For the record – week 3

Weekly picks and dynasty transactions

@ Jags 6.5 over Titans

Hard to believe that the Titans, missing so many starters, were able to beat the Texans last week. It’s harder still to imagine a scenario where they are able to keep it close versus a very impressive Jags team. Of course, this could be viewed as a trap game as the Jags may be a little overconfident coming off their win versus New England, but I’m going to bet the momentum, and Titans injuries/inferiority carry them through. Jags to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

The window to buy Keelan Cole is closing rapidly. Fast, capable receivers who make hay off of play action on a team that wants to run the ball, is a very good recipe. The fact that the likes of highly regarded Matt Waldman and Matt Harmon are pounding the table here, suggests the price should climb considerably as more evidence is provided to support Cole’s case. Get him if you still can.

@ Chiefs 6.5 over 49ers

An early season battle of small-sample-sized, offseason darling QBs. At the moment Mahomes owners are likely dividing their time between giddiness and skepticism. It has been an incredible start, one that is set for certain regression. This week marks Mahomes’ Arrowhead debut, a stadium that has been historically unfavourable to visiting teams, and I’m guessing the fans will be jacked up for this one. Satiating the hometown fans will be a new test for Mahomes. In the face of such expectations we’ll see how the young QB reacts. Will he press a little looking for the big play and create some long-overdue turnovers, or will the honeymoon continue? Let’s bet he doesn’t disappoint. Chiefs to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Buy Spencer Ware. Andy Reid has a history of supporting multiple backs. Ware was the starter before getting hurt last year, and should Hunt get falter or get Hurt, Ware is an immediate RB1/2. This is fertile soil for all offensive weapons and Ware should grow too.

@ Panthers 2.5 over Bengals

Home favourites are certainly a thing this week. I’ve been reluctant to join the Bengals early season bandwagon and see no reason to do so this week on the road. This isn’t an easy call though, but when in doubt, on a tight spread like this it is wise to bet on the home team. Take the Panthers to win and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Wonderful as he’s been, I think now is the time to see what the market has to offer on Cam Newton. While he’s only 29 years old, as Indiana Jones once said “It’s not the years it’s the mileage” and there are plenty of those on this run first quarterback. Recent QB entries into the league are changing the QB landscape, as new names emerge Cam’s star could very well fade. Why not see if there isn’t a buyer out there.

@ Falcons 3.5 over Saints

These are two teams that are struggling to find their bearings. Both are 1-1 and have given little in the way of confidence-inspiring play. The Saints barely escaped week two against the Browns after getting embarrassed by the Buccaneers. Sean Payton won’t allow them to flounder for long and it seems more likely that he resolves what ails the Saints (defense it would seem) versus Atlanta’s spotty passing game and red zone issues, which, as far as colors go, would more aptly be called a black hole. Saints to cover and win.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

If and when the Falcons do fix their red zone issues, Julio Jones will be a certain beneficiary, but so to will Austin Hooper. The very talented Hooper has produced very little to date, but this season he has been targeted multiple times in the red zone and managed to score last week. Many seem to have given up on the 23-year old, third year receiver, but the tight end position takes time to develop, particularly those tight ends who are not quasi receivers. Hooper is being developed into an all-around tight end, making major strides in his run blocking last season. He has more than enough talent to figure out the receiving game. Balanced tight end, those who can block and be a threat are becoming a rarer commodity in today’s NFL. If Hooper puts it all together he should be around for a very long time. Go get him, he’s cheap.

@ Vikings 16.5 over Bills

16.5 is a big number but if anyone can’t cover that big a spread, it’s the Bills. Take the Vikes to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

I have long been a Laquon Treadwell apologist, urging patience on a talented player who would eventually figure it out. And while you don’t need to be told this: cut him. He’s not rosterable. And if like me you had some ridiculous loyalty to him, if he ever pops at some point down the road you’ll be the only person putting a waiver claim on him.

And yes, this isn’t added value advice, but for me it’s a cathartic admission of failure, a mea culpa. My name is Jason and I am a Laquon Treadwell addict.

No more damnit. No more.

@ Eagles 6.5 over Colts

Carson Wentz is back but several of his weapons are gone. Ships passing in the night it seems. While everyone remembers how great Wentz was last year and how much they loved him, everyone seems to be forgetting Andrew Luck. It wasn’t so long ago that he was the second coming of Peyton Manning, and I think those dismissing him and his repaired shoulder are going to be reminded of that several times this season. One of those times will be this weekend. Colts to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The window to buy Andrew Luck is still open. People suspect his shoulder is a time bomb, they forget his first years in the league, they are distracted by the shiny new toys with names like Wentz and Watson and Mahomes, but what if Luck continues to progress, continues to throw deeper? What if Colts management has learned they need to protect their QB? What if that defense is horrible and the Colts have to throw for the new 5-10 years? Luck is a good buy low candidate as a player who could be top 5 again before long.

@ Dolphins 3.5 over Raiders

The Raiders have been dreadful and Jon Gruden has become a punching bag in the football community. The Dolphins are off to an unexpected 2-0 start. Those wins came against a Titans team that suffered a string of injuries in the week 1 contest and then the Jets in Sam Darnold’s second ever start. Both of those teams might actually be horrible. This smells like a let down game for Miami. The Raiders meanwhile, have lost to a dominant Rams team and just barely lost to the Broncos, in Denver. Take the Raiders to cover and win.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

As long-term investments go, I can’t see any I’d willingly make to any player on either of these teams and that includes the hot and cold Amari Cooper. Cooper receives a tremendous amount of coverage in the fantasy community thanks to his skill set and early career success. He may very well prove to be a serviceable starting WR for years to come, but at this point the conversation about him being an elite receiver should be over.

@ Ravens 5.5 over Broncos

The Ravens at home, coming off a loss versus a Denver team travelling across the country for the early game with a banged up (and possibly lousy) quarterback. Both of these teams still seem unsettled to me. The Broncos are 2-0 on two tight wins at home against two teams that appear to be in disarray. A new coaching staff next year and a new Quarterback mid-year would not surprise me in Denver. The Ravens offense is loaded with new names. Each week they should get a little more familiar with one and other. I think Mornhinweg starts to get this offense working this week. Take the Ravens to win and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The buying window is closing on John Brown. After looking good in the pre-season, he put up 90+ yards last week when he had to, and 40 plus versus Buffalo when he didn’t. Flacco’s deep ball makes him an interesting play this year, but if he is able to manage his health issue long-term, a future as Lamar Jackson’s target offers real value.

In buy extremely low terms, I am holding out hope that the possible week 11 return of Kenneth Dixon may finally reward us Dixon-truthers. The wait has been long and painful and this is likely one of his last chances to shine in Baltimore. He’s a bottom of the roster waiver wire pickup between now and late October.

Possibly cheaper, probably somewhere between Brown and Dixon is Broncos QB2 Chad Kelly. Kelly is a favourite of the aforementioned Matt Waldman and it would appear Keenum will afford him a chance to audition at some point this season, possibly as early as this week. He’s a big upside stash if you can make some roster space.

@ Texans 6.5 over Giants

After watching the first two weeks it’s hard to imagine how anyone can comfortably bet the Giants here. The Texans are still trying to find their footing and playing the Giants at home is a great place to do it. Watson production has reverting to the mean as predicted, but given this week’s matchup and the outside motivation from a local school superintendent, this feels like a week he could pop. The bench Eli drumbeat also seems eager to intensify. Texans to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

The early season swoon for the Giants makes it an opportunity for patient buyers to go fishing for the likes of Beckham and Barkley. And while it’s unlikely a big discount is available on either, kicking the tires on Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram might be worth your time. And if you have the roster space, Kyle Lauletta is eventually getting to audition with all four of those guys, isn’t he?

Packers 2.5 over @ Washington

This all hinges on how well Rodgers can play on his leg and a half. Washington beat the lowly Cardinals and then looked dreadful last week against the Colts. Now they host a Green Bay team that is adding Aaron Jones to its backfield. Alex Smith is still getting acquainted with an offense that has several new pieces. It might take a few more weeks, and a weaker opponent before they can figure it all out. Packers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

In rebuild mode I’d be trying to acquire any of the Green Bay assets that may be slightly diminished by Rodgers limitations. I doubt there is much discount there but is worth pricing now and in the coming weeks if the offense falters.

Impatient or win-now owners may be willing to part ways with Derrius Guice at a reasonable price.

@ Rams 7.5 over Chargers

The Rams have been dominant against the Raiders and dreadful Cardinals. This week they play against a Chargers team that won’t be so easily pushed around. The Rams are no doubt among the elite, but their pre-season ends this Sunday and Philip Rivers and the Chargers may catch them off guard. Chargers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

I’m a broken record here, but this is just a monthly reminder that Brandin Cooks is slightly younger than Woods and Kupp and vastly more talented than both. Cooks is a receiver-in-full: speed, route running and adaptability. It doesn’t hurt either that he plays against defenses that are terrified of Todd Gurley. Stacked boxes and play action will be his friends for years to come. He’s signed, Gurley is signed and Goff is signed. This is a long-term situation that should only improve with time. Time for you to sign up to the Cooks truther camp. This is a top 10 receiver for the next 5 to 7 years.

@ Seahawks 1.5 over Cowboys

A reminder: both of these coaching staffs will be replaced this offseason. Second reminder, Russell Wilson is greater than anything Dallas has to offer. Seahawks to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Sign me up for anyone selling Russell Wilson shares. At 29 Wilson has produced a handful of MVP candidate seasons. He has done so all while being poorly protected by his offensive line, provided modest weaponry in the passing game and been hamstrung by a coaching staff who thinks their best course is to “pound the rock”. At some point a rational decision will be made and Wilson will be able to play without one hand tied behind his back.

And yes, I realize Newton and Wilson are the same age and that they have both paid a price physically. The difference is, I believe Wilson has all the passing game tools to adjust his game over time, while I’m skeptical Newton can.

I’m also a cautious buyer of Tyler Lockett. I’ve been waiting 2+ years, what’s one more.

Bears 6.5 over @ Cardinals

The Bears defense was very impressive last week versus Seattle. They have announced their arrival as a unit to be taken seriously. The offense in Chicago, meanwhile, remains a bit of a work in progress. In Arizona nothing has worked. I’d wager there is enough veteran pride and leadership in the Cardinals room to turn things around this week, and at the very least keep this home game a close one. Cards to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

In horrible calls for 2018, my worst has been that David Johnson would be the fantasy MVP. In the early going that appears to be a total disaster and I’m not holding my breath for a turnaround/. The logic was simple: volume and garbage time should equal big passing yardage as the Cards make late game efforts against prevent type defenses. That obviously has not materialized. That being said, for those able to sit and wait on Johnson, it’s worth seeing how a motivated seller might have him valued.

Patriots 6.5 over @ Lions

Bill Belichick coming off a loss, playing against a struggling team headed by one of his former assistant coaches, and a vastly overrated one in my estimation. I suspect this could be a high scoring affair, and I anticipate Gronk bounces back from a frustrating week 2 versus Jacksonville. Pats win this track meet and cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Broken record suggestions here: Buy Gronk, he’s not retiring, buy Sony Michel, buy Kenny Golladay, take a shot on Josh Gordon, sell Tom Brady, sell Julian Edelman, sell Chris Hogan.

Steelers 1.5 over @ BUCCANEERS

I love Ryan Fitzpatrick and hope there is plenty of magic yet to come, but this week I think the Steelers will be desperate to get their season headed in the right direction. Expect a monster game from drama queen Antonio Brown and mix in a little Juju. The Buccs will likely keep this a track meet, but the Steelers will prevail. Take the Steelers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS:

Juju Smith-Schuster is still only 21 years old. Antonio Brown, like many Steelers star receivers before him, may find himself, regrettably retiring in another team’s colors. Whether he finishes his career in Pittsburgh or not won’t matter to Juju. Like Brandin Cooks, he is both highly regarded and underrated.

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