Connor & Bryce talk NFL Weeks 7 & 8, plus some NBA/NCAA Hoops. Also, judge Connor HARSHLY for his horrible Schwarzenegger imitation.
Atlanta Hawks: 33.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 29
Dula: Over. I really like the direction the Atlanta Hawks are heading in. They are very young but also very talented. I expect second year guys, Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, to improve on their rookie campaign and I expect Atlanta’s two first round picks, DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish, to have an immediate impact. Atlanta will only improve for years to come.
Keehn: Under. Atlanta drafted well this year. Trae Young and John Collins are legitimate pros… on the offensive side of the ball. This team is far and away one of the most atrocious defensive teams in recent memory. Adding Hunter is a great addition for this and he will start at the 3 and play a lot. However, Young and Collins are so horrifically bad on defense that they will give up too many points for the fast-paced offense to match. They were both ranked number one at their position for worst defensive efficiency and most field goals given up.
Boston Celtics: 48.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 49
Dula: Over. While the Celtics did lose Kyrie Irving, they gained Kemba Walker who I think can propel this team to 50 wins. Kyrie proved he could not be a system player as he did not fit in Brad Stevens’ system. Kemba was 2nd in the league in scoring when driving to the basket last year, behind only the MVP of the league, Giannis Antentokounmpo. Combine him with young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown then add a little bit of Gordon Hayward and you’ve got a recipe for a contender. Boston also got who I believe will be the steal of the draft in Purdue’s Carsen Edwards who averaged more than 30 PPG in the NCAA tournament earlier this year.
Keehn: Over. Brad Stevens and the rest of the crew in bean town can finally breathe a sigh of relief with the departure of Kyrie Irving. Kemba Walker brings in a new vibe to the team. This team did take a strong hit defensively, adding Kanter and Walker who are both not as good as Horford/Kyrie/Baynes. However, they finished the preseason as the best defense on paper when it came to efficiencies. Jayson Tatum is ready to pop this season. He will finally begin to go to the basket and draw fouls and shoot more 3’s which will propel him to an all-star appearance. Gordon Hayward will look to get back to his normal self again. This team is trending in the right direction. If Stevens can mix and match lineups that work, their depth could propel them past 50 wins. Look for Carsen Edwards to be the steal of the draft.
Brooklyn Nets: 44.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 42
Dula: Over. The Nets are a year away from being legitimate contenders when Kevin Durant comes back from his Achilles injury. This year will be a building block year with newly acquired Kyrie Irving leading the charge. The Nets also added a lot of depth this offseason with veterans like Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and third-year player Taurean Prince. Caris LeVert was in the midst of a breakout year before dislocating his ankle last season, if he stays healthy this starting lineup is scary good.
Keehn: Over. This one really could go either way. If Kyrie stays healthy this season, all season, they should be more than okay to beat this total. Maybe now that DeAndre Jordan is playing with his friends he will show a small bit of effort. Last year was embarrassing for him and he looks to turn this around. If Atkinson can keep a hold of the personalities of this team, it will all work out. But if he starts to let the players dictate the show, it could get out of hand. Jarrett Allen should play more than Jordan. However, with Kyrie at the helm, he might demand otherwise. It will be interesting to see how the young Nets do with Uncle Drew at the helm. When healthy this team is loaded with talent. They are one year away (obviously).
Charlotte Hornets: 23.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39
Dula: Under. Kemba Walker single-handedly won games for Charlotte last season. Now, I don’t believe that he won an extrta 16 games for them, but he kept them in playoff contention until the end of the season. With no Walker, the Hornets’ starting backcourt includes two guards who would probably be backups on any other team with Rozier and Bacon. I expect a lottery pick from Charlotte in next year’s draft.
Keehn: Under. I have no comment on this team because they are by far the worst in the league. Jordan should be ashamed of the team he has put together. Giving Rozier that much money is ridiculous. This is going to get ugly. Maybe worst team in the league is a bit harsh but without Kemba, what can they even be?
Chicago Bulls: 30.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 22
Dula: Over. The Chicago Bulls are only getting more experienced and Zach LaVine can hopefully play at least 70 games this year. The Bulls are also very deep at the guard position with Satoransky, LaVine, Dunn, and rookie Coby White. They also get Otto Porter Jr. for a full season and they added veteran, Thaddeus Young. Lauri Markkenen and Wendell Carter Jr. round out the frontcourt making Chicago a pretty decent team.
Keehn: Over. Don’t be surprised if Chicago makes a little bit of a playoff run at some point in the season. Zach Lowe put them as one of his preseason playoff teams, and I don’t blame him. If LaVine can stay healthy along with Lauri, they can be a fun team to watch. Wendell Carter and Coby White are prototypical guys with their sizes and skill-sets for the modern NBA. This team has so many young weapons and should surprise a lot of people this year.
Cleveland Cavaliers: 23.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 19
Dula: Under. Outside of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, the Cavs are a rather young team with potential. Sexton and rookie Darius Garland could eventually be a dynamic backcourt and I think Dylan Windler will also be an impactful rookie. This team does have some bright spots but they still won’t be able to claw out of the hole LeBron left them in.
Keehn: Under. The Cavs are really bad. Kevin will be traded by December and they have an extremely young backcourt with Garland and Sexton. This team just doesn’t have enough to compete. They are going to need a lot of help if they are going to get above 20 wins.
Dallas Mavericks: 40.5 (+110/-134), 2018-19 wins: 33
Dula: Under. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are going to be a dominant scoring duo. I also believe that Doncic will be a top 3 player in the league in the near future. But for now, the Western Conference is too good for Dallas to reach a .500 record. That being said, the Mavs are not too far away from competing in the west.
Keehn: Under. There are actually quite a few people who have Dallas making the playoffs this year. This is quite bold considering Kristaps is coming off injury and Luka is is still so young. Outside of those two guys they really don’t have any play makers who have played in any big games. In fact, Luka and Kristaps haven’t played in big games either. This team will be good eventually. Look for them to be active at the trade deadline. They’ll get there eventually, but not this year.
Denver Nuggets: 52.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 54
Dula: Over. The Denver Nuggets come into the season with essentially the same roster as last year with the addition of Michael Porter Jr. who sat out all of last season after back surgery. The Nuggets have four guards who could be starters in the NBA with Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Monte Morris, and Malik Beasley. Nikola Jokic is also arguably the best center in the league rounding out this very solid roster. The Nuggets should still be considered contenders despite the amount of offseason action in the Western Conference.
Keehn: Over. This team is going to finish as the number one seed in the West, and it’s not that bold to say. It isn’t even because of Michael Porter Jr coming back. This team is the most balanced team in the league with several matchups that work in their favor. Adding Jerami Grant was one of the best additions this offseason. This team is defensively poised, they are maturing, and they are ready to go deeper in the playoffs. Jokic is the best center in the league. He is absolutely someone you should consider throwing money on for MVP this year and he is a clear-cut top 5 fantasy player. He looks to lead this team to another great year.
Detroit Pistons: 37.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 41
Dula: Over. The Pistons O/U being at 37.5 is kind of disrespectful if you ask me. The Pistons were a playoff team last year and entered the postseason with an injured Blake Griffin. Luke Kennard did a better than expected job filling in for Griffin and with the additions of Derrick Rose and BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson, I think the Pistons have a chance at making the playoffs again this season.
Keehn: Over. Ever so slightly over. Like, 38 or 39 wins kind of over. I actually like this O/U for them. The teams in the East who improved this year with their offseason additions and changes did more so then the Pistons did. D-Rose is obviously a great addition to any team but point guard really wasn’t this team’s problem. They got badly exposed on the wing on both sides of the ball and did nothing to get better at that position. The East teams who did improve all have dynamic wings who will be able to keep exploiting this. If Blake gets hurt like I expect him to at some point, they are in serious trouble. They’ll be a borderline playoff team but I don’t think they will be able to keep up with the other teams in a better (but still not great) Eastern Conference.
Golden State Warriors: 47.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 57
Dula: Over. So they lost KD and Klay Thompson, but that doesn’t make them 10 games worse than they were last year. They still have Steph Curry who is in a position to put up MVP numbers and teams can’t shut him down like the Raptors did in the finals because D’Angelo Russell will take that defensive pressure off of him. Willie Cauley-Stein was an underrated acquisition at center and if they can figure out their small forward position, I expect the Warriors to thrive with a chip on their shoulder this season.
Keehn: Under. Part of me thinks that this team will just somehow magically get to 50+ wins just because they’re the Warriors. Adding Russell is very interesting but here’s a twist not a lot of people are thinking of. Russell is going to be one of the most talked about guys likely to get traded at the deadline than almost every player in the league besides Kevin Love. If the Warriors get a few picks and some solid players, that would be preparing them for the future. It doesn’t help when they have Omari Spellman and Alfonso McKinnie in their starting lineup and in the crunch time lineup with Curry and Draymond in the preseason. In a loaded Western Conference, those guys aren’t going to cut it. One thing is for sure: Steph is going to win the scoring title. The rest is up in the air for this team. With the uncertainty of Klay coming back, I have to under on this one. However if Klay were to have a similar timetable to Oladipo, I would switch to over very quickly.
Houston Rockets: 52.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 53
Dula: Over. While this team is not very deep outside of backups, Tyson Chandler, Gerald Green, and Austin Rivers, the combination of Westbrook and Harden is going to be too powerful for most teams to handle. It still baffles me that Scott Brooks had those two guys and Kevin Durant and failed to win a championship but that’s another discussion. The Rockets will maintain their regular season dominance and achieve at least 53 wins this season.
Keehn: Over. A thousand times again… this will be over. This team is going to finish near the top of the West. I cannot believe people are excluding this team from their playoff projections. The amount of disrespect Russ gets around the league is laughable. Him and Harden are going to be an absolute nightmare for even the higher end defensive teams. Russ is still going to stuff the stats sheet, Harden is still going to put up MVP numbers, and the role players are going to do their thing. This team is going to WALK to 50 wins. Come on guys, is this real?
Indiana Pacers: 47.5 (+100/-121), 2018-19 wins: 48
Dula: Over. While Oladipo won’t be healthy do start the season, if he comes back and is the same All-Star he was last season then the Pacers are a dangerous team. They are very deep and a backcourt consisting of Dipo and Malcom Brogdon is no joke. I expect a 50 win season from Nate McMillan and his squad.
Keehn: Under. The loss of Thaddeus Young and Bojan are huge for this team. With Oladipo’s return up in the air, his ideal complement, Brogdon, won’t be able to do the things he did with Milwaukee because the cast is nowhere near as good as the Bucks. The Pacers have a lot of talented individual guys, but being able to gel as a team and continually grow leading up to his return will be a big test for this team.
Los Angeles Clippers: 56.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 48
Dula: Over. Doc Rivers was simply robbed of Coach of the Year last year. Now he gets the two best two-way players in the league with Paul George and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers return both of their Sixth Man of the Year nominees, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell which shows how strong their bench is. This team will coast to the Conference Finals if healthy.
Keehn: Over. This is higher than I would have expected. 56 is quite high considering Paul George will miss the first 10 or so games. However, when healthy, this team is far and away the best in the league. The 2 best 2 way players in the league surrounded by veteran who is the best 6th man in the league, young stars who play their roles beautifully, a defensive pest as a point guard, and a championship head coach. That is the formula for winning if there ever was one.
Los Angeles Lakers: 51.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 37
Dula: Over. Mising out on Kawhi Leonard was a blessing in disguise for the Lakers. Because of that, they were able add the necessary depth to their lineup. LeBron had the first serious injury of his career last year so we’ll see how his body holds up after logging over 46,000 regular season minutes in his career. A healthy Anthony Davis should take the pressure of LeBron though, making this team a favorite to win the west.
Keehn: Over. If Anthony Davis can stay healthy all year, this team will be so much fun to watch on defense. Anthony Davis is a clear-cut candidate to compete with Giannis for the MVP. LeBron still looks as sharp as ever. The guys around them are all defensively oriented. Davis, LeBron, Green, Bradley, and McGee is a downright scary defense. However, if one of LeBron or AD goes out for a long period of time, this team won’t have enough scoring to stay afloat and it could plummet quickly.
Memphis Grizzlies: 26.5 (-112/-109), 2018-19 wins: 33
Dula: Over. I think it’s reasonable to say this team can reach 30 wins. With the additions of young talent like Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, and Brandon Clarke the future looks bright for Memphis but they will continue to rebuild for the next few years.
Keehn: Over. Not by much here. They are going to have to steal a lot of games from the East teams. Morant is ready to be the front-runner to win ROY (yes because he will play more minutes and get more volume than Zion). Jarren Jackson Jr. is going to be a force in this league really soon. It should be him this franchise builds around. They’ll get there eventually. Clarke is one of my favorite recent college players to come out of a draft. This team is built for the future. Slightly over here. Maybe they’ll get to 30 but over 30 would be a stretch.
Miami Heat: 42.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39
Dula: Over. Jimmy Butler is back in a situation where he is undoubtedly the star on his team. I’m expecting potential MVP numbers from him this season. He’s accompanied by Rookie of the Year candidate, Tyler Herro, who I haven’t even seen hit the rim on the shots he’s made throughout summer league and preseason so far. Spoelstra’s move of Justise Winslow to point guard last season should also continue to see its benefits.
Keehn: Over. The Heat got rid of the most lazy player in the league and added the least lazy player in the league. I would take that as a huge win. Jimmy Butler completely changes the Heat’s mindset to a “win now” one. If they can make an acquisition at the trade deadline for a Love, Griffin, or Russell, this team could be a real contender. Bam Adebayo, Justice Winslow, and Tyler Herro are great young pieces who will be used at length this year. Expect them to compete for a high seed in the East.
Milwaukee Bucks: 56.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 60
Dula: Under. Khris Middleton and Giannis are one of the NBA duos that nobody is talking about but they belong in the conversation with AD and Lebron, Russ and Harden, and PG and Kawhi. However, 57 wins is still a lot of wins and the east has gotten stronger despite losing Kawhi Leonard. That’s not to say they won’t get 55, but I’m not seeing 57 for the Bucks.
Keehn: Over. Watching Giannis in the preseason was incredibly hilarious. 27 points and 14 rebounds in 24 minutes of action was pretty consistent (ball-parking). He is the favorite to repeat as MVP. His jumper also took a HUGE step forward. It is far smoother and he is shooting it with more confidence. The team as a whole got worse but Giannis, somehow, got better. I like them to be the top seed in the East once again.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 35.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 36
Dula: Under. Losing Derrick Rose hurts the Wolves. I expect Jarrett Culver to beat out Jake Layman for the starting job sooner rather than later but I still don’t think this team got any better in the offseason. Karl-Anthony Towns’ talent will be wasted for yet another season in Minnesota.
Keehn: Under. This is the season that is going to drive Towns out of town. Jarrett Culver is ranked as my second best rookie for the long-term. He is going to be a good 2 way NBA player for a long time. They lost Jones and Rose which is a big hit on load that Jeff Teague will have. This team did not get much better while the rest of the conference did. I expect Josh Okogie to take a jump this year.
New Orleans Pelicans: 38.5 (-112/-112), 2018-19 wins: 33
Dula: Over. There is no team in the NBA that I am more excited to watch than the Pelicans. They were a top 5 team in pace last season so what they did in the offseason was go out and get a bunch of athletic guys who can beat their guys up and down the floor. I cannot wait to see how they implement a transition offense with. And they will have an above average defense with guys like Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Favors in the starting lineup. Not to mention, they had an excellent draft getting Zion Williamson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Jaxson Hayes. I don’t think it will happen, but I hope I see this team in the playoffs.
Keehn: Over. This is one of those where the number for this might have people shaking there heads, but it’s actually pretty good. I like them to win around 40 games this year and just missing the playoffs. This team will have a rare identity that isn’t really seen at any level of basketball these days: a young team with an exceptional defense. They will be a show in transition but it is their defense that will get people out of their seats. If Zion can stay healthy, get your popcorn ready.
New York Knicks: 27.5 (-122/+100), 2018-19 wins: 17
Dula: Under. I don’t think the Knicks are as bad as everyone has made them out to be. If Julius Randle can stay healthy, they can potentially be a 30 win team. But I just don’t think they are good enough to beat the teams they’ll be playing. Give RJ Barrett some time and let Kevin Knox get another year of NBA experience and they should be a decent team in a few years.
Keehn: Under. Before the preseason started, I would have thought about the over on this one. However, after watching some of their games I am going to have to take the under. Dula is right: they aren’t as bad as people think. It is clear that Fiz is running the team through Barrett and Randle this preseason. The problem is the team doesn’t really have an identity. With 4 of their 8 best players all being power forwards, it’s hard to have an identity with a lop-sided roster. Barrett is going to be a serious contender for rookie of the year, Knox will improve his all around game, and Mitchell Robinson will learn from his bad high school tendencies he had last year.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 33.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 49
Dula: Under. OKC is in full rebuild mode this season, but with all the draft picks they attained this offseason I’d say they have a good foundation for what they want to build. I actually like their backcourt with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and who doesn’t love Steven Adams? Still, this team won’t be able to compete this season.
Keehn: Under. As cool as this team is on paper, there is going to be some moves for this team. It can almost be guaranteed that this team will be different roster wise from beginning of the season to the end. Steven Adams will have a great year and Chris Paul will be a nice mentor for Shai Alexander who is one of my favorite young players in the league. They will be fun to watch, but won’t have enough firepower to compete with the elites in the west.
Orlando Magic: 40.5 (+110/-134), 2018-19 wins: 42
Dula: Under. The Magic didn’t get any worse this offseason, they just didn’t get any better. I was very surprised when Nikola Vucevic decided to remain with Orlando after testing the waters as a free agent, seeing how he is one of the best centers in the league who has nothing to show for it. The Magic selected Chuma Okeke in the first round of the draft this year which also made no sense to me so despite resigning Vucevic, the Magic had a below average offseason.
Keehn: Over. The Magic are going to be a force that nobody sees coming in the East this season. Ranked in the top 3 defensively the last 3 months of the season, this team is the real deal. Jon Isaac is my pick for most improved player this year. Fultz’s jumper is better, but it is still really odd. The Magic having him isn’t too much of a factor here. Aaron Gordon looks to be an all-star along side his extremely underrated big man, Nikola Vucevic is going to continue his monster campaign. I really like this team a lot.
Philadelphia 76ers: 53.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 51
Dula: Under. The Sixers are one injury away from being just an average team. The lack of depth in Philly makes me want to take the under here. While Ben Simmons looks like he’s been working on his jumper in the offseason, and the Sixers signed Al Horford, I’m worried that one injury could exponentially set this team back. The Sixers were a much better team as whole last year (their starting 5 is among the best in the league but their depth last year made them better) and they only totaled 51 wins so it wouldn’t make sense to me to take the over here.
Keehn: Over. Their depth is a PROBLEM. Brett Brown played more than 10 guys off the bench in almost all of their preseason games to see who was going to put in. Strong campaigns from rookie Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott, and a few others. Those guys are not nearly enough to fill the shoes of an injury prone, but loaded, starting 5 of Philly. Their 5, when healthy, is the best in the league. I want to take the under here, but I am going to make the bold assumption that this team can actually stay healthy for once. If they do, they will be a regular season dream. However, when it comes to crunch time in a playoff series, they could be in trouble, especially with the lack of durability of Embiid and the age of Al Horford.
Phoenix Suns: 27.5 (+100/-121), 2018-19 wins: 19
Dula: Under. My heart wants to say over but it’s the Suns. They have been the laughing stock of the league for the last five years and I just won’t believe they’ll win 30 games until I see it. They do have a lot of solid players like Rubio, Ayton, Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Devin Booker, but I still don’t think it’s enough to get them to 30 wins which is a mark they haven’t reached since the 2014-15 season.
Keehn: Under. This team is so bad. Devin Booker will always be a good player on a bad team. He is a great fantasy option but really has to take over this year if he wants to help this team get anywhere. It is a lot of talented guys playing together with no real identity. Mikal Bridges and Ayton look to have big years for Phoenix.
Portland Trail Blazers: 47.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 53
Dula: Under. Dame and CJ will continue to be one of the best backcourts in the NBA but the frontcourt is what worries me with the Blazers this season. I really don’t like Zach Collins as a starter and there is no timetable for Jusuf Nurkic’s return. Even if Nurkic comes back healthy, it could be too late to give the Blazers another 50 win season.
Keehn: Over. This is a very different team for the Blazers. They sub in two long, athletic, defensive-minded wings for two above average shooting ones. They get Hassan Whiteside, an expiring contract, which will be huge in their negotiations for a “win now” guy at the deadline. They can flip Whiteside’s expiring for a Griffin or Love with Nurkic coming back. Each of the past 5 years the Blazers always project in the bottom of the playoff picture and always finish better. I trust Damian Lillard, not only because he is my favorite player in the league, but because he can lead a team in a loaded western conference. This team has a winning formula and can still be very talented in the West.
Sacramento Kings: 38.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39
Dula: Over. The Kings are not too far away from being in the top tier in the west. The top tier meaning the seven teams who should be locks to make the playoffs but the Kings should fight for an 8-seed this year. Bagley, Barnes, Hield, Fox, and potential Most Improved Player, Bogdan Bogdanovic, make up a solid roster that shouldn’t be slept on.
Keehn: Over. It’s crazy because when I say the over on this one, I’m guessing 39 wins, the same they had last year. I like this young team a lot. Buddy is an elite shooter. He is in the tier of shooters just below Klay and Steph. Bagley looks to take the leap this year and De’Aaron Fox is ready to enter a high level tier of NBA point guards. He is going to have a huge year for the Kings. However, the conference is loaded and I still expect them to be in the hunt for the 8 seed.
San Antonio Spurs: 46.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 48
Dula: Over. I will never bet against Popovich. Even if this team was depleted and they didn’t have guys like Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan accompanied by Derrick White and the return of Dejounte Murray, I still would not take the under with Popovich coaching this team. This team also has depth with DeMarre Caroll, Patty Mills, Lonnie Walker IV, Trey Lyles, and Rudy Gay coming off the bench. The Spurs are a lock for 50 wins this season.
Keehn. Under. Dejounte Murray is really good. the injury to him last year was really unfortunate. The Spurs always find a way to hang around and be relevant in the post-Kawhi era. However, I feel as though the conference as a whole got better and the Spurs did not get much better. They have a lot of minutes distributions they have to figure out. This is probably the first time ever I would have hit the under on Pop. What has happened to me?
Toronto Raptors: 46.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 58
Dula: Under. The Raptors won’t sniff the second overall seed in the east like they did last year. Losing Kawhi won’t have the same effect losing LeBron had on Cleveland, but Toronto is by no means a contender. I expect Fred VanVleet to come back down to earth from his extraordinary playoff run while Siakam will continue to emerge as a star. Not all is lost for Toronto and they can still sneak into the playoffs but a repeat is very far out of the question.
Keehn: Over. The Raptors are a very interesting team. They just gave Lowry his money for his years of service there. The Raptors are the number one team to move their own pieces at the deadline. Pascal Siakm is ready for a big year. The majority of this team is back and even without Kawhi, they are still a good basketball team in the East. They’ll finish with anywhere around 45-49 wins… IF… big if, they keep their team in tact. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they moved Gasol at the deadline. OG coming back is bigger for this team than people think. Dula and I have disagreed on this one ever since Kawhi announced he was leaving. This’ll be a fun one for us to watch throughout the year.
Utah Jazz: 53.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 50
Dula: Over. The Jazz could be the best defensive team in the NBA with their starting lineup including Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert. Not to mention they have Ed Davis coming off the bench who shut down Joel Embiid in the playoffs last season before he left the series with an injury. While everyone is talking about the flashy teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets, the Jazz are getting lost in the contender conversation.
Keehn: Under. The Jazz are picked by a lot of people to be in that top 3 range right behind the Lakers and Clippers. They had an amazing offseason and their team definitely got a lot better. They finally have a playoff experienced guy who can help them out in those big game situations when they need a play maker or a quick bucket. Mitchell is ready for a big pop this year and they look extremely good on paper. However, I really think the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Rockets, and Blazers are all better than them. For that reason, I think they might be a tad overrated. Gobert will repeat as DPOY that’s for sure.
Washington Wizards: 27.5 (+100/-122), 2018-19 wins: 32
Dula: Under. I truly believe the WIzards will be the worst team in the NBA this season. Despite Beal’s extension, I am not ruling out a trade to send Beal elsewhere through his own request. Although, I really like rookie Rui Hachimura who I think has a legitimate chance at winning Rookie of the Year because of the amount of minutes he will get on this very bad team. Hachimura is also a good all around player on both sides of the ball. So I really don’t like the Wizards this season but I love Hachimura.
Keehn: Under. This team is going to be so bad. It’s such a shame because Bradley Beal is such a good player. He is a popular pick to get traded at the deadline, despite him signing an extension. Rui Hachimura is a guy who I thought could have easily been a top 5 pick. Bryant is emerging a little bit. But unfortunately, they have nowhere near enough fire power.
Connor & Bryce give their weekly review/preview, talk NFL award predictions, and get ready for the NBA season to begin.
Syracuse @ NC State 10/10 8 PM ET
NC State’s three wins have come against East Carolina, Western Carolina, and Ball State while they have two bad losses to Florida State and West Virginia. Syracuse also has two embarrassing losses but one of them came against Clemson and the other came against Maryland who were fresh off a 79-0 win so their offense was clicking. NC State has also failed to cover against the spread when less than a touchdown in five straight games. I’m taking ‘Cuse with the points but I wouldn’t disagree with Syracuse money line here either.
Georgia Tech @ Duke 10/12 12:30 PM ET
Georgia Tech +17.5
When Georgia Tech played Duke last year, they came in as the favorite even with Duke having Daniel Jones at the helm. Duke will win this game but 17.5 is still just too many points for them to cover despite their 3-2 record. While the Yellow Jackets come into the game at 1-4, their losses don’t convince me that this game has blowout potential so I’m grabbing them with the points.
Old Dominion @ Marshall 10/12 2:30 PM EST
Both of these defenses are ranked outside the top 50 and history is on the over’s side in this one. Despite none of their games hitting the over yet this year, Marshall has not had their game have a total this low in nearly a year while Old Dominion has not had a total this low in every game besides one in the last five seasons. Hammer the over.
UConn @ Tulane 10/12 3:45 PM EST
Any time I see a conference game with a spread over 30 I always love the underdog with the spread. Don’t get me wrong, UConn is a very bad team but they are not a whole five touchdowns worse than Tulane. The Green Wave come into this game at 4-1 but none of their wins scream “impressive” to me. I’m taking the Huskies with the points.
Nebraska @ Minnesota 10/12 7:30 EST
When Vegas first presented the lines for this game, Nebraska opened as a road favorite. Now, they are considered to be underdogs and Vegas has them losing by more than a touchdown. Nebraska lost to Ohio State two weeks ago 48-7 but I truly believe that Ohio State is the best team in the country so I won’t fault them for that the same way Vegas is. The Cornhuskers are the play here.
Giants @ Patriots 10/10 8:20 EST
The league’s best defense squares off against the league’s most depleted offense. The Giants will be without Shepard, Engram, Gallman, and Barkley. The Patriots will be without Philip Dorsett but Edelman and Gordon seem like they will play against the Giants’ atrocious secondary. Bill Belichick has been notorious throughout his career for confusing young quarterbacks so I think a Daniel Jones with limited options will have trouble finding the endzone.
As I just mentioned, I think the Giants will struggle to score. I might even go as far as saying they likely will not score a touchdown. Meaning even if the Patriots score 35 points, this game will still hit the under. This will not be an entertaining game to say the least.
Panthers @ Buccaneers 10/13 9:30 AM EST
Anything goes in London where a team like the Jaguars are undefeated but I am a big believer in the Panthers this season. If you take a look at their roster, they are a very solid team led by potential MVP Christian McCaffrey. The Bucs defense will not be able to stop CMC and their secondary will not be able to contain Carolina’s speedy receivers. I like to Panthers by two touchdowns here.
Seahawks @ Browns 10/13 1:00 PM EST
The Browns just got mollywhopped by the Niners on Monday night. Nothing about the Browns makes me believe they are a good team at this point and they are going against early MVP candidate Russell Wilson this week. This game will still be close with the Seahawks beating their opponents by a total of 21 points this season and 17 of those points coming against Arizona. Nonetheless, I like the Seahawks by a touchdown.
49ers @ Rams 10/13 4:05 EST
The Niners are coming off a dominant win against Cleveland and they enter yet another game as underdogs. The Rams defense has been very bad these past two weeks allowing a combined total of 85 points and Goff has also not been great as of late. Goff has thrown 14 TDs, 15 INTs, and fumbled the ball 12 times in the last 12 games. If San Francisco is in fact the real deal then the Rams don’t stand a chance in this one. Money line is also a viable play here.
By: Jon Dula and Connor Keehn
With postseason baseball beginning today, it’s time to get excited. The NL wild card draw was determined on the last day. The AL wild card teams play like division champs. This time of year really feels like the only time where nothing should surprise you. It’s October baseball, and we are incredibly hyped. Here’s how we think everything will go down from Tuesday and Wednesday’s wild card match ups, to the World Series winner at the end of the month.
Wild Card Overview: If you haven’t checked out our latest Bold vs. Cold Take piece, Dula talks about the Nationals and how they have a legitimate shot at beating the Dodgers in the NLDS. Of course, they have to get by the Brewers first. With Max Scherzer at the helm in Washington against the Yelich-less Brewers, this only makes sense that the Nationals will prevail. It is worth noting that young ace Brandon Woodruff will be starting in only his 3rd career playoff game for the Brewers. We’ll take Max at home for this one. Nationals 6, Brewers 3
As for the American League, Both these teams are ridiculously good. The A’s and the Rays both have won a nice chunk against the Yankees and Astros in all of their head to head match ups this year. The A’s are 8-11 against Houston and the Rays are 4-3 against them. The Rays are 7-12 against the Yankees and the A’s are 4-2 against them. The A’s lost in the Wild Card game a year ago to the Yankees and are looking to avenge it. Unfortunately, even being home won’t be enough to beat Tampa Bay. They have the second best road record and will continue to be road warriors on Wednesday. This is by far the hardest game to pick of the first round because of the fact that both of these teams are built for a deep run in the postseason. The other reason is because they are scarily similar.
Crazy right? This one is a toss up. But I’m going to have to go with Tampa on this one simply because they have the best bullpen in baseball and will use that to their advantage in a one game win-or-go-home. Don’t get me wrong, The A’s Bullpen is elite also but if we had to have one, we’re taking the Rays. Rays 5, Athletics 4
ALDS Overview: The Yankees and Twins should be a great series.Losing German is huge for the Yankees. He’s thrown exceptionally well in big games this season. In games where the offense saved him, which some may argue was a lot, he only missed his spots here and there. This really is a big loss for them. On the flip side, their offense has been firing on all cylinders pretty consistently all season and they are incredibly deep on the offensive side. As with the Yankees, the Twins weakest spot (not that it is even “weak”) is their pitching. Their offense has been so superlative at the top 7 of the order that their pitching has been overshadowed. If their pitchers can ramp it up and prevent the Yankees from hitting the long ball, this could get interesting fast. With home field advantage and a poor taste in their mouth, Look for the Yankees to advance. Yankees win series 3-1.
As for the other, regardless of whether or not we are right about the Rays, the Astros still look good to advance. With home field advantage and Cole looking to throw game 1 and, if necessary, game 5 for the Astros, they’ll look to overwhelm two really good teams. We think a lot of people will pick the Rays or the A’s to come out on top as the upset pick of the playoffs. However, ours is on the opposite side of the bracket. The Astros had 4 of the best 5 hitters according to average the last over a 2 month stretch of the season. Altuve, Bregman, Brantley, and and Springer all will look to stay hot. Top to bottom, this team is down right scary. Astros win series 3-1
ALCS Overview: The Yankees and Astros have two of the best lineups in baseball. This one should be a lot of fun. Yes this series could go either way, but home field is too valuable in this series. As stated prior, The Astros and Yankees should be able to throw who they want, when they want. The pitching matchups will set up (if the series goes 7), 2 starts for Verlander and 2 for Cole. Yes Cole doesn’t like pitching in big games. But this time he’ll realize he has home field and a powerful lineup at his back. The Yankees, on the other hand, need their pitching to be better than it has ever been. If they’re going to win the series, Severino and Tanaka both have to pitch on the same level as Verlander and Cole. Is it possible? Maybe. But the advantage is there for Houston. Overall, we expect this series to go the distance. If the Yankees are in a situation where they can win in game 6, they’re in good shape. Unfortunately for them, has the two best words in all of sports written all over it… Game 7. Astros win series 4-3
NLDS Overview: Keehn mentioned my previous bold take on our last Bold Take vs. Cold Take article which predicted this matchup between the Nationals and Dodgers. Allow me to reiterate some of the key points from that article. While the Dodgers did win the season series 4-2, the first series came in May while the Nationals were still working the kinks out and they did not ever face Patrick Corbin. They did beat Anibal Sanchez twice but the second time it was at the fault of the bullpen and in the playoffs it could be possible that Sanchez comes out of the bullpen for Washington. So you add Sanchez in relief against Strasburg, Corbin, and Scherzer, and you’ve got yourselves a legitimate problem if you’re the Dodgers. Game 1 will probably be a classic matchup between Strasburg and Kershaw but Kershaw has historically struggled in the postseason so if the Nationals can take Game 1 then it’s probably a wrap on the series. Also, expect a huge postseason from underrated MVP candidate, Anthony Rendon, who is in for a huge payday this offseason. I expect the top seed in the National League to go down here. Nationals win series 3-1.
The next matchup is the Atlanta Braves taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have been one of the hottest teams in baseball since July but I think the young Braves are finally ready for a deep postseason run. Last year, when they lost to the Dodgers in the NLDS, Dansby Swanson missed the series with a foot injury which may not seem like a huge deal but it absolutely hurt Atlanta’s defense. The Braves also have two guys who are going to finish top 10 in MVP voting in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Maybe even three if you consider the season Ozzie Albies had. The development of the Braves young pitchers Max Fried and Mike Soroka will be pivotal in this series along with the help of veteran pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran. The Braves are also top 5 in all major batting categories in the National League while St. Louis finds themselves consistently outside of the top 10. However, when it comes to pitching categories the Cardinals seem to have the edge based on statistics. But I don’t think the Cardinals rotation will be able to handle a five game series against guys like Acuna, Albies, Freeman, Donaldson, and Markakis. Braves win series 3-1
NLCS Overview: In the Championship Series I believe that we will see a divisional matchup between the Braves and the Nationals. The Braves won the season series 11-8 and have won 4 of the last 6 meetings between these two teams. The Braves currently have Washington’s number and if the matchup ends up happening then I think the Braves will have no problem defeating their divisional rivals a few more times to reach their first World Series since the 90s. The batting stats between these two teams are eerily similar as for most categories no more than 3 positions separate them in rankings. I think what we will see is a series between to evenly matched teams for a very entertaining series. Fortunately, the Braves have home field advantage for a series that has the potential to go a full seven games. I believe the Braves can take games 1 and 2 if they can put Soroka and Fried on the mound in those games. They will probably drop Game 3 in Washington against a speculated matchup against Corbin. Game 4 will also but a tough game for the Braves having to matchup against Strasburg or Scherzer. But I think if the Braves can take a 2-2 tie back to Atlanta they will take Game 5 and then finish the Nationals at their home field in Game 6 to win the series. The Braves actually have a better record against the Nationals in Washington this season so I don’t think clinching a game out in D.C. will be an issue. Braves win series 4-2
National League Champion: Atlanta Braves
Coming from a smaller market, I think the talented Braves will surprise some people this postseason with their abilities. They don’t have the same exposure as a team from Los Angeles but they are just as talented as any team in baseball, except for the Astros but more on that later. A big name that might not be on everyone’s radar going into the postseason is Julio Teheran. He’s been with the Braves since 2011, the second longest tenured Brave behind Freddie Freeman. For the Braves rebuilding seasons, Teheran was their ace but due to the development of their young pitching and the addition of Dallas Keuchel he has moved to fourth on the rotation. It will be interesting to see if the Braves decide to go with a four man rotation or not but if they decide to go with a three man rotation watch out for Teheran to be thrust into some significant situations. After a quick exit last postseason, casual baseball fans were unable to be exposed to the extraordinary talents of young players like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., but this time around they will become household names with a deep run to the World Series.
American League Champions: Houston Astros
Loaded at every position, the Astros are the best team in baseball. With a lot of hype going to the Dodgers to make it back to the World Series, the Astros are the ones to look out for. They have dominated all year and have two guys who could be in the conversation for Cy Young. When you look at their lineup, there are no holes and there are no easy outs. Look for a guy like Gurriel to have a sensational postseason in light of all the all-stars they have. This team is ready for another title run. It won’t be easy, though. But we think that with the explosiveness of this offense coupled with their loaded rotation and home field throughout the playoffs propels them to a match up with the young talented Braves.
Amazing young talent like Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Ozzie Albies and seasoned veterans like Freddie Freeman and Michael Brantley highlight a great match up between two well-balanced teams. With a healthy Dansby Swanson, the Braves look to shock a lot of people just by being in this series. For years they’ve been building their roster through the young talent of their farm system. Will it be enough to beat the juggernaut? It’s more of the same thing with we talked about with the Yankees series; it’s possible but home field is too powerful. Of all the young players in baseball, Acuna would have to be at the top of every GM’s list. This is the kind of series where although they don’t win, Acuna has a real postseason coming-out party and puts up a stance for his name to be mentioned in the top 10-15 players in the league. It will be extremely tough for the Braves offense to take advantage of Verlander and Cole, especially those games in which would be home. Guys like Freddie Freeman deserve a ring at some point in their career. Regardless of how the Braves do in this series, it cannot be denied all that Freeman has done for this franchise and for the young players. With all that being said, we’re going to go with Houston on this one. The stars seem to align for them to win their second World Series title in the last 3 seasons. This series is by no means a wash. Look for it to go 6 or 7 games. Astros win series 4-2
Keehn’s World Series MVP: Yuli Gurriel
Dula’s World Series MVP: Michael Brantley
You know the drill, here’s what we got for our second edition of our weekly takes around the world of sports.
As much as I would love to talk about all the things that happened across the NFL this week like Daniel Jones, or Melvin Gordon, or how I lost in fantasy this week by .34 points, I cannot. This is because something so blasphemous happened that I can’t not comment on it. In the span of five days, what I’m about to say somehow went from common knowledge to an extremely bold take:
LaMelo Ball is not a top 5 pick in the NBA draft.
Look, don’t get me wrong, the dude can play. I’m not on the train that hates the Ball family because of LaVar. I am actually a huge fan of Lonzo and think he is top 5 in the league in basketball IQ; but that’s for another day. Givony, whom I really like, recently came out with his mock draft for next year and has LaMelo going third. He is behind James Wiseman who many, not me, consider to be the best player in the class and Anthony Edwards, who is probably the best or second best player in the class. But here’s the thing that was the driving force behind me making the take this week: LaMelo is ranked AHEAD of Cole Anthony. In no world is LaMelo Ball better than/should be drafted ahead of Cole Anthony. Coming from a guy who watches a lot of ACC basketball, Cole Anthony will be the best guard in the conference in the past 5 years, and maybe even the whole decade. The dude averaged 18 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 2.3 steals…. while playing ONLY 22 minutes a game and playing against the top competition in the country. Wow. Seriously, if you haven’t watched this kid play in a full game you better because this dude is going to be an undoubted All-American in the ACC this year.
I think LaMelo is going to be a good NBA player, don’t get me wrong. But the guys who were ranked ahead of him before were there for a reason. After just a few games in Australia, this man jumped double digit spots in mock drafts to number 3. Just because he can dance around these Australian big guys because they come over the screen every time doesn’t mean he should be drafted ahead of the best high school guard I’ve ever seen in my life (that could be a take in and of itself).
Side note: an NBA scout, who somehow still has a job after this, said that LaMelo… wait I don’t want to get this wrong… “reminds me of Luka Doncic”. The best rookie we’ve seen this decade? Maybe ever? I don’t think so. Luka won the MVP as a teenager in the second best basketball league in the world. LaMelo just started playing last week in Australia. Australia’s professional league isn’t even top 5 in the world. Heck, I don’t even know if it cracks the top 10! Am I missing something? Help me out fellas.
Dula’s Reaction: I do believe that out of all of the Ball brothers, LaMelo is the best and will probably be the most successful in the NBA. Although don’t quote me on that yet because I think Lonzo transitioning to a small market team will benefit his career tremendously. Currently the question about LaMelo isn’t if he will be a top 5 pick but the question is does he deserve to be a top 5 pick? Looking at it from a business standpoint, it makes a whole lot of sense to draft this kid in the top 5. He will sell tickets. The Ball family, (mostly LaVar) really know how to market themselves and we have been talking about LaMelo since 2016 when Lonzo began his freshman season at UCLA. One of many reasons Zion Williamson was selected first overall this year was because of his marketability. He will provide increased ticket sales and jersey sales for the New Orleans Pelicans. LaMelo will absolutely help a team bring in more revenue.
From a basketball standpoint, it’s hard to say that LaMelo deserves to land in the top 5 of the 2020 NBA Draft. It’s not that he’s not good, it’s just that the players ahead of him are better. Also, he is nowhere near Luka Doncic. Luka had a better rookie season than LeBron James and I don’t expect to see a rookie season like his again in quite some time. That being said, LaMelo Ball will likely land in the top 10 of the NBA Draft if not the top 5. Cole Anthony will probably jump LaMelo in the mock drafts a month or two into the season which would drop LaMelo to either 4 or 5. So I do truly believe he will land inside the top 5 because he will continue his production in the NBL giving analysts and scouts no reason to believe he is not worthy of a top 5 pick. I’ll have to separate my stances on this one.
LaMelo Ball is not a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft: Cold
LaMelo Ball does not deserve to be a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft: As bold as taking a bar exam without studying.
Bryce’s Reaction: LaMelo is definetly a good basketball player- probably one of the higher level scorers at the guard position in this upcoming draft class. However, there is NO WAY he should ever be ranked or drafted over Cole Anthony. In just about every aspect, Cole is a better player. Aside from talent- have we really seen LaMelo play high level opponents? Has he played anyone in his Lithuanian, NBL, and JBA stints that is at an NBA level? Not really. Sure, NBA GMs will sometimes look to draft players based on talent AND business profits, and sure LaMelo will definitely sell jerseys and tickets. But is he really going to succeed in the NBA? How long will the business profits last? And, most important, is it worth taking the risk on a kid who has bounced around different teams as a high schooler and “professional” overseas TOP FIVE? I know I wouldn’t take that sort of risk.
LaMelo in the Top 3/5: COLD COLD COLD
Two of my favorite words in all of sports is, “October Baseball.” After waiting a long 162 games we will be presented with the great gift of the MLB playoffs. Will we see a rematch of the 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers? Will the Yankees win their 28th ring? Will a talented small market team like the Atlanta Braves ride their hot streak to their first title in 23 years? So many questions will be answered very soon. But back to my first question about the Astros and Dodgers. Will we see a rematch? My answer is no. Because this is my take:
The Dodgers will be eliminated in the NLDS.
“Dula, you can’t be serious. The Dodgers have dominated the National League all year. Surely they will represent the National League in the World Series.” That is where you’re wrong, my friends. Sure, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu. Of course they have the likely NL MVP in Cody Bellinger. This team is stacked. How could they possibly lose? Insert: The Washington Nationals. If the Washington Nationals can win the Wild Card game then it is bad news for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers and the Nationals faced each other six times this season with the Dodgers winning the season series 4-2. The pitchers for the nationals in their four losses were; Anibal Sanchez in May, Stephen Strasburg in May (who only surrendered 2 earned runs that game), Anibal Sanchez again in July (who only gave up 1 earned run in a 4-2 loss), and Joe Ross in July. The Dodgers have yet to face Patrick Corbin and they have yet to beat Max Scherzer. Anibal Sanchez in May is completely different than Anibal Sanchez in September. He is 7-2 in his last 15 starts after beginning the season 4-6. So although the Dodgers won that series back in May, they beat a struggling Nationals team that was nowhere near as red hot as they are now. It is unlikely Sanchez will be a scheduled starter in the NLDS but that’s because with Scherzer likely starting the Wild Card game, the Dodgers will probably face Strasburg in Game 1, Corbin in Game 2, and Scherzer in Game 3. There is no team in baseball that will want to face that rotation in the postseason. Also, consider Scherzer at home for Game 3 a lock for the Nationals.
The Nationals also have their very own MVP candidate in Anthony Rendon who leads all of baseball with 124 RBI and is 3rd in the National League in batting average with a solid .322. To add on the that, he is 4th in on base percentage, 5th in slugging, 6th in OPS, and 7th in runs scored in the entire MLB. While Cody Bellinger has been getting all the attention out in LA, Rendon has quietly been one of the best players in baseball this year.
If the Nationals beat the Brewers in the NL Wild Card game then my prediction for a Dodgers vs. Nationals series is the Nationals advancing after they win the series 3 games to 1.
Keehn’s Reaction: October baseball. What an amazing time to be alive. Except for “Game 7”, I think it’s the best phrase in all of sports. I’m going to right ahead here and already say this take is piping hot. I think Juan Soto is among the best young talent in all of baseball and Rendon has been an absolute phenom at the plate. The Dodgers could be getting complacent with where they are. On top of that, we’d probably get two games of Strasburg if the series were to five (assuming Scherzer throws the wild card game and comes back for game 3). Although I think we’re both ready to ride the Braves this year, I would highly consider taking these nationals over the Dodgers. This could be one of the most wild postseasons in recent memory, and the nationals could not only sneak the Dodgers, but potentially win the NL. Look for Soto to have a monster playoff run. Side note, shout out Sean Doolittle. Family friend of mine and he’s a stud. Scalding hot take.
Bryce’s Reaction: As a baseball illiterate guy, I’m gonna have to stay neutral here and stick to football/basketball. LOL.
Today I received a VERY interesting Adam Schefter scoop on my phone.. Patrick Mahomes is projected to get paid at least 40 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. Let’s discuss.
Listen, this is NOT a knock on Mahomes- he is superbly talented and deserves a nice paycheck for his performance last season and again so far this year. However, 40 million a year is absolutely absurd. That sort of cap hit limits the Chiefs tremendously. How do they plan to extend Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? Or how are they supposed to build up their defense (which is currently ranked 24th in the NFL overall)? To put it lightly, THEY COULDN’T.
If they want to put all of their money into him, then so be it- I’m sure all the other AFC contenders would love it. However, look at all the other greats at QB who won super bowls. Brady & Manning both took pay cuts, year after year, in order for the GM to be in a spot to build the team around them. So why would KC spend that much money on just one player out of the entire 53 man roster?
Mahomes, without a question, is a generational talent. He had an incredible first season- winning MVP and leading the Chiefs to the AFC championship game. However, this sort of pay day would hinder their chances at building and maintaining their contention in the AFC.
Keehn’s Reaction: I think Mahomes really has surpassed Donald as the best player in the league. This dude is the real deal. They did just recently extend Hill for 3 more years. But seeing this model of a good quarterback taking pay cuts to better the team, I’m gonna agree on this one. 40 million a year would be a lot of money and I know he’s already making a ton with endorsements. He seems like the kind of guy who’d take a cut… right? If the Chiefs start putting up some money for the defense, it could be their turn to take the throne once Bill and Brady retire. I love Mahomes (who doesn’t), but 40 million a year is too much. Stance: Hot
Dula’s Reaction: Patrick Mahomes is probably the best quarterback in the NFL and he is showing no signs of slowing down. He could be the best quarterback in the league for years to come. So I can understand why Kansas City would want to pay him $40 million a year. He’s a generational talent that will have the team in Super Bowl discussions year in and year out. Recently in the NFL, we’ve seen multiple players break the record for highest paid player at their position. There are many different factors that go into how or why these players have become the highest paid players but if you look at the teams paying these players, not many of them have won championships. Therefore, Mahomes should follow the footsteps of Brady and Manning by taking a pay cut.
Mahomes is already making money from endorsements and they are just going to keep coming. The reason these players are the some of the best athletes in the world is their competitive edge, not their greediness. Paying Mahomes this absurd amount of money will tie Kansas City’s hands together and they will not be able to extend their key players or sign any notable free agents in the coming years. Now, that does not mean Mahomes does not deserve to be the highest paid quarterback but we all know he does not need the price tag to prove that he is the best.
My Stance: As bold as asking your hot boss out to dinner.
P.S. I will have to respectfully disagree with Keehn’s take that Mahomes is better than Aaron Donald. That is a cold take to be discussed at a later date.
Welcome to the first edition of our weekly Bold Take or Cold Take article. Each of our writers will be posting a take while the other writers will decide if that take is bold or cold. Let’s get ready for some controversy. Be sure to come back every Friday for new takes and reactions.
It is early on in the football season as we just wrapped up week two. Headlines are surrounding franchise quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Eli Maning, and Ben Roethlisberger. But there is one quarterback I would like to touch on and that is potential Rookie of the Year; Kyler Murray. Better yet, I’d like to focus on his favorite target so far, Larry FitzGerald. Through two games this year, FitzGerald has 13 catches for 217 yards and 1 touchdown. The 36-year-old has been impressive for his 0-1-1 Cardinals and my take is as follows:
Larry FitzGerald is the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL.
No it is not Jerry Rice. No it is not Randy Moss. And no it is not Terrell Owens. Let’s start with Fitz’s career rankings. He ranks 3rd all-time in receptions and he is going to be 2nd as early as this week if he can haul in 10 catches. This will result in him passing Tony Gonzalez. Will he catch Jerry Rice for first all time? If he plays as long as Rice did maybe. Is it likely? Not necessarily. Is it possible? Absolutely. Rice played 20 years while FitzGerald just began his 16th season. He needs 231 receptions to tie Jerry Rice for first all-time which is very possible if he plays another three or four seasons.
FitzGerald ranks 2nd all-time in receiving yards. He’s 6,400 yards behind Jerry Rice and he probably won’t catch up to first even if he plays a few more seasons but I will soon explain why he is better than Rice despite Rice being number one in all major receiving categories. He also ranks 6th all-time in receiving touchdowns. He could possibly finish his career 4th or 5th. The receivers ahead of him include Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Marvin Harrison. He is 10th among all players in career yards from scrimmage and 9 out of the 10 players in front of him are running backs.
Now you may be thinking, “Jerry Rice is first in all the categories you mentioned, how could FitzGerald possibly be better?” The simple answer is: Look at their quarterbacks. Jerry Rice played with two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Steve Young and Joe Montana. He also caught passes from Jeff Garcia, a three time pro-bowler and Rich Gannon, a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Rice’s quarterbacks combined for 13 Pro Bowl appearances and 5 MVP awards. This man was blessed with talented quarterbacks for basically his entire career. You definitely cannot say the same for Larry FitzGerald.
FitzGerald played with 21 different quarterbacks in his entire career. I was going to just list a few but I want you to read all 21 of these names. Josh McCown, Shaun King, John Navarre, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, Tim Rattay, Brian St. Pierre, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, Rich Bartel, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert, Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen, Mike Glennon, and Kyler Murray. The best quarterback on that list is Hall of Famer Kurt Warner who had two MVPs (none with FitzGerald) and four Pro Bowl appearances (one with FitzGerald as his receiver). Carson Palmer appeared in three Pro Bowls (one with FitzGerald as his receiver). Outsdie of those two QBs, the other 19 have combined for one Pro Bowl and no MVPs.
FitzGerald is unarguably a top five receiver of all time even with his team’s quarterback struggles for over a decade. Just imagine if he were able to play with guys of the same caliber like Steve Young and Joe Montana. His stats would be identical to Rice’s if he ever had a great quarterback in his prime throwing him the ball. Therefore, Larry FitzGerald is the best wide receiver to ever play the game.
Keehn’s Reaction: I think a lot of people are quick to think this is a freezing cold take, but it’s not. Analytics are (obviously) on Rice’s side for the GOAT spot. These stats back him up in the playoffs as well. Except for one. Yes Rice dominates him in yards and touchdowns in the playoffs but he’s played a bunch more games. 2245 playoff yards in favor of Rice compared to Larry’s 942, 22 TD’s to Larry’s 10, and, most importantly, 29 games compared to 9. But here’s a stat that could put the playoff numbers up in Dula’s favor. The per game playoff total is 104.7 to 77.4 yards and 6.3 to 5.2 reception… in favor of Larry. His per game totals are higher than Rices. I would bet that if football had an up-to-date win shares stat… Larry’s would be higher. We can’t deny facts, but we can justify the subjective. Keehn’s Stance: Luke-warm.
Bryce’s Reaction: We can talk stats if you want, but I like to refer to the tape. Fitz, is no doubt, a top tier all-time great at wideout. However, I would never call him the best. Randy’s hands and speed are unbelievable, T.O may be one of the best route runners all time. We even have guys playing in their primes right now who I would take over Fitz in their prime. Most notably, JULIOOOOOOOOOO. In my books, Julio is the best receiver in the league by far.
If we want to throw QB comparisons, uhhhh didn’t Larry play with HOFer Kurt Werner? In a super bowl?? Larry’s great, but watch some of Julio’s games or Randy’s or T.O, and see how they dominated the game despite their QB. My stance: ICE COLD
The New York Giants seem to have been making a lot of football news over the past two seasons despite having losing records (so far this year). Giants fans went from one extreme to the other. They went from demanding Eli Manning be put back in after he was benched 2 seasons ago by Ben McAdoo, to now wishing he was benched. On Tuesday, these fans got their wish.
Starting Daniel Jones at this point makes no sense
Why are they putting this kid in when Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard aren’t even back yet? Are they trying to set him up to fail from the start? Not only that, why not wait until week 4 and start him during a home game instead of playing him away at Tampa? It doesn’t make sense when you watch the game why people are actually looking at Eli as the main problem. The problem stands with the young Giants defense. Although guys who have even played over 100 career games in the league look lost out their *cough cough Janoris Jenkins*.
In fact, the defense has been so bad that Mike Francesa, the WFAN radio guy who puts every player on absolute blast but talks so nicely to every guest that comes on, had to tell Pat Shurmur that the Giants were “terrible at everything”. I’ve seen Mike interview the Giants coach every single year… he’s never said the negatives like that before. So is it really Eli Manning’s fault this is all happening? Is he getting old, heck yeah. Is it pretty much time to hang it up? Heck yeah again. It just doesn’t make any sense as to why Daniel Jones needs to be thrown right into this. The problem wasn’t Eli, the problem was Michael Gallup in game one and John Brown in game two were WIDE OPEN on 80% of their receptions. So with all this in mind, maybe let the kid watch just a few games more? Even until the top receivers come back?
Bryce’s Reaction: I would have to agree with here when in comes to the defense. The linebacking and secondary plass is just flat out BAD. The D-Line is doing well creating pressure, but they couldn’t seem to wrap Josh Allen up Sunday and he would escape defenders and chuck it down to my fantasy stud John Brown. But yes, the Giants need to build their defense and help out the offense with some stops.
On the other hand, the Giants are not going to build that overnight. So, let’s see what the kid can do right? Eli is not a part of the long term success of the team unfortunately (RIP to a HOF career), so it would make sense to put in your 6th overall draft pick to give him some experience, find how he can get better at this level with some legit tape to review, and maybe ignite a spark in the young core. So if you ask me, I love the benching. Eli is done. His arm is not what it was, and he cannot move to save his life (literally). Its time to hand over the keys old man. My Stance: *BRRRRRRRR*
Dula’s Reaction: Well the good news is that Sterling Shepard has cleared the concussion protocol. The bad news is pretty much every other Giants receiver is dealing with an injury which is not helpful for first time starter Daniel Jones. I understand why the Giants benched Eli Manning but what I can’t wrap my head around is the timing. Week 3? Really? If the plan all along was to see what happened the first two weeks of the season then why not start Daniel Jones from the jump?
The Giants need a lot of defensive help and Daniel Jones won’t solve those issues. I do expect him to play better than Eli but not by much. He is being set up for failure by putting him into a situation where his receiving corps is depleted. I also believe that the Giants would’ve beaten Tampa Bay had Eli started but now we will hear the narrative about how Daniel Jones brought them their first win when it is a game they should’ve won anyway. My opinion of this move is that it was the right move at the wrong time. My Stance: Bold
Bryce’s HOT Take
Nobody was more distraught over the retiring of Andrew Luck than I was- well maybe Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard, and Frank Reich, but you get my point. But I never understood why the Colts were all of the sudden eliminated from contention.
Colts Built & Ready for Title Run
Has nobody watched this team play? After a 1-5 start to the season in 2018, Indy finished with a 10-6 record and sneaking into the playoffs after a prime time “win and in” duel with the Titans.
Over that stretch, Andrew Luck was the least sacked QB in the League, RB Marlon Mack was white hot with 900 rushing yards in just 12 games played, and the team ranked within the top 10 in total offense. Then on defense, Star LB Darius Leonard racked up 163 total tackles, 7 sacks, and 2 picks as a rookie. We also had young stars like Anthony Walker, Kenny Moore, and Malik Hooker all have fantastic seasons. Other vets like Margus Hunt, Denico Autry, and Jabal Sheard also had big contributions to a defense that finished 10th overall in total defense (Pro-Football Reference). Now let’s consider the fact that the Colts lost ZERO starters besides Luck. Granted, Luck is a generational talent and he will be sorely missed. However Jacoby Brissett is very talented and has a top-tier offensive line, an underrated RB in Mack, and a group of pass catchers that feature TY Hilton, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, and young studs Deon Cain and Paris Cambell, with a top defense that only got better with additions of Justin Houston and 7 new defenisve rookies.
So far, Indy put together a huge comeback (OT loss) against one of the absolute best defenses in the league in the LA Chargers, and just came off of a huge divisional win against the Titans (who blew out Cleveland week 1). Be ready and don’t sleep on a deep Colts run at a title.
Keehn’s Reaction: Look, I like the colts just as much as the next guy. But after seeing Mahomes and Brady play the way they have thus far, this team has NO CHANCE against them. Not to crush dreams here but let’s be realistic. The Brady AB connection looks like they’ve been together for a decade. Mahomes doesn’t even have Tyreek Hill and he’s lighting up the scoreboard. The colts would have to go through them both to even get a shot at playing in the super bowl, and through two games it doesn’t seem highly likely. Keehn’s Stance: Cold
Dula’s Reaction: Define title. Divisional title? Possibly. Conference title? Unlikely. Super Bowl title? Not a chance. The AFC is just too difficult for the Colts to win with teams like the Patriots, Chiefs, Chargers, and Ravens. I like Jacoby Brissett as a game manager and with the talent around him I think he will definitely help the Colts achieve a winning record but they will easily get bounced in the playoffs. However, if we’re talking about divisional titles then I agree the Colts have a good chance at winning that. The AFC South has had three different winners each of the last three years. I’d say the division is up for grabs.
Jacoby Brissett is a good quarterback, not great. Now, you don’t necessarily need a great quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Look at Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, even Peyton Manning wasn’t exactly great when he won Super Bowl 50. But more often than not, a great quarterback is what can lead a team to a Super Bowl and I just don’t think Brissett has it in him. Although, had Andrew Luck been healthy then I do believe this team would’ve had Super Bowl potential. My Stance: Divisional = Bold, Conference = Cold, Super Bowl = Even Colder.
By: Jon Dula and Connor Keehn
The NFL season is almost underway. It is just about that time to start placing your bets on all things football. But before you go running off to hammer the over on your mediocre teams this season, take a look at what we think. Our picks are based off of the Over/Under according to DraftKings.
Credit: Golf Digest
Miami Dolphins: 4.5 (+110/-134), 2018 wins: 7
Keehn: Under. Even with Fitzmagic and Rosen, #TankForTua seems to be more and more real as the days go on.
Dula: Under. The Dolphins are odds-on favorites to have the worst record in the NFL. But hey, at least they’ll get a top five pick in next year’s draft.
New York Jets: 7.5 (-136/+110), 2018 wins: 4
Keehn: Under. Sam Darnold is one year away. It’ll be interesting to see how Lev Bell responds after sitting out an entire season. Again, one year away.
Dula: Under. But just barely. I think this team can reach a 6-10 or 7-9 record, however, the lack of overall talent cannot be carried by Bell and Darnold.
Buffalo Bills: 6.5 (-200/+160), 2018 wins: 6
Keehn: Over. Josh Allen is ready to go nuts. He was one of the top QB’s for fantasy during playoff season. If he can improve with the arm, they can be sneaky.
Dula: Over. The Bills are by far the second best team in the AFC East behind the Patriots. Josh Allen may be the best QB to come out of the 2018 draft class and with the addition of C Mitch Morse and WR John Brown expect Allen to build on his rookie campaign.
New England Patriots: 11 (-134/+110), 2018 wins: 11
Keehn: Over. We’re not going to play this game again are we? Look at their win totals this entire decade. They won’t slow down anytime soon. Sony Michel will have a huge year, especially around the goal, and a strong receiver core will easily win them the divison. It’s Brady and Belichick. Come on now.
Dula: Over. I mean, do I really have to do an analysis for this one? Brady and Belichick are the most dominant coach-QB duo of all time. And that defense is actually one of the best in the league talent-wise. Belichick is expected to call the defensive plays this year as well, should be fun to watch.
Cincinnati Bengals: 5.5 (-132/+110), 2018 wins: 6
Keehn: Under. After an unfortunate injury to AJ Green, the luck of the draw in a loaded division will give the Bengals the short end of the stick.
Dula: Under. The Bengals could give the Dolphins a run for their money for the worst record in the league. This team gave up over 400 yards per game on defense last year and with a middle of the road offense they will not be able to keep up with teams scoring in bunches against them.
Cleveland Browns: 9.5 (+120/-143), 2018 wins: 7
Keehn: Under. Do people really think this team is going to make the super bowl? Baker is good but where people are taking him in fantasy is crazy for a guy who is still unproven.
Dula: Over. I think the Browns finish the season either 10-6 or 9-7 making this a difficult line to bet on. With the weapons the Browns have provided Baker Mayfield, it would be difficult for anyone to have a below average season at QB for Cleveland. Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward are also two of the best at their respective positions on defense.
Baltimore Ravens: 8.5 (+115/-139), 2018 wins: 10
Keehn: Over. Lamar is ready for a big year. Yeah, he was pretty bad in the playoff game, but the dude can flat out run. They look to build in year 2 of Lamar after last year’s playoff birth.
Dula: Under. Coach John Harbaugh told reporters to hammer the over for the amount of carries Lamar Jackson will have this year and to expect a different type of football. Are the Ravens trying to implement an option offense in the NFL? There’s a reason no other teams run this type of offense and that’s because it simply doesn’t work. With teams loading the box and lack of receiver depth, Baltimore’s defense will have to keep them in games.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9 (-148/+120), 2018 wins: 9
Keehn: Over. No more Bell and no more Brown is a pretty big hit considering they are both considered, by many, to be top 5 in their positions. But now the Steelers have no more drama and it is worth the trade-off. Do not be surprised when JuJu accumulates a lot of AB’s targets. He can potentially finish as the WR1 at the end of this season.
Dula: Over. James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are basically Bell and Brown 2.0. The Steelers won’t lose a step on offense and Big Ben is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. I’m considering him as a dark horse MVP candidate.
Oakland Raiders: 6 (+105/-125), 2018 wins: 4
Keehn: Under. Hard Knocks has kind of been a summary of what I imagine the season for them will be like. Gruden running around doing stupid stuff while all eyes are on Antonio Brown, who is also always doing and saying stupid stuff. I like rookie back Josh Jacobs, but not as much as I hate Antonio Brown. Next.
Dula: Over. There is a lot of emotion surrounding the Raiders being that this will be their last season before they relocate to Las Vegas. They’ll want to go out with a bang and the additions of Tyrell Williams, Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, and Josh Jacobs could help propel their team to a comeback season.
Denver Broncos: 6.5 (-152/+125), 2018 wins: 6
Keehn: Over. I’m a little worried for Emmanuel Sanders because I don’t think he will be as good after the injury. Their defense though should propel them past the 6.5 mark. Expect Lindsay to take a slight dip as well.
Dula: Under. It seems as if Joe Flacco has gotten worse every year since he won a Super Bowl. With Drew Lock on the IR and people around the organization claiming he isn’t ready to play in the NFL yet, I don’t expect the Broncos to have a good enough QB to make their sub-par receivers better.
Los Angeles Chargers: 9.5 (-143/+116), 2018 wins: 12
Keehn: Over. Austin Ekeler can, I think, handle the running back spot while Melvin Gordon follows closely in the footsteps of his buddy Lev Bell. But I have this weird hunch that Keenan Allen might ACTUALLY stay healthy (for the most part). I have no stat to back this up but I just got a hunch.
Dula: Over. Philip Rivers needs a ring. He has been too good for too long without a championship and the Chargers are one of the most talented teams in the league this year. Keenan Allen has played all 16 games the past two years so it looks like the unlucky injuries are behind him. The only question mark with this team is their running back situation. It’ll be a battle between them and Kansas City for the division title.
Kansas City Chiefs: 10 (-182/+150), 2018 wins: 12
Keehn: Over. Is it me or should this number be higher? It is the best offense in football and Pat Mahomes shows no signs of slowing down. Fun fact of the day: Dula told me last year Mahomes was going to win MVP and that I should take him as my backup fantasy QB. Dula called it, and boy was he right. Expect more of the same and yet another AFC title game between the Chiefs and the Pats.
Dula: Over. The Chiefs may be the last team to lose a game this year. If not for Dee Ford lining up offsides in the AFC Championship Game, we probably would’ve seen Patrick Mahomes lifting the Lombardi Trophy in his first full season as a starter. Kansas City has all the right pieces and Coach of the Year candidate, Andy Reid. We’ll be seeing these guys in January.
Tenneessee Titans: 8 (-104/-118), 2018 wins: 9
Keehn: Under. I just can’t get all in on Mariota. I really wish I could but I just can’t. I can’t be a Derrick Henry truther either. So unfortunately, I am going to have to hammer the under on this one.
Dula: Under. The Titans defense is young and underrated. Mike Vrabel saw a quick jump from LB coach to head coach because of his excellent defensive mind. But their defense does not make up for their lackluster offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8 (-125/+104), 2018 wins: 5
Keehn: Under. I love Dede Westbrook this year for fantasy purposes but, like Mariota, I just cannot get behind Nick Foles. I don’t think the Blake Bortles to Nick Foles transition will add 3 wins to their total. No offense to the Eagles people.
Dula: Under. Nick Foles’ Super Bowl run was exceptional but I don’t expect him to turn this team around in just a year. The receiving corps is simply too young but give them a year or two and they may surprise some people in the next couple seasons.
Houston Texans: 8.5 (-134/+110), 2018 wins: 11
Keehn: Over. I was really close to saying under just to be different. But I don’t see a scenario where the defense doesn’t hold up and Hopkins and Fuller aren’t enough. Watson will still put up great numbers and JJ Watt will continue to scare people, including me.
Dula: Over. I have been very high on Deshaun Watson ever since his days at Clemson. He is without a doubt a franchise quarterback. Hopefully his offensive line can keep him upright and we’ll see this team back in the playoffs.
Indianapolis Colts: 6.5 (-134/+110), 2018 wins: 10
Keehn: Over. Considering I still think the Colts are going to win this division without Andrew Luck, I am hammering the over on this one. Jacoby is the best backup in the league and they still have so many talented offensive weapons and an exciting young defense.
Dula: Over. No Andrew Luck? No problem. The Colts still have a great offensive line and an above average defense led by Darius Leonard. The talent around Brissett is enough to make him a serviceable starter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6.5 (-110/-110), 2018 wins: 5
Keehn: Over. Chris Godwin is ready for a, consistent, breakout year… for real this time! One of Dula’s breakout player predictions this year, Jameis Winston will be a steal in every fantasy league he is taken in. Expect him to use all of his offensive weapons to his advantage, even if the O line isn’t that great.
Dula: Over. The Bucs might surprise some people this year. Everyone is saying Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and OJ Howard are all going to have great years and if that’s the case, why isn’t everyone talking about how great of a year Jameis Winston could have? A name to look out for is Dare Ogunbowale. He is the potential savior of Tampa Bay’s running game.
Carolina Panthers: 7.5 (-165/+135), 2018 win: 7
Keehn: Under. I am not on the Curtis Samuel Hype train this year nor the DJ Moore one. I love Newton as a fantasy QB and the fact that Stephen A Smith Doesn’t have McCaffrey on his top 5 RBs is “blasphemy” as he would say.
Dula: Over. Looking at the Panthers depth chart, I have a hard time justifying how they will win less than eight games. They have names like Keuchly, Poe, and Reid on defense. If Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore can show they belong in the league and if Christian McCaffrey is Christian McCaffrey, then I think the Panthers can be a .500 team.
Atlanta Falcons: 8.5 (-130/+108), 2018 wins: 7
Keehn: Under. The window for the Falcons has pretty much closed. The Saints are the team to beat in the division. Their offense is still elite but somehow Matt Ryan still cannot seem to find Julio Jones in the end zone and I am not sure if that can change this year.
Dula: Under. The Falcons had a window to win a Super Bowl and that was when they were beating the Patriots 28-3 at halftime of Super Bowl LI. They still have not recovered since then and I’d say another season without a playoff appearance puts coach Dan Quinn on the hot seat.
New Orleans Saints: 10.5 (+115/-137), 2018 wins: 13
Keehn: Over. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are too damn good. Brees is still elite. The Saints are looking to avenge their exit from the last two playoffs and make one last run for the title before their window is closed. This could be the year.
Dula: Over. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cameron Jordan, Marcus Williams, Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, Sean Payton. Need I say more? The Saints should have been in the Super Bowl last year but the worst no call in NFL history got in the way. We should see them there this year.
Detroit Lions: 6.5 (-150/+123), 2018 wins: 6
Keehn: Under. Another team in a loaded division with three other teams all capable of making the playoffs. I love Marvin Jones as a fantasy option this year but as a team they don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Dula: Under. It won’t be long before the Lions realize they made a mistake signing Matt Patricia as their coach. He wasn’t even that great of a defensive coordinator but because he was on the Patriots coaching staff, he was highly sought after. The Lions just don’t ave enough talent to compete in the NFC North.
Minnesota Vikings: 9 (-121/+100), 2018 wins: 8
Keehn: Push. It’s crazy to think that a team with as much offensive fire power finished .500 (with a tie). With Dalvin Cook going down early in the season they took a tough loss to a Bills team they should have beaten. With another tough schedule this year, including two AFC games at the Chargers and at the Chiefs. I do, however, think Dalvin Cook will stay healthy and that could get them over the 8 win mark.
Dula: Over. I think Minnesota bounces back this year and they’ll find themselves contending again. Their offense is stacked and their defense includes guys like Linvall Joseph, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffin, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and Xavier Rhodes. Looks like a tough team to beat on paper.
Green Bay Packers: 9 (-112/-112), 2018 wins: 6
Keehn: Under. The Packers will have more than their 6 wins they had last year. I’m going to go with 8-8 for them here this season. So many people are ready for an Aaron Rodgers MVP season but I’m just not seeing it this year. They have a tough schedule and, like the Vikings, go up against the Chiefs and the Chargers this year.
Dula: Under. I like the direction the Packers are moving in. Matt LaFleur seems to have good communication with Rodgers but I’m not impressed with their receivers outside of Davante Adams. If teams can eliminate Adams, the Packers might struggle to put points on the board.
Chicago Bears: 9.5 (+135/-162), 2018 wins: 12
Keehn: Over. With the best defense in the NFL, the bears look to come out punching after a heartbreaking loss to the Eagles. They have a new kicker and hopefully he won’t have a mental breakdown in the playoffs. Fingers crossed, Chicago.
Dula: Over. Mitch Trubisky will only keep getting better. David Montgomery will take over Jordan Howard’s role and be better than Howard was. Tarik Cohen and Allen Robinson II will help carry the offense while the defense will remain dominant.
New York Giants: 5.5 (-132/+110), 2018 wins 5
Keehn: Over. I do think the Giants are a little bit better then they get credit for. Their O line is much better (it couldn’t get much worse last year) and Saquon Barkely is ready to dethrone everyone else as the clear-cut RB1. However, a tandem of slot receivers with an aging Eli Manning calls into question their ability in the passing game. I do think Daniel Jones will prove a lot of people wrong, and I do think he’s better than Haskins. Maybe we’ll get to see some reps from the former Dukey.
Dula: Over. Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the NFL after only playing one season and who were Eli’s receivers when he won those Super Bowls? Eli Manning somehow thrives without star receivers with the exception of Plaxico Burress. Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram will do just fine. That defense could surprise some people too with Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea, Dalvin Tomlinson, BJ Hill, and rookies, Deandre Baker and Dexter Lawrence.
Washington Redskins: 6 (+115/-139), 2018 wins: 7
Keehn: Under. Any team that has Ereck Flowers on it should be hammering the under. Just kidding but not really. Gruden now says the offense will be run through Derrius Guice. This should be interesting how those touches are dispersed through him and AP. Hopefully, Jordan Reed doesn’t get yet another concussion once he’d done recovering from the one he has now.
Dula: Under. Yet another team that can finish the season with the worst record in the league. Gruden is in for a rude awakening when he realizes the offense can’t run through Derrius Guice because of his offensive line. This offensive line is bad and Case Keenum will open the season as the starter because Dwayne Haskins isn’t ready. He only started fourteen games in college, of course he isn’t ready. And when he is ready he will still look like he isn’t ready. The Redskins are in a bad situation for what could be years.
Dallas Cowboys: 9 (+105/-129), 2018 wins: 10
Keehn: Push. Who knows how long Zeke’s contract talks will stay in the state it’s in. It has gone from one extreme to the other and at this point, Dallas fans might as well just get behind Tony Pollard and call it a day. I know the advanced metrics are on Dak’s side, but the eye test really isn’t all that solid for me. He’s a good dude, don’t get me wrong, but this is the Eagle’s division this season.
Dula: Under. I will not give delusional Cowboys fans the satisfaction of saying they will win more than nine games. Dak Prescott has benefited from being in a division with the Giants and Redskins the last few years but I don’t see him as a guy who can lead a team to a Super Bowl. Maybe if Jason Garrett was replaced this offseason I would’ve taken the over.
Philadelphia Eagles: 10 (-148/+120), 2018 wins: 9
Keehn: Over. Carson Wentz is back and hopefully can stay healthy. Rookie back Miles Sanders is getting a lot of buzz heading into the season and looks to add to a team loaded with offensive weapons. If the Eagles can stay healthy, they’ll look to be at the top of the division once again.
Dula: Push. Carson Wentz is an MVP candidate when healthy and he benefits from an above average offensive line. However, they have to face the Patriots, Bears, Seahawks, and Vikings. Winning in Dallas is no easy task either. I expect the Eagles to have exactly 10 wins this season.
Arizona Cardinals: 5 (-137/+112), 2018 wins: 3
Keehn: Under. I think people might be freaking out too much over Kyler’s hellacious preseason game. He is going to be fine and is my clear-cut favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. I do think Christian Kirk can emerge as the WR1 for this team. It’s unreal that Larry is still going and we’ll always show that dude the love he deserves.
Dula: Over. I’m excited for Kyler Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense. People have also forgotten how incredible David Johnson can be when the Cardinals can spread the field. Patrick Peterson will miss the first six games due to suspension but this defense also features Terrell Suggs, Chandler Jones, and DJ Swearinger. Also, look out for rookie defensive end, Zach Allen, out of Boston College. Some analysts were comparing him to JJ Watt ahead of the draft.
San Francisco 49ers: 7.5 (-159/+130), 2018 wins: 4
Keehn: Under. Jimmy G is back. Kittle is a beast. Maybe we can finally see a breakout from Dante Pettis? Maybe? I really wanted to take the over on this one but they are going to struggle with the LA and Seattle. I am going to go with 7-9 for them but this one could be hit or miss depending on how well their offense can capitalize.
Dula: Under. Kittle had an extraordinary season with Nick Mullens throwing him the ball a majority of the time. Honestly, if Nick Mullens remained the QB I probably would’ve had a more difficult decision but the Niners aren’t paying Jimmy G way too much money to sit on the bench.
Seattle Seahawks: 8.5 (-139/+115), 2018 wins: 10
Keehn: Over. Seattle’s front seven is down right terrifying; on top of an already unfair home field advantage. Doug Baldwin is gone but Tyler Lockett looks to take the reigns as the WR1 and Chris Carson looks to get involved in the passing game more this year. Look for the Seahawks to be legitimate contenders to not only win this division instead of the Rams, but compete for the NFC title as well.
Dula: Under. The addition of Jadeveon Clowney solidifed Seattle’s front seven as the best front seven in football. It’ll be tough for this team to lose at home this season but I can’t get on board with Tyler Lockett as a WR1 and DK Metcalf as a WR2. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny will complement each other well in the backfield but that might be the only thing this offense has going for it outside of Russell Wilson. I’m pinning this team at 8-8.
Los Angeles Rams: 10.5 (+110/-134), 2018 wins: 13
Keehn: Over. Cooper Kupp is back and the dude was the WR2 before he went down with his torn ACL. Add that to a young, and still improving, Jared Goff, a healthy Todd Gurley (although his knees are a huge enigma for fantasy purposes), and an array of weapons on both sides of the ball. Did I mention they have the best player in football in Aaron Donald? All this under the genius that is Sean McVay. They will compete, yet again, at the highest level.
Dula: Over. The Rams will recover from their Super Bowl loss and return what could be the best receiving corps in the league with Cooks, Woods, and Kupp. Even if Gurley isn’t 100%, rookie Darrell Henderson will be a good change of pace back. Add that high powered offense to a defense anchored by Aaron Donald and you’ve got yourself a contender.
It is an unorthodox year for fantasy football. Nearly every running back has a question mark hovering above them, there is next to no value for tight ends, and there is not a clear cut prototypical fantasy offense like the Patriots or Steelers have been in years past. Although, the Saints and Chiefs are close but are not without their issues. Follow these suggestions and give yourself a better chance of dominating your league. I’m sure you don’t want to do the last place punishment again this year (I’m looking at you, guy who had to get a tattoo of your buddy’s mom’s face last year).
Ideal First Round
Here is my ideal first round draft choices in a 12 team PPR fantasy football draft:
Pick 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
Pick 2: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
Pick 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
Pick 4: Michael Thomas, WR, NO
Pick 5: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
Pick 6: Davante Adams, WR, GB
Pick 7: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
Pick 8: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE
Pick 9: David Johnson, RB, ARI
Pick 10: JuJu Smith-Schuster WR, PIT
Pick 11: Joe Mixon RB, CIN
Pick 12: Travis Kelce, TE, KC
Notice how I have omitted Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot from my ideal first round. Here’s why:
Todd Gurley is coming off of a nagging knee injury that kept him extremely limited in the postseason earlier this year. I am not convinced that he is 100% healthy or that the Rams plan to return him to his bellcow role he had in recent years. With the emergence of rookie Darrell Henderson in the preseason and training camp, lightening Gurley’s load might be in the Rams best interest. After all, we did just see Andrew Luck retire from the game because of the vicious cycle of injuries he’s been in for the past four years. The Rams might not want to overuse Gurley ultimately leading to another early retirement.
Remember drafting Le’Veon Bell last year? Remember keeping him on your team all year hoping he would come back eventually? Remember around week 10 when you just knew he would suit up for the Steelers again? I don’t remember that, but my buddy Ronnie does and that top five draft pick really ruined his season. I think we are seeing a similar situation with Ezekiel Elliot and Bell paved the way for players to hold out longer than usual in order to receive the money they feel they deserve. These guys are basically saying, “You don’t want to pay me what I want? Cool, try playing a whole season without me.” I do not trust that Zeke will play in enough games to be a viable fantasy asset. Of course in the games he plays in he will produce above average numbers but I would not risk a first round pick on a guy we don’t know will play 16 games, 8 games, or 0 games.
I also have Travis Kelce in my first round which may be surprising to many but the tight end position is getting thinner and thinner by the year. There was a time where Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, and Antonio Gates were all in their prime. The tight end position was stacked with talented pass catchers who could go off for a multiple touchdown game at any moment. This year, that is not the case. If you don’t have Zach Ertz, George Kittle, or Travis Kelce on your roster then you are going to be stuck with a middle of the road tight end who you draft in a later round. What separates Kelce from the other two is his MVP quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Zach Ertz and Carson Wentz have had a good connection in the past but if Wentz gets hurt again, then it’s very likely Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler, or Josh McCown do not have the same production. And George Kittle played very well last year but that was with Nick Mullens at the helm. I am hesitant about the chemistry between Kittle and “Porn Star Jimmy” as Stephen A. Smith would say.
Stacks to Target
If you have never heard the term “stack” before, you probably have still used it in season long and daily fantasy. Stacking is when you have a quarterback and a wide receiver/tight end from the same team in your lineup. Using this strategy, a touchdown scored by your duo results in a minimum of 11 points in a PPR league (10 in standard) and that’s without the yardage points calculated in. My stack of Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks helped get me to the championship game last year. However, I lost due to a flawless performance by my opponent’s team (damn you, George Kittle). Nonetheless stacking can create a good foundation for your fantasy team and put you on top of the league.
Kansas City Chiefs: QB Patrick Mahomes stacked with TE Travis Kelce and/or WR Tyreek Hill
If you manage to get all three of these guys congratulations you’ve made the playoffs. Also, get some more knowledgeable friends. If you are able to get only two of them then you’re still in good shape. In the words of Meat Loaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees stacked with WR Michael Thomas or RB Alvin Kamara
Let’s be honest, you will not get all three of these guys. Thomas and Kamara will be snagged in the first round but Brees is pretty low on a lot of people’s draft boards this year so grabbing him late is doable. Also, Kamara is involved in this stack because of his ability to receive out of the backfield. He’s been targeted at least 100 times and had 81 receptions in each of his first two seasons.
Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield stacked with WR Odell Beckham Jr. and/or WR Jarvis Landry
With the addition of OBJ, Landry’s stock has fallen a lot. Which makes him a considerable sleeper to pick in the mid-rounds of the draft. Mayfield will also likely go somewhere around there which makes me believe that Mayfield/Landry will be a common stack this season. Getting Odell is more luck of the draw than anything because of how high he will be drafted.
Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers stacked with WR Davante Adams
Davante Adams’ worst game last year involved 6 receptions on 9 targets and a touchdown which was good enough for 16 fantasy points. With a new offense and a healthy Aaron Rodgers, this stack could be lethal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston stacked with WR Mike Evans or WR Chris Godwin
If you read my previous post, I absolutely love Jameis Winston under Bruce Arians this year. When Winston plays a full season you can almost guarantee 4,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. Mike Evans’ consistency is undeniable. Every year he has been in the league, he’s had no less than 120 targets and 1,000 yards receiving. It often takes receivers three years to adjust to the speed and pace of the NFL and with the very talented Godwin entering his third year, expect a breakout from a guy you can draft in the later rounds.
Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger stacked with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Last season, Ben Roethlisberger had what was statistically the best season of his career and we had no idea it was happening. He posted career highs in both passing yards and passing touchdowns while he also had the third highest completion percentage of his career. If he can limit his interceptions and avoid more drama then we could be looking at the 2019 NFL MVP. Also, with Antonio Brown gone, JuJu is the obvious number one receiver on this team. Not that he wasn’t last year, AB just wouldn’t let it be obvious.
Other Stacks to Consider:
Houston Texans: QB Deshaun Watson stacked with WR DeAndre Hopkins
Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott stacked with WR Amari Cooper
The following stacks are stacks that are under the radar but might be very productive this upcoming season. Most, if not all of the players mentioned can be selected in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady stacked with WR N’Keal Harry
For a New England stack to be effective, touchdowns need to be scored. The receiver that comes to mind for the Patriots is Julian Edelman, however, Julian Edelman’s best season resulted in only 3 receiving touchdowns. I’m not saying don’t draft Julian Edelman, he’s a PPR monster. But for the sake of stacks, 6’4″ N’Keal Harry is more likely to contribute to Tom Brady’s touchdown total. Expect Harry to receive a plethora of red zone targets.
Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray stacked with WR Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk is probably the sleeper pick everyone is talking about this season. His expectations are very high in an offense under new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. When Kingsbury was at Texas Tech, his offenses were always very high powered and could score in bunches. Often times, his defense would falter. But we don’t draft players from defense in fantasy football in most leagues so that shouldn’t be an issue. Kyler Murray is a mobile quarterback that can make plays with his legs and combine passing touchdowns with rushing touchdowns. Much like Patrick Mahomes who played quarterback at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury. Twenty-two year old Christian Kirk is entering his second season in the NFL and despite missing the final four games of last season, he accounted for 20 percent of the teams total receiving yards. In a better, higher-powered offense, expect this duo to connect multiple times.
Written by Jon Dula
In every relationship there is a settler and a reacher… wait. Wrong blog. Sorry.
In every fantasy football draft there are owners who rely on sleepers, defined as players with high value that will be productive despite their selection being during later rounds. And there are owners that will reach for a player whom I like to call reachers, defined as owners who draft players in early rounds whose production will not justify their high selection. Now, you may be wondering, “Why should I listen to some rando writing a blog who has no impressive credentials whatsoever?” You’d be right to be skeptical… in most situations. Take my word for it, I am entering my thirteenth year of fantasy football and after learning from countless mistakes I made as a teenager, I am now a mature and experienced fantasy football owner who has finished in the top four in each of my three leagues in the last three years. And in each of the last three years I have entered the playoffs as a 1 seed or a 2 seed in each league, winning twice and placing second twice. Some say, “It’s better to be lucky than good,” but I say, “It’s better to be better than good.” Trust me. Without further ado, let’s get into the players you should not reach for and the players you should not sleep on.
- Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Wait, I can’t be serious. Drew Brees? First ballot hall of famer Drew Brees? Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees? 2008 and 2011 Offensive Player of the Year Drew Brees? Yes, that Drew Brees. Do NOT reach for the New Orleans Saints QB. Here’s why:
Last year, Brees failed to eclipse 4,000 yards passing for the first time since 2005. From weeks 13 to 16, Brees killed playoff hopes for some teams scoring only an average of 11 points per week. He also had 4 rushing touchdowns last season, the highest total of his career that he is unlikely to replicate. Now, is Brees’ talent declining? Absolutely not. He’s still as sharp as ever, however in 2005, his running back was Hall of Famer, LaDanian Tomlinson who rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. With Mark Ingram gone, the reigns have been taken completely off Alvin Kamara who is projected to be the third best fantasy running back this season. Expect the saints to stick to their dominant running game. DO NOT reach for Brees.
2. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Now this one is interesting as well because Gurley is likely going in the first or second round. Say he falls to mid-to-late second round or third round, by all means take him. His talent is undeniable and his ceiling is incredibly high IF HE IS HEALTHY. There was some speculation earlier this year that Gurley’s knee injury was arthritis which would be a nagging injury that would definitely soften his workload which is what we saw happen when the Rams began giving carries to C.J. Andersen late last season. Even if Gurley is healthy enough to play, be wary of his workload. There is a good chance that he will not return to his bellcow role he had in 2017. Expect rookie, Darrell Henderson, to have a role in the backfield.
3. Any San Francisco 49ers Running Back
The talent combined in this backfield might be the among the best in the league. Jerick McKinnon is coming back after a season ending injury suffered in preseason last year. Matt Breida is back after a breakout season. The Niners are also welcoming Tevin Coleman into their backfield this year. This crowded backfield is a good problem to have for Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator, Curtis Modkins. But for fantasy owners, this should be a red flag. On any given day, one of these running backs can go off for a hundred yards and a touchdown but it’s risky having one of them in your lineup when the Niners are feeding the hot hand in this Running Back By Committee scheme (RBBC). The smart play here if you do draft one of these backs is to draft them late when you are drafting your bench spots and stash one of them on your bench in hopes that they emerge as the favorite back. But the risk is too high for the reward here. Stick to running backs who you know will receive a decent amount of touches.
Honorable Mentions: Devonta Freeman, Kenyan Drake, James Conner, Eric Ebron, Damien Williams, Corey Davis
- David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
At first glance you might think that the Bears are in the same situation as the Niners when it comes to running backs. They currently have Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen, and Montgomery on their depth chart. But if you look closer, Tarik Cohen shouldn’t interfere too much with Montgomery’s touches. Currently, Cohen is the most talented back on the roster and him and Jordan Howard were able to co-exist while they played together, both putting up serviceable numbers. Montgomery is also a different type of running back than Cohen. While Cohen is shifty and agile, Montgomery has more of a ground and pound style to him despite coach Matt Nagy praising his hands out of the backfield. Mike Davis is also the least of my worries when it comes to sharing touches, he’s shown flashes in his career but nothing consistent enough to be a three-down back. David Montgomery may not produce right away but he is worth drafting because of his upside.
2. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yes, Winston served a three game suspension to start last season and yes at one point lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he scored 196 fantasy points in just 11 games last season. If that was prorated to 16 games then he would have been among the top 15 quarterbacks. In the two of his four seasons where he played all 16 games he threw for over 4,000 yards and for an average of 25 touchdowns per season. Winston is currently being taken in the 10th round on average in most fantasy drafts and if he falls to you at that point in the draft, I suggest you take him. If Tampa Bay can finally figure out their atrocious running back situation, it could help Winston even more.
3. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp is a player I have loved ever since his days at Eastern Washington. Unfortunately, in the middle of his breakout season he tore his ACL. But the good news is that he was a full participant in training camp and is expected to start the season fully healthy. Kupp was averaging nearly 12 fantasy points per game and scored 6 touchdowns before going down with the injury in week 10. He is currently the 24th wide receiver taken in drafts on average which to me is too low for Kupp. But take advantage of the people overlooking Kupp and make him the steal of your draft. With Gurley’s knee banged up, Kupp can see an increase in red-zone targets with his 6-2 frame.
Honorable Mentions: Miles Sanders, Curtis Samuel, James Washington, Devin Singletary, Tre’Quan Smith
Written By Jon Dula