Free NCAA Football Picks – Week 1 2006

Opening Weekend

Don’t blink now, opening week in the college ranks is only a couple days away. Thousands of players and hundreds of schools begin the season with high hopes and bowl-game dreams. I’m not here to squash dreams, but I am here to pick 10 winners and 10 losers on opening weekend. Stay tuned to my success, as these picks are free, and Lucky Lester’s success could be yours as well. As season number three kicks off for me, you can expect a year similar to that of a 3rd year guy. After two seasons finishing over .500, I’m expecting even more greatness out of myself. Let the ride begin!


Boston College (-12) @ Central Michigan: The Boston College Eagles have had quite a rough time with injuries during practice this month. Their defense will require some help from youngsters, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Though the Chippewas return their sensational running back, Ontario Sneed, as well as senior receiver, Damien Linson, they’ve lost mass production with the graduation of quarterback Kent Smith. Smith accounted for 2,800 yards passing, 440 yards rushing and 23 combined touchdowns. CMU hasn’t started the season with a win since 2002, and has never opened the season with a win over a bowl winner from the previous season. Boston College will look to run all over CMU to the tune of another 43-0 win similar to the last time these two teams suited up against each other in 2002.

Minnesota (-16) @ Kent State: This game shouldn’t be a contest for the pound it home rushing assault of the Golden Gophers. The truth is, this game would be in the -28 range if it weren’t for the academic suspension of stud running back Gary Russell. Even with the loss of Laurence Maroney to the NFL, the Gophers should be just fine. What the odds makers don’t know is that you could put any running back behind the Gopher O line, and you’d end up with a dominating rush. That being said, the Gophers can recruit RB’s with the best of them. They’ll dominate the boys from Kent State.

South Carolina (-7) @ Mississippi State: The Gamecocks have gone through some injury problems this summer, but I see them pulling through and having a nice season. Look for them to start with a big win at Miss State. Gamecock RB, Mike Davis, ended the season rushing for 89, 88, 111, and 125 yards. And the opponents were Arkansas, Florida, Clemson and Missouri. The bottom line is, with Davis turning into a star, Blake Mitchell returning, and stud receiver Sidney Rice on track to start against the Bulldogs, the Gamecocks should put on a show in Mississippi this Thursday.


Southern California (-8) @ Arkansas: I don’t think USC is a Top 5 team, however I do think they are two touchdowns better than Arkansas, regardless of the talent they lost to the pros. The Razorbacks have questions at QB in which one of the answers could be a true freshman. Their best receiver is a full back, and their stud sophomore rusher, Darren McFadden, is doubtful with a dislocated toe after a nightclub altercation. USC has talent all over the football field. And without Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and LenDale White, I’m sure Coach Carroll will have all his X’s and O’s in the right place on Saturday. Expect a game early, followed by an easy USC victory.

Notre Dame (-7.5) @ Georgia Tech: Everyone and their mother is picking this as the first big upset of the season. What? How? Why? Three simple questions that obviously aren’t being answered. What does Tech have to upset the Irish? Charles Johnson is a superstar at the flanker spot, but his production alone won’t be near enough. How could Notre Dame lose this game? For Tech to win, ND would have to implode. With Charlie Weis coaching and Brady Quinn at Q, that just can’t happen for two straight halves of football. Why does everyone need to pick a huge upset in Week 1? People want to get recognition for calling upsets, and that’s all there is to it. Just because Tech can play doesn’t mean they are taking this game from the Irish. I got answers. ND wins easily.

Washington State @ Auburn (-14.5): Auburn is 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games. The Tigers are 21-2 in their last 23 contests. Auburn is won 5 straight to end the season. Any returnees? The Tigers return top rusher Kenny Irons and signal caller Brandon Cox, not to mention a litany of defenders from one of the nation’s top defenses. Washington State lost all world running back Jerome Harrison, but returns leading passer Alex Brink, and receiver Jason Hill. I just think Auburn will be too much for the Cougars in this one. State is better than last years’ record insists, but they are no match for the power football that Auburn plays.

California @ Tennessee (-1): California resides in the Pac-10, a conference full of soft defenses that seemingly get destroyed by any school east of Arizona. Tennessee isn’t as bad as last year’s record insists. Expect big things from them this season. At home, expect Tennessee to uproot a California team that lost too much leadership to graduation.

Stanford (+12) @ Oregon: The Ducks lost Kellen Clemens and Demetrius Williams to the NFL, and Terrence Whitehead is too inconsistent to carry his offense week in and week out. Dennis Dixon looked like he could be a nice signal caller when he filled in for Clemens last season, but I don’t know if he can be the leader either. Stanford will give the Ducks a game, just based on senior leadership and toughness alone. QB, Trent Edwards is a senior coming off a nice season for the Cardinal. Jason Evans is a senior as well, he’ll be improved this season. Stanford may have been 5-6 last season, but they were 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games, and wins and losses don’t always show how a team played. Expect this Pac-10 opener to be a dandy.

Vanderbilt @ Michigan (-25): Vanderbilt struggled to win last season, and they had Jay Cutler gunning down defenses to boot. This season, Cutler finds himself in a Denver Broncos uniform, being touted “the next great quarterback” and Vandy will struggle because of it. On the other hand, Michigan, a team that vastly disappointed throughout last season, has loads of returning starters, a star quarterback in Chad Henne, whose bound to breakout and compete with Brady Quinn for the Heisman nod, and a receiver by the name of Steve Breaston, who should excel in Jason Avant’s graduation to the NFL. Did I mention Mike Hart? He’ll give the offense balance, as running will be key for the Wolverines. This should be a 30 point laugher.


Kentucky @ Louisville (-22): These Louisville Cardinals are finally the real deal. Kentucky can’t handle the offensive production that the Cards throw on the board. Rushing, passing, defense… On all aspects of the game, Louisville should dominate. That being said, Kentucky is 4-16 in their last 20 games. They’re 4-8 ATS on the road in their last 12, and 3-4 ATS in their last 9 games. On the other hand, the Cards are 18-6 ATS in their last 24, 11-1 ATS in their last 12 home games, and they won 5 straight to end 2005. Did I mention Louisville returns budding stars Brian Brohm (QB) and Michael Bush (RB) from their 9-3 2005? This game should be a gong show.

2006 Fantasy Football Draft Board

When it all comes down to it, every fantasy nut needs a draft board. Your best players ranked from 1 to 100, maybe even to 200. Think about it, write it down, rewrite it; then follow it throughout your draft. And if you never crumble to the temptations of a sexy pick two rounds too early, and you forget about your defense and kicker until the last few rounds, then you’ve done your scouting well young Luke. If the fall’s lazy eye has you by the beans, and making your own list out of the question; here’s one that should get you to the top. This list is based solely on a smooth immeasurable ratio of value and point production. If QB touchdowns and WR/RB touchdowns are equal in your league, all the quarterbacks jump up 4-5 spots.
Don’t forget the three main rules of your draft board.
1- Feel free to deviate slightly for things such as; preference, bye week differential, and the value of a player depending on who has been chosen previously. For example, if my favorite player is Ronnie Brown, and I get to chose between Ronnie and Cadillac, I’m taking Ronnie, because they are close enough on my board. If my starting RB has a bye in week 10, and I’m choosing between Frank Gore and Willie Parker, and Frank has a bye in week 10, take Willie. And last, if you’re choosing between Chad Johnson and LaMont Jordan for your 2nd pick, and all the other top tier RB’s have been taken, take LaMont because his value is higher.
2- Don’t get caught up in the tight end, defense, or kicker hullabaloo. If you can get good value with Antonio Gates, go for it. But chances are, he’ll get drafted much earlier than he should, as will guys like Shockey, Gonzalez, and Crumpler. Aside from Gates, TE’s are too equal to pick early in drafts. Wait it out and take advantage of guys like Ben Watson, Ben Troupe, and Kellen Winslow falling down the draft. Same goes for defenses, except never pick one until you have starters and backups at all positions. Kickers…. Hahaha…. Last two rounds could be too soon.
3- Don’t let bye weeks break your balls. If you’re choosing between two players relatively close on your draft board (3-5 spots apart) then bye week should come into your mind. But if I’m choosing between Anquan Boldin and Plaxico Burress in round 4, and you already have Larry Fitzgerald (who has the same bye as Boldin) take Boldin anyway. He’s that much better. You can always come up with something in that situation. But don’t pass on great players because of one lousy bye week.
Stick to your game plan, follow good ol’ Lucky Lester’s Rules and his Top 100, and take home the pride and prize at season’s end.

MY Draft Board – Top 100

1. Shaun Alexander
2. LaDainian Tomlinson
3. Larry Johnson
4. Tiki Barber
5. Steve Smith
6. Edgerrin James
7. Clinton Portis*
8. Brian Westbrook
9. Peyton Manning
10. Larry Fitzgerald
11. Steven Jackson
12. Torry Holt
13. Terrell Owens*
14. Cadillac Williams
15. Rudi Johnson
16. Ronnie Brown
17. Anquan Boldin
18. Chad Johnson
19. LaMont Jordan
20. Willis McGahee
21. Carson Palmer*
22. Warrick Dunn
23. Marvin Harrison
24. Reggie Wayne
25. Corey Dillon
26. Chris Chambers
27. Randy Moss
28. Santana Moss
29. Kevin Jones
30. Dominick Davis*
31. Tom Brady
32. Julius Jones
33. Reuben Droughns
34. Antonio Gates
35. De’Shuan Foster
36. Frank Gore
37. Willie Parker
38. Matt Hasselbeck
39. Jamal Lewis
40. Thomas Jones*
41. Plaxico Burress
42. Javon Walker*
43. Donovan McNabb
44. Donald Driver
45. Marc Bulger
46. Hines Ward*
47. Darrell Jackson*
48. Roy Williams
49. Chester Taylor
50. Andre Johnson
51. Eli Manning
52. Dominic Rhodes
53. Deuce McCallister
54. Reggie Bush
55. Fred Taylor
56. Chris Brown
57. Ahman Green*
58. Daunte Culpepper
59. Joey Galloway
60. Mike Bell
61. Drew Bledsoe
62. Jake Delhomme
63. Joe Horn
64. Kurt Warner
65. Ben Roethlisberger
66. Derrick Mason
67. Jeremy Shockey
68. TJ Housmandzadeh
69. Todd Heap
70. Mike Vick
71. Tatum Bell
72. Jason Whitten
73. Reggie Brown
74. Drew Brees
75. Steve McNair
76. Tony Gonzalez
77. Brett Favre
78. Joseph Addai
79. Jake Plummer
80. Terry Glenn
81. Randy McMichael
82. Byron Leftwich
83. Chris Cooley
84. Jon Kitna
85. Cedric Benson*
86. Ben Troupe
87. Chris Simms
88. Rod Smith
89. Deion Branch*
90. Mike Anderson
91. Laveraneus Coles
92. Mushin Muhammad
93. Lee Evans
94. Drew Bennett
95. Michael Clayton
96. Braylon Edwards*
97. Algae Crumpler*
98. LJ Smith
99. Antonio Bryant
100. Ben Watson