Fifa, Football, and Fantasy

The weekly report that talks about all things FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), NFL Football, and Fantasy Football.

Toby Junker, Sports Writer

Fifa

FIFA isn’t even 2 weeks old and there’s soooooooo much to talk about. Luckily for most of you, I recognize that you aren’t nearly the FUT nerd that I am and will limit my rambling to one topic; FUT Champions. Sure Squad Building Challenges have been fun and have even presented a nice way to make coins but all the buzz is about FUT Champions. After qualifying for the Weekend League by winning a daily tournament users have the chance to play up to 40 competitive games in order to win prizes. Being so hyped for the first ever competitive mode in FIFA I raced to play all 40 of my games. While I enjoyed the competitive nature of the games (and the dedicated servers), under the current format, EA are asking you to spend roughly 13/48 hours playing FIFA, which, even for me, is a bit much. Hopefully there are slight tweaks to the time period to address the issue in the near future as to not have the casual gamer lose interest.

 

Football

Power Rankings (Top 10):

Super Bowl Favorites

1). Vikings – 5-0. If you’ve watched any of the Vikings games this year there isn’t much that needs to be said. Even after losing their QB to an ACL tear in training camp and losing Adrian Peterson just a few games into the season, the Vikings look unstoppable. Sam Bradford has come in and learned the offense instantly, arguably performing better than what Bridgewater has shown us. The defense is just next level as they lead the league allowing just 12.6 ppg through 5 weeks, facing Rodgers, Newton, and Manning in that stretch. I seem to remember an NFC team last year that lost a key offensive piece and rode its dominant front 7 to the Super Bowl…..

2). Patriots – Yes, yes, yes, it’s only been one game since Brady returned and the Pats just got shut out 16-0 by the Bills in Week 4. But, the only two words in that sentence that matter are; Brady returned. The Pats played very well in his absence and gave him a 3-1 record to start with. The offense looked borderline dominant without its best 2 players (Brady & Gronkowski) before sputtering against a Head Coach known for confusing rookie QBs (Rex Ryan). With Brady angry after having to sit out the first 4 games, I’d be surprised if this Pats team doesn’t look reminiscent of the ‘07 squad.

Super Bowl Contenders

3). Falcons – I’m so close to 100% buying in on the Falcons. They have the best offense in the NFL (averaging a whopping 35 ppg) and just went into Mile High and made the Broncos defense look mediocre. I could close by going on and on about Julio Jones, or I could gush over the dynamic 1-2 punch that Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have created, but ultimately the success of the Falcons comes down to Kyle Shannahan and Matt Ryan. In his second season under Shannahan, Ryan has (re-)evolved into the QB we saw both times the Falcons went 13-3.

4). Steelers – Steelers aren’t too complicated in my mind. With the best QB-RB-WR trio in the league the offense looks unstoppable. The main guys have been to the playoffs (past two seasons) and Ben (Roethlisberger) has all the experience you need. If it wasn’t for the startling home/road the Steelers would be a favorite in my eyes. Over the last 2 regular seasons they average a little over 9 ppg less on the road. It’s not something that eliminates them from Super Bowl contention but ultimately I’m just not confident they’ll be in the confines of Heinz Field throughout the playoffs.

5). Packers – I ❤ Aaron Rodgers. He’s easily the most talented passer in a QB driven league and as such I find it hard to ever push the Packers out of Super Bowl contention. Having that said, while the Packers defense has been very serviceable through 5 weeks. The Packers offense, as a whole, has been far from perfect. We’ve begun to see their potential over the past two games but after fast starts against the Lions and the Giants they took their foot off the gas pedal. I’m going to point the finger more towards McCarthy and his play calling (lack of aggression) but regardless of who’s to blame it’s something that needs to be addressed if the Pack are to return to another Super Bowl.

6). Seahawks – They’ve been there before and they’ll do it again. It’s a pretty simplistic attitude to take when evaluating a football team but there’s no reason to doubt the Seahawks. They’ve had slow starts before and made deep post-season runs. Furthermore, despite not playing their best ball, the Seahawks have persevered through early season injuries to a 3-1 start without contributions from key players. With Wilson, Rawls, Baldwin, and Lockett all on the mend the Seahawks offense could be just as good as their (still) dominant defense.

PS: I forgot to mention Jimmy Graham. If the past two weeks are any indication of what’s to come….. Just game over.

Playoff Teams

7). Raiders – The Raiders are 4 and frickin 1, when did this happen??? Despite a massively under-performing defense (has anyone seen Khalil Mack this season cause he’s MIA), Derek Carr has guided this team to 4, 1 possession victories and was just a possession away from beating the mighty Falcons. After averaging 28.4 ppg so far, the Raiders will look to make some defensive improvements. If they do so, there’s no reason why they can’t represent the AFC in Super Bowl LI (except maybe Tom Brady….).

8). Cowboys – The Cowboys are exactly what this section is comprised of; a playoff team. They have a very good ground attack built around the best o-line in football and rookie Ezekiel Elliott but they just don’t wow me. Maybe if Romo and Bryant return at 100% then this team could make a Super Bowl push but with the current group of guys, I just don’t see any way the Cowboys get through the gauntlet that is the NFC playoffs.

9). Broncos – The Broncos looked so good heading into this week. They had rookie Paxton Lynch who played well in relief of Siemian the week before and the opportunity to shut down the league’s hottest offense. It just didn’t quite go according to plan. The Falcons came in with a great game plan and exposed this Broncos team. They ran it right up the middle where DEN lost guys to FA and Tevin Coleman shredded the DEN coverage from the slot. Not all is lost at this point, DEN still has a top 3 defense, it’s just unclear whether this offense can put up enough points to take them back to the Super Bowl.

 

 

Playoff Contenders

10). Eagles – Just….. What is life….. Entering the season I had the Eagles pegged as one of the worst teams in the league. The GM had shipped away some of the biggest names on their defense for next to nothing, Jordan Matthews hadn’t progressed since year 1, and by trading away Bradford, the Eagles were forced to rush their rookie QB that played D-2 ball in college to start Week 1. Well, I whiffed on that prediction….. But, life goes on. Wentz has been getting all the credit for the Eagles hot start and he’s been playing very well. Personally, I attribute their success more to the revival job Jim Schwartz has done with the defense. Yes, Wentz went over 100 passes before he threw a pick, but that’s what happens when you’re in a dink-and-dunk offense. Up until last week, the Eagles D has been lights out and even had a signature performance (holding the Steelers to just 3 points). I’m not totally sold on the Eagles in the playoffs as I’m unsure if their the team we saw against the Steelers or the Lions, but with NFC powers like the Panthers and the Cardinals struggling, there’s definitely room for Philly to sneak in.

 

Fantasy

(6 ppt, .5 ppr, % Owned according to NFL.com)

QB –

Start: Marcus Mariota, TEN (CLE) – Coming off of a 36 pt game against MIA, Mariota gets CLE at home this week. The Browns are giving up 29.6 ppg and 288 passing ypg. My only fear is that the Titans get up early and ride Murray/Henry to an easy win.

Sit: Philip Rivers, SD (DEN) – Yes he’s coming off a 34 point outing but that was against OAK, he plays DEN this week. With a banged up receiving core I wouldn’t be surprised to see his WRs struggle to get separation giving the DEN pass rush time to get home.

Stream: Alex Smith, KC (25% Owned) (@OAK) – He plays Oakland.

Buy: Russell Wilson, SEA – There’s a lot to like with Wilson. He’s finally starting to develop a rapport with Jimmy Graham and his offense is getting healthy. After posting just 1 17+ pt game in the first 4 weeks and having a bye Week 5, Wilson owners could be desperate for reinforcements.

Sell: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – I’m really scared about theses home road splits and Ben plays 5 of his last 8 games on the road. Currently, however, he’s managed over 80 pts in the past 2 weeks and is averaging 35+ if you take out the PHI game. If you find the right trading partner you could easily get an RB/WR1 for him.

Stash: Brian Hoyer, CHI (1.9% Owned) – Hoyer has, quietly, played very well over the past three weeks leading many to believe he will start over Jay Cutler. He’s posted 22+ pts in each of his three starts while throwing for 300+ yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs in each game. Not only that, but he gets @DET, GB, & WAS in the fantasy playoffs. For anyone that didn’t draft a QB early he’s a usable QB now with league winning upside down the line.

RB –

Start: Lamar Miller, HOU (IND) – It’s been a tough season for Miller owners thus far and if he doesn’t capitalize on a good matchup this week it might be time to move on (don’t drop him just bench him or recoup some value in a trade). Having that said, Miller gets an IND defense that’s giving up 109 rush ypg and has allowed 5 rush TDs through 5 weeks. TD production has been an issue for Miller and the Colts are allowing 29.6 ppg. Start Miller with confidence.

Sit: Latavius Murray, OAK (KC) – Not only was Murray getting phased out before last week, not only did he miss last week with an injury, not only was Deandre Washington serviceable in his absence, not only was Jalen Richard effective in his absence, not only will the Chiefs be motivated after getting destroyed by the Steelers prior to their bye, not only do Andy Reid’s teams do really well after the bye (was 13-1 with the Eagles in his 14 years as their HC)….. I think you get the picture.

Stream: James White, NE (CIN) (4.6% Owned) – With the return of Brady, White became the most heavily used back in the Pats backfield. He posted a season high 10.9 pts last week and should have a safe workload until the return of Dion Lewis.

Buy: CJ Anderson, DEN – After 2 exciting weeks to start the season CJ has slowed down. I believe DEN will return to what wins them game (run the ball and play defense). CJ gets @SD, HOU, SD, @OAK, @NO, KC, @JAX, @TEN, NE, & @KC. Buy low now before its too late.

Sell: Melvin Gordon, SD – After such a disappointing rookie season owners that took the risk and drafted Gordon must be ecstatic at what they’ve gotten. Gordon has failed to post less than 13 pts in any game this year and the Chargers are scoring (30.4 ppg). However, Gordon has gotten KC, JAX, IND, NO, & OAK thus far, which aren’t exactly stellar defenses (even KC is giving up the 8th most points to fantasy RBs). If you can get a struggling WR1 and a RB2 for Gordon (ex. Beckham & Gore) you should sell high now.

Stash: Dion Lewis, NE – Lewis looked to be the kind of value that won you leagues until he tore his ACL last year. It’s not really clear who the pass catching back will be in NE but with Lewis finally set to return in 2-4 weeks he’s worth a bench spot.

WR –

Start: Michael Floyd, ARI (NYJ) – (*gulp*, this one’s gonna come back to haunt me…) Floyd’s season thus far has been straight garbage averaging just 7 ppg and dropping an egg Thursday night against the 49ers. I’m by no means locking Floyd in as a WR1 this week but the Jets secondary is awfully slow and has given up a TON of big plays through the air. Some of Floyd’s lack of success has been due to the Cardinals targeting him downfield (low success rate/big play potential) but that could work in his favor this week due to the matchup.

Sit: Alshon Jeffery, CHI (JAX) – Sure we can talk about the matchup and how Jalen Ramsey has come in and played some great football (the Jaguars are allowing the 7th fewest receiving ypc thus far) but this is so much more about the Bears than the matchup. Understandably, after spending what was probably a 2nd round pick on Jeffrey you might not have the depth to bench him. That’s fine, maybe this is more of a temper your expectations rather than a true sit. Currently, Jeffrey is playing injured and Hoyer just isn’t looking his way (he didn’t even look his way when Jeffrey was healthy). Undrafted FA Cameron Meredith dominated the target share last week and Jeffrey saw the 4th most targets on the team. Maybe if the Bears offense was sputtering we could begin to understand the situation but Hoyer and Howard have done very well in the absence of Cutler and Langford. It almost looks as if the Bears are trying to take Jeffrey out of the game the year before he becomes a FA…..#conspiracytheory

Stream: Michael Thomas, NO (CAR) (7.9% Owned) – Saints receivers don’t have the most consistent reputation but rookie standout Michael Thomas has begun to carve out the Marques Colston role. He’s yet to drop below 7.6 pts in any game this year and averaged 14.5 pts in the 2 games leading up to his bye. With Cooks being the epitome of inconsistency and Snead being a little banged up, Thomas could give you solid flex production against a Panthers team that’s just playing bad football.

Buy: Odell Beckham, NYG – Beckham is beginning to show signs of life after scoring a TD last week. His season hasn’t been quite as bad as some are making it out to be (⅗ games with 12+ pts), it’s just not what you were hoping for when you took him in the top half of the first round. With a struggling Giants offense I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaching staff force the ball to their best player. Buy Beckham before he reasserts himself as the WR1 he truly is.

Sell: TY Hilton, IND – Week by week pt totals; 10.9/6.1/27.4/13.7/28.1 it’s almost like someone got hurt during that second game….. Oh wait. Hilton is currently the WR2 in fantasy football and has been on a tear over the past three week. However, Moncrief saw significant targets Week 1 before picking up a Week 2 injury that was expected to take 4-6 weeks to return from. In his absence, Hilton has thrived as he’s dominated the target share in what have mostly been catchup games. Don’t get fooled by Hilton’s big numbers, every year he has a few games where he explodes and everyone one freaks out. See if you can package him to get a true Tier 1 guy like Brown, (David) Johnson, or Bell.

Stash: Donte Moncrief, IND – Moncrief is owned in most NFL.com leagues so its not as easy as just putting in a waiver wire claim. On the other hand, Moncrief owners could easily be tired of wasting a bench spot and with Moncrief not set to return for another week this could be the optimal time to buy low. Moncrief’s number were better last year with Luck than Hasselback and if it wasn’t for Jack Doyle stealing a TD Week 1 (Luck was clearly throwing to a wide open Moncrief and Doyle just jumped up and snatched the ball midflight) Moncrief’s would’ve posted 22 pts Week 1, making us all excited for his return.

fifa