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This article was written by Ethan Davidson
Usually traveling to a foreign country to play in a match that has more significance to marketing the sport to a new territory than the importance of the actual game can be challenging for a number of reasons. However, the annual NFL games in London, England have increased year-on-year with the ties between the country and the organization stronger than ever.
When the NFL made the commitment to play a single game at the 90,000 all-seater stadium in London in 2007, it was unsure how long this partnership would last. In its 9th year now, the sport has grown considerably in the country, with the NFL now playing 3 annual games at Wembley to record crowds.
Traveling via plane is part and parcel of a footballers schedule but most would think that a 9-hour trip to London would disrupt even the most successful teams. However, this hasn’t been the case over the 9 years that the NFL has been featured on British soil. A total of 15 out of 22 teams have seen an upswing in their form post-Wembley since 2007.
So what should fantasy football fanatics consider when looking at the teams playing in these fixtures?
The infographic concentrates on the 5 games post-Wembley, which teams have played upon returning the United States. The best example of this are the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. The Cowboys went on to win 4 out 5 of their games and the New England Patriots in 2012 won all 5 of their next games.
Jacksonville Jaguars also saw a significant improvement dating back in 2013. They went into the game against San Francisco 49ers having lost 5 in a row. Afterwards, the Jags went on to win 4 from 5 and with the team only just recently playing at Wembley, fans and analysts are wondering if they can replicate the form of 2013 and see the positive impacts of the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ once more.
The infographic below, which was published on Bwin after the Dolphins played the Jets at Wembley this season, shows 22 different teams, and their form pre- and post-Wembley from 2007 to the present day.
Infographic published on Bwin News
After a disappointing season last year, where the Jags finished 3rd in the AFC South, the team will be hoping that they improve after their recent game against Buffalo Bills where they came out winners, 34-31.
On their return to U.S. soil, the franchise has gone on to win one and lose one. They lost in their first game back to New York Jets 23-28 and beat the Baltimore Ravens 22-20. Now the Jags will hope they can continue to win their upcoming games against Titans and Chargers in the coming weeks.
After this season’s three NFL games being completed at Wembley, the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ is somewhat of a hot topic but the reasons for it are still undecided. If you have any ideas as to why you think it occurs so regularly, let us know what you think in our comments section below.
Do you think the Jags can continue their good form in to their matches with the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers? Will the ‘Post-Wembley Wave’ impact your selection choices in the coming weeks?
Week 8 is done and over with. There were plenty of high scoring games and some were so high we probably won't see another barrage of fantasy scoring quite like that in some time. Eli Manning and Drew Brees combined for 11 touchdowns in a game that ended up looking like the final score of a men's college basketball game rather than a football game. In this column, we look back on our best calls leading up to Week 8 based on our podcasts and articles from the previous week.
1. Todd Gurley vs. San Francisco (hit)
Analysis: We mentioned Gurley as a prime steak player in our "Steak and side dish" article. If you haven't been reading it, it means that Gurley was one of our main centerpiece players and somebody you should've had in all of your lineups aside from a few just in case a freak injury occurs. Gurley didn't disappoint, as he was the top fantasy running back (barring a better one in tonight's Carolina/Indianapolis game) with 20 rushes for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also added 3 catches for 13 yards. The great thing about Gurley is St. Louis is winning games by using him a ton in the offense (20 rushes today) and Nick Foles isn't the kind of quarterback who can really take over a game. So Gurley has the best of both worlds. He's a talented player plus he's being given a tremendous opportunity to lead a team, an opportunity that's resulting in wins which should keep the coaches utilizing Gurley as their main guy.
2. Le'Veon Bell (miss but there's a catch)
Analysis: Bell was easily on pace to break 100 yards and be one of the better backs in fantasy this week but unfortunately was carted off the field with a knee injury in the second quarter. It's tragic because the Steelers had just gotten Ben Roethlisberger back from injury and looked like a team that could become the powerhouse offense it once was when they had a competent quarterback in the driver seat. Still, Bell finishes with 10 rushes for 45 yards (4.5 yards per carry) plus 2 catches for 13 yards. It's likely he didn't completely kill your DFS or standard league lineup so long as you had some other people go off.
3. Justin Forsett (miss)
Analysis: Forsett finished with 17 carries for 69 yards plus 4 catches for 28 yards. It wasn't a terrible performance, but you expected a lot more considering the Ravens were at home, favored to win against the lowly Chargers and were also dealt a cupcake matchup against a very weak San Diego run defense.
4. Marshawn Lynch at Dallas (miss)
Analysis: We consider a miss anywhere below the Top 10 and Lynch just wasn't a fantastic fantasy option this week. He finished with 21 carries for 27 yards and zero touchdowns. It's like squeezing blood out of a rock when it comes to scoring for the Seahawks this season, and their struggles will likely continue as long as their offensive line stays intact. Dallas was far from an elite run defense, giving up the third-most points to running backs this season.
5. Charcandrick West (hit)
Analysis: We liked West much more than Darren McFadden this week due to his potential for a high volume of carries and a plus-matchup. He ended up finishing as third-best running back in fantasy for Week 8 with 97 rush yards and a touchdown to go along with 4 catches for 25 yards. He wasn't one our 'must play' backs but he was once we wanted in a few of our lineups and he didn't disappoint.
6. Devonta Freeman (hit)
Analysis: Bad games are just not in Freeman's wheelhouse anymore. Even though it was looking like he was on his way to an average day running the ball, the Falcons got their offense going late to come back against the Buccaneers and Freeman accumulated enough stats to be a Top 10 fantasy back once again. Despite not scoring a touchdown, Freeman ended up with 88 rushing yards to go along with 6 receptions for 43 yards. He's quickly becoming the most dynamic fantasy threat this season.
So there you have it. We learned a few things from this week. One, Gurley is what makes St. Louis successful as of right now. It'll be tough not to start him going forward but bad matchups can always make us think twice. Two, injuries are a killer but you still made a wise choice starting Bell against Cincinnati. Lastly, Freeman is the MVP of Fantasy Football's first half of 2015.
When it comes to playing in large tournaments in daily fantasy football, it pays to set a variety of lineups but still maintain some consistency with core guys throughout each one. You often want at least 3-5 lineups (sometimes more) if you plan to have a chance to cash in a tournament. These contests are the hardest to cash in since there can be 100,000 participants in each field. The margin for error is very small, so even if you put together a very strong lineup by playing the matchups, the likelihood of it being the perfect lineup is still not that great.
To combat this, you must build your lineup like a mutli-course meal with a main entree. Consider your dinner guests to be the people of DraftKings who will only reward you if you really floor them with your meal. They're the snobbiest dinner guests of all time. Think about that guy who only drinks craft beer with trappist glassware sniffs his glass like a line of coke before he drinks it. These are the types of people you're dealing with in tournament play.
So, you know your dinner guests love steak as do most people. I mean, even if you cook one over a George Foreman grill it more than likely generates some head nods from those at the table. The steak in this case is made up of your core players, the guys you almost know are going to do well. The only thing is — these guys also love side dishes too — and you have an idea which side dishes they'll like but you don't know what the perfect side dish match will be with the steak. To make matters worse, your guests are only going to pay you $100,000 if your side dishes matchup impeccably with the steak.
Yes, that scenario is entirely plausible and likely happened to you yesterday as it does with all people, it also serves as a simile to describe trying to win big money against slim odds in Daily Fantasy Football tournaments. You must get everything perfect to win in these tournaments. Everything from your centerpiece players to your side players must be near perfect.
So what do you do? You make a variety of side dishes and keep serving them with the steak until you find one that matches perfectly. You should be entering a variety of lineups into these tournaments, even if it costs a bit more. The likelihood of you nailing it perfectly with one lineup is like trying to guess which side dish the snobbiest foodie in the world would like with a steak. You probably have a good thing going with the steak, but you're going to need to throw a lot of different side dishes at him before he gives the seal of approval. In this case, straight cash homey.
You tired of this steak metaphor yet? The lesson is to build a variety of daily fantasy football lineups but center them around one core group of (your steak) and mix and match a variety of other players who might benefit from the matchup and might not (your side dishes) and enter all those lineups into the tournament to please the DraftKings people (your guests) in hopes one of your lineups is more liked than anyone else's so you get paid lotsss of money...playaaa.
The Week 8 Steak running backs
This is the group of players for your fantasy lineup that will be your main course you're almost certain will do well this coming Sunday. You should feature at least two of these players in some shape or form in all of your lineups.
1. Todd Gurley vs. San Francisco
Gurley has rushed for over 100 yards in three-straight games and plays on a team with a bad quarterback which helps him for game script and rushing attempts. Plus, he's going up against a woeful rushing defense that's allowing the seventh-most points to running backs (20.4) The 49ers have also allowed 8 rushing touchdowns which is third-worst in the league. Lastly, the Rams have the benefit of playing at home where they're 2-1.
2. Le'Veon Bell vs. Cincinnati
Bell is the glue that has held the Steelers' offense together through the tough times of not having Big Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Bengals are a middle-of-the-road run defense so the matchup isn't exactly eye-popping, but Bell is featured so heavily in the run game (at least 20 carries in three straight games at one point in the regular season) plus has the passing upside (has at least 4 catches in four-of-five games and 7 grabs in two-of-five) that you have to go with him in a division matchup at home.
3. Justin Forsett vs. San Diego
Notice the theme here. A lot of these running backs are at home and on teams favored to win. Forsett only has two games of 100 or more yards but San Diego's defense has been throttled by running backs all season. They've allowed 100 yard rushing games from Giovani Bernard, Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell and James Starks (insert painful Eddie Lacy flashback memory here). Factor in the countless close losses Baltimore has had plus home-field advantage plus a prideful organization and you have a recipe for a hungry Ravens team that should be thinking victory in this one. Game script could be favorable here as well since Philip Rivers is racking up passing yards which could play into more opportunities to score points for Forsett. You just have to hope the Chargers don't jump out to a big lead and force Flacco to throw the ball too much, which is what happened in Arizona.
Side Dish running backs Week 8
These are the running backs who have favorable matchups but we're not quite as high on. You should sprinkle these guys in throughout your lineups, meaning start one of them but not two. For example, try a combination of Forsett, Bell and one of these players or Bell/Gurley, etc.
1. Marshawn Lynch at Dallas
The Seahawks face a Dallas team ranked third-worst in fantasy points allowed for running backs (22.3) but there are a few things we don't like about this matchup. For one, Lynch only has one 100-yard game this season and even that very game came last week, we'd still like to see more consistency. The Seahawks have also been an inconsistent offense with an inconsistent line. Still, the matchup is nice and game script could favor Matt Cassel and the Cowboys turning the ball over frequently which would favor a lot of running for Seattle, but the team has proven they aren't what they used to be offensively and Lynch's stats could reflect that. Seahawks have been woeful on the road this season at just 1-3 as well.
2. Charcandrick West vs. Detroit (London)
West really made his name known last week after a 100-plus yard, 1-touchdown effort against the Steelers. More importantly, he saw 22 carries. The running back has also been an important factor in Andy Reid's West Coast offense and the Lions are eighth-worst against running backs in fantasy this season, giving up 19.9 points per game. West is a good side dish because of his low cost ($4,700 on DraftKings) and his potential payoff is huge. Use him in a flex spot with the running backs above for a chance to pop.
3. Devonta Freeman vs. Tampa Bay
I know, it's hard to consider Freeman a side dish, but consider this. The Buccaneers have actually been decent against the run this season. They've allowed just four rushing touchdowns this season and just over 14 points per game to running, which ranks among the Top 10 best in the league. As good as they are against the run, they're the complete opposite against the pass. The Buccaneers rank fourth-worst against wide receivers and have allowed two quarterbacks to throw for 4 touchdowns against them.
This isn't to say Freeman can't dominate them since he's dominated every team he's played. This is more of an argument of game script favoring the pass for Atlanta, which could make Freeman less likely to score a touchdown. You need touchdowns in tournaments if you expect to win big. This also isn't to say you shouldn't start Freeman — you should. Just don't use him in every lineup. Use him in 1/3 of them.
When the Rams selected Todd Gurley in the first round last spring, many thought it wasn't the right move at the time. Sure, it was worth it to get Gurley as your running back considering he was considered the best of the 2015 class, but the Rams still had a lot of holes along the offensive line plus questions at receiver. There was also the question of Gurley's knee and how long it would take for him to be up to speed. So far, the Rams look like geniuses and everything is going well.
Todd Gurley vs. Cleveland Browns (Week 7)
Stats: 19 carries, 128 yards (3rd straight 100+ yard game), 2 touchdowns, 4 receptions, 35 yards
Analysis: While Gurley has been racking up yardage since his first official start in Week 5, he finally started getting into the end zone. His two scores marked his first rushing touchdowns of his NFL career. Lets look deeper.
What he did
Throughout this game, Gurley displayed an array of moves and packaged them in a very efficient way. He hurdled defenders, shed arm tackles with his strength, and plowed through after contact for positive yardage. On a few downsides, he showed the tendency to bounce a few runs to the outside when the blocking wasn't there, but those were few and far between and didn't takeaway much from his otherwise brilliant performance.
Even when there wasn't sublime blocking from his offensive line, Gurley found ways to create yardage. For example, on Gurley's biggest run of the day, he got skinny in a very tight window off the left side on an off tackle run. He did this without losing any speed and immediately shed the backside defensive end after getting to the second level of the defense. He then did something few backs could do, and reversed his field to run almost laterally toward the opposite sideline where he got a great block from wide receiver Tavon Austin and then turned the corner and ran down the sideline for a huge gain. He wasn't able to turn this into a long score, which perhaps points to a lack of breakaway speed as he was eventually angled to the sideline by a few secondary defenders, but it was an incredible display of vision in the open field and also an eye-popping display of squeezing through a tight window and turning what could've easily been a 1-yard gain into a 60-yard gain.
How he did it
Gurley's recent success could be attributed to a variety of traits. On a team with issues along the offensive line, Gurley's strength to carry defenders two or three yards after contact is perhaps his biggest weapon. He does this by keeping his head up through the run and maintaining a low pad level. When he's low, it makes it difficult for the defender to get lower and square him up to deliver a solid hit. Even if they could, Gurley's strength at 6'1, 222lbs plus his alleged 4.40 speed makes it difficult to knock him backward anyway.
You'll notice when Gurley runs, he likes to take defenders on his shoulder rather than run straight through them. His feet are always moving, and you rarely see one defender take him to the ground. When he makes contact with a defender, he's usually the aggressor and lets his forward momentum win him more yards. He's also shown the ability to hurdle defenders, and does so without leaping too high and leaving himself vulnerable to big hits while he hangs in the air.
There are some moments where Gurley could take the yardage given to him more and not bounce a run to the outside when the blocking isn't there. Still, it's understood that a guy of his talent can create a huge gain from almost nothing, so you have to take the bad with the good at times since the potential payoff is huge on improvised runs.
I've only watched the first two-and-a-half quarters of Gurley's best game as a pro so far, but already the back looks like he has a ton to offer in terms of fantasy value and overall value to the Rams offense. We knew coming in that Gurley could catch passes (10 inch hands were among the biggest for running backs at the 2015 combine) and his four catches against Cleveland were a career high. Imagine how valuable he could become if he keeps getting involved in the receiving game. Gurley is fast becoming the most reliable player on the Rams offense and you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason not to start him in Daily Fantasy leagues every week.
So far in the 2015 fantasy season, everyone has been in awe with surprise after the emergence of Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. But another equally surprising running back is New York Jets' Christopher Ivory.
As of Week 7, Ivory ranks 4th overall in fantasy points among running backs with 73 total, trailing only Freeman, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles. Considered a backup with New Orleans who only saw significant playing time when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were injured, Ivory earned more time of the field thanks to some fantastic performances when given the opportunity.
Ivory recorded 716 yards on 137 attempts (5.2 yards per carry average) and 5 touchdowns in his best season with the Saints in 2010. But he couldn't sustain that production due to a multitude of injuries. He managed to play in just 12 combined games in 2011 and 2012 which eventually ended with the Saints trading him in 2013.
Though he was an injury-riddled nightmare with the Saints, Ivory has since only missed one game in three seasons with the Jets and his power running style has been a much better fit in New York. The Jets have allowed him to be their high volume back, as he recorded over 180 carries in 2013 and 2014 and rushed for averages of 4.6 and 4.1 yards per carry, respectively.
Though he's currently battling a hamstring injury which could alter his Week 8 status in a road matchup against the Oakland Raiders, 2015 has been Ivory's best season yet. With two 100-yard games and 5 touchdowns (4 rushing, 1 receiving) through 7 weeks, he's currently on pace for 1,145 yards and 9 touchdowns. It would be his first 1,000-yard rushing season if he can stay healthy. Given his injury history, it's a big if. Still, he's been highly valuable when on the field.
Christopher Ivory vs. Washington Redskins (Week 6)
Stats: 20 carries for 146 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 receptions for 50 yards
What he did
Ivory showed some exceptional vision and decisiveness in this game. On a 54-yard run in the first half, he took advantage of Redskins linebacker Perry Riley Jr. over pursuing to the left side and Ivory cut it back, utilized his downfield blocks well and ran down the sideline for a big gain.
I don't know why, but it's surprising that Ivory has been able to rip off big gains throughout his career. While his 54-yarder against Washington was his biggest of the 2015 season, Ivory has recorded at least one run of 50+ yards in every season aside from one (2011 where he only had a 35 yard run). It's important to note because many associate Ivory with being a hard-nosed runner who isn't known for gaining big chunks of yardage. He's shown on a consistent basis that he can do just that.
Judging from the limited amount of tape I've watched of Ivory so far this season, he's not much of a cut runner. He's instinctive when hitting the hole and is gifted with a robust offensive line up front. He's most successful when he gets to the edge since his straight-line speed is one of his biggest strengths. He's a thick back at 6'0, 222lbs and he utilizes the stiff arm well, getting his hand on top of the defenders helmet and pushing him to the ground. It's a tool he used frequently against the Redskins.
But he doesn't just show the ability to get what's blocked for him, Ivory can also adjust and create yards with his vision as well. This trait helped lead to one of his biggest gains of the day against the Redskins. On a designed draw play, Ivory was supposed to run inside but noticed the hole was clogged up after he took the handoff. He quickly stopped, planted his feet and shifted to the right side of the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick showed great awareness and came around to chip block the defensive end just enough for Ivory to get to the edge and the result was an 11-yard gain on what easily could've been a no gain or short loss.
Sometimes Ivory tries to cut to make a defender miss right before he's taken down on the play, and you have to wonder if he'd be better suited using the stiff arm or his power to just run through the defender. But it's also understandable that you don't want to continually mash defenders since it takes a toll on your body.
While a lot of Ivory's more successful runs were the result of good execution, there were some bad defensive examples that the veteran took advantage of as well. For example, on a 32-yard run in the third quarter, Ivory took advantage of the defensive back blowing outside contain on the right side, leaving a lot of green field for Ivory to run to on right-side handoff out of the shotgun.
Overall, Ivory's best gains come on runs to the edge where he has space to operate and doesn't need to execute any sudden lateral jump cuts. He has good footwork and can run through tight creases while not losing speed in a straight line. He's most successful when he can run to the edge and not have to make any quick cuts to head down field. Once he accelerates through the hole and has daylight, he can use a stiff arm or his balance to take contact and spin for a few extra yards. He's not an elusive back by any means and needs good blocking to be effective, and luckily he has that with the New York Jets.
Week 8 fantasy recommendation at Oakland Raiders
While you have to monitor Ivory's hamstring issues throughout the week, you might consider avoiding Ivory in Daily Fantasy league in Week 8. Oakland has been better against the run than expected this season, giving up only 14.2 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Get a free $25 bonus by signing up for Yahoo! Daily Fantasy Football here. (Disclaimer: Always remember that Daily Fantasy Football is, at best, somewhat of a gamble. You can and will probably lose money from time to time. So know your limits. If you think this is something you shouldn't do because it's you have a weakness for it, then don't do it. If not, then by all means have a great time and enjoy it.
Week 5 poses a lot of promise in the running back category. So what should you do? Well, go with the sure-fire running backs in Week 5. Start Justin Forsett, Le'Veon Bell, and/or Jamaal Charles. And then, when you've blown a massive amount of your money budget on those players, take a look at these $3,000 wide receiver sleepers to make up for the big RB investment.
Willie Snead, WR for New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Current value: $3,000
Why you should play him: Snead is our favorite sleeper for Daily Fantasy Football in Week 5. Snead ranked second in WR snap count (48) and targets (6) last week, trailing only Brandin Cooks. We're also starting to find out that Cooks might not be cut out for the No. 1 wide receiver role in the Saints offense, so Snead might be on the brink of leading the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in any given week. The Eagles rank 5th worst against wide receivers this season, giving up an average of 26.8 points per game. Snead is also the team's leader in red zone targets with three so far this season. Drew Brees is healthier and this could be one of the best starts of the week for tournament value.
Cole Beasley, wide receiver for Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots
Current value: $3,100
Why you should play him: Beasley benefits from a slew of injuries on Dallas. With Dez Bryant, Brice Butler and Lance Dunbar out, quarterback Brandon Weeden is running out of options to throw to. The Patriots surrender 27.3 fantasy points to wide receivers, fourth worst in the NFL. The Cowboys offense will likely get down early against the high-powered Patriots and will need to catch up with a lot of passing. Expect a lot of screen passes and short routes in the flat which could make Beasley a value in both PPR and receiving yards.
Marquess Wilson, wide receiver for Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs
Current value: $3,400
Why you should play him: Injuries. Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal both didn't practice yesterday and are listed as questionable on Sunday. Usually a player not practicing on Friday is a good indication he will not play, so if that's the case, then Wilson is a quality start. The Bears proved a different team with Jay Cutler back at the helm last week, as the veteran quarterback led his team to a victory over the Oakland Raiders. Wilson ranked second on the team in targets with 9 in that game and also saw one red zone look. The Chiefs surrender 38.3 fantasy points to wide receivers, the worst in the league. Wilson should be started in several tournament matchups this week.
Leonard Hankerson, wide receiver Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins
Current value: $4,00
Why you should play him: We liked Hankerson in Daily Fantasy Leagues last week and he came through. The Redskins are still depleted in the secondary with Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall out with injuries. Hankerson, along with Julio Jones, are sure to benefit much like Miles Austin and Riley Cooper did last week with Philadelphia. Expect a decent reception total from Hankerson with touchdown upside.