I have a few rules, or guidelines really, that I take into account each week when making selections. I am not afraid to select a road team. Road teams win 40 percent of the time – that is about 100 wins per season that you are leaving on the table. Eliminating them as a selection puts you at a disadvantage from the start. I do, however, avoid divisional games at all costs. Now I know what you are thinking – “a team wins a divisional matchup 50 percent of the time. Eliminating them as a selection puts you at a disadvantage from the start.” I disagree. Divisional games are far too unpredictable. Lastly, I am not in the business of saving the strong teams for later in the season. You won’t have a chance to use them if you gamble with a loser early on.
New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay) – New Orleans is a much better team on both sides of the ball. Jameis Winston is still very raw, as you should expect and will continue to struggle this Sunday in the Super Dome. Unfortunately, this is a divisional game and by far the most popular pick this week, but you won’t have that many opportunities to pick New Orleans for the rest of the season.
Baltimore (at Oakland) – Regardless of your thoughts on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders are a step below at every offensive position. Baltimore will have a top-5 defense if they can continue the level of efficiency from Week 1.
Tennessee (at Cleveland) – Can Tennessee start 2-0 before even playing a home game? Yes, as the Titans go to Cleveland in Week 2. Cleveland’s inefficient running backs and sloppy quarterback play from Johnny Manziel will make the Titans, and specifically their defense, look very good.
Pittsburgh (vs. San Francisco) – San Francisco defensive coordinator Eric Mangini made a depleted defense look top notch last Monday night. The team can be a force this year if Carlos Hyde produces at even half of what we saw because keeping the ball out of Colin Kaepernick’s hands is a positive. San Francisco is an “unknown” and while I don’t expect Pittsburgh to start 0-2, it is certainly a possibility.
St. Louis (at Washington) – Nick Foles is on the road and St. Louis is the fourth-most popular pick this week. While impressive against Seattle, I doubt it is something to expect on a weekly basis.