Fifa, Football, and Fantasy: Week 8

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

Toby Junker, Sports Writer

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Fifa

Let’s take a little break from talking about FUT Champions and focus on the pro world of FIFA. The competitive FIFA scene has been in existence for a while but has never really been a staple in competitive gaming. This could all change with the news out of the French Ligue 1. Ligue 1 has partnered with EA Sports to create the “e-Ligue 1”. Each team from the French top division will sponsor 2 FUT players. While there is more to talk about in regards to the “e-Ligue 1”, this is just a huge break for the competitive scene of FIFA. Sure a few clubs (Sporting Lisbon, Schalke 04, West Ham, Wolfsberg) had signed e-sports stars in the past, but 40 new team signed players is mind boggling. Take for example Paris Saint-Germain. Over the past week they’ve signed 2 time World Champion Agge Rosenmeier and, runner-up in last year’s Gfinity Play Like a Legend Grand Final, Lucas Cuillerier. Both Agge and Lucas (better known as Daxe) are pictured with PSG e-sports manager Yellowstar in the picture above. With the Electronic Sports World Cup coming up this weekend, the year’s first major FIFA tournament, it will be interesting to see how these two and all the other new e-sports stars perform.

 

Football

Power Rankings (Top 10):

Super Bowl Favorites

1). Patriots (+1) – The Patriots went into Heinz Field on Sunday and took care of business with a convincing 27-16 victory over the Steelers. Sure Pittsburgh didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger but ultimately that’s out of New England’s hands and the Pats did what they needed to. Moreover, this is much less about one game and instead about how the Pats have played with the return of Tom Brady. Brady continued his revenge tour and while his 222/2/0 stat line wasn’t jaw dropping, the Steelers defense could do little to hinder his success. Brady now has over 1000 yards, 8 TDs, and no picks in his three games back. He still boasts a 75%+ completion percentage and to add insult to injury for the rest of the league, the Pats run game is rolling as Legarrette Blount has a rushing TD in every game that Brady has been active.

2). Vikings (-1) – The last undefeated team in the NFL has gone down. After getting out to such a hot start at 5-0 the Vikings proved that they were the real deal. However, in their post-bye Week 7 matchup with the Eagles, some of offensive struggles that people had predicted coming into the year began to surface. The Eagles defensive line was just too much for the Vikings to handle. Sam Bradford didn’t have enough time to throw the ball and the run game failed to jumpstart the offense. I’m willing to give the Vikings the benefit of the doubt as they have more than earned it thus far but if the offense continues to sputter, it’s possible that another team overtakes them as the class of the NFC.

Cool Fact: Over the past 14 NFL seasons, the last remaining NFL team has failed to win the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Contenders

3). Cowboys (+2) – Despite being on a bye, Dallas continues to climb my power rankings. Nothing major happened to them over the bye. They have, what could be, a telling showdown with the division rival Eagles this Sunday night. And oh yeah, they get to add this guy Dez Bryant into their offense, he’s supposed to be #good at football so maybe that will make this team even more dominant.

4). Seahawks (-1) – Although the Seahawks didn’t lose this week, they fall a spot in the power rankings due to a relatively poor performance. While the game did end in a 6-6 tie (the third 6-6 tie during the Super Bowl era (all of which have included the Cardinals)), the Seahawks were lucky to come away with anything more that a loss. The Cardinals blew chance after chance (the blocked FG in the first half, the fumble in FG range to end the first half, the David Johnson almost TD, the missed chip shot FG in OT) and even after being given second chance after second chance, the Seahawks missed a chip shot FG of their own to ultimately seal the tie. However, Seahawks fans shouldn’t have too much to worry about as they are the only team in the NFC West above .500.

5). Falcons (-1) – The Falcons suffered a brutal loss at the hands of the Chargers this past Sunday. Not so long ago everyone was talking about this rejuvenated Falcons offense, but now the story has shifted to how this Falcons team let a 4-1 start fall to a 4-3 record. While the Chargers might not seem like toughest of opponents they are easily the most underrated team in the league. Joey Bosa has been tremendous for them as he has the most pressures (20) for any player in the first three games of their career. If it weren’t for some untimely turnovers the Chargers would be 6-1 and probably my #2 team in these rankings. Moving forward for Atlanta, they have a tough matchup at home against the Packers this week. It’s true that a 4-4 start would not be what Falcon’s fans were hoping for in year 2 of Dan Quinn, but at least they can take solace in the slow starts of the rest of the NFC South.

Playoff Teams

6). Raiders (+4) – While this week’s 33-16 thumping of the Jaguars was really more about just how bad Jacksonville is, the Raiders came out and took the W to improve to 5-2. With Crabtree having another strong season in his second year with the Raiders Derek Carr now has two reliable pass catchers to target. While many were excited to see what Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington could do in the absence of Latavius Murray, neither seized the opportunity and Murray looked good in his return to action (although maybe Murray managed to find the endzone twice to salvage a otherwise underwhelming day, would be a better way to put it). The Raiders will visit Tampa Week 8 and if Carr and Co. find another W, Oakland will be sitting at 6-2 gearing up for the playoffs.

7). Packers (-1) – It’s true that the Packers offense appeared to come alive in the second half against Chicago but it still isn’t quite their. The loss of Eddie Lacy (placed on IR last week) hurts Green Bay’s ability to run the ball (Lacy was actually quite productive with averaging 5 ypc and being graded as the most elusive RB according to PFF) and they won’t be able to have Rodgers throw the ball 56 times every week. It will be interesting to see the impact that Knile Davis can bring to the offense and what role Ty Montgomery plays going forward. The Packers still have every chance at hoisting the Lombardi this year, they just have to figure out an offensive scheme that works with their current personnel.

8). Chiefs (-) – The Chiefs came out with a strong performance beating a good Saints offense 27-21 at home this week. While Drew Brees had a great day, Alex Smith and Spencer Ware did just enough to get the Chiefs by and improve to 4-2. Kansas City visits a struggling Indianapolis team in Week 8 and will need a win to keep pace with the Raiders and Broncos (both 5-2). I find it interesting that the AFC West could easily be the most underrated division in football. They have a combined 17-10 record (only the NFC West has a better combined record at 17-9) and their “worst” team (San Diego) has a case for the most underrated team in the league.

9). Broncos (-) –  While Denver’s 27-9  win over the, now, 4-3 AFC South leading Houston Texans looks quite impressive on paper, I still question how much it means in reality. At the end of the day, Brock Osweiler has been a total bust and Houston has struggled to get Deandre Hopkins and Lamar Miller involved. After losing some key defensive players to FA this offseason (think Malik Jackson), the Broncos defense is giving up a lot of yards on the ground (Miller and Alfred Blue combined for 124 yards on just 22 carries). All that being said, it was good to see the team break it’s 2 game skid and ultimately that cemented their place in the top ten this week.

Playoff Contenders

10). Eagles (NR) – Who even knows if the Eagles are good at this point? After suffering back-to-back losses to mediocre teams (Washington and Detroit), the Eagles come out and pull a 21-10 win against, what had been, the most impressive team in the league thus far. Obviously a lot of credit goes to the dominant performance of Philly’s d-line, but the struggles of Carson Wentz give me pause as to how far this team can go. At this point I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles came out with a statement win or a total fart against the Cowboys in Week 8.

 

Fantasy

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

QB –

Start: Marcus Mariota, TEN (JAC) – After posting 20+ pts in 2 consecutive weeks, owners should feel confident in starting Mariota this week. The Jaguars defense is falling apart as they gave up 33 points last week. If that’s not enough to play the Titans QB, Blake Bortles has 9 INTs through 6 games. With the turnover prone QB taking the helm for Jacksonville, Mariota could see some extra possessions to pad his fantasy point totals.

Sit: Carson Palmer, ARI (@CAR) – Palmer was my sit last week and he finds himself here again this week. Carolina has played much better at home over the past two season and will be desperate for a win to give them any chance at a meaningful season. Palmer has only 2 games where he posted 20+ fantasy points and has had none since Week 2.

Stream: Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ (@CLE) (8.7% Owned) – Fitz-Magic is Back!!! (well kinda) The same week that Ryan Fitzpatrick got benched in favor of Geno Smith, he comes off the bench to lead the Jets to a comeback victory over the Ravens. In the post-game interview, Fitzy was pretty fired up as he called out his Owner and Head Coach for losing faith in him so quickly. Fantasy Owners should feel confident about playing Fitzpatrick this week as the Browns have given up the second most points in the league.

Buy: Matt Ryan, ATL – After such a hot start Matt Ryan has begun to show signs of slowing down. He posted just 19 pts 2 weeks ago against Seattle and only managed 15 this week against San Diego. If you need a QB, Ryan still has matchups against GB, @TB, KC, @LA, SF, and @CAR. Most owners that drafted Ryan probably were not planning on him being their QB1 and have other options. Try and address your QB issue before Ryan returns to form against GB.

Sell: Blake Bortles, JAC – This isn’t even a sell high, honestly this is probably about as close to a drop as I’ll come. Bortles has shown all kinds of regression in his third year under center. The UCF product has failed to grow on strides made in years 2 and he can’t get any of his weapons (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas) involved. Through 6 games he has 9 INTs, which in most years would lead the league through Week 7. If you can get anything for the little name value he posses, do it. Otherwise, cut bait and move on.

Stash: Jay Cutler, CHI (1.5% Owned) – Jay Cutler has been medically cleared to play. While I;m not certain that Cutler will solve the problems with Chicago’s offense, he will at least inherit a good schedule down the stretch. For many of the same reasons that I told you to stash Brian Hoyer a few weeks ago, Cutler could be a solid option down the stretch as Chicago will often be playing from behind.

RB –

Start: Spencer Ware, KC (@IND) – Because this article gets written so early in the week (usually Sunday or Monday night) I didn’t get to see that Jamaal Charles had a setback in his recovery. While I obviously hope that Charles has a safe recovery this just makes Spencer Ware and even stronger play. Until Charles proves that he is 100% and begins to take significant carries away from Spencer Ware, Ware is an every week RB1.

Sit: Jonathan Stewart, CAR (ARI) – Stewart showed signs of fantasy promise with a 20 pt outing against the Saints in Week 6 before his Week 7 bye. Unfortunately for fantasy s owners, Stewart played the Saints in Week 6, or in other words the team that gives up the most points to fantasy RBs. In Week 8 Stewart draws ARI, the team that just shut down C-Woke (Christine Michael). Stewart’s fantasy value is almost entirely dependent on scoring TDs and I wouldn’t count on the Panthers consistently moving the ball against an ARI defense that gave up 1.2 points per quarter against SEA.

Stream: James White, NE (@BUF) (???) – New week, same story. White provided good stream production in Week 7 by snagging a TD pass against the Steelers and should continue to give you good production in Week 8. White now plays a Bills team that gave up 200+ yrds rushing to Jay Ajayi. While this would point more towards a big day for Legarrette Blount, the Bills defense looked generally poor (28 pts allowed, only 1 sack) and White should continue to produce.

Buy: Devonta Freeman, ATL – It’s true Freeman has a tough matchup against GB in Week 8, but with Tevin Coleman slated to miss Sunday’s contest, Freeman is, once again, presented with the opportunity to take hold of Atlanta’s backfield. Freeman has posted just 19 pts over the past two weeks so if there was a time to buy low, it would be now. My favorite part about trading for Freeman is that if things return to what they were prior to the Coleman injury, you’re still looking at a low RB1/ high RB2.

Sell: Matt Forte, NYJ – Yeah, I whiffed on Matt Forte as a sit last week but now I have him as a sell. Forte turned his unsustainable 34 touches into just north of 100 yards from scrimmage. Bilal Powell continues to get worked into the passing game more and more as the Jets phase out Forte. Forte has good name value and could maybe fetch you a WR 2 at this point.

Stash: Knile Davis, GB (22.4% Owned) – With Ty Montgomery being the Packers go to RB at this point Knile Davis has the potential to come in and assume a large role in that offense. While I believe that Montgomery will continue to see receiving work out of the backfield, I question whether he will see 10 carries every week. Both the Chiefs and the Packers operate under a West Coast offense which should make the transition for Davis a bit easier. He has the potential to be a high RB2 and if nothing works out you didn’t lose anything by adding him off the waivers.

WR –

Start: Doug Baldwin, SEA (@NO) – Seattle’s offense was uninspiring in Week 7, they struggled to give Wilson enough time to throw and created minimal running lanes for C-Woke to take advantage of. On the other hand, the New Orleans defense that Seattle faces in Week 8 is also uninspiring. The Saints defense has been gashed in just about every way imaginable this year. Look for Wilson and Baldwin to get back on track.

Sit: Alshon Jeffery, CHI (MIN) – Yes the return of Jay Cutler should see a litany of targets funneled towards one WR,  but A). we can’t be 100% sure that Jeffery will be that guy and B). Jeffery plays MIN this week. While I advise Jeffery owners to hold on to him and hope for a second half fantasy resurgence, I’m not sure this is the week to add him to your starting lineup.

Stream: Davante Adams, GB (@ATL) (8.1% Owned) – Adams has slowly put together a usable fantasy season and it all came into focus with his 13/132/2 outing against CHI on Thursday. He’s owned in less than 10% of league and if he starts to see a Cobb or Nelson type role in that offense, he’s the type of player that can win you a fantasy league from the waiver wire.

Buy: Deandre Hopkins, HOU – While it’s true that I really don’t rate the Texans offense as a whole, I’m still on board to grab D-Hop. The rest of Hopkins schedule is extremely favorable (DET, @ JAC, @OAK, SD, @GB, @IND, JAC, and CIN). Hopkins hasn’t been terrible this year posting 10+ in 4 of his 7 games, he just hasn’t been what owners were looking for in a 1st round pick. Buy low on Hopkins and hope the Texans just throw it up to Hopkins like they did last year.

Sell: Golden Tate, DET – Yes Golden Tate had another good week but I’m still not sold on him going forward. He’s had many more bad weeks than good thus far. If you held onto him you can try and convince your trading partner that Lions are looking for shorter throws that favor Tate (which they kinda have been) in the hopes that you can get an RB2 in return.

Stash: Ty Montgomery, GB (5.9% Owned) –  Montgomery had a very interesting role in the Packers offense Week 7. He recorded 10 carries to go along with his 10 catches. He looked surprisingly comfortable lining up as an RB and was used in a Theo Riddick-esc fashion. Going forward Montgomery offer good value at least until the Packers figure out what to do with their many RBs.

 

Cool Stat of the Week: After posting 171 yards in his matchup with the Seahawks Sunday night, David Johnson currently leads the league with 1,004 yards from scrimmage. Through 7 games, he is averaging just over 141 yards/game. At that pace he would post 2,300 yards from scrimmage on the season. Seeing as he has posted 100+ yards from scrimmage in every game this year; Could Chris Johnson’s single-season yards from scrimmage record, 2,509 in 2009, be in question?

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