NFL Pre-Season Free Picks: Week 4

It’s the final week of the pre-season and the real stuff can’t come soon enough. Injuries are ruining more than a few seasons, including the super-bowl champs… This week we get a Super Bowl re-match, but don’t get ahead of yourself, it’s just the pre-season. A couple teams have been good and a few have been bad, lets see if I can’t pick the winners and shed the losers in my last week of pre-season picks…. As it seems I’m rootin’ hard for the underdog in 4 of 5 contests. Go dogs!

New York Jets @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3) (8-28): I like the Eagles to take this one. The Jets first team has looked solid this pre-season, but after that it’s more of a free-for-all. The defense isn’t stellar and 2nd year QB Kevin Kolb is a nice player that should take advantage of the Jets secondary. Wide open spaces, no doubt. I also like Ryan Moats, Tony Hunt, and Correll Buckhalter to find some running room against Jets 2nd teamers. Take the Eagles in this one.

Detroit Lions (+3) @ Buffalo Bills (8-28): Dan Orlovsky is a solid back-up that should have plenty of room to throw it around while visiting Buffalo. The Lions have had the attitude of a winning team all pre-season, and I’m sure coach Rod Marinelli doesn’t want to lose that momentum in their last exhibition game. I like the Lions young defense to get some big turnovers early while the offense will capitalize. It doesn’t hurt that Trent Edwards will likely be out again for the Bills.

Atlanta Falcons (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-28): Look for Matt Ryan to outshine Joe Flacco in this one. It should be interesting, both rookies could easily be starting during Week 1 for their respective teams, yet both will likely play into the second half. That’s rare in Week 4 of the pre-season. I’ve decided to like the Falcons more than most, and Ryan has impressed me. I also love Jerious Norwood, Harry Douglas, and Laurent Robinson – all young playmakers that will see time on Thursday. Look for the Falcons to pass it around on a suspect Ravens secondary.

Carolina Panthers (+3.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-28): I expect the Steel-show to sit Big Ben for this entire game, and that leaves Byron Leftwich to get major playing time. I’ve always liked Byron, but he’s looked bad lately. Look for the Panthers to run the ball well against the Steelers – that will kill Pittsburgh and give the Panthers a nice 1st half lead. Carolina’s rushing attack has been very efficient this pre-season.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-28): The Cowboys 2nd team, offensively and defensively, is brutal. I like the Vikings – they have some nice youngsters that will get time in this one. Gus Frerotte is a good back-up that will get some meaningful snaps and Booty isn’t a bad option at #3. Dallas is the better team in this one, no doubt, but after a couple series it’s who has the better 2nd and 3rd team, and that’s surely the Vikings. Take Minnesota to beat the Boys.

NFL Pre-Season Free Picks Review: Week 3

After 3 weeks of pre-season football I’m 7-4-1. Week 3 was my first losing week of the season as I finished 2-3 with a little bad luck from my friends. This is what Week 3 looked like…

San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears (-3):Kyle Orton and Reshied Davis were dealing early, and I thought I was in good position to take this one with the Bears up going into the 2nd quarter. But, Rexxy Grossman let me down again – weird. J.T. O’Sullivan and his rocket cannon arm tore up the Bears secondary, and that secondary doesn’t look promising for the season. Alex Smith even tossed a touchdown in the 2nd half, and basically beat me. Yes, Alex Smith beat me. Ugh. One game, one loss…

Tennessee Titans (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons: Vince Young was brutal, Chris Johnson didn’t break one, and even Kerry Collins was 1 for 8 – maybe the Falcons aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they are? Hmm… That might be something to keep in mind to start this season. Matt Ryan looked confident and accurate against a solid TItans defense, completing 15 of 21 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown pass to fellow rookie Harry Douglas. That right there was enough to oust the Titans as Tennessee managed just 3 points all night. This was a big miss.

Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5) @ New England Patriots: Bet against the Pats when they don’t have Tom Brady – I don’t care if it’s the pre-season, regular season, or off-season – without Tom they lose a lot of their luster. The Eagles looked solid against that old Pats defense, but don’t worry Pats fans, this is just the pre-season  – I’m sure Big Bill will get the damn thing figured out. A win for me!

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3): Just in, the Jaguars are going to be good. Garrard was accurate an efficient, and the Jags defense really made life hard for Jeff Garcia and the Bucs. Garcia did play and he threw 2 interceptions in his limited work. My 2nd big miss gave me my third loss of the week, making sure that I’d be under .500 for the first time this year.

New Orleans Saints (-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals: “Boy oh boy the Bengals have looked bad. And it’s not just their running game, Carson Palmer has been inconsistent and timid in the pocket. I think the Saints will dominate this game against a confused Bengals club.” Neither of these offenses looked deadly, but the Bengals were downright pathetic. They didn’t score a once, against the freaking Saints – it’s not looking good in Cinci. Back to the Bungles! This was an easy win that I really needed this week.

Ask Papa Weimer: Last Pre-Season Questions

Here it is, one more question and answer section from you guys to me – there were three pretty solid email questions that I thought would be good to share – these are them.

David-Bill-Bob from America writes, “What do you think of Ted Ginn as a possible receiver option this season? What about Robert Meachem, James Hardy, Devin Hester, and Sidney Rice? Can you rate that foursome?”

Oh yes, lots of upside here. Not very much sure-thing here, but who loves to play a game you’re sure to win? Not me – I’m all about the upside. Forget the Bobby Engrams and the Derrick Masons, I’ll wait longer and dance with the young-guns. I think Ted Ginn could be a great player in the Dolphins passing attack, but I doubt he’ll score many touchdowns. The thing that’s good about his situation is that Pennington throws short a lot and Ted is fast enough to get some separation early. As for the rest of the guys, Devin Hester is my favorite – he’s a touchdown waiting to happen, and even if he gets 60 catches this season, he’ll probably take 10 of them to the house. Robert Meachem could be the best of the bunch, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the kid coming out of college. He looked solid in the pre-season, and what a weapon he could be if Drew Brees finds a liking for throwing to him against single coverage. Sidney Rice is a nice sleeper – it’s said that T-Jackson is more accurate than ever, and with Berrian opposite Rice, Sindney should get lots of single coverage. I don’t know if the Vikes will throw enough to make Rice a solid start week in and week out, but the kid can go up and get the ball, which might be good for 6-9 scores as defenses will focus on the run. James Hardy was my favorite receiver in the draft and I think he has a bright future, but he’s just a rookie and the speed of the game might hamper him early. Keep an eye on him though, when he figures it out he’ll be a threat. I’d rank them like this… Ginn Jr. – Devin Hester – Robert Meachem – Sidney Rice – James Hardy.

Tim from Floresville, Texas writes, “The people in my league think I am crazy for trading Chad Johnson for Bernard Berrian. What do you think?? I only picked up Chad to trade him, his inconsistencies and the fact that Cinci has the 2nd toughest schedule against the pass this season made me trade him away.”

Tim, I think BB is a good receiver, but he’s not Chad Johnson. I fully understand taking Chad so you can trade him later, but I still don’t think you got the best value you could have by grabbing BB in a trade for him. If all you wanted was BB, you could have just drafted him instead of Chad. You likely would have gotten a better RB where you got Chad, and you still could have got BB later. You say Berrian didn’t have anyone throwing him the ball last year, but in reality, Tarvaris Jackson isn’t even as prolific through the air as Rex Grossman is. I like Jackson’s upside, but even if Chad has a down year and Berrian plays really well, I thikn the best you can hope for here is a push. Even against tough passing defenses, the Bengals still ahve Carson Palmer and TJ Housmandzadeh to help take the pressure off Chad. Maybe the Bengals just crash and tumble, and maybe Chad is hurt and out longer than expected – and maybe Jackson shows maturity and tosses 20 touchdowns. I don’t know, but that just seems like a lot of maybes to hope for. I have BB in a few leagues, and I would definitely trade him straight up for Chad in every one of them. But no, I don’t think you’re crazy, I think you’re courageous. There’s nothing better in fantasy football than making a trade that everyone thinks you are stupid for and coming out on top because of it. That means you were right and everyone else was wrong. That’s the best. You definitely did your research, and I’m rooting for you. Also, Chad isn’t consistent, that’s true. Over the last couple seasons, he’ll help you win 3 or 4 weeks and kill you for the other 10. With a lot of single coverage, because of Peterson, BB could end up being a lot more consistent that Chad. Good luck!

T.J. in Alabama says, “Papa, you have any sweet predictions this season? Last year you told me that Randy was going to blow up and Larry Fitz was going to lead the league – both had huge years for me and I’m back for more. Any secret advice?”

Like Chef once said, “You’ve got to find the clitoris.” That might not help in this particular situation, but it does allow older men (like myself) to pleasure younger women, which in turn gives hope to mankind. Alright, alright, I was planning on a little, “This is how I see it” article next week, but here’s a little preview, T.J., you impatient bastard!

Larry Johnson will be a Top 5 running back this year, making him an absolute steal at the end of Round 1 where he’s getting drafted.

Drew Brees will throw more touchdown passes (I’m thinking 36) than any other quarterback in the NFL this season. That’s right, while I’m not a huge fan of Jeremiah Shocker, he will take that much pressure off of Drew because of the constant attention opposing defenses will have to pay him. I don’t think Shockey’s touchdown totals will improve all that much (he’s bound to drop as many TDs as he catches – so probably 6-7 scores for him) but Reggie Bush, Colston, and Meachem will all set their season high touchdown marks this year. Brees as well.

Ricky Williams will have more fantasy points than Edgerrin James – this is no knock on James, because Ricky will outscore three of the following high-round picks… LenDale White, Earnest Graham, Ronnie Brown, Julius Jones, and Willie Parker.

Adrian Peterson extreemists are right, there will be at least one back that outscores LaDainian Tomlinson this season, but they are also wrong, because it won’t be AP – Marion Barber will lead all running backs in fantasy points this season.

And last but not least, Randy Moss won’t come close to his record touchdown catches of last year, but Wes Welker will score more fantasy points this year than he did last year – both are still great options to have.

Keep the questions coming, and stay tuned, I’ll be here all season! (hopefully the ticker keeps tickin’)

Free NCAA Football Picks – Week 1

Here we are! It’s August 25th, 2008 and NCAA football games are just a few short days away. Summer is on the way out, and fall is just about to turn the leaves red. That means school for you young scholarly types and just colder weather for the rest of you – but it also means football! It all starts with a little NCAA action. For Week 1 I went ahead and picked out 10 winners… Enjoy the first edition of my NCAA Free Picks for 2008…

Thursday’s Games

Vanderbilt Commodores @ Miami-Ohio Redhawks (-4): (7:30pm EST, 8-28-2008)

Vanderbilt loses their best player in wide receiver Earl Bennett. He was by far their most effective and productive offensive player. Their leading returning receiver is out with a stress fracture (George Smith). If that weren’t enough, the Commodores also said goodbye to their leading rusher from last year, as well as their entire starting offensive line – that’s the kicker. Miami has a stout defense with very talented linebackers. They may be a smaller college, but they can play football. The Commodores don’t have much cohesion right now, as new starters are still being decided. The starting quarterback for this Thursday’s game wasn’t decided by the weekend, leaving much to be answered in the four days before kickoff. While Vanderbilt has all the questions, Miami of Ohio looks to be full of answers.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-12) @ Baylor Bears: (8:00pm EST, 8-28-2008)

Wake Forest is the real deal. Despite winning 8 of their last 10 games and then spanking Connecticut in the 2nd half of their bowl game, the Deacons just can’t seem to get the credit they deserve. THe Deacons return their freshman quarterback sensation, Riley Skinner, and while they lose their top receiver from ’07, Wake is full of young talent at receiver. Head coach Jim Grobe knows what he’s doing. The Deacons are off and on on the road, but they’ve been a darn good football team with Riley Skinner at quarterback. I expect them to start off the season hot, and ride their quarterback to the top of the ACC. Take them over the Bears by a couple touchdowns.

Oregon State Beavers (-3) @ Stanford Cardinal: (9:00pm EST, 8-28-2008)

The Oregon State Beavers seem like the forgotten Pac-10 team heading into the season. Everyone seems to forget that the Beavers won 7 of their last 8 games including an upset victory over Maryland in their bowl game. During the last 8 games of the season, the Beavers’ only loss came against USC in Southern California. Last year, when the Beavers played Stanford, a tough Oregon State defense held the Cardinal out of the end-zone, winning 23-6. The Beavers lost their talented tail-back, Yvenson Bernard, to graduation – but they have a nice offensive line and a couple new running backs that have impressed when given the chance. One player that should have a great bounce back season is Sammie Stroughter, the speed demon that was a 2006 3rd team All-American. With family problems and injury woes, Stroughter struggled in 2007, playing only 3 games. He was awarded a medical red-shirt, and now he has one more chance to prove himself in the Pac-10. Every time he touches the ball, touchdowns can happen. Look for the Beavers to out-talent the Cardinal all over the field, dominating this early-season conference match-up.

Friday’s Game

Temple Owls (-7) @ Army Black Knights: (7:00pm EST, 8-29-2008)

Temple, amazingly, won 4 of their last 7 games, have three Pre-Seasons All Conference players returning, and were voted “Program on the Rise” by the MAC conference. They return their leading passer and an offensive line that found cohesion late last year. Defensively, Temple is better than expected, as Army will find out. Army switched their entire offense around this summer, moving from a no-huddle spread to an option based rushing attack. When that happens originally, teams seem to struggle because of the recruiting differences for offenses like that. I never thought I’d consider taking a Temple team on the road and favored by a touchdown, but that’s exactly what I’m doing and I’m confident about it.

Saturday’s Games

Bowling Green Falcons (+13) @ Pittsburgh Panthers: (12:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Bowling Green Falcons bring 17 of 22 starters back to a team that is expected to compete for a WAC crown this season. The Falcons won 5 of their last 6 regular season games in 2007 before getting absolutely crushed in their bowl game against Tulsa. I like that last part. The Falcons have waited all summer, 17 returning starters and many other frustrated kids, to get back on the football field and prove that bowl game was a fluke. In comes the Panthers with one of the best running backs in the Nation and a former pro-football head coach. I like the Falcons’ chances – take them and all those points.

Akron Zips @ Wisconsin Badgers (-26): (12:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

As if going into Wisconsin to play the 12th ranked team in the Nation wasn’t a tough enough opener, the Zips have really struggled with injuries during football camp. With a couple junior college transfers and position battles being effected by these injuries, the Zips preparation time for a tough Wisconsin team will be shortened. The Badgers return big names, it seems, when looking at their 2008 starters. P.J. Hill, the ultra talented tailback, and Travis Beckum, one of the most highly touted TEs in college football. Defensively, the Badgers are senior laden with an elite linebacking crew. It may be his first season as a starter, but senior quarterback Allen Evridge has been around for a while. Look for the Badgers to lean heavily on the run and really pound it to the Zips.

Utah Utes (+3.5) @ Michigan Wolverines: (3:30pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Utes are very good and should win their conference this season. Michigan lost too many good players and are in the midst of a complete turn-around with their new head coach, Rich Rodriguez. I don’t know what else to say besides this, Utah is the better team with a better mentality and they also have nothing to lose in this one. Sign me up for that every single week.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6) @ Washington State Cougars: (3:30pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Cougars weren’t very good a year ago, usually open the season soft, don’t have much of a home-field advantage during the first few weeks of the college football season, lost their star quarterback to graduation, and don’t have much confidence either. Hmm… I don’t like Pac-10 teams that open their seasons against tougher conferences, and that’s what I think this is. The Cowboys might not finish above .500 and they’ll probably look really bad in some games – but not this one. This is a team that, last year showed they can play tight with Kansas and Texas, beat Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Indiana – so I surely like them against the Cougars.

Michigan State Spartans (+5) @ California Golden Bears (8:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

This isn’t me loving the Spartans as much as me down on the Bears. Cal has a super talented and amazingly fast sophomore running back in Jahvid Best, but besides that I’m not too impressed. They are supposed to have one of the top rated offenses in the Pac-10, but without a quarterback to deliver the bread, I’m not sure that will be the case. Michigan State’s defense isn’t dynamic, but I think they’ll stack the box and make Cal’s quarterbacks beat them. That’s what will be the undoing of the Bears in Week 1, I just don’t think they can beat the Spartans through the air.

Idaho Vandals @ Arizona Wildcats (-27): (10:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

It seems like a lot of points, and it is, but I just have a feeling the Wildcats are going to go off for about 45 points in this one. They always run the ball hard and Idaho consistently can’t stop anybody else’s ground game. The Wildcats finished the season well, beating Washington, UCLA, and Oregon before losing to ASU by 3 points. The Wildcats really played well all season last year, losing to Stanford by 1, USC by 7, Oregon State by 2 scores. I like the Wildcats to get a little luck to sway their way this season – but that shouldn’t matter against the Vandals. Idaho was 1-11 in the WAC last season, and I expect much of the same this time around. This game wouldn’t surprise me if it was a 45-7 WIldcat blowout.

Super Sleepers: Fantasy Football 2008

Sleeper: A player that is either very young and or expectations are relatively low – for the most part this “unheard of” doesn’t get drafted in the first 10 rounds of fantasy drafts and is, more often than not, undrafted.

That’s right, all those sleeper articles led by Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, Earnest Graham and Thomas Jones are just flat out ridiculous. Sure, they may be undervalued now, but they are by no means sleeper – they were either good last year, are great rookie players, or were good prior to last season. My wifey (that’s right) even knows who McFadden and Calvin are – that should be deal breaker number one seeing if a player makes “sleeper” lists. Josh Morgan? No clue who that is – sign him up! Here they are, enjoy. The numbers in parenthesis are projections for the season.

Rookie Sleepers

1. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans (140 carries 800 rush yards, 45 catches 450 receiving, 8TDs): In a PPR league this kid is a lock to put up startable stats week in and week out. He’s the fastest guy on the field every single time he steps on the turf. When I say a guy is a sleeper it means he has the chance to be startable for at least half of the season and he usually gets picked after Round 10. Chris has the upside of a starting running back – that’s my kind of sleeper.

2. Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans (130 carries 600 rush yards, 30 catches 280 receiving, 4 TDs): For lack of a better option in Houston, Steve could end up getting about 15 touches a game. He’s already the scarriest and most dynamic rusher on the team, now he just has to get over the rookie jitters and the urge to bounce outside. Slaton was dominant two seasons ago in college, and believe me, he still has that ability. I’m not as high on him as I am on Chris, but Slaton’s small stature shouldn’t keep you from taking a chance on him. He has the makings of a good one cut runner.

3. Ryan Torain, RB, Denver Broncos (155 carries 750 yards, 7TDs): You know Selvin Young is going to fumble once or twice and Splinter is going to lose his marbles. That’s about when Ryan will be coming off of the injured list and stepping right into a nice little time share. Torain’s style reminds me of Ryan Grant and he could be a great option for a Denver attack that hasn’t had a tough runner in some time. He will likely miss the first 4-6 games but remember, Ryan Grant only started 10 games and what kind of impact did he have last season?

4. Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos (55 catches 850 yards 6 TDs): First of all, I love Jay Cutler’s game. Second of all, Royal is already a starter in Splinter’s master plan, and he’ll stay with the #1 unit even after Marshall gets back. Royal has a lot of explosive potential and it looks like he’s going to get his fair share of chances. He’s basically not getting picked right now, but with Cutler and Marshall and Scheffler and a running game to worry about, Royal might just find himself with room to run and that’s a good thing for Fantasy owners.

5. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets (40 catches, 420 yards, 5 TDs): I’m basically relying on Brett to make a relationship with the young speedster out of Purdue. Honestly, Keller is much more of a receiver than a TE, but that’s great for Fantasy Football. Keller is a big match-up problem for most teams, and the fact that the Jets grabbed him early makes me think that they want him to get the ball. Coles and Cotchery will leave him all by himself with a safety to beat, and with his speed that’s very possible.

6. Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco 49ers (70 catches, 840 yards, 4 TDs or look at Shaun McDonald’s numbers last season): I know they are just pre-season stats, but 4 catches for 68 yards, then 5 catches for 114 yards and a TD, he’s a possible super Mike Martz unknown 3rd receiver – c’mon, he has to be on sleeper lists, right? Not yet, but he is now. Take this guy in the last round, watch every other owner in your league look at you like you’re a moron, and then manage to start him and beat other teams with his production. Its a fun game I call “Told you so, Bitches!”. Play it with the people you are closest to, it’s a blast. Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald – did you think they’d be fantasy relevant? Exactly.

Non-Rookie Sleepers

1. Justin Gage, WR, Tennessee Titans (67 catches 900 yards, 5 TDs) : I don’t know if I fully believe it, but apparently Vince Young is more accurate than ever. If Justin can improve on his 750 yards and two touchdowns he might just be fantasy worthy. I think Young will be a little better throwing the ball, and right now Gage is the only sure-thing receiver in the starting line-up. That’s worth a very late pick right there.

2. Devin Hester, WR, CHicago Bears (60 catches, 900 yards, 11 TDs): Call me a Hester fan, hell, make me the president of his fan club, I don’t care, the guy is electric with the ball in his hands. He sees the game at a high speed, and he can take angles and make cuts that didn’t previously exist. Right now he’s the #1 receiver in Chicago, and while that’s not too much to be excited about, it does mean that he’ll be targeted quite a bit. If Hester gets 10 targets a game I bet he scores double digit touchdowns. He’s getting picked way too late right now. People are calling him a “bust” potentially but that’s some awkward joke, right? I mean, he doesn’t get picked until after the 10th round, even if he has a bad year it’s not like you blew an early pick on him.

3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (3,300 yards, 22 TDs): The Packers may have been a little bit stubborn with Brett, but they didn’t get rid of the icon to give the reigns of this team to a guy without the ability to drive the sled. Rodgers has a great arm, a solid offensive line, and one of the best receiving corps in the entire league. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones – these guys are studs that do quarterback’s favors. Defenses will be focussed in on Ryan Grant and that rushing attack, and Aaron will get the best of them early.

4. D.J. Hackett, WR, Carolina Panthers (65 catches, 800 yards, 6 TDs): I’ve always liked D.J. I’ve seen him play a lot and I always thought, when he was on the field, he was the best receiver in Seattle. If he stays healthy all season in Carolina he’ll bust those numbers I projected above. I think he’ll get those numbers in 12 healthy contests. He should start the year off with a bang too, he’ll be the #1 in Carolina, a receiving position that always justifies fantasy attention.

5. Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals (45 catches, 600 yards, 4 TDs): So, there are many people that like Early Doucett to take Bryant Johnson’s old #3 gig, and a the others seem to like Jeremiah Urban – well I like Breaston. We’ll see how it works out, don’t draft him unless it’s a deep, deep league – but pay attention to this guy and see if he wins the gig. Boldin could be a wild card and Breaston might make it to #2???

6. Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans (3,500 yards, 20 TDs): This kid is a stud. He had some great performances in 2007, but had a season cut short by some injuries. I like his chances to carve up the AFC South. The Colts don’t really have much of a secondary and he’ll have to throw against the Titans and Jaguars. He still doesn’t have a stud running back to depend on, but Slaton will give him some nice yards on dump down passes, and if Chris Brown can stay relatively healthy he can be a good compliment. As a back-up, Schaub will have some nice starts for fantasy owners.

NFL Free Picks: Pre-Season Week 3

So, there’s some more thought that goes into Week 3 pre-season football. At first I’m doing my best to hunt for camp competitions and general rules for pre-season action, but now, aside from a couple instances, my pre-season picks are based on where I’d go during the regular season. With starters playing an entire half, and possibly into the 3rd quarter, I have to expect the best teams to pull out of hte first half with an early lead. I’m not ignoring 2nd teamers, but they are getting less consideration this week. Here’s my Top 5 bets this week.


San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears (-3): Here’s the deal; the 49ers put up loads of points last time out and they just aren’t that good offensively. I’m sure Frank Gore will get minimal action and he is the teams best player. J.T. O’Sullivan is starting again for the 49ers and he is expected to play into the 3rd quarter and basically has the starting job on lockdown. He’s been decent as a fighter but has never been “the guy” before now, so I’m not sure how he’ll handle it. Also, the 49ers are terrible. The Bears defense can put up points, and with Kyle Orton playing most of the game, Chicago’s mistakes won’t be there as much. I’m not a huge fan of Orton, but he does do enough to win football games or at least not lose them. Devin Hester is ready to go off in this game, and I can’t wait to see Matt Forte make some good plays for the Bears. In the 2nd half, I like Chicago as well. Say what you want about Rex Grossman, but he’s probably better than anything the 49ers have right now. He’ll be trying to prove himself late, and thus the Bears get the nod on Thursday.


Tennessee Titans (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons: The Titans are obviously the much better team here, and their biggest strength will stall the Falcons best offensive weapon, Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood. Tennessee hasn’t gotten on track in the air yet, but Vince Young and Kerry Collins are solid options as 1 and 2 quarterbacks in this league, so I expect them to be on target in this contest. I like the receiver battle for playing time in Tennessee and the Titans are always full of young defensive weapons. Matt Ryan is starting and playing in this game into the 2nd half, and that’s probably not a good thing for Atlanta. He’s a good young leader and looks to be a fine prospect, but the last defensive line I want to go up against is one where Javon Kearse is the worst player. Yikes. I like Tennesse’s 1st and 2nd team more than either of Atlanta’s, and the Titans offense should come out with a little umph.

Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5) @ New England Patriots: The Eagles will win this game for a couple reasons. It’s amazing but even Andy Reid cares more about winning in the pre-season than Bill Belichick. Tom Brady is unlikely to play, and with so many aging vets on the squad, so are many other key players. The Eagles have an improved defense and you can bet that Asante Samuel is excited to prove himself against his old club. Donovan McNabb was a little off-target in last week’s pre-season match-up, so expect his on and off pre-season to go up this week. I like the foursome of running backs in Philly, and after Kevin Curtis it still looks like 5 Eagle receivers are competing for playing time. I would definitely take the Pats during the pre-season, but their exhibition season history has me once again going against them. Back to the well one time too many? We’ll see.


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3): I have to like the Bucs to win this one. They are a team that does the little things right, takes nothing for granted, and generally plays mistake free football. Jeff Garcia hasn’t even played yet and this team is still 2-0 in the pre-season with some impressive play. Even if Jeff stays out for one more game, I like Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Chirs Simms, and rookie Josh Johnson as pre-season hurlers. The Bucs also have a pretty talented back-field duo in Earnest Graham and Michael Bennett – either will do a fine job on Saturday. Antonio Bryant is playing well, as he’s trying to get back in the swing of game speed, and Ike Hilliard, Maurice Stovall, and Warrick Dunn are all becoming threats as receivers. I like the Jags, and they are surely a tough squad, but I don’t expect their offensive stars to play much more than a quarter and defensively they just aren’t as tough in the pre-season.

New Orleans Saints (-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals: Boy oh boy the Bengals have looked bad. And it’s not just their running game, Carson Palmer has been inconsistent and timid in the pocket. I know I love the big red head and have always thought that his upside exudes that of the best quarterbacks in the league, but right now he looks lost. Chad is out for this game, so is TJ Houshmandzadeh, and with his two favorite targets out of the game I’m not sure Carson will even play that long. On the other hand, Drew Brees is on fire. He’s the most accurate quarterback in the league right now, and he’s a pre-season monster. Reggie Bush is trying to find himself, but I really like the receiver battle in New Orleans. Robert Meachem, David Patten, Lance Moore – these are all guys trying to grab the #2 job away from Devery Henderson, and honestly, I love it. I think the Saints will dominate this game against a confused Bengals club.

Dos and Don’ts: Draft Day Trickery!

I’m not quite as wordy as my nephew, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have knowledge. Sure, he can get all wordily-smurdily, but I have 30 single sentences that will help you during your drafts, during the season, and during sex – believe it! Here they are, the never-dos; the dropped soap, the pissing peak, the naked wander down 5th avenue at noon – but all in fantasy terms, well mostly all. Confused yet? Here you go…

  1. Never ever pick a quarterback in the 1st round.
  2. Don’t draft a fantasy team on the fly, cheat sheets and player listings are there for a reason; mostly so you don’t draft guys that have been already drafted.
  3. Run with scissors on draft day, it makes other people afraid of you because you are dangerous.
  4. Take a 3rd running back before some teams have two, it makes them go crazy.
  5. Don’t ever talk on a cell phone during a draft, and feel free to punch any blue tooth drafter right in the throat.
  6. Barry Sanders and Ahman Green have similar chances to succeed in 2008, so for fun, do draft the former right after the latter is selected.
  7. When people make terrible picks, do mock them by saying you were just about to pick that guy (especially in the Ahman Green then Barry Sanders case).
  8. Don’t draft a guy in round 2 and then try to trade him immediately for a guy your buddy picked in Round 3 – it’s just bad form.
  9. If you want Frank Gore because you think he’s going to go nuts this year, do pick him early rather than miss him and watch him do exactly what you thought he’d do.
  10. Don’t talk about Thomas Jones’ biceps at the Sex Store with your girl, she’ll make you wish you haden’t.
  11. Do dabble in the late receiver run.
  12. Don’t you dare waste two picks in the first 5 rounds on quarterabacks.
  13. Don’t get Steve Smiths, Adrian Petersons, or Roy Williams’s confused.
  14. If you’re going to pick like an idiot then make sure you do shower before and after, that way you won’t feel like a bunch of your best friends did you dirty.
  15. Do doo-doo before you draft – nobody likes to wait on a guy in the shitter and it gives you extra time to study up.
  16. Don’t doo-doo while drafting, because then you’ll have to take a shower during the draft and you’ll have to borrow a buddies sweat pants, plus relieving yourself in your pants isn’t cool despite what Happy Gilmore says.
  17. Don’t pick anybody that broke a record last season – the value just isn’t there.
  18. Don’t ever tell me Don’t or I’ll rub your neck beard and karate chop you.
  19. Do physically write down you jack-off friends remarks during the draft – you can either use it against them later or listen to them next year, either way.
  20. Don’t wish you would have – it’s really pretty much the most useless act of all antasy drafts everywhere.
  21. Don’t bring a good buddy that doesn’t know much about football to a longtime league – for his and your sake.
  22. Don’t draft every skill player from your home team, because it doesn’t even work in New England.
  23. Do look at the position you pick out of a hat, but don’t let the others know you looked – that way if you don’t like it you can ask them to blindly trade you picks and sometimes the dumb ones will.
  24. Don’t pick backups for every position unless transactions aren’t free.
  25. Don’t pick a complete starting lineup before you pick back-ups for any single position – nobody that does that ever wins anything.
  26. Don’t pronounce names wrong.
  27. Do feel free to use first names when talking about soon to be legends, Tom, Peyton, Randy, Terrell, LaDainian.
  28. Don’t ever call out “L. Tomlinson” because your cheat sheet doesn’t print first names, because everyone will secretly hate you for it.
  29. Don’t do 12 ESPN Mock Drafts and 3 Yahoo Mock Drafts only to proclaim, “This draft is nothing like the 15 mock drafts I did last night”, because not only do you sound like an idiot but you are an idiot.
  30. Don’t follow every single rule on this list, but 29 out of 30 ain’t bad!

Big Names of Shame

Okay, maybe I won’t get all those things, but I will get great NFL players for less than their numbers insist. If you’re not picking at the top of your draft then you won’t get LT or AP. If you’re not the one guy making a first round mistake, Tom Brady won’t find his name on your roster either. But that’s okay; you can still dominate your league.

I’ve set up a little versus action below. I have a big name and a small name, both with very similar production and ability. A little comparison and contrast will help you on draft day. Pick the best player on the board, but don’t pick a name – this is a numbers game where sticks and stones don’t do jack and names will put you on your back.

Drew Brees VS David Garrard

From a distance, these two signal callers couldn’t be farther apart. Drew Brees is getting drafted in the 3rd round of most fantasy drafts for the second straight season, while David Garrard, though finally being picked in fantasy drafts, is garnering a 9th round pick on average, or is just about the 94th player taken in Yahoo drafts.

But when you break down the fantasy ability of these two players, things get a little closer. Drew Brees may have the flashier numbers, sure, 28 touchdowns compared to just 18 for Garrard, and 4428 passing yards compared to Garrard’s 2509. You’d think Brees produced a much better fantasy season than David. Not by as much as you’d think. See, Garrard played in just 12 games, counting the game he got hurt. So, his 211 fantasy points over 12 games becomes a lot closer to Brees’ 302.

In fact, Garrard’s points per game total (17.58) was just about one point behind Drew’s total of 18.8 points per game. You might think that Brees is more of a sure thing, and you are probably right, but when it comes to taking Brees or Garrard, you might want to consider the type of receiver you can get in the 3rd round compared to the 9th round. TJ Houshmandzadeh, Colston, Holt, Shad Johnson, Plaxico, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker are all 3rd round picks while Joey Galloway, Cotchery, Santana Moss, and Anthony Gonzalez are all 9th round receivers.

Garrard may still be a little behind Brees, but last year was his first campaign as a starter and he likely has yet to reach his pinnacle. And in my mind, he’s a much better value around the 9th round than Brees is in the 3rd.

Peyton Manning VS Jake Delhomme

Okay, so this comparison isn’t going to trick many people – heck, I’d even take Manning over Delhomme, but for the price, Jake has to be more worthy of a selection. Jake is coming off a major surgery but, get ready for this Colts fans, so is Peyton. In fact, Peyton’s infection in his knee has me more worried about lingering effects then Jake’s elbow. But lets leave injuries aside for just a second and get back to a numbers game.

There was only one quarterback in the NFL that had more fantasy points per game than Jake Delhomme did last season. Yes, you guessed it, Tom Brady. An I know he only played in three games, but Jake put up 24 points per game last season, better than Manning (20.6), Romo (22.2), Big Ben (20.8), or any other quarterback without an S on his chest like Tom.

When you factor in that Manning is getting selected as the 12th pick overall and Delhomme is riding 108 down the street, Jake gets even prettier. In 2004 and 2005 (his last two seasons in which he played all 16 games) Jake tossed 29 and 24 touchdowns respectively. He threw 8 in three games last season.

Listen, I’m not going to say that Manning isn’t a good bet to put up great numbers, he’s the definition of consitency, but Jake has had some nice seasons too, and the additions of Jonathan Stewart, D.J. Hackett and Mushin Muhammad are three more reasons to expect big things out of the Carolina signal caller.

Reggie Bush VS Frank Gore

Okay, I’m kind of cheating here because Reggie Bush and Frank Gore are both big names, and in reality, Reggie is a much bigger name than Frank – but not in fantasy circles apparently. In Yahoo Averages Reggie Bush is getting selected as the 62nd player overall while Frank Gore is getting taken in the 1st round of almost every single league, getting picked in the top 10 in most drafts. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a PPR league or a non-PPR league, Gore is still getting selected an average of 4-5 rounds ahead of Reggie.

I like Gore and think his upside this season is grand, but for the first time in his football career, I think people are undervaluing Reggie Bush. In leagues that don’t award points per reception (PPR) Bush still finished just 1 point per game played behind Gore – (10.4 to 11.5). In PPR leagues, it’s Bush that holds a 4 point per game played average over Gore. Now I know Frank played through some injuries during the season, and the 49er offense was abysmal, but Reggie had some struggles too and eventually went out for the season after his 12th game of the year.

Reggie was expected to change the face of the league, be one of the best running backs of all time, and sprint all over the field like Walter and Barry Sanders and LT. And he’s obviously not that type of football player and this season people are out to call Reggie Bush a bust. He hasn’t looked great in the pre-season, but I still expect him to have a solid season, much better than the 60th pick overall.

I would still rank Frank ahead of Reggie, but if you can wait and get Reggie in the 5th or 6th round, you’ve found yourself a steal. Reggie will always be a big part of the Saints offense and if you are in a PPR league, ride Reggie’s bad hype and grab him late, he won’t disappoint.

Earnest Graham VS Steven Jackson

It may be tough to call out Steven Jackson’s bum year in 2007, but I’m not willing to make him the 3rd overall pick in Drafts right now. He’s a question mark, holding out from camp and such, and he’s coming off a very bad season (like most Rams in ’07). I think he’s better than the Jackson we saw in ’07, but to get his services you are blowing a Top 5 overall pick. To garner Earnest Graham’s name on your roster, you can usually wait until the 8th round. To be safe, really go for it and grab him in the 7th. Graham didn’t become a full time starter until Week 7 against the Lions, and he really took off from there.

At 5’9” and 215 lbs, Earnest plays a lot bigger than he is. He can really catch the ball (49 grabs for 330 yards on the season) and he had 5 or more catches in 5 of his last 10 games. Graham rushed the ball 222 times for 898 yards, averaging 4 yards per carry behind an exciting young offensive line in Tampa Bay. Despite not starting and getting big carry totals until later in the year, but still playing in 15 total games, Graham still averaged just two points less per game than Steven Jackson did in Steven’s 12 contests. He produced more fantasy points on less touches (275 for Jackson 271for Graham) though, which should further explain what I’m trying to say.

Steven Jackson has shown what he can do, and he’ll always get selected ahead of Graham as long as he’s in the league, but Graham is a much better value and even has a chance at out-producing Steven over a 16 game season.

Some people are worried about Caddy Williams coming back and stealing touches, but I wouldn’t let that bog me down. Graham has produced better than Williams ever has, and he just signed a new contract that should keep him toting the ball in Tampa. 3rd or 80th – you make the decision.

Wes Welker VS Anquan Boldin

This is a trick because these guys are both steals and you can get them consistently after grabbing guys like Torry Holt and Plaxico BUrress. First of all, Boldin always produces at an unreal pace when he’s on the field. He’s been a little injury prone, but the bottom line is that Matt Leinart loves to throw him the ball, you know, because he fights like hell and always makes a lot out of a little, and he’s always good. He’s getting picked later because Larry Fitz has been overshadowing him for the last couple of seasons, but don’t feel bad about taking him as your #1 or #2 wideout, he’ll produce like one.

Wes Welker isn’t getting much credit for his 112 catch performance from a year ago, but I don’t see why not. Many people don’t expect those numbers again, and I must say, I don’t think he’ll mirror those numbers either – I think he’ll increase his totals across the board. 120 grabs for 1200 yards and 10 scores wouldn’t stun me at all. Listen, the Patriots don’t go sign career special teamers to big long contracts for no reason – they knew what they were doing when they snagged Welker from the Dolphins. New England had a tough time getting Moss singed again, but Welker is already locked away. What does that tell you? You might not have expected Welker to produce like he did, but the Patriots sure did. That should mean something.

Yeah, I do what I want, even change up my own articles and throw the rules right out the window. It’s good to be me.

So there it is, a few versus games that should get you going. All I’m saying is, just because your team looks great on paper doesn’t mean they’ll produce like Fantasy Champs. Believe in the little guy and you shall be set free!

NFL Free Picks Review: Pre-Season Week 2

So, I’m no longer perfect, but I still took 2 of 3 this weekend, bringing my record to 5-1-1 to start the pre-season. Here’s how the dingo went down under.

Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos (OVER 37) (8-16-08)

“Like I said earlier, totals are a tough deal to dangle in the pre-season, but I have a feeling this one is a sure thing.” This game finished at 36. That’s not so bad, except for the fact that I am now just 2 points away from being undefeated during the pre-season. That’s because I ended up winning the last two games of the weekend. There was one play in this game that basically sealed my fate. The Broncos were up 14-10 in the middle of the 3rd quarter when they put together a drive and managed to get down to the 1 with 6 minutes and change left to play. A touchdown brings the total to 31 and my cover is well within range headed into the 4th quarter. Instead, the Broncos took the safe play and kicked a field goal to go up 10. Thats where the total got so far away. So, not only was I 2 points away from winning this total, but I was a single yard away from it. Damn numbers! I guess everyone needs to lose sometime – I just thought this was my Patriot-undefeated-year. So much for that; I couldn’t even make it out of the pre-season.

New England Patriots @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1.5) (8-17-08)

As I write this the Bucs are up 27-10 and just breaking into New England territory with about 5 minutes to play. Yes, its sport and anything can happen but I’m willing to chalk this one up as a win. The Patriots still don’t care to win pre-season games and will settle for winning the majority (or all) of games that count. Weird. Still, the Bucs looked good behind solid quarterbacking (19-25 as a group right now) and effective running. The Bucs have a good offensive line and an even better O-line coach. They have multiple runners with talent, and a bunch of receivers trying to make this team. They are a good bet in the pre-season, as shown once again. I win again!

Detroit Lions (+3.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-17-08)

“The Bengals didn’t look good when I watched their first pre-season contest.. …even the normally accurate Carson Palmer looked off. I’m sure Detroit’s defense will help him get back on track, but Detroit has a coach that plays to win, and in the pre-season, that’s a gamblers best friend.” What do you know? The Lions take one from a Bengals team that looked uninterested. Carson Palmer looked off again and not even Chris Perry could impress me. On the other hand, Jon Kitna had a flawless drive and Drew Stanton had a couple nice throws while Calvin Johnson looked like the awesome prospect he is. Marinelli likes to win, even in the pre-season. Remember that.

2-1 this week! 5-1-1 on the pre-season! Check in to see if I can’t keep it going next week.

Tear Jerkers – Pre-Season Edition

It doesn’t need to be the regular season to make an old man cry. Pre-season flaps, mishandled snaps, contract mishaps and even the clap – there are many things that go on prior to the start of the season than can get an old man like me to well up like a little baby. Okay, you’ve got me, I don’t cry about jack, but there are a lot of things that piss me off. What things? you ask? Well, lets throw a couple out there.

Mike Martz: This son of a bum “offensive genius” gathers a following every single damn year. I thought it was just the last couple years, but with a move to San Francisco and yet another gaggle of blind boobs meandering behind his “brilliance”, recently has become every single damn year. Well, hopefully this hack of a football mind will be forced to chew off the football foot he always jams in his chewer. There’s not one guy that mishandles the feel of a game more than Martz. Go for it on 4th and 6 from the 30? Check. Deep drops with poor offensive lines and no help on elite ends? You bet. Mind games with every damn player on the team? Hey, why not? Turn San Francisco into an offensive juggernaut? Get the hell out of here. I’m not sure if it’s Martz or his faithful followers, but this whole situation makes me want to donkey punch his googly face.

Willis McGahee: Sure, maybe I have a little invested in this moron in my dynasty league, but that aside, is there a guy that tries harder to turn his employer off? There’s going to be a day in sports where guys like this finally can’t find jobs. It may not come soon, but those that won’t buy into the team aspect of team sports will eventually have to go back to school or just find a gutter to lay in. McGahee is the best back in the NFL, just ask him. But now, he might not even be the best back on his team. Rookie stud Ray Rice is turning on the heat in camp, and Willis isn’t healthy enough to show us what he has in the tank. If McGahee ever truly figures it out he might just be a great keeper. For now, he’s just keeping the starting spot warm for Ray.

Tarvaris Jackson: SLIDE!!! Get down! Hurry! Nope, knee injury. Luckily it’s not bad, but TJ, it’s the pre-season, don’t try to be better than the girls you go with. You are going to impress people this season, if, and only if, you can stay healthy.

Steven Jackson: This could go to the Rams as well, but right now it seems like Jackson wants to be the highest paid running back in the league. Even Mrs. Buttersworth is pissed about that. I don’t know where guys that aren’t the best in the league demanding to get paid like they are LT became so popular, but it should stop. For the sake of the Rams, it should stop. For the sake of the game, it should stop. For the sake of those billionaire owners, it should – continue. Jackson is a damn good ball player, but he’s not the best anything in this league. He should get a new contract, and he’s young enough to play one out, but these two sides need to figure it out.

Reggie Bush: Can you please carry the ball for more than 4 yards a touch? Just once during the pre-season so I can believe in you. Ready for this? The best move the Houston Texans have ever made was taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush. Believe it. Reggie, I still believe, but you are making it desperately frustrating to drink your cool-aid.

Vince Young: Please complete more than 25% of your passes during the next pre-season game. I think so much of you. I tell people all the time how you are going to be one of the best quarterbacks in your loaded class. So far, Jay Cutler is getting the nod and he looks like he’s asleep all the damn time. Do your thing, stop forcing me to pull out my own nose hairs.

Carson Palmer: I used to think you were the best quarterback in the NFL. You look mediocre at best and I’m hoping it’s just the pre-season. That high-flying act that you and Chad and T.J. were supposed to be has seized to exist. I need more from you. You need consistency. Right now you are breaking my balls.

Marc Bulger: Where have you gone or who was that accurate game manager that put up so many points a couple years ago? I need an answer here. Are you the 50% interception passer that you were last season and now into the pre-season? Or are you the guy that tossed all those touchdowns and kicked Kurt Warner out of a job? Right now I’m baffled. You look terrible. Torry Holt is still wide open, you just can’t get it to him. Do you need Steven Jackson that bad?

DeSean Jackson: You’re making me cry tears of joy right now. You know why? You look like you could be the guy. McNabb needs you really bad. I’d love to see him get a #1 target and your speed could turn you into the guy. Jerry Rice believes in you. McNabb believes in you. I believe in you. I’m pretty sure Yao Ming digs your lightning style. Don’t turn my happy tears into sad rage – keep on doin’ what you’re doin’!