July 29, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 9 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Week eight saw only one big team go down as the Vikings fell at home on Thursday (taking 8% of the Office Football Pools entries out) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My top four teams advanced, but the Eagles and Vikings lost out. This may be the week to take a risk (and some of us may not have a choice as the teams are getting thinner).

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Survivor Pool – Week 9 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team Picks

1

San Diego Chargers

39.40%

1

Houston Texans

36.17%

2

Houston Texans

30.00%

2

San Diego Chargers

29.47%

3

Green Bay Packers

10.00%

3

Detroit Lions

6.08%

4

Seattle Seahawks

5.60%

4

Baltimore Ravens

5.57%

5

Detroit Lions

3.30%

5

Green Bay Packers

5.32%

6

Denver Broncos

2.90%

6

Denver Broncos

4.57%

7

Washington Redskins

2.50%

7

Washington Redskins

3.60%

8

Baltimore Ravens

2.40%

8

Seattle Seahawks

3.44%

9

Chicago Bears

1.40%

9

Chicago Bears

2.54%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.90%

10

Atlanta Falcons

1.13%

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite for the second week in a row. The Packers look to be firing on all cylinders. If you didn’t use them last week, the Packers likely offer a great payoff this week. The big question looming is do we trust Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers against a team that hasn’t led in regulation at any time this season?

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Green Bay Packers – If you have the Packers left, use them this week. It is rare that you can find a double-digit favorite as a value play, but the Packers are for most pools. The Packers are a one-dimensional team, but that dimension is superior. The Cardinals have some dangerous WRs, but the Packers have enough of a pass rush to disrupt John Skelton and the passing game. I give the Packers a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Houston Texans – The Texans are a close second to the Packers this week. The Bills are putrid on defense and coming off a bye week, the Texans will likely ride the legs of Arian Foster. I cannot see the Bills putting up more than 14 points against this defense. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – You could almost flip a coin between my #3, 4 and 5 choices which means one of them is likely to lose. The Seahawks head home where they have defeated Dallas, Green Bay and New England. They have probably the biggest home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks do not have the most dynamic offense, but their defense is stout. They face a Vikings team that has had ten days to think about their loss to the Bucs so they should be well rested.  I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.
  4. San Diego Chargers – Ok, I don’t trust Norv Turner or Philip Rivers that much. However, it seems that the Kansas City Chiefs are led by a coach who doesn’t know what is going on with his offense. Matt Cassel turns up at QB again for a short week. I assume he’ll turn the ball over at least three times and the Chargers should be able to take advantage of it. I give the Chargers a 70% chance of winning.
  5. Chicago Bears – My only trepidation is that the Bears are on the road this week. They have a fantastic defense, but we’ve see Chris Johnson be the CJ2K of old. However, I think the Bears have too many playmakers on defense to lose to a Titans team even on the road. I give the Bears a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Baltimore Ravens on the road against the Browns. The Browns picked up an ugly win last week and the Ravens are coming off a bye. The Browns lost by a TD earlier this season and were driving for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. If Trent Richardson is healthy, he can run all day against this aging and depleted Ravens defense.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders. The Bucs have looked good lately and I think they can outscore a Raiders team which is turning to one-dimensional without Darren McFadden able to get going.

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.

Thursday night game preview – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

San Diego

Phillip Rivers should be solid against a middling Chiefs passing defense. I see about 250 yards and 2 TDs. Rivers didn’t have to throw a lot in the earlier meeting as the Chiefs turned the ball over six times.

Ryan Matthews should be due for a 100 yard game against the Chiefs defense. I think the Chargers may try to run the ball a bit more to take the pressure off of Rivers. Remember, Matthews was still coming back from injury in their early season matchup and split carries with Jackie Battle.

Malcolm Floyd has the look of a WR3/flex play as the Chiefs do have Brandon Flowers to lock him down. I don’t see any other WR being worth a start.

The key to a big win may lie with Antonio Gates, but the Chiefs do clamp down on TEs effectively. I don’t expect a big game from the old man.

The San Diego defense should be started in every league this week. The Chiefs are the most generous team to fantasy defenses.

Kansas City

Matt Cassel is not a viable option in any league. He should be on your bench (or preferably the waiver wire).

Jamaal Charles had almost as many carries as I did last week. It seems like whenever the Chiefs forget they have Charles on their team, they feed him until he explodes. I’d expect a big game from Charles this week – I can see him as a top 10.

I also like Dexter McCluster as a solid PPR flex play this week as the Chargers do give up a good number of receiving yards to RBs and McCluster is all over the formation.

Dwayne Bowe should also be OK as long as Cassel can get him the ball as the Chargers don’t have a shutdown corner to cover Bowe. I do not see any other Chiefs’ WR or TE as useful in any leagues.

The Chiefs defense is not a useful option this week so avoid them unless you are desperate.

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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