If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the first four weeks of the 2017 NFL season, it’s that football fans take their patriotism very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they’re willing to boycott the league, burn their jerseys & tweet negativity towards the league that up until now was considered one of the things that made America…America.
Think about it. Soccer is called football (or futbol) everywhere except the United States of America. Why? Because we made up our own version that we like better. That’s the American Way. We take the world’s stuff and make it better. Football is the textbook example. Baseball claims to be America’s Pastime, but we all know that Football is America’s Sport.
Its time for America to take its sport back. To Make Football Great Again. That’s why this week, I’ve tossed Brent Musburger aside and wrapped myself in Old Glory. I’m not sure if that goes against the Flag Code or not. Nevertheless, America…this is your football column.
Let’s start with the best version of the National Anthem in all of sports and the one thing I appreciate that the Chicago Blackhawks started.
Hell, I stand at home when I hear that.
America loves Fantasy Football. America loves gambling. We break it down for you, America.
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 fantasy football podcast over at offtheteam.com. 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.
Jordy Nelson: As long as Nelson can stay on the field he’s dangerous, as he’s shown with two touchdowns in each of his last two games. The Dallas Cowboys have been giving up all sorts of passing touchdowns so far in 2017, so Nelson will be primed and ready to get the hook up from Aaron Rodgers in the end zone.
DeMarco Murray: With Matt Cassel & Brandon Weeden holding things down at the QB position, I’d expect Tennessee to focus on the run. Not like that’s anything new, but expect Murray and/or Derrick Henry to get even more work than usual against the Miami Dolphins. Murray’s only had one good week so far but I expect him to double that total in Week 5.
T.Y. Hilton: Hilton only got three points last week against Richard Sherman, but he’s not going to have any problems with the San Francisco 49ers this week. They get torched by everybody. The really good news for Hilton owners is that Andrew Luck chatter seems to be intensifying, so maybe you can actually get something useful out of T.Y. & the other Colts WRs pretty soon.
Duke Johnson Jr.: The only thing relevant about the Browns so far in 2017, Johnson has been a good short-range target in the passing game for young DeShone Kizer and worked his way into garbage time production each of the last two weeks. This week the Browns play the New York Football Jets, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. Maybe Isaiah Crowell gets on track this week, but I think it’s more likely that Johnson asserts himself as a centerpiece of the lowly Browns offense. Hey, all fantasy points count the same.
Seattle’s RB1: The Seahawks get a dream matchup this week with a Rams defense that has given up double digits to at least one running back every week. Marlon Mack even got him some of that in Week 1. The only problem is that we have no idea who Seattle’s RB1 is now that Chris Carson is goneski with an ankle injury. Thomas Rawls & C.J. Prosise both return from injury this week. J.D. McKissic had a big week against Indianapolis. Eddie Lacy is still a thing. Your guess is as good as mine. All I know for sure is that one of these men will get into the double digits.
Last Week’s Fave 5 Record: 3-2 (Russell Wilson, DeAndre Hopkins & Travis Kelce over, Christian McCaffrey & Carlos Hyde 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. I’ve actually been doing well in this section lately, mostly because offenses have been disappointing thus far.
Matthew Stafford: Remember when Stafford got 36 points in Week 1 and we were singing the praises of Jim Bob Cooter? Welp, Staffy’s followed that up with very pedestrian numbers the last three weeks and now he’s facing a Carolina defense that’s held three out of four quarterbacks to 220 yards and under. The fourth was Tom Brady, so you can’t really blame them for that one. Expect a low-scoring game that will probably be decided by the referees choosing who they hate more between Detroit & Cam Newton.
Alshon Jeffery: Sometimes these top flight WRs end up in this section because they’re facing top flight cornerbacks. Like Alshon here, who’s had a pretty solid season with the Philadelphia Eagles so far. Problem is they get Arizona this week, and Jeffery will be seeing a whole lot of Pat Pete. Pat Pete shut down Dez Bryant & Pierre Garcon in consecutive weeks, and I expect the same here.
Sammy Watkins: Sammy’s concussion in Week 3 led to him not doing a heck of a lot in Week 4. This week? Richard Sherman & the Legion of Boom! No thanks.
Joe Mixon: Mixon didn’t do a heck of a lot with his opportunity to lead the Bengal backfield against the lowly Browns last week. 1.7 yards per carry? Yikes. This week he faces a Bills defense that’s been awful tough to get some yards against. Trouble on the Bengals offensive line & Andy Dalton managing to get it to his receivers makes it tough to trust any Bengal RB right now.
Last Week’s Fearful 4 Record: 3-1 (Julio Jones, Isaiah Crowell & Michael Crabtree under, Kirk Cousins 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 saw an NFL.com fantasy sleeper column this week with the headline “Don’t Doubt DeVante Parker”. Are you kidding me? Parker was one of the most hyped guys during the preseason and he’s owned in 95% of leagues. HOW DOES THAT HELP ANYBODY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
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. Last week Penguin highlighted Devin Funchess, who scored two touchdowns against the New England Patriots. I went super deep with Eddie McGuire, who got himself a 69-yard touchdown. We ain’t out here telling you about that little-known DeVante Parker. We put more work into this than anybody. Bar none.
Jalen Richard (12%): Jalen hasn’t been given much of an opportunity in 2017, but one figures it’s only a matter of time before the Raiders realize that Marshawn Lynch is just here so he doesn’t get fined and has no real interest in being productive. Richard has shined in his limited opportunity and there should be more opportunities for running backs with Derek Carr on the shelf.
Brian Hoyer (8%): We’ve gone to the Hoyer well before. Outside of Week 3 it hasn’t really panned out for Brian & the 49er offense this season. This week they’re going to Indianapolis to take on a sorry, no-account Colts defense that’s been sorry and no-account ever since I can remember. This looks like another big Brian Hoyer week, and with Carr & Mariota now on the shelf you could do a lot worse.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (12%): I saw Tyler Croft get two touchdowns against the Browns last week. I don’t think Croft is the next Gronk, the Browns are just that bad against everybody, especially tight ends. ASJ is the Jets TE of record and is getting good usage from Josh McCown, so expect him to be useful this week.
Before we go to the picks, let’s pause, remove our hats and stand at attention while Lee Greenwood blesses the USA.
Picks Against The Spread
New England (-5.5) at Tampa Bay: The Patriots don’t lose in consecutive weeks, and the New England offense against that Buccaneer defense sounds like a good time to me.
LA Chargers at NY Giants (-3.5): I don’t like the Clippers heading across the country, but they’re destined to be driving down the field late with a chance to win for the rest of Phillip Rivers’ time in the league.
Buffalo at Cincinnati (-3): The Bengals have looked good the last two weeks, but the Bills have been looking even better with wins over Denver & Atlanta. Cincy’s track record against Buffalo has been pretty abysmal during Marvin Lewis’s three decades as coach and I expect that to continue.
NY Jets at Cleveland (-1): Can the Jets actually be 3-2? Sure. The Browns are worse than advertised.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (-8.5): The Steelers’ locker room seems to be in turmoil, but that worked pretty well against the Ravens. I think they win, but Blake Bortles makes it close in garbage time.
Tennessee (-3) at Miami: I want nothing to do with either of these teams. The Titans are limping into this game with Matt Cassel at QB. This is fine because the Dolphins have been unspeakably awful the last two weeks. They’ll get better and somehow finagle their way into the playoffs, but Jay Cutler might have to break and let Matt Moore play before that happens.
San Francisco at Indianapolis (-1.5): Another game where I want nothing to do with either of these teams. Gonna take the Colts only because they’re at home.
Arizona at Philadelphia (-6.5): Vegas seems to have gotten the memo on the Cardinals.
Carolina at Detroit (-3): Cam was back last week, but the Panthers typically seem to be back for a week and then not back the next week.
Seattle at LA Rams (-1.5): The Seahawks have inexplicably struggled against the Rams for years. I don’t expect this to change now that the Rams seem kinda maybe ok.
Baltimore at Oakland (-2.5): I want nothing to do with the Ravens, or with Oakland with E.J. Manuel at QB.
Green Bay at Dallas (-2): America is all over this game. America loves the Cowboys. America loves the Packers. I love the Packers this week. Aaron Rodgers is in his groove and it doesn’t matter who’s catching passes.
Kansas City (-1.5) at Houston: I hate the Chiefs now since they made me 7-9 in this column and made me lose in the OTT Official League with that stupid defensive touchdown at the end of the game. And I think the guy that got the TD didn’t stand for the anthem, so America & I will be rooting against the Chiefs for the rest of the season. I still got them winning here since DeShaun Watson is probably due for a “Welcome to the League” moment.
Minnesota (-3) at Chicago: Why are the Bears on in prime time again? Stop the insanity.
Week 4 Record: 7-9
2017 Season Record: 27-36