Hi, hello and welcome to a column about the only football that America will care about for the next four years! As many shots as the NFL has taken from the mainstream media & the federal government lately, the US Men’s National Team not being able to defeat Trinidad & Tobago ensures that American Football will remain the dominant form of football in this country at least for a few more years.
To me, this is a great development. Who wants to bother watching a month-long tournament from Mother Russia at odd hours of the night? I’ll get a lot more sleep now that the USA is too pathetic at soccer to be involved in the World Cup. There’s also the matter of fantasy soccer not being all that entertaining and point spreads not being very interesting. I wouldn’t be able to write a column like this if MLS was the dominant sports league in America.
Even so, the war between the NFL & America continues. The NFL took another shot in the war last week…
Who would have thought that The AMERICAN Football Column would make such waves in its first week? When the NFL’s cracking down on you, you know you’re doing something right. We here at THE Ultimate Sports Blog continue to stand for all that is good and decent in America.
Including Carrie Underwood’s rendition of the National Anthem.
Let’s see if Fox Sports Tennessee or the National Hockey League take a shot at America. I don’t think they will. Here’s the usual fantasy & gambling stuff…everything that makes America great.
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.
Deshaun Watson: Since taking the QB1 role in Houston, Watson’s gone 17-26-42-45 on them. He, Kareem Hunt & the next guy I’ll talk about are duking it out for Fantasy Rookie of the Year, and Watson’s case will receive even more of an upgrade this week when he takes on a hapless Cleveland Brown defense that gave up 29 points to Jacoby Brissett & 36 points to Andy Dalton. Watson’s completion percentage needs some work, but he can throw the deep ball and he’s got the receivers to make the big catches. I love the fact that I drafted him in my dynasty league rookie draft this year. Just at the right time too, as Ben Roethlisberger was my QB1 and now I can’t run him out there with a straight face.
Leonard Fournette: I was reticent to jump on the Fournette bandwagon during the preseason, since he was a Jaguar and had a history of foot problems. These things don’t seem to matter, as Fournette has taken to the NFL like a fish to water. That 90 yard touchdown run towards the end of last week’s game sure turned some games. Double digit points every single week, and that will continue this week against a Rams defense that’s poor at stopping the run. Are the Jags actually a playoff team? Sure looks like it so far.
Amari Cooper: Cooper’s season has been pretty dreadful so far. After 62 yards in Week 1, he’s gotten 56 receiving yards in the last four weeks. That’s not good. I think it turns around this week against a Clipper team that has a bit of an issue against the pass, at least when teams have healthy receivers. As far as I know, Cooper is healthy.
Jerick McKinnon: Everybody was falling over themselves to get Latavius Murray on their team after Dalvin Cook’s injury, but McKinnon is the RB to own in Minnesota right now. 95 rushing yards & 51 receiving yards against the Bears helped out the few owners that took a chance on him last week. You’ll see him get a lot more run this week against a Packers defense that allows over 120 rushing yards per game.
Delanie Walker: After last week’s “performance” by Matt Cassel & company against the Miami Dolphins, it’s tough to speak well of any Tennessee Titans’ potential going forward. Except for the fact that they play the Indianapolis Colts this week. Walker’s career numbers against the Colts (50/505/3 in 8 games) indicate a good performance is on tap this Monday night. If Cassel is smart he’ll throw it to the tight end since he can’t throw it much further.
Last Week’s Fave 5 Record: 2-3 (TY Hilton & Duke Johnson Jr. over, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray & Seattle RB1 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.
Jared Goff: After an impressive first few weeks, Goff hit a bump in the road last week against Seattle & the Legion of Boom. It was bound to happen, those Seahawks have been pretty good against QBs. This week could be pretty poor timing for people needing Goff, as the Jacksonville Jaguars are fresh off of intercepting Ben Roethlisberger five times and making the Steelers look sorry. They might not get 5 INTs this week, but it’s going to be another rough week for the young QB.
Stefon Diggs: Diggs’ groin injury on Monday night definitely turned some fantasy wins into losses. He’s got a short week to recover & faces a Packers secondary that’s been pretty solid against wide receivers of late. The only two receivers to get triple digit yards against the Packers this year? Julio Jones & AJ Green. They’re pretty good. Is Diggs in their class? Tough to say, especially when whoever throws the ball to him in Minnesota is worse than Andy Dalton.
Carlos Hyde: Eight attempts for eleven yards against the Indianapolis Colts isn’t anything to get excited about. Hyde’s hip injury seems to clearly be a factor & Kyle Shanahan used the dreaded “hot hand” phrase in reference to the 49ers backfield after the game. Once Hyde gets right he should be back to normal, but I’d avoid using him against a pretty solid Washington defense if at all possible.
Travis Kelce: A concussion makes Kelce’s status for Week 6 extremely questionable. If he does play, he’ll get a Steelers defense that has allowed one touchdown to a tight end this season. A healthy Kelce would be better than anybody they’ve played against, but you can’t expect your normal Kelce points this week.
Last Week’s Fearful 4 Record: 2-2 (Alshon Jeffery & Sammy Watkins under, Matthew Stafford & Joe Mixon 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 a column this week suggesting that Wee Willie Snead might be in for a big week against the Lions, which would be pretty cool if he wasn’t already owned in 75% of leagues. It’s somewhat amazing that 75% of leagues have teams that have hung on to Snead this long, to be honest.
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.
Austin Hooper (46%): OK, I saw Hooper’s name in a headline on one of those fantasy sleeper columns and got a little miffed. Then I looked it up and he actually fits our requirements. After a great Week 1 with 128 yards and a touchdown he got a grand total of 66 yards in the next three games. Not great. I expect better this week against the sorry, no-account Dolphins and injuries to Julio Jones & Mo Sanu making them questionable options.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (9%): The Steelers offense hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire lately, but the Kansas City secondary has been sneaky bad while the Chiefs have been getting all kinds of attention as the best team on the planet. If Big Ben can get somewhat on track, guys like JuJu & Antonio Brown should be able to give you good weeks.
Josh McCown (6%): Don’t look now, but the Jets have three wins and aren’t going to get the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. McCown hasn’t been spectacular but he’s been good enough in the role of Jets QB. The New England Patriots have given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. So you’re telling me there’s a chance…
Before we get to the picks, here’s Johnny Cash with The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Picks Against The Spread
Philadelphia at Carolina (-3): I know fans of both of these teams. Eagles fans demand respect for their franchise as one of the great teams in sports, even if they’ve never won anything of note. Panthers fans will blame you for jinxing their team if you give them any respect. Picking the Eagles here will make both sides happy.
Cleveland at Houston (-9.5): As good as Houston looks with Watson at QB, I don’t think I’d take them at this number against anybody other than the Browns. Since they’re playing the Browns…
New England (-9.5) at NY Jets: Pats/Jets games are always weird. Either the Patriots win by 100 or the Jets win or make it stupid close. There’s no in-between. I’m guessing it’ll be close since the New England defense is a train wreck.
Miami at Atlanta (-11.5): That’s a lot of points. But the Dolphins are a dumpster fire of an organization, so I can see why the spread is this big.
Detroit at New Orleans (-5): There’s nothing the Lions do better than lose close games.
Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota: The Packers have a working offense. The Vikings don’t.
Chicago at Baltimore (-6.5): ESPN putting Mitchell Trubisky over like the next Joe Montana the day after MNF was something else. Whenever the Bears actually win a game they’re going to induct that kid into the Hall of Fame. I don’t get it.
San Francisco at Washington (-10): I can’t take the Rs at that spread. The 49ers aren’t very good but with the exception of the Week 1 Panthers game they’ve kept things pretty close. I just realized looking at this that our Vice President could have waited a week to pull his publicity stunt and saved us $250,000. Of course, knowing the government they’d still find a way to make a trip from DC to Landover stupid expensive.
LA Rams at Jacksonville (-2.5): Who would have guessed a couple of months ago that this would be one of the more interesting games of the day on paper? What a strange place 2017 is turning out to be.
Tampa Bay (-2.5) at Arizona: The Cardinals traded for Adrian Peterson. I’m not sure what’s a riskier decision: that, or me picking him up in the Official League. Bucs should be fine as long as this doesn’t come down to field goals.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-4.5): Steelers are trash & the Chiefs are the best team in the league. This won’t be close.
LA Chargers at Oakland (-3): Derek Carr is back so the Raiders should be fine this week. I kind of want to buy into the Chargers as not terrible, but they need to win a couple more of these tight games first.
NY Giants at Denver (-12): I don’t like the Giants to win, but Denver’s offense has been pretty iffy & twelve points is a pretty pretty pretty big spread.
Indianapolis at Tennessee: Vegas doesn’t have a line for the Monday night game yet, and for good reason. We need to know if Marcus Mariota is playing or not. If he is, pick the Titans. If he isn’t, pick the Colts. Somehow it’s an even bigger drop-off from Mariota to Matt Cassel than it is from Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett.
Week 5 Record: 7-6-1
2017 Season Record: 34-42-1