Author: Chuck White

When will the Hawks be considered a real threat?

We’re still fresh into the season but once again the Hawks are in the top of the standings. But can they keep this up to extend their playoff hopes?

Last season the Hawks won 60 games, but were never quite considered a threat to make the Finals (affirming that in the season ending sweep to Cleveland). With their best defended, Carroll, taking more money in Toronto, a step back was assumed to be on the horizon.

Last season they ran an offense that was similar to the Spurs, but could be shut down in the playoffs. You could tell during all three series that it wasn’t the same team. That problem still exists but hopefully for them, to a lesser extent.

Adding Splitter in an offseason trade has opened up the second unit even more than a successful 2014 did. He’s a big asset to their overall defense and is one of the leagues more underrated defenders.

Last season he ranked second in the NBA in low-post defense. He’s also great at pick and rolls and while Teague continues good play, third-year German player Dennis Schroder is a difference maker to watch. Splitter is a great passer from the block or elbow, fitting in with the offense and what Millsap and Horford can do perfectly.

Add him to the long list of great role players the Hawks have.

458768498_0

via nba.com

Schroder leads the second unit and could be a candidate for 6th man of the Year. He will see even more playing time as we get farther through the year, especially now that Atlanta’s focus should be to keep everyone healthy for a spring run.

So are they a better team than last year?

Well, Kent Bazemore is stepping in the starting lineup just fine, average almost 12 points per game and holding his own on the defensive end. And if he’s not enough they have Thabo Shefolosha back and ready to lock down the opposing team’s best player. They will take a step back in the loss column, but likely finish in the top three in the east.

Are they going to be taken seriously when in comes playoff time?

Probably no more than last year. It’s almost the same for any team without a standout star player who can carry a team when nothing else is working.

As for the regular season, they lead the league in assists but aren’t in the top half of defense or rebounding through the first couple of weeks. This is only going to strengthen the case that another playoff flameout is on the way.

Featured image via Twitter

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2015 NFL midseason awards

As we hit Week 9 there are still four undefeated teams and still a bunch of teams in complete disarray. These were my first quarter awards, with some hits and some misses.

The Miami Dolphins turnaround was a surprise, even though it was only against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans so we’ll see what happens. The Baltimore Ravens still haven’t lost a game by more than one score, but it’s too late for them. I’ll take another go at it with some 2015 NFL midseason awards.

MVP: Tom Brady

It almost has to be Brady, considering the fact that Rodger’s has fell back down to earth. He leads the league in TD passes and is second in yards. They will be favorites in every game.

Next Coach To Get Fired: Jim Tomsula

In the first quarter awards I said Jim Caldwell should’ve been fired, but they put the blame on their offensive coordinator and then got killed in London the week after. The Titans just fired head coach Ken Wisenhunt and the Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. I don’t think anymore midseason firings will happen so that leaves who will get fired right after the season. My best bet would be Jim Tomsula of the 49ers. He doesn’t seem like a 2-year coach and they should completely clean house there.

Unless Blaine Gabbert brings them back to li-hahahahaHAHAHAHA

Best Performance: Drew Brees

Brees’ 500 plus yards and seven touchdowns takes the cake. Eli Manning threw six touchdowns but that wasn’t enough. That’s all that needs to be said.

Biggest Injury for Team’s Hopes: Tony Romo

The Le’veon Bell injury is giant, but Williams will fill in good enough for him to go along with all the other pieces. What’s clear is that the Cowboys won’t win a game until Romo comes back. Bryant came back but with no quarterback it can only help so much. They are probably out of the playoff picture already.

Starting QB who won’t be one next season: Sam Bradford

Peyton Manning might retire and Kaepernick is already benched but the Eagle’s starting QB has looked bad throughout the year. Many, including me, thought that Bradford would thrive in Chip Kelly’s system. He has done anything but that besides maybe one good half of football all season. I think the Eagles have to replace him and it’s hard to see him winning a starting job somewhere else in the offseason.

Team Over .500 That Will Miss the Playoffs: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings sit at 5-2, not having any impressive wins. Bridgewater looks like a game manager and his six touchdown passes through seven games back that up. Yes, Peterson is having a good comeback year and the defense is pretty good. But with two games against Green Bay, one against Denver and the though part of the NFC West, they won’t win 10 games this season.

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Week 9 fantasy football: Start ’em and sit ’em

A whopping six teams are on a bye this week. (Six!)

Add that in with the massive amount of injuries that took place last week and you’re team may need some outside help. What if you have some Indianapolis Colts and you can’t afford to sit them this week when they play Denver? Luckily there are some good waiver wire adds out there this week.

Start ‘Em

QB: Jameis Winston

via Tampabay.com

via Tampabay.com

Winston has steadily improved each week and dramatically cut down on his turnovers. He’s had 19 points in back to back weeks after his bye and looked a whole lot more comfortable. This week he faces a Giant’s defense that just allowed seven TD passes.

QB: Tyrod Taylor

Taylor is back after battling that sprained MCL and ready to continue to be one of the top fantasy QBs. The Dolphins defense is greatly improved since their coaching change, but Taylor should rack up enough yards with his legs to increase his point total.

RB: DeAngelo Williams

via.sportsworldreport.com

via.sportsworldreport.com

Williams filled in very effectivly for Le’veon Bell at the start of they year, even leading the NFL in rushing after two weeks. Last week after Bell was out he also looked good with a 55-yard run. Chances are he continues that pace and is one of the better backs in fantasy.

RB: Jeremy Langford

Filling in for the injured Matt Forte, Langford will get his share of touches and they will all come this Monday night against an injury-depleted Charger’s team. He’s not as much as a threat to catch passes as Forte but he is a big back and one that will see all the goal-line work.

WR: Malcom Floyd

I’m going with Floyd over Stevie Johnson simply based on his big-play tendencies he’s had the last few weeks. Either way, each will see a dramatic increase in targets with Keenan Allen out for the season. Floyd gets more red-zone targets than Jonson does though. They are also playing the Bears who are prone to giving up passing TDs.

WR: Willie Snead

Snead caught two of Brees’ seven touchdown passes last week and was second on the team in targets. Brandon Cooks has had a disappointing year but Snead is becoming a favorite of Drew Brees. This week against the Titans he should get his chances.

TE: Benjamin Watson

The same goes for Watson against the Titans. Two out of his last three games have been over 18 points and the one in the middle he did haul in 50 yards. He is for real in the Saint’s offense and will be a big part of it throughout the season.

Sit ‘Em

QB: Andrew Luck

via bleacherrepport.com

via bleacherrepport.com

Luck is going through a tumultuous season that is probably going to get rougher going against the number one defense in the NFL. The Broncos defense held Aaron Rodgers to an incredible 77 passing yards last Sunday. Not much else needs to be said.

QB: Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater only has two games over 15 points this season. Against a Ram’s defense that’s also one of the best in the NFL that’s not likely to change.

RB: Frank Gore

via si.com

via si.com

Not only does the Broncos defense shut down passing games, they stuff the run just as well. Gore hasn’t had a really great fantasy year, although he’s racked up some yards recently he only has two games over ten points.

RB: Eddie Lacy

Lacy is in a complete timeshare in the Green Bay backfield with James Starks at this point in the season. It’s somewhat of a surprise given his production over the past two seasons but those didn’t carry over to this season at all. The Panthers are solid against the run so he faces another touch matchup as well.

WR: Allen Robinson

Last week Revis faced up against Amari Cooper and held him in check (even though Crabtree had a big game across from him), this week he will likely be faced with Allen Robinson. The Jets still haven’t allowed 300 yards total all year to teams opposing number one receivers. Some Jags may put up stats but it’s not likely Robinson will.

WR: T.Y. Hilton

Hilton is the third Colt to make the sit em’ side, and for good reason. It’s very hard to imagine the Colts turning themselves around against a defense as good as the Broncos.

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Week 8 fantasy football start ’em and sit ’em

We passed the halfway point of the fantasy football season with Week 8 and good quarterback play continues to come from unexpected players. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been great in fantasy the last two weeks and so has Jay Cutler. Jameis Winston and Kirk Cousins each had big weeks in Week 7 as well. It’s not hard to find a quarterback who will delivery 17 or so points these days.

WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL Start ‘Em

via isportsweb.com

via isportsweb.com

QB: Jay Cutler

Cutler’s scored 17, 17, and 19 points during the last three weeks and that was without a healthy Alshon Jeffery. The Vikings defense is solid against quarterbacks for the most part, but Cutler comes in on a hot streak. He’s a great sleeper for this week and the rest of the year.

QB: Ryan Tannehill

The Dolphins are completely reborn after their coaching change and now it’s even coming out the Joe Philbin was holding back offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. That makes sense given how explosive they were over the last two weeks, even if it was against lesser teams. This Thursday the offense will get their chances against a Patriots team who allows the sixth-most points to QBs.

via fansided.com

via fansided.com

RB: Lamar Miller

Most of what I said for Tannehill can be used here. The Dolphins are much more committed to running the ball and Miller exploded for 236 yards and two scores. He’s a couple games away from being a must start each week and will get plenty of chances to score this Thursday.

RB: Alfred Blue

Blue is once again filling in for the injured Arian Foster, for the rest of the season this time. He started the season off slow but the last game he started he ran for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Texans play the Titans this week, a team that can be ran on. Chris Polk will be in the mix but Blue should get the majority of handoffs.

WR: Kendall Wright

Wright should have a good week no matter which of his quarterbacks is throwing him the ball. The Texans allow a lot of points to opposing wide receivers. Wright has been somewhat quiet over the last three weeks but did catch a touchdown from Mettenburger and had success against him last season.

via twincities.com

via twincities.com

WR: Stefon Diggs

In the offseason I had Charles Johnson as a sleeper pick but it seems Diggs has taken that role from him in the Vikings offense. He didn’t have a reception the first three weeks but his numbers have rose each week after that, culminating with a 100 yard game and a touchdown last week. Now the Vikings play the Bears and his numbers could continue to rise.

WR: Stevie Johnson

Johnson had a decent game last week after being out the past two games. The Chargers face the Ravens and their pass defense. Rivers will be throwing the ball a lot and with a huge amount of success. Johnson’s value takes a hit if Gates is back but is still worthy of a flex regardless.

TE: Ladarius Green or antonio Gates

They each could score in this game even if they both played but going with whoever is the starter is a safer choice. The same thing goes for what was said about Johnson.

WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL Sit ‘Em

via fansided.com

via fansided.com

QB: Drew Brees

It is finally time to say Drew Brees is not an elite quarterback or even decent fantasy play. The Saints have been running the ball more and more and while he still has potential to break out it is nothing close to the given that he used to be. The Giants pass defense has slowed down quarterbacks nicely so he isn’t the best start.

QB: Peyton Manning

There weren’t many other bad matchups so this is a reminder that Manning shouldn’t be in your lineup or on your team anymore.

via sandiegouniontribune.com

via sandiegouniontribune.com

RB: Latavius Murray

Murray’s had a somewhat successful fantasy run this year, sitting 14th among running backs. This week against the Jets won’t continue that trend. New York has the best run defense in football and gives up the least fantasy points to RBs.

RB: Darren McFadden

McFadden is a popular start this week since he is starting his first game for Dallas and is coming off a nice performance. He’s playing the Seahawks which doesn’t bode well and he’s not a power back. I don’t think he’ll be able to do much if Seattle limits his big plays.

WR: Amari Cooper

Welcome to Revis Island and the Jets defense where number one receivers only have 240 total receiving yards on the entire season. Expect Revis to shadow the explosive rookie and take him out of the game.

WR: Nate Washington

He had a big week last week but it’s not the type of thing to happen frequently. Hopkins will get most of the targets so this isn’t a good week to try and grab him in daily fantasy.

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The biggest disappointments in the NFL

Through eight weeks of the NFL season there are still four undefeated teams. Naturally that means there are a lot of teams with poor records, more than usual. A few of those squads had high expectations coming into the year.

Who are the biggest disappointments in the NFL? We give you our top six.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills sit at 3-4 going into their bye week. I touted them a couple of times during the offseason and when they were at full health they showed flashes of what they could be. But they are extremely injured, missing their best quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, both starting wide receivers, Kyle Williams, and others. It still doesn’t completely change the fact that this team still seems like they are underachieving.

The defense has taken a step back under Rex Ryan. He changed a 4-3 to a 3-4 and now the defensive line has been griping about having to drop back into coverage. They are the most penalized team in the NFL. There’s still hope for them in a weak AFC, but first they’ll have to get healthy. LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams have yet to be healthy and looking good at the same time and who knows if Percy Harvin is going to comeback. Jim Scharwtz had a good thing going with that defense, especially the front four, Ryan may have changed it up to much.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens without a doubt are the most disappointing team in the NFL. They’re in unknown territory at 2-6, losing every game by one possession. The defense is one of the worst in the NFL, especially the secondary. With Terrell Suggs’ injury they’ve had to bring pressure in other ways but him being out shouldn’t affect them this much. Josh McCown and David Carr had career days against them. The offense is missing weapons too, depending on Steve Smith way too much. While they aren’t as bad as 2-6, they aren’t that far off. Breshad Perriman, the first round pick to replace Torrey Smith, hasn’t played yet. Flacco simply doesn’t have enough targets, but with that being said the defense has lost them the majority of games.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are underperforming exceptions, plain and simple. They’ve been destroyed by injuries, especially on their offensive line. It’s helped contribute to a run game that is pretty much nonexistent and way to much dependence on Rivers’ arm. The defense is porous. Hell, Oakland scored on their first seven possessions two weeks ago.

They are what their record says they are, and Rivers has even had to use a hard count at home this season. The offense line is really the main problem on this team. This was supposed to be the year with Melvin Gordon that the Chargers finally established a run game.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are the biggest disappointment of the NFC. They just fired their offensive coordinator but it’s still tough to image them making a big leap. Matt Stafford is having his worst season since his second year, something they have to be greatly concerned about. His stats look similar but a lot have been in garbage time. Their 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in London only proved this point.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas is 2-5 but it’s tough to include them on this list because of their injuries. Any team loosing thier quarterback after their best offensive player is going to struggle. But even with a healthy Dez Bryant back, they only scored 12 points on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks — another struggling team.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are another team that has disappointed, possible just as much as Baltimore. They still lead the AFC South, but that’s like beating a one-legged man at a race. Rob Lazio breaks down the Colts here. I guess they still are favorites to win their division, so it’s not as bad as the Ravens, but let’s see if they can beat a non-AFC South team.

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