(This is the Sports Illustrated’s Fantasy and Betting “Winners Club” newsletter, which you can receive in your inbox every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Click here to subscribe.)
Tonight we have playoff baseball games up for grabs or home and Thursday night football, and the NBA season is just a few days away. Today’s Winners Club covers all of this and more to help you set your fantastic lineups and prepare for your weekend bets.
Read on for picks, accessories, and player rankings, but we start with a spotlight on the two most important players in tonight’s game between the Eagles and the Buccaneers.
Thursday Night QB Battle: Tom Brady vs. Jalen Hurts
Two of fantasy football’s top quarterbacks face off in Philadelphia tonight. Tom Brady of the Buccaneers is fantasy football’s No.1 quarterback, while Eagles caller Jalen Hurts sits in sixth place. Stylistically, they couldn’t be more different – but they’ve still enjoyed fantastic individual success this season.
Brady is 44 years old and is in his 22nd season in the NFL. Hurts, 23, is just a few games away from his second season. Tampa Bay is 4-1 and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Eagles sit 2-3 and try to buy some time with first-year coach Nick Siriani while they wait to see if Hurts is the guy. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards (1,767) while Hurts leads his team in rushing yards (256). What I’m trying to say is that there are very different ways of being an elite fantasy football quarterback, and these two embody completely opposite methods of climbing that mountain.
Hurts has either rushed for a touchdown or pitched for multiple touchdowns in every game this season. His performances weren’t exactly good, however. The Eagles’ final game against the Panthers saw Hurts head for a single-digit halftime performance, only to be saved by a pair of rushed second-half touchdowns that supported his fifth straight 20-point outing. But whether it’s throwing a trio of touchdowns against Atlanta, running for a season-high 82 yards against the 49ers, or passing for a record 382 yards against the Chiefs, Hurts earns you points.
Brady, on the other hand, gets his points in a pretty one-dimensional way. But there’s nothing boring about going for 15 touchdowns and 1,767 yards in five games. His only failure this season came against New England, his former team. Brady was kept out of the end zone and was unusually inaccurate. Aside from that game, he’s had five touchdowns in a game twice this season, including last week against the Dolphins when he scored a high of 37.7 points (which sort of wasn’t QB1 performance thanks to Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson).
Hurts and Brady are likely to tear each other apart tonight, as they did against the rest of the league. The Tampa Bay defense hasn’t been what it was supposed to be this offseason and will be without linebacker Lavonte David. Philadelphia has been strong against the pass despite facing Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes this season, but Brady could be the first quarterback to pass 300 yards this season against Philadelphia tonight.
Giants-Dodgers Game 5 bet: Matt Ehalt has all the information you need to bet on tonight’s game between Los Angeles and San Francisco. See who’s on the mound, how each offense unfolded, and who Ehalt chooses.
TNF Reader Accessories: Jennifer Piacenti has a choice and four props for tonight’s game between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. I really like the long bet on Tom Brady to score a passing touchdown. See what other bets are and place them on SI Sportsbook.
Start them, sit down: This is the weekly series you know and love from Michael Fabiano and there are a few TNF players who have made the “debut” list. Find out who and set your queues accordingly.
College Football Composite: CFB model Richard Johnson has dozens of picks for this weekend’s lineup. There have been a lot of high profile upheavals over the past week, and there are few underdogs the model likes in these games, including UCF +21 against No.3 Cincinnati.
Best NBA MVP bets: Basketball kicks off Tuesday night and I’m arguing for some of the favorites for each individual NBA award in a season. I started with MVP – see what it would take for Giannis Antetokounmpo or Stephen Curry to win their third MVP and which bet I like the most.
Fantasy player rankings: Shawn Childs has detailed rankings and stat projections for every fantasy football starting or bench option you could think of to help you sort out your roster decisions. Christian McCaffrey, who is a game time decision for Sunday, is back at No. 1 in the RB.
Questions from subscribers
Send your fantasy football roster questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to answer them in Sunday’s newsletter! You can also contact me on Twitter @Kkylewood or tweet on @SI_Fantasy for business advice or alignment issues.
Game of the day and games that I watch
Game of the day: I appreciate DeVonta Smith in DFS tonight. The Bucs high school is sold out. Cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis are both on the injury reserve and goaltender Antoine Winfield Jr. has been ruled out of Thursday Night Football with a concussion. Tampa Bay has the worst passing defense in football so far this season.
Smith has 14 receptions for 199 yards in his last two games and he’s clearly the main receiving threat for Jalen Hurts. The Bucs’ receiving trio are all more expensive than Smith. By volume alone, it is bound to outperform its relatively modest DFS price. If it scores for the first time since its debut, it will more than justify the investment.
Games I watch: Do you know what they say about SEC football? It just means more. The last time an SEC team made it to Athens, the Bulldogs demolished Arkansas. Maybe this week will be different, maybe not. Either way, I’m interested to see # 11 Battle of Kentucky # 1 Georgia Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The Wildcats have a proven track record against Florida and Saturday presents an even tougher and bigger opportunity.
There’s a QB controversy in Norman, Oklahoma for the Sooners. (Shoutout to the OU Daily!) Still, OU remains in the top four in the nation after last week’s epic victory over Texas. Can Oklahoma No.4 continues against TCU Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC, whoever’s behind the center?
That’s all for today, folks. I’ll be back early on Sunday before another game in London.