1) "Wild Dog" Richard Sherman may go Rick Grimes and bite a female reporter rather than scream at her during post game interview
2) LeGarrette Blount primed to sucker punch another player in front of a Super Bowl audience
3) Jeremy Lane may require skin grafts after getting torched by NFL fantasy stud Rob Gronkowski
4) Aaron Hernandez will be watching the Super Bowl with the “Sisters Gang” from Shawshank
5) NFL player news: Richard Sherman will sip another sweet and juicy Adderall cocktail during pre-game warmups
6) Bill Belichick will finally show off his Gisele Bundchen tattoo
7) Belichick may implicate Brady regarding the circumstances around his Gisele tattoo
8) The Patriots could have played with deflated ping pong balls and beaten the Colts by 30
9) Ravens coach John Harbaugh will sing "Tears on my Pillow" during halftime with Katy Perry
10) LeGarrette Blunt – Smoking blunts, getting fantasy football stud Le’Veon Bell busted and busting out for the Patriots
Say what you want about Deflate-Gate or Seattle needing the stars to align for their overtime victory against Green Bay, because the two best teams in the NFL are playing in the Superbowl and it should be one hell of a game. It really is a match-up between the Unstoppable Force meets the Immovable Object. New England has been on a role since their sluggish 2-2 start and Seattle hasn't lost a game since Week 10.
There are tons of juicy match-ups, playoff fantasy football impact, and story lines to talk about so let's take a deeper look into what will decide this game and who might come out on top.
New England has been the most dominant team in the NFL since the turn of the century and Tom Brady will be looking for his fourth ring in six appearances. He will have to knock off the defending champs and the new kid on the block, Russell Wilson. Wilson is 10-0 against Superbowl winning quarterbacks and is starting to become the "New Tom Brady". Brady will be facing one of the best defenses in recent history and Wilson will have to create success against a Belichick defense that will do everything in their power to eliminate the ground game from both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
The X Factor in this game is Rob Gronkowski. Both teams have Superbowl-Winning quarterbacks, excellent defenses, power running games and reliable kickers, but there is only one Gronk. Seattle has had a history of shutting down premier tight ends, but Antonio Gates burned them for three touchdowns earlier this season and Gates is no Gronk. Gronk is a nightmare for opposing defenses and will get some one-on-one opportunities if New England can find some success on the ground.
Seattle's formula all year has been to pound the rock with Beast Mode and let Wilson make some plays with his feet on play action. New England's game plan will be to eliminate Beast Mode, prevent Wilson from making big plays on the ground and force Wilson to beat New England with his arm from the pocket. New England has the talent to make this happen but Beast Mode has made a living of making big plays and Wilson only needs one big play to light up the scoreboard.
In NFL player news, the main advantages I see are Gronk and Belichick for New England and Seattle's All-World safeties of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas for Seattle. I see a really low scoring game for roughly three quarters (bad for playoff NFL fantasy players) and then a few late touchdowns for both teams (good for playoff NFL fantasy players). I see New England winning this one on a late field goal.
It should be a great game, February 1st can't come soon enough.
This year's rookie NBA class seemed to have only a few bright spots in Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, but the overall talent level of the group seems to be ever increasing. Wiggins should be a lock for Rookie of the Year with Parker falling victim to a torn ACL, but there are some other players who have certainly had significant impacts on their respective squads.
Looking at big men, 20-year-old Jusuf Nurkic has really developed into a solid force for the Denver Nuggets. His role will only continue to grow with Timofey Mozgov now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though his 6.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG don't jump out at you, one must take into consideration how much he has improved, and his potential to continue to grow and develop into something special. Nurkic has struggled very recently, failing to reach double digits in both scoring and rebounding because he keeps finding himself in foul trouble. Before the fouling issues began, he transforming into a dominant force down low right before our eyes. From late December to early January, he averaged 12.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks over a six-game span. Look for Nurkic to get back on track as the starting center for the Nuggets, as he has little competition for minutes at the position. His potential ceiling is pretty high, especially in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage.
Elfrid Payton is without a doubt the best passer out of the rookie class and is quickly becoming a game-changer for the Orlando Magic. He's demonstrated the potential to spread the ball around earlier on this year, but has really played at a high level as of late. During his last four games, Payton has averaged 16.5 points, 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. The only concerning statistic lies in turnovers, as the rookie point guard has also seen a rise in that area, turning the ball over 13 times in his last 3 games. Payton should see more action as he has shown flashes of greatness, as he looks to help lead this young Magic team to the playoffs (Magic are currently 3.5 games back from the 8 seed in the East). Payton should end the season leading all rookies in assists per game, and hopefully he can keep the turnovers down.
The appeal of Andrew Wiggins is very simple, he can do it all. He has proven his explosive 5-stat potential production and has current highs at 31 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals (personal records in scoring, assists and blocks completed in the same game). The number one overall pick has a unique set of skills, as he can score from anywhere on the floor, ranging from threes to driving to the hoop. Look for his scoring numbers to be consistently decent (around 18-20 points per game) as he gains confidence and becomes more acclimated to the NBA. He's quick enough to beat his man with dribble penetration and if he and his teammates begin to build rapport, he should get assists when they make strategic cuts to the basket. His rebounding numbers may settle around 5-6 per game, especially with the eventual return of Nikola Pekovic, but his assists and steals should increase slightly in the latter half of the season. He is becoming not only one of the best rookies, but one of the better NBA players in the league. Definitely a great fantasy NBA play.
Keep reading ASL for the best fantasy basketball news around!
There's plenty of conjecture as to why the Seahawks were able to come back from a 16-point deficit, but the answer really is NOT so terribly complicated. The Packers 16-point lead should have been much been at least a 20-point lead and Pete Carroll had halftime to correct what was going so terribly wrong.
All Seattle had to do was score one touchdown (which they did) and they were right back in the game.
Green Bay squandered two goal line changes at the beginning of the game and settled for field goals. The bottom line is, Green Bay didn't play to win, they played NOT to lose and it cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.
This game should not be a down fall for the proud Green Bay franchise what so ever. As long as the great Aaron Rodgers is healthy and they can keep most of their weapons – the Packers should have no problem being Super Bowl contenders yet again next season.
Aaron Rodgers would like to play for 10 more years, but that’s not as simple as it seems – just ask Brett Favre. None-the-less, Rodgers has at least 5 to 7 more years in his prime, seeing that he is only 31 years old. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are Rodger’s favorite weapons in his repertoire. Nelson is a non-issue this off-season as he signed a 4-year contract extension during the early days of last training camp. The main priority for the Pack will be to sign Nelson’s running mate Randall Cobb.
It will be interesting to see how much cash the Packers will divvy up to Randall Cobb, because you can bet Cobb and his agent will use Nelson’s contract as a measuring stick. Like Aaron Rogers once said, “R-E-L-A-X.” Just because the Packers lost the NFC championship game brutally to the Seattle Seahawks, doesn’t mean that the franchise will take a nose dive into the ground.
The Packers will always be in playoff contention as long as Rodgers is at the wheel. We can also note that Green Bay shouldn't need any motivation for next season after their NFC Championship Game breakdown.
After upsetting the Denver Broncos, the Colts will look to do so again as they head to New England to take on the Patriots. The Pats were nearly beaten by a surging Ravens offense a week ago, and will be tested once again by Andrew Luck and his high-powered offensive attack.
The Patriots seem destined to make it to the Super Bowl once again and it's hard to see the young and inexperienced Luck getting in their way. The former number 1 overall pick has gone 0-3 against the Pats in his career, losing by a combined score of 144-66 in those contests. The two teams only met once this season, and the Colts lost 42-20 at home as Jonas Gray rushed for 214 yards and 4 TDs. Expect to see a similar outcome in the final score, but the means of scoring should differ greatly.
The Colts defense finished the season ranked 18th in allowing 113.4 rushing yards per game, and the Pats should be able to run them into the ground. Earlier in the season, Gray exploded in a breakout performance, but his role has been reduced significantly since that Week 11 meeting. LeGarrette Blount has begun to receive more of a workload, and should be able to find the end zone, in addition to around 50 rushing yards.
As for the passing game, Indy was more successful in giving up just 229.3 passing yards per game this season, ranking 12th in the category. However, Tom Brady's postseason experience should allow him to find success against this difficult opponent. Expect Brady to overcome this tough matchup through use of his TE Rob Gronkowski, as well as his lesser targets in Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Gronk should be a lock for at least 10 targets, turning that into 90-100 yards and at least 1 touchdown. In addition to Gronk, hopefully Amendola can keep up his high level of play as he erupted for 81 yards and 2 TDs on 5 receptions in last week's victory. He should see plenty of action in slot routes across the middle, and secure at least a few catches for around 40-60 yards. QB Tom Brady should turn in another solid performance of at least 300 yards and 2-3 TDs in an easy win.
The toughest part for the Patriots will be limiting Andrew Luck and company, as their defense was not too good against the pass this season. New England finished the season ranked 17th in allowing 239.8 passing yards per contest, and they will really have to be on their game to slow down the Colts. Luck has solid targets in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Hakeem Nicks, and former college teammate Coby Fleener at his disposal, and it will be more than difficult to shut them all down at once.
Luck has shown the ability to extend plays outside the pocket with his legs, so New England will have to be diligent in its approach to stopping them even after it seems as if the play is over. The Colts have been pretty successful in running the ball through use of tailback Boom Herron, and they will also have to try and limit his impact, as he gets it done when it counts. The Patriots ranked 9th this year in allowing 104.3 rushing yards per game, and should be able to limit his effectiveness. Expect Andrew Luck to have a solid game in terms of yards and touchdowns, but to also turn the ball over a couple times in a hostile Foxborough environment, against a well-experienced Patriots football team.
It's Championship Game weekend and the NFC match-up has all the ingredients you could ask for as an NFL fan. Seattle and its #1 ranked defense will host Green Bay's #1 ranked offense. it's a rematch of the Week 1 contest that ended up as a 36-16 win for Seattle. Many things have changed since then, so let's take a look at the keys to the game and predict who should come out on top.
What's changed since Week 1? On Seattle's side, not much at all. The Legion of Boom is better than ever and Russell Wilson keeps making big plays when his team needs him the most. The only weakness in their game is the fact that they don't have a wide receiver or tight end who "scares" opposing defenses.
Green Bay has changed for the better. Eddie Lacy has hit his stride and has been averaging almost 100 yard per game on the ground since Week 12. Lacy was not existent in Week 1 where he only had 12 carries for 34 yards and left the game early with a concussion. Rookie wide receiver Devante Adams has emerged as a legitimate #3 option in the passing game which will help since Seattle does not have much depth in their secondary. All these positive changes are great for Green Bay but their team MVP and likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers won't be playing at full strength as he continues to be bothered with a calf injury he suffered in Week 17.
While Rodgers and the Packers made enough plays to win on Sunday, Seattle's defense has made a habit of completely shutting down the best offenses the NFL has to offer. Rodgers made some great plays against the Cowboys but he never really escaped from the pocket and made a big play down the field that he seems to make every other week. Given Rodgers health and Green Bay's sub-par defense, I don't see this game being close.
Green Bay will hopefully keep things close in the first half, but if Seattle can establish a run game, Russell Wilson will be able to make big plays with his arm and legs on play action passes and if Green Bay has even one turnover, things could get ugly. Even with Rodgers being fully healthy I still think Seattle would win this game by a touchdown but without Rodgers being able to extend plays with his legs, I see Seattle looking to repeat against either the Colts on Patriots on February 1st.
After missing his last 9 games tending to his knee and back, LeBron James returned to the court Tuesday night and Kevin Love looked lost on the court. After racking up five straight monster double-doubles with James on the sidelines, Love played just 27 minutes, shooting just 3-of-11 and grabbing 9 boards. Not a bad performance, but a shadow of what he's been up to since the start of the month.
Love, fantasy NBA stud, had really elevated his level of play as of late as he has had full control of the Cavs offense, but his role is already on the decline and he could easily become just another spot up shooter.
The Cavaliers had gone 1-8 in LeBron's absence, but the one bright spot had been Kevin Love's play. Love really turned it on after a slow start in his first year in Cleveland, averaging 23.4 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1 steal for a five game span, but that quickly came to an end Tuesday night. Coach Blatt decided to stick with a smaller lineup down the stretch and Love was benched for the entirety of the 4th quarter. His defense is a liability, and when his offensive game doesn't look strong, his weakness on the other side of the court really comes out. His lack of defense led to Suns F Markieff Morris reaching his career high in putting up 35 points in what should have been a win for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland was unable to beat the Phoenix Suns despite a major game from LeBron in his return, as well as a solid performance from newcomer J.R. Smith, simply because Kevin Love couldn't get himself involved. With a healthy Cavs team, Love serves as a barometer to represent how the team is playing as a whole and he must learn to put up numbers without being the focus of the team's offense.
In the immediate future, expect Kevin Love to struggle to find his role on a new team with subpar chemistry, but he should be able to grow into a decent role as a 17-20 point scorer with 10-12 rebounds per game as he gets more acclimated to the offense. He will need to work on his spot up shooting as that is where he will receive the bulk of his looks in LeBron's offense, but he can definitely succeed with these limitations. It also seems as though Coach David Blatt is unable to handle his team of high profile NBA players, and will most likely be on his way out in the weeks to come. Hopefully they bring in a coach who can deal with a team of stars in Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love, and Love should benefit from the change significantly.
For the latest fantasy basketball news, stay tuned to ASL!
QB Fantasy Football News -
Denver's general manager John Elway got right to the heart of the matter when he spoke to reporters today, he absolutely wants fantasy QB stud Peyton Manning back to the lead the Broncos next season.
The Broncos have been consistently great in the regular season during the past three seasons, but have not met expectations when it comes to the playoffs. It's obvious that Elway and the rest of the front office want the man who continues to battle father time back on their team come next season. Even if the 38-year-old Peyton Manning isn’t at his best physical state, he still is better than 80% of the quarterbacks in the NFL.
So let’s get down to the main questions at hand, will Manning return and should he return? It was just revealed to the public that Manning has been playing with a torn right quadriceps. However, it's still clear that Manning and the Broncos are not the same team in the playoffs as they are in the regular season. During his career, Manning has lost his first playoff game an astonishing 9 times.
Despite this fact, Manning is still getting to the playoffs and both teams he's played for (IND & DEN) have been nothing but competitive. There's still some unfinished business and an ample amount of drive from Peyton and the Broncos to get that monkey off their back and win a Super Bowl.
Manning has been in the league for 17 years and should have at least one more year in the tank left. His style of play, where he sits in the pocket and gets the ball out of his hands quick, makes it harder for opponents to lay big hits on the 38-year-old.
Manning should get ample rest during the off-season and even be limited in OTAs and the pre-season – similar to how the Vikings handled Brett Favre when he had his two year tender in Minnesota. Manning should be able to withstand playing at least one more full year in the NFL, even with this new quadriceps injury and father time looking over his shoulder. Hopefully he can stay out of the injury QB news this season.
Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for recent QB fantasy news.
Well, this seems boring, but I think you’ll agree in the genius of it by the end of this piece…
One of the NFL trends I enjoy is the coaching carrousel, selfishly, so I can research coaches who I was not as familiar with—and trying to figure out their impact on their new team/FF. It’s like a fun little puzzle to tinker with. No puzzle here with the Bills. Do I really even need to write this piece about Rex and the Bills? Is there anyone on the planet with a different take on his impact?
Of course, the easy thing to do is go…”Well, the Bills had an awesome defense…and Rex Ryan is a defensive genius…so now the Bills defense will be even better.” You know this because the Jets allowed 31 TDs/6 INTs on 64.1% Comp. Pct. through the air last season—one of the worst, if not thee worst, pass defenses in the league.
I’ll admit that Rex is a great defensive coach, and we all thought the Bills-DST would already be pretty nice for 2015…so now we still do, I guess. Nothing new here.
We all felt that E.J. Manuel was a joke and was never close to the list of top fantasy sleeper picks. Some of you thought he just ‘needed coaching’, because you’re insane…or you’re the Bills GM reading this. EJM is Geno Smith bad…and we see how delightful Rex was with Geno. Don’t worry, Bills fans! Rumor has it the guy who was the O-C for Colin Kaepernick—the one who coached him into three-years of regression is on the way to fix EJM. Get those playoff tickets ready.
This is the fresh start the new ownership is bringing in?
This is the best the Bills President and GM could do—their elbows firmly on the pulse of the up-and-coming coaches? My assumption would be: The Bills President and the GM have one more year until never being in those roles again in their lives—unless they pull off a terrific 2015. Rex Ryan gives them a guy with some track record of walking and making an instant ‘rah-rah’ shift, and who has been able to take great defenses with junk QBs to the doorstep of the Super Bowl instantly—and we all should respect that. Rex is also not afraid of New England, and has shown an ability to hang with the Pats—that’s key for the Bills too. For one year, one game, Rex is terrific…over a five-year period, he is suspect. At some point, talent acquisition and offensive coaching have to come into play.
Really, like most things, it comes down to QB. The Bills don’t have one. There is likely no QB savior in the draft. Unless the Bills find a QB, then all the defensive enthusiasm won’t matter.
Whatever you thought of the 2014 NY Jets…think the same of the ‘new’ Buffalo Bills (even if Jay Cutler is the QB)—great defense, bad offense, 8-8 record…plus or minus a win. Always formidable, but not a dynasty in the making.
That is a generic evaluation of the team with Rex. The more immediate, critical thing to consider: The gift of the 2015 schedule. You’ll see what I mean in the next section…
**See the 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft & Team Builder, with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to http://advancedsportslogic.com/products/dynasty-rookie-draft?ref=blog **
Fantasy players impacted by the Rex Ryan hiring…
Best Fantasy Football Keepers -
— I am a little giddy of what this might mean for Bryce Brown. I think Rex Ryan is a realist. I also believe he can change troubled players from troubled to bad-asses. Once Ryan gets a load of Bryce Brown—it could be a Fantasy match made in heaven. The coach who loves the run the ball, a coach who will have to run the ball, has three-choices (today): aging Fred Jackson, tugboat Anthony Dixon, and the potential next Adrian Peterson—Bryce Brown.
If Brown has a prayer left in the NFL/FF…this is the best thing that could have happened. I assume (from public and private sources) that Doug Marrone and the GM and President fought like cats and dogs. Marrone willing to do anything to spite management…Bryce was management’s guy. Bryce MAY have been a pawn in that (or Bryce makes his own bed…). They traded for Brown in the offseason, but Marrone kept Bryce inactive most of the season–and when Spiller-FJax went down, Marrone turned to something calling itself ‘Boobie’. This may be Bryce’s best, and last chance.
— Every year of the Rex Ryan era in New York was a disaster in the passing game. He has an awful QB situation today in Buffalo—it’s hard to envision Sammy Watkins is going to a next level, but he will get heavy targeting…it just may not be catchable. I think Rex and Sammy have a Clemson connection over the past few years as well. I expect Sammy to get enough touches to be plausible, but he likely cannot go to the next-level because of the QB. However…
I assume the Bills will also look for a new QB for right now…the Bills-2015 are much like the Oakland Raiders-2014. Everyone is under employment pressure, and they will sell their soul to win now…the future be damned. Thus, you trade for, and pay heavily for, Matt Schaub. The Bills are going to trade for Schaub…figuratively. They need a one-year ‘fix’, and Jay Cutler makes a lot of sense. Cutler + Watkins is exciting-ish. Cousins + Watkins = a tragic FF-comedy.
— You might get excited for the Bills-DST, one of the better NFL fantasy sleepers, for 2015, not just because of Rex, but because the schedule kinda lends itself to a run that the Texans had this year. A so-so team with an awesome schedule. The Bills will get the Jets 2x, but also has JAC, TEN, WAS. There are five wins already built in. If they split with Miami, they might just have to win three of the other nine games on the schedule to get another winning season on record. What if the Bills second Patriots matchup is in Week-17…and it doesn’t matter to New England (same as this year when Buffalo beat them Week-17)?
Because of the schedule, Buffalo should be a playoff contender in 2015…like this past season. Which makes the Rex hiring make a ton of sense, even if it doesn’t make a bigger picture sense to all of us. The 2015 schedule is begging for the Bills to go 9-7 again. If they do, Rex and friends will be painted as genius.
…if they flameout with this schedule…’oh, my’.
– R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM
The Ravens and Patriots have developed a tough rivalry and this playoff game should exhibit just that. Both teams had impressive defensive units this season, and their high-profile quarterbacks will have to play their best to avoid failure in the search to advance to the AFC Championship game.
For New England, the game plan should be rather simple. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady LOVES the cold weather and it's expected to be in teens at kickoff in Foxborough. The Ravens defense is notorious for causing mayhem, but their pass defense was uncharacteristically inadequate this season, ranking 23rd in allowing 248.7 passing yards per contest.
Brady's targets aren't that impressive, except for the monster he utilizes quite frequently in TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is the best tool a quarterback could ask for, as a 6'6" freak of nature with speed and great hands, and has been Brady's go-to guy for quite some time. Gronkowski had another impressive season, securing 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, and ended the season scoring a touchdown in each of his last 3 games.
Expect Gronk to be a major factor, and to go off on a weak Ravens secondary, racking up at least 75 yards and a touchdown in what should be an entertaining game. Brady's two near 1,000 yard receivers in Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman will look to make contributions as well, and one of them should definitely find the end zone as Tom Brady should put up at least 3 touchdowns in a dominant performance.
Though the Ravens pass defense struggled through the season, their rush defense did quite the opposite. LeGarrette Blount, Jonas, Gray, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden will struggle as Baltimore's elite rush defense ended the season ranked 4th in giving up 88.3 rushing yards per contest, making the passing attack that much more important. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will continue to wreak havoc, making advancing the ball through use of the run game much more difficult than New England is used to. Don't expect more than 50-60 yards from any of the Pats tailbacks, and they shouldn't reach the end zone except for a possible goal line attack.
The Patriots will have to excel in the passing game to compensate for what will be a tough rushing game, but the Ravens offense will have to be balanced and effective in both facets. QB Joe Flacco will be facing a Patriots defense that ranked 17th this season in giving up 239.8 passing yards per contest, which should not be too tough a task. The former Super Bowl champion is coming off his best season, setting career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27), and should look to build off his stellar year.
Flacco has a very talented group of targets at his disposal in WRs Steve Smith and Torrey Smith, and TE Owen Daniels, and should look to spread the wealth in this contest. Expect Flacco to continue his characteristically elite postseason form, and attempt to carry the Ravens to an upset in Foxborough. Flacco will have to keep it simple and live with more short passes than he's used to, as New England's secondary features superb talent in cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Expect Torrey Smith to get some extra looks across the middle on shorter throws, and for Flacco to put up 2-3 touchdowns in yet another solid playoff performance.
As for the running game, the Ravens face an above average rushing defense, as the Patriots ranked 9 in allowing 104.3 rushing yards per game, but they can't abandon the run in this one. Baltimore RB Justin Forsett easily had his most effective season in 2014, as he rushed 235 times for 1,266 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 8 touchdowns, eclipsing 100 yards 5 times. The Pats have been solid against the run, but Forsett helped them get to where they are with his spectacular play, and they will need him to be successful in order to take down the big bad Patriots. Expect Forsett to receive close to 20 total touches, possibly picking up around 60-70 yards from scrimmage, as the Patriots narrowly escape the Ravens in a one-possession win.