Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Quick Movie Reviews: Suspiria, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Girl in the Spider's Web, Overlord

Suspiria: Whoever handled Suspiria's marketing campaign is a master of deception. What was sold as an unsettling supernatural horror flick about a witch coven operating of an esteemed Berlin ballet academy is actually a beautifully-shot slab of convoluted symbolism porn that seems bound to fuel many colorful conversations about abuse of power, sisterhood, etc. at hip establishments that serve overpriced lattes around the globe over the next several months. Not even a pair of committed performances from the reliably great Tilda Swinton or the rare instances where the over-the-top gore that made industry people lose their shit at this year's Cinemacon made an appearance can provide much relief from the general tedium and increasingly ridiculous plot developments this 150+ minute art installation abundantly offers up.  
Grade: D+

Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen has finally gotten their state-sponsored biopic and despite being frustratingly conventional for the bulk of its running time, Bohemian Rhapsody ultimately succeeds as a well-intentioned propaganda piece that celebrates their music and the immortal legacy Freddie Mercury left behind. It does a pretty solid job of portraying the eccentricity and dynamism that has made them such an interesting band, the recreation of their 1985 Live Aid set is a stunning technical accomplishment that authentically captures the sprawling environment of a stadium concert from just about every possible vantage point you can conceive and Rami Malek's turn as Mercury is magnetic enough to overcome the general lack of insight the script provides about the late singer's true character.  
Grade: B-

The Girl in the Spider's Web: While The Girl in the Spider's Web bears a closer resemblance to an espionage action thriller than the slow-burning mysteries of both the original Swedish trilogy and David Fincher's 2011 remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe, Evil Dead) has still done the beloved punk computer hacker Lisbeth Salander justice. Claire Foy does a pretty good job of capturing Salander's strong, hard-nosed spirit, Alvarez keeps things moving at a nice pace without indulging in a half-dozen convoluted subplots and the climactic showdown between Lisbeth and her estranged sister (Sylvia Hoeks) is a truly badass spectacle. The switch in narrative/directorial style and lack of detailed characterization will undoubtedly alienate some longtime fans of the series, but anyone that's cool with straightforward espionage thrillers that favor slickness over substance should have a good time with this.        
Grade: B

Unconventional genre mashups don't get much better than Overlord. This film flawlessly combines the real-life horrors of warfare with the fantastical nightmare of mankind being overrun by a supernatural entity (in this case, a nearly-invincible group of zombie-like creatures that were created by the Nazis during World War II) to create something that's distinct, engrossing and downright harrowing throughout. Director Julius Avery wastes no time establishing a hellish atmosphere and having that constant threat of danger added an aura of dread that helped make this a nerve-frying, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride for the ages. If you're interested in seeing this, I can't recommend seeing it at a theater with a loud sound system enough.        
Grade: A 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Week 10 Fantasy Football Winners and Losers (2018 Edition)

MVP: Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
Trubisky turned in his best performance of 2018 so far against a depleted Lions D (355 passing YDS/4 total TD/1 2-PT CNV) in a pretty easy 34-22 victory for the NFC North-leading Bears. While his real life play has been very sloppy at times, Trubisky has been a fantasy monster this season, currently ranking 7th in scoring at the position, ahead of juggernauts including Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. He'll look to keep rolling against a tough Vikings D on Sunday night.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Drew Brees (Saints), Russell Wilson (Seahawks)

LVP: Andy Dalton (Bengals)
Shocking development: Dalton put together a steaming turd of a performance in a creampuff matchup. While A.J. Green's absence had an undeniably detrimental effect on the overall flow of offense, finishing a home matchup against the Saints sieve of a secondary with just 153 YDS, 1 TD and 2 INT is simply baffling and appalling. The Bengals have a road tilt with the Ravens coming up in Week 11, so you can definitely keep the Red Rifle locked up in a safe where he belongs.  
Dishonorable Mentions: Tom Brady (Patriots), Phillip Rivers (Chargers) Alex Smith (Redskins)

Running Back
MVP: Nick Chubb (Browns)
It's miraculous what happens when you give your promising rookie running back more than 3 touches per game. The guy who former head coach Hue Jackson mostly forgot was on the depth chart until Carlos Hyde got traded to the Jaguars in mid-October posted an impressive 209 YDS from scrimmage and 2 TD's on 23 touches in interim coach Gregg Williams' 2nd game at the helm. Chubb will flirt with weekly RB1 status when the Browns return to action against the Bengals a week from Sunday. 
Honorable Mentions: Christian McCaffery (Panthers), Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), David Johnson (Cardinals)

LVP: James White (Patriots)
Even beacons of consistency like White fail to deliver from time to time. The Patriots best offensive player by a mile so far this season was a complete non-factor against the Titans, registering just 26 YDS (31 receiving, -5 rushing) on 6 touches in an uncharacteristically ugly, non-September loss for Bill Belichick's squad. I'd be very surprised if White didn't have his mojo back by the time the Pats kick off their favorable late season schedule against the Jets in Week 12.  
Dishonorable Mentions: Jordan Howard (Bears), Sony Michel (Patriots), Austin Ekeler (Chargers)

Wide Receiver 
MVP: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs)
After a couple of relatively quiet games in a row, Hill was back to embarrassing defenses in Week 11. The Chiefs speedster finished Sunday afternoon's contest against the lowly Cardinals with 7 REC/117 YDS/2 TD's and a 20-YD run on a jet sweep. Hill has a good chance of eating good this Monday night against the Rams poor secondary.  
Honorable Mentions: Allen Robinson (Bears), Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), Michael Thomas (Saints)

LVP: Jarvis Landry (Browns)
The Browns offense was rolling on Sunday afternoon versus the Falcons with rookies Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb turning in huge performances. Jarvis Landry, however, was left out of the party, finishing the day with just 2 catches for 22 YDS. Juice has been thoroughly disappointing for most of 2018 and should be considered nothing more than a volume-dependent WR3 the rest of the way.
Dishonorable Mentions: Golden Tate (Eagles), Devin Funchess (Panthers), Christian Kirk (Cardinals) 

Tight End
MVP: Zach Ertz (Eagles)
Sunday night was very ugly for the Eagles as they lost at home to a Cowboys team that had been abysmal on the road prior to this game (0-4 with a -25 point differential). The lone bright spot for the defending Super Bowl Champs was Ertz, who posted a monstrous 14 catches for 145 YDS and 2 TD's, in the crushing defeat. With a matchup against the Saints on the horizon, look for Ertz to easily top the Week 11 TE projections. 
Honorable Mentions: Eric Ebron (Colts), Austin Hooper (Falcons), Vance McDonald (Steelers)

LVP: Jimmy Graham (Packers)
In a truly shocking development for this powerhouse position, a lot of tight end's underwhelmed with single catch, 5-20 YD performances this week. Of that stellar bunch, Graham's 1 REC/14 YD line was the most disappointing because it came against a poor Dolphins defense that allowed 5 TD's to TE's in their previous 4 games.   
Dishonorable Mentions: Benjamin Watson (Saints), O.J. Howard (Buccaneers), David Njoku (Browns)

Defense/Special Teams
MVP: Redskins
The Redskins ability to slow down a Bucs offense that was moving the ball freely (they finished the afternoon with 503 YDS of total offense) and force takeaways in the redzone turned a potentially ugly fantasy performance into a terrific one. Greg Manusky's troops mustered 2 INT's, 2 FUM REC's and 2 sacks in a 16-3 victory over a Tampa Bay team that makes less and less sense by the week. They'll face a much stiffer test against a redhot Texans squad this Sunday.
Honorable Mentions: Steelers, Packers, Chargers

LVP: Jets 
Leave it to the Jets to be the jabronis that get dominated by the bumbling turnover machine that is the Bills offense. Matt Barkley, who hadn't appeared in a regular season NFL game since 2016, led Buffalo to a hilarious 41-10 victory at the Medowlands on Sunday in which the Jets failed to take the ball away and only registered 1 sack. While there's definitely some promising talent on this group (particularly sophomore safety Jamal Adams), this colossal flop proved that they're not a viable fantasy option at the moment.
Dishonorable Mentions: Patriots, 49ers, Jaguars

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

()=previous ranking

1.(1) New Orleans Saints (8-1) Week 11 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
2.(2) Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) Week 11 opponent: Los Angeles Rams
3.(3) Los Angeles Rams (9-1) Week 11 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
4.(5) Los Angeles Chargers (7-2) Week 11 opponent: Denver Broncos
5.(7) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) Week 11 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
6.(4) New England Patriots (7-3) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
7.(8) Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) Week 11 opponent: Chicago Bears
8.(6) Carolina Panthers (6-3) Week 11 opponent: Detroit Lions
9.(10) Houston Texans (6-3) Week 11 opponent: Washington Redskins
10.(11) Chicago Bears (6-3) Week 11 opponent: Minnesota Vikings
11.(13) Washington Redskins (6-3) Week 11 opponent: Houston Texans
12.(9) Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) Week 11 opponent: Baltimore Ravens
13.(15) Tennessee Titans (5-4) Week 11 opponent: Indianapolis Colts
14.(14) Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) Week 11 opponent: Seattle Seahawks
15.(12) Atlanta Falcons (4-5) Week 11 opponent: Dallas Cowboys
16.(22) Dallas Cowboys (4-5) Week 11 opponent: Atlanta Falcons
17.(18) Baltimore Ravens (4-5) Week 11 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
18.(17) Seattle Seahawks (4-5) Week 11 opponent: Green Bay Packers
19.(16) Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) Week 11 opponent: New Orleans Saints
20.(19) Miami Dolphins (5-5) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
21.(24) Indianapolis Colts (4-5) Week 11 opponent: Tennessee Titans
22.(26) Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
23.(21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) Week 11 opponent: New York Giants
24.(20) Detroit Lions (3-6) Week 11 opponent: Carolina Panthers
25.(25) Denver Broncos (3-6) Week 11 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
26.(23) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) Week 11 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
27.(30) Buffalo Bills (3-7) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
28.(31) New York Giants (2-7) Week 11 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
29.(27) New York Jets (3-7) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
30.(28) Arizona Cardinals (2-7) Week 11 opponent: Oakland Raiders
31.(29) San Francisco 49ers (2-8) Week 11 opponent: Bye Week
32.(32) Oakland Raiders (1-8) Week 11 opponent: Arizona Cardinals

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Best and Worst of Octavia Spencer

“The Best and Worst of” series chronicles the career highlights and lowlights of an actor starring in one of the week's new theatrical releases. This week, I take a look at the filmography of “Instant Family” star Octavia Spencer.

Films starring Octavia Spencer that I've seen:
Blue Streak
Big Momma's House
Bad Santa
Coach Carter
Seven Pounds
Drag Me to Hell
Dinner for Schmucks
The Help
Fruitvale Station
Get on Up
Bad Santa 2 
Hidden Figures
The Shape of Water

Best Performance: Fruitvale Station (2013)
Spencer has done a lot of fantastic work (Get on Up, Smashed, her Oscar-winning turn in The Help) since she achieved her long-awaited breakout in the industry roughly 9 years ago, but her powerhouse performance in Fruitvale Station is the clear best of the bunch. As the mother of Oscar Grant, Spencer captures the unfathomable shock, grief and anger that overcomes a parent when their child dies unexpectedly in a thoroughly convincing and completely heartbreaking fashion.

Worst Performance: Allegiant (2016)
There's not much of a difference in quality of performance between either Divergent film she appeared in, but I ended up going with Allegiant because it's easily the weakest entry in the franchise. While she isn't exactly terrible, her character isn't overly important to the narrative and that relative lack of screen time prevents Spencer from making her usual impact.

Best Film: Fruitvale Station (2013)
Indie drama Fruitvale Station introduced most of the world to the immense talent of Ryan Coogler and eventually opened the door for him to direct massive films like Creed and Black Panther. This biopic about Oscar Grant, a 22-year old black man who was fatally shot by transit police in Oakland on New Year's Day 2009 following a scuffle on a train, is an authentic, engaging and ultimately devastating portrait of an ex-con who was in the process of trying to turn his life around before a senseless, disgusting overreaction by an armed officer robbed him of that opportunity.    

Worst Film: Seven Pounds (2008)
Seven Pounds is about as painful and forced as tearjerker melodramas can possibly be. This story about a man (Will Smith, in a rare terrible performance) compelled to do seven good deeds after being involved in a horrific car crash caused by his own negligence only gets only more heavy-handed as it progresses and eventually arrives at such an absurd conclusion that I couldn't help but laugh my ass off as it played out.  

Thank you for reading this week's edition of “The Best and Worst of”. The next victim of my praise and ire will be “Ralph Breaks the Internet” star Sarah Silverman. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 NFL Mid-Year Awards+Updated Playoff Predictions

MVP: Patrick Mahomes, quarterback (Chiefs)
This MVP race is shaping up to be very interesting. Todd Gurley has been borderline unstoppable, Drew Brees has enjoyed arguably his sharpest start to a season ever at age 39 and Phillip Rivers is quietly putting together his best season in over a decade. As brilliant as all of these guys have been, the 23-year old gunslinger in Kansas City has been an unexpected, jaw-dropping phenomenon that has put the entire league on notice. Mahomes' unbelievable play (2,901 YDS, 29 TD's, 66.2 CMP% 116.7 QBR, the former two of which are league-highs) out of the gate has turned the Chiefs into an incredibly lethal offensive machine. These numbers become even more impressive when you consider that his only career start coming into this season was in a meaningless Week 17 game versus the Broncos last December, 4 of the team's 8 wins on the year have come on the road and the Chiefs defense is below average on their best day. While I'm not ready to anoint Mahomes as the next all-time great quite yet, his early returns have been astounding and I can't wait to see what he does for the rest of this year and beyond.  
Honorable Mentions: Todd Gurley, running back (Rams), Drew Brees, quarterback (Saints), Phillip Rivers, quarterback (Chargers)

Top Offensive Player
: Todd Gurley, running back (Rams)
Gurley has somehow already managed to smash the monstrous expectations he had coming into this season. He's currently averaging just over 2 TD's per game (17 in 9 games), led the league in rushing by over 100 YDS before Week 10 action kicked off last night and has seen upticks in every major category with the exception of YDS per reception from his sensational 2017 campaign. Sounds like a foolproof formula for a repeat OPOY bid if you ask me.
Honorable Mentions: Melvin Gordon, running back (Chargers), Adam Thielen, wide receiver (Vikings), James Conner, running back (Steelers)

Top Defensive Player: Aaron Donald, defensive tackle (Rams)
What I just about Gurley can also be applied to his teammate and fellow reigning individual award winner Donald. The most dominant defensive player in the league has gotten pressure on the QB on over 20% of his pass-rushes and is already just 2 sacks away from setting a new career high (12) with 7 games left on the schedule. I feel sorry for any offensive lineman that's tasked with trying to contain this inhuman force of nature.
Honorable Mentions: J.J. Watt, defensive end (Texans), Danielle Hunter, defensive end (Vikings), Von Miller, outside linebacker (Broncos) 

Top Offensive Rookie
: Saquon Barkley, running back (Giants)
It's been yet another miserable season for the Giants as they currently sit at 1-7 and look like they have a real shot of landing the #1 overall pick in next year's draft. One of the very few bright spots on this reeling team has been top draft pick Saquon Barkley. Eli Manning's comically timid play under center has given Barkley plenty of chances to flash his dual-threat playmaking ability, registering 1,016 scrimmage YDS and 7 scores on 159 touches (111 carries, 58 receptions) through 8 games. With the Giants likely enter to full tank mode within the next couple weeks, don't be surprised if he gets even more usage down the stretch.
Honorable Mentions: Phillip Lindsay, running back (Broncos), Calvin Ridley, wide receiver (Falcons), Sony Michel, running back (Patriots)

Top Defensive Rookie: Derwin James, safety/linebacker/cornerback (Chargers)
There are a few guys who have far sexier accolades to their name: Darius Leonard leads the league in tackles (88), Donte Jackson is tied for the league lead in INT's (4) and Denzel Ward ranks in the top 5 in both INT's (3) and passes defensed (9). However, what James has been able to do so far has left way more of an impression on me. The Chargers have utilized him as a true swiss-army knife and he's exceled from every spot he's lined up, posting 55 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT and 6 passes defensed in just 8 games. Watching a rookie handle so many different assignments on a weekly basis speaks volumes about how athletic, intelligent and unselfish of a player James is.  
Honorable Mentions: Darius Leonard, inside linebacker (Colts), Jessie Bates, safety (Bengals), Denzel Ward, cornerback (Browns)

Top Coach: Andy Reid (Chiefs)
Entrenched veteran head coaches who take their teams to the playoffs nearly every year aren't usually considered for an award that's pretty much designed to honor new head coaches that lead their teams to massive swings in the win column, but Reid's masterful work this season is more than deserving of an exception to this unwritten rule. His pivotal role in the development of Patrick Mahomes has the Chiefs playing arguably the best football of his pretty successful 6-year tenure with the team thus far and subsequently made the very risky decision to move on from Alex Smith look like a stroke of genius.
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Bill O'Brien (Texans), Matt Nagy (Bears)

Top Comeback Player: J.J. Watt, defensive end (Texans)
I'm going to be completely honest: this is one of the most surprising comebacks I've ever seen in the NFL. After suffering a string of horrific injuries that kept him out of all but 8 games over the past 2 seasons, Watt looked like he bound for a massive regression if he was able to consistently stay on the field in 2018. Instead, the 29-year old has reminded everyone why he's a 3x Defensive Player of the Year by routinely getting to the quarterback (his 9 sacks are tied for 3rd most in the league) and causing problems at the line of scrimmage. If he can keep up this level of production and continue to avoid the dreaded injury bug down the stretch, he should be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year.  
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Luck, quarterback (Colts), Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver (Giants), Carson Wentz, quarterback (Eagles)

Playoff Predictions

Wild Card:
Steelers over Bengals
Chargers over Texans

Divisional Round:
Patriots over Chargers
Chiefs over Steelers

Conference Championship:
Chiefs over Patriots


Wild Card:
Vikings over Packers
Panthers over Redskins

Divisional Round:
Saints over Panthers
Rams over Vikings

Conference Championship:
Saints over Rams

Super Bowl:
Saints over Chiefs

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 10

()=previous ranking

1.(4) New Orleans Saints (7-1) Week 10 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
2.(2) Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) Week 10 opponent: Arizona Cardinals
3.(1) Los Angeles Rams (8-1) Week 10 opponent: Seattle Seahawks
4.(3) New England Patriots (7-2) Week 10 opponent: Tennessee Titans
5.(5) Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) Week 10 opponent: Oakland Raiders
6.(6) Carolina Panthers (6-2) Week 10 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
7.(7) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) Week 10 opponent: Carolina Panthers
8.(8) Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) Week 10 opponent: Bye Week
9.(9) Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) Week 10 opponent: New Orleans Saints
10.(10) Houston Texans (6-3) Week 10 opponent: Bye Week
11.(14) Chicago Bears (5-3) Week 10 opponent: Detroit Lions
12.(19) Atlanta Falcons (4-4) Week 10 opponent: Cleveland Browns
13.(11) Washington Redskins (5-3) Week 10 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14.(12) Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) Week 10 opponent: Miami Dolphins
15.(18) Tennessee Titans (4-4) Week 10 opponent: New England Patriots
16.(16) Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) Week 10 opponent: Dallas Cowboys
17.(15) Seattle Seahawks (4-4) Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Rams
18.(13) Baltimore Ravens (4-5) Week 10 opponent: Bye Week
19.(19) Miami Dolphins (5-4) Week 10 opponent: Green Bay Packers
20.(17) Detroit Lions (3-5) Week 10 opponent: Chicago Bears
21.(21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) Week 10 opponent: Washington Redskins
22.(22) Dallas Cowboys (3-5) Week 10 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
23.(23) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) Week 10 opponent: Indianapolis Colts
24.(24) Indianapolis Colts (3-5) Week 10 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
25.(25) Denver Broncos (3-6) Week 10 opponent: Bye Week
26.(26) Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) Week 10 opponent: Atlanta Falcons
27.(27) New York Jets (3-6) Week 10 opponent: Buffalo Bills
28.(28) Arizona Cardinals (2-7) Week 10 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
29.(31) San Francisco 49ers (2-8) Week 10 opponent: New York Giants
30.(29) Buffalo Bills (2-8) Week 10 opponent: New York Jets
31.(30) New York Giants (1-7) Week 10 opponent: San Francisco 49ers
32.(32) Oakland Raiders (1-7) Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Week 9 Fantasy Football Winners and Losers (2018 Edition)

MVP: Drew Brees (Saints)
Saints/Rams ended being the riveting shootout for the ages it was billed to be before a single down was played, so naturally the quarterback of the winning team had the best fantasy day. Brees was absolutely brilliant, throwing for 346 YDS and 4 TD while adding 16 rushing yards, on an afternoon where his team knocked off the league's last undefeated team . The league's all time passing leader will look to keep rolling against a very beatable Bengals secondary in Week 10.
Honorable Mentions: Jared Goff (Rams), Matt Ryan (Falcons), Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)

LVP: Matthew Stafford (Lions)
A truly awful performance from the Lions o-line (10 sacks allowed) against the Vikings resulted in Stafford being under siege all game long. That non-stop pressure and regular trips to the turf were reflected in his thoroughly underwhelming statline (199 YDS, 0 TD and a lost fumble) in this disheartening loss. Matt Patricia's presence in Detroit hasn't been kind to Stafford (he's currently the 20th ranked QB in standard scoring leagues) and with a series of largely unfavorable matchups down the stretch, his owners should consider other options at the position if they haven't already.
Dishonorable Mentions: Kirk Cousins (Vikings), Mitch Trubisky (Bears), Derek Carr (Raiders)

Running Back
MVP: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs)
Hunt continued his recent tear on Sunday against the Browns, posting 141 scrimmage YDS (91 rushing, 50 receiving) and 3 total TD's on only 18 touches. Anyone who benefited from his last-minute slide out of the 1st round of fantasy drafts should be elated by his elite production thus far.
Honorable Mentions: Alvin Kamara (Saints), Christian McCaffery (Panthers), Tevin Coleman (Falcons)

LVP: Tarik Cohen (Bears)
A 28-0 halftime lead against the bumbling Bills had a negative effect on the workload of the Bears pass-catching back. Cohen ended up with just 13 YDS on 7 touches (6 carries, 1 reception) at New Era filed on Sunday afternoon. The gamescript should be much more favorable for The Human Joystick, who still leads the team in targets, this week in a divisional bout against the Lions.
Dishonorable Mentions: Mark Ingram (Saints), Kenyan Drake (Dolphins), Adrian Peterson (Redskins)

Wide Receiver 
MVP: Michael Thomas (Saints)
Alvin Kamara got the ball rolling early with 3 1st half TD's, but Thomas stole the show with an homage to Joe Horn's iconic 2003 "pull a flip phone from the goalpost" endzone celebration after the game-sealing score that capped off his 12 REC/211 YD performance in the best way possible. The 3rd year wideout has been a top 5-10 WR option all season long and has an excellent chance of having another huge day against a Bengals secondary that gets burned almost every week.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Gordon (Patriots), Julio Jones (Falcons), Brandin Cooks (Rams)

LVP: Mike Evans (Buccaneers)
Despite getting bombarded with targets (10), Evans was pretty much invisible against the Panthers, finishing with just 1 reception for 16 YDS. Tampa's top wideout will look to rebound versus a so-so Redskins secondary in Week 10.
Dishonorable Mentions: John Brown (Ravens), Tyler Lockett (Seahawks), Michael Crabtree (Ravens)

Tight End
MVP: Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
Like Hunt, Kelce was once again a focal point of the Chiefs offense on Sunday against the Browns, hauling in 7 receptions for 99 YDS and 2 TD's. With Rob Gronkowski making far less of impact than usual, Kelce has been the clear top dog at the TE position this season and barring injury, there's no reason to believe he's going to lose that title in the final 7 weeks of the fantasy season. 
Honorable Mentions: O.J. Howard (Buccaneers), George Kittle (49ers), Greg Olsen (Panthers)

LVP: Jared Cook (Raiders)
This really isn't fair to Cook as Derek Carr's putrid play against the 49ers last Thursday night killed the chances of anyone on this offense having a productive game. Regardless of circumstances, Cook's 2 REC/20 YD performance in a highly favorable matchup still undoubtedly left his fantasy owners with a very bad taste in their mouths.  
Dishonorable Mentions: Kyle Rudolph (Vikings), Vance McDonald (Steelers), Jordan Reed (Redskins)

Defense/Special Teams
MVP: Bears
The endlessly generous fantasy defense charity otherwise known as the Bills offense was at again this week. With all-time bad QB Nathan Peterman forced to start in place of the injured Derek Anderson, the Khalil Mack-less Bears defense had themselves a grand old time, putting up 4 sacks, 3 INT, a fumble recovery and 2 TD's in a comically lopsided 41-9 victory. This group hasn't been great on the whole since Mack hurt his ankle early in their Week 6 loss to the Dolphins, so they'll be a somewhat risky start against the Lions this Sunday.  
Honorable Mentions: Dolphins, Vikings, Chargers

LVP: Redskins 
Washington's seemingly excellent defense got flat-out embarrassed by the Falcons on their home field. While they did manage a pair of sacks and pick off Matt Ryan once, the 38 points they allowed made them a terrible fantasy play. Look for them to put up better numbers against a Buccaneers offense that is about as good as anyone in the league at turning the ball over in spades.
Dishonorable Mentions: Ravens, Texans, Broncos