NFL: 2012 Week 3 - Option A or Option 1?

Right now, Kevin Kolb is the most important player in the NFL.  That's right, you heard me.  I went there.  There are two potential narratives that have played out so far and will continue.  If the 2-0 Cardinals are good, led by an underrated defense and 2009 NFC Player of the Week 3, Kevin Kolb, then maybe the Patriots loss wasn't as harmful.  And the Seahawks could be better than we think.  Which makes the Cowboys loss a little more palatable.   So maybe the Giants are a little better than we thought.  Which could mean that the Bucs lost to a good Panthers team, instead of losing to a slightly less bad Panthers team.  And the Saints and Redskins have some hope.  And the Lions barely beat a good Rams team.  And finally, the 49ers could be the best team in the NFL, but having the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams in the same division could cost them a first round bye.

OR... Option 1, the Cardinals have been bad, but lucky, which means the Patriots inability win when favored by 13.5 points indicates some bigger flaws.  Which could mean the AFC is wide open.  After the Texans, you could argue that the Patriots, Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Broncos and Chargers all have a chance at a first round bye.  That's 13 teams!  In the NFC you ahve the reverse of everything above.  The Seahawks > Cowboys > Giants > Bucs > Panthers > Saints aren't very good.

The second most important player in the NFL is Robert Griffin III as the Redskins < Rams < Lions < 49ers > Packers > Bears > Colts > Vikings > Jaguars.  You see what I did there?  If not, you need to go study semantic logic and the transitive property.

CAROLINA (+1.5...wait, no, -2.5) over Nyg: I liked the Panthers a lot more when I was getting points instead of giving them. (This is the only part I wrote before the game.)  The Giants have scored exactly as many points as they have allowed.  Feels a lot like the same team as last year who had the point differential of a 7.9-8.1 team.  But the Panthers are only barely better.  The entire difference in this game comes from Carolina's home field advantage.
Fantasy: In one league, someone dropped Eli Manning after last week.  Even though I already have Aaron Rodgers, I spent $62 of my $100 FAAB (free-agent acquisition budget) on Eli Manning.  This is the best waiver wire pick up possible.  He probably won't outperform Rodgers throughout the season, but he's too good not to be rostered.  You're definitely starting Victor Cruz and Cam Newton.  You're definitely starting Steve Smith, but he's one level below Cruz and Newton.  With Jonathan Stewart out, DeAngelo Williams is worth a start and I really hope he doesn't disappoint like he did in the exact same situation in Week 1.  Martellus Bennett is emerging as a decent TE option, I didn't pick him up in any league, but one more decent performance and I'll have to check if he's still available anywhere.  We thought coming into the season that David Wilson would supplant Ahmad Bradshaw, but after fumbling his second carry, it looks like Andre Brown will be getting the carries with Bradshaw out.  I don't know if he's worth starting this week, which means he might not be worth even picking up depending on how long Bradshaw is out.
Not So Bold Prediction: Cam Newton gets a goal line carry.
Bold Prediction: Ramses Barden (who?) has 9 catches for 138 yards.

St. Louis (+7.5) over CHICAGO: This is really more a factor of the spread than confidence in the Rams.  So this is that weird zone where I am picking the Bears to win and the Rams to cover, and I really don't like that zone.  The line should only be 4 or 5, not a touchdown.
Fantasy: Steven Jackson got 91% of the carries by Rams' running backs in week 1 and that's starting to look like his only redeeming quality.  Danny Amendola is definitely going to let you down after his 15 catch, 160 yard, 1 TD performance last week, but I have already been talking about all the catches he makes.  I'm guessing something on the scale of 8-10 catches, 70-90 yards and a 15% chance of a touchdown.  You're definitely starting Brandon Marshall and with Matt Forte out, Michael Bush jumps from a solid #2 to a possible top 5 running back...definitely top ten.  Alshon Jeffrey may have upgraded from deep sleeper to bench player after week 1, but was immediately droppable after week 2.  If you have him, hold on to him, but don't start him.  If you don't own him, don't worry about picking him up.
Not So Bold Prediction: Jay Cutler does something to annoy the pundits.
Bold Prediction: By winning, the pundits declare Sam Bradford the far superior quarterback.

CLEVELAND (+3) over Buffalo:  I don't want to bother looking up the stats (which is unusual for me), but I feel that home underdogs have been doing well so far in this young season.  Or at least I've been picking road favorites and I have a horrible record so far.  As we learned in Scorecasting, home field advantage in all sports comes from subconscious, unintended official's group think.  That is the bigger, louder, closer and more one-sided a crowd is (sound like a sporting event to you?), the more they affect an impartial observer without that observer even realizing it.  Now, Vegas is actually pricing in more of a home field advantage, due to the replacement referees.  This should be a negligible difference.  Maybe instead of home field advantage being 53%, it could be up to 55%, so over the course of a season you could see it play out, but in any given week it will still be random.  Besides, I already account for home field advantage and I'm doing pretty bad.  This also relates to independent vs. dependent variables.  Just because home teams are 19-12-1 ATS (I couldn't resist looking up the stats) and 23-9 SU, doesn't mean they will continue to win 72% of their games.  Nor are home teams due to go 2-14 this week.  Independent of other variables (such as how good the teams are), home field advantage will probably be 53%.  So what does this have to do with the Browns and the Bills?  Nothing.  It's just a boring game between two teams no one cares about and I thought a statistics recap would be more interesting.
Fantasy: CJ Spiller! CJ Spiller!! CJ Spiller!!! CJ SPILLER!!!!  I only said his name three times last week.  This week I said it a fourth time and added exclamation points and an all-caps.  Trent Richardson is starting to look like a young man's version of Steven Jackson.  Or is Steven Jackson a old man's version of Trent Richardson?  Both are talented players who get the lion's share of the carries in a bad offense and in today's NFL "lion's share of the carries" = fantasy starter.  I don't own Trent Richardson anywhere, but if you gambled in the draft, it looks like it could be paying off.  But not as well as taking CJ Spiller in the 9th round.  You're also starting Stevie Johnson, but no one else in this game.
Not So Bold Prediction: CJ Spiller and Trent Richardson combine for 30 touches.
Bold Prediction: CJ Spiller and Trent Richardson combine for 40 fantasy points.

Tampa Bay (+7.5) over DALLAS:  This is the single biggest game dependent on Option A vs. Option 1.  Arizona beat the Seahawks who dominated the Cowboys who handled the Giants who barely beat the Bucs.  There's a chance the Bucs win outright or lose by 20.  Either way, these teams are closer than the spread indicates and I'm taking the points.
Fantasy: Start everyone.  Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Doug Martin, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray...maybe even some Kevin Ogletree.  You don' own Josh Freeman, and you probably have a better WR than Ogletree, but if not, he could put up some numbers.  I would also lower my expectations for Murray against the Bucs run defense, but will get enough work in the passing game and red zone to start.
Not So Bold Prediction: Tony Romo throws a touchdown pass.
Bold Prediction: This game goes over 70 points.

Detroit (-3.5) over TENNESSEE: The Titans are starting to look really bad.  I mean, 0-2 wins bad.  Jake Locker isn't doing much developing, Chris Johnson is on pace for 168 rushing yards, and their defense looks like a bottom five defense after two games. (Although the Patriots and Chargers are probably top five offenses.)  If the Titans lose by 20 again, they may be done for the season.  The Lions will score a lot, but their defense should allow the Titans to stay in this game.
Fantasy: Don't worry about the Lions.  They will throw a ton this season and Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson et. al. will be the big beneficiaries.  Well...honestly, it could be just those two guys.  Stafford is spreading the ball around to his non-Megatron targets.  Nate Burleson, Titus Young and whoever plays RB for the Lions aren't worth starting in fantasy.  And no one on the Titans is worth starting.  But don't drop Kenny Britt or Nate Washington just yet.  Go ahead and drop Kendall Wright, but click that little flag on the free agent list.
Not So Bold Prediction: Matthew Stafford throws at least 30 times.
Bold Prediction: Calving Johnson scores two touchdowns.

INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Jacksonville: The Colts are not-that-bad and the Jaguars are that-bad.  Come on home field advantage!!
Fantasy: Reggie Wayne is only trailing CJ Spiller in the early vote for late-round fantasy player of the year.  And Wayne is hoping for a big return from Fred Jackson in a few weeks so that he can cake walk to this illustrious fictitious award.  Maurice Jones-Drew is a proud Bruin and hold a special place in my heart.  And his ability to continue to rush effectively without the threat of a passing game continues to amaze me.  He led the league in rushing this year and was a great second round pick.  Don't worry about MJD.  But do worry about every other Jaguar.  I'm still holding out hope for Donald Brown, but he does beg the question "When do you decide your lottery ticket didn't pay off and cut bait?  After week 3 or week 4?"
Not So Bold Prediction: Did you know Andrew Luck was the first overall pick in this year's draft?
Bold Prediction: Reggie Wayne, MJD, and Donald Brown combine for three touchdowns.

MIAMI (+2.5) over Nyj:  This might feel like I'm reaching for a home underdog, but it actually has more to do with the Dolphins winning by 22 last week.  Not that I'm overreacting to the most recent events.  But the jets have a +3 point differential and the Dolphins have a +2.  Should be close, I'm taking home field advantage and the points.
Fantasy: The Jets defense is getting by more on reputation than ability.  Don't worry about Reggie Bush, he's a definite start.  But Ryan Tannehill is a question mark and I actually streamed the Jets defense in the few leagues looking for a couple interceptions, maybe a pick-six.  *Squinting*, looking really hard... nope... Reggie Bush is the only person you're starting in this game.
Not So Bold Prediction: If Ryan Tannehill's wife is in the stands or box, they show her on TV.
Bold Prediction: Reggie Bush scores 15 fantasy points.

MINNESOTA (+7) over San Francisco: The 49ers have won by 8 and 8, respectively, while Minnesota has allowed exactly the same number of points as they have scored.  Home field advantage says it will be closer than 7...but the 49ers win outright...I don't like this zone.
Fantasy: Percy Harvin is the single best start in this game.  Adrian Peterson is going against a good 49ers run defense and Frank Gore is going against a Vikings rush defense that is actually allowing fewer yards per carry than the 49ers.  If you were a huge 49ers or Utah homer, I guess you could point out that Alex Smith is 8th among fantasy QBs so far this season.  But no one has him on their team (not even the 49ers/Utah homer), so no one noticed.
Not So Bold Prediction: Both teams average under 4 yards per carry.
Bold Prediction: There is no rushing touchdown in this game.

Kansas City (+9) over NEW ORLEANS: The Saints win this game 70% of the time, but a 9 point favorite should win 76% of the time.
Fantasy: I just traded for Jamaal Charles.  But I'm not starting him because I have Ray Rice, CJ Spiller and Michael Bush.  Dwayne Bowe's value actually comes from touchdowns.  He has a 40% chance of scoring a touchdown.  And since 2010, he has just as many games with multiple touchdowns as he does only scoring one touchdown.  If Peyton Hillis can't do well against the Saints, he might be outright droppable.  You're starting Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore.  Stay away from Devery Henderson until you really see something from the Saints fourth passing option.  Start Darren Sproles, but don't bother with Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas.  One of them will get a TD, but you never know who.
Not So Bold Prediction: Did you know Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire year for bounties by the defensive players?  Yeah, it was all over the sports news a few months ago.
Bold Prediction: Drew Brees throws for 400 yards and/or 4 touchdowns.

WASHINGTON (-3) over Cincinnati: Man, the Bengals were demolished by the Ravens so badly it's still carrying on.  In terms of point differential, they are in the same class as Tennessee, Kansas City, Oakland, Jacksonville.  You know four teams that are so bad that I ran out of ways to describe just how bad before I got to the Chiefs pick above.  And again, I don't know that the Bengals are that bad, it could just be that the Ravens are that good?
Fantasy: Still loving The Law Firm as a mid-round pick.  I'm starting him in every league I own him.  RGIII is emerging as a legitimate fantasy starter.  You just might have a conundrum choosing between him and someone like Eli Manning or Tony Romo.  In terms of matchups, I would start Romo > RGIII > both Mannings.  If Pierre Garcon is active, start him, set your alarm Sunday morning to check before the game starts, but as of right now it looks like he's not going to play.  Plan accordingly.  Keep riding AJ Green.t Pick up Jermaine Gresham and drop Fred Davis.  Not that Gresham is going to be great, but he'll be a top ten TE and Davis won't. Alfred Morris is going to give you 12 points or 0 as Mike Shanahan goes with a different running back rotation.  If you're next best option is someone like Steven Jackson, go with Morris.  But another high upside guy, like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, is a safer play.
Not So Bold Prediction: Robert Griffin III runs the ball a couple times.
Bold Prediction: Robert Griffin III is caught Griffining.

This break was brought to you by Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

ARIZONA (+3.5) over Philadelphia:  These two teams have won all four games they've played by a total of 8 points.  At the very least, it looks like these two teams are pretty close.  So home field advantage plus the points makes it a pretty easy decision.  Now watch, Michael Vick is going to throw for 300 yards and 2 TDs and run for another 80 yards and a TD and show everyone that the Cardinals defense was very overrated.
Fantasy: Honestly, you're going to think this is borderline blasphemous, but don't start any Cardinals, including Larry Fitzgerald.  "But he was my second round pick!" you say?  Trust me.  The Eagles have a really good defense.  "How good?" you ask?  Michael Vick has thrown 6 interceptions fumbled three times, losing one, and LeSean McCoy has lost another two fumbles.  That's nine turnovers in two games and the Eagles won both.  That's how good their defense is.  You're always starting LeSean McCoy.  If you don't want to start Michael Vick, I understand, but if you drafted him, you're a gambler and as long as he's healthy, you should be starting him.  He's not going to throw multiple interceptions every game.  I hope.  Jeremey Maclin is out.  DeSean Jackson could be a decent start.  But if you have a better option... Patrick Peterson is good and it would make the most sense if he was covering Jackson most of the game... I'm starting him, but he's my third WR.  And Brent Celek is looking like he'll finish the season as a top ten TE.
Not So Bold Prediction: Michael Vick doesn't throw four interceptions.
Bold Prediction: Michael Vick turns the ball over four times and the Eagles still win.

SAN DIEGO (-3) over Atlanta: Man the Chargers defense sure does look good.  Playing the Raiders and the Titans will do that.  This actually isn't a homer pick.
Fantasy: Start everyone except Michael Turner.  Sure Turner may get you a touchdown, but his max is 10 points and most likely in the 5-7 point range, if you're ok with that.  Philip Rivers may not get you the yards, but he will get you 2-3 passing TDs.  Same thing with Matt Ryan.  You're never benching Julio Jones, Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez.  With the Chargers, you already dropped their wide receivers.  Antonio Gates is playing and you start him.  But Rivers spreads the ball around too much to even roster a Chargers wide receiver.  And Ryan Mathews will get 20 touches.  Probably 80-100 total yards and a 50% chance of a touchdown.
Not So Bold Prediction: There is a passing touchdown in this game.
Bold Prediction: There are 7 passing touchdowns in this game.

Houston (-2) over DENVER: Houston looks really good.  Good defense, great running game and an efficient quarterback and wide receiver combo that defenses must respect.  Wouldn't surprise me if the Texans run away with this.  And then I remember Peyton Manning is on the other team.
Fantasy: Despite how good the Texans are, the only real fantasy beneficiary is Arian Foster.  Ben Tate scored 2 points in week 1 and 21 points in week 2.  That's pretty much what to expect moving forward.  Coin flips.  For Denver, Peyton has shown himself to be a capable fantasy starter and Willis McGahee is benefiting from Peyton's audibles, but Demaryius Thomas is the only wide receiver worth starting.
Not So Bold Prediction: Arian Foster leads Texans in rushing attempts and yards.
Bold Prediction: Peyton Manning goofily jogs for a first down.

Pittsburgh (-4) over OAKLAND: I really have no problem going against the home underdog in this game.  I think Oakland is really bad.
Fantasy: Honestly, if Antonio Gates ends up inactive, I could see picking up Heath Miller in an emergency.  And you're starting Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, and Darren McFadden every week they are healthy.  And I guess if you drafted Ben Roethlisberger, he's not the worst guy to start this week (but you almost certainly have a better option).  I wanted to get to a "but that's it" line...but after listing three definite starters and 2 possibilities, it doesn't really have it's place here.
Not So Bold Prediction: Ben Roethlisberger holds on to the ball too long and has to scramble, then manages to throw for a first down.
Bold Prediction: Darren McFadden has more receiving yards than rushing yards.

BALTIMORE (-3) over New England: On a neutral field, Baltimore would be a 3 point favorite.  At home, Baltimore gets the edge.
Fantasy: Ray Rice, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Torrey Smith are your definite starters.  Joe Flacco, Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin could also be decent options, but not necessarily definite starters.
Not So Bold Prediction: You see a Tom Brady Uggs commercial.
Bold Prediction: Tom Brady wears Uggs on to the field.

SEATTLE (+3.5) over Green Bay: I'm not super confident with this pick.  But there's a non-negligible chance that the Seahawks win this game outright at home.
Fantasy: Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch are the only definite starters.  It will be fun to start Randall Cobb and you still want to keep Russell Wilson on the bench in your keeper league.  And Jermichael Finley looks like he could be living up to his pre-injury potential.  But James Jones, Cedric Benson, Sidney Rice and anyone else you might own in this game aren't worth starting.
Not So Bold Prediction: Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass.
Bold Prediction: Aaron Rodgers shows off his 'Discount Double Check' touchdown dance.


  1. $20 on Cleveland +3, Minnesota +7, Arizona +7.5, Detroit -3, Houston -2, Pittsburgh -4, Tampa Bay +7.

  2. Man, I wish I had put my Giants pick on here. That was an easy pick. Otherwise, I'm going $20 on the Ravens and Colts. Aaaaaaaannnnnnnddddd. That's it. Those were the only 3 lines I felt good on this week.

  3. An these lines were hilarious this week:

    - 168 yard pace for CJ0.2K
    - 49ers won by 8 and 8, respectively
    - you paid $62 on Eli

    High quality my friend, high quality

  4. Last year I spent $60 on Rob Gronkowski. That worked out pretty well for me.

  5. And apparently Arizona is only getting +3.5, not +7.5.

  6. I am making these picks right at the start of afternoon games. I don't love any of these lines, but I'll go $20 on Arizona +3.5, $20 on NE +3, and $10 on Houston -2.

    I love your bold prediction for the Giants game. I love even more that THREE of the early games went into OT. And the finishes were crazy! Detroit Hail Mary to tie it!

    Also turns out Jamaal Charles lives ... who knew, all it took was playing the NO defense to get him going.

    Unrelated FIWK tangent of the day: I tried the Stone 16th Anniversary IPA and I enjoyed it, though not nearly as much as I enjoy their Ruination. I will try their Sublimely Self Righteous next and report back.

  7. I am pretty sure that Scott lost on both his picks, I won on my first two pending Houston -2, and Aaron I think you're dead even on picks heading into Houston -2. Well, then.

    Aaron you traded for Jamaal Charles in our fantasy league immediately prior to him destroying this year's best rushing performance, correct? That is hilariously awesome.

  8. I thought my picks were going pretty well yesterday. I think at one point around noon (so third quarter-ish), if the scores held I was something like 7-2 ATS with Detroit and Washington the only teams that were failing me. In the span of an hour everything changed and I finished 3-6 ATS in the morning games.

    I went 4-3 to gain $20. Up to $920.

  9. I protest this week.

    I lost my 2 picks, so I lost $40, which brings me down to $1,010.

  10. I won all three, up $50 to $1,050. Weeeeird week of games, that.