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Like/dislike: A dream matchup for Marcus Mariota

What we are talking about:

  • C-Woke!

Is it finally his time?

  • Marcus Mariota

Raiders defense, amirite?

  • Aaron Rodgers

Time for a reality check


There's a local radio host who loves to float out blind items about people. (All right, it's Matt "Money" Smith's co-host Petros Papadakis. I'm obviously terrible at this). But he likes to drop blind items during their show. You won't believe which college coach refused to tip a Hooter's waitress during a recruiting visit. I love that kind of stuff. I always end up texting Petros to try to find out who it is, but it's truly one of my favorite radio tropes going.

So I'm going to give this a try here.

A professional athlete who plays out here locally is in a league with his teammates. He hits me up on Twitter from time to time to get some advice. Gave me his number so I could help him before his draft. (I know, this is kind of a humble brag. Oh look at me, people hit me up for fantasy advice! I'm so cool. But I find this story funny and I just wanted to share it. So sue me.)

So now, this athlete will hit me up here and there to ask about waiver claims and the like. I dig it. Because it's a player who plays for one of my favorite teams. Which immediately eliminates anybody from the Clippers. The funny thing is, I've helped out some member of the Mighty Ducks before, so I'm strict but fair to the local teams. Listen, I try to help out as many people as possible.

But this player (I'm going to keep it gender neutral because it could be a member of the Sparks) wanted to add a running back and screen-grabbed the list of available running backs. I was checking it out and all of a sudden, I hit him back, "Is that Jeremy Hill on the wire?"

Indeed it was. Hill was dropped in this league. It's 10-team, standard. So it's absolutely crazy that Hill is available out there. Especially with the dearth of available running back talent these days. I mean, we're going crazy over Dwayne Washington in fantasy, and the dude's in line for what, 10 to 12 touches a game? (I will say, Hill is going to end up in the dislikes. Oh yeah, spoiler alert. But you can't let this guy just drift on the wire. I had to ask the Fantasy Stronghold if Hill was hurt or something because it seemed weird. I play in an eight-team league and nobody dropped Hill. And before you smart [donkeys] say anything, that's right, I play in an eight-team league. Just like the dudes from the show, "The League" you dig? You think an eight-team league is easy, but it's hard because you're going to bench a superstar every week. You're going to have a stacked roster with guys who are good. It's not easy. I play in a 16-team, two quarterback league. That's easy. My lineup decisions are pretty cut and dry. But when you're in an eight-team league, you're actually making decisions. So back off, imaginary people who didn't say a word. But I feel strongly about this.)

The best part of the whole thing (for me) is the athlete who dropped Hill is one of the most prominent athletes in local sports. Not that prominent, but an important figure in the world of sports. (Deity) damn, I really want to spill the beans about who it is, but I'm going to leave it as a blind item. For now.

BTW, who would you say the most prominent athlete in Southern California is? No, Kobe retired. Who do you think? Nope, that's wrong.

All right, enough stalling, let's get on with it.

And without further ado ...

Matt Ryan is the top quarterback in standard leagues. He was available on the wire in 70 percent of leagues on Tuesday night. Huge pickup this week. This isn't going to end well, is it?

I thought of benching Matthew Stafford for Ryan. But Staff has 22 touchdowns and just two picks in his last eight. On the flip side of that, Aaron Rodgers has 11 touchdowns and six interceptions during his last eight games. But hey, Rodgers is still the greatest ever, right?

Carson Palmer is one of just four quarterbacks to start both games without a single giveaway. Two of the other quarterbacks are the rookies; the other is Derek Carr.

Drew Brees is the first quarterback since at least 1960 to have five touchdown passes, no interceptions and an 0-2 record after the first two games of the season.

Marcus Mariota is a great start. The Raiders have allowed more than 500 yards in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. Which seems weird given the last decade, right? You would think the Raiders have done that on the reg.

Sam Bradford has thrown 11 TDs and four picks with a 99.1 passer rating in his last seven starts. Cam Newton, 10 TDs, 4 picks and a 93.0 passer rating. Though it's probably taken Bradford six seasons to make seven starts. I'm just assuming here.

Image One of the longest streaks in sports came to an end this week: John Cena lost clean on SmackDown Live! I'm not kidding. Dean Ambrose just beat him clean in the ring for the whole world to see. The last time Cena lost clean on TV was to Triple H in 2009 according to With Spandex. It's hard to understate how amazing this was. I remember not liking the show (save Becky Lynch who's the greatest and Heath Slater, also the greatest), but now my memory leads me to believe this was the best wrestling show I've seen in the past two decades. Like better than X-Pac returns to "RAW" which was my favorite episode as a kid. I had to re-watch it like six times to make sure what I saw was real. It was.

Image Of course, my excitement always gives way to the gnawing feeling that we are now in the middle of a huge long-con where Cena is broken down and busted, only to return at the Royal Rumble to win. Then he's going to beat A.J. Styles and whomever the Universal Champion is at the time (it had better be Kevin Owens) to be the champion of both shows. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and just enjoy the moment for a change. But Cena is also going to beat the Miz and Rusev in the same show, right? All right, I'll stop.

Fun fact: The Vikings beat the Panthers 31-13 the last time these teams met without Adrian Peterson in the lineup. That's it. Just wanted to pass that note along.

Ezekiel Elliott has fumbled twice in his first 44 touches, a fumble for every 22 touch. He averaged a fumble ever y 163 attempts at Ohio State. He's going to rebound this week.

The undercard in the Washington vs. New York matchup might be very compelling because it's a great matchup for Rashad Jennings as the Redskins have allowed the second-most points to running backs.

With as much love as we've heaped on Matt Ryan, it only stands to reason Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will combine for like five rushing touchdowns. Not scientific, I know.

Christine Michael had 86 total yards against Los Angeles last week, though he did lose a costly fumble at the end of the game. But he's the running back I'm leading on headed into Week 3.

Really like Charles Sims this week. He's got a safe floor because of the passing work out of the backfield, but he should get enough rushing yards against the Rams to be a nice RB1.

Giovani Bernard would be the running back I would play for the Bengals this week. Expect them to be unable to move the ball on the ground, which means more targets for Gio in the air

And what about my dude, Matt Forte! They are force-feeding him carries without a concern in the world. I love Chan Gailey. Keep riding this Forte hot streak until it ends. This is an amazing stretch.

BTW, I know a lot of people live the Zero-RB theory. I'm going to play the, "I'm only playing former Bears" theory.

Image Congratulations to Nicole for taking home the top prize in "Big Brother 18" on Wednesday night. Nicole was the first woman to beat a man head-up in the final two of the show. I wanted Paul to win for sure, but it's hard to really fault the jury who gave it to Nicole. She was pretty much in control of the entire house. She was the mastermind who got Victor out of the house multiple times. She made big moves. And like her or not, she definitely worked her butt off to get to that spot. So while I would have voted for Paul, I can't be mad at them. But I'm glad Victor won America's Favorite House Guest. He deserved it.

Image If you're a fan of "Big Brother" I hope you watched "Fantasy and Friends" on Wednesday when we had the GOAT, Derrick Levasseur on the show. He was awesome. And this shows you why you need to tune in. You never know who is going to show up. We have another huge guest lined up for Friday as well. "Fantasy and Friends" 6 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

Odell Beckham Jr. has Josh Norman! But the Redskins haven't used him that way. Norman lined up over Antonio Brown on 25 of his 66 plays, and 30 of Dez Bryant's 57 plays. I doubt he shadows OBJ in this game. So don't avoid him because of Norman.

But if he does, Beckham was targeted six times when being covered by Norman. Beckham caught four of those six targets for 30 yards and a touchdown. Though he had one huge drop.

BTW, is it wrong that I kind of agree with OBJ when he said that he made Norman relevant? I believe that more than I believe Kayne made Taylor Swift famous.

The Broncos won't likely double A.J. Green this year. But Green was able to haul in four of his six targets for 48 yards and a touchdown against Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. I'll take it.

Willie Snead has been one of the season's early breakouts and he's inline for a huge week against the Falcons. Snead does most of his damage in the slot where the Falcons have really struggled.

Brandon Marshall is missing time, so I hope you grabbed Quincy Enunwa off the wire to start in case he can't go. Maybe even if does.

Image So glad to have "Gotham" back on my television. I know a lot of folks say Oswald Cobblepot is the is the best character on the show. He's awesome, no doubt. But I'm Team Butch all the way. If I had to rank the DC superhero shows, I'd put "Gotham" ahead of "The Flash" and "Supergirl" with a "Legends of Tomorrow" binge waiting for me one weekend. I might need two for that. I also need to catch up on "Arrow" too.

Duke Johnson and Gary Barnidge should be the targets leaders for the Browns this week. Terrelle Pryor will be in the mix, but I question Cody Kessler's ability to get him the ball.

This is it for Jared Cook. The matchup against the Lions is perfect (The Doyle rules!). If he can't get it going here, then it's never going to happen. At least not consistently.

Is there any chance I can start Lamar Jackson on my fantasy team? I watched that game against Florida State. And the hyperbole about being the next Mike Vick (from Vick himself) is legit.

Image Let's be perfectly clear, Mike Trout is not going to win the MVP award. Clearly the writers believe this award is more for players on playoff teams. As evidenced by the fact Trout didn't beat Miguel Cabrera in 2012 when he was clearly better than Miggy. (Plus the Angels had a better record than the Tigers, but it was still head against him.) However, they should just not give the award away if Trout doesn't win it this season.

Since allowing a 104.9 passer rating to Ryan Tannehill in Week 12, 2014, the Broncos defense has gone 28 consecutive games without allowing a quarterback to post a passer rating over 100. Andy Dalton has a 104.2 passer rating since 2015 (third-best), but I'm not playing him.

The Broncos defense has allowed a combined passer rating of 60.6 to Cam Newton (faced twice), and Andrew Luck. Yeah, the Broncos defense. NBD.

Carson Wentz has looked great. The first rookie since the 1970 merger to start and win his first two games with no interceptions. He also scored 14.6 fantasy points on Monday night. So it's nice. I even like the story about him studying game film on a date. But I'm not starting him.

Russell Wilson is battling an ankle injury and he's suffered on third down. His passer rating is currently 33.4 on third down, a marked decline from 117.3 on third down in 2015. Just info.

Through two weeks, only two of Trevor Siemian's 59 pass attempts have traveled more than 20 yards in the air. One was incomplete. The other was intercepted. He's the next Peyton Manning!

Aaron Rodgers has registered a passer rating below 100 in 14 consecutive games, including the playoffs. Twice as long as the next active streak (Alex Smith). Just providing info. That's all. I'm not saying that you bench Rodgers. Not at all. I'm just providing some information.

I don't like to be the (jerk) who points this out (I do, actually), but maybe we've seen the best of Rodgers. I know he's become the chosen one for the media, the quarterback everybody likes to make excuses for now that Peyton has retired. Maybe (and I know Packers fans and fantasy enthusiasts alike will take this the wrong way) Rodgers is just a good quarterback. And that's it. Not the greatest of all-time. Not the Anakin Skywalker of the NFL. Maybe he's just really, really good. Maybe he's just your guys' Jay Cutler. Stop. Stop. I'm kidding. But seriously, maybe this is the Rodgers we should all expect now.

I never want to be the guy who relies too much on the past to determine what's going to happen in the future. But Rodgers threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions at Ford Field last year. But remember, 61 yards and a touchdown came on his miracle heave at the end of the game. Otherwise he was headed for 212 and a touchdown. BTW, nice rabbit ears with Pro Football Focus. Calling them out by name? Be better than that (though I don't think it's possible).

Rodgers is going to throw for about 468 yards and four touchdowns this week, isn't he?

You know who isn't going to throw for 400 yards? Matt Barkley. Yep, he's back and active in the NFL. The Bears activated Barkley. I feel like I brought this on myself. But does anybody remember when it looked like Barkely was going to be the first overall pick in the draft, but decided to go back to school? Or am I confusing him with Matt Leinart? Whatever, same dude.

So the Bears go 3-0 with Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback, right? And then the team will immediately go back to Cutler when he returns.

Speaking of USC quarterbacks; Cody Kessler! The Browns have gone 15 straight seasons without an every-game starting quarterback for the Browns, the longest drought in NFL history. The Browns will be starting their fifth different quarterback in the last five games (back to 2015).

The Colts have allowed the most points to fantasy running backs this season. But I'm 0-2 on Melvin Gordon so far. So out of respect for Gordon holders, I will place him here again. I'll do it all year for you.

If you're waiting for Todd Gurley's breakout game, yeah, keep wait. Bad, bad matchup for the Rams.

The Bengals have converted only one of six red zone drives into a touchdown this season. Which is trouble when you're a back like Jeremy Hill who is touchdown-dependent.

It's actually worse for the Bengals, who have fewer than 60 rushing yards in each of their first two games of 2016. That happened only once in their previous two seasons.

I would drop Adrian Peterson. You guys are being silly with this stuff. Adrian Peterson is not made of adamantium (hey, I know some Marvel [stuff]). If he does return to the league at the end of the season, do you really think he's going to be able to perform at a peak level? A level he wasn't performing at during the first two weeks of the season? Be serious.

Matt Asiata clearly belongs on a fantasy roster. But the impending schedule includes Carolina, the Giants, Houston and Philadelphia. Funny, the last three are in the top 10 of fewest points allowed to running backs.

Neither Cameron Artis-Payne nor Fozzy are going to do it for me this week. Both deserve rosters spots, I suppose. But I don't want any part of this Vikings rush defense.

The Franchise (I like him) raised concern for Lattavius Murray this week. He's losing touches to the other guys and he's got a tough matchup against the Titans this week.

The Cardinals are a tough matchup for running backs. But I would like to see your roster if you can afford to sit LeSean McCoy. (I know he's on this side, just want to see if you're paying attention.)

Image Don't you think it's time for the WWE to move away from the three-hour RAW shows? I get how television works. And know advertising dollars make this a necessity. But I would move the pre-show to the first hour of RAW to establish storylines and angles. With actual wrestling being the final two hours. I know the cruiserweights are going to help. But damn. I'd actually do this for "SmackDown LIVE," too. I would make "Talking Smack" the final half hour of the show. I know, a lot of talking, but it beats the replay packages which are completely useless with most of the audience DVR-ing the show.

All three members of the Giants receiving trifecta are on pace to finish with more than 1,000 receiving yards. The one player I wouldn't want to start (or roster) is Victor Cruz.

Stefon Diggs is the third player in Vikings history to open a season with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. No Vikings player has done it in three straight. But I'm concerned about Bene Benwikere who is this year's Josh Norman. But like a better version of Josh Norman. You probably have depth at WR, so I'd look at some other options this week.

I'm really afraid there is going to come a time when we need to move on from John Brown. Seems like the team is making a go with it with Jaron Brown.

Phillip Dorsett was a good pickup off the wire this week with Donte Moncrief down for four to six weeks. I wouldn't play him against the Chargers, though, who have a shutdown cornerback in Jason Verrett. I had approached T.Y. Hilton as a good play this week as I reasoned Verrett doesn't venture into the slot. But after we hashed out with the Stronghold, Hilton could see more work on the outside. So if you have a viable option (which is possible for Zero RB folk), Hilton should probably see the bench.

I was big on Doug Baldwin headed into the season. But I'm going to avoid him this week until he proves that he's healthy and ready to go.

You can not only bench Tavon Austin in the coming weeks, you can probably put him on the waiver wire, too. It's not happening. I've moved on.

Mike Wallace looks great because he's the only guy who scores touchdowns for the Ravens. But he's not the targets leader on the team and his pace is impossible to maintain.

BTW, how bummed is Kirk Cousins right now? I mean, he had a chance for a multi-year deal but he wanted to play the field, as it were. This actually plays out like some teen movie. Where Cousins is the hot-shot quarterback who has a date for the prom, but he dumps her because there's a new girl who moves to town. But in this movie, Cousins goes out there and plays like (expletive) and no girl wants to go to the prom with him. I joke about that, but he's probably the Bears quarterback next year, so I shouldn't judge.

Be sure to watch "Fantasy and Friends" at 6 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Monday-Wednesday and Friday. (Sorry, the Thursday night game preempts us. But you can be a part of the show by going to Also follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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