Thursday, October 30, 2014

(Sack) Dancing With The Stars

Houston, we have a problem…that it is the latest update on the billboard located on the Command Transportation Building heading into Chicago on the Edens Expressway.

Lamarr Houston added more (insult and) injury to the travesty that is the Chicago Bears’ defense by tearing his ACL during a non-crucial stop on Patriots’ back-up, Jimmy Garoppolo. I would call the Bears defense a train wreck but that implies something you continue to look at despite how awful it is. By the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s New England debacle, I was full-on NFL Red Zone and missed seeing Lamar fail to “stick his landing”. What’s funny is that Lamar’s move was similar to the rug-cutting of Lions linebacker, Stephen Tulloch, who tore up his ACL in a September dance against the Packers (See DeadSpin for a side-by-side replay).

I guess defensive players in the modern NFL need to get their celebrations where and when they can. Rules seemed stacked against them. We love it from a fantasy perspective but is anyone else out there missing a little ‘D’? My other regional team, the Colts, failed to lose a player to a celebratory sack dance as they did not register one against the Steelers. Honestly, it was hard to appreciate the achievements of Roethlisberger when the Colts could not get enough pressure to even remotely force a patented Big Ben “king of the hill” scramble.

Bears GM Phil Emery gave a diplomatic review of Houston’s situation, suggesting that Lamarr had “built up frustration from not having a sack yet” on the season. Da Coach was a bit more direct, as always. Houston acknowledged that he “probably shouldn’t have celebrated while they were blowing us out, but it happens”. Really? I suppose that was an improvement over Tulloch who defiantly stated, “I’d do it again, brother.”

Whatever. Get a new choreographer.

So what next for the Bears? Who will pick up the slack on the 1.4 combined tackles and .12 sacks that Houston was averaging per game? Jared Allen? Too depressing to think about. Who will replace the love that Houston showed for the hometown faithful and the assessment of the team’s play this season? I am not sure anyone has the intelligence to match Lamarr and provide valuable commentary on the fans’ verbal grading of the raio of talent displayed on the field to the dollar paid.

What’s next for Lamarr? Joseph Randle scored an underwear endorsement for his sins. Certainly, there must be something out there although it probably won’t be shuffling for cold cuts. Look for him near the hot dog section.

Speaking of injuries, I am taking over for Bill the week and handling Waiver Wire Finds for the week:

QB: Carson Palmer (AZ) - Palmer has returned from his shoulder ailment showing no ill effects. He has quietly put up at least 16 points in each of his games thanks to a stable of quality receiving options. With loads of good QBs on the shelf this week, he is worthy of pickup and starting if you need a fill-in unless you are in a league where an owner foolishly tired of Big Ben and dropped him (don’t laugh, it happened in more leagues than you would have guessed). DO NOT be tempted by Michael Vick!

RB: Jonas Gray (NE) - you are rolling the dice here as gambling on who will get the backfield love in New England is risky. Where was all the Gray talk in pre-season when James White was touted as the next great back? Sure, he looked good against a putrid Bears’ defense last week, but that will not guarantee another 17 carries against Denver this week, though the Patriots would be wise to give each of their backs that many carries to speed the game up and limit Peyton Manning’s time on the field.

RB: Bobby Rainey (TB) - it appears that Rainey will be given the starting slot again with Doug Martin dinged up with an ankle injury. Rainey has done well during his fill-in chances the past two seasons and is a must-add for now if available. If you have roster room, it might be sage to also add rookie RB Bobby Sims. He has been on the IR thus far but is coming off this week and eligible to play. The Bucs could give him a hard look to help determine if the Rainey/Sims combo is their future and to trade Doug Martin in the off-season.

WR: Andrew Hawkins (CLE) - Hawkins has been floating around on the waiver wire off-and-on all season. The problem with Hawkins is that he is money in PPR leagues but not-so-much elsewhere due to his lack of TDs. This week against Tampa could be different since Tampa’s secondary is very accommodating to opposing receivers.

WR: Martavis Bryant (PITT) - the Colts made EVERY Steelers’ receiver look awesome last weekend. It did validate the 6’4″ Bryant’s arrival since he also caught a TD the week before against Houston. Though Markus Wheaton showed up versus Indy as well, it appears that the X-receiver’s job is Bryant’s for now.

WR: Donte Moncrief (IND) - Moncrief came out of nowhere last week in the Colts’ shootout with the bumblebees. He caught 7 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown and is a solid fill-in for Reggie Wayne, thus cementing the signing bust of Hakeem Nicks. He is definitely a nice WR3 or WR4 option while Wayne is hurt and Bye weeks are in effect.


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Thanks and enjoy the rest of this wacky NFL season!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Free NFL Week 8 Picks

We finally had a nice weekend last week, even with the Patriots blowing our Teaser and the Seahawks laying an egg. Hopefully you toughed it out and were rewarded. This week has some very difficult lines but there are a few games that we really like so let's let it roll!


Detroit (-3) vs Atlanta U46.5 in London - The Lions will be without Reggie Bush again and possibly Megatron, but Atlanta is far more beat up and downtrodden. The Lions are riding high after a stunning late victory over the Saints and have next week off so let's hope that they aren't on cruise already. With the game being outdoors, the Lions defense should be able to easily slow Atlanta's passing game down and they have no running game. Detroit will win this in low-scoring fashion with a 7-10 point cover. Play the Lions and give the field goal (buy the hook for the extra juice) for 7 units, the Under 23.5 in the first half for 6 units, the Under 46.5 in the game for 6 units and play a 2-unit parlay on -3 and under 46.5 for the game.

Seattle (-5.5) at Carolina - Last week's performance at St. Louis will befuddling but it was the kind of performance that will help this team right the ship. They played well last season going to the opposite coast and match up with a team in Carolina that has the most injuries and least weapons in the NFL. Play Seattle for 8 units in the first half at -3 and for 8 units in the game at -5.5.

Houston (-3) at Tennessee - The Texans are still upset at their play in the last 3 minutes of the first half of MNF against the Steelers and will take it out on the Titans. Speaking of a team with few weapons! On top of that, they are starting their third string QB, Zach Mettenberger. He is NOT going to want to see as much of JJ Watt as he undoubtedly will. Play Houston in the first half at 1.5 for 10 units and in the game for 10 units at -3.

Baltimore (-2) at Cincinnati - This line somehow started with Cincy favored by 3! I guess the oddsmakers were focusing too much on the Bengals home record and not their recent play. On top of that, the Ravens are playing about as well as any team in the NFL and are looking for a big divisional road win. They will get it so play the Ravens -1 in the first half for 7 units and at -2 in the game for 7 units.

Oakland (+7) at Cleveland - Oakland IS terrible, but the Browns are not good enough to be giving a TD to any team in this league. The Raiders have actually looked competitive against San Diego and Arizona the past two weeks and Derek Carr has enough weapons to keep this game close. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they win outright. We will just take the points though. Play Oakland in the first half at +3.5 for 6 units and play them in the game at +7 for 6 units.

Indianapolis (-3) at Pittsburgh - Speaking of playing well, the Colts are on fire! Their defense has improved each week and gets to face an over-confident Steelers team that has played very poorly this season outside of a 3 minute stretch. The Steelers are lost on offense and don't have the defense to hold the Colts down. Indy runs away with this game. Play Indy in the first half at -2 for 10 units and play them in the game at -3 (buying the hook if you need to) for 10 units.
7-point Teaser Of The Week (5-to-1 odds) for 1 units
  • New England  +1
  • Chiefs  Pick
  • Houston +4
  • Colts +3.5
  • Oakland +14
  • Dallas -2.5

Season record
  • Sides   10-8  (+13.7 units)
  • Overs    3-8 (-33.9 units)
  • Parlay   0-4  (-8.0 units)
  • Teaser   1-5 (-1.0 units)
  • Moneyline 3-3  (+7.5 units)

Free NCAA Week 9 Football Picks

Miss St -7 at Kentucky 1H 6 units
Miss St -14 at Kentucky Game 6 units
Syracuse +14.5 at Clemson Game 7 units
Minnesota -5.5 at Illinois Game 10 units
W. Michigan -10 vs. Ohio Game 7 units
N. Carolina +7 at Virginia Game 6 units
Missouri -23.5 vs. Vanderbilt Game 8 units
UMass +17.5 at Toledo Game 10 units
SMU +24 vs. Memphis Game 6 units
Alabama -19 at Tennessee Game 6 units
Ole Miss at LSU U23.5 1H 6 units
Ole Miss at LSU U45.5 Game 6 units
Ole Miss -2 at LSU 1H 8 units
Ole Miss -3.5 at LSU Game 8 units
Ole Miss -3.5 at LSU U45.5 Game 2 unit parlay
Ohio St -7 at Penn St 1H 8 units
Ohio St -14 at Penn St Game 8 units

2014 Regular Season record:
ATS: 15-22 -63.7 units
Totals: 0-1 -15.4 units
Moneyline: 0-2 -5.0 units
Parlay: 0-0  +0.0 units

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quick Change NFL

Week 7 in the NFL provided some short bursts of crazy action. The Bills again hung around with their defense long enough for their offense to wake up and provide another white-knuckle winner. Kyle Orton sure does start slow (maybe residual Jay Cutler dust landed on him when he was traded to Denver) but gets it kicked in just in time for the heroic finish. The Redskins finally threw the towel in on Kirk Cousins, while simultaneously kicking themselves in the a$$ for not trading him last off-season, and let Colt McCoy take the reins. McCoy thanked them by throwing a 70-yard TD on his first play. While his overall play was pedestrian, he is riding high right now. That will end Monday night versus Dallas.

There were a few colossal implosions in Week 7 as well. The Saints dominated Detroit for 57 minutes and then let it all slip away by opting not to tackle Golden Tate or run the ball and eat clock – and avoid an INT, which was uncharacteristic for Drew Brees. The Saints have lost seven consecutive regular season road games and really needed this one, though 8 wins should win the NFC South this season. Anyone who decided that Pittsburgh was done and changed the channel after Houston jumped out to a dominating 13-0 lead Monday night had to be in shock when they saw the Steelers comfortably ahead at halftime. I don’t recalling seeing that many points in such a short time on MNF since Peyton and the Colts erased a huge deficit in 2003 to beat Tampa. Houston had to be relieved that the seconds finally clicked off the clock for the half before they found more ways to set the Steelers up for more easy scores.

Other thoughts from week 7:
  • St Louis is getting props this week for their brave fake punt and their inventive mis-direction punt return. After being outgained 2-1 on the day, the fake punt was the best idea for stopping Seattle from coming back and winning. As for the punt return, former Bear, Jeff Fisher, was channeling his former team as the Bears pulled this off 3 years ago, though the play was negated on a horrible penalty that was called by an official who had no idea where the ball was.
  • Russell Wilson did all he could in that game to get Seattle a win; becoming the first player ever to post 300+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards in the same game. He has been a one-man wrecking crew this season…unlike their defense.
  • Speaking of defenses falling apart, Carolina didn’t give up more than 31 points in a game all of last season. They have given up 37 or more in 4 games already this year and we are just approaching the midpoint of the season.
  • No one is happier about Kyle Orton quarterbacking the Bills than Sammy Watkins. They hooked up for 9 catches for 122 yards and 2 scores last week. E.J. Manuel may have provided Watkins with those numbers by the end of the season.
  • All Randall Cobb does is score TDs. He is on a pace to score 21 TDs this season.
  • The Chiefs have ZERO TD receptions by their WRs this season.
  • I didn’t like the Bears giving all that money in the off-season to Jay Cutler. I thought Josh McCown could run the team in that offense as their starting QB and put the extra millions towards improving their linebacking corp. I believe Alshon Jeffrey (9 yards last week) and Brandon Marshall (48 yards) agree. At least Marshall is trying to jump-start a team that is winless at home. With their next two games on the road versus New England and Green Bay, there is no better time than the present to play up to their potential.
  • Hey Cincy, 7 carries for Giovani Bernard is a horrible gameplan.
  • As expected, one bad game by Brian Hoyer and the Manziel pleas return. Just wait until they lose to the Raiders this weekend!

Another week in the NFL and the injuries continue to mount, even to the point that teams are falling to their third-stringers while the game is still being played. (See Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller both going out on big injuries in the first half). So, the waiver wire is active again this week:

QB: Kyle Orton (BUF) - Orton is averaging just under 300 passing yards in his first three games as the Bills' starter, with 5 touchdown passes and 3 picks. If you need a fill-in for the week, the Bills play at the Jets this week. The Jets secondary is a Welcome mat, giving up 2 TDs in every game and 3 TDs in each of their last 3 games.

RB: Tre Mason (STL) – The Rams have moved past Zac Stacy and should try to trade him at this point. They only put him on the field for one snap last week. They are splitting the reps between Tre Mason for running the ball and Benny Cunningham for receiving. I would pick up Mason as he will get more overall Touches and should see some action catching the ball as the Rams try to round out his game a bit, but Cunningham is a worthy second choice if Mason is gone.

RB: Bryce Brown (BUF) – I was surprised when the Eagles traded Brown to the Bills since he put up great numbers when LeSean McCoy was hurt. Anywhoo, Buffalo has let him sit on the bench all year since they had too many RBs to begin with. However, injuries to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have changed that. While Anthony Dixon gets the first crack at being the #1 RB, I don’t see him as a long-term solution. He is a bit too slow and will be stuffed this weekend against a solid Jets’ run defense. I expect Brown to get worked in a little this weekend, but this situation should play out like the Vikings’ backfield of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, with Brown assuming McKinnon’s role.

RB/WR: Denard Robinson (JAX) – Robinson took the Browns by Storm last weekend to the tune of 127 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Jags have had designs on making the former Michigan QB a running back, but never truly made the effort until last week. Unfortunately, they are still listing him on their roster as a WR so he is not available as a RB yet. I do expect that designation to change but I don’t believe that they see him as more than a 10-12 carries per game guy anyway so I wouldn’t give up the farm for him. However, you could stick him in this week if you have a chance to add him and see where it goes if you have no better options.

WR: Doug Baldwin (SEA) – Even though the Seahawks gave Baldwin a healthy contract in the off-season, it took a Percy Harvin trade to finally work him fully into the passing game. Since it was so successful last week (7/126/1), I would feel comfortable starting him with confidence going forward.

WR: Allen Robinson (JAX) – It has been difficult to count on the Jaguars’ offense this season, especially at WR due to loads of injuries. However, Robinson does have at least 4 catches in six straight games and QB Blake Bortles is becoming more comfortable under center, so I believe that I can start trusting Robinson when I don’t have a better option due to Bye weeks.

TE: ​Charles Clay (MIA) – Clay was a surprise last season with 7 TDs, but he had been MIA this season until Sunday. With the improved play of QB Ryan Tannehill, I expect more production for the remainder of the season. With Knowshon Moreno out for the rest of the season and a lack of consistent WRs behind Mike Wallace, Clay should be a bigger part of the weekly gameplan going forward. Plus, he gets Jacksonville this week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No One Wants a Tie

Well, week 6 was as baffling as the five that preceded it. The Giants reverted back to their true selves after three impressive performances, though an extremely aggressive defense had something to do with that. A Cleveland defense that had a hard time stopping Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst shut down a Pittsburgh offense that was previously somewhat dynamic. Of course, the biggest eye-opener was Dallas. I mocked their defense at the start of the year and have been proven wrong, plus it looks as though they have quit wilting under pressure. After Romo went down in the first quarter and looked iffy to return, I remarked that they would lose by 50 after Seattle blocked that punt for a TD to go up 10-0. Good thing that I was full of beers and wings at that point as a huge heaping of crow was delivered to me before I left the pub.

A few other things that stood out to me on Sunday:
  • Wang Dang No Poontang for Mike Nugent. NO kicker is perfect, just look at Detroit’s three kickers this season, but to miss like that after the offense executed a beautiful two-minute drive was devastating. Oh yeah…and it left the game at a tie which killed many Teaser bets and knocked out many Survivor Teams (ties always lose in Survivor Pools, no matter if you pick winners or losers). Loads of people were unhappy. I am sure that his teammates kept it to themselves, except for that idiot Adam Jones. Yep, the same Adam Jones that plays on defense and had multiple opportunities to stop Carolina and preserve the win long before Nugent’s big miss. I think the defense is more accountable. Back-to-back very poor performances where they rarely had their opponent punting is a bigger cause for concern than a missed field goal.
  • After the Chargers erased a 50+ yard field goal by Nick Novak due to a holding penalty, they were faced with a 4th and 35….and tried a fake punt…..that wasn’t even close. Who is running that asylum? Hell, they should have just tried another field goal if they didn’t feel like advancing the ball.
  • Speaking of field goals, Tennessee’s Prevent defense almost prevented a win as the Jaguars woke up with a late TD, onside kick and could have won the game on a field goal if it was elevated a weee bit more.
  • It was kind of cool to look up at the Arizona game and see Michael Floyd score (happiness is a return of Carson Palmer for Cardinals receivers) and a short time later to  look up at San Diego scoring with a TD pass to his brother-from-another-mother, Malcom. By the way, he is still looking for that lost “L”.
  • No one does more with less than Atlanta’s RB Antone Smith. He ripped off another long TD; 41 yards against the Bears. HOW the Falcons are not using him more baffles me more than Eli with a good game.
  • The Jets had 31 yards rushing on Sunday…with a lot of it coming towards the end of the game. They were actually in single digits early in the fourth quarter.
  • Joe Flacco had FIVE TD passes in slightly over 16 minutes on Sunday. So much for Tampa having any hope this season. Their defense is BAAAAAD and it does not reflect well on defensive-minded Lovie Smith.
  • Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Giants. Worst. Performance. Ever. To add injury on top of insult, the Giants had a TD to Larry Donnell taken off the board thanks to a holding penalty a few plays before the ill-fated pass to Victor Cruz. If they weren’t stinking the joint up so much, they would have settled for a FG instead of going for it on 4th down. Sad to see a good guy like Victor lose his season to an injury that he may never fully recover from thanks to bad New York karma.
  • Shutouts are rare in this offense-centric, defense-absent NFL but somehow a New York team has posted one in back-to-back weeks.
  • I love me some Ickey Shuffle…and so does Jeremy Hill. He paid tribute after his TD on Sunday. I still crack up every time I see that Geico commercial. Gonna get some cold cuts today!

Unfortunately, one constant about the NFL is the number of injuries that occur every week. I already mentioned Victor Cruz, but the list is long once again, especially if you include defensive players. So, owners are again scouring the waiver wire for Bye week and injury replacements. This week, we have the following:

QB: Derek Carr (OAK) - the kid looks polished and poised. I would only take a rookie QB if desperate or the matchup is right as they can disappoint as easy as they can impress. He did play well at home against a good Chargers’ defense and gets another home game this week versus Arizona.

RB: James White (NE) - this is a longer-term speculative pick up. With Steven Ridley out, Shane Vereen will get more time as will RB Brandon Bolden on a short week. However, White had a great camp and I believe that the Patriots see him as their future number 1 so this will be the trigger to start working him towards that this season.

RB: James Stewart (CAR) - he sits on almost every waiver wire and looks to be finally ready to start playing. The Panthers tried about six different backs while he and DeAngelo Williams have been hurt and none impressed. Starting RBs are tough to come by right now so it is worth a roster spot for Stewart if you need a RB.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr (NYG) – he is definitely a must-add now that Cruz is out.

WR: Andre Holmes (OAK) - he is Derek Carr’s go-to receiver and has almost 200 yards and three TDs in the past two weeks. His emergence is also helping out WR James Jones.

TE: Benjamin Watson (NO) – with Jimmy Graham out for a game or two, Watson makes the most sense as his replacement. He performed well in his time in Cleveland and is more of an offensive threat than TE Josh Hill. That being said, Hill is worthy of a pick up as well as he has found the end zone twice already this season while Jimmy Graham was playing.

TE: Jace Amaro (NYJ) – the Jets won’t completely abandon the run game every week so don’t expect 10 catches for Amaro every week, but he is now part of the weekly gameplan. Of course, he needs to lessen his Drops if he can truly be counted on, but he did show last week that he can handle the workload if called upon.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Free NFL Week 6 Picks

How easy was that Cleveland moneyline winner last week?! At halftime of the first games, I thought that there was no way that I would lose the Bears game and definitely no way I would win the Browns game. How wrong I was, but that is today's NFL....unpredictable. Somehow, we have avoided the upset in our Survivor pools, but each week gets a bit tougher in standard, non-reuse pools. Below is our slate for this week.


Denver (-9) at New York Jets - It looks as if the Jets are finally benching Geno Smith and giving Michael Vick a chance. I don't see it making a difference. After the Broncos were trounced by Seattle in Metlife Stadium in the Super Bowl, they want to leave with happy memories of this game and will do so with ease. It is a big number, but the Jets don't have the defense to slow down the Broncos onslaught and don't have the offense to score with Denver. Play Denver in the first half at -6 for 7 units and in the game at -9 for 10 units.

Atlanta vs. Chicago O53.5 - this is a big total but these two teams have the offense and lack of defense to easily surpass it. The Georgia Dome will yield at least 4 TDs to each squad on Sunday and fantasy owners of either QB or WRs will have their stats stuffed by this game. I believe Atlanta will win this game and cover the 3.5, but I am sticking with the Total. Play the first half O27 for 7 units and the O53.5 for 8 units.

Minnesota (ML) vs. Detroit - The Lions are a bit banged up with Megatron possibly out and Reggie Bush missing practice. Minnesota and Teddy Bridgewater have had 10 days to rest and put the debacle at Green Bay behind them. They are returning home and catching the Lions at the right time. I expect a performance closer to the Atlanta game than the Green Bay game this weekend and for the Vikings to jumble the NFC North a bit more with a win. Play Minnesota to win straight-up for 6 units at +110.

San Diego (-7) at Oakland - I am not making the same mistake twice. I thought the line last week was way off versus the Jets and I stayed away since I thought I was missing something. I expected that line to be 10 points. Man, I walked away from loads of easy money. Oakland is terrible and a coaching change won't help them. I have seen the Chargers struggle on the road at Oakland before, but that won't happen on Sunday. Play San Diego for 8 units and happily give the TD.

6-point Teaser Of The Week (3-to-1 odds) for 2 units
  • Cincy -1
  • Minny +7.5
  • Denver -3
  • Tampa +9

Survivor Pick: Cincinnati

Season record
  • Sides   3-4  (-9.2 units)
  • Overs    3-5 (-10.8 units)
  • Parlay   0-3  (-6.0 units)
  • Teaser   1-3 (+0.0 units)
  • Moneyline 3-2  (+13.5 units)