• As you may have noticed, both the NBA and NFL have had their share of controversies. The NBA has dealt with two racist owners, former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson, and the NFL is continuing to deal with a storm of incompetence and player misdeeds. However, the NHL has kept its nose clean. Basically, what I'm saying is that, if you want a guilt-free sports entertainment experience, watch and follow the NHL.  But, of course there are more reasons why you should divert your attention from the controversial NBA and NFL and instead pay attention to the NHL.

    First of all, the sport is absolutely insane. Thanks to 45 second shifts for players, an average speed of 23 mph for skaters (compared to 16 mph for an average NFL running back), and a hard, rubber puck flying around, there is plenty of pandemonium to be in awe of. All game long, mobs of players crash the nets attempting to get the puck out of trouble or into the net. All game long, skaters are looking to grab the puck on a breakaway after a failed line change. And, all game long, fans are kept at the edge of their seats. For the fan who is bored by constant commercials in the NFL and never-ending timeouts and fouls at the end of NBA games, the NHL is definitely the sport for you. There is beauty in the chaos.


    Another reason to like hockey? Canadians are nice. That sounds weird, but hockey is Canada’s gift to the world and its players are incredibly likable. Take for example, superstar player Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. After being named the EA Sports NHL 15 cover athlete, he still went home to Quebec in the summer to raise $100,000 for children in his native city. So, while he could have basked in the glow of his achievements, he instead chose to give back to the community. This example of Patrice Bergeron is not an isolated case, but one that exemplifies the effort hockey players give off the ice.

    The biggest reason to like hockey has to be the playoffs and the chase for the best trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. As soon as the regular season ends, players on playoff teams start growing their beards and getting ready for the most intense playoff experience in sports. Players play differently in the playoffs, as they are more aggressive offensively, defend more tightly, and hit more often. The NHL playoffs are most definitely an intense experience. And this doesn’t even take into account the anxiety and emotion fans feel as their team bears down in the final minutes of an elimination game that has gone into overtime. Oh, and don’t forget about that Stanley Cup. It’s huge, weighs about 35 pounds, and players cannot wait to put it above their head in triumph after a hard-fought playoff run. Ordinary players are made heroes when their names are engraved into the trophy after winning it all. The Cup is everything.

    If any of this sounds good (and it should), you’re in luck. You can start the NHL season fresh as it returns in a few weeks on Oct. 8. 

     

     

  • This time next year, I will have been married for 4 months. Yeah I’m that kid: the one who gets married halfway through college. She’s a beautiful nursing student who, thankfully, will be graduating in December of 2015. But until then, as Alan Jackson puts it, we’ll be “living on love”…and very little else. Being newlyweds will be exciting as we learn more about each other everyday and experience a brand new life together. We’ll be two college students joined in wedded bliss.

                Now you’re not reading this to know about my personal life, you’re waiting to get to the fantasy analysis. Well, I challenge you to look back at the wonderful football marriages that took place this offseason and the beautiful impact they’re now having on your fantasy lineup. Remember when Gary Kubiak and Steve Smith were brought together as one? Yeah we’re not talking about marriage in the traditional sense, we’re talking about the ever-important marriage of new offensive coordinators and their new toys. Let’s take a quick look at just how big of an impact three new offensive coordinators are having on your roster.

     

     

    ·      Gary Kubiak and WR Steve Smith

    o   When Kubiak was let go by the Texans this past offseason, teams around the league quickly inquired about the former offensive coordinator. He was always more of an offensive mind in Houston, leaving the defense up to his staff. Now in Baltimore, there may be no one happier than former Panther wide receiver Steve Smith. Upon leaving Carolina, Smith quickly became the ‘X factor’ receiver in Kubiak’s offense. For years, none other than Texan star receiver Andre Johnson held this prominent role. During his time in Houston, Kubiak made Johnson the first, second, and third option in the passing game. Secondary receivers weren’t important because they weren’t utilized. Kubiak had one receiver he cared about and that was going to be his guy through thick and thin. All this to say, we should have seen this breakout coming from Smith. Through three weeks, the former Panther has been targeted a staggering 32 times and has reeled in 18 of them. The next most targeted receiver is Torrey Smith, targeted only 18 times (or almost less than half of Smith). If an owner in your league is letting Smith ride the pine, see what kind of deal you can put together to grab him while he’s still available. As long as he holds down the ‘X’ spot, Smith is a viable WR2 in most formats.

    ·      Hue Jackson and RB Giovani Bernard

    o   Hue Jackson is in a much different situation then Kubiak. Rather than moving teams, Jackson was promoted from Bengals running backs coach to offensive coordinator upon Jay Gruden’s exit to Washington. Having coached the team’s running backs, Jackson was smart enough to know what he had in the dynamic Gio Bernard. In 2013, Gruden was still focused on splitting the carries between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But today, Green-Ellis finds himself a free agent looking for a job while Bernard shines in Cincy. This fantasy marriage has done wonders for the young back. Last season, Bernard had more than 13 carries in just two games. This year, he’s already surpassed that number, averaging more than 18 carries a game. This doesn’t even include his role in the passing game, having already accumulated 19 targets through 3 weeks. Gio is the real deal and his owners are grateful for this marriage of coordinator and star running back.

    ·      Ben McAdoo and RB Rashad Jennings

    o   In the last of our three marriages, we look at the beautiful chemistry between former Packers assistant McAdoo and Giants running back Rashad Jennings. McAdoo was brought into New York to spark life in an offense that ended in the bottom-five in offense last season. Having run the West Coast offense while in Green Bay, the coordinator quickly transformed the Giants into this system. West Coast offenses are known for short passes near the line of scrimmage and a hurry-up mentality. The Giants brass hired McAdoo hoping he could raise Eli Manning’s career 58.5% completion rate (hasn’t topped 60% in a season since 2011). What they didn’t expect was the massive role Jennings would play in the new scheme. Through week 3, Jennings has carried the rock 68 times for nearly 300 yards. In the current age of football, it’s hard to find many bell cow running backs. You need not look any further to find one. Having ceded just 19 carries to backup Andre Williams, this backfield is all Jennings. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks as McAdoo and Jennings take their marriage and turn it into wedded bliss (in the form of many, many fantasy points).

     

    Week 4 Rankings:

                Here are my week 4 rankings broken down by position. I’ve also included my top 50 flex for those who can’t decide if they need to start a RB, WR, or TE in that flex spot. On to the rankings….

     

    QB

    1.     Drew Brees

    2.     Andrew Luck

    3.     Phillip Rivers

    4.     Aaron Rodgers

    5.     Matt Ryan

    6.     Matthew Stafford

    7.     Jay Cutler

    8.     Kirk Cousins

    9.     Cam Newton

    10. Colin Kaepernick

    11. Jake Locker

    12. Ben Roethlisberger

    13. Tony Romo

    14. Nick Foles

    15. Tom Brady

    16. Eli Manning

    17. Blake Bortles

    18. Teddy Bridgewater

    19. Joe Flacco

    20. Ryan Tannehill

     

    RB

    1.     Demarco Murray

    2.     Le’veon Bell

    3.     Matt Forte

    4.     LeSean McCoy

    5.     Rashad Jennings

    6.     Arian Foster

    7.     Jamaal Charles

    8.     Lamar Miller

    9.     Donald Brown

    10. Eddie Lacy

    11. Alfred Morris

    12. Matt Asiata

    13. C.J. Spiller

    14. Fred Jackson

    15. Doug Martin

    16. Ahmad Bradshaw

    17. Frank Gore

    18. Stevan Ridley

    19. Pierre Thomas

    20. Lorenzo Taliaferro

    21. Shane Vereen

    22. Reggie Bush

    23. Darren Sproles

    24. DeAngelo Williams

    25. Chris Ivory

     

    WR

    1.     Calvin Johnson

    2.     Antonio Brown

    3.     Dez Bryant

    4.     Julio Jones

    5.     Jordy Nelson

    6.     Vincent Jackson

    7.     Jeremy Maclin

    8.     Alshon Jeffery

    9.     Randall Cobb

    10. Brandon Marshall

    11. Kelvin Benjamin

    12. Andre Johnson

    13. Michael Crabtree

    14. Keenan Allen

    15. Desean Jackson

    16. Victor Cruz

    17. Cordarrelle Patterson

    18. Cecil Shorts III

    19. Julian Edelman

    20. Roddy White

    21. Brandin Cooks

    22. Steve Smith

    23. Marques Colston

    24. Sammy Watkins

    25. DeAndre Hopkins

     

    TE

    1.     Jimmy Graham

    2.     Rob Gronkowski

    3.     Greg Olsen

    4.     Vernon Davis

    5.     Martellus Bennett

    6.     Larry Donnell

    7.     Travis Kelce

    8.     Antonio Gates

    9.     Delanie Walker

    10. Niles Paul

    11. Zach Ertz

    12. Owen Daniels

    13. Jason Witten

    14. Heath Miller

    15. Charles Clay

     

    D/ST

    1.     San Diego Chargers

    2.     Miami Dolphins

    3.     New England Patriots

    4.     Houston Texans

    5.     Pittsburgh Steelers

    6.     Detroit Lions

    7.     Carolina Panthers

    8.     Atlanta Falcons

    9.     Chicago Bears

    10. Baltimore Ravens

    11.  San Francisco 49ers

    12. New Orleans Saints

    13. Oakland Raiders

    14. Indianapolis Colts

    15. Washington Redskins

     

     

    Kickers

    1.     Nick Novak

    2.     Stephen Gostkowski

    3.     Shaun Suisham

    4.     Justin Tucker

    5.     Blair Walsh

    6.     Dan Bailey

    7.     Robbie Gould

    8.     Adam Vinatieri

    9.     Matt Bryant

    10.  Cody Parkey

    11. Mason Crosby

    12. Phil Dawson

    13. Dan Carpenter

    14. Sebastian Janikowski

    15. Randy Bullock

     

     

    Flex

    1.     Demarco Murray

    2.     Le’Veon Bell

    3.     Calvin Johnson

    4.     Matt Forte

    5.     LeSean McCoy

    6.     Antonio Brown

    7.     Dez Bryant

    8.     Julio Jones

    9.     Rashad Jennings

    10. Arian Foster

    11. Jamaal Charles

    12. Jimmy Graham

    13. Lamar Miller

    14. Donald Brown

    15. Vincent Jackson

    16. Jeremy Maclin

    17. Alshon Jeffery

    18. Eddie Lacy

    19. Alfred Morris

    20. Rob Gronkowski

    21. Matt Asiata

    22. C.J. Spiller

    23. Randall Cobb

    24. Brandon Marshall

    25. Kelvin Benjamin

    26. Andre Johnson

    27. Michael Crabtree

    28. Fred Jackson

    29. Doug Martin

    30. Greg Olsen

    31. Ahmad Bradshaw

    32. Frank Gore

    33. Stevan Ridley

    34. Keenan Allen

    35. Desean Jackson

    36. Victor Cruz

    37. Cordarrelle Patterson

    38. Cecil Shorts III

    39. Pierre Thomas

    40. Vernon Davis

    41. Lorenzo Taliaferro

    42. Shane Vereen

    43. Reggie Bush

    44. Darren Sproles

    45. Julian Edelman

    46. Roddy White

    47. Brandin Cooks

    48. Steve Smith

    49. Marques Colston

    50. DeAngelo Williams

     

     

     

    Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire thoughts, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

     

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    Good luck to everyone this week!

     

    This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve