NFL

NFL Fantasy Picks: Russ can finally cook against winless Raiders

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

As in the NFL, if you don't have a win by Week 3 of the fantasy football season, it's probably time to be concerned.

Well as concerned as it's healthy to be about a game played for fun with no real-world consequences.

Still, should you still be staring at a goose egg in the win column, then it is clear you need to nail your lineup selections in Week 4. 

Thankfully, Stats Perform is here to help, using its advanced data to pick out four offensive players and a defense who are primed to deliver fantasy production this weekend.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders

Wilson managed to lead a game-winning drive on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers despite being throttled for much of the game by their outstanding defense.

The defense of the Raiders, despite the best efforts of impressive edge rusher Maxx Crosby, presents nowhere close to the same challenge, allowing 7.15 yards per pass play - the fourth-most in the NFL. The Raiders' nine touchdown drives allowed are tied for the fifth-most in the league.

In short, this is a game where Wilson can finally have hope of thriving in a Denver offense to which he has so far struggled to adapt. Have faith that Wilson will deliver in this AFC West clash.

Running Back: Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears @ New York Giants

With David Montgomery suffering a knee injury in the Bears' narrow win over the Houston Texans, Herbert stepped up, compiling 157 rushing yards at a rate of 7.85 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns on the ground.

Herbert is taking advantage of the holes the Bears' offensive line is opening, averaging 4.76 yards before contact per attempt, the third-most among running backs with at least 20 carries, per Stats Perform data.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields has attempted just 45 passes through three games, with the Bears running the ball 57 per cent of the time. The usage will clearly be there for Herbert, assuming Montgomery cannot play, and that should translate to another impressive statistical day against a Giants defense allowing 5.3 yards per rush.

Wide Receiver: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

St. Brown is enjoying one of the breakout years in the NFL through three weeks. He is fourth in the NFL in receptions with 23 and has 253 yards and three touchdowns to his name.

He has a huge opportunity to add to that against a dismal Seahawks defense.

Unsurprisingly, the Seahawks' performance in Week 1 against the Broncos, in which they consistently stood firm in the red zone, proved a mirage, with Seattle shredded by the 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in successive weeks.

The Seahawks are allowing 7.84 yards per pass play, only their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals have given up more. With such a favourable matchup at home, St. Brown is a bona fide fantasy WR1 this week.

Tight End: David Njoku, Cleveland Browns @ Atlanta Falcons

Njoku produced his best game of the season so far in the Browns' Week 3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, hauling in nine of his 10 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown.

He is excelling at creating separation, winning 12 of his 16 matchups with a defender so far this season, and this week gets to face a Falcons defense that has allowed a touchdown or field goal on 15 of the 30 offensive drives it has faced in 2022.

With Njoku second in the pecking order behind wide receiver Amari Cooper in terms of pass-catchers on this Browns offense, he is in a prime spot to enjoy another excellent game.

Defense/Special Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets

The Steelers might have struggled to stop Njoku and the Browns, but their defense should be salivating at the thought of facing the Jets.

Zach Wilson is set to return for the Jets, but he is unlikely to change their struggles holding on to the ball.

The Jets have already committed seven giveaways this season. Last year, Wilson threw 19 interceptable passes in 13 games. 

Even without star pass rusher T.J. Watt, the Steelers have the defensive talent to take advantage of the Jets' carelessness and make it a difficult 2022 debut for Wilson.

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    Portugal coach Fernando Santos insists his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo is unchanged despite dropping the captain for Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup.

    Ronaldo was benched after Santos expressed his disappointment with the striker's attitude following his substitution during last week's defeat to South Korea.

    Santos said on Monday the matter had been resolved internally, but Ronaldo was then dropped to the bench for the clash at Lusail Stadium, starting a major-tournament match among the substitutes for the first time since 2008 (31 games).

    A fan poll on the website of Portuguese newspaper A Bola suggested 70 per cent of Portugal fans wanted Ronaldo out of the team, and the Selecao went on to produce one of their best performances at a major tournament in years.

    Goncalo Ramos replaced Ronaldo in the attack and had a hand in four goals, including a hat-trick, but Santos did not commit to keeping faith in the Benfica prospect for the quarter-final against Morocco.

    Santos told reporters: "That's still something that has to be defined [who starts in the next game]. I already answered in yesterday's press conference [regarding Ronaldo]; there is no problem between us.

    "I have a strong relationship with him, I always have. I have known him since he was young and at Sporting [CP], and then it started to develop in the national team.

    "This relationship only developed. We've been friends for many years, things don't affect us.

    "I already explained everything was resolved. I said that and I repeat that now. This is something that's finished and resolved.

    "How he came in with a lot of will, he set an example as a great captain."

    In scoring his hat-trick, Ramos became the first player to net three times on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.

    Similarly, it only took him 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never managed: score in a World Cup knockout game.

    For most, Ramos starting the quarter-final clash would be a simple decision to make, but Santos intends to keep people guessing.

    "Obviously I have my ways to observes things, I always have," he continued. "The players we have in this position obviously have many different characteristics.

    "Andre [Silva] plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he plays in a determined area. Goncalo is dynamic.

    "That's what he ended up showing us, but it was nothing new because he came on in two other games.

    "I have three players I fully trust and for each match I will use what I think is the right strategy, as I have always done in my career."

    Tuesday's success was Portugal's biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, with it the first time they have scored six beyond the group stage.

    It was a truly rampant performance, though Santos was particularly pleased that his team did not get carried away with the euphoria.

    "It's exactly what I said [to the players]; when we are euphoric, I think we can go beyond what we should do in a match.

    "We can end up having a bit too much fun, to use that expression, and football is not fun. Yes, you have to play, have fun in the field, but too much fun is not appropriate.

    "In this aspect, in terms of how serious they were, they were fantastic."

    Portugal will face Morocco in their quarter-final at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.
  • Struggling Los Angeles Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers Struggling Los Angeles Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers

    Desperate to save what has been a disastrous title defense, the Los Angeles Rams have claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers.

    The defending Super Bowl champions made the move on Tuesday, one day after Mayfield was released by the Carolina Panthers.

    The former top pick joins a Los Angeles team that has lost six consecutive games and is tied with the Denver Broncos for the NFL's third-worst record at 3-9.

    While it was being speculated he would be claimed by a contending team dealing with an injury at quarterback – the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens – he instead joins a Rams team out of the playoff picture.

    The quarterback position has been a mess for Los Angeles with Matthew Stafford likely out for the rest of the season with a bruised spinal cord, while backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins have struggled to generate much offense.

    Wolford has one touchdown pass and a 64.6 QB rating in two games played, while Perkins has one touchdown and a 53.7 rating in four contests.

    Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns, has not been much better, throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions while registering a 74.4 passer rating in seven games played. Among quarterbacks with at least 75 attempts, Mayfield's 57.8 completion percentage beats out only the New York Jets' Zach Wilson (55.6 per cent).

    Mayfield went just 1-6 for the Panthers, who acquired him from the Browns in July and would have been responsible to pay him $1.35million for the remainder of this season had the Rams not put in the claim.

    Los Angeles host the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night, and it is not out of the question Mayfield plays.

  • Portugal 6-1 Switzerland: Ramos hat-trick emphatically vindicates Ronaldo benching as Selecao stroll into last eight Portugal 6-1 Switzerland: Ramos hat-trick emphatically vindicates Ronaldo benching as Selecao stroll into last eight

    Cristiano Ronaldo's benching was fully vindicated as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick to guide Portugal into the World Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 6-1 demolition of Switzerland.

    Fernando Santos had been angered by Ronaldo's attitude after being substituted in their defeat to South Korea and the veteran coach took the opportunity to bench the out-of-form 37-year-old on Tuesday.

    It took Ramos 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never done for Portugal: score in a World Cup knockout game, and he would ultimately have a hand in four goals.

    Pepe, captain in Ronaldo's absence, got Portugal's second and Ramos also teed up Raphael Guerreiro, with Manuel Akanji's consolation for Switzerland prior to Ramos' hat-trick goal and Rafael Leao's late stunner a mere footnote.

    Ramos' opener was entirely out of keeping with a dull opening.

    Joao Felix passed into the left side of the area and, after taking a touch, Ramos sent a bullet of a left-footed strike into the top-left corner from a tight angle.

    A fingertip Diogo Costa save from Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick just before the half-hour kept Portugal in front and they capitalised three minutes later as Pepe headed home Bruno Fernandes' corner.

    Any hope of a turnaround was swiftly put down by two goals early in the second half.

    Ramos first turned in Diogo Dalot's low cross before the striker unselfishly teed up Guerreiro.

    Akanji knocked in at the back post after a Portugal defender inadvertently flicked on a corner, but the deficit was four again soon after – Ramos' impudent dink over Yann Sommer completing a memorable treble.

    He was later brought off as Ronaldo – who had a late goal disallowed for offside – entered, but Portugal were not done yet, with Leao burying a gorgeous curler in stoppage time.

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