Fifa, Football, and Fantasy: Week 9

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

Fifa, Football, and Fantasy: Week 9

Toby Junker, Sports Writer

Fifa

Last week I touched on the pro scene and the EWSC and (for FIFA nerds like myself)  it was a joy toy follow this past weekend. The main story has to be about PSG eSports star Daxe (Pictured to the right). It was only a week ago that Daxe signed with PSG and now he’s already brought home his first trophy. The rising star defeated his former Epsilon teammate, Spencer Ealing (who is widely regarded as the best FUT player in the world), in the quarter-finals. Spencer won the first leg 2-0 before Daxe responded with a resounding 5-1 victory in leg 2 in order to advance. He avoided facing new PSG teammate Agge Rosenmeier (who was knocked out prior to the semi-final where he would’ve faced Daxe) before grabbing the “W” over Wolfsburg’s Timo Siep. It was nice to see Daxe, who lost in last year’s Gfinity Grand Final, finally win a major tournament. A lot of high quality FIFA was had and I’ll be excited to follow the major tournaments from here on out.

 

Football

Power Rankings (Top 10):

Super Bowl Favorite

1). Patriots (—) – Tom Brady. The TB revenge tour is in full effect as Brady now has a 73 completion percentage to go along with his 1,300+ yards, 12 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. At this pace Brady will finish with 4,000 yards, 36 TDs, and 0 INTs. If he had been able to play a full season those numbers would jump to an astonishing 5,200 yards, 48TDs, and 0 INTs. Brady, with his 133.9 Passer Rating (Scale of 0-158.3, current Single-Season record 122.5),  is easily having the best season of his career. Even against teams where his statline hasn’t been jaw-dropping (vs Steelers (222/2/0)) he’s been able to move his offense with ease. If Brady continues to play like this the Patriots are unstoppable.

Super Bowl Contenders

2). Cowboys (+1) – I’m ready to start believing. The Cowboys have been thoroughly impressive all year and it’s just taken me this long to give them the credit they deserve. They suffered a 1 point loss in Week 1 of the NFL season but haven’t looked back since. They’ve done it all in the past 7 weeks; They’ve taken care of business against lesser teams (CHI & SF), had to tough it out in close divisional games (WAS & PHI), and walked away with wins against perennial playoff teams (CIN & GB). If you dig a little bit deeper, this Dallas team gets even more scary. In years past, Dallas has played much better in Jerry World but they’ve bucked that trend this season. They’re a perfect 3-0 on the road and are a Terrance Williams bonehead mistake away from being 7-0. If it weren’t for a crowded NFC this team would be a Super Bowl favorite, however, the excess of strong contenders for the NFC crown (Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina, Minnesota, Atlanta, even Arizona  if they sneak in) mean that I wouldn’t be shocked if Dallas fell short of the big one.

3). Raiders (+3) –  Derek Carr continues to impress and is making a legitimate case for league MVP. The third year product out of Fresno State has continued to grow and is posting career bests in completion percentage, yards per game, touchdowns per game, INTs per game (this meaning he is throwing fewer than before), Quarterback Rating, Passer Rating, and even ball security (fumbling). With the win over Tampa Bay on Sunday it marks the 5th time this season that Carr has lead Oakland to a 1 possession game. One of my favorite things about this team going forward is that there defense has massively underperformed thus far. While this appears to be a negative it leaves huge room for improvement. With Khalil Mack finding himself again, if the secondary were to begin to jell, this Raiders unit could start to look scary good.

4). Falcons (+1) – Sunday was a big time win for Dan Quinn and Co. After getting off to a 4-1 start the Falcons had let consecutive games (against SEA and SD) slip away from them and were on the brink of having a .500 record. Although Green Bay was banged up, Atlanta did what needed to be done and distanced themselves from a struggling NFC South. Matt Ryan continues to perform at an MVP level and Freeman (and Coleman when he’s healthy) provide a consistent running game for the Falcons. If Atlanta continues to play like this they’ll be favored in almost every game and there will be no team in the NFL that could outclass them.

5). Seahawks (-1) – I don’t have a whole bunch to say about Seattle. Injuries have taken their toll on the Seahawks. With Rawls missing time and Wilson having 2 bum legs and an injured throwing arm the offense isn’t quite functioning (Seattle’s patchwork O-line also doesn’t help their cause). While all this points to doom, the Legion of Boom will keep Seattle in any game they play. If Wilson can recover from his various ailments Seattle could easily assume their place atop the NFC, if no they won’t be out of contention but their defense will have to carry them in a similar fashion to the Broncos last year.

6). Packers (+1) – RODGERS. Aaron Rodgers looked great on Sunday. The throws that he was missing earlier in the year, ya know, the side arm slings, the off balance darts, the 50 yard bombs while jumping, finally started to drop. Sure the Packers lost but that can be explained. Can you tell me what Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, Clay Matthews, Sam Shields, Demarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Jared Cook have in common? Answer: They all play for the Packers and were ALL inactive for Sunday’s contest. Of course the Packers were gonna struggle, they couldn’t get a pass rush, had a patchwork secondary, lacked a running gamer, and gave key 4th quarter targets to Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison (yeah I’ve never heard of them either). The fact that Rodgers looked like himself (for maybe the first time in an entire calendar year) is the only take away Packers faithful should be concerned with.

7). Vikings (-5) – By no means is it time to give up on the Vikings, but if I’m a Minnesota, maybe I’m starting my walk over to the big red button labeled panic. The Vikings have now lost consecutive game (PHI & CHI) with neither of their opponents playing especially well. Their offense is sputtering and for the first time, in arguably a year and a half, the defense hadn’t looked all that good either. Sam Bradford hasn’t been the same QB post bye and Jerick McKinnon/Matt Asiata have done nothing on the ground to help him. Jay Cutler, in his first start returning from injury, didn’t seem to have much of an issue finding points against this Vikings team and that’s worrisome. The Vikings were never going to bring home the Lombardi by getting into shootouts (well maybe they should’ve in 1998 but that’s a separate story) and their defense needs to find their form. There is plenty of time for the Vikings to get back on track but if the past two weeks are an indication of what’s to come, Vikings fans will be bitterly disappointed with their season.

Playoff Teams

8). Chiefs (—) – KC has now racked up 3 impressive wins (OAK, NO, IND) following their bye and now sit at 5-2, somehow, third in the NFC West. The Chiefs are back to playing good, solid football. They’re defensively sound, have an efficient passing attack, and are able to gain chunk yardage on the ground. It’s slightly worrying that Ware will enter the NFL’s concussion protocol and that Charles requires another knee surgery, forcing him to miss the remainder of the NFL season, but Charcandrick West looked good against IND and should be serviceable until the return of Ware (which, in theory, could be as early as this week). While all this is fine and dandy, KC is the epitome of a “Playoff Team” to me. Sure they’ll play well in the regular season, maybe they’ll even grab a postseason W, but their team just doesn’t have the necessary wow factor to make it to the Super Bowl.

9). Broncos (—) – Denver is 6-2 and my 9th best team; I pretty much see them as the same thing as the Chiefs. Denver’s got a very good defense, but losing key defensive linemen to FA makes me question whether the defense can carry this team to the super bowl this year. The common thought entering the season was that Peyton Manning was playing so poorly in his final year that Denver wouldn’t be losing much, if anything at QB. While Siemen has played well, Denver seems content to try and limit teams in order to win low scoring games. This didn’t work so well against a team like Atlanta that has a legitimate top 5 offense.

Unclassified

10). Steelers (NR) – I didn’t particularly feel that any of the remaining teams deserved to be in the “Top 10” so I figured I’d take this chance to touch on the Steelers. Pittsburgh had been absent from my Top 10 over the past few weeks. Although they still sit atop the NFC North, they dropped consecutive games (to MIA & NE) prior to their bye last week. More importantly though has been the injury to Ben Roethlisberger. With the top RB & WR in the game, this team has all the pieces it needs to make a deep run into the playoffs, it just goes as far as Ben can stay healthy.

 

Fantasy

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

QB –

Start: Cam Newton, CAR (@LA) – I like everything about this game for Cam. The Rams give up a lot of fantasy points to opposing QBs and the Panthers are beginning to play good football again. While Cam busted for your fantasy teams in Week 8 he played very well in real life. He was able to move the ball up and down the field against a solid Arizona defense and if it wasn’t for Jonathan Stewart getting 2 TDs inside the redzone, Cam would’ve had a good fantasy day as well.

Sit: Russell Wilson, SEA (BUF) – Despite being drafted as the 3rd or 4th QB in most leagues, Wilson has had a terrible season. He has only one game in which he broke 20 points and has dropped back-to-back single digit duds. The lack of success has been, in large part, due to injuries. Wilson is dealing with an injury to each of his legs as well as a banged up throwing arm. Wilson is posting the lowest percentage of throws outside the pocket of any of his pro seasons (this limits his ability to improvise and find targets down field). While I’m not ready to cut bait on Wilson yet, look for someone to stream this week instead of Russ.

Stream: Colin Kaepernick, SF (NO) (4.6% Owned) – The 49ers QB might have been a more attractive commodity 4 seasons ago but that doesn’t mean he can’t still give you good production. In his two starts this season, Kaepernick has posted 20 and 16 points respectively. While neither of those games is outstanding, he faces New Orleans this week. Kaepernick’s 66 and 84 yard rushing performances have given him a safe floor. He’s a relatively low risk/high-reward QB this week and that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a stream.

Buy: Cam Newton, CAR – Cam really hasn’t been that bad this year as he averages roughly 22.5 PPG but trading is all about perception. Owners that invested an early pick in Cam have probably struggled and are frustrated that Cam isn’t repeating his magical 2015 season. It’s important to stress things like “Cam has broken 20 points just once in the past 6 weeks” when you’re trading for these guys and keep to yourself that in that span he’s had a bye, missed a game with injury, and left a game with injury in which he already had 17 points.

Sell: Blake Bortles, JAC – I’m still all about selling Blake Bortles. The Jaguars QB looked pedestrian despite posting a good stat line against TEN. Most of his fantasy production game in garbage time against a team that had taken their foot off the gas pedal. Five of Bortles remaining 7 games are against DEN, MIN, HOU, or BUF (none of which are friendly to fantasy passers). Move Bortles and salvage any upgrade you can before it’s too late.

Stash: Jay Cutler, CHI (1.7% Owned) – I was on this hype last week and I’m still preaching it this week. Cutler returned from injury in what seemed like a tough matchup against the vaunted Vikings defense. Unphased, Cutler threw for 252 and a touchdown in a Chicago win (he also didn’t turn the ball over). Cutler is owned in just 1.7% of leagues and has a nice post season schedule (WK 14 @DET, WK 15 GB, WK 16 WAS).

RB –

Start: Christine Michael, SEA (BUF) – The Seahawks offense has been struggling as of late but Michael could be on track for a big day Monday night against Buffalo. With Wilson suffering from multiple injuries, the Seahawks will most likely, again, look to play good defense and run the ball. Buffalo has given up roughly 20 ppg to opposing RBs over the past 2 weeks.

Sit: Mark Ingram, NO (@SF) – Week 8 marked the second straight week in which Mark Ingram got benched for fumbling the football. This time however, it was more scary for fantasy owners as it occurred in the first quarter (Ingram finished with -1.5) and Tim Hightower looked serviceable filling in for Ingram. In the post game conference, it was discovered that the Saints would use a committee approach for their Week 9 date with the 49ers. Ingram loses a ton of value with this news and his season long value is very much capped at the moment.

Stream: Don Jackson, GB (IND) (2.1% Owned) – This one is risky and should probably only be used if you’re desperate (so pretty much my RB situation this week). Although Jackson has posted only 1.6 pts in the two weeks since Starks and Lacy went down, there’s reason for hope. Jackson draws a juicy matchup against a bad Indy defense (and maybe just a bad Indy team). A normal game flow could produce mediocre numbers for Jackson (now the lone back with the Packers releasing Knile Davis), but if the Packers were to get out to an early first half lead (not hard to imagine considering they score substantially more point in the first half and Colts QB Andrew Luck has committed 6 of his 8 turnovers in the first half), Mike McCarthey typically becomes very conservative and could look to feed Jackson against a bad IND run defense.

Buy: Tevin Coleman, ATL – After a consistent three weeks to start the season, Coleman has had an up and down season. While I don’t view Coleman as an RB1 going forward, Freeman did nothing in his absence to warrant additional touches when Coleman returns. Coleman owners could be frustrated with only getting 2 good weeks in the past 5 (and the fact they probably suffered through 2 duds as well). If you’re hurting at RB, try and grab Coleman.

Sell: James White, NE – I’ve been all about James White as he’s been a weekly feature in my RB section. However, now is the time to sell. White has been productive this far but with the return of Dion Lewis looming, White’s value is beginning to get murky. While no one knows exactly how this Pats backfield will shake out, it’s hard to imagine the Pats completing phasing out someone that played so well last year in Dion Lewis. Both Lewis and White serve a similar purpose and with Blount playing so well I’m not sure how the Pats will get all three guys involved. Maybe try to find the team owner that isn’t the most aware in your league and sell White based on what he has done thus far.

Stash: Kenneth Dixon, BAL – This is totally speculation. Dixon was a stud his final two years at LA Tech (college) scoring 54 touchdowns and posting over 5,000 yards from scrimmage. His explosive multi-dimensional ability to be a gamechanger had many fantasy analysts excited about his prospects entering the season. With West slowing down Dixon could begin to get worked into the offense a little more. While nothing is guaranteed, if Dixon were to take over the backfield, he would be an RB2/3 with RB1 upside.

WR –

Start: Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (@LA) – This one goes hand in hand with my Newton start. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Panthers scored a ton of points during this game. The Rams had lost three straight games prior to their bye last week and the Panthers looked really good coming off their Week 7 bye. Look for Newton to find Olsen & Benjamin to build up a large Panther lead.

Sit: Jeremy Maclin, KC (JAC) – The Chiefs are playing good football, yeah! Except, oh wait, that kinda sucks for J-Mac owners….. Yes the Chiefs have won 3 consecutive games but wins don’t always equal fantasy points, especially not for Chiefs WRs. KC is most effective in lower scoring games where the can play good defense and run the ball. Their passing attack spreads the ball out to guys like Tyreek Hill, and when Travis Kelce gets rolling there just aren’t enough other targets. Maclin has failed to reach 80 yards all season long and hasn’t reached 50 since the bye week.

Stream: Michael Thomas, NO (@SF) (49.4% Owned) – Thomas just barely qualifies for my stream section (Max owned 50% of leagues) but he’s a great play if he’s available in your league. He’s posted 5 straight games with 9.3+ points (averaging about 14 ppg over that span) and has a seasonal floor of 7.6 points. Thomas draws a nice matchup against SF  and could give you great value as a sneaky WR2.

Buy: Corey Coleman, CLE – Usually it isn’t wise to trade for Cleveland Browns, but we’ll make an exception for Coleman. The 1st round pick out of Baylor was off to a nice start before breaking his hand and being sidelined for 7 weeks. With Coleman slated to return sometime over the next two weeks, now could be the optimal time to trade for him. While many will view Terrelle Pryor as the Browns top WR, Cleveland will be much more likely to want to develop their athletic first round pick and get him as involved as possible. Oh, and it’s the Browns, so they’ll be trailing a lot, which is good for fantasy points

Sell: Allen Hurns, JAC – After a breakout season last year, Hurns has been relatively quiet (both “Allen Brothers” have actually). Garbage time salvaged many Jaguars from a fantasy perspective in Week 8. Look to move Hurns after his 19.3 point outing and don’t mention that Bortles has been playing terribly to your trade partner.

Stash: Jamison Crowder, WSH (13.4% Owned) – While many people don’t like to pick up players that are on a bye I view it as a nice way to get priority regardless of your record. Crowder has quietly put together a nice fantasy season and has posted double digits in three consecutive games. Washington seems committed to throwing the ball and throwing it often which benefits guys that might not have the top target share on their team like Crowder. While I don’t view Crowder as a league winner he can give you WR2 production based on his matchup.

 

Cool Stat of the Week:

Over the course of his career, Le’veon Bell averages 121.9 yards from scrimmage per game. Since 1932, only Hall of Famer Jim Brown has averaged more (125.5).