Predictions

HANDICAPPING: DON’T OUTSMART THE ODDSMAKERS

Friday, 12 September, 2014

Follow@cimini

One of the biggest mistakes people make in handicapping a number in the NFL is believing they have a stronger opinion than oddsmakers. Some people write their own lines and if they see a three to four point spread differential from their line to the oddsmakers they believe they’re line is stronger. On the contrary, when this happens you should think again and likely X the game out or play the other side.

One of the worst mistakes you can make is believing you can outsmart oddsmakers. Las Vegas sportsbooks monitor each other and even view offshore lines to gauge the pricing market. The number is put out there to get value on both sides, not to land one-sided money.

The only sport I’ve seen lines be completely off on a regular basis is in college basketball. It’s a tough sport to predict even for oddsmakers early on in a season with transfers, travel, and incoming recruits.

This week there are a lot of high point spreads out there in the NFL. Don’t get caught in the hoopla of underdogs covering at a strong rate last week. That was last week, and the market was tighter from a point spread stand point as well. Pick your spots and find proper value according to what the oddsmakers have set.

Tier Two: Week Two Fantasy Football Best Matchups

Wednesday, 10 September, 2014

Tier Two: Week Two Fantasy Football Best Matchups

Follow@cimini

It’d be great if you could count on your top three to four picks every week to hand you a win. It doesn’t work that way on the field in the NFL and certainly doesn’t in fantasy football. You need strong efforts from your tier two and sometimes even tier three athletes. Zack Cimini takes a look at tier two players this week that should pay dividends for your team.

Quarterbacks

RG3
I was glad to see that the media did not blame the Redskins week one loss solely on RG3. In the past that may have been warranted. But for the most part the Redskins loss the game against the Texans with team mistakes. Special teams allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown before half, and the team had two costly red zone turnovers. Houston’s defense is much improved and got after RG3 all day. This week should be a much better match up for the Redskins against the Jaguars. I’d expect the Redskins to score three to four touchdowns and for RG3 to have a nice day through the air.

Carson Palmer
Boy oh boy it looks like that magic wand to snap the Giants back to a playoff contender has officially snapped. New York use to be one of those teams people could just wait for that win streak to appear with. Times have changed for the Giants and the Cardinals will look to go 2-0. Arizona might have better offensive balance especially at the receiver position than Detroit. Besides MegaTron the Lions are still working in the rest of their talent. Meanwhile Arizona is stacked with Fitzgerald, Brown, and Floyd. Expect Carson to be able to gun the ball all over the field with little pressure in his face.

Other Quarterbacks: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Running Backs

Shonn Greene
This is a great week for fantasy owners to insert Greene as their flex running back. The Titans offense clicked in week one against an undermanned Chiefs defense. It’ll be interesting to see if week one was a true progression for this team or just one week. Greene knows his job is soon to be Bishop Sankey’s, but Sankey has done nothing to position himself as the top back in this dual backfield. We all saw how Carlos Hyde and Frank Gore paired to trample the Cowboys defense. Look for the Titans to mimic that recipe with Greene.

Carlos Hyde
It looks like the 49ers have once again discovered a gem by accident. Two years ago they caught a break when Kaepernick started because Alex Smith was injured. The team did not look back. This time they drafted Hyde to eventually replace Gore, who is in the final year of his contract. Dallas’s defense is always shaky but another team that has had a hard time stopping the run are the Chicago Bears. Look for Hyde to keep rewarding fantasy owners that drafted him late in rounds.

Others: Toby Gerhart, and Mark Ingram

Wide Receivers

Eric Decker
You could tell the Jets offense had a bit more synergy than any game witnessed a year ago. Eric Decker was one of the key names brought in to bring life to an ailing team at receiver. Decker’s not going to have an all world season like he did with Peyton Manning but he should shine as an underrated fantasy guy all year. Insert him in week two.

Torrey Smith
When inserting three starting wide receivers sometimes you just have to look for yardage value over touchdown possibilities. Smith is one of those guys this week that falls into the yardage category. He has always been a solid performer against the Steelers and I don’t see that changing this week. The Steelers showed last week that they still have huge holes in the secondary against a depleted receiving group of the Browns.

Others: DeAndre Hopkins and Marques Colston

Fantasy Football: Five Players to Upgrade and Downgrade

Monday, 8 September, 2014

Fantasy Football: Five Players to Upgrade and Downgrade

Follow@cimini

Upgrades

Russ Wilson
Wilson was impressive in orchestrating a rout against the Green Bay Packers Thursday. He seems to be ready to elevate his game to another level that should be fantasy friendly. He has always talked the talk with proper interviews and now it’s translating onto the field.

Andy Dalton
The Bengals could have folded as a team offensively with the way the game tracked. In fact most of the time when you see teams give away a lead they fold with under six minutes to go. After five first half field goals and a missed sixth attempt, the Bengals found themselves down 16-15 with under six minutes. Dalton stayed poised and delivered a game winning touchdown bomb to AJ Green. He may not be a post season quarterback just yet, but he has shown through the years to be a steady fantasy quarterback in the regular season.

Codarrelle Patterson
Maybe the Vikings have something going that the rest of the league will follow suit with. They originally drafted Percy Harvin for his speed and shiftiness in the open field. It worked for a few seasons out of the backfield and at wide receiver before he ended up in Seattle. It looks like the Vikings had another route in mind when they landed Patterson. His speed and open field ability is on another level. Fantasy owners that got him as a relative mid round pick are grinning from ear to ear.

Markus Wheaton
It wasn’t the offense of the Steelers that impressed me, it was the defense. From a fantasy football players perspective you have to love the fact that the Steelers defense is still in shambles. They nearly allowed the Browns to come all the way back and win the game. But knowing that the defense is still a work in progress means that the Steelers will continue to throw a lot offensively. That boosts Wheaton who had nearly 100 yards receiving on six catches Sunday.

Pierre Thomas
Most draftees of Thomas were able to land him as their fourth running back and best flex option. The Saints have shown that they don’t mind feeding the ball to Thomas out of the backfield, as he was great in this area last season. When they decided to bring him back many people were not sure if it would be in the same capacity. After seven carries for 30 yards and seven catches for nearly 60 yards, those questions have been answered.

Downgrades

Ben Tate
Tate owners are extremely displeased with his early season injury against the Steelers. Though he will likely return soon he already has the injury bug tabbed on him from his Houston days. Owners better find a way to trade for Terrance West if you do not have him already. West came in and showcased that he can handle the load with sixteen carries for 100 yards against the Steelers.

Vincent Jackson
The problems with Tampa Bay’s week one performance are not going to resolve themselves in one or two games. Josh McCown had a couple of awful interceptions and really never got back into gear after the first turnover. Obviously if McCown continues to struggle it’s going to have a downgraded effect to Jackson. You have to move him down until the team shows better promise. Right now the offense would rank dead last from what I saw this week.

Doug Martin
Doug Martin seems to be heading down Steve Slaton territory. He came out of nowhere to have one stellar season. Owners drafted him high last year with injuries ending that season. Promise for a comeback based on his season two years ago looks far fetched after week one. He ran the ball nine times for just nine yards. A bad game against the Panthers isn’t something to overreact about, but Martin has a steep hill to climb to get anywhere near the value he was drafted for.

Trent Richardson
Richardson seems to be attacking aggressively but just doesn’t have the gear to get out of the hole. It’s hard to tell if Richardson can get in gear if Indianapolis always digs themselves a hole. But his downward progression has been going on for over a year now. Sooner or later the Colts are going to run out of patience as fantasy owners are.

Jamaal Charles
Last month I profiled how backs falter under Andy Reid. It’s been a problem for over ten years. Kansas City’s offense was the second worst in week one behind the Buccaneers. Charles is the type of back though that can have five or six great games to offset this type of performance. His low carries though from week one have to be alarming.

Last Minute Fantasy Football News and Notes

Sunday, 7 September, 2014

Follow@cimini

By the end of week two I will do a fantasy football video show before the games start. But for now I’ll go ahead and take care of fantasy football news and notes regarding injuries before you set that final fantasy football lineup at 12:59PMEST/9:59PST.

Andre Ellington
I tabbed Ellington in the offseason and preseason as a guy to downgrade. I wasn’t expecting an injury this early but his foot injury leaves him as a no-go for this week. There is no reason to await head coach Bruce Arians decision to play Ellington. Utilize the rest of your depth and bypass Ellington completely. It was first reported that Ellington would miss four to six weeks.

Sammy Watkins
I’m not as down on Watkins for his status week one against the Bears. He was good to go in practice and although getting hit in the rib area is never great, teams now have the gear to protect that area. We’ve seen quarterbacks play with rib injuries and still get hit hard in that area. Watkins isn’t going to catch the ball more than five or six times. He’ll protect his body and be fine against Chicago. If you’re light at the receiver position go ahead and insert him.

Kenny Stills
This injury to Stills regarding his quad will keep him out this week against Atlanta. Stills is still just a bench reserve until we see more consistency out of him. Last year he broke out in a string of games but that was it. Those thinking to start Brandin Cooks are probably getting giddy just a tad bit early. His role will be just like Stills a year ago. A speed decoy for Brees to find deep occasionally. Unless that home run ball hits your going to be stuck with a low amount of points from Stills.

Terrance Williams
Williams back injury should not keep him out against the 49ers. You never know how a back will respond until action takes place. It’s something Williams owners will have to watch week to week. But after time off Williams is young enough that his back should hold up. The question will be if he can for the entire season.

Cam Newton
Who knows what Ron Rivera and Cam Newton are discussing hours before kickoff. The point spread has not moved and is still stuck at 2.5. If Vegas isn’t reacting than why is the fantasy football world getting caught up in a stir. This is a rib injury that quarterbacks have played through countless times. I believe Newton will go and it’ll be up to the Panthers offensive line to dictate how long he stays in. If Tampa Bay is able to hit Newton early than we may see Derek Anderson. Either way Newton has always been a matchup starter. This week with his health a major question you have to sit him. Carolina will likely relegate his main asset of rushing the football to avoid his big frame being subjected to hits.

Rob Gronkowski
Is he ready for a full season in a Patriots uniform? We haven’t seen Gronkowski achieve that since that days of being paired up with Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez was one of the reasons why Gronkowski flourished the way he did, as he was a nightmare to cover himself. Now we have to see how fresh Gronkowski is after several injuries. It should be expected for Gronkowski to hold little value this week unless he gets into the end zone. But with Gronkowski expected to play 30-50% of snaps that will draw Miami’s attention. Sit Gronkowski this week.

Cecil Shorts
Jacksonville will rely on their young rookie receivers with Shorts out. Jacksonville has surprised before with emerging receivers but there is no reason to jump on the “could be” band wagon in week one for fantasy football. There aren’t enough injuries around the league to do so. No one should own any Jaguar currently beneath Shorts in fantasy leagues.

NFL SUNDAY FREE PLAY

Thursday, 4 September, 2014

Follow@cimini

clip-2014-09-04 10;03;23 from Zack Cimini on Vimeo.

FANTASY FOOTBALL SIT EMS FOR WEEK ONE

Tuesday, 2 September, 2014

Follow@cimini

Who to start and who to sit? The infamous weekly debate to be had in every worthy fantasy football league throughout the country. Part of the problem early on in the season is trusting your team as a whole. Do you lack confidence in a certain position or an unreliable likely starter? Probably. We all have holes in are teams, but their is a skill in diagnosing that and getting the most out of your team.

It starts with knowing who to sit rather than start. If you can diagnose to sit three to four names on your team, it leaves the rest of your roster breakdown manageable.

Lets take a look at week one and some names that I would sit.

Cam Newton
Newton is one of those quarterbacks that drives fantasy owners nuts early on in the season. But somehow he ends up being a staple towards the midpoint and end of season. Carolina just doesn’t have enough assets at receiver to deploy Newton as a starter week one. He has been slipping in fantasy drafts because of this. We also need to see how healthy Newton is out of the gate. I expect him to still be a top five quarterback by seasons end, but he has to be downgraded week one.

Tom Brady
If there’s one team in the division that Brady has struggled against it has been Miami. Both games last season could have easily been won by the Dolphins, as they teams split. With Rob Gronkowski on the field how will their chemistry be? It’s not easy to hit that on switch with limited on field experience in two seasons.

Marques Colston
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the youth develop quickly at wide receiver for the Saints, with Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks. Colston is still being picked as if he is Brees’s top weapon at wide receiver. Injuries and the dominance of Jimmy Graham have sort of balanced out Colston’s fading value. On one hand he has stayed in the limelight because of the attention Graham gets. On the other he should have been a much higher recipient if you actually break it down further. He hasn’t been and that’s why the Saints have spent picks trying to upgrade the position.

Jeremy Maclin
Eyes have lit up on buyers of Eagles players in fantasy drafts just because of the brand of football Chip Kelly plays. Lets tone that down a bit with Jeremy Maclin. He has been injury prone and has yet to establish himself in Kelly’s new offense or with starter Nick Foles. Over time he may be a solid wide receiver three starter, but until then Riley Cooper holds higher value for Philadelphia.

Others: CJ Spiller, Le’Veon Bell, Tony Romo, Michael Floyd, and Joe Flacco