For the record week 12

Week 12

Jacksonville -3 @Buffalo

If the Jags have any pride whatsoever, they win big in Buffalo. If they lose you can write virtually everyone involved with this team off, from the top down. Jags to cover.

Pats -10.5 @ Jets

The Pats dynasty was built on three things: the genius of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and by no small part, a perpetually horrid AFC East. Talk this week of the demise of Brady and the possible retirement of Gronk will likely leave plenty of people looking stupid. Pats to cover.

@ Eagles -5 vs. Giants

The Jags and Eagles are suffering similarly disappointing years after great 2017 campaigns. No team fared better last year than Philly, and with that Super Bowl confidence still somewhere there under the surface, I’ve been expecting a late season surge to take the NFC East. The work gets harder after last week’s crushing defeat to the Saints and it’s now-or-never time for Philly. I expect them to be considerably motivated to beat a lousy and overconfident Giants team who just managed back to back wins. Big cover by Philly.

@ Buccaneers -2.5 vs San Francisco

I can’t imagine the Buccaneers quarterback carousel has helped confidence in the room, let alone chemistry and timing on the field. This coaching staff is teetering on the brink of extinction and looks desperate. Kyle Shanahan, on the other hand, has considerable job security and is making progress with his 3rd QB. He should be able to take advantage of the flailing Buccs. 49ers to cover and win.

@ Chargers -13 vs. Arizona

Thirteen point seems a lot for this Chargers team whose wins have come against: Buffalo, San Fran, Oakland twice, Cleveland, Tennessee and Seattle, a veritable who’s who of who’s awful, injured or average at best. I appreciate that the Cardinals certainly fit that description but am betting Byron Leftwich, Josh Rosen and company continue to make enough progress not to be blown away. Cards to cover.

@ Minnesota -3 vs Green Bay

The Vikings continue to get average to bad play from their offensive line and this just doesn’t seem to be their year. Aaron Rodgers has had a challenging few weeks with losses, a public spat with his family and Mike McCarthy’s continued blacklisting of rational coaching. I’ll take Rodgers as an underdog though every time. Packers to cover.

@ Cincy -1 vs Cleveland

Being a 1-point underdog on the road seems like a watershed moment for the Browns. This is legitimate respect. Respect I think might be a little premature. Bengals to cover.

Bruce Arians has said he wants the Browns’ HC job and it’s the only one he will take. The Browns have zero competition to grab a great offensive mind, capable of building pretty solid team identity and team chemistry. Look for Haslem to take a hard pass and sign Bill Cowher.

@ Carolina -3 vs. Seattle

A tough call in which I’ll err on the side of the team with the coaching staff capable of abstract thought. Panthers to cover.

@ Baltimore -10.5 vs. Oakland

One team possibly reenergized by a new quarterback at the helm, the other watching another departed possible-star shine elsewhere. It’s been one gut punch after the next for the Raiders room and Cooper’s explosion this week can’t help morale or confidence in their staff. Nor can it help that they are travelling across the country to face a Ravens team fighting for their playoff lives. Lamar breakout game, Ravens to cover.

Indianapolis -7.5 vs. Miami

Tannehill comes back and has to find his game on the road against an Indy team on an upswing. I won’t be surprised if Miami is a little better down the stretch, but there should be too much rust to overcome this week, to keep pace with Frank Reich and Andrew Luck. Indy to cover.

Pittsburgh -3 @ Denver

If Denver can hang in with the Chiefs offense, I think they should be able to keep a hold on a Steelers team that has been a little uneven. Denver to cover.

@ Texans -5.5 vs. Titans

Houston seems a year away from being a very scary offense. A fully healthy receiving corps, a healthier Watson, a new running back or two and an improved offensive line and this team seems well armed to be in the Rams, Chiefs talent level. Of course, coaching is another matter and I remain skeptical of the Texans staff. The Titans have been up and down all season. This is a game that matters to them if they care to stay relevant in the AFC South race. I expect they come to play. Titans to cover.

For the record – week 11

Shit is getting real. This week’s slate has blockbuster matchups as well as some really great under the radar, must-win games. Here’s how I’m guessing they might go down along with a bold prediction or two.

@ Atlanta -3 vs. Cowboys

Atlanta has been under the radar in their wretchedness. Aside from a win over the Panthers and a must-win against Washington two weeks ago, they simply haven’t come through. After losing all momentum last week versus the Browns, they are faced with another must win, this time at home against Dallas. The Cowboy’s have been better of late but Atlanta’s desperation and offense are likely too much for Jason Garrett and company to overcome. Atlanta to comfortably cover.

@ Ravens -5.5 vs. Cincinnati

A huge AFC North matchup. The Ravens are a game behind the Bengals and now get them on their home field. There are some hurdles to overcome for both teams as Baltimore will be starting either Lamar Jackson and/or RG3, while the Bengals are missing perennial offensive MVP AJ Green. Guessing at the future, I’d expect Harbaugh to craft a game plan based on a ball control offense that takes advantage of his mobile back up QBs particular skill sets, while leaning heavily on his defense. This seems like a winning formula versus average Andy and absent AJ. Ravens to cover and then some.

Bold prediction: Monster week for Alec Collins.

Lamar Jackson skeptics have to re-evaluate their hate after this one as Jackson should fare better with consistent snaps and series. It’s difficult to be accurate coming in cold for the occasional cameo play. This will be his first real audition tape since the pre-season. The end is nigh Joe.

Panthers -4.5 @ Detroit

This is the time of year where desperation and fighting for playoff lives becomes a supreme motivator. The Panthers go to Detroit coming off a big loss against the Steelers. Detroit is just a strange team, The Lions have a lousy three wins, but two of those wins came against the Packers and Patriots though, so you never really know what they are going to give you. Four and a half is plenty to give t home, but this Panthers team has plenty of weapons to unleash Detroit’s fast track. This could be a high scoring, fun game to watch. In the end I expect Cam and the Panthers to be too much. Panthers to cover.

Texans -3 @ Washington

Two teams sitting atop their divisions who I would guess don’t finish the season there. The Texans have a list of fluky wins, a lousy offensive line and a banged-up offense. Washington has a decimated offensive line, modest offense and sometimes great defense. This seems to be a battle of which offensive line can be less-worse and I would anticipate a season-high game penalty total, with neither team getting into any sort of rhythm. Last week Washington’s offensive line survived the lowly Buccs defense, I’d expect the Texans are able to expose them this week. Texans to cover.

Bold prediction: The Washington fade begins and excellerates from here. Sell anything you own not named Guice.

@ Giants -2.5 versus Buccaneers

From two average teams somehow atop of their divisions, to two shitty teams, right where they belong. The Giants have a little momentum from recent weeks while the Buccs seem determined to get themselves a new coaching staff. Another high scoring shootout affair for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Eli, faced with the Buccaneers embarrassing defense should be able to get out of his own way and allow his elite weapons to score big. Giants to cover.

@ Colts -1.5 vs. Titans

An underrated matchup of two teams who seem to be slowly but surely getting better under the guidance of their new coaching staffs. The Colts are a game behind the Titans who are chasing the Texans, so both should be considerably motivated. The inventive offensive staffs should also make this one pretty entertaining. I’ll opt for Andrew Luck over the less consistent Mariota here. Colts to cover.

Steelers -5 @ Jacksonville

The division leading Steelers off an impressive win over Atlanta versus a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has shat the bed all season long. The Jags do seem to get themselves motivated for big matchups, however, and any game involving the Steelers fits that description. With their backs against the wall and their wobbling reputations at stake I’m guessing the Jags put up a good showing at home. Jags to cover.

Bold prediction: I’m not sure if it’s this week or next, and truly wish no ill will on James Conner, but would it not be fitting if the Steelers had a sudden and desperate need for LeVeon Bell the moment he became unavailable?

@ Cards -5.5 vs Raiders

Sigh. It’s garbage time from the opening kickoff onwards. I’ll opt for the revamped Cardinals to cover.

@ Chargers -7 vs. Broncos

The Chargers are trying to keep pace with a Chiefs team that has a solid chance of losing this week, so LA won’t be flat for this one. The Broncos, meanwhile have held tight more often than not and generally put up good showings versus division foes. This is probably a much better game than expected. The Chargers will win but I’d expect the Broncos to hang around and cover.

@ Saints -7.5 versus Eagles

Defending Super Bowl champs giving 7.5 points while they are still in the running to win the NFC East seems high. This is a huge test and a watershed game for the Eagles season. Last week I guessed that with Alshon and Wentz healthier, and Tate indoctrinated into the offense, the Eagles would win and start their second half surge. This week I’m doubling down. I still believe the Eagles are going to figure this thing out and win the division. Eagles to at least cover, if not win.

Bold prediction: Watch for Dwayne Washington down the homestretch. He’s a former receiver, big bodied RB who could fill the Mark Ingram role for the Saints next year, should the veteran depart for greener pastures.

@ Bears -2.5 vs. Vikings

A game Minnesota absolutely needs. The Vikings pathetic offensive line will be up against a tremendous pass rush on the road. It’s now or never time for Zimmer to figure this one out and I he and Cousins have enough magic to pull it out this week. Vikings to cover.

@ Rams -3.5 vs. Chiefs

The game of the season so far. I’m not sure who gets the W here at all but we all win as spectators, in what should be an offensive explosion of a game. Three and a half points is just enough for me to opt for the Chiefs as I expect this one comes down to a last second kick. KC to cover.

For the record – week 10

@ Bears -6.5 vs. Lions

This game appears to be a clash of skewed confidences. The Bears have some swagger from back to back wins against the Jets and Bills, while Detroit just lost at home to Seattle and in Minnesota. Or put another way. The Bears beat two lousy teams and the Lions lost to two decent ones. I’m not sure anyone really knows what these teams are yet, and that includes the teams themselves. For this week I suspect Detroit’s desperation to win might outweigh the Bears false sense of confidence from their big wins over bad teams.

Detroit to cover and win.

Saints -5.5 @ Bengals

A team that just dismantled the undefeated Los Angeles Rams is now only giving 4.5 points against Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. What am I missing here? The Bengals are without their one and only dependable offensive weapon in AJ Green and I can’t see them keeping the pace in this game without him. Many are calling for Tyler Boyd to fill the void but I suspect he struggles against WR1 coverage. I’d also suggest Joe Mixon is a great talent and fun to watch but I certainly haven’t seen him, or the Bengals ground game for that matter, truly dominate. I just don’t see a path for Bengals success here.

Saints to cover big.

Falcons -4.5 @ Browns

Atlanta started their season 1-4, followed up with wins against the messy Buccaneers and disastrous Giants to finish on a high note before their bye week. At the break their season appeared to be at a tipping point as they prepared for a matchup with Washington. They delivered in a pretty big way with a lopsided win. The big point total was certainly encouraging, but when you look under the hood and realize they walloped a team who lost a good portion of their offensive line mid-game, the result may leave you less enthusiastic. This week they face Cleveland, a team under constant reconstruction, guided by an interim coaching staff and hoping like hell some leaders emerge from their locker room. On paper this is a game Atlanta should certainly win and that’s the bet.

Atlanta to cover (but there is upset risk here).

Patriots -6.5 @ Titans

There have been a few former Pats coaches who have fared well versus Belichick. The long-forgotten Eric Mangini for one, and Josh McDaniels not so long ago, and most recently Matt Patricia’s early season win with the Lions. Given the state of the Titans QB situation, it seems highly unlikely that Mike Vrabel and the Titans will add their names to the list. A coaching staff that can’t harness the strengths of their best players, isn’t likely to out maneuver the Patriots.

Pats to cover.

@ Colts -3.5 vs. Jags

The Jags are coming off a bye week and a whole lot of disappointing early season losses. I suspect management and the coaching staff are putting a lot of weight into the outcome of this week. I’m guessing the Jacksonville defense finds it swagger and the Colts and Andrew Luck take a bit of a step back.

Jags to cover and win.

@ Chiefs -16.5 vs. Cardinals

Sixteen and a half is a lot of points and a real temptation, but this is the Chiefs at home against a rookie quarterback a few weeks into his career with a newly anointed offensive coordinator. This is a learning curve year for Rosen and the Cards and this week’s lesson won’t be pleasant.

Chiefs to cover.

@ Jets -7.5 vs. Bills

The Bills defense is better than you think. The Bills offense is worse than you can imagine. The Jets coaching is far better than the Bills and I fully expect them to walk away 8 points better than Buffalo. Also, Josh McCown is better right now than Sam Darnold. Buckle up for some Fitzmagic light.

Jets to cover.

@ Buccaneers -3.5 vs. Washington

The Washington offense line has been shattered by injury. Even if the replacement players were Pro Bowl caliber talents (they aren’t) it would take them weeks to form chemistry as a unit. Yes, Tampa’s defense is dreadful. The issue is, the only way Washington can win this game is if they dominate on the ground, hold on to the ball and suffocate Tampa with their defense. My concern is that Washington’s defense has little room for error and may find themselves on the field more than they like. A gassed Washington defense and an ill-equipped offense won’t be able to match Tampa’s output.

Tampa to cover

Chargers -10.5 @ Raiders

Another big spread that isn’t tempting enough to take. The Raiders appear to be in complete disarray. The scorched earth approach Gruden and Davis have employed seems to be taking its toll on the locker room as this looks like a dysfunctional team with little cohesion of confidence. The Raiders are entering 2015-17 Browns territory.

Chargers to cover

@ Packers -10.5 vs. Dolphins

A questionable QB situation in Miami versus a Green Bay team coming off two difficult games. The season is getting away from them (and hopefully Mike McCarthy this offseason). This should be a statement game. They’re home, they’re pissed off and they’re up against a pretty lousy, and banged up Dolphins team. I expect they should come out with guns blazing and try to set the tone for a strong finish.

Packers to cover.

@ Rams – 10.5 versus Seattle

The Rams off a loss are a tempting bet, but this Seattle team may be annoyingly competitive the rest of the season. I say annoyingly because I would like to see nothing more than the dismissal of Pete Carroll and his staff at year end and the hiring of a more progressive staff, one with the wherewithal to embrace Wilson’s unique set of skills. But after watching Wilson play this past week, it seems his own competitive nature may overcome Seattle’s archaic game planning. I suspect Seattle’s pride and feistiness will keep them hanging around late in this one.

Seattle to cover

@ Eagles -6.5 vs. Cowboys

Timing is everything and time seems to be on the Eagles side in this particular case. They’ve had two weeks to indoctrinate Golden Tate, they’ve had several more to get Alshon Jeffrey back to full strength and Carson Wentz’s knee, the subject of much early-season consternation, might be that much closer to 100%. This is the time of the season that the cream starts to rise to the top and the coaches who shouldn’t be employed, cement their cases for more golf time. Book your tee times Jason Garrett.

Eagles to cover

@ 49ers – 3.5 vs Giants

Two disappointing teams with built in excuses. San Francisco has a 3rd string QB/possible scapegoat starting while the Giants have perennial train wreck Eli Manning at the helm, holding back all of their otherwise explosive talents. Truly this feels like a coin toss game, but let’s give Eli one last chance and opt for the Giants.

Giants to cover.

Best Fantasy Football Podcasts

I play fantasy football as an escape from the reality of my day to day work life. Fantasy provides a welcome distraction from the monotony or stress of my workday. In years past that escape took the form or reading websites. In recent years I find myself reading less and turning instead to podcasts. This way as I walk the dog, sit in traffic or go for a run I can multi-task my procrastinating.

The fantasy podcast options grow longer every day. Finding a show that is well produced, well hosted and unique can be a challenge though as there are a lot of podcasters learning on the job, providing echo-chamber takes or just plain bad. I’m constantly kicking tires on new hosts and new shows and suggest you do the same, because there is plenty of great stuff out there to be discovered.

The list below are the shows or voices I find myself returning to most frequently, and while they are ranked in no particular order, the last name on the list is far and away my favourite.

The Dynasty Blueprint with Matt Williamson and Ryan McDowell.

The original draw for me here was Matt Williamson, who I read and listened to years ago when he was working for ESPN. Williamson is a former NFL scout and his insights are focused more so on the actual game on the field, rather than the fantasy angles; and this is where Ryan McDowell comes in. McDowell, who I didn’t know previously, is a fantasy industry veteran from Dynasty League Football. As the name of the site and this pod suggests, he views player values on the long-term dynasty time horizon. The two work well together and offer unique perspective; Matt’s football vantage point gauging talent and Ryan’s fantasy experience measuring value. The format varies from week to week, but this year’s in-season weekly podcasts have been sourced from listener questions. It’s a nice interactive element and it’s easy enough to get your questions addressed. For a few weeks they had adopted a trade-debate show, where Ryan threw out hypothetical dynasty trades that he and Matt hash out. It makes for a fun listen and one I hope they refine and return to soon.

It is not the tidiest show production-wise, and you get the sense they are still looking for their groove. What has me coming back week after week are their takes, both voices are worth your time and energy.

Harris Fantasy Football Podcast

Another ESPN alumnus, the exhausted and sometimes exhausting Chris Harris pumps out 5 shows a week during the regular season. Chris prides himself on watching every game, using film to decipher player values, rather than sifting through the box scores. Monday and Tuesday shows are for game film review and waiver wire pick-ups, Wednesday is dedicated to players ranks, Thursday Chris reveals his Flexual Healing pole results and talks DFS, while the week culminates with Cousin Josh’s visit on Friday. I find myself tuning in most days but if I had to narrow it down, I’d opt for Tuesday’s waiver wire portion of the show, in which Chris and his industry guest run down the virtues or warts of their top five pick-ups of the week. Friday’s have been entertaining recently and Chris and Cousin Josh have been running though fun lists of players they would trade for or trade away, along with general fantasy football topics, such as what ails the game and what could improve leagues. The two are pretty fun together and you can certainly feel the family familiarity.

Chris has some pretty strong opinions and can sometimes rage against a specific topic, dogmatic player take, or stat usage. There have been a few tense moments on the show where he and a guest have sparred, which was both uncomfortable and entertaining. He’ll also rail, on acasion, against the fantasy community at large, which can be a little self-aggrandizing and off-putting. That said, I’ve been going back for more for years and have no plans on giving him up. We tune in to these shows for opinion and debate and he doesn’t apologize for providing just that.

Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast

For a kinder, friendlier podcast with a depth of knowledge, there’s Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast. This is the newest and most unique animal of the fantasy football podcast universe. To call the show a fantasy podcast would be inaccurate as it’s really more of a pure football show. Matt and his guests meander through a number of topics including scouting in general, the evaluation process and philosophy, as well as a good dose of grey bearded football history. The show is understated and underproduced, yet clear, one course and thought inspiring. Waldman provides his audiences with unique guests and unique conversations in a landscape where one podcast content, format or guests are often echoed. He’s also just a good, straight up conversationalist and giving host. The conversations are an exploration, rather than a list of questions. I sometimes find myself skeptical in the opening moments of a show, but am drawn in time after time. The fantasy nuggets are not on the surface, as they are with many shows, but hidden within the conversation

Matt’s recently hosted Dane Brugler, another well respected football mind who produces a scouting report that likely comes into direct competition with Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio. In some industries, some personalities would shy away from inviting the competition in, not so here. Instead, Brugler and Waldman have a great conversation on process and how they continue to learn and refine their craft. I have yet to decipher the show’s exact schedule or frequency, but I’m always happy when it pops up in my subscriptions.

So, come for the Nick Chubb confirmation bias, but stay for the football mind expansion.

The Audible

If you couldn’t get out with the lads for a Thursday Night Football pint, crack one on the couch and enjoy the banter between the Football Guys. First Dr. Gene Bramel pops in for a visit and some injury Q&A with the guys. The balance of the show is a very laid-back and meandering conversation between three of my fantasy industry favourites: Matt Waldman, Sigmund Bloom, and Cecil Lamey as they watch the game unfold. You’ll never know exactly what to expect, but it’s a fun relaxed format that allows for a free-flowing conversation.

Evan Silva Exposure

Silva is another Fantasy community heavyweight I hold in high regard. You can catch Evan regularly on the Fantasy Feast Podcast with Ross Tucker, as well as the Rotoworld Football pod with Josh Norris. I like both shows well enough but don’t seem to return to them as regularly as I do the others. Silva is all over the place and whether you pick him up here, or via his weekly column or just follow him on twitter he’s a valued opinion you should seek out. It seems to me it would serve him well to consider a new format for a regular pod.

Living the Stream

This is a show I don’t listen too nearly enough and that’s mostly to be blamed on my not playing re-draft and needing to stream QB. That said, JJ Zachariason and Denny Carter are really likeable and deserve more ear time. JJ also hosts the Late Round Podcast which is a short and sweet mailbag show he bangs out once a week. I like these two guys a lot and would love to see them expand their podcasting horizons.

On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom

If I had only one podcast to listen to, or to recommend it would very easily be On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom. The weekly show is conversation between host Bloom and a who’s who of fantasy industry experts. Bloom is a kind and generous interviewer who knows how to run his show, how to keep his guests speaking and running through their fantast football stream of consciousness. If you know nothing about the fantasy football community or podcasts, this is where you start. Bloom will introduce you to everyone, one by one. Think of him as your only friend at the party. Stand next to him for a while and before you know it, you’ll be on a first name basis with everyone in the room.

Of all the names above, Williamson, Harris, Waldman, Silva, and Zachariason, as much as I enjoy their own shows, I’d trade them all for a one-hour stint On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom.

Seahawks and Raiders

Seahawks -3.5 @ Raiders

Yards and yards and yards. While NFL offenses around the league spew bursts of lava into the skies, Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer continue to arduously roll their boulder up the slope of the steepening mountain.

Pound the rock. Pound the rock. Pound the rock. Lose.

This is their game plan.

Meanwhile, Mount Wilson sits dormant, waiting patiently for the appropriate (front office) seismic shifts.

That being said, it’s the Raiders vs. Wilson, and even with two hands (and legs it seems) tied behind his back, he will probably find a way to prevail. Seahawks. Sigh.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Buy Wilson. And Lockett. And Baldwin. And Prosise. And hope like hell an epiphany is coming to Seattle.

Chris Warren: Because Lynch is old, because Martin is ineffective, because Gruden brought him in, because he was a beast in the pre-season and because Matt Waldman’s RSP looks at him favourable. P.S. – buy Waldman’s RSP.

For the record – week 6

Chargers -1.5 @ Browns

Baker Mayfield is still learning, Hue Jackson is still coaching and the Chargers have, so far, lost two games to two great teams (Rams & Chiefs). Rivers and company are better than Baker and company. Chargers to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

This is your last chance to get David Njoku because this is the week he’s finally going to justify his lofty dynasty ADP. It’s a tight end bear market and he’s Amazon 5 years ago.

It’s still too early to get Justin Jackson, but he’s an injury away from being to top free agent pick up. Be ready.

@ Texans -8.5 vs. Bills

This is an awfully big spread for a Texans team that hasn’t beaten anyone. Also awful: rookie season Josh Allen. Bills to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

The Texans remain without a true answer at running back. Bolstering their thin depth chart with the likes of the underused Duke Johnson or the non-existent Ameer Abdullah are personal pipe dreams that make too much sense to happen.

I suspect they’ll keep the status quo and hope Donta Foreman defies his injury odds. Groupthink suggests this is never going to happen so you can always zig while everyone zags and stash him on a hope and prayer.

But what if Bill O’Brien just steals a page from his old boss’ playbook and uses Keke Coutee as a short yardage, running back substitute a la Julian Edelman. Watson’s play extension using Coutee as a dink and dunk outlet underneath while Fuller stretches and Hopkins does Hopkins stuff. Whether I’m right or wrong about the role, you likely need to own a piece of this offense and Coutee is the cheapest current piece.

@ Bengals 2.5 vs. Steelers

A tough divisional game pitting Ben Roethlisberger and Antonion Brown against Andy Dalton. Steelers to cover and win please.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Who is next year’s Jerrick McKinnon is a question with many answers. Earlier this season the answer was Tevin Coleman. He’d leave Atlanta and become a #1 elsewhere. Recently the answer is TJ Yeldon. I can get on board for either of those guys, but how about a little love for Gio Bernard? Should Bell leave Pittsburgh I’d be happy to see his impression of DeAngelo Williams.

@ Falcons 3.5 vs. Buccs

Groupthink loves them some Winston this week. Nary a DFS ticket will be absent his name (save for the winners most likely). I certainly see the case. Atlanta’s defense remains a hot mess. The question will be how well tuned the Buccs offense will be given the week off and the three and half weeks of Fitzmagic. Can they keep pace with Matt Ryan and company? I’m betting no, and they’ll use this week as a tune up. I’d also bet this is finally the week that Julio makes some noise in the end zone as I think Atlanta hangs a big one up here.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Austin Hooper is an under the radar talent in an increasingly scarce position. He’s a got the hands and athleticism to be a TE1 threat and the blocking capability to get a giant snap count, all at the ripe age of 23. The old NFL would write Hooper off as a victim of too-many-mouths-to-feed, but that old adage is drawing its last breaths. A fast, indoor track, a very good QB, a capable coordinator and a bounty of surrounding talent give Hooper a ripe environment in which to succeed now and for years to come. He’ll be a slow riser, so get him now on the very cheap.

Bears -3.5 @ Dolphins

A very interesting and difficult game to call. Chicago seemed to finally unveil their long-promised new-age offense two weeks ago, in a coming out party of sorts for Matt Nagy. In the meantime Adam Gase is trying to keep the bloom on his rose. I have doubts about how this plays out, and when in doubt, take the home team, particularly when they are getting points. Dolphins.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Bargain bin buys for deep rosters: Kalen Ballage. Drake is getting the reps but Ballage may be the under the radar plater putting in the extra hours.

Kevin White, because the offense in Chicago might be about to get interesting.

@ Redskins -1.5 vs. Panthers

Washington seems to be favoured in this one based on their victory against the Packers in their only home game this year. Fair enough, but I’ll opt for the much better Carolina team coming off a bye week. Panthers to cover and win.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

If anyone will part with Jordan Reed in this tight end bear market (and the direness of the TE market has not yet been fully realized) buy the hell out of him for this season. He has yet to provide returns but he has talent worth betting on and the early season some may be completely attributable to his familiarity with Alex Smith, who is also due to recover.

Seahawks -3.5 @ Raiders

Yards and yards and yards. While NFL offenses around the league spew bursts of lava into the skies, Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer continue to arduously roll their boulder up the slope of the steepening mountain.

Pound the rock. Pound the rock. Pound the rock. Lose.

This is their game plan.

Meanwhile, Mount Wilson sits dormant, waiting patiently for the appropriate (front office) seismic shifts.

That being said, it’s the Raiders vs. Wilson, and even with two hands (and legs it seems) tied behind his back, he will probably find a way to prevail. Seahawks. Sigh.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Buy Wilson. And Lockett. And Baldwin. And Prosise. And hope like hell an epiphany is coming to Seattle.

Chris Warren: Because Lynch is old, because Martin is ineffective, because Gruden brought him in, because he was a beast in the pre-season and because Matt Waldman’s RSP looks at him favourable. P.S. – buy Waldman’s RSP.

@ Vikings 10.5 vs. Cards

I’m not sure we know who the Vikings are just yet. Beat the Niners, tied the Packers with half a Rodgers, got slaughtered by the Bills at home, fell short to the Rams, and barely beat the hungover Eagles. I appreciate that the Cardinals look horrible and that Rosen is playing a pretty big road game early in his career as a starter, but he eeked out a win last week in San Fran, what’s to say he can’t keep it close in Minny. Cards to cover.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Brokem record: Buy the tight ends. I’d take Rudolph because he is healthy and Ricky Seals Jones because he’s getting a surprising number of air yards and targets and he’s only one week deep with Rosen. With Larry Fitzgerald dinged up it would seem obvious that Seals Jones would become the safety blanket here. It starts this week with 2 TDs.

For the record – Panthers versus Giants

@ Panthers -6.5 vs Giants

A Panthers team fully rested versus a Giants team full of regret for not having drafted a quarterback in this year’s draft. Panthers to win and cover handily.

IN DYNASTY TERMS

Today’s Giants’ narrative will be replaced sometime between now and next season, when the team is certain to acquire a new QB. Price for discounts to the big four of: Barkley, Beckham, Engram and Shepard in the off chance you can catch an impatient, short sighted GM on a bad day. Aside from that very unlikely scenario, throwing a Hail Mark on Kyle Lauletta seems like a reasonable prospect. Prior to the week 9 bye week the Giants face the Panthers, Eagles, Falcons and Washington, and it’s hard to imagine Eli turning things around versus that group. If the switch is made, Lauletta would face the 49ers and Buccaneers in weeks 10 and 11. Any signs of encouragement down the stretch would make him a hot commodity going into 2019.