NFL

NFL Fantasy Picks: George the pick of the bunch for Steelers

By Sports Desk October 05, 2022

In fantasy football, it’s often the ones you least suspect.

Every week, there are surprise stars who seemingly come out of nowhere to deliver performances that prove decisive in fantasy matchups.

Unexpected contributors are the theme of this week’s fantasy picks.

The players mentioned are not unknowns, but they either have matchups that would not be expected to deliver fantasy success or feature for teams that have surprisingly become relevant in both the NFL and fantasy worlds.

As usual, Stats Perform has backed up its selections of four offensive players and a defense with advanced data that supports their case for inclusion in fantasy lineups this week.
 

Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans @ Washington Commanders

Tannehill is approaching the end of his time as the Titans' starter, but he still holds value for a Tennessee team looking to recover from a slow start to win a bad AFC South and for fantasy players eyeing a matchup to exploit this week.

That matchup comes in the form of a Commanders defense that has allowed over seven yards per pass and has given up 10 passing touchdowns, tied for the most in the NFL.

With Tannehill delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 87.6 per cent of his pass attempts – the third-best ratio among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts – he is in a strong position to see his consistent accuracy rewarded on Sunday despite the relative lack of playmaking talent around him.

Running Back: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

Most in the NFL world will be anticipating the Giants to come back down to earth against the Packers in the second London game of the season.

While the Packers are heavy favourites to slow New York’s fast start to the season, the odds of them halting Barkley's renaissance look slim.

No player in the NFL is averaging more yards per game than Barkley's 115.8, while a Packers defense that has traditionally struggled against the run is surrendering 4.97 yards per rush, the 11th-most in the league.

Hopes of progress for the Packers on run defense have yet to be realised, and Barkley should take advantage of their fallibility on the ground.

Wide Receiver: George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills

This is less about the matchup, which is an awful one for Pittsburgh, and more about opportunity for rookie receiver Pickens, who figures to be one of Kenny Pickett's favourite targets as the rookie quarterback makes his first career start.

Over the last two weeks, Pickens has been targeted 15 times, and he enjoyed the best game of his young career so far against the New York Jets, catching six of his eight targets 102 yards in a game Pickett entered for the second half.

The Buffalo defense is substantially better than that of the Jets, allowing only 4.75 yards per pass play. Yet the Bills are still dealing with injuries in the secondary and Pickens, whose big-play rate of 38.6 per cent is 10th among receivers with at least 20 targets, has the all-round game to turn the attention he will get from Pickett into production regardless of the difficult matchup.

Tight End: Tyler Conklin, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

There's such a lack of depth at tight end for fantasy football purposes that it's necessary to take a few swings if you're stuck for an answer at the position.

Conklin represents such a swing but is one you can have more confidence in after his impressive Week 4.

He demonstrated chemistry with Zach Wilson on the quarterback's return from a knee injury, hauling in three catches for 52 yards in the Jets' surprise win over the Steelers. Conklin was targeted five times and registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender when targeted, on all five.

This week, the Jets face a Miami defense that has conceded 7.43 yards per pass play this season. Only the Seattle Seahawks (8.24) have fared worse by that measure. If Wilson and Conklin continue to build their rapport, the latter could prove an astute fantasy play by those managers who take a chance on him.

Defense/Special Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans

The Jaguars being competitive with the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles a week after stunning the Los Angeles Chargers illustrated just how far they have come in so little time under Doug Pederson.

Very few thought the Jags would quickly be in the mix for the AFC South but that is where they stand, with a diverse and aggressive defense playing a huge role in Jacksonville's progress.

The Jags have forced 27 negative plays this season, tied for the eighth-most among NFL defenses. The winless Texans, meanwhile, have seen their offense suffer 26 negative plays for minus 121 yards. Only four teams have lost more yardage on those plays this season.

Tied third in the NFL for takeaways with nine, look for a defense nobody saw coming to make the most of a favourable matchup and get Jacksonville back on track.

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    West Indies struggled to find answers at Optus Stadium in Perth, taking only the wickets of openers David Warner (5) and Usman Khawaja (65).

    Australia, who have lost just one of their past eight Test series, were in trouble early on as Warner's lean streak in the longest format continued when he chopped on from Jayden Seales' wide delivery.

    The home side were 9-1 when Labuschagne arrived at the crease, but he and Khawaja set about advancing their side to 72-1 by lunch and then kicked on.

    Kyle Mayers gave West Indies a much-needed breakthrough when delivering a perfect ball that caught the edge of Khawaja's bat and was gathered by Joshua Da Silva.

    The Khawaja-Labuschagne partnership may have ended at 142 runs, but the latter was not finished there as he struck 16 fours and a six en route to another huge score.

    Steve Smith also chipped in with an unbeaten 59 while producing a 142-run stand of his own with Labuschagne, which they will look to build on when play resumes on Thursday.


    Magical Marnus

    Australia are undefeated in their past 11 Test series against West Indies, winning 10 of those and each of the past eight, and they already look great value to extend that streak.

    Labuschagne was undoubtedly the star of the day with his eighth Test ton and he will now look to build on his unbeaten 154, which is the fourth-highest tally of his career.

    Weak Warner

    West Indies have won their past two Test series and they started well in Perth when sending Warner packing in the fourth over.

    That was the Australia opener's fourth successive single figure dismissal in a home Test innings, and he will be grateful that Labuschagne in particular was able to bail him out.

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    "When you play meaningful games in December, I think that's why we all do this," he said. 

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    "It's not a lot of fun when you're not playing meaningful games. So, let's come to work with a great attitude, a positive mindset [and] keep getting better."

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    Averaging 33.1 points per game this season, Doncic eclipsed 40 points for the fifth time in 19 outings, hitting 14-of-27 from the field while adding 12 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals.

    He finished with a plus/minus of plus 22 in 39 minutes, meaning his team was outscored by 19 in the nine minutes he was on the bench.

    Doncic received strong support from Tim Hardaway Jr, hitting five-of-11 from long range for his 22 points, while their 2020 first-round draft pick Josh Green showed signs of life with three three-pointers and impressive defense off the bench.

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    He had 22 of his points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 95-82 deficit at three-quarter time, with the Clippers winning the final period 36-17.

    Anfernee Simons was at his sharpshooting best for the Blazers, finishing 13-of-24 from the field and nine-of-16 from three-point range for his 37 points, marking the fourth time in the 23-year-old's career that he has hit nine threes in a game.

    Randle has a birthday to remember

    Julius Randle turned 28 on Tuesday, and he celebrated with a season-high 36 points in a one-sided 140-110 New York Knicks blowout of the Detroit Pistons.

    Randle shot 14-of-24 from the field and six-of-13 from deep, raising his true shooting percentage – which accounts for and weights three-pointers and free throws – to 58.4 per cent.

    That figure is more efficient than his 2020-21 season (56.7 per cent true shooting), where he became an All-Star and second-team All-NBA selection, after struggling mightily this past campaign (50.9 per cent).

    The Knicks are now one game below .500 at 10-11, and boast the league's 10th-best offense.

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