As if there wasn't enough to think about after the rash of injuries on display during Week 2, fantasy managers have been busy hitting the waiver wire rushing to patch up their lineups. You are now probably familiar with players like Myles Gaskin, Keelan Cole, and Dalton Schultz by now after your research this past week. But someone possibly being overlooked at this point in the season isn't even on an NFL roster currently.
The now infamous, Antonio Brown, is currently serving an 8 game suspension that may be extended at the discretion of Roger Goodell pending any new evidence against the future hall of fame receiver. But because of the rapid rate that we are seeing players go down this year, there are Super Bowl contenders that are seeing their opportunity slipping away after only two weeks of play.
Although there is no guarantee that Brown will be signed by a team this year, it may be worth the risk for some of the following teams to explore. If you're a fantasy manager that has lost someone like Courtland Sutton for the season, or that has stock in a player such as Julio Jones whose hamstring injury may keep him out of the lineup periodically throughout the season, Brown's status will be of interest to you starting around Week 6.
One of the more obvious places for Brown to go would be Denver as they have lost their star receiver, Sutton, for the season. However, it's unlikely that John Elway and Vic Fangio would sign off on bringing a personality like Brown in considering they shouldn't be competing for a playoff spot this season.
Including IR & PUP players, #49ers enter Week 3 without..... QB Jimmy Garropolo RB Raheem Mostert RB Tevin Coleman… https://t.co/T7Am7jeJr8— NFL Update (@NFL Update)1601056079.0
New Orleans is an organization that has had ties to AB in the past and Michael Thomas' status is in doubt, but due to a bit of a nasty fallout from that initial contact the two sides had, this is also a very unlikely union.
An immediate thought brings you to San Francisco as they have been among the hardest hit by the injury bug, dating back to training camps over the summer. While losing Nick Bosa for the season to a torn ACL will greatly affect their defense, the good news for the 49ers are that they are expecting both Deebo Samuel and George Kittle to return around Week 4. This would make AB an afterthought for a team still focused on running the ball.
Here are the three landing spots for Antonio Brown that I think are most likely to happen.
As Aaron Rodgers has started off the season with an efficient 604 passing yards and 6 touchdowns to 0 interceptions, we have been reminded of how good this guy has been with little talent around him. If not for running back Aaron Jones, the Packers may not have gotten off to their hot start as Davante Adams was slowed by a hamstring injury in Week 2.
Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling haven't quite risen to the occasion when given the chance to establish themselves as a second receiving option in this offense. Instead, Jones looks to be the second best reviving option for the Packers.
Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Getty Images
The Green Bay front office and coaching staff had taken criticism in the offseason by not adding any significant weapons for Rodgers after reaching the NFC Championship game last year. Rather, they opted to draft a quarterback and running back with their first two picks.
Adding Brown to put opposite a healthy Davante Adams would wreak havoc on opposing defenses. It would allow Aaron Jones and the play action passing game to be even more deadly, and would provide Aaron Rodgers a reliable second option. Rodgers window to win another Super Bowl is not closed, but it is getting to be a smaller opening every year. This move could be made if Green Bay feels it puts them over the top this year.
Poor Deshaun Watson and the Texans had to come into this season without Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins after he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson. On top of that they began the 2020 campaign against two Super Bowl contenders in Kansas City and Baltimore, both resulting in losses, and in Week 3 face the rejuvenated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brandin Cooks appears to have established himself as Watson's new primary target and Jordan Akins has supplanted Darren Fells as their top option at tight end. But for a team that seemed so close to competing for the AFC Championship last season, the cupboard feels a little bare for Deshaun.
Texans have shown ‘The most interest’ in AB The Houston Texans have reportedly been the “most active” team in purs… https://t.co/lKqzkgCBKB— NFL News (@NFL News)1601043979.0
Adding someone like Brown will depend on whether they can get some wins before the halfway point in the season. As with anyone who would consider Brown this season, they will need to be competing for a playoff spot, but also needing the extra help at receiver that AB would provide to get them there. If Houston can position themselves to still be competing for the AFC South they would fit that description.
The Eagles are in a similar spot as Houston, starting out 0-2 on the season falling short of preseason expectations. But nobody could've predicted just how bad Philadelphia would look these first two weeks. Carson Wentz has been pressured early and often behind a beat up offensive line that has included injuries to Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, and Jason Kelce already.
The receiving group was supposed to be trending up with the healthy returns of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson to combine with speedy rookie Jalen Reagor. All three head into Week 3 on the injury report, and Reagor headed to the IR unlikely to return before Week 10.
Wentz has been one of the better quarterbacks in the league since being drafted in 2016. This season has not been kind to Wentz though, and through two weeks he is one of the worst QBs in the league according to QBR (quarterback rating) ranking 32nd in the NFL.
"Through two weeks of this season, who has been the worst quarterback in the NFL? A pretty compelling case could be… https://t.co/vcg3t5upq7— Get Up (@Get Up)1600960020.0
Philadelphia was certainly a favorite in the NFC to compete heading into 2020, and will not give up on winning just because of injuries. If this abomination of a season continues though, people's jobs may be at risk, including Doug Pederson's. Coaches that have their backs against the wall will often step outside of their decision making comfort zone, and for Pederson that may include reaching out to AB for help.
By getting a receiver with Brown's speed and route running ability would relieve a lot of pressure off of Carson Wentz by providing him someone that will reliably be open and will come down with the ball in tight coverage. He could be the difference in legitimizing the Eagles passing attack and help to carry them to the playoffs in the second half of this season.
We know Brown can come into a new organization and perform well on short notice after his one game performance with the Patriots last year that included a touchdown. While a lot has happened since then involving Brown, the talent he possesses is still elite. I predict he will be playing on an NFL roster before this season is over and if you're a savvy fantasy manager you will be monitoring this situation.
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.