Cardinals need to replace Wong. Free agent options.

The Cardinals decided to let Kolten Wong walk this offseason.  They didnt want to pick up his club option that would have paid him $12.5 million in 2021.  Contracts of other players such as Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter are likely a big reason why the club felt paying a rather steep price for a second baseman with just two seasons of WAR over 3 was not worth it.  While his 2020 shortened season numbers were not impressive he still leaves a void in the Cardinals lineup that has to be filled.  Internal options Tommy Edman and Edmund Sosa will likely get the first shot. There are external options that may be affordable and impactful.  

Enrique Hernandez, 29, 1.1 WAR (2020)

The Cardinals are one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitching over the last two seasons.  St. Louis had just an OPS of .713 in 2020 against southpaws.  Enter in Kiki Hernandez.  A long time lefty smasher, Hernandez has been a vital bench player for the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers since 2014.  He carries a career OPS of .820 versus lefties and tons of versatility on top of that. 

Hernandez will be a cheaper option to Wong as he is projected to sign for just around $6 million a year.  Adding a player that can play multiple positions and provide some pop to a lineup that lacks consistent power options would be an answer to a few of the St. Louis offensive problems.

Johnathan Villar, 30, -0.3 (2020), 4.0 (2019)

Villar had a disastorous 2020, there is no other way around it.  Cashing in on this would be advantageous to anyone willing to take a shot on the veteran.  Villar brings instant offense to any team with his speed and power.  Villar had the best season of his career in 2019 hitting 24 homers and stealing 40 bases.  He had his second highest career OBP at .339.   

Villar is a high-risk, high reward option that will be cheap.  His ability to switch hit is also a great value for late game moves. 

Tommy LaStella, 32, 3.2 WAR (2020)

Tommy LaStella not being signed yet is a great example of the ridiculous nature of MLB free agency at the moment.  A veteran player that has hit at an all-star level over the last two seasons is still sitting on the market without much of an idea on where he will be next season. 

LaStella has had two straight seasons with a WRC+ over 120.  In 2020 LaStella ranked 25th overall in the league in OBP (.370).  He would fit very nicely into the leadoff spot that was vacated by Wong.  While he doesn’t have the speed that Wong brings to the table his ability to get on base could set up very nicely for Paul Goldschmidt.   An inability to consistently hit lefties has hampered LaStella’s overall numbers but the Cardinals could easilit platoon him with Tommy Edman, allowing for a solid bat to be used later on in the game. 

A Positive for Indians Fans

Cleveland Indians fans have had to see arguably the brightest star in baseball leave their organization when they traded Francisco Lindor last week for a package of prospects.  The Indians are just five seasons from being in the World Series and now are looking at a complete rebuild.  The Indians have lost an all-star team worth of talent over the last five years.  Lindor is the top of the list that also includes Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Santana, Mike Clevinger and Yandy Diaz.  Cleveland finds themselves behind Minnesota and Chicago in the central division and likely will not overtake them for a few years.  While the Indians have given up a lot of stars they have been able to build a young group of players as well as some financial flexibility to lock up their young talent.  

In 2020 the Indians farm system vaulted up to rank #12 overall according to ESPN and Baseball America.  Cleveland has loaded itself with young talent.  Of the Indians top ten prospects seven of them are 20 or younger (8 assuming you remove Tristan Mckenzie).  Cleveland’s top prospect Nolan Jones should see MLB time this year.  #2 ranked prospect Tyler Freeman is still a few years away but the addition of two major league ready shortstops in the trade with the Mets.  The trade with the Mets allows the Indians to allow Freeman time to continue to develop.  The Indians also have their catcher of the future in Bo Naylor.  Naylor will play behind Robeto Perez in 2021, but his time will come very soon depending on the succes of the Indians leading into the trade deadline this summer.  Cleveland unloaded most of their salary in order to reload for the future and build their team from within similarly to the way they did it leading into the 2016 system.

Cleveland has built up a great amount of roster flexibility as they watch their prospects continue to grow.  Jose Ramirez currently is the highest paid Indian at $9 million per year.  Over the next two seasons Ramirez is owed $26 million over the next two years but has a team buyout option of just $2 million.   Ramirez is just 28 years old heading into 2021 and the decision on his future could strictly come down to where the Indians are in the development of Nolan Jones, who grades out as primarily a 3rd baseman.  The financial situation in Cleveland is ideal for Cy Young winner Shane Bieber to get locked down in the near future as he is just now becoming arbitration eligible.  Bieber along with fellow pitchers Adam Plutko, Tristan McKenzie, Zac Plesac, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantril and Logan Allen are the rotation pieces of right now and the future as they are all under the age of 30 and under team control for most of the foreseeable future.  

Cleveland fans will find it tough to see the bright side to trading away their best player.  Ultimately if you just look at the pieces you have to consider it a win for the New York Mets,  While the Mets got the best two players of the trade Cleveland was able to grab two highly rated prospects, most notably pitcher Josh Wolf who will find himself as a top ten prospect in the Indians system at some point in 2021.  They also got Isiah Greene, an outfielder they had been targeting since the draft last year.  Both players are projected to be future standouts in their system.  Along with the prospects the Indians were able to get major league ready talent in Ahmed Rosario and last year’s breakout player Andres Gimenez.  Neither are on the level of Lindor but they will be solid pieces for a rebuilding team.  Gimenez grades out as a future gold glover at the position and ranks in the top 93rd percentile in speed which can at least make hima  stolen base threat.  

The Indians are a small market team that has to work with what their financials allow.  There will be some tough years ahead of the tribe but their pitching staff should be a highlight for a while and their farm system continues to grow.  The prospects they have picked up in the trades of Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lindor are guys that fit their needs. If could be a lot worse in Cleveland,  just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.  

NFL Playoff Saturday – Betting Each Game

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have won six straight games and covered in eight straight games.  The Bills offense has set the tone scoring 31 ppg this season, ranking second in the NFL.   Josh Allen has dominating opposing defenses, putting himself in the middle of the MVP conversation. Allen has thrown for 15 touchdown passes in his last five games.  He will be without one of his favorite targets, Cole Beasley, but last week’s return of John Brown should make up for the loss. Stefon Diggs has shown that he is a top ten receiver in the NFL and has become a matchup nightmare for any team.  The Colts are only 20th in the league in yards versus the pass.  The combination of Diggs and Allen is one of the top combinations in the league and will show it on Saturday. 

The Colts have gottent he reputation of being a defensive team this year.  They have one of best defensive players in pro bowl linebacker Darius Leonard and rank second in the league in rush yards against and 10th in ppg given up.  The defense has stood out but while the offense has been on a nice roll all season.  They rank top 11 in both run and pass offense.  Rookie RB Jonathon Taylor has established himself as the lead back, scoring five touchdowns in his last three games, as well as running for 253 yards in their season finale.  QB Phillip Rivers has spread the ball around all season.  TY Hilton, Zac Pascal, Michael Pittman Jr., and Nyheim Hines have all been effective receivers for the Colts and any one of them could be the go-to target on Saturday.  

These two teams have been great to the over all season, combined they are 20-11 to the over.  They both feature top ten scoring offenses in the league.  The Colts have to take the lead early to have a chance against the powerful Bills offense.  While the Colts have the ability to run the ball effectively they don’t have Josh Allen.  Buffalo will give up points but this game is going to be high scoring so I am going with the team that has the better skill position players.

Pick: Over 52, Bills -6.5

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Two teams that are very familiar with each other meet on Saturday when the Rams head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.  Both teams have questions on the offensive side of the ball, the Rams may be without starting QB Jared Goff while Seattle has had issues putting the ball in the endzone.  

The Seahawks started the season dominating on the offensive end averaging over 40 points per game in their first five.  Lately outside of a 40 point effort against the lowly Jets, Seattle has not found the same success.  Over their last 8 games the Seahawks are averaging just 23 ppg.  

The Rams may not have Goff on Saturday but they should have back WR Cooper Kupp who had to sit out the season finale with Arizona due to covid protocols.  Backup QB John Wolford showed some great elusive skills as a runner in his first career start, causing all kinds of problems for the Cardinals linebackers.  His ability to run opened up the pass game in the second half and with the return of Kupp and another week back for Cam Akers the Rams offense should give problems to a Seattle defense that has been great lately but may not have Safety Jamal Adams. 

These two teams have a lot of important injuries that are TBD.  Even if Goff is able to suit up it seems unlikely he can be very effective.  The Rams offense hasn’t been effective at all over the last five weeks, while the Seattle defense has transformed after the addition of Carlos Dunlap.  Even without Jamal Adams the Seattle defense can be effective against the Rams.  Seattle brings more weapons to the offesnive side.  I am going to trust Russell Wilson and the Seattle defense over a litany of uncertainty that the Rams have to deal with. 

Pick: Seattle Seahawks -3.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East.  They did this with a QB that literally couldn’t walk a year ago and a coach that likely had a lot of other things on his mind. The Football Team is built aroun their stellar defense led by rookie Chase Young.  They have held teams to just 20 ppg and just 190 yards through the air.  They haven’t given up more than 20 points in their last six games. With an offense that has not been able to find a grove the whole season due to many different QB changes, ultimately leading to former first round pick Dwayne Haskins getting released. Veteran Alex Smith will have to do his best to limit turnovers and take advantage of any positive field position. 

The Washington defense will face Tom Brady and the red hot offense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Brady was able to figure out his offensive weapons capabilites against the inferior defenses of Detroit, Minnesota and Atlanta (2) over their last four games.  Tampa Bay has not been able to establish the run consistently, if they are forced to throw consistently on Saturday they will be in trouble against the Washington defensive line.  Chase Young and Montez Sweat bring constant pressure. Brady has had his issues with tough defensive line and that should continue in this matchup.

Tampa Bay’s defense is a great matchup against the Washington offense that has to lean on the run due to lack of talent on the outside. Washington’s run first offense will have a lot of trouble against he leagues #1 overall run defense.  Tampa has basically taken the run away from opposing teams, they have had issues getting pressure on the QB but they won’t have to worry about a lot of downfield plays against Washington.  

Brady will struggle against the pressure, Washington will be able to get pressure with its front four allowing them to double the explosive receivers downfield.  The Bucs offense will struggle early but make adjustments in the second half that will allow them to just score more points than a lackluster opposing offense.  This game will be a chess match that may score the least amount of points of wild card weekend.  Bucs will win but won’t cover. 

Pick: Washington Football Team +9, Under 44.5 

Christmas Bets, 2 NBA/1 CFB

Camellia Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Buffalo Bulls 

The Buffalo Bulls perfect season is gone after a disappointing effort against Ball State in the MAC Championship game.  They will look to rebound against Marshall who faced similar disappointment in their last two games of the season losing to Rice and UAB ruining their 7-0 start.  

The Bulls dominant run game has been the staple of their season.  They are the only college football team other than North Carolina to feature two RB’s with over 1000 yards rushing on the season.  Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks have set the tone for the offense all season long.  They will look to bounce back from the first game of the season where neither halfback reached the century mark.  The Marshall defense is definitely their strength but they were run over in the Conference USA Championship game.  UAB’s Spencer Brown went for 149 yards, if they can’t contain the powerful run attack of Buffalo this one will get away from them quickly.  

The Marshall offense has been non-existent over their last two games scoring just 13 total points.  Red shirt freshman QB Grant Wells has lost his way after starting the year making big plays for the Thundering Herd offense he has been unable to complete passes.  In the Conference USA Championship game Wells was just 8/23,  which was preceded by a 15/37 effort with five interceptions against RIce the week before.  The offense will have additional problems as RB Brenden Knox has opted out of the Bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL draft.  

The Bulls have an advantage in the trenches and a stronger offensive unit.  They will lean on the run while their playmakers on defense will continue to stifel Grant Wells.  Buffalo is going to play with an edge after their performance against Ball State.  Bulls by a million. 

Pick: Buffalo Bulls -4.5

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers got off to a slow start opening night against the Clippers.  They were unable to rebound from their slow start, never taking the lead.  The Lakers will face off against a beat up Mavericks team that is still trying to work a few new pieces into the fold.  

The Mavericks lost on opening night as well to the Phoenix Suns in a much more competitive affair.  Luka Doncic got off to a slow start eventually getting to his season averages.  The length of Mikal Bridges was able to keep Doncic in check and without Kristaps Porzingis the new Mavericks were not able to provide the lift that was needed.  Dallas will need more from Josh Richardson and Tim Hardaway on the offensive end to keep up with AD, Lebron and their new running mates Dennis Schroder and Montrez Harrell.   

It’s too early in the season to go over many stats that matter.  I am looking strictly at the machup of Lebron James and AD versus Luka Doncic.  LeBron and AD in primetime versus Doncic without his top secondary option will lead to some tough times for the Mavericks.  I’m rolling with the Lake show to win by doubel digits. Dallas will be a contender before years end but they are still trying to figure themselves out with the new pieces. 

Pick: Lakers -6

New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat 

The Pelicans are one of my favorite teams entering the season.  They have great offensive players that needed guidance on the defensive end.  Stan Van Gundy has immediately brought that along with the additions of veteran tough defenders Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams.  The Pelicans new approach led to an opening night victory over the Toronto Raptors and they will look to add anothe victory over an Eastern Conference contender on Christmas day.  

The Pels got a boost off the bench from veteran JJ Reddick.  They also shot 52% as a team.  That should be a lot tougher versus the Miami Heat.  The Heat have proven to be a grind it out defense first team over the last year.  Their opening night loss to the Orlando Magic was more due to their inefficiencies on the offensive end.  The Heat turned the ball over 22 times leading to points for Orlando. Miami will slow it down in order to rectify the turnover issues which should slow the overall pace of the game down.  

This game is continuing to trend downwards for a total, opening at 229 it can be found now at 224.5.  I still think the public is looking at the Pelicans of 2019 and assuming they are a run and gun first team.  That is no longer their style and they actually care about defenese this season.  I grabbed it at 225 and see this as a game where one team goes into triple digits.  Take the under.  

Pick: Under 224.5

Three NBA teams that shock everyone next season.

Atlanta Hawks

Added: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo, Danillo Gallinari, Onyeka Okongwu (Draft)

2020 was a disappointment for everyone one.  The Atlanta Hawks were a disappointment for me.  I had them as a sleeper team to make the playoffs out of the east.  They never found their groove last season.  The Hawks finished the season with a 20-47 record.

The Hawks went wild in the offseason adding serious depth around their two young stars Trae Young and John Collins.  Atlanta added proven champ Rajan Rondo, forward Danillo Galliinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic.  They also drafted uber-talented USC Trojan Onyeka Okongwu, a player that some had as a top 5 pick.   

Despite playing one of the fastest paces in the league (7th fastest) the Hawks offense was not efficient last season.  They ranked 25th in the league in offensive efficiency.  While Atlanta moved quickly they had some serious shooting issues ranking dead last in 3-pt percentage (33%).  The addition of Bogdanovic and Gallinari immediately addresses the issue, they shoot 37% and 38% respectively.  Early reports are saying that Gallinari will be coming off of the bench along with Rondo.  The Hawks bench was one of the worst in the league last year. That won’t be the case in 2021. 

Atlanta had defensive issues last season.  A full year of Clint Capela meaning the middle will help with the rim protection.  Having the stopper in the middle will allow the lengthy wings DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish to be more aggressive to create steals.  This team improved on every aspect that they lacked last season.  Hawks will make the playoffs and create problems for a lot of teams in the East. 

New Orleans Pelicans

Added: Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams, Kira Lewis Jr (Draft)

The west is stacked and the Pelicans traded away Jrue Holiday.  There is no way this team gets better…wrong.  The Pelicans made headlines when they traded their All-Star guard to Milwaukee.  The thought from many is that the Pelicans are going to have another developmental year.  Most have ignored what the Pelicans added in the offseason.  

Eric Bledsoe is a veteran that should fill in the role as the #2 guard.  Bledsoe has a very similar skill set as Holiday.  Both players finished the season with a PER of 17,  both shoot the three around 35% and both are box score stuffers.  Holiday averaged 2 more assists per game, but it is likely that Bledsoe will see more time at the shooting guard position while Lonzo Ball will be at the point, where most of the distribution will occur. Bledsoe’s biggest attribute is coming from a winning organization that played great team defense.  A 2-time all NBA defensive player will help set the tone for a Pelicans team that was putrid on that end. 

Along with Bledsoe the Pelicans added a big man known for toughness and defense in Steven Adams. Adams will be a protector of Zion Williamson and does not need the ball on the offensive end. He will set screens for Lonzo Ball and allow him to work towards the rim utilizing the pick and roll.   Adams is the perfect fit for a team that needs toughness.

Adding two veterans to a team with the league’s most improved player Brandon Ingram and of course the “franchise” Zion Williamson makes this team an immediate threat for a playoff spot. Stan Van Gundy has the pedigree to lead a still very young team.  The mix of veterans and young rising stars ready to make an impact put them in position to make an impact. 

Phoenix Suns

Added: Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Jalen Smith (Draft)

The Phoenix Suns made an impact in the 2020 Bubble.  The Suns came in with low expectations but left with the fanbase and the NBA excited for what next season will bring.  Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are all 24 or younger and now have the leadership of future Hall of Famer Chris Paul.  

The Suns also picked up a solid swingman, Jae Crowder in free agency.  Crowder has played major minutes for playoff teams in his career.  Spending time with the Celtics, Jazz and recently the Heat.  Crowder is a locker room leader and defender that will bring toughness and playoff experience to a team that needed it to make a real run for the playoffs.  

The Suns had to give up Kelly Oubre and Ricky Rubio in order to acquire their new pieces.  The offense will have a different identity but the defense will be the biggest change in culture.  The offense will come through Booker and Ayton, the addition of veterans with experience will help them stay in control down the stretch of a tight game.  Teams can no longer key on just Booker.  Paul is reaching the later stages of his career but he showed what he can do for a team that doesn’t have near the talent that Phoenix has.  

NCAAF Picks, Big 12 and Conference USA plus Mizzou

Missouri Tigers at Mississippi State Bulldogs 

Mizzou reached their peak getting ranked in the top 25 last week.  They didn’t do anything with their momentum getting obliterated in the second half against the far superior Georgia Bulldogs.  Missouri has still had a solid year under first year Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz.  The Tigers are 5-4 and will be looking to get themselves to a bowl game.  The Mississippi State Bulldogs on the other hand have had a terrible season in their first season with Head Coach Mike Leach, going 2-7.  Their season opening upset over defending national champion LSU is just a blip in the season. 

The Tigers have leaned on RB Larry Roundtree, running for 851 yards and 12 touchdowns.  The Tigers have steady QB play since switching full time to Connor Blazek.  The Tigers have a lot to play for going into this game.  Their defense has given up 30 ppg on the season but Miss St has had some problems finishing drives.  They will need every point they can get in this one as the defense will be without senior defensive lineman Marquiss Spencer.  

Mike Leach has publicly come out about his frustrations for this season and his team has seen a lot of players call it quits due to covid.  Mizzou has a lot to play for in this one and will be inspired to put on a good performance.  They lean on Roundtree and out score the Bulldogs.  The Tigers roll and it won’t be close. 

Pick: Missouri -1

UAB Blazers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

UAB will enter its third straight Conference USA Championship game against the team that had been dominating the conference for most of the season.  Marshall’s shocking 20-0 loss to RIce two weeks ago was their lone setback of the season. The Thundering Herd are 5-3 against the spread this season led primarily by their defense.  Marshall has given up just 10 points per game this season.  An outstanding number no matter what conference you are in.   As an overall unit they are ranked 35th in the nation.  

Marshall’s freshman QB Grant Wells has had a few weeks to think about his worst performance of the season against RIce.  If you take the Rice game out, Wells has been solid for the Marshall offense throwing for 16 TD and 4 interceptions.   The Thundering Herd will go back to the basics on offense to allow the young QB to just manage the game and let the defense do its thing.  

UAB has been killed by turnovers this season.  The Blazers have 15 turnovers this season including multiple turnovers in 4 straight games before ending the streak last week against Rice.  UAB has to hold onto the ball to have a chance in this game.  Marshall has a better offense and defense.  This will be a low scoring defensive showcase that Marshall will dominate.  

Pick: Marshall -5

Oklahoma Sooners vs.  Iowa State Cyclones

Oklahoma has turned its season around after a disastrous start that included a loss to Iowa State .  Freshman QB Spencer Rattler has progressed through his early struggles to put together a nice season with 2,512 yards and 24 TD.  It has been the Sooner defense that has stepped up the most, especially against the run.  Oklahoma has allowed just 93 yards per game on the ground, ranking them 7th in the nation.  

Iowa State has had a great season.  RB Bryce Hall was a one man show in his last meeting with Oklahoma running for 139 yards and 2 TD in their first meeting.  Hall did that to most opposing defenses this year running for 1,375 yards and 17 TD.  The Cyclones are one of the slower offensive units in college football.  They will look to utilize Hall to move the ball while eating up the clock.  Their commitment to the run has allowed QB Brock Purdy to find success downfield.  If Iowa State wants to win this game they have to be able to win the battle on the ground.  

Oklahoma has had two weeks to prepare for this game.  Their last game on December 5th against Baylor.  Lincoln Riley should have his freshman QB prepared for this but I think this is going to come down to the stable play of Brock Purdy.  Purdy has been great down the stretch throwing no interceptions in their last three games and connecting on 80% of his passes.  The Iowa State offensive line will keep Purdy upright and they will control the clock with their superior run game.  

Pick: Iowa State +5.5

Overall Season Picks Record: 18-13

5 Breakout NBA Players in 2021

Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings

Marvin Bagley will always live in the shadow of Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The former Duke Blue Devil has had issues staying healthy in his young career.  He only played in 13 games last season and 62 in his rookie year.  Bagley has only started a total of 10 games in his entire NBA career.  

Entering into 2021 Bagley will be revitalized and ready to make an impact.  When able to play Bagley has consistently made an impact on the court.  Projecting over 40 minutes Bagley would average 22 points and 11 rebounds per game.  Bagley fits in perfectly with the DeAron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton in a run and gun style of offense.  The Kings will be able to utilize him in the pick and roll and have an advantage over anyone on the court.  His length and athleticism are elite, if healthy he will be a difference maker on the offensive end. 

Bagley still has issues on defense but if healthy he is extremely productive. If healthy he will be a fringe all star. 

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers stink.  Without LeBron James this franchise is an absolute abomination.  They will enter 2021 with a legit star to build around with center Andre Drummond opting to stay in Cleveland.  Drummond will join a core led by veteran Kevin Love and young rising talents Darius Garland and Kevin Porter.  The cream of the young core will be third year player Collin Sexton.  

The former Alabama standout took a small step forward in 2020.  Sexton saw his PER rise from 12 to 16, TS% from 52% to 56%  and usage rate increase from 25% to 27%.  The Cavaliers have assembled some of the best young talent in the NBA and they want Sexton to lead the way. 

Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

A DFS darling, Christian Wood thankfully found his way out of Detroit.  He is now a part of the Houston Rockets and despite the turmoil surrounding James Harden, this is a good thing.  Wood was stuck behind Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond over the last two seasons.  His time on the court was limited, but he found a way to make an impression when he was on the court.  Per 36 minutes, Wood averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game.  

Wood will have a chance to run the pick and roll with James Harden or John Wall.  He is a competent player from the outside, shooting 38% from three last season.  If Wood gets 30 minutes per game he will produce for the Rockets.  Quietly he rated #15 in PER last season at 23.22.  With or without Harden, Wood should be a major contributor to the new look Rockets in 2021.  

PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets

PJ Washington had moments of brilliance in his rookie season.  Washington will have a chance to develop under the new look Hornets along with new point guard LaMelo Ball. It looks like Charlotte will be utilizing a lot of small ball lineups this season as they have openly come out and said that Washington could see some time at center this season.  Washington will be undersized for the positions but these comments show the commitment the team has to getting him solid minutes.  With a fast style of play in the small ball lineups Washington should thrive.  

PJ Washington had an efficient year shooting 50% from 2 and 37% from 3.  The ability to play multiple positions and shoot at a high rate should make Washington a breakout stat stuffer for the Hornets. 

Seko Doumbouya, Detroit Pistons 

The Pistons had one of the best drafts of any team this season.  Adding legitimate NBA ready talent with all four of their picks.  The Pistons commitment to the youth movement may be headlined by last year’s first round pick Seko Doumbouya.  The 19 year-old former #15 pick from Guinea played limited minutes last year, but should see an increase in minutes.  Doumbouya has looked great in his first preseason appearances.  His most recent game Doumbouya showed some of his potential with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks in just 19 minutes.  

Doumbouya will have to compete with newly acquired Jerami Grant and star Blake Griffin for the power forward position, but Head Coach Dewayne Casey has already stated that his young star will have a chance to play small ball center.  His ability to shoot the three may also allow him to get minutes at the small forward position.  Doumboya’s ability to play multiple positions and a likely movement of Griffin in-season will lead  to more opportunities for the second year phenom.  


Central Michigan Chippewas at Toledo Rockets

The Toledo Rockets enter this game with one of the best passing attacks in college football.  The teams they have played make that easier statistically, but the MAC is the MAC.  They bring  that top 8 rated passing attack up against a team that has had serious problems stopping the pass.  The Chippewas are coming off an embarrassing loss to Ball State where they were shredded through the air for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Things should not change much against Toledo.

Toledo QB Carter Bradley was impressive last week throwing for 432 yards and 3 tds against Northern Illinois.  Bradley was forced into action because of the injury to starter Elliot Peters.  Whether it is Peters or Bradley under center shouldn’t matter much against the putrid defense of Central Michigan.  If it is Bradley, he will have an additional week likely taking more snaps with the first team.  The Rockets offense has been dynamite all season averaging 37.2 PPG, that will continue on Saturday. 

Central Michigan’s defense has problems but the offense has still been solid averaging 33 PPG.  Ty Brook took over at QB last week and put on a solid showing with 188 yards and 3 tds.  Central Michigan will need him to stay accurate to compete, the Toledo defense has been pretty solid versus the run. 

This game’s total seems way too low.  Both offenses move fast and score fast.  The 11 point spread means book makers see Toledo running away with it, that means Central will be forced to move even faster.  I am going with the over and considering laying the points with Toledo.  For now, stick with the over. 

Pick: Over 52.5

North Carolina Tar Heels at Miami Hurricanes 

Miami is 8-1 this season with their lone loss coming to Clemson.  Quietly they own a great record and have been solid against the spread at 6-3.  Miami has a great QB in D’Eriq King.  King is coming off of a dominant game against Duke, they shut out the Blue Devils, winning 45-0.  Miami has won five straight games against inferior ACC teams.  Their defense has inflated numbers against some of the lower level teams in their conference.  When they have played teams that bring more on offense they have given up points.  They gave up 41 to NC State, 34 to Louisville and 42 to Clemson.  On Saturday they will have a problem in the North Carolina Tarheels.  

The Tarheels continue to be underrated this season.  Tar Heels QB Sam Howell is having a great season, he threw for over 500 yards against Wake Forest before dealing with the stout Notre Dame defense that shut them down.  They followed that up by trouncing Western Carolina.  Howell has some big time help in the backfield with the two-headed monster of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams.  The running game could be the difference, both teams have great offenses and shaky defenses.  North Carolina controlling the ball will be a big deal.  Miami has continually not shown up against prime offensive teams. 

The Tarheels have the advantage on the sidelines with Mack Brown.  They have the firepower to match Miami and a much more reliable running game to control the ball with a lead.  This will be a high scoring game that UNC will prevail in because of their running game. 

Pick: Tarheels ML, Way over 67

Navy Midshipmen at Army Black Knights

The Army Black Knights rely on the run game. Their triple option game has led them to a 7-2 record with wins over Georgia Southern, UTSA and Mercer. Not exactly top notch competition but still they should have an advantage as they step up against a Navy team that’s achilles heel fits perfectly for the Black Knights. 

The Army rush attack ranks third in the country averaging 296 yards per game. Navy gives up 223 yards per game ranking 196th.  The Black Knights are coming off of a victory over Georgia Southern who plays a similar run first style as both of these teams.  Army will control the line of scrimmage as they have the advantage on both sides of the ball. 

This game is always fun.  Army has the advantage of the home field, it doesn’t matter how many people will be there.  Army covers.  

Pick: Army -7

Overall Season Picks Record: 14-12

NFL DFS Picks Dec.6 (Main Slate)

*These are just suggestions!

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers made it look easy last Sunday against the Chicago Bears. He has put up at least 23 fantasy points in each of his last six games.  The Eagles are actually pretty good against QBs this season but they will have to face a red hot Rodgers who should have most of his offensive talent available to him.  He has built chemistry with players other than just Davante Adams.  Robert Tonyan and Allen Lazard have both seen steps forward.  Aaron is priced pretty fairly at just $6,800.  I want to ride the hot hand.

Other QB’s I Love:

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

RB: Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Austin Ekeler is back and so is the production.  Ekeler saw an astounding 16 targets out of the backfield last week against Buffalo, he had a total of 25 touches in his first game back and should see similar production against the Patriots.  The Patriots will likely try and lock down Keenan Allen, which will force rookie Justin Herbert to go to his check down Ekeler.  

Jonathan Taylor was activated from the covid list right on time for a juicy matchup with the worst rush defense in the league the Houston Texans. Houston has given up 26 ppg to RBs this season and it should continue this week, as the Colts will look to keep the ball on the ground to manage the clock. Taylor should see a lot of touches this weekend.  His price is the best part at just $5.7K.

Other RB’s I Love:

David Montgomery, Chicago Bear

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Duh)

WR: Keke Coutee, Houston Texans

WR: Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

WR: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Keke Coutee is just $3.5K.  Coutee was the only receiver other than the suspended Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks to get a snap count above 25% in their last game.  Coutee will be forced into a bigger role without Fuller as the Texans will likely be forced to throw more against the tough Colts. 

Robert Woods has had 27 targets in his last two games.  He did not miss a single snap last week against the Cardinals.  His potential volume at a price under $6,000 makes him a great option in a likely high scoring game. 

Davante Adams- I am a believer that if you start a QB, you should start their #1 target.  Adams is by far the #1 target in Green Bay.  We saw what DK Metcalf did last week to the Eagles, we should see similar production from Adams on Sunday. 

Other WR’s I Love: 

Michael Pittman Jr, Indianapolis Colts

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

TE: Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

Robert Tonyan is way to cheap at $3.7K.  The Eagles will be forced to pay attention to multiple offensive threats which should leave Tonyan with multiple opportunities to hit value.  The return of Lazard has opened up a lot more freedom for Tonyan in the red zone.  He is a serious threat for a TD at a way to low cost. 

Flex: James White, New England Patriots

James White has returned to form over the last two weeks.  The injury to Rex Burkhead has opened up a lot of production for White, he has put up back to back weeks of 14+ points and has a good matchup with the Chargers on Sunday.  White shockingly rushed for two touchdowns last week, getting the red zone carries.  His real value comes from targets out of the backfield but by adding the threat of goal line carries he is way underpriced at just $5,000.  

Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks have found a pass rush since adding Carlos Dunlap and getting healthier in the secondary.  They get to face the Giants with Colt McCoy under center.  

NCAAF Picks ATS December 5

Buffalo Bulls at Ohio Bobcats

The Buffalo Bulls seem to continue to be underestimated.  Last week they seemed to be a popular fade against Kent State at home.  They went out and literally ran all over them.  RB Jaret Patterson is making a case as the most dominant player in all of college football that is not a QB.  Patterson is putting up Madden on easy type numbers, running for 409 yards and 8 touchdowns against Kent State.    

Ohio has put up some impressive numbers on offense against the bottom tier of the MAC.  The Bobcats dominated Bowling Green and Akron over the last two weeks putting up 94 points over those two games.  Buffalo brings a much more powerful offense to the table.  The last time Ohio faced an offense that could match them was Central Michigan where they gave up 30 points.  They had issues stopping the run against the Chippewas and that opened up the passing game.  

Ohio will not be able to stop the Bulls offense.  If they stack against the run Buffalo QB Kyle Vantrease will pick them apart.  The Bulls defense has given up a lot of points but have locked down when necessary.  Buffalo will continue their MAC dominance.  

Pick: Buffalo Bulls -11

Oregon Ducks at California Golden Bears

Oregon will need a bounce back after their loss to rival Oregon State.  They get a matchup with the winless California Golden Bears. The Oregon offense has been stellar this season scoring at least 35 points in every game this year.  QB Tyler Shough has stepped in for Justin Herbert nicely throwing for 1,158 yards and 11 TD and 2 rushing TD.  Along with a solid run game led last week by Travis Dye, Oregon has been moving the ball on the ground with ease.  Their run game will get even better with the return of CJ Verdell.   

The Ducks have problems stopping the run.  Oregon State RB Jemar Jefferson made swiss cheese out of the Oregon defense, going for 226 yards and 2 TD.  California found its running game last week versus against Stanford, going to 241 yards.  They should be able to continue their running trend against Oregon who has been hemorrhaging big plays all season.  

Oregon’s defense has not found its way this season but their offense should be enough o carry the load to a victory.  This game will be back and forth early but Oregon will pull away enough to cover in the end.  California should still be able to do their part against the lame Duck Oregon defense. 

Pick: Oregon Ducks -10, over 58

Vanderbilt Commodores at Georgia Bulldogs

Vanderbilt is coming off of a 41-0 beating at the hands of Mizzou.  They get to face a Georgia Bulldogs team that has been stingy on defense all season. They currently rank 22nd overall in points against, that includes two games with Florida and Alabama.  Georgia’s defense will shut them down and they will coast to an early lead.  

Once the Bulldogs establish their lead they will just run the ball and kill time.   This game looks like it will likely be a shutout.  The Georgia offense has found itself with JT Daniels at the helm, they should be able to put up points easily but they will not get to 54.  Their pace of play ranks in the high 70s and should move even slower with the second string coming in around the 3rd quarter.  

Pick: Under 53.5

Overall Season Picks Record: 12-10