NFL

NFL Fantasy Picks: Diontae to dominate again for Pittsburgh

By Sports Desk December 08, 2021

Depending on how your fantasy league is structured, it's either the final week of the regular season or the first week of the playoffs.

Regardless of which category you fall in, if you're still in contention for the title, it is crunch time.

There's no room for error, and those line-up selections must be right.

Stats Perform is here with a helping hand once again, identifying four offensive players and a defense worthy of starter consideration in Week 14.

 

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans

After a shaky start, Wilson looked more like himself in the Seahawks' surprise win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

There was a big-play connection with D.K. Metcalf and he also found Tyler Lockett for what proved the game-winning touchdown to keep Seattle's faint playoff hopes alive.

Having prevailed despite three turnovers from the Seahawks' offense, Wilson gets to try to continue his upward momentum against a Texans defense ranked 24th in the NFL by yards per play allowed.

Running Back: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions

Williams was a workhorse for the Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in the absence of backfield mate Melvin Gordon.

He carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards while also catching six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in Denver's loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

With Gordon back in practice ahead of Week 14, the same share of the touches appears unlikely for Williams.

But for a rookie running back averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, that may not matter against a Lions defense that has given up 42 rushes of 10 yards or more, tied for seventh-most in the league.

Wide Receiver: Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings

Trusting the Steelers' offense has been a difficult thing to do in what is expected to be the final year with an evidently declining Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

Yet one Steelers player fantasy managers, especially those in points per reception leagues, have had no problem believing in is wide receiver Johnson.

Johnson has double-digit targets and at least seven catches and 80 yards in each of his last four games. His 51 targets over that span are the most in the NFL.

He has topped 100 yards in two of those games and caught a pair of touchdowns in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Only six teams have given up more passing touchdowns in 2021 than the Vikings (21). If their pass coverage is as soft as it was on the final drive of their shock loss to Detroit, Johnson should thrive.

Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos

Back to those aforementioned Lions, for whom the pressure is off after they finally claimed that elusive first win in Week 13.

That extra freedom might see them look to open up the passing game against Denver, and Hockenson would likely be a beneficiary of such an approach.

He has a touchdown in each of his last two games and at least eight targets in five of his last seven. That could be enough for a productive fantasy outing even against a stingy Denver defense.

Defense: New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets

Injuries look like being too much to overcome for Sean Payton and the 5-7 Saints, but the Jets are an ideal opponent to face for teams looking to stay in the mix.

Even if quarterback Taysom Hill continues to struggle throwing the ball, the Saints can win this one on the defensive side. 

Their defense has forced a turnover in three successive games while no offense has committed more giveaways than the 25 racked up by the Jets.

This one is simple. If you own the Saints defense or are in a position to pick it up on the waiver wire, slot this group into your starting line-up.

Related items

  • New Bears GM Ryan Poles steps up search for Nagy successor New Bears GM Ryan Poles steps up search for Nagy successor

    Ryan Poles got straight down to work as general manager of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, interviewing Jim Caldwell for the role of head coach.

    After landing the GM job earlier in the day, Poles set about the process of securing a successor to Matt Nagy, with veteran former Colts and Lions coach Caldwell just one figure in the frame.

    While the 67-year-old Caldwell already has plenty of top-level experience, Poles is a man on the rise. He joins the Bears having previously served as executive director of player personnel with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said of the appointment of the 36-year-old Poles: "We are thrilled to be able to add someone of Ryan's background and football expertise to our organisation.

    "His accomplishments with the Chiefs speak for themselves and amplified the team's standing as one of the premier franchises in professional sports. We are confident that under his leadership, we will reach our goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Chicago."

    That is the target that Poles pointed to, also, although the Bears have only previously won the Super Bowl once before, in the 1985 season. Poles was born in 1985.

    The new general manager said on the team's website: "I am extremely grateful to George, the McCaskey family and the rest of the Bears organisation for this opportunity.

    "Together with my family, I'm looking forward to hitting the ground running to help get this organisation, its fanbase and the city what they deserve: a winning team and a Super Bowl trophy."

    The highly rated Poles had also been on a list of candidates for GM jobs with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.

    The Bears limped in third in the NFC North this season with a 6-11 record, their worst performance since going 5-11 in 2017.

    Coach Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were sacked at the season's end, and Nagy's replacement has yet to be confirmed, with Dan Quinn, Matt Eberflus and Caldwell reportedly three contenders for that post.

    Chicago lost Super Bowl XLI to the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season and reached the NFC Championship Game - where they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers - in 2010, both under the guidance of Lovie Smith.

    They are winless from just two post-season appearances since, as the Packers continue to dominate the NFC North.

  • Australian Open: Collins ends Cornet's run to reach semis Australian Open: Collins ends Cornet's run to reach semis

    Danielle Collins ended Alize Cornet's dream run and reached her second Australian Open semi-final with a straight-sets win on Wednesday.

    Collins moved into the last four in Melbourne for the second time in four years thanks to a 7-5 6-1 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Australia Day.

    The American 27th seed, who will face either Iga Swiatek or Kaia Kanepi in the semi-finals, was in solid form in warm conditions.

    Collins was the aggressor throughout against Cornet, who was playing her maiden grand slam quarter-final in her 63rd main-draw appearance.

    It was Collins who dictated the majority of points from the baseline early and landed a break of serve in the fourth game.

    Cornet saved three break points, but there was no denying Collins on her fourth opportunity, a powerful return setting up a simple volley winner for a 3-1 lead.

    Collins looked the more comfortable in the warm weather, but Cornet hung in there and broke back when her opponent was trying to serve out the first set, the American's backhand letting her down with three unforced errors.

    But Cornet dropped the first set when serving to stay in it, saving two set points but not a third – set up with a Collins forehand winner down the line – as she framed a forehand long.

    Collins crushed a forehand return winner to break serve in the second game of the second set to take complete control of proceedings.

    She broke to love to grab a 4-0 lead, cruising through the second set on her way to another last-four appearance in Melbourne.

     

    DATA SLAM: Contender Collins finding consistency

    The dangerous Collins has found consistency since the back end of last year.

    She is now 31-7 since July 12, 2021 and will be hard to stop by either Swiatek or Kanepi in the semi-finals.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Collins – 28/29
    Cornet – 11/17

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Collins – 5/4
    Cornet – 2/0

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Collins – 4/9
    Cornet – 1/3

  • 'These games can define things' - Rodrygo targeting World Cup glory with Brazil 'These games can define things' - Rodrygo targeting World Cup glory with Brazil

    Rodrygo has his sights set on World Cup glory with Brazil later this year following his call-up to the squad.

    The Real Madrid winger has been selected by Tite for his nation's qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay this week.

    The Selecao, who sit top of the CONMEBOL qualifying table, are already guaranteed a place in Qatar having collected 35 points from their opening 13 matches. 

    Rodrygo has three senior caps to his name and knows the upcoming games present an opportunity for him to stake his claim to appear at the finals, and helping Brazil claim a sixth World Cup triumph – and first since 2002 – tops his priority list for this calendar year.

    "It is very important for me to be [back in the] Brazil [squad]," he said in quotes reported on Marca via TNT Brazil.

    "It was a goal to return to [the] Brazil [squad]. I think these games can define things, and I hope to play and settle in the national team.

    "All Brazilians want to be in Qatar. I'm going to work to try to be there. If I play well, I have a chance [to go].

    "[If I had to choose a title to win in 2022, I'd say] the World Cup."

    Rodrygo has made 17 appearances for Madrid in LaLiga this season, with 11 of those coming as a substitute – the same as Luka Jovic – with none of his team-mates appearing from the bench more often. 

    He has had more joy in the Champions League however, scoring in victories over Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk.

    The 21-year-old has attempted 16 dribbles in Europe's premier competition this term, with Vinicius Junior (36) the only Los Blancos player to top that.

    Rodrygo will hope to be involved again as Carlo Ancelotti's side face Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, and he is excited by the prospect of lining up against one of his compatriots.

    "This game could have come a bit later [in the competition]," he added.

    "They have some of the best players in the world. We know it's difficult, but it's a collective effort that will give us the chance to go through.

    "Playing against Neymar will be special. I hope Real Madrid win."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.