Okay, since my nephew blasted a few of my predictions, I just wanted to get some things straight. There’s still a long season ahead of us here, but after 4 measily weeks I think I have some good things going – I’ve rated all 50 predictions on a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being no chance of my prediction coming true, and 10 being a very good chance that it’s going to happen. Here goes nothing. I’ll do the first half of my prediction rundown this week, and the other half next week (if I’m not too old to remember).
QB: Drew Brees vs. Minnesota: He’ll have to throw at least as much as Kerry Collins did last week, but when Drew throws 35 times he completes at least 25 of those passes. Against Minnesota’s leaky secondary I like his chances for a big day.
RB: Marion Barber vs. Cincinnati: Is there a worse match-up for the Bengals? A really tough running back that refuses to go down against a defense that refuses to commit to tackling. Hmm….
RB: Matt Forte vs. Lions: Matt Millen just wanted to leave before a rookie put up 200 yards on his defense – I don’t blame him.
FLEX: Earnest Graham: I think Graham will go off against the most friend rush defense in the league. These guys in Denver are huggers for sure.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald vs. Buffalo: I know the Bills have been solid defensively, but with Boldin out I see a lot of targets for Larry, and I don’t think Buffalo can stop him even if they know it’s coming. They don’t have that kind of corner talent.
WR: Reggie Wayne vs. Houston: This is basically a free 7 catches for 100+ yards and a score -that’s how I see it.
TE: Jason Witten vs. Cincinnati: This guy is great. I’ll start him 16 times this year in my league I own him in, maybe even on his bye, who knows?
K: Rian Lindell vs. Ram-Rod: I’m sure I’ll look bad again here, but how can you not like the Bills kicker against this defense? (I know why, because I picked him to have a big day, that’s the best anti-pick you could have).
D: Chicago Bears vs. Detroit: Jon Kitna is a sitting turnover, and I don’t think Rudi Johnson will be going off for 80+ rushing yards this week – I’ll go with my Bears.
PAPA’S Week 1 SLEEPERS
Phillip Rivers: Shhh…. Phillip is slowly becoming a must start. Don’t look now but Rivers is second to only Brett Favre with 10 touchdowns on the season. Yes, Rivers has more touchdowns than everyone’s favorite Cutler.
Trent Edwards: Trent will be throwing a lot as Arizona’s front 7 is stout against the run. I also see Denver being down in this one and Arizona putting up enough points to put Buffalo is shootout mode. He coudl have his best passing day of his career – yards wise anyway.
Gus Frerotte: I’d start him this week – he’s a nice option against the Aint’s secondary.
Steve Slaton: Slaton has watched his stock rise way up the charts with his ability to do it on the ground and through the air. He might be the tool Houston needs to upset the Colts.
Jonathan Stewart: If I didn’t have a sure thing starting option this week, or if my guys Jamal Lewis or Steven Jackson were on bye, I’d feel good starting Jonathan Stewart -but when will the Panthers get him going in the receiving game? He’s got great hands.
Brandon Jackson: He’s a big chance, for sure, but the Packers might have to give him 14-16 carries right? With Grant struggling and Rodgers on the pine, I think Jackson is a big sleeper this week against the Falcons front 7.
Bernard Berrian: I like Berrian for a second straight week. He’ll be more consistent from here on out – he’s a nice player.
Jerry Porter: Porter should be back to full health, and the Jaguars seem to need him. He could be a nice start in his first game action with the Jags, especially against the Texans secondary.
Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson: I’d keep playing these kids. I know that rookie receivers are supposed to struggle, but Royal has too much speed and quickness for the old man corners in Tampa Bay, and you know Denver will be throwing. DeSean is going up against an injury depleted secondary from Washington. Both are nice starts.
Kevin Boss: I think Boss is a good bye week, stop-gap player this week. Burress is supsended so he’ll get more targets. The Hawks defense is solid, but they still give up passing yards.
Carolina Panthers: The Chiefs don’t do work two weeks in a row do they? I’m thinking sacks and just a couple points allowed for a big Carolina day.
Papa’S Week 4 Splinter-Butts (bench him, son)
Jason Campbell: Despite his Top 10 start, I don’t like him in Philly this week. Even with the Eagles clogging up the ground game, I have a feeling Jason’s day will be mistake prone.
Julius Jones: He’s the Hawks #1 – 25 carry guy this week if the game’s close. But he won’t do a whole lot with all those touches. I’d just pretend he’s on bye again this week.
Clinton Portis: Portis got me last week with a nice performance against Dallas – not this week against an Eagle team that just lost. Philly plays the run better than anyone else right now.
Santana Moss: I don’t think he does it this week. I figure I have to start him in my leagues, but if he’s ready to have a bad game it’s this week against Philly – one thing on his side is the Redskins will have to throw the ball around a little.
Yeah, Week 1 is officially in the books and I’ve got 10 big ones for Tuesday’s column. Some surprised, some disappointed, and then their were guys that had my jaw dropping – both good and bad. Read up and see who else I liked besides the stellar rookie wideout in Denver, Eddie Royal.
- Thomas Brady: I’m not sure if his name is Thomas, but it sounded more formal. Now that he’s done for the year and the Patriots Championship dreams are crushed, I figure using the more somber title is more appropriate. Give your head a shake!!! Tom may be down and out, but the Patriots chances to win are still solid, just like yours. That’s right, just because of one injury it doesn’t mean that you’re down and out. First of all, the Patriots still have one of the best teams in the league, and now they’ll just have to do it with Matt instead of Tom. Trading the best quarterback in the league for a career back-up (yes, even in college Matt was a back-up) isn’t the best deal in the world, but there’s ways to win football games just like there’s ways for you to win at fantasy. Here are some guys that will manage as the season moves forward. Chad Pennington, Matt Ryan, JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, and Tarvaris Jackson (that’s right, they’ll all be decent). Some guys that could be great: Jake Delhomme and Matt Cassel. Matt still has two great receivers and an offense that is genius in what they do. Jake will get Steve Smith back and be even better than he was in Week 1. Don’t lose your marbles because you spent a 1st round pick on a guy that played half a quarter – that dream is dead, move forward, make it work and it will be just that much more refreshing.
- Eddie Royal is a Best!: No receiver looked quicker this weekend than Eddie Royal did. Not only did he look awesome, but he should have had another touchdown, but he lined up a foot too far back and some ref decided to be a stickler. So what. This kid is no one-day wonder, and he will do good things even as Brandon Marshall comes back. He’s a tireless worker and has the respect of everyone that means anything on that Bronco team. Don’t pass up the chance to get him if he’s still available.
- Chris Johnson: Told you. I’ve been saying it for a long time, and I figure now is the time where everyone believes me. Honestly, I’m not sure if he’ll do as well with Kerry Collins in, because now defenses don’t have to worry about Vince running, but he should still get more carries than LenDale White. Don’t trade the world for him, but if you can pick him up, or give some sad Brady owner a decent new starting quarterback to get him, I’d jump on it.
- And the Bush Growith: I missed on this prediction – that’s for sure. The Bucs had always held Bush to very little, but on Sunday Reggie showed us a little something. Hopefully that big performance and game winning touchdown gives the kid a little more confidence. I don’t know how a guy that gets to follow that Kim girl’s butt around can lack so much confidence, but he has rarely looked like a confident back. I’m not sure if this is a thing to come, but prior to the pre-season I was really high on Bush. I thought he’d score more touchdowns this season than any other year, and the way he was utilized on Sunday, I might have to go back to that prediction. Go Reggie! Go Kim!
- Mike Tuner for President: In just about every single draft I had I picked this guy. There were a lot of reasons for that, but 220 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 touches wasn’t one of them. That’s right, even my lofty expectations weren’t that high. And now, now that I’ve seen what Turner can do in that new offensive scheme in Atlanta, I think he has a chance in 2008 to take the presidency. You won’t be able to get him – probably, but if you Steven Jackson owners know what’s good for you, you’ll try to trick an unsuspecting Turner owner into a great “value” trade. You Turner owners should ignore that stupid term and worse idea – but not everyone reads this article (unfortunately) so do what you can do.
- Seattle’s Raining Receivers: They are coming down like cats and dogs. First Branch at the end of last season. Then Engram. Now Burleson. Nate had a lot of upside coming in, and many fantasy owners, such as myself, were expecting big things from the talented wideout. So sad, so sorry, so long for that idea. Nate is out for the year. But this is the time to go get Deion Branch and maybe Engram too. You can probably stash them on your IR, if your league has one, and even then, it’s likely that both receivers have more value than some #5 and #6 receivers you have right now. They might play as early as Week 3, and probably by the Hawks 4th game of the season. Do work early and be happy later.
- Dallas Does Debbie – err, Cleveland: Okay, feel free to look back at my Five for Friday article to properly appreciate this prediction. The Cowboys looked brilliant where the Browns looked like, well, like everyone expected the Browns to be last season before they turned everything around. You know what, here’s a quote from my article on Friday, “The Cowboys are going to do what the Colts did to the Saints to start the ‘07 season, and many a people are going to be seen ripping out their hair because they put all their chips in the Brown doo-doo. Nobody likes brown doo-doo. But when this does happen, feel free to take advantage of those hair-rippers. Unlike you, most fantasy fans erupt prematurely like the apple pie kid. Week 1 and 2 are times where calm people build season-long dynasties.” There – now if you didn’t read that, then at least you get the gist of what’s important now (also known as W.I.N).
- Duddly Do Rights: The Eagles did everything right against the Rams. Defensively, but especially offensively, there was no team more wide open and efficient in what they did than Philly. The Eagles are known for their ability to lay an egg or two, from time to time, but they sure kicked the season off with a full-blown shellacking. Atlanta looked glorious against the Lions. It wasn’t only Mike Turner – it was everyone in Atlanta’s offense. Matt Ryan looks like the read deal, one of the best quarterback prospects in a while, Jerious Norwood looked good too, and so did that receiving corps. In the chances they got, this team flourished all over. You have to love that for a Falcons group that has gone through some turmoil in the recent past. Denver did work, too. Their best receiver might not have been the guy that had to sit this game out after all. Okay, too fast? Maybe. But Eddie Royal is the sure-thing #2 for a reason. He’ll be special when his career is over. And Jay Cutler is going to be a great one. Not a good one. Not a pro-bowler. He’s going to be an MVP type hall-of-famer by the time his career is over. Denver did a lot of good, and a lot of it was because of Jay.
- Duddly Do Wrongs: Cincinnati – to start with, everything. Carson looked bad, but the routes were shoddy, the defense was horrendous, and the offensive line had me thinking Carson was going to join Tom in an “out for the year” scenario. Marvin Lewis better get back to the drawing board before Bengals’ brass send it out in a box. Seattle – where or where have you gone? I know the receiving corps is depleted, but ask Donovan McNabb, is that any reason to leave your game in Seattle? The Hawks need to run the ball more and ask an injured Matt Hasselbeck to do less. The load rests on Julius Jones’ shoulders next week – I think he’ll step up. Houston – defensively, you are worrying me. You have solid linebackers, two great defensive linemen, and while that doesn’t mean your secondary is great, it does mean you shouldn’t give up 130+ yards to Willie Parker and crew. Show me something next week, but more importantly, don’t leave your game at home when you play on the road – that garbage is embarrassing. Still, Schaub is going to be good, and Andre Johnson will light up the airways with him.
- Trick Love the Kids: Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, and Ray Rice – There are other kids I like as well, but these three guys should run wild next week in their respective match-ups. Chris will torment a Bengals team that can’t tackle a slow 7th grader. Matt Forte will give the Panthers defense more yards than LT did last week, And Ray Rice will have more yards on less carries against the Texans. There it is, Ten for Tuesday. See you tomorrow!
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.
After an undefeated 3-0-1 start to the pre-season, I’m feeling a little too confident in these late summer exhibition games – but since when is cocky bad in this business? This week I have a few winners that I really like and it all starts with Friday Night’s Raiders-Titans game.
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. The Cowboys 2nd and 3rd units can’t stop anyone and the Broncos don’t have a collective group that can be considered a defense – they are more like a slow down. Denver can’t stop the run or the pass and their special teams isn’t looking all that flattering either. Dallas has a lot of strengths, but I still see Denver putting up a couple touchdowns on Saturday. Believe it! This one is sailing over the spread.
New England Patriots @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1.5) (8-17-08)
The Patriots just don’t try to win these games. They won’t play most of their big names more than a couple series, and the Bucs have a solid all around team with some good young players looking for experience. They’ll have some good players putting in work, and with Garcia, Luke McCown, Chris Sims and more, they’ll have plenty of experienced quarterbacks to lead the way. I like the Bucs to win this home game easily.
Detroit Lions (+3.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-17-08)
The Bengals didn’t look good when I watched their first pre-season contest. I like Chris Perry, but 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. The Lions have decent back-up quarterbacks and Kitna is an accurate cat. Also, with 4-5 solid receivers and a couple running backs looking to make an impact – I like the Lions offense to put up some points in the zoo. A couple big plays could split this game wide open, but I like the Lions to be the guys making those plays.