NFL Week 4: Maybe they aren't who we think they are.

How many weeks into the season does it take before we adjust our preconceptions to match our actual perception?  3? 4? 12?  Even if you give the Packers a 12-7 victory instead of a 14-12 loss, their point differential goes from +3 to +10, which would be 11th in the league and still less than Seattle's +11 (also adjusted down from +18).  This means that if they were to play again this week in Seattle, with the new old refs, I would still say the Seahawks had a better than 50% chance of winning the game outright.  Maybe the Packers aren't as good as we thought they were.  Maybe the 49ers aren't as good as we thought they were.  Maybe the Saints aren't as good as we thought they were.  Maybe the Cardinals, Bears, and Seahawks are better than we thought they were.  Maybe it's just too soon to tell.

BALTIMORE (-12) over Cleveland:  Baltimore is starting to looks like one of those really, really good teams.  Them and Houston and Atlanta.  Cleveland is starting to look like one of those Cleveland teams.
Fantasy: Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta...even Joe Flacco. These are your automatic starts.  If you picked up Pitta, it's because you don't own Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, so you're starting Pitta this week.  Be confident in Flacco, but don't do something silly like sitting Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady to start Flacco.
Not So Bold Prediction: Baltimore wins.
Bold Prediction: (fill in with the exact line from an unexpected performance on Friday)

ATLANTA (-7) over Carolina: The Falcons feel weird.  Julio Jones is the super flashy, sexy fantasy pick...but everything else about this team feels boring.  Roddy White, Michael Turner, Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez are solid producers, but not guys you brag about as you waltz your way through the fantasy playoffs.  Even the defense is boring productive.  The only defensive stat where they lead the league is interceptions. (They have 7, six other teams have 5 or 6.)  Everywhere else they are above average.  Cam Newton, and [the] Steve Smith (as opposed to the other Steve Smith) are the fantasy dreamers, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert are the three most frustrating running backs to own, even more so than the Redskins running backs.  Brandon LaFell is already a sexy sleeper pickup.  I kind of wrote the fantasy analysis instead of discussing the teams.  I'd be taking the Falcons even if the line was 14.
Fantasy: Start all the Falcons.  Don't start a Panthers RB.  Cam Newton yes, Steve Smith yes, Brandon LaFell probably not...unless you're desperate...but not that desperate.
Not So Bold Prediction: Julio Jones, Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez scores a touchdown.
Bold Prediction: Cam Newton scores a touchdown, then does his Superman thing, while the Panthers are losing by double digits.

BUFFALO (+4) over New England: The Patriots may not be the best team in the league and the Bills aren't that bad.  In up state New York or lower Canada, this line should be under 3.
Fantasy: Ok, CJ Spiller was out for a few weeks with a shoulder, then he might be practicing this week and could be playing.  Fred Jackson was going to be out until Week 5 or 6 and now he could be starting this week.  When Spiller left the game, Tashard Choice became the most targeted waiver wire pickup in anticipation of this matchup.  Start whoever actually starts this game and bench the others.  Start Stevie Johnson.  No other Bills.  Tom Brady, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski.  Stevan Ridley is probably a decent start, but don't be surprised if Danny Woodhead does the same thing as last week.  Either Ridley or Woodhead will outscore Michael Turner, but you don't know who it will be.
Not So Bold Prediction: Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?  If not, the announcers will make sure to remind you.
Bold Prediction: New England wins but doesn't cover.

Minnesota (+4.5) over DETROIT: Matthew Stafford has a hamstring/glute/hip thingy, but I think he starts.  But it doesn't change my pick.  The Lions are probably going to disappoint their fans, but not their fantasy owners.  All because their defense is bad, especially against the pass...which is kind of important these days.  They are one of three teams that does not have an interception so far this season.  Even in Detroit, I think the Vikings have a chance to win this outright.
Fantasy: Mikel LeShoure could be a decent RB2 for a while.  Don't worry about Stafford for the season.  Megatron.  Not just a one word nickname, a one word sentence.  Adrian Peterson.  Is he AD (All Day) or AP?  We need some nickname clarification.  Percy Harvin will probably be a top 10 WR for the season.  I wish I owned him on one of my fantasy teams.  Brandon Pettigrew is also a top ten, but not top five TE option.  The other Lion's receivers, Titus Young Sr. (seriously...Sr.) and Nate Burleson aren't quite worth starting and Mr. Sr. isn't even worth rostering.  If you don't have a top 8 QB, keep an eye on Christian Ponder just in case.
Not So Bold Prediction: Christian Ponder has more rushing yards than Matthew Stafford.
Bold Prediction: The Vikings win 27-24.

San Diego (+1) over KANSAS CITY: Last week's overtime victory over the Saints is more an indicator of the Saints problems than the Chiefs successes.  The Chargers are the better team and the Chiefs are in the bottom third of the league.  This game shouldn't be close, but Norv Turner could keep it close...unless Romeo Crennel doesn't let him.
Fantasy: Jamaal Charles.  Apparently he's your only automatic starter.  I guess Dwayne Bowe is also an automatic starter as a WR2.  You should also start Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.  Because the Chargers are going to score 30, both Ryan Mathews and Jackie Battle could both be decent options (like Matt Forte and Michael Bush).  A Chargers WR will catch a touchdown, but I don't know if it's Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, or ...actually, those are the only three WR on the Chargers who have caught a pass.  Every other catch has been by TEs and RBs.
Not So Bold Prediction: Philip Rivers throws a touchdown.
Bold Prediction: Philip Rivers throws four touchdowns.  (If I keep saying it, eventually it will come true.)

Seattle (-2.5) over ST. LOUIS:  It wasn't the fact that the Seahawks beat the Packers to move to 2-1.  It's the fact that they held the Packers to 12 points and scored 7 or 14 points themselves.  The Rams aren't exactly bad (they're closer to Cincinnati than Oakland, KC, or Tennessee), but the Seahawks should win by a touchdown.
Fantasy: Maybe Danny Amendola.  That's the only Ram you're considering starting...maybe.  Marshawn Lynch is the only Seahawk you're starting.  I guess you Sidney Rice could be frisky and Russell Wilson could be the 20th QB in a 2 QB league
Not So Bold Prediction: Bill Simmons tweets "There's still room on the Seahawks bandwagon!"
Bold Prediction: Seattle wins and Bill Simmons jokes that the 3-1 Seahawks don't make up for losing the Sonics.

NYJ (+4) over San Francisco:  I know! I'm as shocked as you are!  But the Jets have a better Pythagorean winning percentage and when you add in home-field advantage, I guess I'm taking the Jets?
Fantasy: Frank Gore.  If you drafted Vernon Davis, hopefully you picked up Dennis Pitta.  Maybe Santonio Holmes?  Definitely not Shonn Greene.  And no one else on the 49ers.
Not So Bold Prediction: If you didn't know Darelle Revis was out for the year with a torn ACL, you will hear about it after every completed pass.
Bold Prediction: I honestly have no idea how, but the Jets win this game, slightly hurting other AFC team's wild card tiebreakers.

HOUSTON (-12) over Tennessee:  Almost the exact same problem with picking the Ravens.  I think they win handily, but 12 points is a lot.  When combining the Pythagorean %'s for these two teams, then adding in home field advantage, the Texans win 101% of the time.  Sometimes the math just doesn't look right.
Fantasy: The Texans might be scoring so much that Arian Foster goes from being a great pick to merely a good pick and Ben Tate gets some touches and touchdowns.  Andre Johnson could score a touchdown and Matt Schaub looks like his fantasy value comes from throwing touchdowns, not yards.  Even Owen Daniels is back from wherever he was the last two years.  I honestly have no idea about the Titans WRs and that probably means you shouldn't start them.  Don't start Kenny Britt.  Don't start Kendall Wright.  I guess if you squint really hard you can make an argument/desperation Hail Mary for Nate Washington.
Not So Bold Prediction: The Texans win.
Bold Prediction: Both Arian Foster AND Ben Tate score a touchdown.

DENVER (-6.5) over Oakland: You know why the NFL is awesome?  Because I would pick the Steelers to beat them every single time. (Even though they actually only have an 80% chance of winning).  The Broncos should win this game 75% of the time and that corresponds to a 7 or 7.5 point line.  Not much value, but I'm taking the Denver Peytons.
Fantasy: Peyton Manning was drafted as the 7th or 8th QB because of his injury risk.  He's actually going to end up as the 7th or 8th best QB without getting injured at all.  I know I said that before the season, but I can't prove it.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  Darren McFadden always starts if he's healthy.  Matthew Berry has been talking about Carson Palmer, but I'm not buying it.  Willis McGahee is a decent fantasy starter more by default than any true excitement.  Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are unexciting flex options...barely.
Not So Bold Prediction: At some point during the game you see Peyton Manning on the sideline with his helmet off and that bright red spot on his forehead from the helmet's inside pads.  Why do you think all the other QBs wear a hat when they take their helmets off?
Bold Prediction: Darren McFadden leads the game in receiving yards.

ARIZONA (-5.5) over Miami: This line is correct... if the game was in Miami.  In Phoenix the line should be double digits.
Fantasy: Go ahead and pick up Ryan Williams since Beanie Wells is now on the IR and feel free to make Larry Fitzgerald a must start every week.  As I'm working through season 2 of "The Wire" I like Ziggy's quote "I got bad advice!"  If Reggie Bush is active, start him, but temper expectations.  I wouldn't start anyone else.  Wait to see how the carries split up among Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, and Reggie Bush's knee.
Not So Bold Prediction: Larry Fitzgerald catches a pass.
Bold Prediction: Patrick Peterson catches one of Ryan Tannehill's passes.

JACKSONVILLE (+2.5) over Cincinnati: Really feels like more of a home-field advantage discrepancy than actually thinking the Jaguars are the superior team.  Although I wouldn't say the Bengals are a superior team.  But neither is truly inferior either.  This is a game between two evenly matched below-average Jacksonville.
Fantasy: Maurice Jones-Drew is really paying off to those who took him in the second round (*raises hand*).  Justin Blackmon is not paying off for those who took him in the 13th round (*raises hand*).  You already know about my love for the Law Firm, but it's really a value-adjusted love, not a true love.  It's love relative to my investment.  AJ Green is appropriately valued.  If you need to replace someone like Antonio Brown (BYE) or Hakeem Nicks (downgraded to doubtful), Andrew Hawkins would be a great fill in.
Not So Bold Prediction: MJD and BJGE combine for 40 carries and 7 initials.
Bold Prediction: They combine for 3 touchdowns also.

GREEN BAY (-7.5) over New Orleans:  Are you prepared to live through a Drew Brees 0-4 start?  I am because he did it with the Chargers in 2003.  But the Saints have done their best to convince us they are not a good team.  And the Packers haven't really convinced anyone of anything.  Except for convincing Roger Goodell to bring back the refs.  In a mostly subjective pick, I just can't take the Saints defense in Green Bay.
Fantasy: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are going to put up some incredible numbers.  Have you seen these defenses?  Well, you really only need the bad Saints defense to let Rodgers throw a ton, then Brees has to throw a ton in the second half to catch up.  Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, and Jimmy Graham are must starts.  You should probably also start Cedric Benson, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore, Jermichael Finley, and Randall Cobb, in that order.  You should not start James Jones or Donald Driver.
Not So Bold Prediction: There is at least one touchdown pass.
Bold Prediction: There are 7 touchdown passes.

Washington (+2.5) over TAMPA BAY: Two teams that are pretty close, but the extra points for the underdog make up the Tampa's home-field.  I have it as a 50/50 game.
Fantasy: Robert Griffin III may not be putting up numbers like Cam Newton did in his first three games last year, but he is outscoring Newton so far this year.  Alfred Morris is a great fantasy option up until he's not.  Fred Davis is not a good option.  Doug Martin has gone from a good fantasy option to an ok fantasy option.  Vincent Jackson has scored 4, 18, and 2 points.  So he's scoring 18 this week? Mike Williams could a decent fill in against a bad Redskins defense.  If you need an Andrew Hawkins like fill-in, Leonard Hankerson would be the next guy.
Not So Bold Prediction: RGIII runs the ball a few times.
Bold Prediction: RGIII and Vincent Jackson combine for 50 points.

Nyg (+2) over PHILADELPHIA: Are the Eagles a team that is so good they can overcome numerous turnovers and still win? Or are they a 2-1 team who have allowed 19 more points than they have scored?
Fantasy: Michael Vick is for fantasy gamblers.  People who realize that there is 1 winner and 9 losers at the end of the season as is trying to win, not just make the playoffs.  If you have him, keep living or, more likely, dying by him.  LeSean McCoy and Victor Cruz are  your definite starters.  Eli Manning and Brent Celek are your probably starters.  I don't know if Jeremy Maclin is playing, but he and DeSean Jackson are both decent options.  Hopefully you can put them on your bench because you have some pretty good fantasy WRs.  Andre Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw would both be good options if we really knew who was getting the carries.  But Brown is the supposed backup who Tom Coughlin wants to reward and Bradshaw is coming off some kind of neck injury, but could be starting?  This game serves as a good lesson i fantasy football strategy.  Because it is happening Monday night, you can't sub in a guy who played an earlier game.  Let's say Hakeem Nicks is a game time decision instead of his current doubtful status.  Even though Andrew Hawkins would probably be a better pickup, in this instance you go with Ramses Barden, or someone from the Sunday night and Monday night games that you can get off the waiver wire and has the potential to produce decent stats.  Ramses Barden is a better option than Jason Avant or Domenik Hixon.
Not So Bold Prediction: Manning or Vick throws an interception.
Bold Prediction: Manning and Vick combine for 4 interceptions.

Chicago (+3.5) over DALLAS: I was kind of shocked to see the Bears were the 4th by Pythagorean %, trailing only the three 3-0 teams.  But that was beating up on the Colts and Rams and getting walloped by the Packers.  They haven't been in a involved in a game closer than 13 points.  But that's the beauty of Pythagorean winning percentage.  A good team will beat a bad team by a lot.  A better team will beat a bad team by even more.  It overcomes the binary result of a close game by accounting for the marginal difference between the teams.  It says the Bears are better than the Cowboys.
Fantasy: Start Michael Bush.  Even if Matt Forte comes back from injury, Bush is still a good start.  Brandon Marshall, DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo are your automatics.  Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten are middling, in that order.  Don't bother with Kevin Ogletree or anyone else on the Bears, including Jay Cutler.
Not So Bold Prediction: Tony Romo and Jay Cutler playing the same game confound Bill Barnwell.
Bold Prediction: Both guys have a QBR over 80, yet one of them loses and if villified in the media as the sole source of the team's loss.


  1. $20 on Atlanta (-7), Minnesota (+4.5), Chicago (+3.5), Houston (-12), NY Giants (+2), San Diego (+1)

  2. $50 on Atlanta. That's it. All the eggs in one basket this week!

  3. Arizona -5.5! Holy shite! I will put $100 on Arizona with that line. I think Miami stinks.

    I have decided I am going big this week. $50 on Chargers +1 and $50 on $50 on NE -4. Last I checked the Chargers had only lost to Atlanta (in ATL), who are legitimately good. Did I pass out and the Chiefs got really good or something? What the hell is going on with that line?

    As for the Pats I just really don't trust Buffalo or Ryan Pickspatrick whatsoever, and the fact that the NE offense is out of sync feels flukey.

    So in review, $100 on Arizona -5.5, $50 on SD +1, and $50 on NE -4. I have $1,050 going into the week.

  4. Btw, what happened to your running deal where you retroactively make the perfect pick on the Thursday game?

    Speaking of which - any Browns or Ravens performance on Friday would've been VERY unexpected... because the game was on Thursday.

  5. Update #3 .... within 40 seconds of making my "$100 on Arizona" pick, I started getting buyer's remorse for hitching my wagon to the immortal Kevin Kolb. Ugh.

  6. To clarify, I was supposed to fill in on Friday, not a performance on Friday.

  7. Royce, your remorse was correct. Your confidence in the Carfinals undid your other two wins... At least you finished even?

    Scott, all you eggs broke

  8. I hate stupid Kevin Kolb and the stupid Cardinals. I remain even at $1050 because I put my faith in their stupid stupidity.

    Aaron what was your total from the weekend? I do not have the patience to count it for you.

  9. I went 11-3 SU, 6-7-1 ATS and 3-1-1 in my $ picks (with Chicago +3.5) pending. I honestly can't tell if I have any idea what's going on.

  10. I went 4-1-1 to gain $60. I'm up to $980.

  11. I fear this trip down memory lane is going to be depressing...

    Was at $1,010. Lost $50. Down to $960.