• Can Josh Ferguson have fantasy value in 2016?

    Franco Harris in 1983, John Henry Johnson in 1962 and John Riggins in 1984. Those three running backs all share one thing in common — they were the only RBs to rush for more than 1,000 yards after turning 33 years old.

    Frank Gore, the current starting running back for the Indianapolis Colts, is also 33 years old. If you're looking to draft Gore to your fantasy team this season at his more than reasonable ADP of RB26, keep in mind that while you're getting good value at that price, you're also wagering Gore will do something only three running backs in NFL history have done.

    Gore rushed for 967 yards last season and finished with six touchdowns. So while it's safe to say he hasn't completely lost his ability to produce, there's always a chance he drops off or at the very least needs to shoulder less of the workload. This creates a chance for someone else to enter the fray, and that someone in this case is current backup Josh Ferguson.

    Opportunity is definitely there for the undrafted back out of Illinois even aside from Gore's age. With Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Trey Williams and Tyler Varga rounding out the backfield, there's no back that really stands to see any meaningful carries in the backup role. So Ferguson should likely enter 2016 as the clear No. 2 back.

    In terms of what he brings to the table, Ferguson stands 5'10, 200 lbs and doesn't play any more powerful than his weight would indicate. He's not a strong finisher at the point of contact and will likely struggle to create yards after contact at the NFL level especially when a linebacker or defensive lineman squares up and hits him directly.

    However, you don't need to be an overwhelmingly powerful running back to make a fantasy impact or even be an effective runner. We've seen many running backs such as Danny Woodhead and Duke Johnson bring tremendous value as receiving backs with limited success running the ball.

    Ferguson has some traits that translate well and he's worth taking a flier on for a variety of reasons. For one, his ability to stick his foot in the ground at cut up field is very good. You could argue he's one of the quickest backs among the rookie running back class in terms of sudden acceleration. You will see him elude defenders at times on inside runs and in the open field because it's very tough for a linebacker or defensive lineman to mirror that quickness. You'll see defenders struggle to get a clean hit on him at times as well which could lead to big plays in the open field.

    Second, he's a proven receiver out of the backfield. While at Illinois, he had back-to-back 50 catch seasons and the Colts are one of most pass-heavy teams in the NFL when Andrew Luck is under center. The Colts also upgraded their offensive line this past offseason through the draft, which was one of their biggest weaknesses in 2015. If they can keep Luck healthy, it's likely you'll see Indy jump out to early leads against weaker teams, which could lead to more opportunities for Ferguson in the second half since the Colts will likely chew up clock and keep Gore on the sideline to avoid injury and also keep his carries down.

    There's a lot of opportunity in the Colts backfield on an offense with one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league throwing the ball. Ferguson's traits will translate very well in that offense and all he'll need is an opportunity to prove himself. Gore's age increases the likelihood of that opportunity happening. Draft Ferguson in the late rounds of your draft for potential value. 

  • Why Devontae Booker is a great late-round flier pick

    Rookie running back Devontae Booker has been one of the more polarizing draft prospects at the position this offseason. But there's good reason to believe he could be fantasy relevant this season and maybe, just maybe, snatch the starting position away from current Denver back, C.J. Anderson. Anderson was handed the keys to Denver's offense last season after going on a tear at the end of the 2014 season, but he didn't exactly flourish in his new role.

    He finished the year with 720 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 183 yards and zero receiving touchdowns. He ended up ranking 31st overall among running backs in fantasy points for standard scoring. Some argue Anderson's struggles were a result of injury, and they have some merit. Anderson battled foot injuries early in the season which slowed his progress. In each of his first 3 games, he didn't eclipse more than 30 yards rushing.

    To be fair, Anderson was saddled with tough matchups against daunting run defenses such as Baltimore, Kansas City, and Detroit to start the season. But if you want to be considered a true feature back in your offense, you have to be effective against good defenses. So Anderson's subpar performances against good teams makes you wonder if he can be a true feature back in the offense. His injuries in the early stages of the season also don't bode well for his durability.

    Some argue that Anderson played his best football down the stretch last season, and they're right. Anderson scored four of his five total touchdowns in the last five games of the season. However, he needed overtime against New England to post his only multiple touchdown game of the season.

    Being a true feature back that can handle 15-20 carries per game is a grueling task that few, if any, running backs can effectively handle each week. Anderson showed last season that he can play well in spurts, but might not be the back Denver designates as its bell cow unless he can consistently perform at the level he showed near the end of the season.

    Since durability and consistency concerns are there with Anderson, it's a good idea to draft Booker. Booker brings the vision and cutting ability needed in Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offense, and he also has great receiving ability out of the backfield. Denver will be a more run-heavy offense this season since Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch will be vying for snaps at quarterback.

    Lynch is a rookie and will go through his growing pains, while Sanchez has struggled as a starter and likely won't be relied upon as the team's primary source of offense. Look for Booker in the last few rounds of your draft for a chance at some solid production if Anderson is slow out of the gate—or gets hurt.

    Link to original photo.

  • Early thoughts on David Cobb's fantasy value with Titans

    As the NFL season prepares to enter its homestretch, it's always important to keep an eye on rookies in case a breakout game is on the horizon. Seeing this develop is an art as much as it is a science, and we all know it pays to snag a good running back off the waiver wire a week before anybody else knows about him to avoid heavy competition after his first big game. Even if your fantasy team is good enough to make the playoffs, you should still be fine-tuning your roster to make your self as matchup-proof as possible. You have to be ready to take down the best opponent in your league if you want to take first place, so be ready to put forth your best effort.

    Now, this running back we're looking at here is not one of the guys who'll likely win you a championship, so if that's what you're after than stop reading this article all together. But if you want to see how a running back we were high on earlier in the offseason is progressing, then this is something to check out. This is a small evaluation of David Cobb's first few games as a pro.

    A 22-year-old rookie out of Minnesota, the Tennessee Titans running back was part of a 2015 running back class that many considered one of the best in a long time. Cobb wound up getting selected in the 5th round (138th overall) by the Tennessee Titans in what would become a totally revamped offense with fellow rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and recently hired head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was quickly fired after a 1-6 start in 2015 and 3-20 overall record with the team and the Titans opted to go with tight ends coach Ken Whisenhunt as their interim head coach. So there's already been some volatility within the organization

    Cobb certainly brings an array of physical skills to the table. When looking at Cobb as a draft prospect during the offseason, some of his traits immediately stood out in terms of transferring to the NFL level. For one, his physical nature and his ability to absorb contact despite not being an elite athlete made him intriguing. At 5'11, 229 lbs, he has a solid build which helps him maintain balance after getting hit. His undersized stature compared to bigger defenders helps him gain leverage at the point attack and his short burst is good enough to make him a candidate for 4 yards on any well-blocked play.

    What he's done this season

    Cobb's first year has been rocky to say the least. He was sidelined until Week 10 after suffering a severe calf injury during the preseason, where he totaled 79 yards on 19 carries (9.5 yards per carry). He finally saw his first snap in Week 11 on a Thursday night game against Jacksonville on the road, where he finished with just 3 yards on 4 carries. Cobb saw eight snaps total in that game.

    In Week 12 in what would be his second played game of the season, Cobb saw a slight uptick in snaps with 12 but still turned in another paltry performance with just 8 yards on 3 carries. He also failed to secure his target of his NFL career on a pass in the flat that was thrown behind him a little bit but one he probably should've hauled in. A little context here, Cobb went up against the Oakland Raiders, a team with one of the better run defenses in the league overall. 

    Where he shows weakness

    When looking at Cobb's small sample size (and it's important to note how this is a very small sample size where stats shouldn't serve as a major indicator of future success) one has to notice his struggles in identifying the correct running lane and his slow decisiveness when cutting up field. On a particular run, Cobb misread the running lane between the tackles and instead tried to cut it back where two defenders ended up tackling him for a minimal three-yard gain.

    You can view this in the video below. When watching, notice when Cobb gets the ball out of the backfield, he's already deciding to use the cutback lane before he mentally processes how the blocks are unfolding and what running lanes are being created.

    The play is designed for the linemen to push the defenders to the left side of the field to create a cutback lane to run through, so Cobb is doing what the play is designed to do and isn't entirely at fault for the minimal gain. Still, often times a successful run is the result of patiently waiting for your blocks to set up and using your own judgment to properly identify the best course of action. Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of the best I've seen at this. It's a split-second difference in decision making, but it can lead to five-yard gain over a three-yard gain.

    In summation, Cobb decides what to do too early, and the result is him missing a running lane being created that he likely would've seen had he waited a split second longer to make his cut. If he runs through that lane, the next closest defender to tackling him is the safety, who is 10 yards back. More than likely Cobb gains at least four yards in addition to a head of steam which could create more momentum after contact and allow him to fall forward for a few more yards.

    Where he shows promise

    One of Cobb's best traits is his balance through contact. On the run below, notice how it takes three defenders to bring him down. More importantly, notice how his equilibrium never changes throughout the run. This trait is a sign that Cobb is a physical runner and can break tackles consistently.

    Now, there were still some negatives on this play for Cobb. He was a little tentative when searching for a running lane and notice how he rounded out the corner when shuffling his feet instead of sharply cutting in a more decisive way. Again, it points out his lack of mental processing at the current moment and his still adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. But his ability to absorb contact from three different angles and still find a way to fall forward is a sign that he could be a consistent four-yard rusher in the future.

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  • Can the Jags continue the 'Post-Wembley Wave' trend?

    This article was written by Ethan Davidson

    Usually traveling to a foreign country to play in a match that has more significance to marketing the sport to a new territory than the importance of the actual game can be challenging for a number of reasons. However, the annual NFL games in London, England have increased year-on-year with the ties between the country and the organization stronger than ever.

    When the NFL made the commitment to play a single game at the 90,000 all-seater stadium in London in 2007, it was unsure how long this partnership would last. In its 9th year now, the sport has grown considerably in the country, with the NFL now playing 3 annual games at Wembley to record crowds.

    Traveling via plane is part and parcel of a footballers schedule but most would think that a 9-hour trip to London would disrupt even the most successful teams. However, this hasn’t been the case over the 9 years that the NFL has been featured on British soil. A total of 15 out of 22 teams have seen an upswing in their form post-Wembley since 2007.

    So what should fantasy football fanatics consider when looking at the teams playing in these fixtures?

    The infographic concentrates on the 5 games post-Wembley, which teams have played upon returning the United States. The best example of this are the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. The Cowboys went on to win 4 out 5 of their games and the New England Patriots in 2012 won all 5 of their next games.

    Jacksonville Jaguars also saw a significant improvement dating back in 2013. They went into the game against San Francisco 49ers having lost 5 in a row. Afterwards, the Jags went on to win 4 from 5 and with the team only just recently playing at Wembley, fans and analysts are wondering if they can replicate the form of 2013 and see the positive impacts of the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ once more.

    The infographic below, which was published on Bwin after the Dolphins played the Jets at Wembley this season, shows 22 different teams, and their form pre- and post-Wembley from 2007 to the present day.

     

     

    Infographic published on Bwin News

    After a disappointing season last year, where the Jags finished 3rd in the AFC South, the team will    be hoping that they improve after their recent game against Buffalo Bills where they came out  winners, 34-31.

    On their return to U.S. soil, the franchise has gone on to win one and lose one. They lost in their first game back to New York Jets 23-28 and beat the Baltimore Ravens 22-20. Now the Jags will hope they can continue to win their upcoming games against Titans and Chargers in the   coming weeks.

    After this season’s three NFL games being completed at Wembley, the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ is somewhat of a hot topic but the reasons for it are still undecided. If you have any ideas as to why you think it occurs so regularly, let us know what you think in our comments section below.

    Do you think the Jags can  continue their good form in to  their matches with the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers? Will the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ impact your selection choices in the coming weeks?

     

     

     

  • Week 8 hits and misses

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    Week 8 is done and over with. There were plenty of high scoring games and some were so high we probably won't see another barrage of fantasy scoring quite like that in some time. Eli Manning and Drew Brees combined for 11 touchdowns in a game that ended up looking like the final score of a men's college basketball game rather than a football game. In this column, we look back on our best calls leading up to Week 8 based on our podcasts and articles from the previous week.

    Running backs

    1. Todd Gurley vs. San Francisco (hit)

    Analysis: We mentioned Gurley as a prime steak player in our "Steak and side dish" article. If you haven't been reading it, it means that Gurley was one of our main centerpiece players and somebody you should've had in all of your lineups aside from a few just in case a freak injury occurs. Gurley didn't disappoint, as he was the top fantasy running back (barring a better one in tonight's Carolina/Indianapolis game) with 20 rushes for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also added 3 catches for 13 yards. The great thing about Gurley is St. Louis is winning games by using him a ton in the offense (20 rushes today) and Nick Foles isn't the kind of quarterback who can really take over a game. So Gurley has the best of both worlds. He's a talented player plus he's being given a tremendous opportunity to lead a team, an opportunity that's resulting in wins which should keep the coaches utilizing Gurley as their main guy.

    2. Le'Veon Bell (miss but there's a catch)

    Analysis: Bell was easily on pace to break 100 yards and be one of the better backs in fantasy this week but unfortunately was carted off the field with a knee injury in the second quarter. It's tragic because the Steelers had just gotten Ben Roethlisberger back from injury and looked like a team that could become the powerhouse offense it once was when they had a competent quarterback in the driver seat. Still, Bell finishes with 10 rushes for 45 yards (4.5 yards per carry) plus 2 catches for 13 yards. It's likely he didn't completely kill your DFS or standard league lineup so long as you had some other people go off.

    3. Justin Forsett (miss)

    Analysis: Forsett finished with 17 carries for 69 yards plus 4 catches for 28 yards. It wasn't a terrible performance, but you expected a lot more considering the Ravens were at home, favored to win against the lowly Chargers and were also dealt a cupcake matchup against a very weak San Diego run defense. 

    4. Marshawn Lynch at Dallas (miss)

    Analysis: We consider a miss anywhere below the Top 10 and Lynch just wasn't a fantastic fantasy option this week. He finished with 21 carries for 27 yards and zero touchdowns. It's like squeezing blood out of a rock when it comes to scoring for the Seahawks this season, and their struggles will likely continue as long as their offensive line stays intact. Dallas was far from an elite run defense, giving up the third-most points to running backs this season.

    5. Charcandrick West (hit)

    Analysis: We liked West much more than Darren McFadden this week due to his potential for a high volume of carries and a plus-matchup. He ended up finishing as third-best running back in fantasy for Week 8 with 97 rush yards and a touchdown to go along with 4 catches for 25 yards. He wasn't one our 'must play' backs but he was once we wanted in a few of our lineups and he didn't disappoint.

    6. Devonta Freeman (hit)

    Analysis: Bad games are just not in Freeman's wheelhouse anymore. Even though it was looking like he was on his way to an average day running the ball, the Falcons got their offense going late to come back against the Buccaneers and Freeman accumulated enough stats to be a Top 10 fantasy back once again. Despite not scoring a touchdown, Freeman ended up with 88 rushing yards to go along with 6 receptions for 43 yards. He's quickly becoming the most dynamic fantasy threat this season.

    So there you have it. We learned a few things from this week. One, Gurley is what makes St. Louis successful as of right now. It'll be tough not to start him going forward but bad matchups can always make us think twice. Two, injuries are a killer but you still made a wise choice starting Bell against Cincinnati. Lastly, Freeman is the MVP of Fantasy Football's first half of 2015.

    Link to original photo

  • Steak and side dish running backs for Daily Fantasy Week 8

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    When it comes to playing in large tournaments in daily fantasy football, it pays to set a variety of lineups but still maintain some consistency with core guys throughout each one. You often want at least 3-5 lineups (sometimes more) if you plan to have a chance to cash in a tournament. These contests are the hardest to cash in since there can be 100,000 participants in each field. The margin for error is very small, so even if you put together a very strong lineup by playing the matchups, the likelihood of it being the perfect lineup is still not that great.

    To combat this, you must build your lineup like a mutli-course meal with a main entree. Consider your dinner guests to be the people of DraftKings who will only reward you if you really floor them with your meal. They're the snobbiest dinner guests of all time. Think about that guy who only drinks craft beer with trappist glassware sniffs his glass like a line of coke before he drinks it. These are the types of people you're dealing with in tournament play.

    So, you know your dinner guests love steak as do most people. I mean, even if you cook one over a George Foreman grill it more than likely  generates some head nods from those at the table. The steak in this case is made up of your core players, the guys you almost know are going to do well. The only thing is — these guys also love side dishes too — and you have an idea which side dishes they'll like but you don't know what the perfect side dish match will be with the steak. To make matters worse, your guests are only going to pay you $100,000 if your side dishes matchup impeccably with the steak.

    Yes, that scenario is entirely plausible and likely happened to you yesterday as it does with all people, it also serves as a simile to describe trying to win big money against slim odds in Daily Fantasy Football tournaments. You must get everything perfect to win in these tournaments. Everything from your centerpiece players to your side players must be near perfect.

    So what do you do? You make a variety of side dishes and keep serving them with the steak until you find one that matches perfectly. You should be entering a variety of lineups into these tournaments, even if it costs a bit more. The likelihood of you nailing it perfectly with one lineup is like trying to guess which side dish the snobbiest foodie in the world would like with a steak. You probably have a good thing going with the steak, but you're going to need to throw a lot of different side dishes at him before he gives the seal of approval. In this case, straight cash homey.

    You tired of this steak metaphor yet? The lesson is to build a variety of daily fantasy football lineups but center them around one core group of (your steak) and mix and match a variety of other players who might benefit from the matchup and might not (your side dishes) and enter all those lineups into the tournament to please the DraftKings people (your guests) in hopes one of your lineups is more liked than anyone else's so you get paid lotsss of money...playaaa.

    The Week 8 Steak running backs

    This is the group of players for your fantasy lineup that will be your main course you're almost certain will do well this coming Sunday. You should feature at least two of these players in some shape or form in all of your lineups.

    1. Todd Gurley vs. San Francisco

    Gurley has rushed for over 100 yards in three-straight games and plays on a team with a bad quarterback which helps him for game script and rushing attempts. Plus, he's going up against a woeful rushing defense that's allowing the seventh-most points to running backs (20.4) The 49ers have also allowed 8 rushing touchdowns which is third-worst in the league. Lastly, the Rams have the benefit of playing at home where they're 2-1.

    2. Le'Veon Bell vs. Cincinnati

    Bell is the glue that has held the Steelers' offense together through the tough times of not having Big Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Bengals are a middle-of-the-road run defense so the matchup isn't exactly eye-popping, but Bell is featured so heavily in the run game (at least 20 carries in three straight games at one point in the regular season) plus has the passing upside (has at least 4 catches in four-of-five games and 7 grabs in two-of-five) that you have to go with him in a division matchup at home.

    3. Justin Forsett vs. San Diego

    Notice the theme here. A lot of these running backs are at home and on teams favored to win. Forsett only has two games of 100 or more yards but San Diego's defense has been throttled by running backs all season. They've allowed 100 yard rushing games from Giovani Bernard, Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell and James Starks (insert painful Eddie Lacy flashback memory here). Factor in the countless close losses Baltimore has had plus home-field advantage plus a prideful organization and you have a recipe for a hungry Ravens team that should be thinking victory in this one. Game script could be favorable here as well since Philip Rivers is racking up passing yards which could play into more opportunities to score points for Forsett. You just have to hope the Chargers don't jump out to a big lead and force Flacco to throw the ball too much, which is what happened in Arizona.

    Side Dish running backs Week 8

    These are the running backs who have favorable matchups but we're not quite as high on. You should sprinkle these guys in throughout your lineups, meaning start one of them but not two. For example, try a combination of Forsett, Bell and one of these players or Bell/Gurley, etc.

    1. Marshawn Lynch at Dallas

    The Seahawks face a Dallas team ranked third-worst in fantasy points allowed for running backs (22.3) but there are a few things we don't like about this matchup. For one, Lynch only has one 100-yard game this season and even that very game came last week, we'd still like to see more consistency. The Seahawks have also been an inconsistent offense with an inconsistent line. Still, the matchup is nice and game script could favor Matt Cassel and the Cowboys turning the ball over frequently which would favor a lot of running for Seattle, but the team has proven they aren't what they used to be offensively and Lynch's stats could reflect that. Seahawks have been woeful on the road this season at just 1-3 as well.

    2. Charcandrick West vs. Detroit (London)

    West really made his name known last week after a 100-plus yard, 1-touchdown effort against the Steelers. More importantly, he saw 22 carries. The running back has also been an important factor in Andy Reid's West Coast offense and the Lions are eighth-worst against running backs in fantasy this season, giving up 19.9 points per game. West is a good side dish because of his low cost ($4,700 on DraftKings) and his potential payoff is huge. Use him in a flex spot with the running backs above for a chance to pop.

    3. Devonta Freeman vs. Tampa Bay

    I know, it's hard to consider Freeman a side dish, but consider this. The Buccaneers have actually been decent against the run this season. They've allowed just four rushing touchdowns this season and just over 14 points per game to running, which ranks among the Top 10 best in the league. As good as they are against the run, they're the complete opposite against the pass. The Buccaneers rank fourth-worst against wide receivers and have allowed two quarterbacks to throw for 4 touchdowns against them.

    This isn't to say Freeman can't dominate them since he's dominated every team he's played. This is more of an argument of game script favoring the pass for Atlanta, which could make Freeman less likely to score a touchdown. You need touchdowns in tournaments if you expect to win big. This also isn't to say you shouldn't start Freeman — you should. Just don't use him in every lineup. Use him in 1/3 of them.

    Link to original photo.

Podcasts

Episode 126: Fantasy Hot Read

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 00:00
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Episode 125: Fantasy Hot Read

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 00:00
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Episode 124: The case for drafting Martellus Bennett

Wednesday, 08 June 2016 00:00
On this pod, we talk about Martellus Bennett and why you should take a serious look at him in the later rounds of your fantasy drafts. link to original photo
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Episode 123: Why Hopkins is overvalued

Tuesday, 07 June 2016 00:00
On today's podcast, the Helpers discuss the problem with drafting DeAndre Hopkins in Round 1. Plus Kelvin Benjamin's upside in Carolina's offense this season. Link to original photo
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Episode 122: Believe in your guys

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 00:00
On this podcast, we talk about why you should trust your gut more than anything when it comes to fantasy football success. There's a reason you're feeling the way you're feeling about a certain player. Also, leave comments b
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Episode 121: Pittsburgh Steelers tight ends

Thursday, 26 May 2016 00:00
On this pod, we explain why you should be looking to draft Jesse James.
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Waiver Wire

James Conner: Finish him

Tuesday, 01 September 2015 00:00
Player card Name: James Conner   School: Pittsburgh Height: 6'2     Weight: 240 lbs Class: Junior   Accolades: ACC Player of the Year (2014), led ACC in touchdowns Notable injuries: Sprained MCL (expected to miss
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Dynasty prospect: Ezekiel Elliott

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 00:00
The running back position requires an athlete to possess several traits for success. One of the crucial ones is competitive drive. The ability to initiate contact with defenders typically much bigger in size, keep your feet c
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Sleeper desirability rankings for 2015

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 00:00
This is the week. The third week in August, where the majority of you are polishing up your draft strategy for your fantasy football season. Keep in mind, it's not the first two picks that will make or break your fantasy seas
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Fantasy sleeper: Cody Latimer

Wednesday, 22 July 2015 00:00
Want to help yourself in fantasy this season and support our site at the same time? Sign up for FantasyPros Draft Wizard by clicking this link. Try out many other FantasyPros tools including their Draft Analyzer, Cheat Shee
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Dynasty Quarterback Rankings Tier 1.0 Jameis Winston QB/Florida State

Friday, 24 April 2015 00:00
Love baseball? Love making $5,000 in a free contest? Sign up here. There is no other quarterback, or player for that matter, in the 2015 NFL Draft that has been inspected under the proverbial microscope by scouts and media
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Prospect: RB Michael Dyer

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 00:00
Sometimes the most interesting prospects are those who get lost in the shuffle due to issues off the field. Isaiah Crowell was a good example of that last season with Cleveland. Plus, if you look at the trends of good running
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