Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

With this being the Thanksgiving weekend, three games have already been played, so the slate of games in which to make picks is smaller. That said, I still was 3-1 two weeks ago when I last made my selections, the third time this season that I have had three winners.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis (-2.5)

Yes, Tampa Bay has won three out of their last four, but who have they beaten? Philly and the Cowboys are among the worst teams in the NFL right now. While I agree that Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has shown great improvement all season, he still will need to be on top of his game in a hostile Indianapolis environment.

The Colts have played well with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, and that trend has to continue if the Colts want to win the AFC South. It’s just a hunch, but I like the Colts to win by at least three. Give the points.

Kansas City (-7) at Buffalo

This is a battle between two 5–5 teams going in different directions. The Chiefs started out slowly losing 5 of their first six games but have come back to win their last four. All four of those wins have been very convincing.

The Bills on the other hand have gone 2-2 in their last four and have been playing with multiple injuries.

While it is usually a bad idea to pick a home team getting as many points as Buffalo is getting, I just feel Kansas City has hit stride and is on top of their game. I’ll take KC in this one and give the seven.

New Orleans at Houston (-3)

When I looked at the spread of this game, my first thought was “how can that be”? Houston has been playing excellent football of late and have won three in a row. They are also playing to win the AFC South title.

New Orleans has lost two in a row and have won only one time on the road all season. What the Saints have going for them is their defensive scheme may be a bit different with Rob Ryan gone, but they still just don’t have enough good players on that side of the ball.

Go with the home team and give the points!

San Diego (+5) at Jacksonville

There is a side bar to this game that not many people will know about. Both San Diego General Manager Tom Telesco and Jacksonville General Manager David Caldwell are life long friends. They attended Saint Francis High School in suburban Buffalo together as well as John Carroll University in Cleveland. They then went to the Indianapolis Colts together to work with fellow classmate Chris Polian who is the son of Hall of Fame General Manager Bill Polian.

Friendships aside, I feel that San Diego is the better team. True, Jacksonville has won three out of their last four, but they very easily could have lost those games also. San Diego has struggled all season, but I have to go with the better quarterback in Phillip Rivers. The Jags may win, but I’ll take the points.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

Shilique Calhoun – DE – Michigan State

Calhoun is a fifth year senior and a three year starter for the Spartans. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2011, played as a backup in 2012 and has been a starter ever since at the wide side defensive end position. Michigan State runs an attacking 4-3 scheme.

In 2014 Calhoun had 39 total tackles, 8.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. To date this season he has 37 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. His career sack total stands at 25.

Size –

6050 – 250 – 4.77 (all estimated)

Strong Points – He is a three year starter and has been a productive player as a wide side defensive end. Is tall with good length. Good to very good pass rush skill, knows how to use his hands. Can dip his shoulder when coming off the edge and get under blockers. Good close off blocks to the quarterback. Good overall instincts and reactions. Shows a burst and takes good angles in pursuit. Good tackler. Consistent competitive nature.

Weak Points – Lacks ideal size and I doubt he has the frame to carry much more than 260. Has good not great speed. Lacks power at the point of attack and can get stalemated by run blockers. Inconsistent ability to shed run blocks. Makes more plays in the run game in pursuit than at the point of attack. Not as strong or powerful as he should be.

Summation – Looking at tapes form both 2014 and this season, I haven’t seen the improvement in his game that I wanted to see. He is not a big or powerful guy ad can struggle at the point of attack in the run game. Very inconsistent at getting penetration and disrupting run plays. Makes more plays as a pursuit player than at the pint of attack. Has good not great pass rush skills. To date he has never hit double digits in sacks in a single season. Can use his hands and has a variety of moves but more of a finesse pass rusher. Don’t see an explosive bull rush.

Overall, if he is drafted by a 4-3 club, I see him as more of a situational player who comes in on pass situations. He is not an every down 4-3 defensive end. His best position may be as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. He still would need to get a little bigger and stronger and prove that he will be able to drop into coverage. This would be his best bet to be an every down player. The Combine, his pro day and private workouts will be very important as to where he eventually gets drafted. He is a good player not a special player.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report

Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama

Henry is a third year junior and one year starter who by all accounts may enter the 2016 NFL Draft. He played as a backup as a true freshman in 2013, rotated with the starter in 2014 and is the primary starter in 2015. In 2014 he ran for 990 yards on 172 carries and 11 touchdowns. He also had 5 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns. To date this year he has run for 1526 yards and 21 touchdowns and has caught 10 passes for 97 yards.

Size – 6026 – 240 – 4.55 (all estimates)

Strong Points – Huge man with great strength and power. Has good vision and instincts and shows the ability to create. Good cutback runner. Runs with lean and can move the pile. Consistently gets the tough yards in short yardage situations. Can and will break long runs. Can be extremely difficult to bring down in the open field because of his size and power. A reliable pass receiver with good hands. Is a good pass blocker. Durable, not a fumbler. Plays in an NFL style offense at Alabama.

Weak Points – He is a semi-strider who is not all that quick or explosive to the hole. Has a false step before going forward. While he can make some quick cuts, he is not all that elusive. Needs to get and keep better positioning when pass blocking. In recent years, many Alabama backs have not played up to their potential in the NFL.

Summation – Henry is a different kind of back in that you don’t see a back with his size and overall athleticism that often. While he is not explosively quick, he is very strong and gets excellent production as both an inside and outside runner. While you don’t see a burst while underway, he is deceptively fast and breaks a lot of long runs at the college level. He is a punishing runner who gets better as the game goes on because of his size and strength. Will wear a defense down. He is reliable as a receiver who will need to work on his pass routes to become a good receiver at the next level. While he is a very willing blocker, he will also need to work on his positioning and technique. Overall, he is the type of back that can come in and play right away in the right scheme and be very effective.

Devontae Booker – RB – Utah

Fifth year senior and a junior college transfer. Started out at American River College in 2011 and played there two years. Just went to school and did not participate in football in 2013 while trying to get his grades in order. Played at and started at Utah in both 2014 and 2015. In 2014 he ran for 1512 yards, caught 43 passes for an additional 306 yards and scored a total of 12 touchdowns. In 2015 he has run for 1261 yards and has 37 receptions for 318 yards. He also has scored 11 times. In game 10 versus Arizona he tore his meniscus and had surgery. He will miss the remainder of the season. Is older and will be a 25 year old rookie.

Size – 6000 – 212 – 4.49 (all estimates)

Strong Points – Very good athlete with speed, a burst, change of direction, balance and body control. Has been very productive in a good conference. Though he has a false step he is quick to the hole and has excellent vision and instincts. Has jump cut and cutback skills to go along with very good creativity. Can stop and go and has an excellent short area burst. Gets to full speed very quickly. Patient and effective both inside and out. Can make himself small in small spaces to get positive yards. While not overly powerful he stays low and gets yards after contact. Is a very good receiver and a willing blocker. Team Co-Captain.

Weak Points – Doesn’t look to have the frame to get much bigger. Will need work on pass blocking technique. Is coming off knee surgery that will be closely looked at when he is at the Combine.

Summation – Booker is a very productive two year starter at Utah. While he is not the biggest back, he is strong and consistently gets yards after contact at the college level. He is effective as both a runner and a receiver and has the vision and elusiveness to break some long runs. Because he lacks great size, I don’t see him as a bell cow type back in the NFL, but he can be very effective in a rotation if he gets 15-20 touches a game as both a runner and a receiver. Can be a playmaker in that type of roll. The team medical staffs will look closely at his knee surgery to make sure there are no arthritic conditions.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Michael Freas
Fantasy Report

Welcome back to NFP’s Week 12 DFS Corner. I hope everyone has a relaxing, safe, and enjoyable Thanksgiving. I, for one, am hoping the play of my Eagles doesn’t ruin my appetite for the remainder of the day. Last week, I got back on track as most of my suggestions reached or exceeded their value. But I wasn’t without some misses as the injury bug hurt my picks of Devonta Freeman, Charcandrick West and Zach Ertz.

We are now officially done with bye weeks, so we have all 32 teams at our disposal this weekend. The format below is a little different this week given the Thursday slate on Thanksgiving. Please leave some feedback on the new format, as I am trying to provide you with the best intel.

For those of you who haven’t signed up for DraftKings yet and would like to, sign up here

National Football Post is also hosting a League this weekend. If you would like to participate in NFP’s DFS Corner  50/50 League, you can enter a team here.

Please find this weeks weather report for all the games here

Here are Vegas’s week 12 Spreads and Game Totals

Home Away Spread Total Game Date Time
Detroit Lions Philadelphia Eagles PHL -1 46 Thurs. Nov. 26th 12:30pm
Dallas Cowboys Carolina Panthers CAR -1 46 Thurs. Nov. 26th 4:30pm
Green Bay Packers Chicago Bears GB -9 47 Thurs. Nov 26th 8:30pm
Houston Texans New Orleans Saints HOU -3 47.5 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
Cincinnati Bengals St. Louis Rams CIN -9 42 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
Atlanta Falcons Minnesota Vikings ATL -2 46 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
Washington Redskins New York Giants NYG -2.5 46.5 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
Indianapolis Colts Tampa Bay Buccaneers IND -3 46.5 Sun. Nov 29th 1:oopm
Kansas City Chiefs Buffalo Bills KC -5 41 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders OAK -2 44 Sun. Nov 29th 1:oopm
Jacksonville Jaguars San Diego Chargers JAC -4 46.5 Sun. Nov 29th 1:oopm
New York Jets Miami Dolphins NYJ -3.5 42.5 Sun. Nov 29th 1:00pm
San Francisco 49ers Arizona Cardinals ARZ -10 45 Sun. Nov 29th 4:05pm
Seattle Seahawks Pittsburgh Steelers SEA -4.5 44.5 Sun. Nov 29th 4:25pm
Denver Broncos New England Patriots NE -3 44.5 Sun. Nov 29th 8:30pm
Cleveland Browns Baltimore Ravens CLE -2.5 41 Mon. Nov 30th 8:30pm


Thursday: Turkey Edition Plays


Cash Game Play: Aaron Rodgers ($7,400) vs. Chicago Bears: Despite the Packers offense not running as smoothly as we are used to, Aaron Rodgers has still been a very productive quarterback.  Rodgers’s last 3 games have consisted of point totals of 19.08, 25.12, and 36.96 points. Rodgers represents the safest option on a short 3 game slate. While the Bears, statistically, have been strong versus the pass this year, I expect Rodgers to be firing on all cylinders on prime time versus a defense that is allowing over 23 points a game and which Vegas predicts to have a total of 47, the highest of any Thanksgiving game.

Tournament Plays: Matt Stafford ($5,800) vs. Philadelphia Eagles and Mark Sanchez ($5,200)

Running backs

Matt Forte ($6,800) @ Green Bay Packers: Forte is set to make his return this week after sitting out the past month with an MCL sprain. Although Forte will probably give up some carries to Langford, I am still expecting a heavy workload given the uncertainty with injuries to Jeffrey, Royal and Bennett. Furthermore, Forte is never priced below $7k and his work in the receiving game alone should provide a high floor.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson ($7,200) vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin is the top WR play for the Thursday slate. He gets to face off against an Eagles defense that is giving up the 2nd most points to opposing receivers. Nolan Carroll and Byron Maxwell are no match for Calvin Johnson and the Eagles will have no answers.

Tight End

Brent Celek ($3,200) @ Detroit Lions: Celek is a great value tight end for the Thursday slate. Zach Ertz looks to be out with a concussion, and Celek will be the beneficiary of that. Mark Sanchez looks for his tight ends often as evident last week when he caught 7 passes for 79 yards off of 10 targets.

Sunday Slate

Quarterback Options

Carson Palmer ($7,100) @ San Francisco 49ers: Palmer is coming off an impressive 317 passing yards and 4 touchdown performance versus the Cincinnati Bengals. He has been a great cash game option as he has exceeded 3x value in his last 4 games with scores of 29.58, 26.32, 33.56, and 19.2. The 49ers are giving up the 5th most points to opposing fantasy QBs and are allowing over 291 passing yards per game. The only thing to be conscious of would be if the Cardinals get up big early and rely on the run more given the 49ers inability to also to defend the run. But the Cardinals don’t really utilize their running backs to grind out games, so I see Palmer being an extremely safe option.

Brian Hoyer ($5,000) vs. New Orleans Saints: Hoyer has been a staple cash game play of mine when the right matchup presents itself given the Texans’ high volume of passes and his cheap price. This week, the Texans get to face the worst defense in football in the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are coming out of a bye and Rob Ryan is no longer the defensive coordinator, but the lack of quality playmakers remains. The Saints give up the most points to opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 25 points per game. The Saints’ defense has already allowed 28 touchdowns on the year , 17 touchdowns over the past 4 weeks, and are letting up an average of 308 passing yards per game. Hoyer represents extreme value this week.

Tournament Plays: Eli Manning ($6,500) @ Washington, Kirk Cousins ($5,400) vs. New York Giants

Runnings Backs:

Adrian Peterson ($7,300) @ Atlanta Falcons: AP is the only high priced running back I will consider paying up for in lineups this week. AP was a disappointment last week, but I am looking for him to get back on track this week against a below average Atlanta run defense. The Falcons are giving up the third most points to opposing running backs this year.

TJ Yeldon ($4,800) vs. San Diego Chargers: Yeldon is the lucky running back to go off against the worst rushing defense in the NFL in the San Diego Chargers. Not only are the Chargers giving up the most points to opposing running backs, but they are giving up 111 rushing yards per game and over 5 receptions per game. The game script also favors Yeldon as the Jaguars are 4.5 point favorites in a game Vegas predicts to be pretty high scoring with a total of 46.5 points. The Chargers can’t stop anyone. They allowed Spencer Ware to run close for 100 yards and gave up 3 rushing touchdowns last week.

Thomas Rawls ($4,500) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rawls was a tournament savior for me last week as he got the start with Marshawn Lynch being a late inactive. Rawls offers great value again this week, despite the Steelers’ strong efforts against the run this year. Seattle is a run first team and Rawls is no slacker as he is leading the NFL with 6 YPC. He ran rampant last week with over 255 total yards, giving him his third 100 yard game of the season. He should see the lion’s share of volume again this week and could even find himself active on the receiving end once again. Start him with confidence. He presents great value this week in a game where the Seahawks are favorited by 4.5 points.

Javorius Allen ($4,600) vs. Cleveland Browns: With Justin Forsett and Joe Flacco both out for the year, I am expecting people to potentially fade the Ravens’ offense until they see how they perform. But given Allen’s low price and the fact that he is facing a Browns’ defense that is giving up an NFL worst 138 rushing yards per game, I am intrigued. I am assuming the Ravens will rely on Allen for most of their offensive production, and he should be active in both the rushing and passing game.

Chris Johnson ($4,600) vs. San Francisco 49ers: CJ2K has been quiet after his hot start, but his matchup and price makes him a great value play this week. The 49ers are giving up over 111 rushing yards per game and over 5.5 receptions to opposing running backs. They are giving up the 2nd most points to opposing running backs as well. CJ2K had 2 touchdowns and over 111 yards versus the 49ers earlier this year, and the game script favors the rushing attack as the Cardinals are 10 point favorites.

Wide Receiver Plays:

Julio Jones ($9,400) vs. Minnesota Vikings: Julio Jones has the top matchup according to PFF as he gets to face off against promising, yet struggling, Xavier Rhodes. PFF has Julio having the biggest matchup advantage amongst WRs and CBs.  With Devonta Freeman’s status up in the air, the Falcons will need to rely on their passing game a little more this week. Julio Jones is a target machine already and will be a staple play of mine this week.

DeAndre Hopkins ($9,100) vs. New Orleans Saints: Hopkins further proved last week that he is a matchup proof option as he got the best of Darrelle Revis for much of the afternoon. This week, he gets to face Delvin Breaux who is a promising cornerback but no matchup for Hopkins and all the volume and targets he brings. He is the top play at WR this week, and given the value at running back and quarterback, I plan on pairing him with Julio.

Larry Fitzgerald ($7,400) @ San Francisco 49ers : Fitz might be the most consistent option on a week to week basis, providing a high floor given his moderately high price. This week, he gets to face off against the 49ers who are giving up the 5th most points to opposing receivers. Fitz also has the most appealing mtachup of all Cardinals’ receivers as he should face off against Jimmie Ward for most of the afternoon. PFF has Fitz’s matchup vs Ward as the 4th biggest advantage amongst WR and CBs.

Stevie Johnson ($4,500) @ Jacksonville Jaguars : This one is simple, Johnson is still low priced and the top target for a pass happy Chargers’ offense. He hauled in 7 of his 8 targets last week exceeding 12 points for the second consecutive week. I am expecting the Chargers’ offense to get back on track, and if that’s the case, then Johnson will be a big reason why.

Other Wide Receivers I am Targeting in Cash/Tournaments:

Antonio Brown ($8,700) @ Seattle Seahawks, Odell Beckhem Jr. ($8,700) @ Washington Redskins, Eric Decker ($5,800) vs. Miami Dolphins, Stefon Diggs ($4,800) @ Atlanta Falcons, Jamison Crowder ($3,600) vs. New York Giants

Tight End Plays:

Cash Games

Jordan Reed ($5,100) vs. New York Giants: Vegas is predicting this to be a high scoring game with a total of 46.5 points. Jordan Reed continues to be one of Cousins’s favorite targets and the Giants struggle versus the tight end as they are giving up the most points versus opposing tight ends. Get back on Reed before his price jumps up again.

Delanie Walker ($5,400) vs. Oakland Raiders: It’s always a sound strategy to try and target tight ends facing the Raiders and this week is even better with a very involved tight end in Walker playing them. The Raiders are giving up over 15 points a game to opposing tight ends, which is the 2nd most in the league.

Gary “People’s Champ” Barnidge ($4,800) vs. Baltimore Ravens: Barnidge received a huge boost with the announcement of McCown taking over the QB duties again in Cleveland. Barnidge’s best games this year came when McCown was under center as he peppered him with targets on a regular basis. I expect much of the same here despite the Ravens keeping tight ends in check this season.

Tournament Options

Heath Miller ($3,100) @ Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks’ defense one primary weakness is covering the tight end. Miller’s value is always better with Big Ben under center and he could go unnoticed this week as the Seahawks have their hands full stopping Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant.

Defenses to Target

Cincinnati Bengals ($3,000) vs. St. Louis Rams

Cleveland Browns ($2,000) vs. Baltimore Ravens

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Danny Shimon
NFP Fresh Voices

Well the Johnny Manziel era as the starting quarterback of the Cleveland browns sure didn’t last long. Roughly a week after he was named the starter for the remainder of the 2015 season, Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced on Tuesday that not only Manziel would not start this week’s game versus Baltimore, but he was now listed as the third string quarterback on the depth chart behind Austin Davis. This bold move by Pettine not only likely ends Manziel’s stay in Cleveland but it could also cost General Manager Ray Farmer and Pettine their jobs as well.

This latest firestorm Manziel finds himself caught up in stems from a recently released video which shows Manziel with a champagne bottle in his hand partying in Austin, Texas during the Browns’ bye week. Manziel, who earlier this year (Jan 28th), had checked himself into a rehab center to help sort out some of his off-field issues had been instructed in a meeting with Pettine prior to the bye to lay low and make sure to avoid causing this type of distraction.

Obviously, Manziel’s decision making off the field is still just as bad as it is on the field. What has me scratching my head is why did this video of Manziel apparently drinking and partying irk the Browns to the point that they not only benched him but demoted him, yet the incident that occurred with Manziel’s girlfriend in October, where he “allegedly” had been hitting her, was seemingly swept under the rug? I would just cut bait and release Manziel today, as there is no point to have a third string quarterback bring this much distraction to your organization.

The Browns made Manziel the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, a decision that was both heralded and scrutinized at the same time. The ones who supported the pick were Browns’ majority owner Jimmy Haslam and a number of the Browns faithful who had visions of “Johnny Football” running around and making plays happen out of nothing like he did while he played for Texas A&M. The truth was that Manziel should have never been drafted in the first round (no quarterback under six feet should be) as his play with the Aggies, although exciting, was not NFL caliber. Manziel played in Kevin Sumlin’s spread offense where he had one read to make, and if that was not there, Manziel would scramble to buy time until a receiver (usually Mike Evans) would come free or make a play on a jump ball that Manziel would float up there. Many scouts and front office personnel had their doubts, as did I, that Manziel would be anything but a backup in the NFL.

Yet the Browns, namely Haslam, appeared enamored with the aura and popularity that Manziel brought with him. Manziel signed with LeBron James’s business partner Maverick Carter to represent him, which caused a bit of a stir in Cleveland. This move somehow seemed to give the fans, and apparently Haslam, the impression that if LeBron wants to be associated with Johnny Football, then he must be the real deal.

The decision to draft Manziel also cost the Browns the opportunity to potentially draft other quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater, David Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo, all whom were drafted after Manziel and all whom were highly rated prospects. Any one of those three quarterbacks would have been a better selection and would have given Mike Pettine and his staff a fighting chance. Instead, an overzealous owner got caught up in the hype that surrounded “Johnny Football” ignoring the off-field distractions and the on-field limitations just to make a splash. As it stands now, Pettine, who by all accounts appears to be a good coach, most likely will be fired at the end of the season along with general manager Sam Farmer because they were unsuccessful in getting a third string quarterback to grow up and act like a professional.

Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. 

Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56

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