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Football season is finally here! Join us each week for our weekly NFL and NCAA cash-in -- giving you the best picks each week to help put a little extra green in that wallet.

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

NCAA Saturday Cash-In: LSU vs. TCU

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NCAA Saturday Cash-In
LSU vs. TCU
LSU -4, O/U 50

The Cowboy Classic! One of the marquee match-ups for the opening weekend gives us an SEC perennial powerhouse in LSU up against Big 12 newcomer TCU.

LSU looks to re-gain their BCS Championship caliber of play after a bit of a down year in 2012 (by lofty LSU standards anyway). 2012 saw the Tigers go 8-1 SU (6-3 ATS) on the road with quality wins at Texas A&M and at Auburn. The Tigers season ended in the Chik-fil-A Bowl with a crushing 25-24 to loss to Clemson.

The Horned Frogs enter their second season in the Big 12 after years of dominance in the Mountain West. They really struggled in their first season in the Big 12 last year, going just 7-6 SU and 5-8 ATS. It was a season full of heart breaking losses (4 of six losses by touchdown or less) ending in a 17-16 loss to Michigan St. in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The good news for TCU is that they return two of their key offensive stars who both missed chunks of time (QB Casey Pahall - Suspension and RB Waymon James - injury).

Despite the spotlight on the offensive names, the name of the game in this one will be defense. The Tigers are notoriously athletic on the defensive side of the ball and this season will be no different under coach Les Miles. TCU is no slouch themselves on defensive holding Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan St. each under 20 points to close out the season in 2012. LSU was 7-5 on the under last season while TCU was 8-4 under.

Vercidt: It is going to be tough to move the ball for either team. Both teams are likely going to look to control the game on the ground. Stingy defense and a predominant rushing offensives should equal low point totals.

PICK: UNDER 50


Thursday, August 29, 2013

NCAA Cash-In Thursday: SC vs. UNC

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NCAA Cash-In Thursday:
#6 South Carolina Gamecocks 
vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Line: South Carolina -12

FOOTBALL IS FINALLY BACK! Boy, that feels good to say. College football kicks off the 2013 season Thursday night with a bang as #6 South Carolina plays host to the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels. 

This match-up really features two teams in very different classes.

For South Carolina, the pre-season number six ranked team in the country, the game serves as a tune up for what could be a National Championship contending team. The Gamecock's boast a very strong defense led by possibly the best player in the country in Jadevon Clowney. On the offensive side of the ball they lost Marcus Lattimore to the draft but retain two promising young backs and enough treats on the outside to be dangerous.

For UNC the key will be quarterback Bryn Renner who, when healthy, is one of the top QB's in the ACC. The lost top weapon Giovanni Bernard in the backfield to the draft will but extra pressure on Renner and company to get the job done through the air as they look to match SC blow for blow. On the defensive side of the ball


Verdict:  UNC is an up and coming team and will surprise some along the way but not this Gamecocks team. Steve Spurrier is 7-0 on opening days in SC (22-1 lifetime) and will have his team sharp from the get go. South Carolina was 5-1 ATS against ACC opponents last season and will likely continue that trend Thursday night.


The Pick: SOUTH CAROLINA -12

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Rookies to Own

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2013 Fantasy Football Rookies to Own
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

We all do it -- you have to if you want to win -- that yearly search high and low for the ultimate sleeper pick to baffle and blow away your competition. Some fly a little more under the radar than others, but more times than not it is a rookie who jumps in a beats out a veteran for a starting job. With that in mind lets take a look at five rookies poised to have big seasons and help you win your fantasy leagues this season.


RB Eddie Lacy
Green Bay Packers
With the recent season ending injury to last year's starter DuJaun Harris, the door is wide open for Lacy to take the reins as the feature back. What a great situation for the Alabama rookie. Aaron Rodgers has the ability to spread the defense with one of the league's best passing attacks. That should leave plenty of room for Lacy to comfortably approach lines of 85/1 with upsides of 100+ yards in many match-ups. Those numbers put him in the top 10 in runningback options. It is rare these days to have a RB situation where the carries are not split. He is coming off most fantasy boards in the 15-20 range. Grab him and you will not be disappointed. 


RB Montee Ball
Denver Broncos
The Wisconson standout has the potential to be the top rookie in this year's class. Unfortunately, he also faces the most competition in a crowded Broncos backfield. The good news for those looking at Ball as a nice sleeper option or even RB2 is that his competition has largely failed to give John Fox a reason not to start Montee Ball. Ronnie Hillman is technically listed as #1 on the RB depth chart but ball security issues and inconsistency have done any but cement his spot in the starting line-up. Last year's workhorse down the stretch, Knowshon Moreno is working his way back from injury but lurking with an outside shot at being back for week 1. All that said, should Ball win the starting job a role in the high powered Denver offense is sure to produce fantasy gold.


WR Kenbrell Thompkins
New England Patriots
By no means the best receiver in this years class but possibly the one going into the best situation. The Patriots are very thin at wide receiver. Thompkins appears to have built up a nice rapport with Tom Brady in the preseason and really gives the Pats that "go up and get it" receiver that they have lacked since the Randy Moss days. He may not put up Moss numbers in terms of yards per game but the red zone looks are bound to be plentiful, particularly with Rob Gronkowski out of the line-up for the first 4-6 weeks. Definitely worth the late round gamble.


WR DeAndre Hopkins
Houston Texans
Perhaps no rookie receiver has impressed more this preseason than Hopkins. Playing opposite Andre Johnson is bound to open up some space for just about anyone. Hopkins showed some big game play making ability while at Clemson and reeled in 18 TD's his senior season. With Johnson seeing double teams and teams expecting a heavy dose of Arian Foster on the goal-line, Hopkins could emerge as a great target and great late round fantasy option at WR3 or bench.


WR Tavon Austin
St. Louis Rams
Clearly well known at this point so sleeper status might be a bit of a stretch, but as a highly sought early first round pick in 2013 he is worth mentioning as a rookie to watch. It will be interesting to see how his relationship develops with Sam Bradford as the season unfolds. He has not been seen much thus far in the preseason. If your league gives points for return yards he is a very good options. If it does not he is the definition of high risk, high reward. Draft with caution, but don't be shocked if he is the best of the class by season's end.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NFL QB Woes

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NFL QB Woes
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson


Buffalo Bills

Kevin Kolb
EJ Mannuel
Jeff Tuel
Matt Leinart
Thad Lewis

No Team has been hit harder by the injury bug at the QB position than the Buffalo Bills. First, off-season Free-Agent signing Kevin Kolb suffered what is being called a "career threatening" concussion during a preseason game. Later, 2013 1st round pick EJ Manuel suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the pre-season and at least week 1 of the regular season.  They are now left with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel who was just 4-22 in his time as a starter at Washington State. The Bills have also brought in Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis as emergency precautions. Certainly not the situation 1st year coach Doug Marrone was hoping for to start his tenure.


New York Jets

Mark Sanchez
Geno Smith
Greg McElroy

Very similar situation to the Bills. The Jets too have a rookie and a veteran that are hobbled at the moment. Rookie Geno Smith has been battling an ankle injury which has only magnified his typical rookie mistakes. Smith turned the ball over three times in their last preseason game against the NY Giants leading to being pulled in favor of the afore mentioned veteran. Upon coming into the game Mark Sanchez was hit early and often, suffering a shoulder injury serious enough to have Jets officials questioning whether he will be available week 1. Should both be unable to go the attention would turn to third year man Greg McElroy who proved he could be a serviceable back-up in relief of Sanchez last season. Either way, Rex Ryan once again has a mess on his hands


Oakland Raiders

Matt Flynn
Terrelle Pryor

Matt Flynn came into the season as the expected starter. For the second year in a row he may be unseated for the position going into week one, this time by no fault of his own. An elbow injury suffered in the Raiders last pre-season game has opened the door for rookie Terrelle Pryor to claim the starting job.

Monday, August 26, 2013

MLB Wekly Walk-Off - August 26

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MLB Weekly Walk-Off
August 26, 2013
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Kyle Kargel

This past week in baseball saw a historic first in the game. The two pitchers who started the all-star game actually started against each other in the regular season. The Max Scherzer vs. Matt Harvey matchup was anticipated throughout the whole week, but Scherzer came with more of a punch than Harvey did as he pitched six scoreless innings striking out 11 while Harvey lasted 6.2 innings allowing a season high 13 hits. Even more bad news came for Harvey and the Mets as an MRI found that Harvey has a UCL tear and Tommy John surgery might be in his future. The wildcard picture in the AL is still much different than the NL as the AL has six teams vying for two spots while the Reds and either the Cardinals or Pirates have the spots in the NL secured. Ryan Braun apologized for his PED use, but it didn’t come how most would have wanted. He released a statement with the apology rather than the hold a press conference like the one last year when it was found out then that he was innocent. Hopefully, before the start of next season Braun comes to his senses and lets the media ask him a few questions about what actually happened rather than an awkward silence and questions to still be answered.

Studs of the Past Week


1. Austin Jackson OF Det- He was just on the duds list a week ago, but it’s time to shine some light on one of the under rated hitters in the AL. Jackson is often overshadowed by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but some of the RBIs that Cabrera and Fielder have are due to Jackson. Jackson has a hit in seven straight games, six of those multi-hit games. He’s also seen a couple homeruns, seven RBIs, and nine runs scored over the past week.

2. Carlos Beltran OF Stl
- One of the league’s most consistent hitters this season, Beltran is part of the reason that the Cardinals are where they are in the NL Central. He’s hitting .419 in the past week with a few homeruns and the Cardinals are 7-3 their last ten games. He should have no problem getting to 25 homeruns, but 30 might be a challenge. His average should stay above .300 though.

3. Jarrod Parker SP Oak
- At the start of the year Parker was expected to breakout and have an all-star type season. That hasn’t been the case until now. In his last three starts Parker has allowed three earned runs in 27.1 innings pitched and 19 strikeouts. Now that he’s back to last season’s form, he should have no trouble matching last year’s win total of 13.


Duds of the Past Week

1. Jay Bruce OF Cin- With only five hits in the past week, Bruce hasn’t been what the Reds need right now. The Reds still have one wildcard spot in the NL secured, but a bad September from Bruce or any of the Reds key hitters could cost them a wildcard race they don’t want to be in. His career average is .257, so he’s on pace to at least have the same or better average this year than in years past.

2. Asdrubal Cabrera SS Cle- This season for Cabrera has been subpar, but it’s been hard to notice with success coming from different Indians. He’s hitting 40 points lower than his career average and has no RBIs in the past week. Since his breakout year in 2011 Cabrera’s numbers have decreased significantly and by the start of next season don’t be surprised if the Indians have another starting shortstop.

3. Kyle Seager 3B/2B Sea- Not that anyone is expecting much out of the Mariners at this point in the season, but Seager was expected to do more than what he did in 2012 for the Mariners. He’s on pace for another 20 homerun, but will finish with around 70 RBIs which is below last year’s total of 86. Seager only has a couple hits in the past week and no RBIs which won’t make Mariner fans happy.


Pickups for Next Week

1. Carlos Ruiz C Phi
- Ruiz was one of the best hitting catchers last season batting .325, but he has only been playing the past couple months due to injury. He’s still hitting .284 this season with four homeruns, and with his experience should be a top hitting catcher for the final month of the season.

2. Adam Eaton OF Ariz- The future of the D-backs is Adam Eaton and he has done nothing to let the franchise down thus far during the season. He’s hit .310 over the past week with a homerun and a steal. With only 35 games played Eaton will likely start every chance he gets in September especially if he can keep consistently hitting the ball. That will make for a nice transition into the 2014 season.

3. Denard Span OF Wash- Span’s average sits at .270 for the first time this season, and with a hit in nine straight, he’s not stopping there. He’s always a threat to swipe a bag on the base path and with the Nationals desperate to score runs and try and claw their way back into the wildcard picture, it’s easy to see manager Davey Johnson getting aggressive down the stretch.


Top Matchups in the Next Week


Indians at Braves- The Indians are desperately trying to stay in the hunt for the AL Central title, but that is going to get much tougher heading into Atlanta who is one of the hottest teams in August. The Braves not only have one of the best records in the league, but the best home record. The Indians are good enough to take one or maybe two games though with their power.

Orioles at Yankees- In the past couple weeks the Yankees have one of the best records in the MLB, much to the return of Alex Rodriguez. Both these teams are still battling for one of the wildcard spots. If the Yanks can sweep they will be only a few games out of the last wildcard spot.

Cardinals at Pirates- No surprise here as these two keep trading the top spot in the NL Central and that will likely be the case until the end of the season. The first game of this series will feature breakout pitcher Shelby Miller for the Cards and rejuvenated Francisco Liriano for the Pirates.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The PAC 12: Oregon vs. Stanford

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The PAC 12:  Oregon vs. Stanford
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

Before Pete Carroll left Southern California, it was almost a foregone conclusion that USC would win the PAC 10 and would be competing for a spot in the National Championship game. However, since his departure, it has been a two team race for the top spot in the PAC 12, and because of the conference realignment, those teams don’t get to meet in the PAC 12 Championship Game. However, both coaches who rebuilt the programs, Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly are both in the NFL, and the teams are still the class of the PAC 12. However, on November 7th, either Oregon or Stanford will make their case for both the PAC 12 championship and a spot in the National Championship game, while the other will be relegated to a lower bowl, in the last BCS season.

Last year, Stanford defeated Oregon by three points, and if it weren’t for being stopped at the goal line against Notre Dame and a still mind-blowing loss to Washington, Stanford would have been in last year’s national championship game. This year, Stanford returns quarterback Kevin Hogan, who was amazingly efficient in taking what the defense was giving him. Hogan only started five games last year, but he went 5-0 in those games, including wins over Oregon, UCLA twice, and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Hogan showed uncanny poise and the ability to read defenses, throwing only three interceptions in those five games. The biggest issue will be who will emerge to help Hogan lead the offense; after Stepfan Taylor, Zach Ertz, and Drew Terrell left for the NFL. Coach David Shaw has been on record saying that he will use five running backs in every game, and there is no reason to think he won’t with the talent that he has at both running back and full back. Behind Stanford’s strong and veteran offensive line, Tyler Gaffney, Ryan Hewitt, and Anthony Wilkerson should shoulder most of the load, but don’t be surprised if Barry Sanders Jr. starts to see more and more playing time as the season goes on. The receiving corps will be a bit tougher to replace, but Hogan will look to 6’7 tight end Luke Kaumatule to create mismatches because of his size, and open up the field. Juniors Devon Cajuste and Jordan Pratt are both big targets for Hogan, but they need to improve their route running in order to make an impact on the field. Stanford’s offense will be supported, as always, by an extremely tough and aggressive defense, led by its veteran linebacking corps. Trent Murphy is a freak, playing OLB at 6’6 261, and is a force when rushing the passer, but also shows great coverage skills. All of Stanford’s starting linebackers, as well as the immediate depth players are either juniors or seniors, and all have great size, crucial for Stanford’s 3-4. The biggest question on defense has to be the secondary, which ranked 72 in FBS last year in pass defense. However, four of the six starters in the defensive backfield this year will be seniors, and have great size in order to take care of some of the faster receivers at the line. Needless to say, this is one of the best teams Stanford has ever fielded, and if Hogan can take the next step and help his offensive weapons develop, the Cardinal should be undefeated going into their game against Oregon.

The Ducks have to replace head coach Chip Kelly this year, the innovator of the fast-paced, no punting or field goal offense that Oregon has become known for. Mark Helfrich will be taking over for Kelly, but will have so many tools around him; it would almost be impossible for him to screw this up. Marcus Mariota was absolutely spectacular as a freshman and commanded the extremely fast-paced offense without a problem, and thrived in it, throwing for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns, and added 858 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. In his second year, expect him to be even better, especially if Helfrich leaves him in games past the 2nd quarter, something Kelly rarely did if Oregon was up big, which they usually were. The (other) Black Mamba returns as well, as “Offensive Weapon” De’Anthony Thomas looks to improve on his ridiculous season, where halfway through the season he was scoring touchdowns every six times that he touched the ball. It will be interesting to see who takes the place of Kenjon Barner, but it is likely to fall on Byron Marshall, who is a bigger back than Thomas, and can wear down the defense to allow Thomas to tear them up. The receiving corps is also extremely impressive, led by tight end Colt Lyerla and receiver Josh Huff. Look for senior Daryle Hawkins to have a strong year because of his size, and the way Helfrich will use him in both the slot and outside. Oregon’s defense is filled with athletic freaks, with three of their returning defensive linemen over 6’6, and lots of depth, to keep up the rotation required for the activity that the Oregon defensive line uses to create mismatches. The secondary is probably the strongest part of the defense, returning eight upper classmen, including corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who broke up 16 passes last year and caused 10 turnovers himself; coupled with junior safety Erick Dargan, who was responsible for 7 turnovers, and the Ducks have a very opportunistic secondary.

The PAC 12 and possibly one of the two national championship spots will be decided on November 7th when Oregon travels to Stanford. As long as both teams avoid huge mental lapses, they should coast through the rest of their schedules and finish with no more than one loss. Unfortunately, with the way the conference is set up, the teams won’t be able to meet in the championship game. Other than the September 14th matchup of Texas A&M and Alabama, the Stanford Oregon will be the most anticipated game of the college football season, and it shouldn’t disappoint.

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