October 2, 2014

Fantasy Baseball: Sleepers and busts to fix your draft

Welcome back to Fantasy Baseball coverage for 2013 at District Sports Page. I apologize for not being around to help with your drafts, but giving away some of my draft ideas and plans did not help me in my local drafts last season. So, I’m back now after all the drafts have been completed to help you with this introductory column and weekly waiver wire columns. So, you’ve drafted your team and you aren’t happy. I’m here to help.

Hopefully, you took to heart the advice I gave last year with regard to draft strategy here and here. Did I change anything from last year to this year? Yes, and here is what I changed:

Two buck chuck

In my budget in past years, I usually made sure to have two or more $1 players in my auction leagues. I found this would leave me hamstrung as the endgame came around. So, this year, I budgeted $2 for a few positions (more than I usually budgeted at $1) hoping that I could better control the late round picks.

Did it work? I believe so (but of course time will tell). By budgeting a bit more for the end game, I was (in my 11 team NL-only league) I was able to snag Evan Gattis as my second catcher for $4 and Trevor Rosenthal for $3 (to back up my $4 Mitchell Boggs). I still ended up with some $1 players (Chris Heisey, Scott Hairston, Nick Hundley, Arodys Vizcaino and Jimmy Henderson), but I was able to grab two players who have a tremendous upside for this year and beyond.

Injuries

If you have DL spots in your league, make sure they are full all the time. You have the spots, you should use them. You’ve paid for them, put players in there.  You can use the MLB site to track injuries (though it does not allow for sorting) to identify specific targets. CBS Sports also has a listing and their commissioner tool offers a way to sort through the position, status and type.

There are obvious names on there that will be able to help you later in the season (with a couple of notes):

Chase Headley
Curtis Granderson
Hanley Ramirez
Derek Jeter
David Ortiz
Jason Motte – I have suspicion we won’t see much of Mr. Motte this year. When I first heard the news, I immediately thought of two words – Tommy John. I’d pay extra for Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal. Also, if you want to bet with me, I’ll take the under on one inning pitched this season for Motte.
Mark Teixeira – though, I wouldn’t touch him with your ten foot pole. I put the over under on plate appearances for him this year at 150 and I’ll take the under.
Corey Hart – Notoriously undervalued. Does nothing extraordinarily well, but provides value in all categories.
Matt Garza
Brandon Beachy
Adam Eaton

Beyond the obvious names, who can contribute to your team later in the season, but might be flying under the radar?

Danny Duffy – He is due back around mid-season and should be able to slot into the Royals rotation for the stretch run.

Avisail Garcia – Garcia made the major league roster Sort of. He was placed on the 15 day DL and as a result could be stashed on your roster. Garcia is an insurance policy for a Tigers outfield with an unproven starter (Andy Dirks) and an aging center fielder (Torii Hunter). Garcia is a sneaky stash on a great offense.

Cory Luebke – I’d monitor Luebke before adding as he was shut down from his throwing program for a while. Make sure that he is progressing before adding him. He could have some value especially pitching in San Diego.

Hiroyuki Nakajima – Pass. He’s not made for major leagues and won’t have a career at all. No need to roster him unless you are in a league made up only of Oakland A’s players.

Martin Perez – Perez’s luck ran out in spring training after breaking his arm on a come backer. I think he gets the chance at the fifth starter role for the Rangers as soon as he’s healthy. They currently have Nick Tepesch in that spot and I don’t hold any hope that he can keep it for any length of time. Oh, he’s only 22 years old.

Arodys Vizcaino – He should return sometime in August and he could be the closer for the Cubs by that point (having dealt or release Carlos Marmol and traded Kyuji Fujikawa after building up value in him as a closer). Vizcaino is still only 22 years old.

Penny stocks

As I did last season, I will leave you with a list of players who have a modicum of an iota of a chance to provide some value this year and no one is drafting these players. I’ve tried to focus on players who will make the final 25-man roster, but there are certainly a couple of players on here who will start in the minors. Last year, I identified Todd Frazier, Jordan Pacheco and Robbie Ross. Each provided more than an iota of support to many a winning fantasy franchise. They weren’t the best player by any stretch, but certainly provided solid statistics.

Even though your draft is most likely done, these guys are probably hanging around somewhere for you pick them up. We will use Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ADP rankings.

Catcher: Catcher is a deep position this year. In fact, in the NL, there are so many catchers that should return positive value; you can find guys all over the waiver wire. I’ll go beyond the top 32 catchers drafted and pull out Nick Hundley in San Diego. He has the starting job by default with Yasmani Grandal’s suspension for 50 games. In 2011, he slashed to a 288/347/477/824 line over 307 PAs. Then, 2012 happened and injuries crushed his value. Now healthy, Hundley scorched Spring Training to the tune of 1.064 OPS over 53 ABs. He did strike out 14 times, so he’s not a great choice in head to head points’ league, but he’s going to have 50 games to establish himself as the starting catcher in San Diego.

If Evan Gattis is eligible at catcher in your league, grab him. He may not be able to field well, but he sure can hit. He’s going to be given a chance early to establish himself as a backup catcher. If he can fill that role well enough, he could stick even when Brian McCann returns.

First baseman: Old guys get no love in fantasy baseball and this year is no exception. Lance Berkman moves to Texas on a one-year deal and is just one year removed from a 31 HR 94 RBI season with a .959 OPS. Sure, he’s old and could get hurt, but where are you going to get this kind of upside from this late in a draft? If he’s available in any league (even the shallowest of leagues) he should be on a roster today. He was a H2H points league stud for many years. He’s even more valuable in those leagues.

Digging deeper I like a little know power hitter named Nate Freiman. He’s a Rule 5 draft pick out of the Padres organization this season. He was drafted by the Houston Astros and then waived and claimed by the Oakland Athletics. The A’s have shown they will platoon late into the night as four of the nine positions are currently noted as platoons at MLB Depth Charts (now on Baseball Prospectus). He’s shown above average power in the minors and great on base skills, but he’s been a bit old for each level along the way. This may be his one and only chance to prove his worth. He’s worth a $1 bid in the deepest of leagues.

Sitting at AAA is Cuban import Leslie Anderson (probably also an outfielder in your league) of the Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Maddon remarked early in camp that Anderson was a different player. He’s 30 years old and will sit at AAA until the Mad Tinkerer needs another bat for the bench.

Second baseman: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Brian Roberts is healthy. Well, if you’ve only been playing fantasy baseball for the last three seasons then you haven’t heard it. He looks healthy and says he’s healthy. He made it through spring training with nary a scratch. He was a stud second baseman for many years as he regularly hit 40+ doubles, stole 30+ bases and hit .280+. The Orioles are going to ease him back into the lineup as they have him slated to hit ninth. He’s worth the gamble this late.

Third baseman: I see a little of Edwin Encarnacion in the Atlanta Braves Juan Francisco. Both are free-swinging Dominican third basemen who spent a few years in the minors for the Reds. For some reason, his platoon-mate Chris Johnson (who is on the short side of the platoon) is being drafted ahead of him. Will Francisco be EE? No. Do I have an unexplainable affinity for EE and anyone who reminds me of him? Yes. That said, he’s got the job and he’s got an opportunity. He’s got a huge contact problem, but the power upside is there.

Shortstop: Jean Segura didn’t light the world on fire last year as he slashed 264/321/331 last year in 163 PAs for the Brewers. However, he does have the prospect pedigree in the recent past to assume there is likely more to come from Segura. Not every rookie will arrive on the scene like Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. Segura holds a career .367 OBP in the minor leagues and offers 25+ SB skill for deeper leagues.

Outfield: Beyond the top 100 outfielders sits a 25 year old first baseman playing right field for the Minnesota Twins. He’s had some strikeout issues in the minors, but a full year’s worth of plate appearances could lead to a 20 HR season out of someone that nobody is drafting. Chris Parmelee is worth in look in deeper leagues. His fellow Twins’ outfielder Darin Mastroianni is also worth a gamble based on his ability to steal bases. He’s a hedge on Aaron Hicks developing at the major league level after skipping AAA when Hicks development has been relatively slow.

Most people see the Houston Astros as a fantasy wasteland. I see them as an opportunity. Justin Maxwell squeaks in at #101 on the Fantasy Pros average and he’s that perfect blend of power and speed (think Michael Saunders of 2012) to hit enough to keep him in the lineup so that he can flash his plus-plus defense in center field

Deeper in the Astros outfield we find Brandon Barnes and Rick Ankiel in another platoon*. Ankiel is all power and nothing else (unless he finds his fastball again). Barnes is a sneaky play (on the weaker side of the platoon). They are both in the lineup because Fernando Martinez is hurt. Fernando Martinez will always be hurt. He has a degenerative condition in his knees that’s not going away. Barnes has shown good on base skills in the minors and could contribute a bit in the SB department as he had 22 over three levels last year.

* I assume that the move Platoon will be remade as a baseball moving starring Brad Pitt in the lead role as either Billy Beane again or Jeffrey Luhnow. Both the Astros and A’s are probably going to attempt to platoon everyone they can..maybe they will go with home and road managers…why not?

Will Jayson Werth stay healthy? Will Adam LaRoche? Neither are bastions of health and the potential beneficiary is Tyler Moore. Moore had 10 HRs in 171 PAs in the majors in 2012. He had back to back 30+ HR seasons in 2010 and 2011. He strikes out a ton so he’s a batting average risk, but regular playing time could allow him to run into 20+ HRs for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Khristopher Davis spells his first name incorrectly, but I won’t hold that against him. The Brewers can use some power on their bench and Davis will likely provide that.

Chris Heisey can play CF. Shin Soo Choo will play CF, but it’s unclear if he can. Ryan Ludwick is old. Heisey has skills, but he’s hidden on the bench. Grab him and see what comes of the Reds outfield. They have a ton of offensive weapons and a friendly ballpark so take the risk.

Starting pitchers: Jake Arrieta’s ERA underperformed his FIP by over two runs last season. He certainly seemed to be just a wee bit unlucky. Arrieta is no longer young, but perhaps he’s matured a bit. He was effective in 17 1/3 innings in Spring Training though he did walk eight in those innings. He’s got a chance against a weakened AL East to provide league average production.

Arrieta’s rotation-mate Chris Tillman ended his season on a high note. Many of have said that it’s a fluke. However, the improvement was driven by an increase in velocity and refined slider control. He’s nicely covered by Chris Cwik at Fangraphs here. I’d pay the extra buck for him.

Can John Lackey still pitch? If he can still pitch can he stay healthy? I’m not sure he has a chance of doing either well. The sixth starter for the Red Sox is Allen Webster (and not the electric-armed Rubby de la Rosa) in my opinion. Webster showed this Spring Training that the Red Sox may have gotten a viable piece to the major league puzzle all while dumping tons of salary on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox moved his position on the mound and it looks like he can now attack hitters in myriad ways that he couldn’t before. He’s got the upside of a #2 starter at the major league level. Monitor him at AAA.

Vance Worley was great last year. Until he wasn’t. And he wasn’t because of an injury. He attempted to pitch through elbow problems and couldn’t do it. He had surgery and looks to be 100% healthy. He won’t win a lot of games for the Minnesota Twins, but should offer support in ERA and WHIP as he pitches in a friendly home ballpark.

Joe Blanton isn’t attractive…as a fantasy pitcher. Until you dig a little deeper. He moves from an unfriendly ballpark in Philadelphia to a much friendlier one in Anaheim which should help with Blanton’s biggest flaw – the long ball. The Angels should be a good, not great team this season and he should pick up 13 to 15 wins and be just a bit better than league average in ERA and WHIP. There’s value there that no one else can see.

Relief pitchers: Sergio Romo’s arm will fall off this season. No, I’m not a doctor, but Romo throws sliders more often than an Applebee’s waitress. Those sliders wreak havoc on a young man’s elbow. And Romo isn’t a young man. So, I’d target Santiago Casilla (no, let’s not speak about Brian Wilson) as one of the most likely late inning relievers to pick up saves. He’s likely floating around your waiver wire somewhere.

Going back to the Houston Astros’ well one more time, Rule 5 pickup Josh Fields could see some save opportunities. There isn’t a reason that the Astros would keep Jose Veras in the closer’s role all season (or that he has the skills to keep it). Fields has closer worthy skills and may have an opportunity in the second half of the season to showcase them after Veras is dealt or loses the job.

I love Junichi Tazawa. I touted him all the way back in Week 2 of last season. I think he’s the best pitcher in the Boston Red Sox bullpen. Joel Hanrahan ended last season swerving all over the place and looks to have continued that into spring training. Andrew Bailey is a china doll. Daniel Bard is in AA. Koji Uehara seems to prefer being the setup man to the main man, but he certainly has the skills to step into the role. Tazawa will hold value now and it would just increase if he moves to the closer’s role.

Finally, Kyuji Fujikawaa of the Chicago Cubs is a better pitcher now than Carlos Marmol can ever hope to be. Pay more for Fujikawa than Marmol.

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. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 17 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

First, a big thank you to everyone who read even one word of my weekly (mostly) ramblings about fantasy football. I hope that they helped you in some small way. I’ve enjoyed the writing and might even do it again next year.

Hopefully you aren’t still playing games in your fantasy schedule. Any league that plays their championship game in Week 17 is a league worth leaving. Some of the smarter members of one of my leagues devised a Week 17 challenge that works well. Week 17 is a free for all – take any player and make a full roster. The highest score wins and picks up some dough. There’s no reason to have the most important game in your fantasy season played on a week when the NFLers are resting for the playoffs.

Let’s take a look at who to start this week. There are just too many guys to sit. I’d sit just about anyone on the Atlanta Falcons. They have absolutely nothing to play for this week and are better served getting healthy. I’d also stay away from the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts as it’s unclear how much any of the first team offenses will stay on the field. If a half of Ray Rice or A.J. Green is better than anything else you can find, go ahead and start them. However, you’d likely find better options on your squad or on the waiver wire.

And we’ve got a final regular season Survivor Pool list ready for your perusal.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: None

Quarterback      

Up: Michael Vick faces a New York Giants defense that has been shredded by QBs recently. Vick is playing for his professional life this week and auditioning for the rest of the league. Can I see him putting up a top three performance this week? Absolutely. The Giants defense is just that bad currently.

Philip Rivers may be the beneficiary of Norv Turner’s last game in San Diego. Why not throw the ball 40+ times? Ryan Mathews isn’t there to take the handoff. I can see Rivers sneaking into the bottom of the top 10 this week as Norval tries to go out with a bang against a poor Oakland pass defense.

Running back

Up: Mark Ingram looks like a top ten back to me this week. He’s been solid for the last copule of weeks and he’s lost his running mate Pierre Thomas this week so he could be in for more touches. The Saints may look to feature Ingram a bit to see what they have for next year. Ingram was a first round pick for a reason – he has the talent and Week 17 might just be the opportunity he needs to showcase it.

Shonn Greene had 94 yards and a TD in the Jets Week 1 game against the Bills. Mark Sanchez is terrible. Certainly Greene will be given every opportunity to top 100 yards this week. Start him as a solid RB1. I can’t believe I just wrote those words.

Montell Owens is a high end RB2 this week. He has no competition and the Titans are again without the services of MLB Colin McCarthy. I could see 120+ total yards and a TD. I like Owens a lot and I’m not sure why the Jags don’t want to use him more on offense. He’s shown a solid skillset. I’m sure begin a gunner on special teams is important, but Owens has to provide more value on offense than a gunner does on special teams.

Rashard Mendenhall may be in for a big game against the Cleveland Browns if the game plays out as I envision. The Steelers will likely have a pretty big lead and with Mike Wallace and Heath Miller out, Mendenhall heads up the depth chart in terms of touches. I’d say Mendenhall could have solid RB2 production this week.

Jason Snelling could be a sneaky deep league play as the Falcons could opt to rest both Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers in the second half of the game against the Bucs. The Falcons have nothing to play for and Snelling hasn’t been a big part of the offense at all this season.

Wide Receiver

Up: Steve Smith should be in the top three this week. He faces a New Orleans Saints defense that just cannot control WR1s. Expect a huge game from Smith for Carolina.

James Jones could be the beneficiary of injuries in the WR corps and the Vikings propensity for giving up points in bunches to WRs. Greg Jennings has a shot to be valuable as well, but he’s more of a flex play for me.

Continuing on my theme of the horrible Giants defense, I think Jeremy Maclin could sneak into a high end WR2 this week. I like Maclin for 80+ yards and 1 TD at least.

Justin Blackmon should have room to roam against the Titans porous secondary especially with Cecil Shorts out. I see Blackmon as a solid WR2 this week.

Emmanuel Sanders is the Steelers WR I’d target this week in deeper leagues. I can see the Browns putting shutdown corner Joe Haden on Antonio Brown and rendering him useless. Sanders isn’t great, but could be a valuable flex play in PPR leagues.

Tight End

Up: Marcedes Lewis has a solid matchup against the Titans and if he can add a TD to his four catch 56 yard performance from a couple of weeks ago against the Titans, then he’s a top 10 guy for me and you this week.

I like Dennis Pitta as a deep sleeper if you want to risk him playing only a half. He should be able to score against the Bengals even if he only plays 30 minutes.

Down: I lied. I do have one ‘down’ this week. Same as the last week…and the last week….Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. This is your last reminder.

Kicker

Up: I’ll even give you a kicker this week. How about Nick Novak against the Oakland Raiders? Fellow Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding had five FGs in their Week 1 matchup.

Defense

Up: The Pittsburgh Steelers face Thaddeus Lewis at QB for the Cleveland Browns and some mix of Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Jackson at RB. The Steelers should be a top three defense this week.

The Buffalo Bills defense gets to have Mark Sanchez throwing at them all game long. That’s a gift that keeps on giving. I see the Bills as a top five defense this week.

For deeper leagues, I like the Detroit Lions to sneak into the top 10 against the Chicago Bears especially if Matt Forte struggles. The Bears need to win, but they haven’t been able to sustain a solid offense on the road. The Lions only gave up 13 points and had five sacks in their earlier meeting.

Survivor

Week 17 is upon us and many pools are still alive. Hopefully, you have tiebreaking procedure in place. If not, may I recommend a chop of the pot if you have less than five players at the end of Week 17 and perhaps running into the playoffs for a week or two (with the option of choosing an already chosen team.

Let’s see where there is money to be made this week.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 17 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

San Diego Chargers

14.50%

1

San Francisco 49ers

19.67%

2

New York Giants

14.30%

2

New Orleans Saints

19.35%

3

San Francisco 49ers

14.10%

3

New York Giants

15.68%

4

New Orleans Saints

13.30%

4

Seattle Seahawks

13.21%

5

Seattle Seahawks

12.40%

5

San Diego Chargers

7.11%

6

Pittsburgh Steelers

9.20%

6

Tennessee Titans

6.63%

7

Denver Broncos

7.70%

7

Denver Broncos

6.45%

8

Tennessee Titans

4.30%

8

New England Patriots

3.27%

9

Washington

3.20%

9

Washington

2.33%

10

New England Patriots

2.70%

10

Pittsburgh Steelers

2.22%

It’s interesting to see the Chargers and Giants at the top of the Office Football Pool rankings. Can you really trust either team? The Chargers are waiting for the ax to fall on Norv Turner and the Giants look like they’ve packed up and gone golfing a bit earlier than they should have. Let’s see where we should go?

  1. San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers – If you have any of these five teams, use them now. The 49ers (85% chance of winning) should roll over a Cardinals team playing out the string. The Broncos still (85%) have something to play for and the Chiefs just want the season to end. The Seahawks (83%) are going for an unbeaten home schedule against the St. Louis Rams who don’t have the firepower to keep up. The Patriots (81%) face a divisional foe that has played them tough in the past, but the Pats are getting healthy on offense. The Steelers (79%) face the Browns with both playing out the string. However, the conductor for the Browns will be Thaddeus Lewis. Who? Exactly.
  2. New Orleans Saints – The Saints are at home to close out what has to be considered a disappointing season. However, things should be looking up next year with Sean Payton returning to the sideline as head coach. Cam Newton has been a different QB over the last few weeks and that has helped the Panthers immensely. That said, I see the Saints pulling this one out at home with the running game led by Mark Ingram being the difference. I give the Saints a 77% chance of winning.
  3. San Diego Chargers – Next season, remember to find out where Norv Turner ends up as an offensive coordinator. That’s a team you want draft offensive players from. As for this week, the Chargers saving grace is that the Raiders have decided to start Terrelle Pryor at QB with the injury to Carson Palmer. I don’t believe Pryor is ready for primetime and even the lackluster Chargers should be able to handle him.  I give the Chargers a 74% chance of winning.
  4. Green Bay Packers – The Packers should be able to handle the Minnesota Vikings even if the Vikings decide to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson 50 times to get the single season rushing record. The Pack are a bit banged up at the WR position so they may actually lean a bit more on the running game or the uneven Jermichael Finley. I give the Packers a 66% chance of winning.
  5. Buffalo Bills – The New York Jets have gone back to Mark Sanchez as a starting QB. The Jets are a tire fire. One that will never go out. Ever. The Bills aren’t exactly world beaters, but at least they can focus on football during the week. Moreover, they’ll have the most dynamic offensive player on the field in C.J. Spiller. I give the Bills a 62% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New York Giants at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.  Yes, the Giants are favored. Yes, the Giants are at home. Yes, the Giants have something to play for and the Eagles do not. Well, except for one Eagle – Michael Vick. Vick is the wild card in this matchup and I don’t think I’d risk my pool against him. The Giants defense has been poor for a few weeks and Eli Manning looks like his arm needs a rest.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, well, I’m not sure there is one I’d recommend this week. I could see taking the Baltimore Ravens against the Bengals on the road. The Ravens looked better last week and this is a divisional game

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 16 Survivor Pool

Week 16 is upon us. We do not have a Thursday night game – that game is now on Saturday game so make sure you’ve got those players in your fantasy lineups if you need them. Onto the Survivor pool suggestions for this week.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 16 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Percent

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Carolina Panthers

44.70%

1

Carolina Panthers

32.50%

2

Indianapolis Colts

18.20%

2

Indianapolis Colts

32.13%

3

New England Patriots

11.30%

3

New England Patriots

11.86%

4

Denver Broncos

9.90%

4

Denver Broncos

7.36%

5

Green Bay Packers

5.30%

5

Green Bay Packers

5.30%

6

Washington Redskins

3.40%

6

Washington Redskins

4.73%

7

Chicago Bears

2.10%

7

Atlanta Falcons

1.73%

8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1.20%

8

Chicago Bears

1.63%

9

Miami Dolphins

1.00%

9

Houston Texans

0.58%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.80%

10

Miami Dolphins

0.45%

The Carolina Panthers? Number one on the list? Huh. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that 16 weeks ago. Should we follow the leader?

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

  1. New England Patriots, Denver Broncos Houston Texans & Green Bay Packers – If you have any of these three teams left, it’s time to use them. There is no reason to hold on to them at this point. Unless you have a pool where multiple entrants have these teams left, you might want to hold off. However, I can’t see too many scenarios where these teams shouldn’t be used this week. I give the Pats an 88% chance to win, the Packers an 85% chance, the Broncos an 83% chance to win and the Texans a 81% chance.
  2. Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III will be back for Washington. LeSean McCoy will be back for the Eagles. RGIII > Shady McCoy. The Redskins are really rolling now and have the offense to take advantage of an uneven Eagles defense. I give the Redskins a 72% chance of winning.
  3. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers look rejuvenated on offense. Cam Newton is back to his All-Pro level of play and DeAngelo Williams is a new man with Jonathan Stewart on the bench.  The Raiders don’t have athletes on defense that can contain Newton. I see the Panthers winning in a shootout. I give the Panthers a 71% chance of winning.
  4. Indianapolis Colts – I like the Colts a lot more if Ricky Stanzi is playing QB as has been rumored. The Colts have a young QB who has matured enough that he should not be intimidated on the road at Kansas City. The Chiefs have no QB, no WRs and an underutilized RB. I think the Colts can overcome the Chiefs solid defense to win on the road. I give the Colts a 69% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Chicago Bears on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. True, the Cardinals have no QB, but they have some offensive weapsons and an opportunistic defense. The Bears have a gimpy QB, lost their goal line RB and have only one WR in Brandon Marshall. The Cardinals bounced back in a major way last week and I think their defense can control the Bears.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about Baltimore Ravens at home against the New York Giants. The Giants are banged up all around and the Ravens were embarrassed last week (as were the Giants). The Ravens are a much better team at home and usually pose a pretty big challenge to road teams. The Ravens have to get Ray Rice involved at some point, right?

I also like the Cincinnati Bengals as road underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will be one dimensional again and I think the Bengals have the secondary to keep up with them.

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 15 Survivor Pool

I’m bummed. I’m out. The Bucs faltered and so I’m out of the pool. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you my dozens of readers. So, I’ll carry on with the baggage of having bombed out of all of my pools. I had a good run and there is always next year.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 15 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Miami Dolphins

53.50%

1

Miami Dolphins

59.92%

2

Detroit Lions

21.00%

2

Detroit Lions

17.70%

3

Seattle Seahawks

5.00%

3

Seattle Seahawks

5.43%

4

Houston Texans

4.70%

4

New Orleans Saints

2.73%

5

New Orleans Saints

4.10%

5

Cincinnati Bengals

2.71%

6

Cincinnati Bengals

3.20%

6

Houston Texans

2.60%

7

Oakland Raiders

2.00%

7

Washington Redskins

2.15%

8

New England Patriots

1.90%

8

Oakland Raiders

1.32%

9

Washington Redskins

1.00%

9

New England Patriots

1.16%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.90%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.78%

We’ve got another clear leader in the clubhouse in Miami. That means we’ve got another week where value can be had if you go away from Miami (especially if you have one of the “surer” winners).

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

  1. Houston Texans – The Texans are coming off a humbling Monday night loss to the Patriots and need to get reset for their playoff run. Andrew Luck is great for a rookie, but he is still a rookie. Even though the Texans defense has been trending in the wrong direction over the last few weeks, they have enough offensive weapons to take care of the young Colts. I give the Texans a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Detroit Lions – The Cardinals are starting Ryan Lindley at QB. They have no offensive line. They have no running game. The Lions have an explosive offense and should be able to outscore the Cardinals. I give the Lions a 75% of winning.
  3. Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins haven’t been great at home this year, especially as a favorite. They are playing a Jags team that they should be able to turn into a one-dimensional passing team. I give the Dolphins a 68% chance of winning.
  4. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are bad. The Chiefs are terrible. They had an emotional win over the Panthers two weeks ago and then turned back into a pumpkin last week. They’ve now lost their only professional-grade WR in Dwayne Bowe so they will be rolling with Jon Baldwin and Terrance Copper with Dexter McCluster in the slot. I give the Raiders a 65% chance of winning.
  5. Seattle Seahawks – 58-0, eh? Well, it is safe to say there will be some regression this week against Buffalo. The Seahawks do struggle a bit on the road, but Russell Wilson has matured quickly as a QB and should be able to lead the Seahawks over the Bills. I give the Seahawks a 63% chance of winning.
  6. Washington Redskins – This assumes that Robert Griffin III plays, but isn’t 100%. Washington is hot and so are the Browns oddly. Griffin gives them the chance to win any game and I think Mike Shanahan has them moving in the correct direction. I give Washington a 61% chance to win. With Griffin, out the Browns are the favorite and may now be a viable option.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New Orleans Saints at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs couldn’t handle the Eagles last week, but I believe they are due for a bounce back this week against a Saints team that looks like it could throw all over the field on the Bucs. I think the Bucs will be ready after being embarrassed against the Eagles

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Dallas Cowboys against the Steelers at home. Yes, the Cowboys have almost no home field advantage, but the Steelers are a broken team. Injuries have ravaged them on both sides of the ball. I think the Cowboys could take the win here after coming up with a big road win last week over the Bengals.

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.

Fantasy Football: Week 15 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

I’m bummed. I’m out. The Bucs faltered and so I’m out of the pool. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you my dozens of readers. So, I’ll carry on with the baggage of having bombed out of all of my pools. I had a good run and there is always next year.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday game below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 15 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Miami Dolphins

53.50%

1

Miami Dolphins

59.92%

2

Detroit Lions

21.00%

2

Detroit Lions

17.70%

3

Seattle Seahawks

5.00%

3

Seattle Seahawks

5.43%

4

Houston Texans

4.70%

4

New Orleans Saints

2.73%

5

New Orleans Saints

4.10%

5

Cincinnati Bengals

2.71%

6

Cincinnati Bengals

3.20%

6

Houston Texans

2.60%

7

Oakland Raiders

2.00%

7

Washington Redskins

2.15%

8

New England Patriots

1.90%

8

Oakland Raiders

1.32%

9

Washington Redskins

1.00%

9

New England Patriots

1.16%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.90%

10

San Diego Chargers

0.78%

We’ve got another clear leader in the clubhouse in Miami. That means we’ve got another week where value can be had if you go away from Miami (especially if you have one of the “surer” winners).

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

  1. Houston Texans – The Texans are coming off a humbling Monday night loss to the Patriots and need to get reset for their playoff run. Andrew Luck is great for a rookie, but he is still a rookie. Even though the Texans defense has been trending in the wrong direction over the last few weeks, they have enough offensive weapons to take care of the young Colts. I give the Texans a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Detroit Lions – The Cardinals are starting Ryan Lindley at QB. They have no offensive line. They have no running game. The Lions have an explosive offense and should be able to outscore the Cardinals. I give the Lions a 75% of winning.
  3. Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins haven’t been great at home this year, especially as a favorite. They are playing a Jags team that they should be able to turn into a one-dimensional passing team. I give the Dolphins a 68% chance of winning.
  4. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are bad. The Chiefs are terrible. They had an emotional win over the Panthers two weeks ago and then turned back into a pumpkin last week. They’ve now lost their only professional-grade WR in Dwayne Bowe so they will be rolling with Jon Baldwin and Terrance Copper with Dexter McCluster in the slot. I give the Raiders a 65% chance of winning.
  5. Seattle Seahawks – 58-0, eh? Well, it is safe to say there will be some regression this week against Buffalo. The Seahawks do struggle a bit on the road, but Russell Wilson has matured quickly as a QB and should be able to lead the Seahawks over the Bills. I give the Seahawks a 63% chance of winning.
  6. Washington Redskins – This assumes that Robert Griffin III plays, but isn’t 100%. Washington is hot and so are the Browns oddly. Griffin gives them the chance to win any game and I think Mike Shanahan has them moving in the correct direction. I give Washington a 61% chance to win.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New Orleans Saints at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs couldn’t handle the Eagles last week, but I believe they are due for a bounce back this week against a Saints team that looks like it could throw all over the field on the Bucs. I think the Bucs will be ready after being embarrassed against the Eagles.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Dallas Cowboys against the Steelers at home. Yes, the Cowboys have almost no home field advantage, but the Steelers are a broken team. Injuries have ravaged them on both sides of the ball. I think the Cowboys could take the win here after coming up with a big road win last week over the Bengals.

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 preview – Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles

Cincy is a big favorite on the road. I don’t seem them covering – I think this is more of a tossup game than Vegas thinks.

Cincinnati

Andy Dalton is a borderline QB1 this week against a poor Eagles pass defense. The Eagles actually looked relatively solid against the Bucs, but I don’t believe they can do it two weeks in a row.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been hot. H-O-T hot! The Eagles have been pretty tough against RBs this season though the last couple of weeks have been less than stellar. I see BJGE as a solid RB2. Petyon Manning is a must start against a Raiders team that can’t sustain any pass rush at all. Manning should have all day to throw the ball.

A.J. Green had the worst game of his season last week. He won’t repeat. He’s a solid WR1. Andrew Hawkins is also a viable WR2/flex play in a good matchup.

Jermaine Gresham is a PPR option at TE, but I wouldn’t trust him in a standard league.

The Bengals defense is certainly an option as the Eagles have a rookie at QB and a rookie at RB. Turnovers are bound to happen with that combination.

Philadelphia

Nick Foles should stay on your bench this week. There is not enough upside for him this week except in 2 QB leagues and even there I don’t see a lot for him this week.

Bryce Brown was stymied last week as I predicted. The Bengals have been better lately, but I can see Brown bouncing back in the last week he likely will be the lone back in the offense. I can see RB2 scoring for him this week.

The Bengals can hold down the best of WRs and the Eagles don’t have the best of WRs on their roster. I think both Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are marginal flex options and Riley Cooper should stay on the waiver wire. I’d rather hold out for a better option this week.

Brent Celek is out and replaced by Clay Harbor. Harbor showed some TE1 upside in PPR leagues last week filling in for Celek. Nick Foles seems to trust him.  I can see Harbor with 5 catches and 60 yards.

I don’t see the Eagles defense being useful this week. Keep them on the waiver wire.

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 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

For some leagues, it’s playoff time. In others, you still have one more week to jockey for position or make one last gasp at a spot in the final dance. Either way, it’s time to focus.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. We’ll also see who to take in the Survivor Pool this week.  No significant changes to the choices with this final column, but one caveat more with Pittsburgh.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: None

Quarterback      

Up: Russell Wilson is at home. He is 5-0 at home with 11 TDs and 0 INTs! He has thrown for 2 TDs or more in five straight games. He’s a start in most leagues this week.

Eli Manning has looked out of sorts for a big chunk of this season. He played solidly against Green Bay at home two weeks ago and then put together an average performance last week against a suspect Washington secondary. I’ll go out on a limb on Manning this week and push him into the QB1 ranks against the Saints.

Jake Locker faces a Colts defense this week that has given up 290 or more yards passing in four of the last five weeks.  I like Locker for 250 yards and two TDs in a game that could end up being a shootout.

Down: Matthew Stafford has a solid matchup against the Green Bay Packers. But, he also will likely deal with snow. And lots of it. Stafford and the whole Lions offense could struggle outside of the toasty confines of the dome against the Packers who seem to thrive in those conditions.

Ben Roethlisberger returns this week, but unless you are desperate (choosing between Big Ben, Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles for example), I’d let Ben play this one out to see how his injury holds up. The injury was quite rare and he has a propensity for returning a bit too early from dings. Let’s see how this one plays out.

Running back

Up: BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an RB1 for me this week. The Cowboys run defense has been steadily decling with the losses of Sean Lee, Jay Ratliff and now Josh Brent. Ellis isn’t fancy, but he runs hard and should be given a lof of opportunities on Sunday.

Joique Bell is said to get more carries for the Lions this week. I like the matchup and Bell has shown nice versatility for the Lions all year long. I could see him usurping Mikel LeShoure as the lead back for the remainder of the season should he have a break out performance.

Montell Owens gets the start in Jacksonville. No, he’s not Montell Williams or Montell Jordan, but this Montell has a shot to put up some numbers. The Jets run defense is relatively friendly to RBs. I like the former special teamer to be a solid flex play in most leagues.

Down: Bryce Brown has been otherworldly since replacing LeSean McCoy with some of that owing to the Eagles actually running a more balanced offense with Nick Foles at the helm. That said, the Eagles run into the Bucs run defense this week and I don’t see Brown any better than a low end RB2. He’s a rookie, he has a rookie QB leading the charge. I can see a dud from Brown this week.

Ray Rice is no better than an RB2 for me for two reasons. One – the Ravens offensive coordinator (Cam Cameron) doesn’t seem to understand how to utilize Rice to maximize the Ravens chances of winning. Two – the Redskins run defense is solid if unspectacular. Unless Rice is nursing an injury, his utilization has been odd and his production has suffered because of it.

DeMarco Murray could struggle against the Bengals. The Bengals aren’t great (they did give up 74 yards rushing to Marcel Reece!), but they aren’t the worst. Murray is still not fully healthy (and won’t be until next season). I see Murray as an RB2/Flex this week.

Wide Receiver

Up: Danario Alexander should be owned in all leagues and starting in all leagues. He’s a WR1 this week and remains one while healthy.

Chris Givens will likely be Sam Bradford’s main target this week. I know Danny Amendola will try to play, but I can see him as a decoy if he does play. Givens is a high end WR2 this week.

Kenny Britt talked about how his knees are feeling much better over the last couple of games. The Colts defense is quite friendly to WRs and I expect another TD for Britt along with at least 80 yards on five catches. Definite WR2 material this week.

Torrey Smith has been hit or miss this year. He hits this week against a Redskins defense without enough speed to keep Smith contained. He is a WR1 for me this week. Start him with confidence.

In deeper PPR leagues, I like Riley Cooper to pick up this week. The Bucs pass defense is suspect and as I noted above I think Bryce Brown struggles this week.

And from way downtown, Kevin Elliott is starting for the Jags opposite Justin Blackmon with Cecil Shorts out with a concussion. The Jags offense has been very good with Chad Henne at the helm. Could we see four catches and 60 yards out of Elliott? Sure and that’s valuable in deeper leagues.

Down:  Larry Fitzgerald. Woe is me for drafting Larry Fitzgerald. He faces the Seahawks with another QB under center. He can’t be trusted and I’d actually suggest releasing him (espeicall if you are in a keeper league and can’t keep him next year). There is just nothing in that offense to get excited about.

Julio Jones falls into the WR2/flex area for me this week as Carolina has been relatively successful against WR1s this year according to Football Outsiders. Jones had only 30 yards against the Panthers in their matchup earlier this season (Roddy White had 169 and 2 TDs).

Tight End

Up: If you are looking for a flyer at TE, check out Rob Housler from Arizona. The Seahawks have a fantastic pass defense, but they are merely average against TEs. The Cardinals will likely need to throw a bit and I can see their WRs being shut down. Beanie Wells is questionable and not very good when not questionable so I can see Housler getting some love from current QB John Skelton.

Down: Jermaine Gresham worries me this week. His matchup is good, but he did miss a practice this week and was downgraded on the injury report. It looks like he’ll suit up this and the reports are that he has no issues, but he’s probably not worth the risk in a critical week.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder.

Defense

Up: Depending on your format, I’d take a look at the Minnesota Vikings as a deeper league play. They face the Bears, not exactly a dynamic offense that gives up its share of sacks. I can see them sneaking into the bottom of the top 12 this week especially at home.

Down: I can’t trust the St. Louis Rams as a top 12 team this week on the road in Buffalo. Yes, the Bills are usually generous to other teams, but the Rams have not shown well (at least consistently) on the road this year. And weather could be a factor – a factor that favors the Bills.

Survivor

I had a poor week of recommendations last week and we saw a few more entrants crash out. However, we are still not yet down to the nitty gritty in the larger pools I’m in. It’s been an interesting season so far. We haven’t had a second “big loss” like we had with New England in week three. Is there a landmine this week? Let’s take a look.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday game below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 14 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Seattle Seahawks

51.20%

1

Seattle Seahawks

54.04%

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

13.40%

2

Indianapolis Colts

11.69%

3

San Francisco 49ers

12.80%

3

San Francisco 49ers

11.09%

4

Indianapolis Colts

6.20%

4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7.91%

5

Denver Broncos (W)

6.10%

5

Denver Broncos (W)

5.86%

6

Cleveland Browns

4.90%

6

Cleveland Browns

3.28%

7

Pittsburgh Steelers

3.10%

7

Atlanta Falcons

2.01%

8

Green Bay Packers

0.60%

8

Pittsburgh Steelers

1.29%

9

Atlanta Falcons

0.50%

9

Green Bay Packers

1.02%

10

New York Giants

0.30%

10

New York Jets

0.27%

The Seahawks are the clear option for many entrants. It looks like there could be a ton of value elsewhere in these waters. Where to go to stay afloat?

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, what are you waiting for? Use them this week. I give them an 82% chance of winning this week against a Detroit team that will be starting Mike Thomas at WR.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs hold the value this week. They don’t have the best chance to win in my estimation, but they aren’t far off. They have a solid run defense and the Eagles can’t pass so they should be able to make the Eagles relatively one-dimensional. The Eagles look to be playing out the string after another crushing defeat – this at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. I give the Bucs a 76% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – If you just want to ‘survive and advance’ then the Seattle Seahawks are the play (unless you have the Packers which few do). The Seahawks are a team to be reckoned with at home. They should be able to hold the Cardinals off even with the return of John Skelton at QB for the Cardinals and the suspension of Brandon Browner. I might be tempted to use the Seahawks here as Browner will be out for four games and it looks like Richard Sherman (the other stud DB) may not play after this week. I give the Seahawks a 79% chance of winning.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – This assumes Ben Roethlisberger plays for the Steelers. With Big Ben in the lineup, the Steelers become a dynamic offense again. Mike Wallace will likely have value again. It looks like the Steelers have settled on Jonathan Dwyer as the lead RB. The only issue I can see is that Norv Turner-led teams rule December especially when it seems like they are out of it. Moreover, Turner and GM AJ Smith are said to be fired as soon as the season ends so it’s unclear what Chargers team might show up. I give the Steelers a 73% chance of winning.
  5. Denver Broncos – If this game were on Sunday, I’d move the Broncos up a bit. However, the short week gives me some pause. The Broncos should be able to run against the Raiders suspect defense. The Raiders won’t be able to throw against the Denver pass defense and Carson Palmer should be benched in all leagues. I give the Broncos a 72% chance of winning.
  6. San Francisco 49ers – We saw the dangers of trusting a rookie QB in Survivor. I expect a big bounce back game from the entire team and give the 49ers a 72% chance of winning.
  7. Indianapolis Colts – I think there will be some hangover from the Colts comeback win over the Lions last week. The Colts are growing as a team and Andrew Luck is a much better QB at home. The Titans do not have a lot to offer in the way of speed bumps for Luck. The Titans should be able to throw, but I see the Colts outscoring the Titans in a shootout. I give the Colts a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Cleveland Browns at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Browns are nearly a touchdown favorite against the Chiefs. The Browns shouldn’t be a touchdown favorite against anyone. I see this game as much closer to a pick ‘em than 6.5 points. The Chiefs had an emotional win last week, so they may be down a bit, but I wouldn’t want to take the Browns against them.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New Orleans Saints against the Giants. The Giants aren’t a great team at home, the Saints aren’t a great team on the road. However, I can see the Saints throwing the ball around the park a bit on the Giants.

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 – Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

I had a poor week of recommendations last week and we saw a few more entrants crash out. However, we are still not yet down to the nitty gritty in the larger pools I’m in. It’s been an interesting season so far. We haven’t had a second “big loss” like we had with New England in week three. Is there a landmine this week? Let’s take a look.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday game below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 14 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Seattle Seahawks

55.00%

1

Seattle Seahawks

56.38%

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12.00%

2

Indianapolis Colts

12.15%

3

San Francisco 49ers

11.90%

3

San Francisco 49ers

11.20%

4

Denver Broncos

6.60%

4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7.42%

5

Indianapolis Colts

6.00%

5

Denver Broncos

5.18%

6

Cleveland Browns

4.30%

6

Cleveland Browns

2.36%

7

Pittsburgh Steelers

1.80%

7

Atlanta Falcons

1.97%

8

Green Bay Packers

0.60%

8

Pittsburgh Steelers

0.89%

9

Atlanta Falcons

0.60%

9

Green Bay Packers

0.87%

10

New York Giants

0.20%

10

New York Giants

0.26%

The Seahawks are the clear option for many entrants. It looks like there could be a ton of value elsewhere in these waters. Where to go to stay afloat?

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, what are you waiting for? Use them this week. I give them an 82% chance of winning this week against a Detroit team that will be starting Mike Thomas at WR.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs hold the value this week. They don’t have the best chance to win in my estimation, but they aren’t far off. They have a solid run defense and the Eagles can’t pass so they should be able to make the Eagles relatively one-dimensional. The Eagles look to be playing out the string after another crushing defeat – this at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. I give the Bucs a 76% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – If you just want to ‘survive and advance’ then the Seattle Seahawks are the play (unless you have the Packers which few do). The Seahawks are a team to be reckoned with at home. They should be able to hold the Cardinals off even with the return of John Skelton at QB for the Cardinals and the suspension of Brandon Browner. I might be tempted to use the Seahawks here as Browner will be out for four games and it looks like Richard Sherman (the other stud DB) may not play after this week. I give the Seahawks a 79% chance of winning.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – This assumes Ben Roethlisberger plays for the Steelers. With Big Ben in the lineup, the Steelers become a dynamic offense again. Mike Wallace will likely have value again. It looks like the Steelers have settled on Jonathan Dwyer as the lead RB. The only issue I can see is that Norv Turner led teams rule December especially when it seems like they are out of it. I give the Steelers a 73% chance of winning.
  5. Denver Broncos – If this game were on Sunday, I’d move the Broncos up a bit. However, the short week gives me some pause. The Broncos should be able to run against the Raiders suspect defense. The Raiders won’t be able to throw against the Denver pass defense and Carson Palmer should be benched in all leagues. I give the Broncos a 72% chance of winning.
  6. San Francisco 49ers – We saw the dangers of trusting a rookie QB in Survivor. I expect a big bounce back game from the entire team and give the 49ers a 72% chance of winning.
  7. Indianapolis Colts – I think there will be some hangover from the Colts comeback win over the Lions last week. The Colts are growing as a team and Andrew Luck is a much better QB at home. The Titans do not have a lot to offer in the way of speed bumps for Luck. The Titans should be able to throw, but I see the Colts outscoring the Titans in a shootout. I give the Colts a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Cleveland Browns at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Browns are nearly a touchdown favorite against the Chiefs. The Browns shouldn’t be a touchdown favorite against anyone. I see this game as much closer to a pick ‘em than 6.5 points. The Chiefs had an emotional win last week, so they may be down a bit, but I wouldn’t want to take the Browns against them.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New Orleans Saints against the Giants. The Giants aren’t a great team at home, the Saints aren’t a great team on the road. However, I can see the Saints throwing the ball around the park a bit on the Giants.

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 preview – Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Denver

Peyton Manning is a must start against a Raiders team that can’t sustain any pass rush at all. Manning should have all day to throw the ball.

Knowshon Moreno is a solid RB2 against Oakland. He’s not a star, but he should put yards on the ground with some catches out of the backfield.

I can recommend both Demaryius Thomas  (WR1) and Eric Decker (WR2/Flex) as solid options. And with Brandon Stokley out, Jacob Tamme may get more opportunities. We could even see Andre Caldwell.

Start the Broncos defense with confidence as a top 10 option this week.

Oakland

I can’t really recommend much on the Oakland team this week.

Carson Palmer is a deeper league play against a good Denver pass defense and pass rush.  There should be better options on your waiver wire.

The Raiders backfield is a mess with Marcel Reece now nursing some injuries. Darren McFadden may return at some point this season, but it looks like it won’t be this week.

I can’t see who among the WRs might be good. It’s too tough to call who might get the targets this week.

I’ll give a tepid endorsement to Brandon Myers as a TE1. Palmer will have to throw to someone and often.

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.

Week 13: Survivor Pool Best Bets

This week has been a hellish one at work and as result you’ve seen very little from me for Week 13. I won’t have the usual start/sit portion of my Sunday column either. We’ll focus only on Survivor here and should be back on our regular schedule next week.

And for those in the Washington DC Metro area, perhaps you’ll see my hard work change the way you travel down the road for the next few decades. If it doesn’t kill me first.

Check in with Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide for this week. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Survivor

It is Week 13 – If you are still around, congratulations. Most pools haven’t lost a lot of members the last couple of weeks, but you are likely still down to less than 10% of those who started. That is an accomplishment unto itself. However, there are no prizes for participation. The goal is to win.

Where can we go this week to survive and advance?

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 13 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1 Dallas Cowboys 21.70%

1

San Francisco 49ers

23.77%

2 Buffalo Bills 15.60%

2

Buffalo Bills

19.85%

3 Baltimore Ravens 11.00%

3

Dallas Cowboys

13.50%

4 San Francisco 49ers 10.90%

4

New England Patriots

10.82%

5 New England Patriots 7.80%

5

Chicago Bears

6.34%

6 New York Jets 7.60%

6

Baltimore Ravens

5.64%

7 Denver Broncos 6.60%

7

Green Bay Packers

3.95%

8 Green Bay Packers 4.80%

8

Carolina

3.80%

9 Chicago Bears 4.80%

9

Denver Broncos

3.66%

10 Detroit Lions 3.90%

10

New York Jets

2.75%

 

Who do you have left at this point? If you have a stud team left that few or no other players have left, then use them this week. No sense in saving them. I’ll try to go as deep as I can in my recommendations to ensure we cover all bases.

Here we go for this week:

  1. Green Bay Packers – I doubt many (if any of you) have the left. The Packers offense is clicking on all cylinders and they face a Vikings team that will likely be one dimensional again without Percy Harvin. The Packers are due to get Greg Jennings back which can only help. I give the Packers an 85% chance of winning.
  2. Baltimore Ravens – Yes, the Ravens barely scraped by the Steelers two weeks ago. Yes, this is a divisional game pitting two hated rivals against each other. I have only two words for you – Charlie Batch. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he can’t QB an NFL team. I like the Ravens to take this with a chance of winning at 81%.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers are a monster team now with Colin Kaepernick leading the offense. The Rams are a solid defensive team, but will likely be stymied by the 49ers stout defense. I give the 49ers a 75% of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – I hate to count on the Cowboys and Jason Garrett for anything (and I’m a Cowboys fan). The Cowboys look to get DeMarco Murray back and should have most of their offensive weapons healthy (save Miles Austin). The Cowboys defense continues to be decimated by injuries. However, I don’t think the Eagles will be able to take advantage of those injuries with Nick Foles at the helm and who knows what at WR. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance of winning
  5. Detroit Lions – The Lions are 4-7; the Colts are 7-4. However, the Colts are a different team on the road. Andrew Luck is still coming into his own and doesn’t yet have a defense to help him along. I give the Lions a 65% chance of winning.
  6. New York Jets – The Jets are playing a Cardinals team that came east early in the season and knocked a lot of players out by beating the New England Patriots.  The Jets defense is superior to the Patriots and the Cardinals now have Ryan Seacrest (or someone named Ryan) at QB. The Jets have a 65% chance of winning.
  7. Chicago Bears – The Bears defense wins this game for them. The Seahawks are a different team on the road. It looks like Matt Forte will play and Jay Cutler is back under center. I give the Bears a 64% chance of winning.
  8. New England Patriots – Something about this Patriots game worries me so I’ve moved them down significantly. The Dolphins always seem to play them well and the Patriots have a defensive team like the Cowboys, but are at least coached well. I give the Pats a 63% chance of winning.
  9. Denver Broncos – The Broncos looked good last week and should be fine on the road in Tampa. However, it’s never a 100% certainty that the good Knowshon Moreno shows up. I give the Broncos a 61% chance to win.
  10. Buffalo Bills – The Bills defense scares me as the Jags have really turned it on offensively. If this turns into a shootout, I could see the Jags taking it. Also, Greg Jones (the Jags FB) is back which should help even a terrible RB like Rashad Jennings. I give the Bills a 59% chance of winning.

Other teams I like: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Carolina Panthers on the road against Kansas City.  Even prior to the tragedy in Kansas City yesterday, I didn’t feel the Panthers had a enough to go on the road and win. Now, the game is completely unpredictable and I’d stay away. Everyone’s thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends.

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 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

We’ve already been served a healthy portion of football with three fantasy-friendly helpings of offense (with a side of defense and special teams). With those three games, you may have a good idea of what you need for the rest of the week. Maybe you are down and need to take some upside risks. Or you have a comfortable lead and need players that have a high floor for their production this week. Let’s talk about who you can use this week to make your continued push to the playoffs.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. The Survivor pool is quite shallow this week. Be careful and only dive in the deep end.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: None

Quarterback      

Up: Jay Cutler comes back from his concussion to face the Vikings. The Vikings have given up 3 TDs to QBs in three straight weeks. Should the pattern continue, Cutler would enter the top 12 fantasy QBs for the week.

Chad Henne. Why? Why not? The Jags have dynamic WRs and face a Titans team has “improved” against QBs because they faced Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler their last two games. I like Henne as a top 12 performer this week and would start him over our next contestant.

Cam Newton is in the top 12, but I’d like to see him in the top 5. The Eagles are reeling and have mailed it in at this point. They will be without Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy this week. They were torched by a similarly styled QB in Robert Griffin III last week. The torching continues this week as the Eagles continue to fade into meaninglessness.

Down: Colin Kaepernick is assumed to be the starter, but coach Harbaugh has decided that disclosing the starting QB for an NFL game is similar to revealing the nuclear codes. Harbaugh is of course a moron for thinking this, but he’s spent his whole life in football so what else does he know? Yes, Kaepernick made the Bears defense look foolish at home on Monday night. Yes, he’s got talent, but the Saints will be ready for him this week. HE goes on the road into the dome and I think he’ll struggle.

Joe Flacco on the road is not someone I’d think of starting. Moreover, the Ravens schedule the rest of the way is not conducive to success with the exception of Week 14 at Washington. If you are in need of depth at other positions, I’d probably put Flacco on the waiver wire. He’s not worth owning in standard leagues.

Running back

Up: Jalen Parmele wasn’t on anyone’s radar (let alone roster) until the waiver period this week. Now, he’s a high end RB2 for me this week. The matchup is great and he does not have a threat to take carries away from him in the backfield. Is he dynamic? No. Will he get volume? Yes. Style points don’t matter. Chalk him up for 100 yards and a TD this week.

Let’s continue to pick on the awful Eagles team and suggest Jonathan Stewart as a must start midrange RB2 this week. Their rush defense hasn’t been awful (most likely because QBs can throw all day on their DBs), but I think the Panthers will make an effort to get Stewart his carries to take some pressure of Cam Newton.

Vick Ballard scores a TD this week. The Bills have not given up at least one rushing TD to a RB in only three weeks this season.

In deep PPR leagues, I like the tandem of Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman for the Bengals. They face a Raiders defense giving up more than seven catches per game to RBs. And BJGE is not exactly Roger Craig. All three have a good shot to move up a bit in the rankings in PPR leagues.

Down: C.J. Spiller is rated as the third overall RB this week. However, his backfield mate Fred Jackson is back to take carries and touches away from him. Spiller is a must start in all leagues, but I think he’ll be on the outside of RB1 scoring this week with Jackson harshing his buzz.

Steven Jackson faced the Arizona Cardinals earlier this season. He put up 76 rushing yards. That’s it. I don’t see Jackson having much more success this week and see him as only a flex play in Week 12.

Ronnie Hillman is being touted this week as a solid play, but I’d like to wait a week to see how the carries break down. Hillman is part of a three-head monster in Denver’s backfield and he hasn’t shown the consistency necessary for me to start him expecting big things. Can he pass block? It remains to be seen and Peyton Manning wants RBs who block well.

Chris Wells is back this week, but I wouldn’t start him unless you are desperate. He could have some value down the stretch, but this is not the week to experiment.

Wide Receiver

Up: Steve Johnson at number 28 seems far too low given the matchup this week with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts let nearly any WR waltz through the secondary and their pass rush is hit or miss. I can see Johnson putting up high end WR2 numbers this week and should be started in all leagues.

Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts won’t set records this week, but ride them until there is something that shows you the Jags won’t throw the ball all over the park. They don’t have Laurent Robinson around to take snaps away anymore and they face the Titans who enjoy letting WRs score TDs and pick up yards at will. They are both must starts in all leagues.

Mini-Percy, Jarius Wright, looks to reprise his role as the replacement for Harvin in the Viking offense. They face the Bears who will be hungry to show last week was a fluke. But, in PPR leagues I like Wright to have 15 points making him a solid WR2.

In deeper PPR leagues, I like Riley Cooper to pick up double digit points again this week. Nick Foles looked awful last week (sorry about that everyone), but Cooper should see enough targets to make him viable.

Finally, in a preview for next week, Pierre Garcon looks to be back in full swing. He’s not 100%, but a 75% Garcon should be owned in most leagues.

Down:  Demaryius Thomas as the number three rated WR is a little rich for my blood. Yes, the Chiefs are awful, but they haven’t been too bad against WRs (and almost league average against WR1s according to Football Outsiders). Thomas is a must start, but I see him as a high end WR2 this week.

Torrey Smith shows up here again this week. I’m sitting him this week in most leagues in which I have him because (a) Joe Flacco on the road is bad and (b) the Chargers can control the passing game to some degree. You likely have better options on your bench.

Can you start Larry Fitzgerald with whoever the Cardinals are starting at QB? It’s tough to keep trotting him out each week hoping that one of the dying quails tossed up by below replacement-level QBs falls into his hands. I’d sit him again this week.

Antonio Brown expects to start this week for the Steelers, though other reports say he has little chance to do so. Avoid him this week until he is fully healthy.

Julio Jones burned me in a number of leagues last week and I’m probably going to leave him on the bench in favor of Jarius Wright (in a PPR league) and Danario Alexander (in a non-PPR). I can’t risk another goose egg from him. The “pace of the game” could be a factor in whether he plays or not. I’m not sure I want to leave a spot on my roster for a guy who reinjured himself last week.

Tight End

Up: Kyle Rudolph is a TE1 this week with the absence of Percy Harvin for the Vikings. Rudolph had seven catches for 64 yards and a TD in week 10 when Harvin was also absent. I even like his matchup with the Bears who showed last week that a TE could certainly beat them up.

Vernon Davis was left for dead prior to last week. Now, if Colin Kaepernick continues to QB, Davis looks like he’s going to be back to his consistent TE1 production. He’s a must start this week and should be owned in all leagues.

Marcedes Lewis is another option this week as the Jags look like the New Orleans Saints East. Lewis had a solid game last week and you all remember our former feature “Which TE is playing the Tennessee Titans?” from earlier in the season, correct. Get him in there for TE1 production this week.

Want to make a desperation play? Tony Moeaki has a great matchup and has at least six targets in the last three games he’s played. He could be useful in PPR leagues this week.

Dwayne Allen continues to be the main TE for the Colt this week as Coby Fleener sits out again.

The Panthers like to give up TDs to above average TEs. Take the risk on Brent Celek picking up at TE for the Eagles this week.

Down: Antonio Gates is no longer an option for me in standard leagues. He still has some value in PPR leagues, but he looks to be on his last legs and was even cut in one of my leagues this week. I don’t see him as a TE1 this week.

Anthony Fasano was added to the injury report during the week and looks like he will miss this week’s game (in case you had him in your lineup).

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. Greg Jennings is coming back soon and Randall Cobb is Aaron Rodgers’ new best friend.

Defense

Up: Looking deeper, you could take a chance on the Miami Dolphins against the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a below average team on the road and have given up points to fantasy defenses when on the road. They average only 15 points per game on the road and should give up two to three sacks and a couple of turnovers as well. I can see the Dolphins as top 12 material this week.

Down: The San Francisco 49ers will likely finish outside the top 12 this week. Yes, I know they have tons of defensive talent, but the New Orleans Saints of 2012 look like the New Orleans Saints of old. It may be tough to sit them, but I’d look for another option on the waiver wire if you can afford to drop someone from your squad.

I know the Chargers have a revolving door at left tackle now with Jared Gaither on season-ending IR. But, I’m concerned with the Baltimore Ravens going out west to face the Chargers. Philip Rivers has been a turnover machine as well, but I have a feeling that the Chargers will turn it around a bit this week and could cause some problems for a Ravens defense that cannot stop the run.

Survivor

Bye weeks are over and I’m coming off a week where all seven of my choices won. There are three games on Thanksgiving. I generally stay away from these games as the short week is tough on all the players (especially with the holiday).

It’s Week 12. The pickings are getting slim. Where can you go to be safe this week?

I’ve also got a quick preview of the three games on Thursday below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 12 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Denver Broncos

40.90%

1

Denver Broncos

51.95%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

37.50%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

27.82%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.80%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.39%

4

New England Patriots (W)

4.70%

4

New England Patriots (W)

4.85%

5

Chicago Bears

2.20%

5

Seattle Seahawks

1.52%

6

Seattle Seahawks

1.70%

6

Tennessee Titans

1.41%

7

Tennessee Titans

1.40%

7

Baltimore Ravens

0.93%

8

Dallas Cowboys (L)

1.30%

8

Houston Texans (W)

0.75%

9

Arizona Cardinals

0.70%

9

Dallas Cowboys (L)

0.73%

10

Houston Texans (W)

0.50%

10

Chicago Bears

0.65%

It’s the Broncos and the Bengals and then….who? If you don’t have Denver or Cincinnati available, where should you go? There are a lot of tight matchups this week. It’s probably time to be safe (or as safe as you can be).

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

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are at home against an Oakland team that has been housed the last two weeks. The Bengals are relatively healthy on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has a stud WR in A.J. Green and a serviceable backfield. The Raiders have Carson Palmer’s arm and that’s about it. The Bengals can beat Palmer’s arm. I give the Bengals a 75% chance of winning.
  2. Denver Broncos – The big difference for me between the Bengals and Broncos is that the Broncos are on the road. The Broncos will also be assimilating Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno into the backfield with the season-ending injury to Willis McGahee. The Chiefs are a mess on all levels. Brady Quinn is back at QB. They are awful. And they have injuries on the interior of their offensive line such that three starters may miss the game. I give the Broncos a 74% chance of winning.
  3. Chicago Bears – With the news that Percy Harvin is out of the Vikings and Jay Cutler is in for the Bears, I’ll now add the Bears to the list. The Bears defense was embarrassed on Monday night by a rookie QB. I believe they will be out for revenge and Christian Ponder should oblige. The Vikings will have the best player on the field in Adrian Peterson, but without Harvin as a safety blanket, I believe the Vikings should lose on the road. I give the Bears a 69% chance of winning.
  4. New England Patriots – I assume no one has New England left and even if you did, I’d rather use Denver or the Bengals. The Pats are without Rob Gronkowski so their offense will look a bit different. Aaron Hernandez is supposed to be back, but could be limited. The Jets showed they still have an above average defense and at home they have a chance against the Pats in a short week. I give the Patriots 68% chance of winning.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – Now we get down to the nitty gritty. Where can we go when we don’t have the top three options? I’m going to latch my wagon to the Colts and Andrew Luck. Even if Donnie Avery is out, Luck has shown he can win at home against most comers. The Bills struggle on the road and get Fred Jackson back which muddles the RB picture. I give the Colts a 65% chance to win
  6. Arizona Cardinals – Wow, it gets thin early at the bottom of the barrel here. The Cardinals had a guy play QB last week who I had never heard of. There is a good chance he’s going to start this week. They get Beanie Wells back on offense. They also get Calais Campbell back on defense. The Rams are winless on the road this season and can’t seem to get things going when they are outside of the dome. I give the Cardinals a 61% chance to win.

Other teams I like: Cleveland Browns

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Houston Texans on the road and the Seattle Seahawks on the road for different reasons.  The Texans struggled mightily against the Jaguars last week in quite a surprise. I’m sure they will be prepared to play this week, but the Lions looked solid last week against the Packers. On the short week, I’d rather not gamble on the Texans against the potent Lions offense.

The Seahawks are just a bad team on the road. I think Miami can defend well enough to keep the Seahawks off the score board. The big question is can the Dolphins score at all. There should be better choices for you than Seattle.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Falcons. No, I do not believe Matt Ryan throws another five interceptions this week. But, the Bucs have an offense that is firing on all cylinders (and may have a turbo boost hanging out somewhere). The Falcons are coming dangerously close to being a one-dimensional offense and Julio Jones is still fighting a nagging ankle injury.

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 and Thursday Night Game Preview

Bye weeks are over and I’m coming off a week where all seven of my choices won. There are three games on Thanksgiving. I generally stay away from these games as the short week is tough on all the players (especially with the holiday).

It’s Week 12. The pickings are getting slim. Where can you go to be safe this week?

I’ve also got a quick preview of the three games on Thursday below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 12 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Denver Broncos

43.20%

1

Denver Broncos

53.39%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

36.70%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

26.99%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.40%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.53%

4

New England Patriots

4.20%

4

New England Patriots

4.52%

5

Chicago Bears

1.90%

5

Seattle Seahawks

1.27%

6

Seattle Seahawks

1.30%

6

Tennessee Titans

1.24%

7

Dallas Cowboys

1.10%

7

Chicago Bears

0.93%

8

Tennessee Titans

1.10%

8

Baltimore Ravens

0.84%

9

Arizona Cardinals

1.00%

9

Houston Texans

0.68%

10

Houston Texans

0.40%

10

Pittsburgh Steelers

0.66%

It’s the Broncos and the Bengals and then….who? If you don’t have Denver or Cincinnati available, where should you go? There are a lot of tight matchups this week. It’s probably time to be safe (or as safe as you can be).

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

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are at home against an Oakland team that has been housed the last two weeks. The Bengals are relatively healthy on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has a stud WR in A.J. Green and a serviceable backfield. The Raiders have Carson Palmer’s arm and that’s about it. The Bengals can beat Palmer’s arm. I give the Bengals a 75% chance of winning.
  2. Denver Broncos – The big difference for me between the Bengals and Broncos is that the Broncos are on the road. The Broncos will also be assimilating Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno into the backfield with the season-ending injury to Willis McGahee. The Chiefs are a mess on all levels. Brady Quinn is back at QB. They are awful. I give the Broncos a 70% chance of winning.
  3. New England Patriots – I assume no one has New England left and even if you did, I’d rather use Denver or the Bengals. The Pats are without Rob Gronkowski so their offense will look a bit different. Aaron Hernandez is supposed to be back, but could be limited. The Jets showed they still have an above average defense and at home they have a chance against the Pats in a short week. I give the Patriots 68% chance of winning.
  4. Indianapolis Colts – Now we get down to the nitty gritty. Where can we go when we don’t have the top three options? I’m going to latch my wagon to the Colts and Andrew Luck. Even in Donnie Avery is out, Luck has shown he can win at home against most comers. The Bills struggle on the road and get Fred Jackson back which muddles the RB picture. I give the Colts a 65% chance to win
  5. Arizona Cardinals – Wow, it’s gets thin early at the bottom of the barrel here. The Cardinals had a guy play QB last week who I had never heard of. There is a good chance he’s going to start this week. They get Beanie Wells back on offense. They also get Calais Campbell back on defense. The Rams are winless on the road this season and can’t seem to get things going when they are outside of the dome. I give the Cardinals a 61% chance to win.

Other teams I like early in the week: Cleveland Browns

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Houston Texans on the road and the Seattle Seahawks on the road for different reasons.  The Texans struggled mightily against the Jaguars last week in quite a surprise. I’m sure they will be prepared to play this week, but the Lions looked solid last week against the Packers. On the short week, I’d rather not gamble on the Texans against the potent Lions offense.

The Seahawks are just a bad team on the road. I think Miami can defend well enough to keep the Seahawks off the score board. The big question is can the Dolphins score at all. There should be better choices for you than Seattle.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Falcons. No, I do not believe Matt Ryan throws another five interceptions this week. But, the Bucs have an offense that is firing on all cylinders (and may have a turbo boost hanging out somewhere). The Falcons are coming dangerously close to being a one-dimensional offense and Julio Jones is still fighting a nagging ankle injury.

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.

Thanksgiving Day Previews

We’re going to do this week’s previews in the style of one of my favorite turkeys – Larry King. And no, Baltimore doesn’t play so I can’t say that Baltimore is a dirty, ugly city.

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

Houston

Matt Schaub was fantastic last week. He reminded me of Y.A. Tittle in his heyday. I see Schaub being a low end QB1 with 250 yards and 2 TDs in the game….Arian Foster is the greatest fantasy running back ever….he should be starting for you….Andre Johnson is back..start as WR1 with confidence…Does anyone remember Vicks VapoRub?….The Texans defense can be started with confidence as they should be able to turn Detroit over…Cardigans are my favorite sweaters…

Detroit

Detroit is a dirty shrinking city…Matthew Stafford had problems with his mechanics…maybe he should see Manny, Moe and Jack…Stafford is a mid-range QB2 for me. Calvin Johnson is called Megatron by his friends….if my friends called me this I wouldn’t be friends with them anymore. Megatron is a lock for 100+ yards and a TD….Ryan Broyles is nice flex sleeper as Titus Young will not play this week. The Lions running back setup has me as confused as an Eskimo in Aruba…avoid if you can…

Washington at Dallas Cowboys

Washington

Robert Griffin III will take advantage of the Cowboys’ struggling defense and should run roughshod over teams like Sandy Koufax…There should be a line at the grocery store for those who write checks. Who writes checks anymore?…Alfred Morris is called ALF….I loved that furry alien…give me 100 yards and a TD from ALF. The Washington WRs are nothing special and should be avoided in most leagues. Santana Moss looks like a flex play now. …Logan Paulsen is playable in PPR leagues as he is the clear number one…whatever happened to the country of Zaire?

Dallas

Smoking light cigarettes is proven to be healthier…Tony Romo is a must start. He is 6-1 all time on Thursday games with 18 TDs and only 5 INTs. Start him as a QB1. The RB situation is dicey at best and Lance Dunbar looks to be the healthiest. I’d avoid all RBs unless I’m desperate. With Romo forced to throw the ball Dez Bryant is a low-end WR1…. Charlemagne was my favorite king….Jason Witten should have a field day with the slow-footed Washington LBs covering him. Expect a big day out of him…

New England Patriots at New York Jets

New England

Tom Brady is not as good as Sammy Baugh…he never punts….but he’s good enough to start this week….I like Danny Woodhead as a sneaky PPR play against his old team…Julian Edelman will out produce Wes Welker this week…Do you like NECCO wafers?….

New York

Sandy Koufax and I used to play stickball together…and the Jets didn’t exist…who has ever seen a Jet in New York, ever? Anyone?….Mark Sanchez isn’t good and even against a porous Patriots defense can’t be counted on for more than low-end QB2 production….the Jets are looking to split the backfield carries between Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell…Powell picked up two TDs last week and I’d rather have Powell starting than Greene….what kind of a name is Bilal?…Jeremy Kerley could put up some numbers against the awful Patriots secondary…Who is Larry King anyway? He’s not a real person…is he?

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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