Dojo Sparring – Week 5

Greg to Joe

The Broncos and Cowboys play a historic game, Tom Brady‘s passing touchdown streak comes to a halt in the pouring rain, and we have baseball games every day. It was a pretty awesome weekend in my opinion. I also want to point out that the Braves were ousted in the 1st round of the playoffs, just saying that I predicted it would be worse, but there would be no way they got past the Dodgers or whoever they faced in the NLDS.

Anyway, I hope your fantasy teams ended up doing well last week. I went undefeated on the week even though Grant had Tony Romo in the Yahoo league. The funny thing is, he would have won this week had he not backed out of our trade. Unfortunate for him.
So I’ve got a couple questions… Are the Dolphins AND Jets serious contenders for the AFC East crown against the Patriots? Are you afraid of Yankee-esque collapse from the Red Sox after the Jose Lobaton walk-off? Should the Tigers find a way to make Miguel Cabrera the DH, resign Johnny Peralta and make him the 3rd basemen and trade Victor Martinez for a reliever? I only have this question after he had an error in Game 3 yesterday.

Joe to Greg

I’ve had a brief hiatus from writing my “Game of the Week” Column. So as a note to myself and others, expect one this week regarding the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. I loved this weekend in sports but I’m excited to answer your questions so lets jump right into it:

Are the Dolphins AND Jets serious contenders? I don’t believe both are serious because right now I’m leaning towards the Dolphins (Wins: @Cleveland, @Indy, Falcons). Just to compare, the Jets (Buccaneers, Bills, @Falcons). I think the win @Indy stands out and looks better after Indy handed Seattle its first lost this past week. Although watching last Geno Smith last night was somewhat impressive. I had a feeling that when he got the ball back with under two minutes that he was going to get into field goal range at least and look what happened. I think the AFC and NFC East essentially flip flopped this year. Usually we’re accustomed to at least two teams in the AFC East below .500 (Buffalo, Miami, NY Jets) with the Pats in the lead. As opposed to the NFC East waiting until the last week of the regular season to decide who wins. Maybe flip flopped isn’t the right word but they’re definitely against the norm this season.
I am not afraid of any collapse for the Red Sox. Mainly because I was expecting them to lose from something late in the game. I was a fan of Buchholz holding his own and not “being the reason” the Sox lose the game. I was surprised but not alarmed at Koji Uehara giving up the walk off blast. Don’t forget that the two outs that he gotten came on at most 5 pitches total (can’t remember exactly but he had two outs with 3 pitches before the last at-bat). He is after all human but Jake Peavy has a huge game to pitch tonight, lets say on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being totally scared of a collapse…you’ve successfully made me talk myself into a 6 or 7. Before this question I was at a happy 3.
The Tiger’s dilemma is interesting. I think to protect Cabrera you put him at DH. Depending on how long the Tigers remain in the playoffs and how big of a factor Jhonny Peralta plays in that I think determines if they resign him. Eventually Victor Martinez will find himself out of the Tigers’ lineup so I think they don’t have any harm against finding another pitcher for the bullpen.
I have some rephrased questions for you as well…
-Do the Ravens, Bengals, or Browns win the AFC North (all teams currently at 3-2)? Does the AFC North send more than one team to the playoffs? (My quick thoughts, you have Denver, New England, Indy, (AFC North Winner)…factor in KC is 5-0. You have one more spot…but its only week 5 so who the heck knows)
-Which series has surprised you the most so far, if any, in the playoffs? If none, which team impressed you the most so far?
-I feel obligated to ask, when do you see the Broncos losing their first game?

Greg to Joe

Love the Red Sox answer. The reason I think it is possible is Koji Uhehara had a historic season for a reliever, and gave up a home run to Jose Loboton… JOSE LOBOTON! Obviously, it was just one at bat, but could it get into his head? Maybe. The Patriots thing is interesting to me. I think they have a shot to stumble if when Gronk comes back, the offense isn’t on the same page for a couple games. We’ll see.

So AFC North is going to have two playoff teams, and the AFC West will too. The division champ will be the team with the best intradivision record. The Ravens are already 1-0, Bengals 1-1, and Browns 1-1. I think the Browns aren’t serious contenders for the playoffs, but they could finish .500. I think it comes down to this… If the Ravens and Bengals split, can the Ravens beat the Browns in Cleveland? I think the answer to that is yes. Therefore, I am think the Bengals and Ravens have the same record, but the Ravens go 5-1 in the division and the Bengals go 4-2 costing them a home playoff game.
The most interesting series so far has been the Pirates-Cardinals series. The Pirates had a chance to finish the series off in Pittsburgh, but couldn’t score 2 runs off the three 22 year olds that the Cardinals pitched (Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Trevor Rosenthal). Game 5 comes down to Gerrit Cole‘s composure. If he can stay calm, he has the pure stuff to lead the Pirates to victory. If he gets rattled, series is all but over as the Pirates just don’t have the fire power to comeback against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. Back to the 22 year olds… the Cardinals are going to be scary good for a LONG time… LONG time .They are so talented and have a DEEP farm system. I would say they could win 2-3 out of the next 5 World Series.
Broncos are going undefeated until the Super Bowl. 2007 Patriots style.
How did your fantasy teams do this past week? Domination or eek out some close victories? You got any changes in baseball predictions after these first couple of series have almost come to completion.

Joe to Greg

Well luckily I didn’t have to stay scared for long. The Red Sox showed their toughness last night after facing 9 different pitchers. My fantasy team in ESPN won again, making me 5-0 and feeling good. Speaking of which I just offered you a trade but in Yahoo, my miserable 2-3 season continues. I lost again after pulling the team back to .500 so I guess we’ll see where that takes me. I like the way that the Cardinals are playing and I’m expecting them to pull of the Game 5 win against the Pirates. The Tigers and A’s series is intense after the questionable home run call on a potential run-saving catch by the A’s Josh Reddick. Going into Game 5 I’m happy mainly because they are playing while the Red Sox rest and their starting rotation remains unblemished. With Verlander starting Game 5, who knows what other pitchers could pitch in that game a la Tampa Bay last night.

Any big headlines to look for with the upcoming Week 6 games?
Lets just say I’m happy a Gronk return seems likely…

Greg to Joe

I doubt we get a trade done in that ESPN league. I’m not going to make a trade where I give up the two best players in a 4 player deal. I’ll look into a counter offer, but I doubt anything comes of it. Just ain’t happening. Red Sox were able to get that series win and will host whoever wins tomorrow night’s pitching duel of Sonny Gray and Justin Verlander. In my playoff predictions piece, I have Verlander getting roughed up in Game 5, and I think that is what happens. Look for the Athletics to go into Boston, and try to steal home field advantage in Game 1 of the ALCS.

The biggest headline for Week 6 has to be Gronk coming back. I don’t know about his effectiveness, especially against the Saints, but we will see. I also think that game is the most interesting. I think the Saints will take the Patriots to town and dominate, but Vegas has the Patriots as the favorites. Not so sure why, but I want to watch every minute of that game. Also, I think the Packers game is a huge test for the Ravens. If the defense can slow down that offense, it will finally prove that they are back. Daryl Smith is 10x better than Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe last year. It is incredible, and it is so fun to watch. I know you have written the Game of the Week, but besides that game. What games do you have your eyes on?

Joe to Greg

I know Frank Gore isn’t better than Matt Forte but he’s definitely a better option than James Jones in my opinion. I’d take San Fran’s number #1 RB over one of three different WRs the Packers have, but that’s just my opinion. Jones is great but I feel like he’s more prone to a slow or unproductive day. Both are great players to have anyways, since they both have totaled somewhere between 60-65 fantasy points each in ESPN PPR leagues. Regardless I just like proposing trades and seeing where they go, you’re probably the fourth person I proposed something to this week. I think it’s interesting to see how people think of trades compared to my own thoughts.

I’ll take Jon Lester at home over any potential A’s or Tigers starter not named Max Scherzer. So hopefully they get the series started on the right foot. I agree that the Saints can take the Patriots to town. I picked the Patriots to win, of course, but the Saints are marching into New England with a very versatile offense so it’ll be entertaining to watch. Expect some texts during that game. Also I agree that it’s weird the Pats are the favorites, I just can’t wrap my head around it. Maybe because they’re at home? Maybe people overhype Tom Brady at home? The other game I have my eyes on is the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. I’m interested in how the Cowboys respond after a near perfect game last week against the Broncos. A couple of different ESPN commentators discussed how after that late interception from Romo, more people were feeling bad for him instead of mocking and jeering him. I think the perception of him is changing a bit and this game has a big impact on the future of this season. On the flip side you have the Redskins and RGIII. Coming in with a 1-3 record, they need to get back into the division contention and if the Cowboys do win, they pull back to .500 at 3-3 and potentially gain sole possession of first place.
Greg Danchik & Joe Meola

Week 4 Spar

Joe to Greg

The first quarter of the NFL season has already gone by. During the MLB season, we broke down our awards and playoff predictions at the mid-season point. With four games under our belts, who do you think performed above/below expectations so far? We’ll leave the playoff talk for the mid-season point but do you have any favorites or maybe the “Top 2” candidates for AFC/NFC MVP and Rookie of the Year? Also any thoughts or headlines on the past weekends games.

Greg to Joe

I’m not really going to give an MVP prediction right now because it will probably look foolish by the end of the year. I mean, at this point last year, NO ONE would have said it would have come down the Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning for MVP. I just do not think it’s reasonable to do it over a quarter of a season. A mid-season awards will be in order, but you will probably want to name a dark horse  when you make those predictions. Also, I have already pegged Andrew Luck the MVP this year, so I am going to ride that ship until it goes down. Not backing down.

I do think that the Broncos have been RIDICULOUS so far, and I was not expecting that. I tweeted this awhile ago, but they are the 2007 Patriots.

 

I mean that in every sense of the word. They will blow out everyone the whole year, make the Super Bowl and lose in a blizzard to the Saints, 49ers, or Seahawks. Peyton can’t play in the cold anymore because of his neck surgery. I do not think that is a one time thing what happened against the Ravens last year. I remember specifically at the beginning of the game that there was worry about Peyton playing in the cold because he might lose feeling in his hands because of the neck surgeries. That isn’t a one time thing. That’s forever. Broncos will not win the Super Bowl, but they will make it there with no losses. Watch.

Rookie of the Year – For offense, it will end up being Giovani Bernard or DeAndre Hopkins. The Defensive ROY will be really competitive, but Kiko Alonso is proving to be a force in the middle of the Bills D and I think he could win it.

Giants and Steelers both suck because their offensive lines suck.

Matt Schaub will be the reason the Texans don’t win the division. They should try to go all in on a QB in the draft.

Anything big you got from this week and award predictions if you wanna

Joe to Greg

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (Photo Cred: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (Photo Cred: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Broncos remind me a lot of the Patriots from 2007. I think Peyton Manning has just as good, if not better, as Tom Brady was in 2007. It really is fun to watch, but I can’t wait for Peyton to come into New England on November 24th to play under the lights. A great Brady-Manning duel in the making. Meanwhile, I’ll sit on predictions as well. I didn’t know if you had any glaring candidates, but Luck is an interesting one to watch.

I’ve been very impressed with the Saints and Drew Brees so far. Don’t sleep on them coming out of the NFC depending on if they can clinch a higher seed than Seattle. Seattle should get the award for most inconsistently great team. They are a completely different team on the road. They have a big game coming up against the Colts in Indy so that should be an interesting game to watch.

The Texans confuse me. There’s a huge game for them coming up in San Francisco Sunday night, but I feel better about San Fran. The Texans gave up a huge lead to San Diego in Week 1 (but held on to win) and gave up a late lead against the Seahawks this past week (and lost)…They don’t have any excuses for that loss against Baltimore; Baltimore just flat out beat them, but combine that with a shaky overtime win over Tennessee and the 2-2, Texans very well could be 1-3 or even 3-1…(Quick fantasy note: In Chris’s ESPN league I traded Ben Tate and Eddie Royal for Steven Jackson and Michael Floyd…I already have a Frank Gore/Stevan Ridley/Danny Woodhead as RB’s plus a combination of Megatron/Steve Smith/Kenbrell Thompkins/Hakeem Nicks/Julian Edelman as WR’s…my logic behind this was basically Stephen Jackson coming back for Atlanta strong and putting up good numbers once he’s healthy. I didn’t mind giving away Tate or Royal because as good as Tate is playing as a backup, he’s on the Texans and Foster will continue to get looks, and Eddie Royal was more of a buy low/sell high option…any thoughts?).

While I know you wont make any predictions about the NFL. Do you have any expectations or high hopes for your fantasy teams after seeing how they’re coming together? Any thoughts for Week 5?

Greg to Joe

Fantasy football… well my team is top tier in the Yahoo league. I have finished second for the ten dollar weekly price twice, but I have won every one of my matchups. So I am top of the standings and I think I will be contending for a title in that league. With the trade I just made with Grant (was agreed upon, but never accepted in the actual league), I think I will be good to go this week as well. In ESPN, I feel like I have a really good team despite my 2-2 record. The record is coming from poor line up management. My bench is this magical place where players, who should perform poorly, play well. It’s actually quite depressing, especially the loss to Dan…

I like the trade you made, but I think I would rather have Tate than Jackson. If you think you will be able to hold up with the running backs you have now, Jackson could pay off later. I just wouldn’t be too surprised if Foster goes down, and Tate just takes off. Getting something for Royal was a great decision though. His scores were not going to be consistent all year. Actually, I doubt he scores more than 2 touchdowns the whole year. Good move to sell him.

Seahawks home crowd is referred to as the 12th man

Seahawks home crowd is referred to as the 12th man

Seattle is not good on the road, and I am not sleeping on the Saints. I honestly think the only way that the Seahawks make the Super Bowl is if they have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I think their crowd changes the whole game. They are so loud. I am obsessed. I’ll say it. They can’t play defense without the crowd behind them. I think the Colts will push around the Seahawks like they pushed around the 49ers. I am pretty high on the Colts, but even I am surprised at how well they have played. Luck will be leading them to a division crown.

To switch gears a bit, I am watching the Wild Card playoffs game, and the Indians cannot beat a good team. Also, Alex Cobb is filthy. I have never watched him pitch before, but he is awesome. It is insane. So who do you think will win the World Series? Also, who do you think will become a household name by the end of the playoffs that isn’t now?

Joe to Greg

I think this years playoffs is the best in recent memory for starters. I love the Pirates and their momentum with that crazy crowd from the other night. That place was going nuts, and they should be given an RBI or something for that home run they caused. Poor Johnny Cueto. I’m very high on the Red Sox representing the AL for a couple of reasons. They announced their rotation to start the ALDS today (Game 1: Lester, Game 2: Lackey, Game 3: Buchholz) and I’m glad they put Buchholz in the three hole because he’s undefeated on the road. It speaks to the quality of his starts, but he didn’t play the whole season so I take some of his stats with a grain of salt. Lackey deserves a shot to pitch at home because he’s had his best year since coming to Boston, from what I’ve seen at least. I haven’t even mentioned their bullpen which is pretty close to lights out (with the exception of the Baltimore Orioles game Saturday night which I attended). Also seeing some recent news about Miguel Cabrera being hurt has me concerned for the Detroit offense. You can never turn your back on their starting pitching though. It’s scary. I expect a Boston-Detroit ALCS and in the NL I’m going with the Cardinals to knock off the Dodgers and my official pick is Boston in 6 (AL receives home field advantage). What are your thoughts on the World Series?

To answer your question about a breakout player, I like Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers. I just love to watch him pitch, and I think he can be lights out for the Dodgers. You can obviously argue that he is a huge name in the game, but he has a huge impact on the Dodgers’ success so it should be entertaining to watch. There are a couple young guys I like but it’s so hard to judge who’s going to become that household name until the games get underway. Any good predictions for a player to watch? Any other thoughts on MLB or NFL? Or even your thoughts on the shocking news that the Philadelphia Flyers lost their first game of the season tonight!

Greg to Joe

I posted my whole playoff situation this morning. I have Cardinals over Rays in 7. Baseball is truly a game that’s a marathon and it is decided by a sprint. Like how would you feel if you won a marathon and then at the end they say, “Actually Joe… you have to beat the top 10 finishers in a 100m dash to be the true champion.” Obviously, it is because of the money, and what I am going to suggest will never actually happen, but I am going to suggest it anyway. It should be decided like the Premier League does. Make a table, and make every team play each other the same amount of times. It would show the true champion.

For your breakout player, it’s definitely hard for me to call Clayton Kershaw a breakout candidate for this year’s playoffs. He is already a Cy Young award winner (should have two), and will be getting his second (should be third) this year. He is the best pitcher in baseball and will be paid as such this offseason. It will be the biggest contract to a pitcher ever.

Wil Myers (Photo Cred: Carlos Osorio/AP)

Wil Myers (Photo Cred: Carlos Osorio/AP)

My personal breakout player will be Wil Myers. I know that I talk about him all the time, but he gives the Rays a lineup that can survive in the playoffs. I am picking them to make it to the World Series, and he is going to need to become a household name to do so. He is true old school. No batting gloves, no tape, no nothing. Just a little bit of dirt and pine tar. The former Royals’ prospect that hit 13 homers with a .293 batting average and a .357 wOBA (one of the better indicators for success at the plate). He has been slumping a little bit, but he will make himself known within the next month. And just to toot my own horn, I predicted 14 homers for Myers this year when he got called up.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Week 3 Spar

Ed Reed playing his first game as a Texans in Baltimore (Photo Cred: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

Ed Reed playing his first game as a Texans in Baltimore (Photo Cred: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

Greg to Joe

Week 3 brought a weird set of games. A lot of things did not go as expected, there were some dominant performances that I did not expect. The Ravens stomped on the Texans and spoiled Ed Reed‘s first game as a Texan. I really don’t think the Texans are that good (I have the Colts winning that division), but I did not expect the debacle that happened yesterday. I think the 49ers are in trouble. Colin Kaepernick might be as good as everyone says he is if he has good receivers. He is no Brady, or Flacco all things considering, when it comes to making his receivers productive. If the 49ers lose Boldin or Vernon Davis for an extended period of time, they must run the ball more or they will lose like they did to the Colts. It was frustrating to watch because the Colts could have been dominated at the line of scrimmage if the 49ers made a commitment to running the ball. Now the 49ers are in trouble going into St. Louis without Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and maybe Vernon Davis. Giants’ and Steelers’ offensive lines are so bad that those teams might be horrendous all year. The Giants got dominated by a Panthers defense, while good, should have never dominated a game like that. Eli is on his back too much and unable to throw the ball to his talented receivers.

Finally, I get to go to Seattle this week, and I am excited to see if there is a lot of Seahawk pride out there. That team is the class of the NFL. I know they played the Jaguars this week, but there starters came out of the game in the 4th quarter. Now that the 49ers lost to the Colts, I am not sure that win in Week 2 was as impressive, but it was still a dominant win. I wish the Seahawks had the Thursday night game and it was at home. I bet I would be able to hear that stadium from my hotel room it is so loud.

Anything you notice from Week 3 and how are you looking going into MNF for fantasy?

Joe to Greg

You’re right when you say that things did not go as expected. There were some dominant performances (Ravens over Texans, Colts over 49ers, Panthers over Giants) and some competitive games (Dolphins-Falcons, Browns-Vikings, Bengals-Packers). Quickly going over some of the dominant performances, I think people tend to forget that Colin Kaepernick’s sixteenth game of his NFL career, or one full complete 16-game season, came last week. He’s still learning and developing but it seems like defenses are starting to figure out ways to slow him down. Defenses started covering using man to man, forcing Kaepernick to make reads in the pocket and make him a little less mobile. Once again I’ll say it, watch out for the Miami Dolphins. They came back against Matty Ice and the Falcons and have a huge game against the New Orleans Saints coming up on Monday Night. The Colts also look poised to become a contender but even Andrew Luck said after the game they aren’t going out to make statements. The Giants are having all sorts of issues, whether that is in on the defensive side or offensive side. They managed just 150 yards of total offense. The Ravens got a big win against a confusing Texans team that always seems to have trouble with injuries or sub-par player performances when they start playing well.

draftstreetWeek 3 was a tough week with the spreads in my opinion. Let me tell you, Green Bay owes a lot of people some money because they blew the lead in Cincy and it hurt. Really, really bad. Which reminds me that I won our head-to-head matchup on DraftStreet and I also won in another 10 team league paying out 1st-5th. Thank you, Drew Brees…who I started for both of my teams. In Yahoo Fantasy, I registered my first win regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game and in ESPN I’m winning by 18, but my opponent has Darren McFadden left so it could be close.

Joe’s Fantasy Seasons Through Week 3:

ESPN: What Would Breesus Do — 3-0

Yahoo: Daaa Brady’s — 1-2

Monday Night Pick:

Denver 34 – Oakland 17

Any thoughts on tonight’s game and who your top performers for Week 3 were?

Greg to Joe

You won this week on DraftStreet so its 1 and 1. Carson Palmer really screwed me. He is also going to screw me in Yahoo if Welker scores another TD in this MNF game and Demaryius Thomas doesn’t.  I should easily be 3-0, but there is a small chance that I lose to Gerdes this week. We’ll see what happens as this game goes on. Dan is going to beat me this week in Chris’s ESPN league. It is REALLY depressing when something like that happens. It just really hurts.

I do have Jordan Cameron EVERYWHERE. I love it. I also have Gronk in the Yahoo league. My team is just straight up stacked. It’s shocking I haven’t scored the most points in the whole league one week.

I was positive betting this week again. After going below .500 in my picks, I been good the past two weeks and this week would be thanks to the Ravens and the Bears.

I agree with you on the Dolphins. I called a late game win for them in my weekly BucStop.com fantasy corner article. I was wrong about my disappointing dud, but who’s counting. I still agree with the process of picking my selections. My surprise selection wasn’t as good as I expected, but the Cardinals’ running backs were the only players to put up points for them this week.

I am going to change it up with a baseball thing. First, the Pirates are in the postseason. First winning season in 21 years. Incredible. Andrew McCutchen is my favorite not named Mike Trout or Manny Machado so I’m happy for him.

Manny Machado screaming after his knee buckled (MASN Screenshot)

Manny Machado screaming after his knee buckled (MASN Screenshot)

It was really hard to watch the Machado injury. The Orioles were out of the playoffs, barring a miracle. He was giving all is effort to beat out a grounder after he saw Tim Beckham bobble it. His left knee just gave out. I doubt he plays until 2015. His left knee is the knee that must withstand all the torque he creates from his swing, and he can’t risk reinjuring by coming back early next year. The only excuse would be if the Orioles really need him to make a final playoff push and the doctors give him a 100% go ahead. However, I can see a Derrick Rose-esque situation happening. We’ll see, but I want to hear what exactly is wrong tomorrow after the MRI.

Back to the NFL, early look to Week 4, who ya got ATS?

Joe to Greg

I’m glad to hear that the Machado injury wasn’t too serious. Hopefully it’s a speedy recovery. In Week 4 there are some interesting games. I’m intrigued by the Colts -9 in Jacksonville. High off their win in San Francisco and a little more chemistry among the offense and Trent Richardson, It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Colts cover here. Also, Seattle -3 at Houston makes me think. Houston just came off a terrible loss to the Ravens. Seattle just pounced on the Jaguars and their starters did play in the 3rd quarter. I think Seattle’s D wants another challenge or rather the challenge of preparing for the Texans sometimes potent offense. Any last notes on the upcoming week ahead? Should we expect a good showing from the Ravens traveling up to Buffalo?

Greg to Joe

I was happy about the Machado injury. He will most likely not need surgery and he will be just fine for the upcoming season. I doubt that he breaks out offensively like many people are hoping, but that should come in 2015, the year he returns to shortstop (I hope).

My opinion on the Vegas lines this week is this… If there was ever a week to try to hit on a full slate teaser, this would be that week. I feel there are a lot of favorable lines right now. The Bears as an underdog is absolutely foolish. The fact that the Ravens are only 3 point favorites is also pretty easy bet. The Bills have an injury depleted roster, and the Ravens just took the Texans to town last week. With Ray Rice coming back, I see no problems for them. The hardest game for me this week would be the 49ers @ Rams. The 49ers have serious problems on offense if they don’t get Vernon Davis back. They could just go with the running game and hope Frank Gore gives a DeMarco Murray type day against the Rams. The 49ers are also going to be in trouble without Patrick Willis. He is the Ray Lewis presence in the middle of that defense and he makes everyone in that defense around him better. I can see this being an extremely high scoring game or low scoring game. I can also see a Rams blowout, a 49ers blowout, or a close game where the team who has less turnovers wins. I am lost on that game, which will make it more interesting for me to watch.

Larry Johnson when he was playing with the Kansas City Chiefs

Larry Johnson when he was playing with the Kansas City Chiefs

The last thing I want to say before I hear your thoughts on the Pats and just Week 4 in general is Arian Foster is not the same running back. His yards per carry continue to drop and Ben Tate‘s have been about double Foster’s. I would be starting to shy away from calling him an elite player. I could be wrong, but I think we are about to see a fall of the table decline much like Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson, etc.

Joe to Greg

To add to your list, LaDainian Tomlinson towards the end of his career. I think you touched on something important because one of the biggest issues and something that made headlines this summer was the settlement reached between the NFL and the NFLPA. The settlement has agreed to pay out $765 million over 20 years. That is an incredible amount of money. Then you add the fact that the NFL’s annual revenue peaks around $10 BILLION, does that settlement do anything? The reason behind bringing this up is because players are getting bumps and bruises earlier in their career and I don’t think there is a position that gets banged up more than running backs. Arian Foster is on a decline but that doesn’t mean he can’t change that. The only problem is his body may limit the competitive level he can reach. Tate has nine rushing attempts in each of the first 3 games so there is something to say about how much Houston utilizes him.

I’ve been pretty patient on talking about the Patriots and I’m going to remain sealed about my feelings for them. Mainly because I don’t want to judge when all the pieces aren’t there. Also because they have a big game coming up Sunday Night which may be nominated for my “Game of the Week” column later this week.

 Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

(Side Note: This trip to Seattle is awesome, but has very little to do with sports. There is a whole sports biomechanics session tomorrow. Mostly about concussions, but there are some presentations about Ligaments. And that’s why this is up late.)

NFL Week 2 Spar

Greg to Joe

I know that we haven’t seen the Monday Night Football game, but I wanted to get your thoughts on Week 2 after some crazy games on Sunday. Let me digress for a second, I am going to finish second in fantasy football points again in our Yahoo league, and your brother is going to beat me, unless Dalton gets hurt. However, starting off 2-0 is always good. I also crushed Chris in our ESPN league because of RGIII and Garcon‘s garbage time. I also did fairly well in predictions this week. The Bills saved me in the end with a ridiculous comeback, and the Packers dominated as expected.

I do think Vegas gave gamblers two easy games this week with the lines of the Patriots and Seahawks games. A depleted Patriots team should not have been given 13 points against a good defense in crappy weather (I know the odds makers didn’t know this when making the line, but it helped making the decision of taking the Jets with the points). I personally thought the Seahawks line was low because that stadium is ridiculous. It was so loud yesterday that it even screwed up the Seahawks.

What’d you like about all the games yesterday? And how did you fantasy teams do?

Joe to Greg

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson's face mask

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson‘s face mask

Well, I’m looking like the 8th place team in our Yahoo league, my guys simply can’t perform or pump out crazy numbers. In ESPN, my team won handily with major help from Calvin Johnson, Julian Edelman, and Greg Olsen all scoring over 20 points. There were so many games that came down to the wire which drastically changed betting results at the end of the day. The Saints eeked out a win but couldn’t cover, Dallas lot but still managed to cover, Detroit shot itself in the foot when it was up 10 in the second half and of course, didn’t cover, and I agree the Patriots should not have been given 13 points. I was straight up impressed with the Seahawks last night.

Colin Kaepernick‘s stat line Week 1: (Home versus GB)

27/39, 412 Yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INTs, 22 Rushing Yards, 89.8 QBR, 129.4 RTG

-Colin Kaepernick’s stat line Week 2: (Away versus SEA)

13/28, 127 Yards, 0 TD’s, 3 INTs,  87 Rushing Yards, 14.0 OBR, 20.1 RTG

If that doesn’t tell you how dominant Seattle’s D was, I don’t know what does.

Also, congrats to EJ Manuel on his first NFL win. Much deserved for a great player and team in the Buffalo Bills. With two games under our belts, do you see any early trends to look for as the season carries on into Week 3?

Greg to Joe

Colin Kaepernick being tackled Week 2 versus Seattle (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Colin Kaepernick being tackled Week 2 versus Seattle (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Kaepernick just has this thing where he can’t beat Seattle. I think it is going to turn into the ManningBrady deal. Kaepernick is going to struggle against Seattle (especially in Seattle) for a majority of his career. He will then have his one breakthrough game when he knocks them out of the postseason and goes on the win the Superbowl. I think the Kaepernick-Wilson rivalry will be compared to the Manning-Brady rivalry very soon.

Seattle opened up as a 19.5 point favorite against the Jaguars. I would not touch this game, but I honestly think that they could win by over 20. Side note- Everyone who bet on the Bengals to win by 6.5 should thank Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley for poor offensive coaching as the game should have been much closer if the play calling had been better.

So are there any trends I see continuing… I see the Texans playing in a 3rd nail-biter to start the season as Ed Reed returns to Baltimore. I think the Redskins will keep losing because their defense is oh so bad and RGIII is playing on one leg. I also think that Ron Rivera is coaching his way to a firing. The Panthers are playing really bad right now and cannot close out games. If I am Rivera, I need to get my team back into form for the upcoming week because if they don’t look good, I might be at home watching games on TV on Sunday the 29th.

With three games that have double-digit point spreads (Jax@Sea, Ind@SF and Oak@Den), do you see any of the underdogs pulling out victories? I would assume that would be a bold prediction and if you don’t have an underdog winning one of those games, any bold predictions for this week?

Joe to Greg

I think you’re spot on with the QB rivalry comparison. Even better, they play at least twice a year unlike Manning and Brady who only had that occasion if they met in the playoffs. If any underdog can pull off a win between those three teams, I’d pick Indianapolis. Unfortunately I don’t think they’re going to win but it’s an interesting line. I wouldn’t say its like the Titans and Texans last week (which was +/-9), but the Titans are a tough out and ended up covering on the road. I think the Colts will be in a similar situation this week. Other than that, I like the Chargers +3 against the Titans but I don’t like the Chargers with the lead sometimes. Regardless, I think Philip Rivers is quietly having a good start to the season despite starting 1-1 (614 Yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 82.5 QBR, 115.8 RTG…yet he’s not even owned in more than 50% of fantasy leagues in ESPN). What is your game of the week to watch in Week 3?

Greg to Joe

He isn’t owned in many leagues because no one believes in his talent. His talent has diminished, and it is incredible that Mike McCoy has been able to get so much out of him this year. McCoy is on the precipice of being called an offensive genius considering the lack of talent in the Chargers offense and the amount of points they are scoring.

Game of the week for me would have to be Ed Reed returning to Baltimore. Houston and Baltimore have both been shaky to start the year so I really think this game is a toss up. I am hoping Reed doesn’t play because he improves the Texans secondary, but I do want to see how Flacco handles him. Since picking that as the game of the week may seem a tad bias, I would go with Atlanta at Miami. Miami is looking to start of the season 3-0 and gets to face a depleted Atlanta roster who lost their top linebackers along with Steven Jackson. Matt Ryan should have himself a day, but I just don’t know how the Falcons win this game with a one-dimensional offense.

Now for some big news… Trent Richardson has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick in 2014. I love this trade as a fantasy owner. He goes to a much better offense that is committed to the power running game to try and help their young star quarterback. Overall, it was a good move for the Colts. I do think that they gave up a little too much for Trent, but he should still be very valuable to them for years to come. The Browns also made out well because they now have the ammunition to trade up a couple of spots for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft (Yes, I am assuming they finish in the bottom 5 teams). They better hope that Teddy Bridgewater falls to them; otherwise, I believe they will continue to be in a constant rebuilding mode.

Thoughts on the trade, game of the week and another other Week 3 thoughts moving forward.

Joe to Greg

I was shocked by the Richardson trade honestly. I think it’s great from a fantasy perspective because now defenses have to respect Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, while worrying about Trent gashing through the lines. It will be interesting and makes it even more compelling to think about what would of happened had the Colts gone after RGIII. Like would the Colts have been better off with RGIII and Trent or Luck and Trent? Or would RGIII never have gotten hurt because he wasn’t playing on Washington’s horrific field? Man, I love the “what ifs” of draft day. I think the Browns continue their trend of rebuilding (obviously) but there doesn’t seem like many happy days coming up this season.

My game of the week is the Atlanta Falcons-Miami Dolphins game. The Dolphins could start the season 3-0 and send the Falcons into an early season 1-2 hole. Injuries have amounted for the Falcons, who lost Steven Jackson and Asante Samuel in last weeks game against the Rams. Combined with the already injured Roddy White, the Falcons are missing some key pieces.

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace during training camp (Photo Cred: Joe Cavaretta / Sun Sentinel)

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace during training camp (Photo Cred: Joe Cavaretta / Sun Sentinel)

On the flip side, I hate to admit that the Dolphins look somewhat competent. They are a team that as Ron Jaworski says, “Get better than the week before”. Mike Wallace had 1 catch for 15 yards in Week 1, yet in week two he caught 9 passes for 115 Yards and a TD. Lamar Miller rushed for 3 Yards on 10 attempts in Week 1, yet in week two he rushed for 69 yards on 14 attempts and added a TD. If I were to pick who would take out the Patriots in the coming years atop the division, it’s the Dolphins, followed closely by the Bills, followed by Bernard Pollard, and followed not so closely by the Jets (In that order). Week 3, I say RGIII goes 0-3 mainly because of the Redskins poor excuse for a pass defense. They’ve already managed to let up 1023 yards in two games and with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson coming to town for a visit, it could spell trouble.

Editor Note:

Check out the Game of the Week column posted on Friday by Joe and I again.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

NFL Week 1 Spar

Joe to Greg

Well, we can finally say it. It’s football season my friend, best of luck this year (in fantasy and with the Ravens). More on that later but for now, give me your biggest surprise, some standouts from the weekend, and some players that may need to step it up in Week 2.

Greg to Joe

Fantasy football was rough in Week 1. I can’t make any more ridiculous line up mistakes like in our league that Chris runs. I also would have won the 10 bucks in Week 1 for our yahoo league if LeSean McCoy didn’t go off against the Redskins, but I will have plenty more chances to win weeks.

Wes Welker's 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

Wes Welker’s 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

The actual football games had some crazy things happen. The Ravens got crushed by the Broncos. Just annihilated… It was hard to watch the second half. The tide turned tremendously on the non-challenge of Wes Welker‘s 3rd down drop. I wrote about that game before so I won’t get too much into it.

My biggest surprise was EJ Manuel and the Bills taking it to the Patriots after playing only one preseason game. The Patriots have some serious work to do in my opinion. I also saw that Brady is not working well with the rookie receivers in practice, and with Amendola out, they are going to have to perform for the Patriots to win. I thought the Patriots would be top class because of Brady, and maybe they are. It would just mean the Bills are a lot better than we thought.

David Wilson really screwed me. And I AM NOT happy about it. HOW DO YOU FUMBLE TWICE?!?! You know its your weakness. Did you not work on it in the offseason? Did Coughlin not teach him how to hold the football? Did you need to lift more to make sure defenders couldn’t strip the ball from you? God, I am so mad at David Wilson. I do think he’ll bounce back though and have a good season.

What are your thoughts on your questions? And what did you think of Chip Kelly’s offense on Monday night?

Joe to Greg

You rightfully beat me in our one league but I got off to a good start in our ESPN league. Drew Brees lit it up for me and I had all but one starter fail to reach double digits so I like where this season is headed. Back to real football, I think I was most surprised about the competitiveness of some of the weaker teams from last year. Starting with the Buffalo Bills giving the New England Patriots a scare. EJ Manuel made some nice throws but simply couldn’t play for the whole 60 minutes and keep up. While the score was close towards the end, the Bills had some questionable drives in the fourth quarter but nonetheless impressed many people, including me (I’m going to refrain from discussing the Patriots situation until more games are played/Gronk comes back within a reasonable timespan). Another instance is the Oakland Raiders, lead by former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor. Rushing for over 100 yards and throwing for over 200 yards was impressive in a near underdog win against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck showed off his knack for winning games in the fourth quarter once again but Pryor had a chance to bring the Raiders back. Unfortunately, his 2 interceptions on the day doomed the Raiders. Look out for this Raiders team to win a game or two more because of Pryor’s playmaking abilities.

    Adrian Peterson went off on the first play of the season for him, but other than that was outperformed by Reggie Bush, who was showing off some of his old school USC speed. Colin Kaepernick performed as well as anybody and the scary thing was, he was using his arm most of the day. RGIII certainly didn’t look like the player we know him to be. I think that game was more of him shaking off the rust than anything else.

    Stevan “Needs a nickname related to fumbles” Ridley drove me nuts on Sunday. Fumbling once without anyone even touching him. It’s ridiculous how good he is at fumbling the ball. Wilson and Ridley need to step it up, but luckily for Ridley, he’s the Patriots only option which may mean he’ll be let out of the dog house a little early.

    My thoughts on Chip Kelly’s offense can pretty much be summed up in a conversation I had with a true Philadelphia Eagles fan, Andrew Gerdes.

This was a short text exchange during the first half and some of the second half when the offense was clicking.

Joe: “I know I love watching this, I can only imagine how you feel”

Gerds: “This is insane”

Joe: “It’s incredible honestly, its a work of art”

Gerds: “They’ve maybe had 5 five plays where they haven’t had positive yardage”

It was entertaining to watch and that above all else is why I like it. Its new, you really never know who will get the ball, and its effective BUT time will tell. Remember, it’s only week 1…

Greg to Joe

RGIII did not look good at all. It was bad. He looked timid and just could not perform physically like we saw all of last season, but if he was at full health, the Redskins would have been in that game the whole way. The ‘Skins’ defense played extraordinarily well considering they were facing a brand new NFL offensive system. That being said, the Eagles offense is going to be filthy all year. Early I wrote for half a year and maybe the whole year, but I have to think its going to be the whole year now. They really do have a lot of talent on offense and the O-Line doesn’t have to be great because the offense is designed to tire out defenses so they will be facing D-Lines that are constantly fatigued. Their skill players are awesome, and if Vick can stay upright, the Eagles could be really good by just simply outscoring other teams and not worrying too much about how bad their defense is. I think the first time that team will be tested fully will be against the Broncos and Giants in Weeks 4 and 5. I think the Broncos will do ungodly things to that defense, much like the Ravens game. The reason I call the Giants a test is they have the offense (assuming Eli, Cruz, and Nicks are healthy) to keep up with the Eagles considering the Eagles defensive woes. I hate the Eagles and I can’t stand Eagles fans, but I will admit that offense will be one of a kind.

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

I love EJ Manuel. He definitely wasn’t as good as Cam Newton was in college, but he has a similar body type. With Doug Marrone at the helm in Buffalo, I am expecting big things out of him. I made a bold prediction for Week 2 in my weekly article at BucStop.com. I am calling for a Buffalo victory at home against Carolina, not too crazy considering they at 3 point home dogs. The crazy part is I’ve got EJ Manuel throwing for 3 touchdowns and running another 1 in to out play Cam Newton in his second NFL game. The pocket passer will never die, but the running quarterback, when used properly, can bring a whole new weapon to an offensive system. That is what Manual will do for the Bills and if Spiller can get his head straight, they could surprise some people.

You have a bold prediction for next week and do you think someone will disappoint fantasy owners in Week 2 much like David Wilson disappointed me in Week 1?

Joe to Greg

Not too many bold predictions. I say that RGIII burns the Packers much like Kaepernick was able to do last week. Thinking that Aaron Rodgers starts a season 0-2 seems weird. Regardless, I think one other surprise could be Eli getting his first Manning Bowl victory, currently losing (0-2). This is tough or at least down right bold. Peyton‘s either going to go off again or it’ll be a shootout coming down to come of the last possession in the fourth. I hope it’s an entertaining game throughout.

Some fantasy disappointments… I can see Frank Gore pissing me off this weekend with a subpar performance playing in the Seattle opener. Gore does get the chance to play there every season so he could bring experience to the table, but every now and then he drops a goose egg. Other than Gore, some tough calls to make… Chris Johnson against the Houston Texans. Yes the Texans let Philip Rivers almost beat them, but their defense is still a force. Combined with Johnson’s recent fantasy struggles dating back to last year, I like the chances. I’m calling a big day from Terrelle Pryor. Something about him makes me feel like he can have a little success. Even if that is for a game, I’ll take my chances since he’s playing a Jaguars team that gave up 28 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Any big performers this week?

Greg to Joe

The line for the Jags-Raiders game is ridiculous in my opinion. I would say that the Raiders are so talentless (much like the Houston Astros) they don’t deserve to ever be more than a 3 point favorite. I say 3 points because home teams automatically get a 3 points deducted in the books for NFL games. I can see Pryor going off, but I think that MJD will have a big game as well. There just won’t be a lot of passing. It will be like a game from the 60’s.

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with your Redskins assessment. Kaepernick is much better than RGIII right now, considering health. RGIII won’t be able to tear up the Packers like Kaepernick did. I’m calling for a Packers blowout actually. RGIII is trying to recover on a short week from his first NFL game since an ACL reconstruction. The Redskins defense is probably still trying to catch their breath from Monday. The Packers offense is deadly and will carve up the Redskins in a different way than the Eagles did. I think the Packers just take it to them and don’t let up in their first game at Lambeau for the new season. Your Eli vs Peyton prediction is outrageously bold. I think the Broncos beat them pretty bad because the Giants won’t be able to run any better than the Ravens did so the Broncos will just gear up and attack Eli.

My big performers include the EJ Manuel prediction, but I also think Alshon Jeffery will get a TD or two. The Bears offense is remade under Mark Trestman, and they will try to score as quickly as possible to take the game out of Adrian Peterson’s hands. I am starting Jeffery over Mike Wallace in one of my leagues. That is partially because of Jeffery, but it also has to do with the concern I have will Wallace and Tannehill‘s chemistry (even with chemistry issues, I see them beating the Colts in Indianapolis). I’m just pumped for Week 2 to start tonight in Foxboro (the line for that game is ridiculous in my opinion, but we’ll see if I am wrong).

Good luck in fantasy this week and to the Pats tonight.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola