Graphic Courtesy of Pat Pryor @patpryorgraphic
All betting outlooks and insights are provided by our Director of Betting, Jeremy Dennis. You can find him on Twitter @menace524. Also, all of the DFS Fantasy Player insights are provided by Nikunj Patel. You can find him on Twitter @NickOfTimeDFS.
St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) at DC Defenders (2-2)
Where to Watch: Sunday, March 8th, 3:00 PM ET on FS1
The BattleHawks head back on the road following a two-game win streak at home. They head to Washington D.C. to take on the plummeting Defenders. While St. Louis is finding their stride and riding high on some huge momentum, DC can’t relate. The Pep Hamilton coached Defenders are coming off of back-to-back blowout losses to teams that they were heavily favored against. It’s a tale of two teams, one is getting better and it looks like the other is getting worse. Factor in the fact that the BattleHawks have Jordan Ta’amu growing under center while the Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones has thrown five interceptions in the last two weeks and you have polar opposite teams. Realistically speaking, this could be the season for the Defenders if they don’t stop the bleeding this weekend. The BattleHawks, on the other hand, aren’t looking to stay alive but rather take over as the top dog.
Players to watch
Jordan Ta’amu, Quarterback
Obviously, you have to watch out for the face of the BattleHawks franchise Jordan Ta’amu. He’s among the best in the league and should have no problem moving the football against the Defenders whether it’s on the ground or through the air.
Brandon Reilly, Wide Receiver
Brandon Reilly has emerged as one of Ta’amu’s favorite targets and it’s due to his reliability. When you are on the road it’s all about just doing enough to get the win. If this ends up being a close game, expect Reilly to be the go-to guy on the other end of Ta’amu’s pass.
Kenny Robinson, Safety
Kenny Robinson had it rough last weekend as the Seattle Dragons veteran quarterback B.J. Daniels stood over him after a score and led his teammates to trample him. On top of that, Robinson was assessed a penalty oddly enough. It was the first big “rookie moment” and one has to expect he’s going to come back with a vengeance this week. The 21-year-old safety is looking like a special talent and with the way Cardale Jones is playing, don’t be surprised if he pulls down an interception or two.
Cardale Jones, Quarterback
As mentioned above, Cardale Jones has thrown five interception in just the last two games alone. He is going to be a big reason if the DC Defenders can stick with the BattleHawks in this game or not. Jones flashed big time at the beginning of the season but he has since fallen off. We will see if he can right the ship.
Rashad Ross, Wide Receiver
The former superstar wideout of the AAF hasn’t been used in the same way. Expect Jones to target Ross early and often and go for the deep ball a bunch of times in this game. Ross has the game-breaking speed to take it to the house on any reception.
Anthony Johnson, Defensive End
Anthony Johnson is arguably the best player on the Defenders. DC received him via trade from the LA Wildcats. Johnson can wreck the backfield of the opposing team and if he’s able to get to Jordan Ta’amu he could single-handedly alter the game.
Keys to the game
St. Louis BattleHawks
Center the gameplan around Jordan Ta’amu
Force Cardale Jones into turnover opportunities
Do not take the foot off the gas pedal
Limit the turnovers
Attack the BattleHawks with a balanced offense
Win the time of possession battle
NickOfTime Top 5 DFS Plays
Cardale Jones, QB, DC
Jordan Ta’amu, QB, STL
Christine Michael, RB, STL
Eli Rogers, WR, DC
De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, STL
Degenerate Menace Betting Outlook
Line: DC (+4) Over/Under: 39
It was said in this space last week that the big key for Washington is to determine if the 39-9 loss to L.A. was an outlier or the start of a trend. After the 25-0 loss to the Vipers on Sunday, it is officially a trend. Cardale Jones has accumulated 175 yards of passing and five interceptions in two games against lower tier opponents (although some would say that Tampa is starting to find its stride). St. Louis continues to impress as they have started with a 3-1 record with the only loss being a four pointer to Houston. Along with that, the BattleHawks are 3-1 against the spread. Until something changes, the DC offensive trouble will continue to be a trend and there is no reason for the BattleHawks to continue their winning ways.
Prediction: St. Louis 25 - DC 11
This game is important for the BattleHawks to move forward as potentially the league’s best team. However, desperate teams are the scariest teams and the Defenders right now are desperate. They need to get Cardale Jones rolling as soon as possible and if not they need to give Tyree Jackson the rock. Either way, I don’t see St. Louis losing right now. They are clicking on all cylinders and their young quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is getting better as the weeks go on. I expect the game to start off relatively slow with the Defenders trying some deep shots down the field early but in the end St. Louis rolls on the road behind the dual-threat ability of Ta’amu and the rock-solid defense.
Final Score: St. Louis 33, DC Defenders 15
Written by: Jake Ellenbogen
TB Vipers (1-3) at LA Wildcats (1-3)
Where to Watch: Sunday, March 8th, 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
At this point, it’s do or die for the Wildcats and the Vipers. Both teams come in with a win a piece and a loss to another bad team will likely put them out of the playoffs barring a wild second half of the season comeback. The Vipers have the momentum with an impressive shutout win over the DC Defenders who previously had looked like one of the best teams in the league. The Wildcats will have to rebound after a sloppy but close loss to the Guardians where QB Josh Johnson looked impressive but the rest of the team couldn’t pull it together.
Players to watch
RBs De’Veon Smith and Jacquez Patrick both had 100 yards on the ground last week. That isn’t good news for a porous LA defense.
EDGE Obum Gwacham returned last week and provided pressure on the QB that the Vipers needed. Slowing Johnson down will be key.
QB Josh Johnson as always is the main key to this game. He may be one of, if not the, best QB in the league and while the team around him hasn’t shown up, he’ll continue to be a threat to defenses.
WR Tre McBride stepped up big time without fellow wideout Nelson Spruce. Once these two are on the field they could form quite the dynamic duo, but until then McBride will have to continue to step up.
K Giorgio Tavecchio is up to bat for LA. Former NFL kicker Nick Novak effectively cost LA their last game and is now on IR. Tavecchio also has NFL experience and will be heavily relied on if the Wildcats can’t punch in into the endzone.
Keys to the game
Tampa Bay Vipers
Limit Turnovers - The TO differential between these two teams is alarming. Winning the turnover game is always vital, so reversing roles here would be huge for TB.
Continue Defensive Dominance - The Vipers have been excellent defensively and have a chance to stuff a Wildcats offense that’s effective but thin.
Run Down LA’s Throat - LA is allowing 131.5 ypg on the ground so far and off of the back of two impressive running performances, the Vipers can control this game if they commit to the run.
Los Angeles Wildcats
Josh Johnson Continues to Ascend - The LA QB has only looked more impressive each passing week, but that’s hardly translated to wins. With another impressive defense on the schedule, he will have to continue to make plays and be the best player on the field.
Stuff the Run, at all Costs - The Vipers can run the ball and play defense. The Wildcats can pass the ball, and can’t really play defense. Evening the Time of Possession will be highly important if the Wildcats don’t want to slowly bleed out.
UStart Fast - If LA can’t score quickly, it’ll be the Vipers game to lose. If they can, Tampa Bay will have to run less and pass more, which will play to the slightly strong strength of the LA defense.
NickOfTime Top 5 DFS Plays
Quinton Flowers, QB, TB - GPP play
Dujuan Harris, RB, LA
Tre McBride, WR, LA
Dan Williams, WR, TB
Degenerate Menace Betting Outlook
Line: L.A. (-2) Over/Under: 40
It certainly looks like Tampa found their stride with Taylor Cornelius and the rushing attack last week. For the first time this season, a team had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. The Wildcats looked uneven at best in their 17-14 defeat at the hands of New York. If we look at the history of the two teams while eliminating their games against Washington (since it is clear that they are in a death spiral), it looks like Tampa is the better team that appears to be on its way up especially after giving #1 Houston all they could handle a few weeks ago. Hard not to take the underdog here. There are two issues though: The Wildcats seem to play better at home and the Aaron Murray saga could show its ugly head at any time. Going to stick with the more polished QB in this one.
Prediction: L.A. 22 - Tampa 19
With these two teams playstyles, the script is written for a strong run game and defensively focused win by Tampa Bay. It’s on Los Angeles to flip it, and an early score or two could force the Vipers to play the Wildcats game instead. Whoever gets their script is likely to win and that should be a little easier for the home team with the better QB. This may be the rare game that’s won in the first half.
Final Score: Wildcats 16, Vipers 13
Written by: Mason LeBeau