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Like/dislike: Antonio Brown's quest for 20 touchdowns

What we are talking about:

  • Spencer Ware

He's set up for another big game.

  • Drew Brees

Find a way to bench him.

  • My thoughts on ...

The Los Angeles Rams


When I was a youngster I once bet a kid in my reading class that the Rams were going to win the Super Bowl. A full week's worth of lunch money, which is kind of a big deal. And needless to say, I went hungry for a week as the 49ers went on to win yet another Super Bowl.

You would think a week of eating Hostess Ding-Dongs (it was the only thing I could lift from the pantry and not seem suspicious) would have taught me a lesson. You would think that, but you would be wrong. I feel like I'm more brazen than ever when it comes to such proclamations. As Stephen Gostkowski in the fifth round of the NFL Fantasy league would attest.

I also have this one working this season, too.

Now, you should know by now I'm not the kind of guy who will make such bold claims and not back them up. So here's the deal. If Antonio Brown does not get 20 touchdowns this season. I will wear a Green Bay Packers tie on every NFL Network/NFL Now appearance from the end of the regular season until opening Thursday in 2017. You can bank on that. It will be my "ducky tie" if you will.

I also should point out that in the unlikely event Brown doesn't get 20 touchdowns this season (but if you look at the raw numbers, he's on pace for 32 touchdowns), I don't own any Packers ties. So if you have one in your closet that you no longer want (and you shouldn't want it), you can send it along. Though, I'll be honest. AB is going to nail this.

But what about this week against the Bengals, you didn't ask?

I'm also confident about this week as well. I know if you like to look at historical numbers, Ben Roethlisberger has not played well against the Bengals at home recently. Although, that's a relative term. Roethlisberger is 7-5 at home against the Bengals. He's had 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His passer rating isn't great either. I mean, the Browns would kill for that. But I suppose it's not great for the Steelers.

So historically, it hasn't gone well. But I don't know man, you still need to remember football is played by human beings with real emotions. Pride means a lot. Just look at Thursday night. Everybody buried the Bills and Tyrod Taylor. He throws three touchdowns. Sure they didn't win in the end, but this is fantasy so don't act like you care about that. You care about fantasy points that sat on your bench with Tyrod. (And hopefully Sammy Watkins, too. Oh lord, I hope you benched him.) Bottom line, it's important to digest all of the information and make informed choices. I'm all for that. Sometimes, though, you need to step away from all of that and look at the game from a human level.

I see Ben saying ("forget") it and just attacking the Bengals defense with Brown all night. I'm almost worried Flipper Anderson's single-game record for receiving yards could be in jeopardy. And if you don't think Roethlisberger will do that, you should look at Brown's first touchdown last week at Washington. (Go to the 17-second mark of this video). It's fourth and 1. Roethlisberger eschews the wide-open Eli Rodgers in the middle of the field to go to Brown in double coverage. And spoiler alert, Brown catches it for a touchdown. He's not afraid to force the ball to his best player! (Dak Prescott take note.)

So I look at this matchup; I think about how ugly it ended in their playoff game last year and I can't help but think the Steelers put at least 30 points up on the Bengals. And I realize there is a chance my car could careen off Narrative Street here, hit a tree and burst into flames (and I can't help but picture this from "The Simpsons").

But when it comes to Brown, I can't bet against him.

And without further ado ...

Matthew Stafford is a thing. He's thrown 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last nine games. I know it seems weird to say he's better without Calvin Johnson, but, yeah. Stafford looks much more comfortable spreading the ball around to all of his receivers.

Marcus Mariota has actually been more effective on the road. He's thrown 11 touchdowns and 10 picks on the road; He has 10 TDs and only one interception on the road. The Titans want to run, for sure, but they will have to throw to keep up with the Lions.

Joe Flacco is 6-1 in seven career road games against the Browns, but he's thrown just eight touchdowns with three interceptions. That's all great, but have you seen the Browns play?

Eli Manning has improved greatly under Ben McAdoo. His completion percentage, passing yards per game and (most importantly) his touchdown to interception ratio has improved. And Saints! He throws three touchdowns this week.

It would be tempting to play Derek Carr against the Falcons after having watched Jameis Winston torch the Dirty Birds for four touchdowns. So yeah, do that. Start him.

Image Backlash, am I right? I was surprised how well the SmackDown! brand pulled off this PPV. I was a touch skeptical considering SD has a limited roster and was going to be without John Cena and Randy Orton (but that's probably better). But holy smokes, this delivered. I loved Heath Slater winning. He's one of the best workers out there and truly deserves this push. He's a baby face with good motivations, which is rare. (Be honest, most WWE baby faces are jerks.) Becky Lynch is the best and I'm glad they didn't give it to the returning Nikki Bella. And let's be honest; A.J. Styles is the best wrestler on the planet right now. What a great show.

I like Spencer Ware a lot this week. A big reason why is Alex Smith. The Texans will blitz. Houston blitzed 41 percent of the time in Week 1 (fourth-most). But Smith carried a passer rating over 100 against the blitz in 2015. He did well against Houston's blitz last year. If Houston tries that again, there will be a ton of points to be had by Ware.

The feared committee that loomed over Chicago this summer has passed like a drifting thunder storm. Jeremy Langford is the dude, and he's got a great matchup against the Eagles this week.

Latavius Murray was on the bench while Jalen Richard had a nice TD run. But realize Murray was on the field for 62 percent of the snaps. He's in range for double-digit points each week.

Rashad Jennings has 97 rush attempts since Week 14 of 2015, the most in the NFL. The Saints have allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs since 2015. Great start.

Other solid starts this week: LaGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy, Ryan Mathews, and Doug Martin. Give Arian Foster a look, too. Because you should really play him while you can.

Eric Dickerson said the Los Angeles Rams were an embarrassment after Monday night. And they were. But I would not hesitate with Todd Gurley this week. You drafted him in the first round. You have to play him. The Rams have played well against Seattle in the past. Gurley had 83 yards and a touch against them last year when everybody had written them off.

Honestly, this is kind of what the Rams do. Lose to teams they should beat. Win games they aren't supposed to. I'm not sure they win this week. But the coaching staff gets this team motivated for the big divisional games. It's how they keep their jobs.

Image The Los Angeles Rams are making the right call with the throwback uniforms, though. I'm still conditioned to hate the St. Louis uniforms, and I found myself unconsciously rooting against the team on Monday night. Which is weird, because I fancy myself the most prominent L.A. sports fan behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who will be performing before the game on Sunday). BTW, I will be there at the Coliseum. Be sure to check it out my report on Sunday night, and follow me on Twitter/Instagram. (I'm glad the Rams announced it, though I wish they would have done the Charlie Weis and done the reveal right at game time. I'm being a jerk now.)

Image I'm a huge fan of the Color Rush uniforms. I agree with Marc Sessler; teams should be allowed to break these out at their own discretion. For the record, I love the Bears uniforms. Glad we went all navy instead of all orange. Not that orange is bad for some teams as the Broncos and Dolphins look cool. My top three are the Steelers, Raiders/Saints (white) and the Chargers as your leader in the clubhouse. I care too much about uniforms.

Dez Bryant has now replaced Megatron as the player most ruined by replay. I mean honestly. But if the call on the field stands last week, none of you would be sweating Dez, so stop it.

Kelvin Benjamin was heavily targeted during his first week back with the Panthers. So much for his pitch count. He will get into the end zone again this week.

T.Y. Hilton was the most-targeted receiver for the Colts in Week 1 (12), but Donte Moncrief was the most efficient (six targets, seven receptions) and got into the end zone. I start both.

Stafford was perfect, 27-27, throwing to everyone but Marvin Jones Jr., but Jones was the most-targeted receiver and Stafford was willing to force the ball to him. I'm going back to MJJ.

DeSean Jackson had 102 receiving yards in Week 1 against the Steelers. He had just one game with more than 100 receiving yards in 2015. But I like his matchup this week against Dallas.

Jarvis Landry has 201 receptions in 33 career games, making him the fastest player to 200 in NFL history. He's averaged close to 12 targets in his last seven games.

Image Congratulations to LaDainian Tomlinson to being a first-time finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first chance! He's no doubt going to get in, so that will be awesome. I kind of hope (selfishly) the NFL Network fam gets in LT, Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis this year. TD has been a long time coming. Don't the Broncos writers have more pull than this?

Delanie Walker has 138 targets and 97 receptions since 2015, the most among tight ends. The Lions got torched by a pair of Colts tight ends in Week 1.

Image CM Punk was amazing at UFC 203. Obviously, the result wasn't, but ultimately this dude was chasing a dream and there's nothing wrong with that. If you have a problem with what he did, then I fear you've never dared to be great. Take a lesson from Punk. He tried, and ultimately got his face beat in because of it. But he was out there doing something. I was inspired.

Would you ever have the footballs to sit Drew Brees in a road game? He had just nine touchdowns and six interceptions on the road last year, with a passer rating of 88.7. I might not necessarily be sitting him, but I'm stoked if I'm going against him this week, that's for sure.

Jimmy Garoppolo had a 145 passer rating against the blitz on Sunday. Which is pretty amazing. He also had a better debut compared to Tom Brady, way back in the day. And again, that's great for the Patriots. But it really didn't translate to fantasy points, so I'm going to avoid him.

Ryan Tannehill is 0-4 at the Patriots with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. But wait, I thought Adam Gase was going to make everything instantly better? Was I mistaken?

I wouldn't jump on the Carson Wentz bandwagon just yet. He's going to be playing a legitimate NFL team this week in the Chicago Bears. The Bears aren't great, but they aren't Cleveland.

Oh man, Philip Rivers. This dude can just never catch a break. The line has been a mess for years and now he loses his top receiver. Again. Rivers had a passer rating of 101.6 with Keenan Allen. It's 83.6 without him. Time to start looking at other options for the rest of the year.

Image Let's real talk on Rivers. He's been screwed in his NFL career. And it's tough to live through this with him, because I fear my man Mike Trout is going to have a similar fate. But here's the thing. Rivers will always be compared to Eli and Big Ben. But I surmise if Rivers went to the Steelers, he'd have four Super Bowl titles right now. This isn't a knock on Ben. I'm confident he would be a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Chargers. But Rivers is clearly the best quarterback of the three. If he had the opportunity to work with that defense and have the stars the Steelers have rolled out through their careers I feel like four Super Bowls might be conservative.

Melvin Gordon had two touchdowns in Week 1. I did the right thing and self-reported to "Old Takes Exposed" because I deserve that. But he's not going to have a pair of touchdowns again. Gordon was out-snapped by Danny Woodhead in the second half of last week's game. And Gordon's numbers without Keenan Allen are worse than Rivers'. It was a fun run, though.

Matt Jones needs to go in Washington. Among all players with more than 100 rushes last season, Jones had the NFL's worst yards per carry average. He had 24 yards against Pittsburgh last week.

Isaiah Crowell had a pretty sneaky-good game against the Eagles last week with 62 yards and a touchdown. I still don't like it, though. The Ravens were good against the run last week.

The Bears defense was better than expected against the run. I know Lamar Miller had 100 rushing yards, but it certainly wasn't impressive. I'd be careful with Ryan Mathews.

John Harbaugh said this week that he wasn't pleased with either of his team's running backs in Baltimore. So I don't go with either of those guys. In fact, I'm just wasting time until Kenneth Dixon is ready.

We talked last week about what a mistake it was for me to draft while tipsy. A move that was compounded by the fact I woke up with Devonta Freeman on my roster. He was awful in Week 1. I'm not ready to abandon ship just yet. But, yeah. He's going to hang on my roster like a bad piece of pizza that just sits in your stomach. Bad decision. Bad stats. Devonta Freeman.

Image Again, I'm very excited the Rams are going to the throwbacks this week. Though it would have been cool to do a Charlie Weis-like reveal at game time, but I digress. However, giving Jeff Fisher a three-year extension is beyond Ludacris (BTW, my computer auto-corrected that, so I'm going to let it stand). The common refrain is Fisher has been through this before. But who gives a (expletive)? He's had four consecutive non-winning seasons. Look, Los Angeles is about the championships. Unless you're the Los Angeles Lakers and you've built up many years of championship equity, you can't pull this (expletive).

Image If the Rams don't want to believe me, just look at the Clippers. The Clippers have been fine for the past couple of years, while the Lakers have been a lottery team. Yet the Lakers are still the most beloved team in the region. It's true. If you ever want to get fired from a radio job in Los Angeles, the easiest thing to do would be to go on the air and bad-mouth the Lakers. As it stands right now, the Rams are venturing dangerously close to Clippers territory.

Image Darryl Sutter has won a pair of Stanley Cups for the Los Angeles Kings and he was nearly fired after this season. Two Cups and his job was in jeopardy. And you want to even think of giving Fisher an extension? You want us to cheer for you, right? There aren't enough RHCP concerts in the world to make us cool with this. I hate that I have to ask this question, but you want us to be fans of your team, right? I'm just asking.

Dak Prescott is the worst if he won't force it to Dez Bryant. Brah, throwing the ball to Cole Beasley isn't going to get it done. Dude had 12 targets! TWELVE! Fantasy my life.

At least he did more with those targets than Tavon Austin who had 12 targets and turned that into 13 yards. Seriously, Rams. What exactly are you trying to do?

I'm still going to continue to stump for John Brown in Arizona. And I hope it's a matter of just getting him back into the rotation. But you can't start him until he's a part of the offense.

Kamar Aiken didn't have a great Week 1. He had two targets and was clearly below the deck behind the veterans Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace. I'm out on all of them.

There was a lot of buzz around Devin Funchess during the offseason. He had four targets against the Broncos. But hey, at least he was given more targets than Ted Ginn.

Kevin White was the Bears most-targeted receiver, which kind of surprised me. He didn't look great, though. So hang on to him and have faith because this is a work in progress.

Image I won't pretend to be a hardcore "Saturday Night Live" fan or anything like that. But I do still enjoy the show through YouTube or Hulu, or wherever you can stream it. But what the hell are they thinking with the release of Jay Pharoah? Are the Rams in charge of this, too? Pharoah is the best. I just don't get it. Thankfully, I stumbled on this clip. It gives me life.

Image Obviously you know I love the move to put the WWE title on A.J. Styles. It was clearly the right thing to do. The only downside is it means John Cena is going to be in the title hunt. And the cynic in me believes Cena is going to end up winning the title at WrestleMania to tie the record currently held by Ric Flair. Or even worse, Cena wins the title at Survivor Series. Loses it after. Wins the Royal Rumble (to be held in LA, holla!) and then breaks Flair's record at WrestleMania.

Image And for the record, I know Cena is much better at wrestling, but that's not the point. His character is played out. He does nothing for me. He's a nostalgia act at this point. We want something fresh. Remember that one time on RAW a few months back when the Wyatt Family answered a challenge by the League of Nations? The place went ape (feces) because it was so fresh and new. Of course, the WWE did what it does and ruined it. But it was a great moment. Cena is the opposite of that.

Martellus Bennett is dead to me. At least the Bears shouldn't be bummed about trading him now. But what the (expletive) was that Jared Cook? I have only myself to blame for that one.

BTW, I did it. I benched Drew Brees in a league. I have him in two leagues. One is a 16-team league and I left him in there. I benched him for Mariota in another league.

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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