October 16, 2019

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Survivor Pool – Sunday Final

Survivor

A final look at Week 3 Survivor is below. Updates are in bold.

Week 2 wasn’t very kind to me either. I broke one of my cardinal rules when I changed out of Cincinnati for two of my entries to the Eagles. Of course, the Eagles lost and the Bengals went on to win. And the Texans certainly didn’t make things easy in their win. However, they won and as they say, there are no pictures on the scorecard.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 3 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Seattle Seahawks

48.60%

1

Seattle Seahawks

55.91%

2

Minnesota Vikings

16.10%

2

Minnesota Vikings

17.49%

3

Denver Broncos

16.00%

3

Denver Broncos

12.51%

4

New Orleans Saints

7.10%

4

New Orleans Saints

4.04%

5

San Francisco 49ers

6.00%

5

San Francisco 49ers

2.58%

6

New England Patriots

2.10%

6

New England Patriots

1.46%

7

Dallas Cowboys

0.90%

7

New York Giants

1.11%

8

New York Giants

0.70%

8

Dallas Cowboys

1.08%

9

Philadelphia Eagles (L)

0.40%

9

Chicago Bears

1.01%

10

Chicago Bears

0.40%

10

Green Bay Packers

0.53%

 

What in the world? I think everyone is getting a little too cute with the Vikings moving into the top 2. Christian Ponder is still their QB and the Browns’ defense is solid. Yes, Hoyer and McGahee are the new keystone combo for the Browns, but please read below.

The Week 3 pool is Morganna-esque in its top heaviness. Should we go with the clear number one or walk on the wild side?

Here are my final choices for Week 3 in order of preference. I will be back Sunday morning with a final look:

  1. Denver Broncos – The Broncos have looked great in the first two weeks and their opponent this week provides little opposition as the Raiders are a bunch of no names on both sides of the ball. The Broncos did lose Ryan Clady to IR this week so they may have some protection issues, but that just means that Knowshon Moreno will get more time in the backfield. I give the Broncos a 91% chance to win.
  2. Seattle Seahawks – Most sports books don’t even have a line on this game. The one line I found has the Seahawks at -4500. That is, you bet $4500 to win $100. That line translates to almost 98% chance of winning for the ‘hawks.  Clearly, the Seahawks are the surest bet. However, should they lose, you’ve got a lot of equity in your pool heading your way if your pool breakdown looks like the above. I give the Seahawks a 95% chance of winning.

I’m going to stop you right here. There is no reason to choose anyone other than the two teams listed above. You likely won’t find many other 90%+ probabilities throughout the rest of the season. Take one of these two teams and live to see Week 4. However, if you don’t like listening, here are the other teams you could consider.

  1. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings’ matchup gets better and better every day. Their opponent, the Cleveland Browns, have elevated third stringer Brian Hoyer to start at QB for the injured Brandon Weeden and traded stud RB Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts leaving a mess at RB and a lifeline sent to Willis McGahee. I give the Vikings a 77% chance of winning.
  2. San Francisco 49ers –The Niners were embarrassed on the road against the Seahawks last week. They head home to face a Colts team that just got stronger with the addition of Trent Richardson. However, I don’t think he’ll have time to make an impact this week. Moreover, the Colt suspect defense will allow Colin Kaepernick to run wild on the ground and in the air. I give the 49ers a 77% chance to win.
  3. New Orleans Saints – The Saints enjoy home cooking this week against a one-dimensional Arizona Cardinals offense. The Saints have too many weapons for the Cards to have a chance of outscoring them. I give the Saints a 71% chance to win.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New England Patriots against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs offense is mess, but they have a solid defense and the Pats are still without any consistent weapons on offense. You should have better options this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New York Giants against the Panthers. Yes, the Giants are 0-2. However, they’ve been in both games and the Panthers are fighting injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants struggling out of the gate seems to be standard operating procedure for them for the last few years. I expect them to turn it around this week.

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

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

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Survivor

Marshawn_Lynch_2011

From Kelly Bailey – 2011

Week 2 wasn’t very kind to me either. I broke one of my cardinal rules when I changed out of Cincinnati for two of my entries to the Eagles. Of course, the Eagles lost and the Bengals went on to win. And the Texans certainly didn’t make things easy in their win. However, they won and as they say, there are no pictures on the scorecard.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 3 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Rank

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Seattle Seahawks

54.20%

1

Seattle Seahawks

63.48%

2

Denver Broncos

17.20%

2

Denver Broncos

13.48%

3

Minnesota Vikings

10.00%

3

Minnesota Vikings

8.40%

4

San Francisco 49ers

6.50%

4

New Orleans Saints

3.81%

5

New Orleans Saints

6.40%

5

San Francisco 49ers

2.56%

6

New England Patriots

2.10%

6

New England Patriots

1.65%

7

Dallas Cowboys

0.90%

7

New York Giants

1.27%

8

New York Giants

0.50%

8

Chicago Bears

1.14%

9

Philadelphia Eagles

0.40%

9

Dallas Cowboys

1.14%

10

Chicago Bears

0.30%

10

Green Bay Packers

0.63%

The Week 3 pool is Morganna-esque in its top heaviness. Should we go with the clear number one or walk on the wild side?

Here are my early choices for Week 3 in order of preference. I will be back Sunday morning with a final look:

  1. Denver Broncos – The Broncos have looked great in the first two weeks and their opponent this week provides little opposition as the Raiders are a bunch of no names on both sides of the ball. The Broncos did lose Ryan Clady to IR this week so they may have some protection issues, but that just means that Knowshon Moreno will get more time in the backfield. I give the Broncos a 91% chance to win.
  2. Seattle Seahawks – Most sports books don’t even have a line on this game. The one line I found has the Seahawks at -4500. That is, you bet $4500 to win $100. That line translates to almost 98% chance of winning for the ‘hawks.  Clearly, the Seahawks are the surest bet. However, should they lose, you’ve got a lot of equity in your pool heading your way if your pool breakdown looks like the above. I give the Seahawks a 95% chance of winning.
  3. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings’ matchup gets better and better every day. Their opponent, the Cleveland Browns, have elevated third stringer Brian Hoyer to start at QB for the injured Brandon Weeden and traded stud RB Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts leaving a mess at RB and a lifeline sent to Willis McGahee. I give the Vikings a 79% chance of winning.
  4. San Francisco 49ers –The Niners were embarrassed on the road against the Seahawks last week. They head home to face a Colts team that just got stronger with the addition of Trent Richardson. However, I don’t think he’ll have time to make an impact this week. Moreover, the Colt suspect defense will allow Colin Kaepernick to run wild on the ground and in the air. I give the Bengals a 77% chance to win.
  5. New Orleans Saints – The Saints enjoy home cooking this week against a one-dimensional Arizona Cardinals offense. The Saints have too many weapons for the Cards to have a chance of outscoring them. I give the Saints a 71% chance to win.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the New England Patriots against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs offense is mess, but they have a solid defense and the Pats are still without any consistent weapons on offense. You should have better options this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the New York Giants against the Panthers. Yes, the Giants are 0-2. However, they’ve been in both games and the Panthers are fighting injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants struggling out of the gate seems to be standard operating procedure for them for the last few years. I expect them to turn it around this week.

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

Thursday night game injury update – Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles

Andy Reid comes home to face the team and fans he spent the prior fourteen years of his life in front of. Hopefully, we’ll get an entertaining game as the Chiefs’ defense has been great in the first two weeks and the Eagles offense looks nearly unstoppable.

Kansas City

Jamaal Charles has been nursing a thigh injury, but he seems to a good bet to go on Thursday. He (and much of the rest of the Chiefs’ offense) look to offer a solid against a Eagles team that hasn’t been able to stop any in the first two weeks. Kansas City is thin on fantasy options, but Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Alex Smith are viable standard league options this week.

The Chiefs’ defense has been the highest scoring fantasy D in most of my leagues. However, they face off against the high tempo Eagles’ offense so expectations should be tempered. If you can stream this week, I’d rather have someone like the Vikings in this spot than the Chiefs.

Philadelphia Eagles

So far, Chip Kelly’s offense has been a boon to fantasy squads. However, they face their toughest opponent so far in the Chiefs. I would temper my expectations for Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean Mccoy. Beyond that, I’d stay away from everyone else. I think the Chiefs have a good shot of winning this game if their defense can control the game.

The Eagles defense isn’t an option this week except in the deepest of leagues. The Chiefs aren’t a dynamic offensive squad, but the Eagles’ D is below average and could offer lots of opportunities for the Chiefs.

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 1 Survivor Pool and Thursday Night Game Preview

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season and fantasy football season. And welcome back to DSP’s fantasy football coverage. We’re going to try to keep the same schedule as last year with a Thursday column previewing the Survivor pool for the week and touching on the Thursday night game.

Then, over the weekend, we’ll have a final Survivor column up and a discussion of who to sit and start that week. We’ll look at some of the best matchups as we head into the Sunday schedule.

Your drafts are complete. Darren McFadden is still healthy. Let’s take a look at Survivor – Week 1.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 1 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team Picks

1

Indianapolis Colts

42.10%

1

Indianapolis Colts

47.81%

2

New England Patriots

17.60%

2

New England Patriots

17.13%

3

Pittsburgh Steelers

11.80%

3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7.57%

4

Denver Broncos

6.40%

4

Pittsburgh Steelers

7.38%

5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5.70%

5

Houston Texans

4.29%

6

Kansas City Chiefs

2.90%

6

Kansas City Chiefs

3.96%

7

Houston Texans

2.60%

7

Seattle Seahawks

2.41%

8

St. Louis Rams

2.40%

8

Denver Broncos

2.35%

9

Detroit Lions

1.90%

9

St. Louis Rams

1.35%

10

Seattle Seahawks

1.80%

10

Detroit Lions

1.13%

Oh those Raiders….they are going to be everyone’s favorite punching bag this year. If you are in an Anti-Survivor pool you almost have to save them (and I never think you should save any team).

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

  1. Indianapolis Colts – I know the math will tell you to look elsewhere, but I want to get through Week 1 unscathed. The Colts aren’t a great defensive team and the Raiders do have some weapons on offense. That said, I can’t see them outgunning Andrew Luck and the WRs he has. I give the Colts an 88% chance to win.
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – Yes, the Steelers have no running backs. Yes, they have no tight ends. Yes, they have very few wide receivers. Still, they are at home against a Titans team that still has Jake Locker at QB and a suspect defense. I’d rather have the Steelers at home on opening day then the other favorites on the road. I give the Steelers an 80% chance of winning.
  3. New England Patriots – The Bills just aren’t very good and the Patriots are. At least on offense. The Bills will be starting a rookie QB and you have to imagine that Bill Belichick can dream up something to confuse the man. I give the Pats a 77% chance of winning.

Other teams I like early in the week: Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis Rams.

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Denver Broncos Yes, they are big favorites at home against a team that’s gone through a lot of change since the Super Bowl last year. However, the Broncos are without Von Miller and Champ Bailey on defense and the Ravens have some weapons to exploit them. I’d stay way this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about Carolina Panthers at home against Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks seemed to have everything break right for them last year and the Panthers  seemed to have everything break wrong. The Panthers are healthy and the Seahawks are missing a few of their key cogs in Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bruce Irvin.

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

Thursday night game preview – Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

Baltimore

Baltimore brings back most of their offense from the Super Bowl winning team of a year ago. They are a ball control team that will likely look to feed Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce the ball as much as they can and rely on long strikes to Torrey Smith. Rice makes a good RB1 and Pierce is a flex option in deeper leagues and PPR leagues.

The Broncos defense is without Von Miller and Champ Bailey which should make Joe Flacco’s job easier. I think he’s just outside QB1 territory this week as I think the Ravens will attempt to control the clock to keep the Denver offense off the field as much as possible.

Torrey Smith is likely good for at least one long catch and potentially a TD. He’s got a solid shot to get over 100 yards in the game so pay attention bonus league players.

Ed Dickson could be a sneaky TE2 play as the Ravens’ WRs are either not good (Jacoby Jones), old (Brandon Stokley) or unproven (Marlon Moore and Aaron Mellette).

The Ravens defense has a lot of new faces and should be held out of your lineup against a high powered Broncos offense.

Denver Broncos

As I noted above, the Ravens defense has some new faces and it will be interesting to see how the defense performs without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the backfield. As a result, I like Peyton Manning and all of his WRs to perform well tonight. I especially like Demaryius Thomas with a chance for 100+ yards. Wes Welker likely pushes Eric Decker down the pecking order such that Decker is probably a WR3/4 option at this point. It’s unclear how all three will fit into Manning’s reads.

The Broncos’ RBs are a mess and I wouldn’t touch any of them tonight except as a deep league flex play. Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno all have holes in their games. There has been speculation that Moreno will get the majority of the snaps tonight due to his pass protection abilities. If that’s the case, you want no one in this backfield out there.

Julius Thomas makes an intriguing deep league TE as it’s unclear what the Ravens’ linebacking situation will look like. Thomas has all of the athletic tools to be a superior TE, but he hasn’t put it all together.

The Broncos defense is probably a no start as well as they are missing Von Miller and Champ Bailey and the Ravens do have some weapons on offense.

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 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: Playoffs Week 1 Survivor Pool

I’ve got a short column for any of you Survivor players still left. Many pools are still around through 17 weeks due to the performance of favorites this year (which has also hurt Vegas a great deal). So, many pools have extended into the playoffs with the choices reset. My largest pool will run the first two weeks of the playoffs and you can choose any team you want even if you chose them in the first 17 weeks. So, without further ado, let’s look at the first week of the playoffs and see if there is value to be had.

Survivor Pool – Playoff Week 1 selections

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

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Rank

Team

Percent

1

Green Bay Packers

40.90%

1

Green Bay Packers

57.10%

2

Baltimore Ravens

25.20%

2

Houston Texans

20.79%

3

Houston Texans

13.80%

3

Baltimore Ravens

9.20%

4

Washington Redskins

10.30%

4

Seattle Seahawks

6.61%

5

Seattle Seahawks

4.00%

5

Washington Redskins

2.77%

6

Indianapolis Colts

2.40%

6

Indianapolis Colts

1.75%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

1.90%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

1.20%

8

Minnesota Vikings

1.50%

8

Minnesota Vikings

0.57%

The Packers are the biggest favorite in Vegas and it makes sense that they are the number one choice for all players. Let’s look at the board, shall we?

  1. Green Bay Packers – I agree with the masses on this one. Green Bay is the clear number one choice and should be yours as well. The Pack will want to make up for the Week 17 loss at the hands of the Vikings. They are at home and it looks like Christian Ponder is less than 100%. Even at 100% he’s no match for a Lambeau playoff crowd. Expect big offensive games for the Packer players. I give Green Bay a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Baltimore Ravens – The talent drops off quickly after the Packers. I like the Ravens at home against a rookie QB who hasn’t been consistent on the road. The key to this game is the Ravens offense providing a balanced attack. They have to get Ray Rice (and Bernard Pierce) involved early to keep the Colts defense on the field. This is Andrew Luck’s first playoff rodeo and while he’s been great this year, it’s a different ballgame in the playoffs. Oh, and I believe the Colts left Baltimore at some point. Baltimore doesn’t like the Colts. It should be a pretty hostile environment to boot. I give the Ravens a 69% chance of winning.

And that’s it. I’d stay away from every other team on the board. If you can’t use the Packers or the Ravens, I’d rank the remaining teams this way – Seahawks, Washington, Texans, Bengals, Colts, and finally the Vikings. However, I wouldn’t want to have to ride into battle with any of these teams.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Houston Texans at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans are relatively big favorites, but they have played poorly going into the playoffs. The Bengals may not have enough weapons on offense to overcome a solid Texans defense, but I wouldn’t want to risk my pool life on the Texans this week.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d consider Washington at home against a Seattle team that is not the same on the road. Washington doesn’t have much of a home field advantage at their antiseptic home field. However, the Seahawks don’t travel well even in non-hostile environments. IT’s an intriguing matchup of rookie QBs in Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, but I think Washington has a solid chance to knock the Seahawks off.

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 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.

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