Hi, hello & welcome to the column that’s not just your favorite, not just my favorite, but Brent Musburger’s favorite! We’re talking about the two most important aspects of the NFL: fantasy football & gambling. So walk right in, sit right down & baby let your hair hang down!
Week 1 was a tough time to be a fantasy football owner, no doubt about it. Unless you had Kareem Hunt, Matthew Stafford or one of the top-scoring defenses, you were struggling to find points. I went 4-2 for the week, but didn’t even score 50 points in the Official offtheteam.com Fantasy Football League that we talk about every week on the Ocho Fantasy Football Podcast. I know that my co-host & best friend Voodoo Penguin will be giving me plenty of guff for that, and you’ll be able to listen to it on Friday at OTT.
This one’s pretty self explanatory. Booker T was doing the Fave 5 gimmick back when the Ocho was starting up, so we figured it only made sense to make it part of our show. These are five guys that are going to have tremendous weeks and lead your team to fantasy glory. And maybe even lead their actual team to glory, but we’re not worried about that too much here.
Cam Newton: KILLA CAM! Newton wasn’t tremendous against the 49ers but he didn’t really need to be. I’ve been calling for a rebound year for Cam, and Week 2 should be the first showcase of that at home against a Bills team that really looked good against Josh McCown, but should be in trouble against an actual QB1 like Newton. Superman gonna be out in full force.
Brandin Cooks: I expected current New Orleans Saint Adrian Peterson to get some revenge against his former team in Week 1. That didn’t really work out. But I’m going back to the well in Week 2 and saying that a former New Orleans Saint will get some revenge against his former team in Week 2. I’ll either be horribly wrong or finally right. If the Patriots do well in New Orleans, I expect Cooks to be a large part of it.
Ty Montgomery: The Bears ran all over the Falcons defense in Week 1, and Montgomery looks to do the same in Week 2. There were some questions about Montgomery during the preseason due to injury issues, but he looked just fine in Week 1 against a Seahawks defense that’s always tough against the run. As long as Montgomery is healthy, there’s no need to worry about his quality or workload. Expect him to run all over the Falcons on SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT.
Coby Fleener: Fleener led the Saints in receptions & yards in Week 1, which might not say much but at least shows that Drew Brees actually knows the guy exists now. He didn’t do much in 2016, but maybe 2017 is where he starts to show the potential he showed in Indianapolis. I expect Patriots/Saints to be a shootout, and Fleener should get his share of it against a Pats defense that didn’t do much against Travis Kelce.
Baltimore DEF: The Ravens got four interceptions & five sacks in Week 1 against Andy Dalton & the Cincinnati Bengals. 25 points from your defense is pretty good, right? They get the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, so expect more of the same. Should be a good time!
Last Week’s Fave Five Results: 2-3 (Amari Cooper & Jordan Howard over, Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson & Jack Doyle under)
These are four people that you’re probably going to have to start, but you’re not going to be very happy about it. Our track record on this one is somewhat mixed over the years.
Jordan Howard: Howard didn’t have a terrible game on Sunday. He got a touchdown. Unfortunately, he also dropped a touchdown & Tarik Cohen came out of nowhere to get more snaps than anybody suggested. He should be a decent option going forward, but not the RB1 you were hoping for. What looked like one of the most solid RB pictures in the NFL has turned into a two-headed monster. Joy?
Carson Wentz: Carson might have taken the title of “Best Current NFL QB Named Carson” in Week 1 by throwing over 300 yards in Week 1. He’s heading to Kansas City in Week 2 and I don’t expect a similar showing this week against a team that shut down Tom Brady in Week 1. Pump the brakes on the WentzWagon for at least one week.
Stefon Diggs: Diggs had a huge Monday night showing against New Orleans with two touchdowns & set the League on notice. Will he do it again this week? Probably not, as he’ll be seeing a lot of Joe Haden in Pittsburgh. Diggs might break out this season & Week 1 might be the first sign of that, but don’t expect too much this week.
Bilal Powell: I was really hoping for big things from Bilal this year, as he’s one of the main offensive weapons on the Jets. One week in and I’ve already thrown in the towel on that. A trip to Oakland this week doesn’t bode well for Powell or anybody else you might have that plays for the Jets. I don’t know who on the Jets people would have other than Powell & Matt Forte. Don’t expect anything good from anybody green in Oakland this week. I’m including the A’s in that.
Last Week’s Fearful Four Results: 3-1 (Dak Prescott, Demaryius Thomas & Marshawn Lynch under, Seattle over)
A lot of the fantasy experts out there love to give you their sleeper picks. It’s not a bad idea. The flaw in the execution is they’re typically not highlighting people you can pick up. I’ve seen experts telling me that Mike Gillislee could have a big day in New Orleans this week and would be a great sleeper pick. That’s all well & good, but Gillislee is owned in 94% of Yahoo leagues. Let me know if you’re in one of the six percent of leagues that Gillislee isn’t owned in, and then invite me to join your league next season. That information does nothing to help us.
So what we’ve been doing on the Ocho for the past five seasons is highlighting some sleepers that are actually Off The Team. They’re owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues, just sitting on the wire waiting for you to pick them up.
Chris Carson (30%): Seattle’s running back situation is a bit of a mess. Thomas Rawls is always hurt. C.J. Prosise is occasionally a thing. Eddie Lacy is a rumor. The most effective back in Week 1 was Chris Carson, a 7th round draft pick from Oklahoma State. There’s no guarantee he’ll be the top guy because there’s a lot of guys there, but he’s the youngest of the bunch and has the most upside. He’s a nice guy to stick on your bench & keep an eye on.
Travis Benjamin (6%): The Chargers’ lack of attention to Hunter Henry in favor of 3-WR sets doesn’t help the multiple teams I have Henry on, but Benjamin showed on Monday night that he’s worth keeping an eye on. He spent his first four years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and almost got 1,000 yards receiving in 2015. He went to the Chargers in 2016 & saw a bit of a downtick in performance, but I expect him to be more in tune with the system in 2017 & on the same page with Philip Rivers.
Malcolm Brown (0%): The undrafted LA Ram running back from Texas is the understudy to Todd Gurley. It’s always nice to have this information at hand just in case, and Brown did get a touchdown in Week 1 during garbage time. As somebody with Joe Mixon & Bilal Powell in multiple lineups, I would have taken that. Brown averages 2.5 yards per carry and doesn’t have outstanding stats so far in his career, but you never know what tomorrow may bring.
Week 2 Picks Against The Spread
It was a rough start for me in Week 1, but that’s usually how it goes. I struggle the first couple of weeks, then find a groove and get people plenty of money for the holiday shopping. That’s what matters, right?
Houston at Cincinnati (-6.5): Honestly, I would avoid this game at all costs if I was a gambler. The Texans are a mess right now with injuries & QB identity issues and have no business playing anybody on a Thursday night road game. That being said, the Bengals no-showed Week 1 & are known for choking away games they should win easily. Especially against the Texans, who seem to have Cincy’s number no matter who’s at quarterback & whatever’s going on. I see this being a low-scoring game, so if the spread’s going to keep growing you might as well take the underdog and hope for the best.
I’m also the wrong person to ask about Bengals games, as I’m wildly optimistic or pessimistic depending on how last week went.
Tennessee (-2.5) at Jacksonville: I love my friends at offtheteam.com, but I see people there trying to sell me on the Jags as a playoff team based on one week of results. Come on now. The Jags are still the Jags. Allen Robinson’s out, and once Leonard Fournette gets another foot injury we’ll be back to Blake Bortles trying to throw things. I see the Titans getting on track this week.
Cleveland at Baltimore (-8): The Ravens’ offense wasn’t in high gear in Week 1 (Flacco not being 100% is why I’m not buying into the “Yeah but the Bengals defense had decent stats” spin I’m hearing from the apologists), but their defense did a damn good job shutting anybody in orange & white down. Expect more of the same this week against DeShone Kizer.
Buffalo at Carolina (-7): The Panthers are BACK. That defense is doing their thing & Killa Cam has some pretty good help at the RB position. Watch out NFC, the Super Bowl Hangover has lifted in Charlotte.
New England (-6.5) at New Orleans: I’m operating under the theory that Drew Brees & the Saints are always trash on the road, and we shouldn’t be getting too worked up over their sorry performance on Monday night. I’m still not picking them to win this week. They played the Monday game while Belichick’s boys got the Thursday game. A couple extra days of rest & being PISSED OFF should have Tom Brady & friends in high gear. Hopefully it’s a high-scoring one for the sake of fantasy owners that were let down by their Pats & Saints players in Week 1.
Arizona (-7) at Indianapolis: This is another game I want nothing to do with. The Colts were so so so so bad on Sunday that I can’t pick them to beat anybody. But then Arizona is missing David Johnson and Carson Palmer looks like he’s already retired & is still collecting game checks. Let’s be honest: everybody involved in this game is all like
Philadelphia at Kansas City (-5.5): The Chiefs are everybody’s new pick to win the Super Bowl after Week 1. I mean, it makes sense. Anytime somebody goes in to Massachusetts & takes it to the Patriots, people are going to take notice. They’re headed back home to the loudest stadium in football this week. The Eagles got a good win in Week 1, but they may be out-horsed this week.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh (-5.5): I see a low-scoring game here. The Vikings defense looked really good against the Saints & the Steelers D made some big plays against Cleveland. I’m not sure they get Sam Bradford to turn the ball over like Kizer did, which may be the difference.
Chicago at Tampa Bay (-7): The Bears looked better in Week 1 than we expected, but I still expect them to struggle in Tampa this week. Famous Jameis will be looking to impress against a less than stout Bears defense. Remember when these two franchises were NFC Central rivals?
Miami at LA Chargers (-4.5): Gonna be real interesting to see how the Dolphins come out for their season opener across the country in front of 20,000 fans at a soccer stadium. The Chargers looked bleh for the first three quarters in Denver, then came back and made things interesting towards the end. Hopefully they’ll take something positive out of that for their growing LA fanbase.
NY Jets at Oakland (-14): Fourteen is a lot of points. But it’s the Jets going across the country, man. The Raiders need to blow them out to show they’re worth the hype they’re getting.
Washington at LA Rams (-2.5): Jared Goff is going to be 2-0? Hard to believe, but that’s what’s going to happen. They’ll be lucky to draw half the crowd Texas & USC gets in the Coliseum the night before.
Dallas (-2) at Denver: HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS! Denver has a solid defense but the Cowboys have too many weapons to account for. The Broncos’ weapon stash, by comparison, is pretty meager.
San Francisco at Seattle (-13.5): The 49ers aren’t good, but these NFC West showdowns are usually closer than you would think.
Green Bay at Atlanta (-2.5): The Packers weren’t quite as crisp on offense as you would hope in Week 1, but going inside and playing against somebody other than Seattle should help. The Falcons barely took care of the Bears & didn’t do much to impress.
Detroit at NY Giants (-3): The Lions’ offense was on point in Week 1. Matthew Stafford’s pretty good even without that Calvin Johnson guy. Eli Manning isn’t as good without that Odell Beckham guy.
Week 1 Record: 7-8