Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks (Week 7)

It’s time to look forward to Week Seven in the NFL, and there are some pretty exciting games coming this weekend that should produce some great fantasy performers for owners. The biggest matchup of the weekend will be when the Atlanta Falcons visit the New England Patriots on Sunday night for a Super Bowl rematch. No matter the game, there is always fantasy relevance to be found, maybe there will even be some sleepers in the lower profile games. So here is the list of sleepers going into Week Seven.

Alvin Kamara, RB New Orleans Saints:

Kamara has been pretty great already this season, so he is an unusual sleeper pick. He should already be owned in every league, but if somehow he remains a free agent, he may be worth picking up before their game against the Packers on Sunday. The rookie has looked great with the ball in his hands so far this season and has already provided some solid fantasy production. Kamara started the year as the main passing down back in the Saints’ offense but has now transitioned into a larger role following the departure of Adrian Peterson. New Orleans ran the ball a total of 37 times against Detroit in Week Six which is unusual for the pass-heavy offense, but it could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. Coach Sean Payton showed last week that Mark Ingram would get the majority of the work (25 carries vs. Lions,) but Kamara still has a big enough role to provide fantasy relevance (14 total touches vs. Lions). Expect the Saints to go run-heavy against the Packers who will have a tough time controlling the clock without Aaron Rodgers. The star rookie should see around 15 touches this week and flirt with RB2 potential.

Taylor Gabriel, WR Atlanta Falcons:

The Atlanta offense hasn’t been sharp the past two games, and the entire team has not been as dominant as they were last year. On Sunday they travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots, another team who does not look as good as when the two played each other in the Super Bowl back in February. Things could go a little different in this game, given New England has the worst defense in football, they had a tough time beating the Jets in Week Six. The Falcons did lose to the Dolphins last week but should have no problem putting up some nice numbers against a pass defense that has allowed 325 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. Gabriel is the biggest threat in the passing game besides Julio Jones, and while he hasn’t been able to bust out like he did last year, this could be the week the speedster breaks free for a long touchdown. Keep in mind that the veteran posted 76 yards on three catches against a better Patriots defense in the Super Bowl. Slot Gabriel in as a solid flex option with some nice touchdown upside.

Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams:

Goff and the entire Rams team have improved this season and are looking to make a difference\\\\\\\, at earning a playoff spot with four wins before their bye week. The second year signal caller has slowed down a bit posting a combined 17.6 fantasy points in standard scoring over the last two games, but give him some slack since he played Seattle and Jacksonville, two elite pass defenses. This week the Rams host the Cardinals, and there is no reason to be scared of their secondary as they have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and 250 passing yards per game. It’s true that Patrick Peterson and Co. do a great job taking the opposing number one wide receiver out of the game, but they haven’t had as much success stopping passing offenses as a whole. Goff should be able to get his solid play going again, look for a couple of passing touchdowns and more than 200 yards through the air on Sunday.

Brice Butler, WR Dallas Cowboys:

In last week’s edition of this article I recommended Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson as a deep sleeper with some nice touchdown potential, it ended up working out as owners were rewarded with a touchdown early in the game. This week I want to talk about Brice Butler as a deep sleeper with nice touchdown upside. It’s tough to trust many receivers in the Cowboys passing game, but they face a terrible 49ers secondary on Sunday and the offense should be able to take advantage of the matchup. Last week when I said to start Doctson he was also facing off against San Francisco, Butler could very well be my next deep sleeper who scores a touchdown against this defense. The fifth year wide receiver is averaging only about two targets per game but has two touchdowns already this season and is producing almost 26 yards per catch. Only play Butler if you are desperate for someone to put in the flex spot, but he could produce some solid fantasy points this week.

Marlon Mack, RB Indianapolis Colts:

Here’s another deep sleeper for this list, a rookie who has been explosive with the ball in his hands but hasn’t gotten a lot of work thus far. Mack has only played in four games this season but has a run of at least 22 yards in three of them, he also has two touchdowns to start his career. The ageless wonder Frank Gore remains the most used running back in the Colts offense, but one wonders why Indianapolis won’t let the rookie see more work so he can be the starter at the beginning of next season. Mack only received two carries in Monday night’s game against the Titans after getting nine the previous week, but he gets to play a Jaguars run defense that has allowed a league high 5.2 yards per carry this season. The rookie isn’t more than a low end flex option this week but his carries could increase giving him opportunity to break off a big run and possibly score his third touchdown of the year.

NFL Viewership Down – But Why?

Credit: @WashTimes

The NFL has had issues in the past, but never at the magnitude they are facing now. Dwindling viewership, injuries, protests, and matchups are the main factors.

Fans like seeing their favorite players in the game instead of on the sidelines, or even worse, not there at all. In the six weeks of the 2017 NFL regular season, the list of players that are injured for at least multiple weeks includes Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Teddy Bridgewater, JJ Watt, Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Julian Edleman, David Johnson, Greg Olson, Tyler Eifert, and Eric Berry. Outside of injuries, there are suspensions being handed out and court decisions being waited on. Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliot, the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has been battling a six-game suspension based on misconduct during the offseason. Elliot has been fighting the suspension to this day. This is the second big-name player to fight against the NFL in recent years as Tom Brady eventually was suspended due to his role in ‘Deflategate’. These are some big names that are not able to see the field for an extended period and some names that fans tune in just to see their performances.

The protests are something that have been covered extensively over the past year. In a nutshell, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the “National Anthem” to show there are inequalities in the country. However, some fans have made it about other factors, like disrespecting the military and President Trump’s tweets. As a result, many viewers are boycotting the NFL entirely. Week Five of the 2017 season saw the viewership drop eighteen percent from Week Five of the 2015 season the last season before Kaepernick took a knee. With this in mind, the NFL has not taken action against any player that has not stood for the “National Anthem.” The protests sprouted as an NFL issue, but recently a German Football (Soccer) Club, Hertha Berlin, joined the protest. With fans booing their favorite team as they take a knee in solidarity, the NFL has a major public relations issue brewing.

Concussions have taken a step back since the protests arose, however they are still a serious topic of discussion. The emergence of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, has taken people by storm and has a possibility of taking a huge hit on the league’s future if appropriate actions are not taken. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that is found in a large percentage of athletes in contact sports due to constant head trauma. A Boston University study conducted earlier this year showed 99 percent of players’ brains had displayed signs of CTE. The only issue is that CTE is not determined until the brain is studied after the death of the person. With these alarming numbers and information coming out, football is seemed more barbaric than ever. People fear that they are watching the men on the field destroy each other physically and mentally for a lot longer than the four quarters. Parents are fearful for their children obtaining such a disease and are decreasing participation, which will affect the NFL as time goes on.

When a football fan is flipping through the channels, they want to watch the best game possible. Sometimes the fan will sacrifice watching their favorite team to see a more compelling matchup.    The NFL is having an issue with that as the bottom-tier teams in the NFL are getting more diluted as the top-tier teams are lessening. Major market teams, such as the New York Giants, currently sit with a record of 1-5 while teams like the Buffalo Bills, that have a very small fanbase compared to the Giants, are currently slated to be a wild card team. Some would argue that teams like the Bills being good is a positive, but in actuality it is not. The New York media barely mentions the Buffalo Bills, a team located in upstate New York is in the playoffs while the Jets and Giants are not and still get mainstream media attention. Week six had a Sunday Night matchup of the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos, two very historic franchises in the league, sounds like a recipe for success? Only issue is that the Giants were heading in 0-5 and Denver’s quarterback situation has been mediocre at best. Why would an average viewer want to tune in to the game if stars are not on the field and the product is not up to par?

The NFL will have reasoning for lower viewership (they used the Election last year) but less people are interested in watching the NFL from the stadium and the comfort of their living rooms. The league has a big mess in front of it and only time will tell if they can fix it.

Homegrown “American Assassin”

“American Assassin” is a novel adapted thriller action flick, from the best-selling book of the same name by Vince Flynn (deceased) in 2010.  The film was written by Edward Zwick, Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch and Marshall Herskovitz.  The flick has a heavy cast starring Dylan O‘ Brien ( “The Maze Runner,”) Michael Keaton (“Spider-Man: Homecoming,”) Sanaa Lathaan (“Love & Basketball,”) and Taylor Kitsch (“John Carter.”)

The screenplay is a modern-day intelligence based movie that focuses on the larger themes of home-grown persons that are affected by terrorist attacks and the aftermath of those grievances.  The opening scene begins in Ibiza, Spain backdrop where Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) and his girlfriend share a very intimate moment on the beach.

The scene quickly changes dramatically as terrorists invade the beach and persons find themselves under a barrage of gunfire.  What develops from this attack is an innate hatred for the terrorist cell that perpetrated the attack.  The following months find Rapp learning Arabic and mixed martial arts, placing himself closer to the terrorist cell while being monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A).

Witnessing the tenacity and where with all that Rapp uses to infiltrate the organization, C.I.A Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Lathaan) recruits him to work for the organization.  The team he becomes a part of is spare headed by Stan Hurley (Keaton).  Hurley’s job involves preparing Rapp mentally for the world that he is about to step into, despite his inexperience and emotional instability.

The characters are fluid and ever-changing, as the movie progresses and shows the multifaceted ranges that the characters are capable of projecting.  The main relationship between Keaton and O’Brien create a vibrancy that is unmatched with any other performance, outshining all others on screen.

This vibrancy is attributed to the tension that perpetuates itself on screen as their relationship is continually evolving and made the subject of the movie itself. Their relationship creates a bit of a hole in the movie where other character relationships are diminished, as viewers can’t see their value to the movie or care about them as integral parts of the movie.

The plot is not something that is original at its core but is presented in a completely different way. The plot is something that audiences can connect to in a post-9/11 world, where the threat of nuclear war and terrorism are themes regularly played out in the media. The type of familiarity is where the movie veers from others in the genre. It has the fast pacing of an action movie but devotes time to developing care for the main characters, and what motivates them.

Vesting an interest in the themes that are presented comes smoothly and with little effort on the part of the audience. It is gut-wrenching as it deals with love, grief, hatred towards the establishment and honor.

Audiences that enjoy Michael Keaton’s performances will thoroughly enjoy his range of acting here. It projects an extension of the character “The Vulture” he played in Spiderman Homecoming, as he is reserved and controlled most of the time but when pushed, explodes on screen with a volatility comparable to chemical reactions.

The plot as mentioned before presents a standard intelligence action formula, but it surprises viewers with twists and turns within the final act that were completely unexpected. It juxtaposes real-life scenarios where common sense and diplomacy must be undertaken to prevent disasters from occurring. As scenes ensue, a realization of how close the situations presented in American Assassin imitate real life.

This realization reveals that overall, the writers took the subject matter serious enough to develop the plot through its methodical use of imagery and emotional distress. Despite the serious tone, there is a lighter element underscored in the relationship that evolves between Keaton and O’Brien.

Ultimately this is the movie’s downfall as the remaining cast although, brilliant and talented, are underutilized and unable to create an extensive network for the characters to take part in. What is left in the wake of the underutilization is a personal myopic view of what is taking place, which proved to be the main point of contention for critics.

As of Oct. 1, with just over a month in theatres, the move had only grossed 44.1 million dollars compared to its budget of 33 million which is a proverbial drop in the bucket to the working hours and additional resources placed in this movie. Keenly enough it is projected in how other film critics have perceived the screenplay; IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes have scored the movie 6.6 and 33% respectively.

To be fair “American Assassin” provides a plot that has been hashed out several times over; however, what it presents to viewers in our superhero dominated theatres are the heroes amongst us, and those are persons that are willing to defend those whom cannot defend themselves. More often movies like this go unappreciated because of what’s similar with other films of the genre while negating what is fresh about them.

The final word: “American Assassin” provides a story viewers have heard but rarely ever see in such detail. The chemistry between the leads, beautiful landscapes back dropping most scenes, and an explosive ending gives a thrill ride that most viewers will enjoy.

A Working Relationship: The Mountain Between Us Review

The strikingly handsome Idris Elba (“Dark Tower,”) and the gorgeous, Kate Winslet (“Titanic”) star in “The Mountain Between Us.” Both Academy Award winners encapsulate the big screen in this fall flick. The movie was released in theatres on Oct. 6, 2017. With 45 days of continuous production, a temperature of negative 38 degrees Celsius and an altitude of 10,500 ft., shooting became a challenge for both actors and set crew.

Moreover, this movie was directed by Dutch/Palestine director Hany Abu-Assad, who is also a two-time nominee for Oscars in the foreign language category. Inspired by the novel written by Charles Martin of the same name published on June 1, 2010, the movie is tragic, yet romantic. Additionally, Charles Martin collaborates with Abu-Assad to theatrically bring the characters Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) to life, as they explore how the persons will survive as they are the only persons for miles. The task at hand for Abu-Assad and Martin was to bring about a romantic relationship between the two effectively.

The movie begins as Ben and Alex travel to Denver for different reasons. Ben is a neurosurgeon who is in haste to perform an urgent surgery. Meanwhile, Alex who is a photojournalist is eager to return to Denver in time for her wedding the following day. From previous movies, both Elba and Winslet are ideal characters for The Mountain Between Us. Idris’ demeanor is one of resilience and strong-willed portrayed in “Thor” while Winslet survived tragedy in the “Titanic” and has been the epitome of a survivor since.

Ben and Alex’s desperate need to get to Denver is compromised when their pilot (flying them from Idaho to Denver), Walter has a stroke mid-flight, which is where the movie’s plot evolves.

The numerous mountains, a forest, and a frozen lake provide harsh conditions for the duo to persevere against. Alex and Ben, accompanied by the deceased pilot’s Golden Labrador, began a long trek towards civilization.

From the previews, it was eminent that survival would be the central theme of this movie. However, the title of the film “The Mountain Between Us” gives the illusion that this movie is solely about a couple who experience difficulties in a relationship. On the contrary, the movie is about being disconnected from civilization and persisting through hardship, which fosters a romantic relationship between the characters.

The movie addresses the possible outcomes of what is most probable to occur when two people are separated from civilization amidst chaos. Initially, arguments arise as Ben and Alex are stranded on the mountain, but mending occurs when they must cooperate with each other to survive and make it out alive.

Another major theme of this movie explores the rule of three which states that humans can only survive three days without water, three hours without shelter and three minutes without air. However, this movie tests the rule of three” as the characters are placed in a predicament that causes them to depend on each other defying the rule of three.

According to the book written by Charles Martin, the characters are separated from civilization for about four weeks, so it is relatively evident to figure out the outcome of this perilous yet mysterious journey.

The movie attempts to depict the possible outcomes of being separated from civilization and the journey of working together to make it back home alive. While watching the movie those that are familiar with the book and movie “Lord of The Flies” written by William Golding, would be reminded of the plane crash, arguments and chaos, and the need of cohesiveness to return to civilization safely.

With a PG-13 rating and a 103-minute run time, parents and guardians are strongly advised to accompany kids, due to minor sexual content and adult situations. The movie stirs mixed emotions on being faithful to one’s partner under the circumstances of separation. The theme is explored when in the movie Alex engages in a romantic relationship with Ben despite being on the precipice of her nuptials. It appears for most of the film that she has forgotten about her fiancé, but we are left to wonder if the romantic relationship occurred because of “cabin fever.”.

Overall, this movie is a must-see that will capture audience’s attention throughout the film. Both Elba and Winslet become the characters they were intended to be.

They both understood their roles and their real-life character traits are evidently seen when they must depend on each other to survive. Both characters are strong-willed and have excellent chemistry on screen. The only uncertainty comes as we are left not knowing whether Alex will tell her fiancé about her short-lived relationship with Ben

Hurricane Irma Leaves A Mark In Faculty’s Life

By Dr. Nicole McCoy

Nicole McCoy is an adjunct faculty member at the Key West Center, who decided to share her personal story involving Hurricane Irma.

I live on Cudjoe Key, which is where the forward eyewall of hurricane Irma struck on 9/10. I first became aware of Irma’s potential (and her potential track) on 8/31, which is quite a few days before most people, because I follow the amateur meteorologist blogs during hurricane season. You would think that a long lead time would be good, but in many ways it was a slow-moving torture. I think I wasted hours analyzing data on these blogs over the next few days; hoping against hope that they were wrong and Irma would turn out to sea. By Labor Day it was fairly clear that Irma was a substantial threat and we frantically began buttoning up the house.

We have lived down here for five years, but had just purchased this house 10 months before and were completely unprepared to seal up a house and our lot for a hurricane. We had never tested our hurricane shutters and found out the previous owner hadn’t left us the key. We learned that hurricane shutter locks can be picked fairly easily!

It took us almost three days to get the house ready and there was still more that we could have done. I had an office in our downstairs enclosure and I moved everything that was important or that was less than 2 feet from the floor (Wilma’s storm surge in 2005 was 18”) to our upstairs. My husband Sean tied down our boats. Our bigger boat was anchored to the house and the ground out front, and our small older boat, a 1971 Seacraft, which we had been restoring and was 95% done, was secured on the dock and davits out back.

On [Thursday],  we packed up our two cats, two dogs, and 11 year old son into our 16-year old Ford King Cab pickup and headed for Sarasota. We had to leave our Honda Civic behind, as it was broken and the part needed to repair it had arrived the Friday before the holiday weekend.

It was absolute agony watching Irma – an enormously powerful hurricane- head west and hearing the meteorologists tell us that she WOULD turn north, somewhere over the Keys. She slowed down substantially, and her arrival was delayed by almost a day. I couldn’t believe it when we watched her arrival as a Category 4 hurricane on Cudjoe Key Sunday morning. I thought for certain that my house, with its shingle roof,  would be gone.

It was a couple of days before one of my friends, who is a first responder, got down to the Keys and sent me a picture of my house–it was still standing and looked to be relatively okay. NOAA imagery confirmed that we still had a roof (missing shingles and more damage inside that would be discovered later). The relief we felt was enormous. And our big boat, that we had just purchased in February, had barely missed being crushed by a tree.

Unfortunately, we got 33 inches of storm surge inside the lower enclosure, which is more than we expected, and combined with the mold that occurred in the 8 days we were prevented from returning to the lower Keys, we had extensive losses downstairs. The 1971 Seacraft we were restoring is severely damaged, and we will be starting over again on that project. Our Honda is a total loss due to storm surge.

Nonetheless, compared to the other losses on Cudjoe, as well as the very severe damage on Big Pine, No Name Key, and Marathon, we feel extremely lucky. I had thought that getting the eye of Irma, where the winds are most intense would be horrible (and it was), but it turned out that the east side of the storm was substantially more damaging. Had we had the east side of the storm instead of the eye, I don’t think we would have had a house to return to.

Key West Center Re-opening After Hurricane

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Key West on Sept. 10 as a Category 4 storm. A month after Hurricane Irma has hit Florida, the Saint Leo Key West Center, the students and faculty recently got readjusted. In fact, according to Alaina Plowdrey, the director of Key West, students returned to classes on Monday, Oct. 2, which was more than a few weeks after the hurricane hit, and only couple days before this was when most of the students were making their way back to the Keys.

“The reopening went very smoothly; the only big issue was the intermittent internet. However, by the first night of classes the internet was consistent,” said Plowdrey. “The students have been great as well as my staff and faculty in working together and being patient with one another and respectful of the process.”

Based on many messages from Saint Leo University and President Dr. Lennox, Saint Leo has made it known that it is dedicated to helping accommodate the students affected by the hurricanes, especially regarding faculty giving extensions and other assistance with class work. With this assistance from Saint Leo and its faculty, many students did not have to withdraw due to the effects of the storm.

“We had minimal withdrawals from students. Those that needed to withdraw either were first responders, that have been working very hard and long hours since the storm or those that lost large portions of their homes,” said Plowdrey. “Both on ground and online faculty have been wonderful in working with everyone for extensions and incompletes. It hasn’t been an easy term for the students, faculty, and staff down here, but the process of working as an interconnected team has helped immensely.”

Key West took a devastating hit from the Hurricane, as they were affected by heavy rainfalls, coastal flooding, and strong winds. According to CBS News, FEMA estimates that 65 percent of homes suffered major damage and 25 percent of homes were destroyed.  Plowdrey confirmed that some faculty and students did, in fact, suffer damages to their properties. The Key West Center is checking on these individuals and making certain accommodations to help them deal with these particular circumstances.

“We did have some individuals and families that did suffer. We have been checking in on them regularly, sending them grant information and welcoming everyone to use the lab for internet if they do not have access,” Plowdrey said. “Since many have only just returned, I am planning on next week, the first week of FA2, to run a can drive to support anyone who is in extra need at this time, as well as create volunteer lists for those who are in need of any help cleaning their properties.”

In spite of some part of the Keys being shattered by Hurricane Irma, the Key West Center only suffered minimal damages.

“We had quite a few ceiling tiles come down from water damage. Those areas are in the queue to be repaired by Public Works. We had part of our railing go down outside the front door, which has been repaired,” said Plowdrey. “When we first came back, the center was in extreme need of a dehumidifier. PW promptly came by after my request with an industrial strength machine. The air quality was better within three days.”

Although the center reopened recently, there are still concerns for the future, as Plowdrey described.

“Well, hurricane season isn’t done and this year has been quite active! My concerns for the weather will end at the end of the season, November. However, those of us who live down here understand it is just part of living in Florida,” said Plowdrey. “And if another hurricane comes, which is inevitable at some point, we will process through, as a united center and university. Teamwork is key, and SLU has the best. Everyone takes care of one another. When you know you have a great team and support, there is no room for concern; you know the only path is to confidently push through strong. The only thing we have any control over is our emotions; I choose to keep mine positive and productive for the benefit of my own psychology and for those around me.”

Plowdrey also talked about ways that the Keys were able rebound from the effects of the hurricane, and she mentioned what the Center plans to do to help its community as well.

“I must say, the National Guard, the Navy, and FEMA have done wondrously in supporting those in need as well as local organizations and ones that have come down from the mainland to help. Most of the garbage and debris has been picked up, so at this time it is about rebuilding. We also lost a lot of trees in our parks, in which we will be looking into donating some Saint Leo University trees to help with the regrowth and show our support in the community,” said Plowdrey.

It is evident that the Key West Center is getting settled after reopening and is able to support it students, faculty, staff and even its community.