a loaded RB class -- Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman would all look good in scarlet red and metallic gold -- in which case McKinnon would end up playing much the same role he played in Minnesota last year, when he was sharing work with Latavius Murray. I've pushed Allen Robinson into the top 10 at WR now that he's joined the Bears. He's free of Blake Bortles and no longer bound by an offense that wants to take football back to the Eisenhower era. A-Rob should flourish as the clear No. 1 target for ascendant QB Mitch Trubisky, playing in a progressive offense overseen by new head coach Matt Nagy.

After free agency, which player has fallen in your dynasty rankings the most and by how much?
Stuck in a decoy role with the Rams last year, Sammy Watkins hit free agency this offseason ... and promptly signed on for a decoy role with the Chiefs. Watkins was a top-10 WR last year in fantasy points per target and QB rate when targeted. The missing ingredient was heavy target volume, and he's not apt to find it in Kansas City, where TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill have already established themselves in Andy Reid's offense. With Watkins under contract with the Chiefs for the next three years, he falls out of my top 25 at WR.

Against the Spread: Super Bowl Picks
Thu, Feb 1
Against the Spread: Super Bowl Picks
Game: Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots (-4.5)
Pick: New England Patriots (-4.5)
Given the Patriots' pedigree and the vast chasm between Tom Brady and Nick Foles, this number seems lower than it should be. The Eagles can win, but probably not without playing a near-flawless game, and it's hard to imagine Foles doing in New England with an Eli Manning-caliber Super Bowl performance.

Game: Will the combined score be over or under 48 points?
Pick: Over

Game: What will the total combined points be at the end of the game?
Pick: 53

Against the Spread: Conference Round Picks
Thu, Jan 18
Against the Spread: Conference Round Picks
Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-9)
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (+9)
I've never had any problem bending the knee to the Patriots and House Belichick, but I can't bring myself to lay this many points against the Jaguars and their Army of the Dead defense.

Game: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (-3)
The Vikings played a terrible second half against the Saints last Sunday, and they have to feel like they're playing with house money after pulling off the Minneapolis Miracle. I think they'll play a much better game this week and smother the Eagles' offense.

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)

Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Thu, Jan 11
Against the Spread: Divisional Round Picks
Game: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (+3)
Pick: Atlanta Falcons (-3)
Hard as it is to go against a home dog in the playoffs, the Falcons appear to be peaking at the right time, and the Carson Wentz injury was most likely a death blow to the Eagles' promising season. Wait 'til next season, Eagles fans.

Game: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5)
Pick: New England Patriots (-13.5)
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have historically destroyed Dick LeBeau's defenses. Despite Brady's recent flirtations with averageness, this should be a stroll through the park for the Patriots' offense. It's been a nice two-week run for the Titans, but I'll be surprised if they keep this one close.

Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (+7)
Blake Bortles is back to being a mess, which makes it hard to back the Jags with any confidence. But Jacksonville's defense is suffocating, and the Jaguars might just be able to gin up enough offense by going uber-run-heavy against a Pittsburgh defense that hasn't been able to stop the run since Ryan Shazier's injury.

Game: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)
Pick: New Orleans Saints (+4.5)
I'm a Packers fan, so this is probably just wishful thinking on my part, along with a wink and a nod to the Vikings' history of self-immolation in the playoffs. Injuries have chipped away at the New Orleans defense, and even an offense as good as the Saints' might not be able to pierce the Vikings' defense up in Minneapolis. But the Vikings seem to have playoff meltdowns in their DNA, so ...

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5)

Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Thu, Jan 4
Against the Spread: Wild Card Picks
Game: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
The Titans are 3-5 on the road this season, and one of the wins was an overtime affair against the Browns. They aren't winning at Arrowhead this weekend, and as shaky as Marcus Mariota has been over the last month, it seems unlikely they'll keep it close.

Game: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-5)
Pick: Los Angeles Rams (-5)
The Rams are only 4-4 at home this year and can't match the Falcons for playoff experience, but I don't think Atlanta can match L.A.'s offensive firepower.

Game: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Pick: Buffalo Bills (+8.5)
The Bills aren't going to put up many points against the nearly impregnable Jacksonville defense, and moving the ball will become an even more arduous chore if LeSean McCoy doesn't play. Still, I think the Bills can keep it close. As good as that Jaguars defense is -- and this might be one of the best defenses we've seen since the 2000 Ravens -- there's no way in hell I'm laying 8.5 points with a team quarterbacked by Blake Bortles.

Game: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6)
Pick: New Orleans Saints (-6)
Cam Newton has completed 53.5% of his passes over his last six starts, averaging 6.29 yards per pass attempt over that stretch (which included games against the mediocre-to-terrible pass defenses of the Buccaneers, Packers and Jets). The Panthers' don't have a very good conventional running game, and their secondary is vulnerable. Carolina's defensive front seven is magnificent, but I don't think the Panthers have enough to beat the Saints, who could be Super Bowl-bound.

Which game pick are you most confident with?
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6)

Early Top 10 Draft Rankings
Tue, Jan 2
Early Top 10 Draft Rankings
Please list your early top 10 players for 2018 (STD scoring).
1. Todd Gurley
2. Le'Veon Bell
3. Ezekiel Elliott
4. David Johnson
5. Antonio Brown
6. Kareem Hunt
7. Alvin Kamara
8. Melvin Gordon
9. Odell Beckham Jr.
10. Saquon Barkley

Tell us why the player you ranked at #1 is the best fantasy option in 2018.
You could make solid cases for Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell or Zeke Elliott in standard-scoring leagues. For now, I'm going with Gurley. He finally got a legitimate supporting cast this year, which helped tap his vast potential, and Rams head coach Sean McVay fully opened the spigot by unleashing Gurley in the passing game. Gurley has less mileage on the odometer than Bell and is less of a knucklehead than Elliott.

Tell us who your top sleeper candidate is for drafts next for season.
He's not a "sleeper," but Aaron Jones is going to be undervalued. The presence of Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery will scare away a lot of drafters, and it will be easy to forget how good he was when he replaced the injured Montgomery as the Packers' lead RB a month into the season. Of the three Green Bay RBs, Jones is probably the best fit for an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Even if the Packers take the committee approach, Jones should generate enough value to justify his ADP cost.

Most Accurate Experts: Championship Start/Sit Advice
Thu, Dec 21
Most Accurate Experts: Championship Start/Sit Advice
Every year, a surprise stud steps up to help lead fantasy owners to a title. What under-the-radar player fits this bill and should be started as a result?
It's always a running back, isn't it? We'll long remember how Tim Hightower put fantasy teams on his back a few years ago and was responsible for untold numbers of fantasy championships. Maybe this year it will be Elijhaa Penny. With Kerwynn Williams missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday and starting to look iffy for Sunday, Penny may well start for the Cardinals in a home game against a pillowy Giants run defense. Penny had 10 carries for 45 last week, and the 234-pound banger has a chance to pop this week if he gets the bulk of the early-down work.

Name one dud for Week 16 and tell us why you think this is one player owners should strongly consider benching.
Carlos Hyde continues to get a lot of touches, but while C.J. Beathard was quick to throw check-down passes, Jimmy Garoppolo has targeted his wide receivers and tight ends almost exclusively. Hyde had 49 receptions over his first 11 games but has caught just five passes in Garoppolo's three starts. And it seems unlikely that Hyde will be able to do much business on the ground against the Jaguars, who've been murder on opposing running games since the start of November.

Give us one struggling player that owners should resist the temptation to sit because a payoff is coming this week.
I've been hearing from a lot of Twitter followers who are thinking about benching A.J. Green this week. I've been urging them to keep the faith. Granted, the last couple of weeks have been ugly for Green and the Bengals, and Green's individual matchup with Darius Slay this week is a difficult one. Personally, I could never bench a mega-talented receiver who's healthy, has a sterling career track record and is averaging 8.9 targets a game.

There are a few receivers with tough matchups this week. Between Marquise Goodwin (vs. JAC), T.Y. Hilton (at BAL), Robby Anderson (vs. LAC), Randall Cobb (vs. MIN) and Jordy Nelson (vs. MIN), who do you trust the most and what should owners expect?
Goodwin is my highest-ranked guy from that group, and he's not in the top 30 at wide receiver. (He's WR31.) I would expect disappointment if you're starting any of those guys. But at least all of them, with the exception of Nelson, have game-breaking speed and could potentially make their weekly fantasy quota on a single play.

Fantasy Playoffs: Bold Predictions
Thu, Dec 7
Fantasy Playoffs: Bold Predictions
Please give one bold prediction (player related) for the fantasy playoffs
Sterling Shepard will be a top-15 wide receiver over the next three weeks. Eli Manning was peppering Shepard with targets a few weeks ago, before Shepard's bout with migraines and Ben McAdoo's ill-conceived benching of Manning. With both players back in the lineup, Shepard could put up big numbers down the stretch.

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