NFL

NFL Fantasy Picks: Raiders offense a safe bet in Atlanta, Giants the defense to own in Week 12

By Sports Desk November 25, 2020

The Las Vegas Raiders came up short in Week 11 against the Kansas City Chiefs but did so with a performance that was another reminder of the strides they have made on offense this season.

Head coach Jon Gruden, whose coaching tree includes innovators such as Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, widely regarded as the two best play-callers in the NFL, is overseeing one of the most efficient offenses in the league in the 2020 season.

The Raiders, therefore, are worthy of fantasy consideration every week and managers with Las Vegas players on their roster should have no hesitation starting them in Week 12, when they face the lowly Atlanta Falcons.

NFC East teams have been far less trustworthy this year, but three of the four teams in the division feature in this week's edition of fantasy picks.

QB: Derek Carr - Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders' success this season has not resulted in fantasy consistency for Derek Carr despite his clear improvement as a quarterback in 2020.

But he is coming off a three-touchdown game against the Chiefs and this week takes on the most generous fantasy defense to opposing quarterbacks in the Atlanta Falcons.

If you have Carr, make sure he is in your starting line-up.

RB: Miles Sanders - Philadelphia Eagles

The primary source of competence on the Philadelphia offense, last Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns was just the second time this season that Sanders failed to put up double-digit fantasy points.

Do not expect him to record a third such game against the Seattle Seahawks, who are allowing 19 points per game to opposing running backs. Sanders also has successive games with five targets in the passing game, meaning he has some points per reception upside against the worst pass defense in the NFL.

WR: Terry McLaurin - Washington Football Team

In what is somehow an important game in the NFC East between two three-win teams, McLaurin is almost certain to play a pivotal role against a Dallas Cowboys defense giving up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

He has at least seven targets in every game this season and caught seven of his 11 targets for 90 yards and a touchdown in the reverse fixture in Week 7. McLaurin is a safe bet to replicate and perhaps outperform that production in this Thanksgiving clash.

TE: Darren Waller - Las Vegas Raiders

Believe it or not, that Falcons defense that struggles against opposing quarterbacks also has difficulties defending tight ends.

Atlanta allow the most fantasy points in the NFL to tight ends, meaning it should be another productive day for Darren Waller.

After some quiet weeks by his standards, Waller caught all seven of his targets for 88 yards against the Chiefs and should keep the momentum going in the city where he played his college ball.

D/ST: New York Giants

The Giants, like every other team in the league's worst division, are firmly in the mix in the NFC East.

New York's 15 turnovers are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL and they should have a chance to add to that tally against a Cincinnati Bengals team starting backup quarterback Ryan Finley following the season-ending injury to Joe Burrow.

Given the Bengals' struggles in protecting the quarterback, Sunday could be a hugely profitable day for fantasy managers willing to back the Giants defense to take advantage of a favourable matchup.

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    Aaron Rodgers is relishing the opportunity to feature in a long-awaited NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field after the Green Bay Packers downed the Los Angeles Rams.

    Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career following the Packers' 32-18 win over the Rams in the NFL playoffs on Saturday.

    Top MVP candidate Rodgers finished 23-of-36 passing for 296 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, while the Super Bowl champion rushed for another TD.

    Either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints await the Packers in Green Bay on January 24 – the winner progressing to the Super Bowl – and star quarterback Rodgers is excited.

    "It means a lot. [Former Packers receiver] Jordy [Nelson] and I talked about it years ago. Made a lot of starts in this league without hosting the NFC Championship," Rodgers – whose four previous NFC Championship appearances have been on the road – told reporters when asked what it meant to host the title game in Green Bay.

    "Hopefully it is a little colder than it was tonight. The fans were special and the energy was special. There is a home-field advantage. The fact we get to host, can't say sleep in our own bed because there is still an antiquated idea of staying in a hotel the night before a game instead of your warm, cosy six-night a week bed. I know COVID-19 is involved in that. I'm still salty about that antiquated idea.

    "But it is meaningful to have fans at the game. Hopefully we can get even more if this worked out. It will be exciting. Enjoy this tonight, celebrate and to watch tomorrow, knowing whoever wins is coming to our place."

    Amid the coronavirus pandemic, less than 9,000 fans were allowed to attend the Packers-Rams matchup in Green Bay, where Rodgers recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns.

    According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (10).

    Rodgers – whose Green Bay are eyeing their first Super Bowl crown since 2010 – also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

    Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

    "It felt like 50,000 when we ran out of the tunnel, it really did," Rodgers said. "It was such a special moment. Forgot how much you truly, truly miss having a crowd there ... it felt like, 50,000, 60,000."

    Rodgers added: ''I'm definitely a little emotional, just thinking about what we've been through. It got me emotional with the crowd out there today.''

  • NFL Playoffs: Rodgers leads Packers to second straight NFC Championship Game NFL Playoffs: Rodgers leads Packers to second straight NFC Championship Game

    Another year, another NFC Championship Game berth for the Green Bay Packers, who took down the Los Angeles Rams 32-18.

    Aaron Rodgers – the top MVP candidate – led the way as the number one Packers advanced to their second successive NFC title game by beating the Rams in the Divisional Round at Lambeau Field on Saturday.

    Packers quarterback Rodgers flexed his muscles – finishing 23-of-36 passing for 296 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, while the Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL MVP rushed for another TD.

    Rams QB Jared Goff was 21 of 27 for 174 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay, where he was sacked four times.

    The Packers, who lost to the San Francisco 49ers in last season's Championship Game, and Rams traded field goals in an evenly contested opening quarter.

    But the Packers moved clear after outscoring the Rams 16-7 in the second period – Rodgers throwing a TD pass to Davante Adams and running for his own TD while Goff connected with Van Jefferson as Green Bay took a 19-10 lead into half-time.

    Aaron Jones extended the Packers' lead to 25-10 with a one-yard run before Rams star Cam Akers helped close the visitors within seven points of Green Bay.

    However, the Packers were too good as Rodgers threw a 58-yard pass to Allen Lazard with less than seven minutes remaining in the final quarter to send Green Bay back to the NFC title contest.

     

    Turning point – Green Bay maintain second-quarter dominance

    There is no better team than the Packers in second quarters.

    Green Back set an NFL season record for second-quarter points with 205 heading into the postseason. The New England Patriots had previously held the record with 199 in 2007.

    The Packers showed why they are so good in second periods after scoring 16 points to move clear of the Rams on Saturday.

    Rodgers produces the goods… again

    Rodgers showed he is the man for the big stage once again after recording his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns.

    According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (10).

    Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

    Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

    What's next?

    The Packers – eyeing their first Super Bowl crown since 2010 – will face the winner of the Buccaneers-Saints matchup in the NFC Championship showdown on January 24.

    For the Rams, they are left to pick up the pieces after returning to the playoffs following a year absence, having lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

  • Premier League data dive: Chelsea end poor away form, Leicester up to second Premier League data dive: Chelsea end poor away form, Leicester up to second

    Chelsea needed a late intervention from Mason Mount to overcome Fulham 1-0 on Saturday, relieving the pressure on boss Frank Lampard. 

    Brendan Rodgers - a man tipped to take over at Stamford Bridge if Lampard is removed as boss - saw his Leicester City side climb up to second in the table with a 2-0 win over Southampton. 

    There were also wins for Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and struggling West Brom. 

    Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

     

    Fulham 0-1 Chelsea: Mount settles west London derby

    Chelsea left it late to overcome Fulham at Craven Cottage, Mason Mount scoring with 12 minutes remaining to end the Blues' run of three straight away Premier League defeats. 

    The scoreline perhaps should not come as a surprise, given Chelsea have won 131 Premier League games by that margin - the most common winning score for a single team in the competition's history. 

    The result also marked Chelsea's fourth away clean sheet of the season - a feat they managed just once last season. 

    It could have been a different outcome had Antonee Robinson not seen red shortly before half-time for a wild lunge on Cesar Azpilicueta. That dismissal was Fulham's third in the Premier League this season - no side has had more so far this term. 

    Defeat for Scott Parker's side means they are winless in their last 19 top-flight London derby matches since a 2-1 win over West Ham in January 2014.

    Leicester City 2-0 Southampton: Maddison and Barnes on target for flying Foxes

    Leicester moved up to second in the Premier League after earning their first home league win against Southampton since April 2016, ending a run of four without a win against the Saints at the King Power Stadium. 

    They were set on their way by James Maddison, who has now scored in consecutive top-flight games for the Foxes for the first time since October 2019, matching his goal tally at the King Power Stadium from each of the previous two campaigns.

    Harvey Barnes' 10th goal of the season sealed all three points, the winger equalling his best ever goals return in a single campaign. 

    Southampton, meanwhile, have now failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 34 in the competition.

    The Saints' first 12 Premier League games this season saw 41 goals scored (F24 A17), at an average of 3.4 per game, while their last six games have seen just six goals scored (F2 A4).

    Wolves 2-3 West Brom: Pereira brace gives Allardyce lift off

    Sam Allardyce got off the mark with his first win as West Brom boss to revive his side's survival hopes against out-of-form Wolves.

    The veteran manager, previously without a win in five matches in all competitions since taking over, is now without defeat in six Premier League games against Wolves - his best unbeaten return against any side in the division.

    Matheus Pereira gave West Brom the lead from the penalty spot early on - the ninth league game in a row Wolves have conceded first - before Fabio Silva and Willy Boly turned the game in the home side's favour.

    In doing so, Boly became the first Wolves player to concede a penalty, assist and score a goal in the same Premier League game since Adlene Guedioura in May 2011 - also against West Brom at Molineux.

    Semi Ajayi levelled the game up with his ninth headed goal since the start of 2018-19 - no defender in England's top four tiers has scored more, level with Virgil van Dijk and Aaron Pierre - and Pereira scored the winner with another spot-kick.

    Wolves, who last lost successive home league games against West Brom between 1929 and 1931, are without a clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches - the longest ongoing run among sides in the division.

    Leeds 0-1 Brighton: Maupay haunts Bielsa's men again

    Brighton ended a nine-game winless run in the Premier League with a narrow victory at Leeds thanks to Neal Maupay's close-range finish after 17 minutes.

    Maupay rounded off a slick team move for his 10th away goal for Albion in the competition, making him just the second player to reach that tally for the Seagulls after Glenn Murray (11).

    It was the striker's fourth goal in five league appearances against Leeds and ensured a first ever away top-flight victory in this fixture for his side at the fourth attempt.

    Leeds, whose two shots on target was their second fewest in a home match under Marcelo Bielsa, have lost their first three games in a calendar year for the first time since 2014.

    West Ham 1-0 Burnley: Antonio hits milestone goal in narrow win

    Michail Antonio made the difference as Burnley fired another blank, the versatile forward becoming the fourth West Ham player to reach the 40-goal mark for the club after Paolo Di Canio (47), Mark Noble (46) and Carlton Cole (41).

    All 40 of those goals have been scored inside the penalty area - only Tim Cahill (56), Javier Hernandez (53), Gabriel Jesus (43) and John Terry (41) have netted more with 100 per cent coming inside the box.

    No team has failed to score in more different Premier League games than Burnley this season (10), while no team has netted in more different games than West Ham (15).

    It was also a third successive clean sheet in the league for David Moyes' men for the first time since September 2019 as they picked up an eighth win of the campaign in their 18th game, a tally it took them 32 games to reach last time around.

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