Doug Baldwin

Doug Baldwin – Fluke or Legitimate #1 Receiver?

 

Over the second half of the NFL season, Doug Baldwin averaged just over 90 yards and 1.5 touchdowns a game (all statistics in this article came from profootballreference.com). It was, to say the least, an unexpected explosion of production from the 5th year receiver. Inevitably, almost as soon as the season was over, speculation began on whether it was an actual breakout season or simply a flash in the pan. So, can Doug Baldwin sustain that level of production next season and beyond?

The short answer is that yard-wise, he should be around the 1,000 yard mark again, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Baldwin has always been pretty productive on limited targets, and his yards per catch were not significantly different than in previous seasons. In fact, if you average out his 5 seasons, last year’s yards per catch are almost exactly the same (13.7) as his 5-year average (13.98). His targets were up due to a variety of factors: Jimmy Graham’s injury, injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, and ever-improving chemistry with Russell Wilson. The place where we will see a drop-off is in touchdowns. Baldwin had 14 last year, 12 of which came in the last 8 weeks. It stands to reason that he will not keep up such a torrid pace; after all, his previous season high for TD receptions was 5.

So yes, Baldwin is a better receiver than he’s gotten credit for; however, he’ll probably have about half the TD receptions he had in 2015 while hovering around the 80 catch, 1,000 yard mark.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

AFC Picks

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

They won’t be missing Le’veon Bell to suspension to start the season this year; as long as he, Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown stay healthy, that offense will be a juggernaut. Cincinnati will once again be competitive, but losing a couple of receivers on offense will hurt them just enough to keep them from being repeat division champs. The Ravens should bounce back from a down year and could be a factor, while the Browns are… well, at least Cleveland has Lebron.

 

AFC East: New England Patriots

Next.

 

AFC South (a.k.a. the division everyone tried to lose last year): Indianapolis Colts

The Colts should bounce back from a pretty disappointing season last year to win what is once again a very underwhelming division. The Texans will probably hover around 9-7 again this year, as Brock Osweiler is a functional but unspectacular quarterback.  The Titans and Jags will both be much improved, but there are too many holes on both of their rosters to expect them to contend. Then again, getting to 9-7 might be enough.

 

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

This division could be a lot of fun to watch as I think every team has a legitimate shot at winning it. The Chargers won’t be as injury-prone as they were last year, and Philip Rivers still has plenty left in the tank. Oakland will keep improving and has some excellent weapons on both sides of the ball. Denver will inevitably fall off from last year’s high but should still be competitive due to their dominant defense.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

NFC Picks

With the start of NFL preseason less than 2 months away, I figure now is as good a time as any to give you my NFL predictions for the upcoming season. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the winner of each division, starting with the NFC.

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

This division is really a two-team fight between the Packers and the Vikings. The Lions have lost too much talent in recent years and the Bears just don’t have enough on the defensive side of the ball. That leaves the reigning division champs, Green Bay, and the up-and-coming Vikings. As hard as it is for me to pick against Aaron Rodgers, I love what Mike Zimmer is building on the defensive side of the ball. That will keep the Vikings in every game, and in a very tight race I think the offense is just good enough to win a lot of close games.

 

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

In all honesty, this division is an absolute crap shoot. Having said that, as long as Tony Romo stays healthy and Ezekiel Elliot can locate the giant holes that the offensive line will open for him, the offense will be one of the most potent in the NFL. Couple that with New York’s struggles in recent years, Philadelphia switching systems, and the fact that, in my opinion, the Redskins’ limited success last year was an absolute fluke… Dallas wins it by default.

NFC South: Carolina Panthers

This seems like an obvious choice due to the fact that Carolina was absolutely dominant all last season until the Super Bowl, but I think the race will be much closer than last year. Atlanta will continue to improve and will push the Panthers before ultimately falling short. The Saints should return to competence as that defense can’t possibly be any worse than it was last year. The Bucs should be better in Jameis Winston’s second year, but Carolina is simply too good to fall off enough to lose their grip on the NFC South.

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians has been doing great work in Arizona, and I can’t see that stopping anytime soon. The defense will continue to be athletic and hard-hitting, while the offense will continue to put up points as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. I would have been inclined to pick the Seahawks since Russell Wilson keeps getting better and they’ve once again kept the bulk of their defensive core intact, but that O-line might be historically bad. As good a coach as Tom Cable is, he can’t work miracles. Neither the Rams nor the 49ers should be a factor in the race.

 

Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

MLS Picks: Playoffs Edition

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MLS Playoffs First Round

Wednesday, October 28th

(4) D.C. United vs. (5) New England Revolution

Think of the worst possible way you could end your season heading into the playoffs. Now multiply that by 10 and you get D.C. United. Their embarrassing 5-0 loss to Columbus to close the season will do them no favors as they host the Revs in this one-game playoff. New England backed into the playoffs, but have the attacking firepower to beat anyone. With Jermaine Jones finally healthy, they go to D.C. and knock them out of the playoffs.

Winner: New England Revolution

Confidence Rating: 60%

—–

(4) Seattle Sounders vs. (5) LA Galaxy

What a crazy season it’s been for the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy. They began slow, made a slew of great roster additions and became the best team in the league. Somewhere along the way, they lost their focus and slipped all the way down to the fifth seed in the West. This means they must go to possibly the most intimidating atmosphere in MLS for a one-game playoff. Seattle isn’t exactly clicking on all cylinders either, but with the home crowd behind them and Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, they pull it out in the end.

Winner: Seattle Sounders

Confidence Rating: 55%

—–

Thursday, October 29th

(3) Montreal Impact vs. (6) Toronto FC

All hail Didier Drogba. He is the new king of MLS and we all shall bow to him. What an unbelievable turnaround it’s been for the Impact since they signed the former Chelsea legend. His two goals on Sunday helped them beat TFC. With Toronto’s defensive struggles and Montreal’s impressive home field advantage, it’s hard to see anything different happening when the two face off again on Thursday.

Winner: Montreal Impact

Confidence Rating: 70%

—–

(3) Portland Timbers vs. (6) Sporting Kansas City

SKC snuck into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and have been in some atrocious form of late. The Timbers are hitting their stride at the perfect time with Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe leading the way. Their 9 goals in their final two regular season games are a cause for optimism. They continue their hot streak in front of the raucous Timbers Army and advance.

Winner: Portland Timbers

Confidence Rating: 65%

—–

 

MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinals

Sunday, November 1st

Highest Remaining Seed vs. (1) New York Red Bulls

The Supporters’ Shield-winning Red Bulls will take on the highest remaining seed in the East after the one-game playoffs. According to my prediction, that team would be the New England Revolution. No matter who they end up playing, be careful with this pick. Playing away during the first leg of a two-legged playoff is a tricky task. RBNY could play it safe and attempt to sit back and counter for the away goal. A draw is likely, but a narrow win for the Revs is not out of the question.

—–

Highest Remaining Seed vs. (1) FC Dallas

Western Conference champs Dallas will take on the highest remaining seed in the West. That would be the Seattle Sounders if I’m correct. This would be a very difficult match-up for Dallas. In this first away leg, Seattle would be the pick thanks to their amazing home support. Same goes for if they end up playing the Galaxy. The only club they’d be favored over away from home is Sporting KC.

—–

Lowest Remaining Seed vs. (2) Columbus Crew

The Crew would match-up against Montreal if my predictions are accurate. Columbus is a difficult team to judge. They always play well in the regular season, but seem to struggle in the postseason. Montreal is the pick if that pairing occurs. If they play D.C., then it’s the Crew.

—–

Lowest Remaining Seed vs. (2) Vancouver Whitecaps

Is a Cascadia Derby match-up on the cards? If my picks are correct, Portland would take on the Caps in the conference semifinals. What a tasty pairing that would be. Both offer talented attacking players and solid overall teams. Portland would have to be favored at home. If it happens to be Seattle they play, the same goes. Pick the home team.

 

Rob Usry, Easy Streak contributor

@RobUsry

MLB Tips: Playoffs Edition

MLB Tips: Playoffs Edition
Here’s a quick sneak peek of the weekly tips that Easy Streak subscribers receive every Thursday!  As soon as you subscribe, you’ll receive 1-3 sports articles with tips + predictions to assist you in making the best picks in the contests on our app.

Remember, on Easy Streak, you pick which real teams will win real games; it’s NOT fantasy and you don’t need to do any research to pick players for a fantasy team.  We do the research on the teams for you, thanks to our expert sportswriters!

Without further adieu, here’s the latest by one of our MLB sportswriters.

*Predictions based off of current scheduled/projected pitching matchups

BLUE JAYS vs. RANGERS

The Blue Jays’ league leading offense is just too powerful for the Rangers’ pitching staff. Though they added an ace (Hamels) at the trade deadline, the Rangers are the only team remaining that ranks in the bottom half (23rd) in the Majors in ERA. The Jays’ lumber and hot pitching at the top of their rotation should be enough to defeat the Rangers pretty handily.

Prediction: Blue Jays win series 3-0 (games 1, 2, and 3)

ROYALS vs. ASTROS

Both teams are very good at their home ballparks, but the Astros are the worst road team in the AL, which could put their backs against the wall as they play the first two games in KC. The Royals’ post-season run from last year should help guide them over a young Astros team that has poor road play and lacks October experience.

Prediction: Royals win series 3-1 (games 1, 2, and 4)

DODGERS vs. METS

Tied for best home record in the Majors, the Dodgers will benefit greatly with home field advantage and being led by two amazing Cy Young candidates (Kershaw/Greinke). The Mets pitchers scheduled to start in LA in games 1-2 (DeGrom/Syndergaard) fare much worse on the road and could show some fatigue as they are in uncharted territory in innings pitched.

Prediction: Dodgers win series 3-1 (games 1, 2, and 4) 

CARDINALS vs. CUBS

For this series, it’s all about momentum and it’s all in the Cubs’ hands with 9 straight victories, including the Wildcard win over the Pirates. Meanwhile, the Cardinals took their foot off the gas in the final week and were swept by the lowly Braves. When in doubt, go with the hot team.

Prediction: Cubs win series 3-2 (games 2, 4, and 5)

 

Jason Kwok, Easy Streak contributor

@TheBackwardsK

Why I’m sticking with Sam Bradford

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I was graciously invited to be part of a 12-man league this year, and I graciously accepted the invite.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play in a fantasy football league. When you’re getting a Master’s, you just don’t have the time it takes to play competitively in a fantasy league without getting made fun of. I ended up picking up Sam later in the draft this year because I think he is going to have a solid year, despite a slow start in his game yesterday.

Here are a few of my thoughts on why I’m holding on to Sam Bradford and why I think he is going have a big year and rack up those fantasy points.

  • Chip Kelly’s offense has a better chance of protecting Sam Bradford than the Rams ever did.
  • Despite Sam Bradford’s slow 1st half, he threw for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 not counting)
  • He looked really comfortable for his first regular season game in 2 years
  • He was able to rally the second half against a fired up Atlanta defense (not last year’s defense)
  • The Eagles’ strength of schedule is ranked 23rd having a record of 121-134-1 (.475)

There is always a chance of him getting injured, as is true for any pro player; just ask fantasy players that picked up Dez Bryant and T.Y. Hilton. But I think Sam Bradford has as big a chance of having a great year as any.

I’ll end with this. I bet I am much happier than the person I beat this week, with Sam Bradford on my team while he has Peyton Manning on his.

Written by:  Matt Williams, CEO

MLS Weekend Matchups

Soccer Matchups

 

Friday, September 11

New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire

The Red Bulls continue their march towards the top spot in the Eastern conference with wins in four of their last six matches. They should handle the lowly Chicago Fire with ease at home.

Winner: New York Red Bulls

Confidence Rating: 90%

 

Saturday, September 12

Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC

The Union’s shock win at San Jose last week gives them a much-needed confidence boost as they host the Crew. However, Columbus’ high-octane attack should have league-leading goal scorer Kei Kamara back, making them the favorites. But be cautious of the Union.

Winner: Columbus Crew SC

Confidence Rating: 60%

Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake

Both teams are having dismal seasons so far and both enter with just two wins in their last six matches. We give the slight edge to the Dynamo being at home.

Winner: Houston Dynamo

Confidence Rating: 55%

FC Dallas vs. New York City FC

Dallas has won back-to-back matches entering their matchup with NYCFC. They should have Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele back in the fold making them the clear favorites at home against the struggling expansion team.

Winner: FC Dallas

Confidence Rating: 75%

Colorado Rapids vs. DC United

Eastern Conference leading DC United travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids and should win easily against the struggling Rapids. The pressure will be on DC as the Red Bulls are just lurking two points behind in the standings. Expect them to come out trying to prove a point.

Winner: DC United

Confidence Rating: 80%

LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact

Despite Didier Drogba’s hat trick in his first-ever MLS start, expect the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy to roll over the Impact at home. The star-studded Galaxy boasts an incredible attacking lineup which is nearly unbeatable at the StubHub Center.

Winner: LA Galaxy

Confidence Rating: 85%

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders

The Quakes had their four-match win streak snapped last week, while the Sounders are getting all of the star players back from injury. We expect Seattle to go to San Jose and come out victorious with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins up to their old tricks once again.

Winner: Seattle Sounders

Confidence Rating: 75%

 

Sunday, September 13

Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the week will take place in Toronto when TFC hosts the Revs. This one is extremely tough to predict as both sides have tons of talent. However, with Sebastian Giovinco still an injury doubt, we have to lean towards the Revs.

Winner: New England Revolution

Confidence Rating: 51%

Orlando City vs. Sporting Kansas City

It’s been a terrible run of form lately for Orlando with just one win in their last eight matches. SKC hasn’t been much better as they’re currently riding a three-match losing streak of their own. Sporting boasts more talent and experience. We believe they’ll pull off the road win and get back on track.

Winner: Sporting Kansas City

Confidence Rating: 60%

 

Written by Rob Usry, Easy Streak Contributor

@RobUsry

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Knowledge is Power – MLB

baseball-field-828713_1920For Easy Streak’s contests, some good fortune on your side can go a long way, but knowledge is power when it comes to selecting winners.

Looking specifically at the MLB contests, there are several components that will factor into some good decision making, but one of the most important things to have knowledge about are the probable starting pitchers for each team. Starting pitchers can be considered the tone setters for their team. So if a starting pitcher is in a more favorable spot than his counterpart, then there should be a greater chance for his team to be victorious.

Check if a pitcher is in any extreme type of form in his most recent starts, whether it be good or bad. Take note of how he’s fared in the past against not only the team that he is opposing, but also against the specific players that may be in the opposing starting lineup to see if he dominates any players or gets dominated by any. Also, inspect his in-season and career splits for whatever the situation is, whether it is at home or on the road, and also splits vs. lefty/righty if the opposition’s offense is particularly heavy in either type of handedness. From all that collected information, you should be able to form solid opinions on your way to selecting winners.

Based on this, here are a couple of freebie picks for the Baseball Weekend on Easy Streak:

SLEEPER PICK (9/11/15):

Los Angeles Angels

(Jered Weaver) vs. Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) – Weaver pitched a shutout the last time vs. the Astros; Keuchel is much worse on the road than home (4-6 with 3.35 ERA).

STRONG PLAY (9/12/15):

Miami Marlins

(Jose Fernandez) vs. Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) – Fernandez is 15-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 24 career home starts.

Written by: Jason Kwok, Easy Streak Contributor
@TheBackwardsK

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The Return of NFL

challenge-competition-crowd-4109To celebrate the return of the NFL, I have compiled a couple teams I expect to overachieve, and a couple that should underachieve.

Overachievers

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have fallen on hard times since their NFC Title Game appearance in 2012, but they seem poised to bounce back this season. The offense should continue to be productive as long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones stay healthy, while the defense should at least take a step forward with former Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn at the helm. Couple that with no clear favorite in the NFC South, and you have a recipe for a much better season for Atlanta and its fans.

Minnesota Vikings

While the Packers are still a near lock to win the NFC North, we can expect a much better season from the Vikings this year. Their defense should continue to improve in year 2 of Mike Zimmer’s regime, while Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Wallace, and the return of Adrian Peterson should help the offense put up points in bunches in Norv Turner’s scheme.

Underachievers

Seattle Seahawks

While the Seahawks should still be a very dangerous team this year, I expect their win total to drop off compared to the last two seasons. While they did add Jimmy Graham, they also lost some key contributors on an O-line that was already shaky to begin with. That, coupled with a difficult schedule, should see them have a tougher go of things this season.

Dallas Cowboys

The dominant O-line is still there, as are Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Having said that, I have doubts on how well the defense will hold up and if Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden can replace the lost production of DeMarco Murray.

Written by: Keith Shaffer, Easy Streak Contributor

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Batter Up

football-playball-rugby-457The MLB playoffs are coming quickly! Teams are starting to hunker down for the run into October. Here are four teams in the hunt for a playoff spot that you should be choosing to win and lose over the course of the next week.

Two Up:

New York Mets:

Since the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Clippard at the trade deadline, the Mets have looked like a new team. The offense has been revitalized with Cespedes’ big bat, the bullpen has solidified with Clippard’s 0.51 ERA in 18 appearances since the break, and the rotation continues to be anchored by Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard. The team has the weakest schedule in baseball from here on out and are a safe pick.

Toronto Blue Jays:

This offense is among the best the league has seen in years, and the addition of David Price atop the rotation has this team surging. Edwin Encarnacion seemingly can’t do anything but hit home runs and the quartet of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Encarnacion is among the most feared in the last decade.

Two Down:

New York Yankees:

While rookie Luis Severino has been a major bright spot, the Yankees’ lack of organizational depth, from the lineup to the rotation, has been exposed in recent weekends as the Bronx Bombers have gone on a small skid down the American League East standings.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Dodgers’ no-hit by Jake Arrieta was just the cherry on top of the team’s recent struggles. The absence of a healthy Yasiel Puig and the epic struggle of Joc Pederson at the plate has caused an offensive drought in Chavez Ravine, as the team tries to keep pace in the National League West to avoid a disappointing season once again in Los Angeles.

Written by: Joon Lee, Easy Streak Contributor
@iamjoonlee

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