The first week of NFL Football is here, and that means the team you drafted a couple weeks ago finally gets to show up and follow up the hype. Week 1 is great – everyone thinks they have a chance at the Championship – but wait – Ryan Matthews is out and you’re not sure what to do (start Ronnie Brown)? Do I pick Jordy Nelson or Mike Wallace or Torrey Smith (good problem to have – go with Nelson, don’t over think this) – are there any last minute running backs I could pick up because my guys are out ) Alfred Morris, Ryan Williams, Brandon Jackson)? – I have a couple answers for you. First the five questions coming to me often.
Who is the one undrafted tight end you have to have?
Give me some Greg Olsen. I see he’s not even being owned in a ton of leagues. Hurry up, drop whomever you have right now (outside of the Top 6 guys) and grab Olsen if he’s available. Either that or drop your 6th receiver (assuming he’s someone like Steve Smith (StL), Nate Burleson, or Eddie Royal) and pick up Olsen. This guy is going to be a beast this year. I feel it. I also liked Martellus Bennett before his 40yd TD performance against Dallas on Wednesday. But I liked Olsen better.
I need a starter for Ryan Matthews and Ronnie Brown is already taken, who do you think will surprise?
I like Alfred Morris. I know Shanahan is a gong show and nobody really knows (not even the running backs that play for Washington) but someone has to get the majority of carries in Washington, and what would be crazier than this new kid? I know he passed the test against first string defenses in the pre-season. Royster and Helu both did good things and they’ve been their longer – for anyone with reason, they are the guys that would likely get carries – but this is Splinter Shanahan here, and I think Morris is my guy.
How about Tolbert? I like his prospects with Stewart likely out. He’s one tough son of a gun and maybe the Panthers want to hold off on sending their franchise guy head first into the pile this year (if possible)???
I’m digging deep here but maybe Michael Bush? The Colts were horrendous against the run last year, this year could be much of the same and Chicago has often liked to send in a bruiser to steal Forte’s touchdowns. Bush is a big bad man, at the very least.
Will list your 2 must starts at every position…
Cam Newton, Philip Rivers – LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, (and I like DeAngelo if Jon Stewart is out – return to greatness, DeLo!) – Calvin Johnson (every week) and (ready for this, drum-roll) Malcom Floyd (and I also like me some Roddy White this week – because I think KC shades toward Julio Jones) – Jimmy Graham and Gronk (please – but give me Olsen to have 70+ yards in Week 1) – Matt Prater and Shaun Suisham (Denver love…) – Vikings (here’s looking at you, Gabbert) and Seahawks (Sketlon, and then Kolb, are going to have a tough day). Good luck!
We have an upset challenge in our fantasy league – pick any touchdown upset correct and we get +10 fantasy points. Who has the best chance?
Cincinnati has the best chance – can’t believe how little respect they get going into Baltimore. But I also think the Redskins have a very good chance to come in and snipe one from the mighty Saints. Listen, I don’t care what people think about coaching, the bottom line is the Saints lost a pretty good one for the season. Brees is a boss and that team is loaded with weapons, but when Sean is gone that means the best play caller in football is no longer calling plays. That, at the very least, makes the Saints less likely to produce up to expectations.
Any big guns going to fire blanks on Sunday? Who are three top-round guys you would shy away from if you could?
Ignoring the obvious injury question guys, I’m going with Peyton Manning (because you have to WAIT and see, and the Steelers D is a tough one to start with), Fred Jackson (because I really think the Jets are tough and Spiller will split carries close to 50/50, despite what people are saying), and Chris Johnson (you’re probably playing him if you picked him, but he looked awfully “paid” during the preseason – the Patriots will lend all their attention to the speedster – I just don’t see a big day), and AJ Green (Baltimore D’d him up last year). There’s 4. Good luck in Week 1!
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions: Monday Night Free Football Pick: The Chicago Bears have been solid. The Lions have played out of their minds. Their are two 4-0 teams in the NFL right now, and they are in the same division. No, you’re right, one of them isn’t the Bears. The Bears are 2-2, but look a little more explosive offensively this season. Defensively, they’ve struggled a bit, but Matt Forte has been really good, and Cutler hasn’t made near as many mistakes to hurt the team. But they haven’t been the Lions. The Lions are tied with the Packers for the best record in the NFL, undefeated, through the first quarter of the season. Not many expected that kind of jump.
And honestly, it probably shouldn’t be that way. The Lions have been way down in each of their last wins – down 20-0 against the Minnesota Vikings and 27-3 in Dallas. 20 or more points in each of their last 2 games, and they’ve won both of them. That’s nuts. One reason is that they are one of the most explosive offenses in football. Matthew Stafford has been great, and he’s been healthy – which is huge. Jahvid Best has been a great pass catcher out of the backfield (even though the running game has struggled) and Calvin Johnson is off his rocker, catching 2 touchdown passes in each of his first 4 games. That’s nuts. Titus Young is stepping into a bigger role, and Brandon Petitgrew is as reliable as it gets over the middle. They do work in Detroit. Plus, teams can’t run the game out defensively. When other teams are up, they are still running it straight into Suh and company, and the Lions are better defensively than they’ve been in forever.
Still, I like the Bears. Those big points the Lions give up early will haunt them sooner or later – and I think it’s going to be sooner. You can’t be down 20 and win every game. I think this one will be close. The Bears do a good job of gutting you for big plays and using Forte to keep you honest. I’ll take the points.
Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 1 NFL Pick: I don’t know if I’m conducting the hype-train rolling through Detroit, but I can certainly understand why they have the attention of some people in the know. Defensively they’ve gotten better, if only because they are older and now have some solid talent at corner. They had a pretty good draft but that only looks good on paper because both their 1st and 2nd round picks won’t be playing come Sunday. Injuries are a real beach. Offensively they should be better as well with another year for what is basically an entire returning unit. Calvin Johnson is one of the best WRs in the game and Jahvid Best, while not a consistent runner, is bound to make some huge plays each week. Yes, there’s a lot to like.
But to make them an even bet on the road against an equally as young and impressive Tampa Bay team coming off a 10-win season? That seems a little ridiculous, now doesn’t it? Josh Freeman has proven to be all the Bucs could have dreamed of when they drafted him three years ago. Coming into his 2nd full season at the helm in Tampa, Freeman looks the part and has a confident glow about him – a natural leader. That could take these Bucs a long way.
I like both these young teams and anything can happen on Sunday, but every ounce of value rests with Tampa here. At home, even, and somehow the public is 60/40 in favor of the road team. The “experts” are 80% in favor of the Lions – it’s basically me and Herman Moore than believe in Detroit. That’s how I like it!
Fantasy Football Rankings: Fantasy Focus Week 1
For those that aren’t loyal followers from years’ past, the Fantasy Focus has a bunch of useable stuff for everyone in the fantasy realm – rather it’s making a decision between two super-hero players or picking somebody up at the last moment to fill a spot, I have some good stuff for you here. If you want something different than your normal host site’s rankings, we will have that too. In fact, we have 5 guys that put together their rankings just for you – Top 5 for each major position, and while that used to be a part of this article, we’re breaking it up this week to see if that’s easier/better – that article will come later in the day.
(Papa wants to let you know, if you want some old-school bad-ass fantasy advice, send him emails to….. PAPAWEIMER50@HOTMAIL.COM)
Elite Starters: Guys picked early that I love this week, looking for Top 5 at their position.
- Darren McFadden – Broncos defensive line, McFadden healthy and ready to go, ain’t nothing wrong with that.
- Phillip Rivers – The Minnesota Vikings defense really tailed off last season. Rivers didn’t.
- Calvin Johnson – CJ caught 10 balls for 152 yards against the Bucs last year – that’s a lot of looks, same secondary.
- Jamaal Charles – Buffalo doesn’t come around every week, Jamaal turns it on for the regular season.
- Adrian Peterson – San Diego lost some on the D-line, I think AP has a nice day.
Solid Starters: Guys picked in middle rounds that should outplay their ranking/draft position this week.
- Brandon Lloyd– The Raiders will miss Nnamdi, as soon as Week 1.
- Santonio Holmes – The Cowboys will bring pressure with Rob Ryan, but they don’t have the secondary to lock Holmes up.
- Mario Manningham– The Redskins have solid talent at corner and a decent secondary, but they can get beat for the big play – Manningham is a big play guy.
- Santana Moss – I don’t think Moss gets the credit he deserves. He had a great 2010, and the Giants secondary is injured.
- Kyle Orton – I think Orton is a lock Top 10 guy this week, he’s ranked below that just about everywhere else.
Sleeper Starters: Guys ranked low, drafted low or falling off the charts, but I still like them this week…
- Beanie Wells– Christopher gets his chance at the full time starting gig in Week 1 against Carolina, lucky!
- Tim Hightower –TH looked good in the preseason and the Giants’ defense is full of injuries.
- Braylon Edwards– Braylon was a real low draft pick, but I think he impresses. Seattle struggles against big WRs.
- Robert Meachem – Jacobs gets the start, and the Jaguars haven’t been shredded in four games or so – they’re due.
- James Jones– I’m excited to see Jones play this season – I think this year could be the one!
Super Sleepers: Undrafted guys that are usually unowned, but in a pinch put ‘em in coach!
- Alex Smith– Seattle’s secondary gives any opposing QB a chance to succeed.
- Darren Sproles– Like Lance Moore used to gain value with Bush out, Sproles will gain more value with Lance hurting.
- Daniel Thomas – If they can stick close to New England, it’s because they’re running it, and Thomas is the guy to carry it.
- Willis McGahee – Oakland’s defense is not good, but I think their run defense is real bad. McGahee could be a 10-13 touch guy.
- Nate Burleson – Nate has scored a few times in the preseason, if he’s healthy, he’s a nice play against Tampa Bay.
Sit ‘Em Son: I don’t care where they were drafted, I don’t like these guys starting this week…
- Ryan Grant –The Saints’ additions up the middle of that D-line makes running tough
- James Starks– I don’t like either Green Bay RB on Thursday Night.
- Miles Austin– A little dinged up, going against Revis Island – not the best early season match-up.
- Mike Sims-Walker– #1 WR in St. Lous? Yep. Talented? Yep. Terrible match-up? You betcha!
- Matt Cassel– Pretty solid match-up on paper, but the Chiefs will be running it too much for a Matt C big day.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions Free Football Betting Predictions: Somebody please tell me how 33% of the public thinks a Lions team without Matthew Stafford and without Shaun Hill and without the game-breaking ability of Jahvid Best with toes is going to be able to score more than two field goals (offensively – yeah, see, I cut you Jay Cutler pick-6 arguments off at the bud)? I don’t think it can happen. I found the Bears at -3, and so can you, but I have to believe that -3.5 or -4, or -6.5 for that matter are all lines that I would happily take.
Don’t get it twisted, last week’s offensive performance by the Bears was un-Chicago-like. Jay Cutler was throwing dimes, and he wasn’t even trying much crazy stuff. He looked to be reading the defense and not just picking a play and throwing it regardless of who or what was standing in his path. Matt Forte was getting blocks and using them. It was magic. That’s not Chicago – they win games, but they don’t play perfect football like that very often, and probably not the rest of the season. But this is Detroit, minus a leader or tested QB.
Here lies Drew Stanton, the poor kid just wanted to start in the NFL and the Bears damn near killed him. He still has Calvin Johnson, so I guess anything is possible, but without a tough run game and against a dominant defense, the Lions are in TROUBLE. That’s all caps, by the way, meaning big time. Take the Bears, take the money, smile.
NFL Week 12 Free Picks New England Patriots @ Detroit Lions: This one seems easy enough to me. Sure, the common thought in this game has to be the Patriots are going to win big, but the Lions have played a lot of tough football this season, they are relatively healthy, and Shaun Hill has played well as the back-up quarterback. Calvin Johnson is borderline unguardable, and while a short week has to favor the more experienced team, the Lions have a chance in this one, and that’s more than they could say about the last 5 Thanksgiving Day games.
The Patriots have been very inconsistent within games, but they always seem to find a way to win. It’s usually a strong first half and a “hang on” second half for the Pats. They’ve played plenty of games that came down to the wire, and let a lot of teams back in games that should have been put away much easier.
I like to bet against favorites when they should have lost last week but managed to win. The Patriots fit right in to that group. They were up big on Indianapolis, but they couldn’t put it away. Manning hammered out some quick drives, and I was honestly surprised that Peyton didn’t finish off the Pats with a score late. The way that game was going, I thought the Patriots were going to lose.
Covering a touchdown against Detroit might not seem like much, but they played better than the score in Dallas showed last week, and they play well at home (close losses to the Jets and Eagles – wins over Washington and St. Louis). I’m taking the home team here.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions Point Spread Betting Picks: Really? A field goal and a half a point are all that separate the dastardly Lions and their ginormous home field advantage? I feel like stealing candy from a group of kids, wait, that’s what we’re doing when we’re taking the Jets. I say “WE” because it’s exactly true, this has to be the most lopsided betting line of the season, as over 70% of ladies and gents are taking refuge on the Jets side of this line. Should WE be worried? You bet, anytime the books take that kind of money on one side of a small line like this, something might very well be up. But I can’t help myself, I’m going to continue to think the candy I’m taking is right from the sportsbooks, and their silly Halloween costumes. I’ll just chalk it up as an early birthday/really early Christmas present.
The Jets might not have the secondary statistics that we’ve all expected, but you know that Lions team won’t be able to run the ball even against the Jets base D. So New York can keep the secondary full of trouble for Matthew Stafford – and I just have a feeling that Revis is getting more and more healthy, and that can only be good of the Jets. Remember, they shut down one of the better offenses in the league last week – holding Green Bay to just 3 field goals is an impressive feat. So maybe they’re back?
Calvin Johnson is a beast, one of the truly unguardable players in the league – but I don’t see the Jets letting him beat them, so I see the Jets winning by double digits.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants Week 6 Point Spread Pick: Shaun Hill has to fall from the pedestal his passing arm is sitting on right now. He just throws the ball up for grabs like some sort of flyers-up game, and guess what, Calvin Johnson has proven to be really freaking good at that game. But it can’t last forever, and there can’t be a better time than this week against that impressive Giants pass rush for Shaun to humpty-dumpty all over the place.
Sure, there’s not much of a reason to give the Giants 10 points against anybody, and I’d normally grab those 10 points and smile, but it’s really hard to look past the deficiencies the Giants will expose against the Lions.
I know three of Detroit’s losses have come by a total of 10 points, but they get rocked on the ground and if opposing offenses feel like it, they can kill the Lions through the air as well. Detroit is 4-1 against the spread, and sports gambling enthusiasts are taking note – I just don’t think it pans out this week, fellas, not at all.
Eli and his herd of pass catching receivers love to throw the ball, more than they should even, but that’s okay against the Lions – because Steve Smith, Nicks, Kevin Boss, Mario Maningham, shoot, they are all open and calling for the ball already.
But the Lions will lose this game offensively, or the Giants will win it defensively. However you want to look at it – New York will force Detroit into many an offensive mistake, and that, my friend, will be the ball game.
St. Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions Week 5 NFL Football Free Pick: The Rams are the better team here, especially with Shaun Hill in the sling for the Lions. Hill does one thing well, however, he throws marshmallows up to Calvin Johnson and hopes for the best. More often than not, the best happens. Calvin Johnson is one of the best, and he could give the Rams some trouble – that’s for sure.
But this one will come down to match-ups, and I see the Rams ruling those situations. Detroit has a bad secondary – not mediocre, but bad. Sam Bradford is very accurate, not accurate for a rookie, just flat out accurate. With a secondary that prides themselves on leaving open lanes for QBs and WRs to party in, Sam should be able to spread the ball around freely and find Mark Clayton early and often.
The Lions have been a lot better up front against the run with the rookie beast, Mr. Suh – but they still aren’t a top-flight unit. Steven Jackson should find plenty of room to run, and the Rams should actually be the favorite to win their 3rd straight game after not even getting to 3 wins last season.
The “experts” are with me and the public is against me in this one, that’s not such a bad place to be, I guess. Defensively I think the Rams have an advantage, and in a game like this, that advantage might go a long way.
So here are my big bad bold predictions. There are some dandies down there, and I’m not bringing it light like Red Red Ryan, or even medium like Lucky Lester’s Black Jack predictions. Nope, I’m giving you one prediction for every single team in the NFL. If you like what you read, or even disagree with it to the point of needing to tell me I’m wrong, you can follow me on Twitter @AlaskanArse – I’ll be rocking it all season long! And the predictions begin…
NFC East (Backs and Nicks)
The Cowboys haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Julius Jones in 2006 … I expect that to change this year when Felix Jones busts through for 1,200 yards on the ground and 8 TDs.
Steve Smith was a revelation for the G-Men last season but this year Hakeem Nicks will haul in 70+ passes for 1,100 yards and 10 TDs … Plaxico who?
If the offense runs through LeSean McCoy the Eagles will soar – unfortunately the burden will be heaped on first year starter Kevin Kolb and he will struggle to the tune of 20+ interceptions.
Donovan McNabb will have a stabilizing impact in D.C., but another aging vet will be responsible for any Redskins resurgence … I like Clinton Portis to notch 1,250 yards and 9 TDs.
NFC North (Wide Receiver’s Making Waves – err, Touchdowns)
This year’s Miles Austin resides in the Windy City … Devin Aromashodu will explode on the scene in 2010 with 70+ catches for 1,100 yards and 8 TDs.
Injuries and inexperience at QB stunted Calvin Johnson’s growth last year … expect Megatron to star in his own version of Revenge of the Fallen this season to the tune of 95 grabs, 1.400 yards and 13 TDs.
Sticking with the WR theme, forgotten man Greg Jennings is in for a major rebound in 2010. I like the physical Packer to post 80 catches for 1,300 yards and 11 TDs for Green Bay.
Percy Harvin come on down! – You’re the next contestant on The Time is Right … No Sidney Rice to start the year means the Vikes will depend on Harvin’s explosiveness … 1,500 total yards and 10 TDs.
NFC South (Matt Ice, A French Guy, A Rookie and a Two Headed Monster Walk Into a Bar)
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan will benefit from the stability a healthy Michael Turner brings the Falcon offense. I like the third year pro to turn some heads this year tossing for 3,500 yards and 26 TDs.
With respect to the Jets, there is not a better rushing attack anywhere in football. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams will combine for 2,500 yards on the ground and 20 TDs in 2010.
The Saints will always spread the wealth but this is Pierre Thomas’ time to shine. The do-it-all back from Illinois will take the next step this season and finish with 1,000+ rushing yards and 10 TDs.
Everywhere you turn in Tampa you are surrounded by young talent on offense. QB Josh Freeman is still a year away but rookie WR Mike Williams will make a big splash with 900+ yards and 7 TDs.
NFC West (Poised for a Breakout Out West)
Beanie Wells flashed major ability in his rookie season. The departure of Kurt Warner means the training wheels come off this year in the desert – look for 1,100 yards and 11 TDs for the former Buckeye.
Sam Bradford is going to be a very good pro but for fantasy upside this season you want a cat named Danny Amendola. PPR owners can steal 80 catches, 900 yards and 5 TDs in the last round of their drafts.
Michael Crabtree is every bit the diva – long holdout in his rookie season, flashy personality that rubs teammates the wrong way, and legitimate talent. 16 games means 85 grabs, 1,000 yards and 8 TDs.
The Seahawks brass has been tight-lipped all preseason about their RB gig. Julius Jones is out of the picture and I think Justin Forsett is poised for a breakout … 1,500 total yards and 10 TDs wouldn’t shock me.
AFC East (Comeback Players and a Mean Green Running Machine)
If Trent Edwards has the tools to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, I think Chan Gailey is the coach to bring it out of him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Edwards put up 3,500 yards passing and 20 TDs.
Ronnie Brown will stay healthy for a full 16 games … really that’s as bold as it gets. I’ll take it a step further though and say he’ll also compile 1,800 total yards and 12 TDs in the process.
The Patriots could be a wasteland this year in terms of fantasy outside of Tom Terrific and Randy Moss, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Laurence Maroney has a mini-resurgence and racks up 1,000 yards and 10 TDs.
You either believe Shonn Greene is overrated or underrated … I fall into the latter group. This beast of a ball-carrier will lead the NFL in rushing by going for more than 1,700 on the ground with 15 TDs.
AFC North (New Faces in New Places, and a New Bell-Cow in Pittsburgh)
The development of Joe Flacco means Anquan Boldin is poised for the best season of his career. The former Cardinal is a perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens and will reach 100 catches and 1,400 yards.
In his rookie season, TE Jermaine Gresham will be a God-send for Carson Palmer. I like the former Sooner to burst onto the scene with 60 grabs for 800 yards and 6 TDs.
Colt McCoy will start more games this year than Jake Delhomme. In his half-season or so I think the youngster struggles to throw TDs (fewer than 10) but completes at a high percentage (better than 60%).
Big Ben’s early season absence will be a blessing in disguise for this club. The Steelers will return to their roots and pound Rashard Mendenhall at opponents more than 300 times this season to go with his 13 TDs.
AFC South (Injury Concerns and #2 Receivers Down South)
Matt Schaub is fragile, people. Sure he played 16 games last season and posted monster numbers, but in the two previous years he totalled only 22 games. He will miss time this year and struggle to reach 20 TDs.
It’s amazing the way the Colts are able to plug in pieces to keep their offensive machine humming along. Pierre Garcon is the next cog in the wheel and I like him to put up 1,100 yards receiving and 8 TDs this year.
MJD will again be a rock for the Jags but if you’re looking for value in PPR leagues don’t forget about WR Mike Thomas. The diminutive playmaker will draw comparisons to Steve Smith with his 80 grabs and 8 TDs.
Chris Johnson is electric but to me he has bust written all over him. A monstrous workload last season will take it’s toll on CJ, look for him to miss some time and struggle to reach 1,500 total yards.
AFC West (Don’t Ignore the Entire AFC West: Just Most Of It…)
You want no part of the Broncos from a fantasy perspective. No QB will throw for 3,500 yards, no RB will surpass 1,000 yards on the ground, and no WR will top 1,000 yards receiving … Avoid.
Jamaal Charles is a big play waiting to happen, but I am nothing if not skeptical of players coming off huge 8-10 game stretches. Charles isn’t capable of carrying the load, don’t expect more than 1,200 yards and 8 TDs.
Jason Campbell’s presence is an upgrade, but I don’t think that will translate into big things for the WR corps. On the other hand, TE Zach Miller could be poised for a huge year … think 75 catches, 1,000 yards and 8 TDs.
I am not typically one to drool over rookie RBs, but Ryan Matthews is going to be a stud. That said, he’s not opening his own holes and will take a pounding early in the year - 1,000 yards may be his limit this season.