Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it be your oyster in this sea of urchins.
My how the time flies. For those that have spent some time reading this diatribe of run on sentences and occasional good advice, welcome back. I’m flattered you found something of interest in this weekly article, I truly am. For those reading these words for the first time, I welcome thee. Come on in, grab a cigar, grab a cold one from the fridge and let’s talk fantasy football.
Every season I see more misnomers about where I came from in the message boards, so once and for all, I thought I’d map out how this came to be.
The Progno started off as a free newsletter with about 1,000 subscribers and I still hear from a few of you each season. You guys must be mad to still be here! We then moved operations onto the web where a couple of sites picked up the article. None are in existence today. Year 3 saw The Progno exclusively on mrfootball.com, the original David Dodds (now FootballGuys) site. David and I took some whacks at it with that site and eventually sold to fanball.com. I then jumped over to thehuddle.com for some good years, was it 2 or 3? Jumped back to David and footballguys.com two years ago. It was after that season that I started FantasySharks.com, which is now entering its second year. We’re pretty proud of where we’ve come and we’re especially glad you’ve joined us.
For those expecting a list of the favorites as my selections you’ve come to the wrong place. In fact, I have yet to find an article on the web that sticks its neck out as much as The Progno. Others are too busy worrying about their image to make the right call. Every week there are upsets and big upsets in the NFL, parity is the NFL, so if that is the case, how can people pick all the favorites? It occurred to me a long time ago that the real value is in finding the upsets.
Let’s get into the meat shall we?
Fantasy Offenses of the Week
Look here for a source of fantasy statistics this week.
New York Giants
I personally no longer wager on football but those that have read me for a long time know my claims of never having a losing season. I’ve had some tough seasons, like in 1994 when the books cleaned up. I broke just a hair in the plus for that evil season with a final bet on the Superbowl. The NFL playoffs were kind to me and made up for the season long losses. Other years the money just piled up. So for entertainment purposes only, and not to undermine our Cousin Vinnie here at FantasySharks.com, I’ll toss out where I’d lay my cash if I were laying out. Maybe we’ll have some fun with it. Last year we started off with $500 Geoffrey dollars and ended up doubling that with a 103% return on investment to continue the streak of never having a losing season. That’s not to say that THIS won’t be it because it very well could be. I take no responsibility implied or otherwise for any financial losses you may incur from this. Let’s start with a bank roll of $500 Geoffrey dollars and see how long it takes to lose it. This week we’re placing:
NY Giants -1 for $110 to win $100 Geoffreys.
All Times are Eastern
New York Jets at Washington Redskins Thu 9:00pm
Laveranues Coles at home against his former team? Advantage Coles. He’s going real time against the guys he used to practice against. The Jets aren’t going to have a big fantasy day as various players contribute to the offense. The Jets will be effective enough to put points on the board due to the Jets D front causing some mistakes in the Redskins offense. The Redskins aren’t really sure about their offense quite yet and the Jets line is going to wreak some havoc this season. Opportunities will abound on the field for them as they win the turnover war hands down.
Redskins will stutter a bit in the passing game but Coles will break one as they’ll have a number of big plays scripted for him. They’ll hit on at least one of them since the Redskins are going to really push that part of their game plan as that is where they think they have the advantage.
For as blah as the Jets are going to be, they get enough going with field position to take the day. Look for a nice day from the Redskins running game if the Redskins stay close at the half.
Prediction: Jets 30 – Redskins 21 (Redskins -3)
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Sun 1:00pm
This game is going to be a lot closer than the predictors think, as the Chargers are going to play a decent game on offense. Look for some good numbers from both the Chargers running and passing game as the Chiefs D still needs more time to work as a unit. They should gel later in the season and be an effective defense, but not yet.
The Chiefs are going to have a light day on the ground as they don’t push Priest Holmes. Nothing really big in the air either. I am in a minority I know, but I’d argue the Chiefs offense was the best in football last season when it was clicking. They’re a dangerous unit if they click, especially against a depleted Charger defense that needs to play more together.
Prediction: Chiefs 27 – Chargers 21 (Chiefs -5.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions Sun 1:00pm
Come on. Even Cardinal and Lion fans can’t be excited about this? Right? I mean, please, get out in the yard or something if this is all you’ve got on TV.
The Cardinals are going to feature their running game with Emmitt and a carry or two from Marcel Shipp as they think they can be a running team. Look for them to persevere and just try and muscle it out for a game. They’re not going to be overly pleased with the results. If you start anything in the Arizona passing game, please, back away slowly from this article.
The Lions lost James Stewart and found the Olandis Gary, Shawn Bryson, Artose Pinner Running Back by committee. At least James Stewart gave us a viable fantasy RB with TD potential. Now the value of starting RB’s across the league just went up a notch with Stewart being replaced with a committee. Luckily for the Lions, they have the Cardinal defense to run some RB’s at and that will translate to success on the ground and in the air. Don’t be afraid to consider Joey Harrington as your QB this week.
Prediction: Lions 24 – Cardinals 17 (Lions -4)
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Sun 1:00pm
With Baltimore making the grievous error to not start Chris Redman at QB this season, this contest will be an uphill battle for them. The Ravens will need to run the ball to keep the Steelers off the field but the Steelers defense is a solid unit and they’ll dare rookie boy to beat them; Jamal Lewis will suffer because of it.
The Ravens have the potential to be the #1 fantasy defense this season with the talent they have, and have added, but they’re not there yet. The Steelers will find seams and breakdowns till the Ravens get that corrected, which will open up both a running game and a passing game for the Steelers. Me, I think very hard about starting Amos Zereoue this week. Very hard.
Steelers at home against a rook? Wow. Ravens open up 0-1.
Prediction: Steelers 28 – Ravens 21 (Steelers -5)
Saint Louis Rams at New York Giants Sun 1:00pm
The Rams have one thing in their head, all of them do, and it will be their undoing for those that take advantage. They are all programmed to think, “Let’s get back to playing Ram football”. They all want so desperately to get back to two seasons ago where passing the ball and speed was the name of their game. The Rams will pass often this game because of it, to try to regain that tempo as the Giants weakness is their secondary till it gets more time to play together. The Rams are going to try to exploit miscommunication in the Giants backfield and will. Look for the Rams to struggle early in the season and the Kurt Warner/Marc Bulger story to gain a little more traction over the coming weeks. The message is all wrong in Saint Louis and you can blame the coaches and clubhouse leaders for that.
The Giants however are going to be near unstoppable with their offense and are a candidate for surprise offense of the week. The Giants are going to shock and awe a lot of teams with their suddenly potent offense. Look for Collins, Tiki, Shockey and Toomer to have nice days as they make it look easy.
Giants win in a run away.
Prediction: Giants 31 – Rams 17 (Giants -1)
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Sun 1:00pm
The Vikings offense is primed and ready to fire. The Packers defense has looked shaky in preseason and I think will break down with the heat the Vikings are going to throw at them. The running game will be enough from a cast of characters to keep the rushing game hot and the passing game hotter. I know that there are question marks in the Vikings running game and fewer questions with the Packers, which is why the Packers are the favorite. However, the Vikings will own the line when rushing in this one and both Moe Williams and Onterrio Smith will get yardage which is all the Vikings really need to get their passing game roaring. Obviously Culpepper and Moss are weekly starts and they’ll get off to a good one this week.
This game is going to go exactly the way you’re not going to expect it to. I think the general feeling is that the Packers are the better team and because of it, will prevail. The lines makers have the Packers a 5 point favorite but one thing I’ve learned when picking NFC Central rivalries. If the line goes over 3, pick the dog. This division plays each other tight and the underdog in reality has just as much chance to win as the favorite.
Prediction: Vikings 27 – Packers 20 (Packers -5)
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Sun 1:00pm
And the Lawyer Milloy era is over in New England as the Bills scooped him up faster than a Google search for “Britney Madonna Kiss”. The Patriots hoover up every Jet they can get their hands on, the Jets grab as many Patriots as they can stock, the Bills are already making room for Ty Law next season to match with their new pro bowl safety and the Dolphins just try to dominate in free agency. Don’t blink because the Jets could be the Patriots who could be the Bills who could be the Jets next season. You got that?
Look for the Patriots to struggle against the new Bills defense. They’ll have trouble getting the run going which will cause troubles in their passing game. The Patriots are going to have to get creative with their TE’s and Kevin Faulk to pull this one out and that is exactly what they are going to do.
Just like the Patriots, the Bills are going to have a tough time cracking the Pats D. Bledsoe has yet to beat his old team and that is going to continue. Travis Henry will have a tough go of it against the Pats run stop D which will force them to the air. Look for Bledsoe to find an occasional strike to Moulds but after that, not much else to see here. The Patriots D has swarmed this preseason and look for that to continue here as they clearly win the turnover battle and the game because of it.
Prediction: Patriots 23 – Bills 21 (Bills -1)
Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns Sun 1:00pm
I’ll be the first guy in line at the Tony Dungy fan club meeting but you know what? He’s not a Superbowl winning coach. He is a players coach and the guys will really like playing for him but he just doesn’t have the intangibles to will his team into a championship.
Peyton Manning will be dominant in this contest. You don’t need me to tell you to play Manning and Marvin Harrison as they will click often this Sunday. Enjoy them if you have them. Edgerrin James will also play a role in the passing game and have an average day on the ground.
On the Browns side of the ball, Kelly Holcomb is the starting QB this weekend but don’t be convinced that he will end up that way. One thing Cleveland proved last season is that they can turn on you in a heart beat. Sure the fans wanted Holcomb and the Browns relented, but god help him if he has back to back poor performances. The fans will be screaming just as loud for Tim Couch and then it turns into a circus in Cleveland.
Holcomb won’t actually be the star this weekend because while all eyes are on Holcomb, the guy that is going to make everyone groan that they let him slide right off the bat will be William Green. Look for Green to play his opening hand by running wild. We then get to listen at nauseam from all the William Green owners out there next week tell us how they “knew” he was something special and they can’t believe the rest of us knuckleheads let him slide.
Prediction: Browns 23 – Colts 21 (Browns -1)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers Sun 1:00pm
Low Score of the Week Award
The Jaguars are a mystery team this season. Some places I read that the Jaguars are going to be gawd awful and some places people say the Jaguars are going to surprise in a big way. I think somewhere in between. Fred Taylor can carry this team but they need a QB and some WR’s that have their head in the game. Their passing game will be their Achilles heel this time around but they will have a lot of decent pieces in place. By shopping Brunell to every team that has a phone, they pretty much guaranteed their starting QB isn’t going to be going after it for his team because he doesn’t know who his team is going to be. It was a big mistake for the Jags to handle the Brunell situation the way they did and management, more than Brunell, will be the reason why the Jags stumble. Listen to me now and hear me later, the Jaguars defense will be a top D in the second half of this season.
This week, look for Fred Taylor to top the 100 yard rushing mark, even against this staunch Panther D. The Jaguars passing game will be a fiasco.
The Panthers are ready to run Stephen Davis into the ground and they’ll have to with their QB and WR options. The Panthers are going to get a scary wake up this weekend when Stephen Davis doesn’t run away like they game plan and that will send waves through the Panther organization. The Jaguars will have a man on Davis at all times no matter what. It’ll be entertaining to see the Jag defender standing next to him on the Panther sideline when Davis gets a break.
Prediction: Jaguars 24 – Panthers 17 (Panthers -4)
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals Sun 1:00pm
Offense, offense and then more offense. These two teams both have their offense as their strength and the defense as their weakness which translates to some big time offense.
The Broncos are going to be able to run their standard offense with very little modifications. If you want to see what a standard Denver offense looks like, watch this game. Clinton Portis will run wild and they’ll keep the offense off balance with decent play in the air to keep the running game primed.
The Bengals are going to counter effectively with their passing game. Jon Kitna finished strong last season and the talent they have at WR is arguably the deepest in football. Corey Dillon is energized and will help keep the chains moving, while they set up the passing game for the big moves. The Bronco D can be had and the season opener in Cincinnati is just a weird place for the Broncos. I mean, in your minds eye can you even picture the Broncos playing the Bengals? I didn’t think so.
In the end, I’ll always take the team that can run the ball over the team that can pass the ball and the Broncos offense is simply better balanced. Clinton Portis is an obvious no-brainer, but look for Rod Smith to have a decent day as well. Jon Kitna and Chad Johnson make solid plays as well. Though if your starting QB is Kitna it probably means you drafted Michael Vick and Chad Pennington as well.
The Bengals are going to keep this game a lot closer than people give them credit for and will give the Broncos a run for their money.
Prediction: Broncos 27 – Bengals 23 (Broncos -6)
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins Sun 1:00pm
Running Back of the Week Award: Ricky Williams
Blowout of the Week Award
I too think the Texans D is going to surprise and even compete for a top 10 position when all is said and done but holy crow is this a tough assignment.
Let me wrap this up into one little ball for everyone. Ricky Williams. This is going to be a Ricky festival from start to finish and everyone else will suffer because of it. Jay Fiedler suddenly looks a lot better with Brian Griese going down but if you’re the Dolphins maybe you make that call to Jacksonville now and see what you can work out. Me though, I wonder what it would take to get Chris Redman away from the Ravens. I mean, if they don’t want him, I certainly do. There’s always Jeff George!
One day when I’m low on material I’ll reiterate why I picked Peyton Manning over Brian Griese way back when. It boiled down to the support of their fathers. It now sounds ridiculous for me to pick Peyton Manning to be more successful than Brian Griese but it wasn’t so silly when they both started out. Archie Manning is behind his son and supportive but Bob Griese was more worried about his boy having more awards than he had. That was the difference and why you Dads out there need to get behind your kids and support them in everything they do. Get behind them and get involved, it’s THE most important thing you can do. If you do you’ll get a Peyton Manning, if you don’t, you’ll have Brian Griese. Your call.
Oh, Miami wins in a run away.
Prediction: Dolphins 30 – Texans 15 (Dolphins -13.5)
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks Sun 4:15pm
Quarterback of the Week Award: Matt Hasselbeck
Here comes a shoot out. The Saints are going to try and take what they’re given and will try to run left but the Seahawks will be able to close that hole in their defensive line with a LB. What that will do is open up opportunity in the passing game. Deuce McAlister is going to meet with some resistance in this opener but the Saints will be able to take advantage of opportunities in the Seahawks secondary with their receivers. Aaron Brooks and Joe Horn are a solid play this Sunday.
The Seahawks on the other hand are going to rock and roll all over the Saints D. Look for Matt Hasselbeck to open with a ton of yards because Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson present a matchup problem for the Saints and just about everyone else in the league. Just because they’ll be able to pass at will, the Saints will have to devote the strong safety to pass defense and that will open it up for Shaun Alexander. Play him too!
Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Saints 20 (Seahawks -3)
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys Sun 4:15pm
Look for a little surprise in the Falcons running game as they try to feature it against the soft Cowboys interior. Warrick Dunn is worthy of a start for you as he will be the feature and the best stat gatherer in this one.
The Cowboys may be without Antonio Bryant and if Terry Glenn has to play an entire game, an injury is almost inevitable. The Cowboys are on again/off again and they aren’t going to be a good team over night. Sure the loss of Michael Vick is a blow to the Falcons and the reason why they’re the underdog but the Falcons at every other position are the better team and actually, I’d take Doug Johnson over Quincy Carter straight up anyway.
Warrick Dunn the only play from this one as he’ll be the feature player in the offense.
Prediction: Falcons 23 – Cowboys 17 (Cowboys -2)
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers Sun 4:15pm
The last time the Bears got any respect, including the season recently where they lost only three games, was back in 1985 and that trend continues today. It is simply amazing to me how this team is already counted as down and out because of Kordell Stewart. It also hurts that the interior of their offensive line is hurt which will make running a tough proposition for the Bears. Even so, football is a team sport and the Bears didn’t go out and get Kordell because he is awful. Who does that? They think he can run their system and that is why they went after him. Kordell will do better than most are giving him credit for. Do you start him? Well no. But the Bears as a team can still play football and everyone is going to be very surprised at how well the Bears passing offense plays against the 49’ers. I’ll go one step further and say that the Bears will gain more yards in the air than the high powered 49’er offense this week. How’s that for some marbles?
The 49’ers will win on balance. Garrison Hearst is the starter and he’ll run fine. Jeff Garcia will play fine, as will all the 49’ers. Fine is the word of the day for the 49’ers as they win some drives and lose others. In the end the 49’ers win with balance.
Prediction: 49’ers 23 – Bears 20 (49’ers -7)
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans Sun 8:30pm
High Score of the Week Award
How great are the next two games? First up is the Superbowl runner up Oakland Raiders against everyone’s AFC Championship pre-season darling pick, the Tennessee Titans. This is going to be a tight game against two fairly evenly matched teams. The Raiders will have trouble with the Titans D and because of it will have an average day on offense. This will be a war, make no mistake about it.
On the Titans side of the ball, look for Eddie George to be the driving anchor as he gets off to a tremendous start this season. Eddie George may not have an entire season left in the tank but he is still capable or rattling off some impressive starts. Look for this to be one of them.
Steve McNair has looked solid; some say the best he’s ever looked. Couple that with the running of Eddie George and a very favorable home field advantage, I’m taking the Titans in a high scoring affair.
Prediction: Titans 28 – Raiders 25 (Titans -3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles Mon 9:00pm
The books won’t be cleaning up on Monday Night as no one likes to bet a game like this. The defending Super Bowl champs against the team that probably has the most legitimate chance at taking it away from them. In their house on the national stage and the defending champs are the under dog? That’s one messed up game.
The Bucs are going to struggle on the ground and that will have everyone talking about Thomas Jones next week. Look for Keyshawn Johnson to have a decent game. He just oozes spotlight and Monday Night is it.
The Eagles will counter with a whole lot of running. They will want to establish early in the season just who is boss and they will want to try to stuff their game down the Bucs throats and leave a nasty taste in their mouths when all is said and done. They’ll run everything and the kitchen sink at them just to keep the game physical to make a point.
Prediction: Eagles 28 – Bucs 21 (Eagles -3)