October 1, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 4 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 4. Last week was just as we’d hoped – quiet. In one of my larger pools we only lost nine entrants from the 400 or so left in the pool.

We’ve got a couple of big favorites again this week, but should we stick with those again or look further down the list. We also enter the first week of byes and we lose some heavy hitters leaving the field a bit thinner than we’d like. Let’s check out our week 4 options.

Bye Week: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of Wednesday evening:

Survivor_Week_4

The majority of entries are on three teams. Let’s analyze our options for Week 4.

As always, a friendly reminder, I never (almost never) save a team for later in the season. There is too much volatility (especially when it comes to injuries) in the NFL and the best information you have is for the upcoming week. Trying to predict performance in future weeks is nearly impossible.

Here are my choices for Week 4 in order of preference:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers looked rejuvenated on offense against the Panthers last week. And the Buccaneers, well, didn’t. The Bucs will be working in new QB Mike Glennon against a Steelers defense that lost a few important parts. The Bucs should also get Doug Martin back, but it’s not enough to eclipse the Steelers offensive superiority. With more than 50% of pools on San Diego, Pittsburgh is the equity play. I give the Steelers a 75% chance of winning.
  2. San Diego Chargers – The Jaguars are also working a new QB into the game plan with Blake Bortles era beginning in earnest this week. That does add a variable to the mix, but the Jags have no running game to speak of and the Chargers do (even with the loss of Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews over the last couple of weeks). I don’t see the Jags’ rookie heading across the country to beat the Bolts. I give the Chargers an 85% chance of winning.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – The Colts aren’t a great team, but they are probably in the top ten in the NFL right now. They have an offense that can run the ball a bit and have passing game weapons of all shapes and sizes. The Titans are a bit of a mess with a four-headed running back by committee, an injured (and perhaps out) QB in Jake Locker and a defense that is stretched thin. I give the Colts a 73% chance of winning.

And we’ll leave it there for this week. Again, with six teams on bye and not a lot else on the slate to recommend, I’m going to play it safe for Week 4.

Other teams I like this week: San Francisco 49ers as the Eagles offensive line is a disaster right now though the Niners aren’t nearly as good as many thought they’d be heading into the season.

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Miami Dolphins heading to London to take on the Oakland Raiders. Yes, London. I dislike these European games as it throws everyone’s schedule off. Add in the Ryan Tannehill no-confidence vote and anger seemingly everywhere on the Dolphins roster and I pass.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Carolina Panthers against the Ravens. The Ravens get Bernard Pierce back and may force him back into the starting role where he has not produced yet this year. The Panthers were embarrassed on national TV and have a short trip up I-95 to take on a Ravens team that doesn’t seem to be quite as good as they get credit for being.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Feel free to ask questions of me on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

Fantasy Football: Week 3 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 3. I’m a day later than scheduled, but as you’ll see this is a pretty straightforward week. At least we hope so – both of my largest polls have been cut in half over the first two weeks as there have been big favorites taken down each week. San Francisco disappointed last week as many players switched to them late with the news that Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey were very questionable to play.

The pick looked solid until Jay Cutler began throwing TDs everywhere. I also lost out on Tampa Bay and some of my deeper picks as well. Also, my suggestion to avoid Washington looked pretty silly.

I’m back to redeem myself in Week 3!

Survivor Pool – Week 3 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Wednesday afternoon:

2014_Week_3_Survivor

It is a two-horse race this week, but should we be looking elsewhere for value? Is there any other team out there that gives us a leg up in our pool?

As always a friendly reminder, I never (almost never) save a team for later in the season. There is too much volatility (especially when it comes to injuries) in the NFL and the best information you have is for the upcoming week. Trying to predict performance in future weeks is nearly impossible.

Here are my choices for Week 3 in order of preference:

  1. New England Patriots – Perhaps the reports of the Patriots’ demise were a wee bit premature. The Patriots host the Oakland Raiders and rookie QB Derek Carr. Bill Belichick’s defense is a house of horrors for rookie QBs especially on the road. The Raiders shouldn’t offer much resistance. I give the Pats a 92% chance of winning.
  2. New Orleans Saints – Like the Patriots, many are writing about the Saints’ demise as they head home for the first time this season sitting at 0-2. There haven’t been any issues with the offense so far, but the Rob Ryan defense has been generous to a fault. However, much like the Seahawks, the Saints are a different (read: much better) team at home than on the road. They get a Vikings squad that is without Adrian Peterson and a QB in Matt Cassel who doesn’t seem to want to throw the ball downfield. I see a shootout and the Saints coming out on top. I give New Orleans an 84% chance of winning.

And that’s it. Really. I wouldn’t consider anybody else in most standard pools no matter how big they are. However, if you want to hunt for other plays, here are a couple of other options.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – See, there is a big drop off from the top two favorites. The Eagles get Washington at home. They have a new shiny toy in Kirk Cousins under center. He looked good last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars though there is a good chance I might look passable throwing the ball against the Jags. Nah, probably not. Cousins is probably a serviceable QB and Washington has enough weapons on offense to look good at times. However, the Jags made Jim Haslett’s defense look like Buddy Ryan’s old 46 in Chicago. It’s not and the Eagles should be able to outscore Cousins. I give the Eagles a 71% chance to win.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals look like a complete team right now. Tons of different weapons on offense and a swarming defense. They face a Titans team that still has Jake Locker at the helm. Locker has looked great and awful in the first two weeks. I think the Bengals defense can rattle him enough to put the Bengals to 3-0. I’m assuming A.J. Green plays on Sunday. If he doesn’t, I’d take the Bengals off the board. I give the Bengals a 69% chance to win.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – I don’t like taking dome teams on the road, but if you want to you can risk it with the Colts. The Jags looked horrendous last week and will likely continue to look awful so long as Chad Henne is at QB and they have the revolving door offensive line in front of him. The Colts have distributed the ball on offense (much to the dismay of fantasy players everywhere) so they should be able to take care of the Jags even on the road. I give the Colts a 66% chance of winning.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from everyone else. A lot of tight lines this week and a lot of seemingly toss up games. This is not the week to get cute and take a chance. Survive and advance is the mantra this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Buffalo Bills against the Chargers. The Chargers travel cross country without Ryan Mathews in the backfield. Donald Brown should be a decent fill-in, but it’s one less weapon on offense and the Bills’ defense has looked nasty early on this year.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Feel free to ask me questions on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

Fantasy Football: Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 2. I said Week 1 is the toughest week and we saw nearly a quarter of entries drop out with Chicago the main culprit. Hopefully you didn’t have too many of your eggs in the Bears’ basket.

Now, on to Week 2 where we can overreact [Read more...]

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Last Minute Adds

Every week this season on Sunday morning, we’ll take a look at Fantasy Football last minute adds that can help you cover an injury, bye week player, or just give your team the boost it might need to win that week. We’ll profile one player at each position that is available in the bulk of leagues on CBSSports.com and Yahoo.com to give you an option when filling out your lineup.


QB: Shaun Hill, STL. Hill is owned in just 10% of CBSSports.com leagues, but it probably won’t be long before he gets snatched up in your league. He’s stepping in for the injured Sam Bradford and he’s been a solid performer in his career as a backup and spot starter for the 49ers and Lions, completing almost 62 percent of his passes. The University of Maryland product is one to keep an eye on.

RB: Dri Archer, PIT: Archer, the rookie out of Kent, is No. 3 on the depth chart at tailback for the Steelers, but he could see plenty of time as the third down back and receiving option out of the backfield, as well as in the return game, if you play in a league that monitors that. He’s small, speedy and shifty and most likely, available in your league as he’s owned in just 7% of leagues right now.

WR: Andrew Hawkins, CLE: Hawkins was given the starting nod by Browns head coach Mike Pettine, so you should grab him if you need a receiver. Of course, the Browns QB situation is in a state of flux, so Hawkins certainly shouldn’t be valued as anything more than a WR3 or flex guy, but he seemed to have a good rapport with Brian Hoyer so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

TE: Travis Kelce, KC. Kelce got a lot of work with KC’s first team offense and his big play ability is one reason the Chiefs didn’t go chasing receivers in the offseason. He’s owned in just 35% of Yahoo leagues thus far, so he’s probably available to you just by cutting the backup TE that got autodrafted for you at the end of your draft.

K: Brandon McManus, DEN. Kickers are a dime-a-dozen, and the No. 10 rated kicker isn’t worth much more than the 30th. That said, you need someone and why not go with someone who plays on a high-powered offense. With Matt Prater suspended, McManus should get plenty of chances on extra points and field goals. Just watch out for later in the season with Denver’s bad weather.

Fantasy Football: Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for 2014. Or perhaps you call it an Eliminator Pool. I’ve been gone from the site for a while, but hopefully not forgotten. Each week, we’ll publish a column with a look at the best choices for the week in your Survivor Pool. We’ll also take at a sleeper pick and talk about teams to avoid.

Week 1 is probably the hardest week to predict as we have no (real) on field data to use to figure out where we should go. Without further introduction, let’s get to the data and picks.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 1 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Wednesday morning:

Office Football Pool

 

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

 

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Philadelphia Eagles

41.40%

 

1

Philadelphia Eagles

49.60%

2

Chicago Bears

19.70%

 

2

Chicago Bears

19.61%

3

Pittsburgh Steelers

10.80%

 

3

Pittsburgh Steelers

8.06%

4

New York Jets

6.60%

 

4

Kansas City Chiefs

4.98%

5

Kansas City Chiefs

4.40%

 

5

New York Jets

3.50%

6

Denver Broncos

4.20%

 

6

Detroit Lions

2.64%

7

Detroit Lions

2.90%

 

7

New England Patriots

2.63%

8

New England Patriots

2.40%

 

8

Denver Broncos

1.56%

9

Seattle Seahawks

1.60%

 

9

San Francisco 49ers

1.33%

10

San Francisco 49ers

1.30%

 

10

Seattle Seahawks

1.07%

 

Last year, we had the Steelers come out and lay an egg against the Titans in Week 1 and take a lot of teams down with them. They weren’t the biggest favorite on the board, but they did close at -270 (implying the Steelers had a nearly 73% chance to win. So, you never know.

I generally like to be cautious in Week 1 as there is just not enough information to make informed decisions.

And I never (almost never) save a team for later in the season. There is too much volatility in the NFL and the best information you have is for the upcoming week. Trying to predict performance in future weeks is nearly impossible.

Here are my choices for Week 1 in order of preference:

    1. Philadelphia Eagles – They are the biggest favorite on the board and face a Jags team that has likely improved, but not by enough to keep pace with the Eagles high-flying offense. I give the Eagles an 82% chance of winning
    2. Denver Broncos – This is where I would go if I wanted to be “contrarian” in my pool. The top two picks account for between 60 and 70 percent of the current pool picks. If one (or both) of those top picks fall, your pool equity would increase significantly. Moreover, the Broncos are actually the second most likely team to win based on the money line (currently -380). The Colts certainly have the offense to keep up with the Broncos and the distraction of Wes Welker’s suspension could have an effect. But, the Colts’ offensive line still looks terrible and the Broncos have defensive play makers to take advantage of that weakness. I give the Broncos a 75% chance of winning
    3. Chicago Bears – The Bears (and the Steelers who are next) face teams that have awful QB situations and offenses that look like they won’t be able to score enough points to keep up. I think the Bears just have too much on offense to drop an opener at home to the Bills. I give the Bears a 72% chance to win
    4. Pittsburgh Steelers – I have two issues with the Steelers here as this is a divisional game and the Browns’ defense is one of my sleepers this year. That said, the Browns are going to struggle on offense initially and the Steelers should be able to pick up the win at home against the Browns. The Browns haven’t won in Pittsburgh in their last 10 trips. I give the Steelers a 72% chance to win
    5. New York Jets – Talking about sleepers, Jets’ QB Geno Smith is on that list for me this year. He just needs to be more consistent under center. I like Derek Carr fine, but it’s a tough opening game on the road, across the country, against a maniacal Jets’ defense. I give the Jets a 70% chance to win.

Other teams I like this week: Kansas City Chiefs

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New England Patriots on the road against the Miami Dolphins. Yes, the Pats will have Gronk (even if limited) back in the fold, but the Pats travelled to Miami last week and fell to the Dolphins. The Pats shouldn’t be on your radar this early.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Dallas Cowboys against the 49ers. This is not the same 49ers defense without Aldon Smith and NaVarro Bowman. The Cowboys clearly have offensive talent enough to win a shootout. Yes, they have no defense, but do the Niners have enough weapons to take advantage on the road?

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.


Chris Garosi is a contributor to District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

Fantasy Football: Week 15 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

The Week 15 Survivor pool picks (or suicide pool picks if you prefer) are here. Week 14 saw some wild finishes that saved more than a few people. Are there any safe Survivor picks in Week 15 in the NFL?

Week 14 recap

The Baltimore Ravens improbable comeback paired with the Patriots similar comeback saved lots of entrants last week. The Pittsburgh Steelers are really the only team to take any sizable portion of remaining pool entrants out as the Steel Curtain was quite forgiving.

Bye week: None. We are done for the year with byes.

Survivor Pool – Week 15 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Thursday:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Carolina Panthers

29.90%

1

Philadelphia Eagles

31.60%

2

Philadelphia Eagles

17.40%

2

Carolina Panthers

28.55%

3

Denver Broncos

9.70%

3

Kansas City Chiefs

8.02%

4

Kansas City Chiefs

9.40%

4

Indianapolis Colts

7.14%

5

Atlanta Falcons

8.40%

5

Denver Broncos

5.41%

6

Indianapolis Colts

4.80%

6

San Francisco 49ers

4.20%

7

New Orleans Saints

4.60%

7

New Orleans Saints

3.67%

8

San Francisco 49ers

3.80%

8

Atlanta Falcons

3.28%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.80%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.31%

10

Detroit Lions

2.50%

10

Detroit Lions

1.58%

 

Again, a reminder that you should be doing the math on your own pool as this late in the game the rankings above are less representative of what is happening in your pool than earlier in the season. Let’s see what we have for Week 15.

  1. Denver Broncos – If you have the Broncos (and if you do I’m impressed) take them now. There continues to be no reason to save teams at this point. The Broncos offense is clicking on all cylinders and even without Wes Welker; they should be fine as Jacob Tamme will slide into the slot role for the Broncos. The Chargers offense has become more balanced through the season, but the Chargers pass defense won’t be able to keep the Broncos off the board to allow the Chargers offense to pile up enough points to win. This should be a track meet won by Denver. I give the Broncos an 84% chance of winning.
  2. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers swarming defense faces Geno Smith in Carolina. I’m not sure there is much more to say. The Panthers’ offense is a little banged up now so they may struggle to score, but Smith will likely gift wrap a few turnovers to help the Panthers’ cause. I give the Panthers an 83% chance of winning.
  3. Detroit Lions – The Ravens are bad on the road (1-5 record this year). The Lions are pretty good at home. The Lions were embarrassed in the snow last week, but back indoors they should be able to run around the Ravens. The Lions run defense is stout (last week was an anomaly in the sown) so the Ravens will need to rely on Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and whoever else is catching passes this week.  I give the Lions a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – This is only valid if Matt Flynn starts at QB for the Packers. If Aaron Rodgers is back, take this game off the board. The Cowboys head back home after a crushing defeat by the Chicago Bears. However, it is December and the Cowboys have struggled in December for many years and their run defense can be gashed. Eddie Lacy won’t likely be at 100%, but the Cowboys should be able to bounce back with Flynn at QB. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance of winning.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – The Texans cannot wait for the season to end. They fired Gary Kubiak this week, but I don’t imagine that will fire up the troops enough. The Colts have started to give some younger WRs playing time and the results have been solid. The Colts are back at home and Andrew Luck is a bit more comfortable at home so the Colts should be able to push the Texans closer to the number one pick in 2014 when they may get the chance to draft David Carr’s brother. I give the Colts a 71% chance of winning.
  6. Atlanta Falcons – Two teams with identical 3-10 records, but seemingly one is much worse than the other. Washington has become drama central as they have benched Robert Griffin III for Kirk Cousins for the rest of the season. Mike Shanahan continues to leak news to Adam Schefter regularly so that his side of the debacle can be told. The Falcons have two of their three wins at home this year and are starting to get healthier on offense. Their defense is still a sieve, but Washington’s pig-headed coaching staff likely can’t take advantage of that weakness. I give the Falcons a 69% chance of winning.
  7. New Orleans Saints – The Saints head on the road to take on the St. Louis Rams. In the Saints last road game, they were blown out of the Pacific Northwest by the Seahawks. They regrouped last week to manhandle the Panthers at home. I assume that the dome will feel like home to Drew Brees and company. The Rams have gotten good play from both sides of the ball and are beginning to incorporate more playmakers (like Stedman Bailey) into the offense so they are dangerous. They don’t have enough tools to keep up with Brees & Co. I give the Saints a 68% chance of winning.
  8. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks may be the best team in the NFL. They do head east into the cold, but they face an underachieving Giants team that shows very few vital signs.  I give the Seahawks a 64% chance of winning.

Just a reminder, there is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last couple of weeks in the season and most pools will come to a close in Week 17 or early in the playoffs.

Other teams I like early this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Oakland. Yes, I told you to avoid them last week as well and I was completely wrong about how incompetent Washington was and is. This week, they go on the road for a division matchup against a Raiders team that hasn’t been as bad as all would have thought they would be. I’d probably also stay away from the San Francisco 49ers heading east to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tennessee Titans at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards are now without Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary and the Titans could take advantage of that with Justin Hunter on the outside and Delanie Walker abusing the Cardinals soft middle.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 14 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

The Week 14 Survivor pool picks (or suicide pool picks if you prefer) are here. Week 13 saw a couple of the riskier picks head out of the pool. Sadly, (for me), one of those riskier picks took me out of my 2000- entry pool that had only 15 entrants left going into week 13. Oh well, there is always next year. Where should you put your money for Week 14 Survivor pool picks?

Week 13 recap

The Cleveland Browns were my nemesis last week as they took me down. I violated another cardinal rule when I went with a team led by Brandon Weeden. Never again! We also saw the Bills go down and take a few players with them.  There was no other meaningful carnage last week.

Bye week: None. We are done for the year with byes.

Survivor Pool – Week 14 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Wednesday:

Office Football Pool

 

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

 

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Baltimore Ravens

33.20%

 

1

Baltimore Ravens

29.58%

2

New England Patriots

26.50%

 

2

Denver Broncos

28.40%

3

Denver Broncos

16.30%

 

3

New England Patriots

17.72%

4

Arizona Cardinals

7.80%

 

4

Kansas City Chiefs

10.04%

5

Kansas City Chiefs

4.80%

 

5

Arizona Cardinals

4.97%

6

Cincinnati Bengals

3.30%

 

6

Green Bay Packers

1.76%

7

Pittsburgh Steelers

2.90%

 

7

Cincinnati Bengals

1.52%

8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.80%

 

8

Pittsburgh Steelers

1.32%

9

New York Jets

0.80%

 

9

Philadelphia Eagles

0.80%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.80%

 

10

San Diego Chargers

0.52%

 

At this point, you should be doing the math on your own pool as this late in the game the rankings above are less representative of what is happening in your pool than earlier in the season. Let’s see what we have for Week 14.

  1. New England Patriots – The Patriots head home where they are a much better squad than on the road. They face a Browns team that could have Alex Tanney or Caleb Hainie at QB. If a trick shot contest breaks out, I give the Browns a huge advantage. However, the chances of that happening are pretty slim. Tom Brady is greater than whatever the Browns put out there at QB. No need to save the Pats for later in the year. It might never come. I give the Patriots an 85% chance of winning.
  2. Denver Broncos – Much like the Patriots, the Broncos are at home against a poor team. The Titans do have some offensive weapons, but not enough to keep up with Peyton Manning. I give the Broncos an 84% chance of winning.
  3.  Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are a far different team at home than on the road.  They are 5-1 this year and were 6-2 in their Super Bowl season of a year ago. They face off against a Vikings team that looks to be moving forward with Matt Cassel at QB this week. Joe Flacco should have a big week and could get Dennis Pitta back as his security blanket. There is some concern about the weather in Baltimore so keep an eye on it as the weekend nears. I give the Ravens a 79% chance of winning.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are undefeated at home this season (including wins over the Patriots and the Packers with Aaron Rodgers). The Colts are dealing with so many injuries that they’ve activated this guy (who has a great story, but probably isn’t ready to be on an active NFL roster).  Andrew Luck has been below average without Reggie Wayne and the Colts have benched Trent Richardson. It’s not clear how the Colts will be able to penetrate a pretty tough Bengals defense. I give the Bengals a 71% chance of winning.
  5. Arizona Cardinals – The only concern I have with the Cardinals this week is that Carson Palmer has shown up on the injury report with an elbow issue. If Palmer isn’t at the helm, then the Cardinals drop off this list. The Rams had back to back offensive explosions in weeks 10 and 12 then came back down to earth against the Bears last week. The Rams still have Kellen Clemens at QB and the Cardinals defense is legitimate. I give the Cardinals a 69% chance of winning.
  6. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers practiced on Thursday. There is still some hope that he will be cleared to play by Sunday. If he is, I’d move the Packers up to number three on this list against a Falcons team that can’t wait for the end of the season.  The Falcons defense shouldn’t be able to contain the Packers even if Matt Flynn ends up QB’ing the team. I give the Packers a 68% chance of winning.

Just a reminder, there is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last few weeks in the season and most pools will be done in the next couple of weeks.

Other teams I like early this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Washington. Washington is pretty terrible, but at this point they have nothing to lose and I don’t like backing average teams on the road against teams with nothing to lose. The Chiefs should win, but Robert Griffin III gives Washington a chance to win on any given Sunday.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Jacksonville Jaguars at home against the struggling Houston Texans. The Jags continue to fight each week in contrast to the Texans who can’t seem to get off the field quickly enough each week.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 13 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor

The Week 13 Survivor pool picks (or suicide pool picks if you prefer) are here. Week 12 saw more carnage than normal this late in the season. In my two largest pools, we are down to less than 1% of the total entrants who started back in Week 1.  And in one pool, we now move to two picks per week which offers an even greater challenge. Where should you put your money for Week 13 Survivor poll picks?

Week 12 recap

The Texans took a lot more entries out for the second week in a row. However, the biggest loser was the Detroit Lions who took out almost half of all remaining entrants in most pools. Finally, the reeling Kansas City Chiefs went back and forth with the Chargers and finally succumbed taking another chunk of players with them.

Bye week: None. We are done for the year with byes.

Survivor Pool – Week 13 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of midday Wednesday:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Carolina Panthers

27.00%

1

New England Patriots

36.69%

2

New England Patriots

22.90%

2

Carolina Panthers

30.82%

3

Dallas Cowboys

20.80%

3

Dallas Cowboys

16.51%

4

San Francisco 49ers

7.70%

4

Cleveland Browns

3.73%

5

Cleveland Browns

7.20%

5

San Francisco 49ers

3.26%

6

Detroit Lions

6.90%

6

Detroit Lions

2.45%

7

Buffalo Bills

2.80%

7

Buffalo Bills

1.73%

8

Philadelphia Eagles

1.10%

8

Chicago Bears

0.97%

9

Indianapolis Colts

0.70%

9

Indianapolis Colts

0.63%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.40%

10

New York Giants

0.58%

 

I’ll try to go a bit deeper this week as it is getting to crunch time and a lot of the favorites aren’t available. I’m pretty unsure of the slate as a whole at this point which may cause me to ignore any of the Thursday games. We have three pretty even choices so there isn’t an equity pick out there (unless your pool’s population differs greatly). Where should we go for Week 13?

  1. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are finally getting respect as a top five team in the NFL. They have a superior defense and enough parts on offense to be dangerous. They face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that has turned their fortunes around with Mike Glennon helming the squad. Their victory over the Lions last week was due more to the buffoonery that the Lions seem to bring out every year. The Panthers are not buffoons and match up well with the Bucs on defense. And with Darrelle Revis nursing an injury (even if slight) could give the Panthers too much of an advantage. I give the Panthers a 77% chance of winning.
  2. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys picked up a big win against conference rivals New York Giants last week as Tony Romo led a fourth quarter drive for the game winning field goal. Romo loves November. In his career, he is 25-6 with a QB rating of 105.7 and a 63 to 18 TD to interception ratio. He’s 6-2 on Thursdays in his career. If the NFL season was played wholly in November, Tony Romo would be the greatest QB of all time. The Raiders are a below average team with a backup QB in Matt McGloin who will get figured out at some point. The Cowboys’ defense is still hurting so the Raiders’ will be best to rely on Rashad Jennings and the newly “healthy” Darren McFadden. The Cowboys will have too much firepower on offense for the Raiders to overcome. I give the Cowboys a 76% chance of winning.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – The Rams looked unbeatable last week against the Bears (and the prior week against the Colts). The main reason last week was a porous Bears’ run defense. This week, they face off against a 49ers defense that will not allow the shenanigans the Bears and Colts allowed.  The Niners hold opponents to 16.7 points per game and runners to 3.9 yards per carry (good for 10th in the league). The Rams won’t be able to rely on Zac Stacy (or Benny Cunningham if Stacy can’t go) and will need to get some plays from Tavon Austin and Kellen Clemens (gulp!). I give the 49ers a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Seattle Seahawks – Yes, the New Orleans Saints are a great team (at home). Yes, the Seattle Seahawks are a great team (at home). The Seahawks are at home this week. The Saints are not. The Saints struggled to pull out the victory over a poor Atlanta Falcons team on the road last week. The Seahawks have some issues in their defensive backfield, but overall they should be able to take care of the Saints relatively easily in the Pacific Northwest. I give the Seahawks a 71% chance of winning the game.
  5. Detroit Lions – The Lions may have more physical talent than almost any team in the NFL currently. However, they are ruined by mental mistake after mental mistake.  The Packers head into the Thanksgiving matchup with Matt Flynn at QB. Flynn looked solid in his comeback against the Vikings last week. However, the Lions are a more balanced team than the Vikes and have a greater breadth of offensive weapons.  The key to the game will be the Lions’ ability to control the Packers running game. The Lions faced the Pack at Lambeau in Week 5 without Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. Matthew Staffored targeted his TEs 11 times in his 40 attempts and Kris Durham led the team in targets with eight. The Pack was at full strength. Also, Josh Sitton seems to not have good feelings for the Lions’ defense ratcheting up the tension another notch. I give the Lions a 69% chance to win.
  6. New England Patriots – If you don’t want to touch the Thursday games, I might move the Pats up above the Lions if I was pushed. However, the Patriots have been questionable on the road for most of this season. Yes, the Texans have lost back to back games which they were favored to win (big!), but the Pats are coming off an emotional win against the Broncos. I give the Pats a 67% chance of winning.
  7. Cleveland Browns – The battle of Brandon Weeden versus Chad Henne. Ugh. The Jags have been hot of late and the Browns are coming off of a drubbing at the hand of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That said, the Browns still have a solid defense that has the players to shut down an offense like the Jags. I give the Browns a 65% chance of winning.
  8. Denver Broncos – The Broncos are smarting after folding against the New England Patriots on national TV last week. The Chiefs are likely to be without Tamba Hali and Justin Houston – two of their best pass rushers. Their defense has struggled over the last few weeks even with those two in the lineups. Peyton Manning should be able to carve up a weakened Chiefs D even if Knowshon Moreno misses the game. I give the Broncos a 64% chance of winning.
  9. Buffalo Bills – The Falcons hung close with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night last week.  However, they haven’t looked good for a while. They travel to Tornonto to take on a Bills team that is getting back all of its offensive weapons this week and I like E.J Manuel’s chances to succeed against a poor Falcons’ defense. I give the Bills a 62% chance of winning.

Ok, that’s nine teams for you. If you have any of the first four teams left, take them this week. Again, there is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last few weeks in the season and most pools will be done in the next couple of weeks.

Other teams I like early this week: None, though I might be encouraged to consider the Bengals on the road against a Chargers team with Ryan Matthews and Antonio Gates at less than 100%.

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Indianapolis Colts. I’m not sure what to make of them at this point. Since the bye week, they have been blown out twice and eked out two three point victories. They face a Titans team that has been up and down as well. The Colts should be able to handle the Titans, but with all the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, I’d stay away.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New England Patriots at home against the Denver Broncos. The line is larger than I’d expect as I see this as a pure coin flip and the Pats should have a slight advantage at home.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 12 Survivor Pool Picks

Survivor – Week 12

The Week 12 Survivor pool picks are here. Unfortunately, week 11 saw the Texans go down and take more entrants with them. As I noted last week, if you are down to two or three players it may be time to talk to the others about chopping or sharing or guaranteeing something for all players left in the pool. For those in larger pools, it’s time to look at the picks for your Week 12 NFL Survivor Pool.

Week 11 recap

The Texans took out another sizable (on a percentage basis) portion of the remaining squads. The only other top 10 squads to lose were the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. The Jags got back to their losing ways and allowed the Cardinals to take them out at home. There were some blowouts, including the Bills and Bucs, where we didn’t expect them.

Bye week: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks

Survivor Pool – Week 12 selections

Here is what we have for a top 12 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of midday Wednesday:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Picks

1

Detroit Lions

52.40%

1

Detroit Lions

55.26%

2

New Orleans Saints

16.80%

2

New Orleans Saints

22.04%

3

Houston Texans

15.10%

3

Houston Texans

7.98%

4

Kansas City Chiefs

4.90%

4

Kansas City Chiefs

5.87%

5

Carolina Panthers

3.20%

5

Carolina Panthers

2.98%

6

Baltimore Ravens

3.00%

6

San Francisco 49ers

1.96%

7

San Francisco 49ers

1.60%

7

Baltimore Ravens

1.10%

8

Green Bay Packers

0.60%

8

Green Bay Packers

0.68%

9

Pittsburgh Steelers

0.40%

9

Pittsburgh Steelers

0.58%

10

Oakland Raiders

0.40%

10

Chicago Bears

0.35%

 

The Detroit Lions lead the way, but if you have any of the other squads, does it make sense to take them? Are the Lions the best bet to advance your entry to Week 13? Let’s take a look. Here are my choices for Week 12 in order of preference:

  1. New Orleans Saints – If I get the chance to use a top team this late in the season, I’m going to take it. The Saints look like a solid equity play with so many teams on the Lions. The Saints offense is firing on all cylinders even with the nagging injuries to Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Marques Colston appeared from his slumber over the last couple of weeks and looks poised for a great late season run. The Falcons have a solid offense, but don’t seem to have anyone capable of playing defense.  The nice thing about taking the Saints is that it’s Thursday night game so some people may avoid the game for that reason or forget to set their entry prior to Sunday’s games. I give the Saints a 78% chance of winning.
  2. Houston Texans – Yes, I know, they broke many people’s hearts last week. However, they are playing the historically awful Jacksonville Jaguars at home. They have enough offensive weapons to bury the Jags as long as Case Keenum can keep his head. The Jags are, well, you know the Jags. They are terrible. They are old. They have no prospects. I give the Texans a 75% chance of winning.
  3. Detroit Lions – At this point, this is purely an equity call to drop the Lions to third. The Lions are at home against a “hot” Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. However, it is unlikely that the Bucs really are that good.   The Bucs do have Darrelle Revis who will do his best to shut down Calvin Johnson so there is a risk that the Lions will need to rely on others to overcome the Bucs. The Bucs offense has some play makers in Vincent Jackson and Bobby Rainey. Mike Glennon has been a bit more than a caretaker and that’s more than the Bucs could have hoped for this season. That said the Lions are at home and should be able to waltz away from the Bucs. I give the Lions a 78% chance of winning.
  4. San Francisco 49ers – The Niners are a one trick pony on offense, but they are integrating Aldon Smith back into the defensive lineup so they are close to full strength. And it’s unlikely they need much on offense as the Washington defnse and special teams are so horrific that they opportunities should be myriad for the 49ers to score often. Yes, the Washington offense is good, but they can’t overcome all of the gifts given out by the defense and special teams. I give the 49ers a 69% chance of winning.
  5. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs looked pretty good in their loss to Denver last week. They get a Chargers team at home that could not take care of a decimated Miami Dolphins team last week. The Chiefs defense is legitimate and should be able to have their way with the Chargers. The Chiefs offense doesn’t bring much to the table, but Dwayne Bowe looked revitalized last week and could be a difference maker down the stretch for the Chiefs. I give the Chiefs a 68% chance of winning.

If you have the Saints, take them. There is no sense in saving teams at this point. You are down to the last few weeks in the season and most pools will be done in the next couple of weeks.

Other teams I like early this week: Baltimore Ravens (65% chance of winning) – they are a much different team at home versus on the road. And we had a Ray Rice sighting last week so that can only be positive.  Carolina Panthers (65%) – they are a top five team in the NFL and head on the road to a listless Miami Dolphins team.

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Green Bay Packers. They should be a much better team when Aaron Rodgers returns and they do head on the road to face a poor team, but one that still has Adrian Peterson.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New England Patriots at home against the Denver Broncos. The line is larger than I’d expect as I see this as a pure coin flip and the Pats should have a slight advantage at home.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 11 Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor Picks for Week 11

It happened last week as the Tennessee Titans tossed a raft of people out of the Survivor pool in Week 10. In my two largest pools, we are down to around 3% of all entrants remaining. The Week 11 Survivor Picks will have a lot fewer people interested. Depending on the size of your pool, if you are down to two or three players it may be time to talk to the others about chopping or sharing or guaranteeing something for all players left in the pool.  For those in larger pools, it’s time to look at the picks for Week 11 Survivor Pools.

Week 10 recap

The Titans took out about 70% of all remaining players last week. And the Colts took out almost another 10%. It was ugly. Looking back the clear play was the Saints as they demolished the Cowboys. The Titan’ loss highlights the main reason for fading teams that are chosen by a majority of pool players. The payoff should this huge “favorite” lose is enormous. Enough crying over lost chances, let’s look at Week 11.

Bye week: Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Ram.

Survivor Pool – Week 11 selections

Here is what we have for a top 11 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early on Thursday:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Arizona Cardinals

25.20%

1

Arizona Cardinals

28.94%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

25.00%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

27.28%

3

Seattle Seahawks

14.10%

3

Seattle Seahawks

18.62%

4

Houston Texans

11.80%

4

Houston Texans

5.07%

5

New York Giants

8.50%

5

New York Giants

4.34%

6

Philadelphia Eagles

3.60%

6

Detroit Lions

4.05%

7

Denver Broncos

2.80%

7

Philadelphia Eagles

3.09%

8

Indianapolis Colts

1.60%

8

Indianapolis Colts

1.43%

9

Detroit Lions

1.50%

9

New Orleans Saints

1.41%

10

New Orleans Saints

1.20%

10

New York Jets

1.02%

 

The Arizona Cardinals? Wow. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose. There are a couple of key injury situations (Peyton Manning and Terrelle Pryor) that are not yet decided. I’ll be back on Sunday with an update this week once we know more on those two. Are the Cardinals the best bet to win in Week 11? Let’s take a look. Here are my choices for Week 10 in order of preference:

  1. Seattle Seahawks – If you have the Seahawks left, there is no reason not to use them this week. They are at home where they are a superior team. They should get Percy Harvin back in the lineup to give Russell Wilson another weapon on offense. They face a Vikings team that has looked solid over the last two weeks, but can struggle on defense and doesn’t have a true receiving threat on offense. No use in saving for a rainy day. That rainy day is today. I give the Seahawks an 84% chance of winning.
  2. Denver Broncos – This assumes that Peyton Manning plays and is at least 75% of himself.  The Chiefs are all smoke and mirrors. They haven’t beaten a team with a winning record this season. Only the Cowboys and Eagles are at .500 of all of the teams defeated by the Chiefs.  The Chiefs don’t have the offensive horses to keep up with Manning and the Broncos. I give the Broncos and 81% chance of winning.
  3. Houston Texans – Yes, the Texans are a bad team. But they seem less so with Case Keenum at the helm. That is a strange sentence to write. This assumes that Terrelle Pryor doesn’t play or is less than his normal self in the game. Arian Foster is done for the year and Ben Tate has broken ribs, but Keenum has been able to sling the ball around to a variety of receivers. The Raiders don’t look like a pro team with Pryor at less than 100%. I give the Texans a 75% chance to win.
  4. Arizona Cardinals – Oof. This is probably the direction I’m going this week as I don’t have any of the three teams above available to me. The key to taking the Cardinals is the belief that their opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is truly a terrible team of epic proportions.  The Jags beat the Titans last week, but I believe that is the exception that proves the rule that the Jags just aren’t very good. The Cardinals do have a good defense with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu able to likely corral the Jags receivers. I give the Cardinals a 71% chance of winning.
  5. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals defense is a shell of itself with Leon Hall and Geno Atkins done for the season. The Bengals run defense has been awful since Atkins’ departure. Luckily for the Bengals, the Browns don’t have the RBs to take advantage of that weakness. The danger for the Bengals is if Jason Campbell gets time to throw the ball. The Browns can explode with Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, but I think the Bengals take the home field advantage and win by three. I give the Bengals a 69% chance of winning.
  6. New York Giants – The Giants save my bacon last week in one pool so for that I’m thankful. The Giants get a reeling Packers’ squad that will have Scott Tolzien at QB this week. Now, the Packers have solid running game for the first time in years and still have Jordy Nelson at WR. That said, I believe the Giants can control Tolzien well enough and Andre Brown gives the Giants a running attack they can lean on. I give the Giants a 66% chance of winning.

This is an ugly week all around. If the Cardinals lose this week, I assume a lot of pools will just about be done. I don’t like taking a team on the road especially one that isn’t very good in the Cardinals. And I also don’t like to use a team facing a team coming off the bye which is what the Bengals are faced with this week. It’s not great, but the Cardinals look to be the way to go.

Other teams I like early this week: Philadelphia Eagles (65%) – They can’t lose every game at home, can they?

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from….well, just about everyone else. This is another week to watch the late movement on Vegas lines and see if any news comes out to sway things. Same advice as last week – I wouldn’t go off the board this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have no running game and I think they should petition to be allowed to run 12 guys out there on defense as porous as they’ve been. The Bucs aren’t good and they lost their solid rookie RB Mike James last week, but they have a good chance to start a winning streak even with neanderthal Greg Schiano coaching them up.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

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