Category Archives: Sports

Overcoming a Poor Draft by Trading Up

Now that the trade deadline has passed in my highest priority fantasy football redraft league, it’s time to take a look at the five trades I made this year, to see how it’s affected my season so far, and its future outlook. The goal of this post is to show how you can overcome a poor draft (and subsequent poor start to the season), and still excel in your league by being vigilant with roster management, and using widely available tools to more accurately gauge past and future performance.

The Grid Iron Futbol League (GIFL) is a league I have been a part of since 2003. It is a 10-team league, non-PPR, standard scoring, with 4 points per passing TD. There is one twist – if a player is drafted in the 9th round or later (must be drafted, not picked up off waivers), and is on your roster at the end of the year, you can keep that player as a 9th round pick the following year. Said player may only be kept one year in a row.  The league has the following roster construction:

  • 1 QB
  • 1 RB
  • 1 RB/WR
  • 1 WR
  • 1 WR/TE
  • 1 TE
  • 1 D/ST
  • 1 K
  • 8 Bench

This allows the possibility of starting 3 WRs and 1 RB, or 2 RBs and 2 WRs (there may be rare cases where you choose to start 2 TEs as well, in place of one of the WRs). With only needing to start 1 RB, I went with a semi-Zero-RB strategy. I had Andre Ellington targeted as a must-have in the 4th round, but other than that I was avoiding the RB spot until about rounds 6 or 7. My thinking was, I only needed to start 1 RB, and WRs generally enjoy less drop off in production comparatively to running backs the deeper you go, so they would make the better flex play most weeks. My roster turned out as follows:


I was not too thrilled with my draft. My draft got bungled right from round 3, where I was expecting Jordy Nelson or Antonio Brown to be available at my spot. I was happy to get Josh Gordon in a league where we have 8 bench spots, and I could keep him through the year so that he would be my keeper (and 9th round pick) for next year. It was simply a bonus that the rules changed and Gordon was eligible for reinstatement. I was also happy I got Ellington, but my other RBs did not inspire me. This led me to pull my first trade:

Trade 1 – Trade Jeremy Maclin away for Pierre Thomas

I made this trade the day after our league’s draft. In hindsight, I made an awful trade here, both in rationale, and in actual result. I knew I needed another starting RB, since Knowshon Moreno was projected to start in Miami, and I had no other starting RB on the roster. However, I traded the wrong WR away for the wrong RB. Pierre Thomas filled a very similar role to Shane Vereen for their respective teams, and I should have rostered only one of these guys. It was unkown how Maclin would perform for the Eagles with DeSean Jackson out of the picture, and Maclin coming off an ACL injury, so giving him up wasn’t too unreasonable. However clearly I wish I’d kept him. So take the roster pictured above, swap out Maclin for Pierre Thomas, and that was my roster going into week 1. I started out the year 1-2-1 (yes, we had the rare fractional scoring tie), and at that point my roster was the following:


At this point, my RB situation looked a lot better. I picked up Ahmad Bradshaw off the waiver wire after week 1, Lamar Miller was starting in Miami, Donald Brown was starting in San Diego, and Matt Asiata was the starter in Minnesota at the time. My WR situation was a bit different. Calvin Johnson had just gotten hurt, so I was left with a hit or miss Victor Cruz, a relative bust in Keenan Allen, and consistently low-scoring Kendall Wright. This led me to trade two…

Trade 2 – Trade Matt Asiata away for T.Y. Hilton

This trade was not made in time to process before week 5, but at the time Matt Asiata was still the starter. However, I assumed he’d be taken over at some point by Jerick McKinnon (or Adrian Peterson’s situation would get resolved). I traded him away to the owner who had Peterson and McKinnon, so that the owner could lock down the Minnesota RB situation as it evolved. In return, I got a WR who had no fewer than 5 receptions per game, but just hadn’t found pay-dirt yet. I figured it was a matter of time. Well, in week 5 Matt Asiata made his last start, and T.Y. put in a 9 catch, 90 yard performance, but since the trade hadn’t processed, I fielded a sub-par lineup and lost, dropping me to 1-3-1 in 8th place of 10. But then the trade processed for week 6, McKinnon was named the starter, and T.Y. went off for 223 yards and a score. Hilton has had only one game in single-digits since. I clearly improved my team here. However, I still saw an opportunity…

Trade 3 – Trade Calvin Johnson and Ahmad Bradshaw away for Eddie Lacy and Larry Fitzgerald

This trade looks awful for me on paper, but at that point Calvin Johnson had just finished his second straight week playing as a decoy on a bum ankle, and was looking to be out the next four weeks (three games and a bye), putting him back for a return in week 10. If I could hang on two more weeks, I’d have Josh Gordon return, so Calvin was expendable. I had Ellington, Forsett (I picked him up having waiver priority), Bradshaw, and Miller as my RB quartet, so giving away Bradshaw didn’t kill me. I used the Rotoviz Buy Low Machine and found that Eddie Lacy had an excellent upcoming schedule.


After a tough match-up with Miami, six of Lacy’s next 7 games were great match-ups, including an excellent one in week 14, the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Bradshaw’s schedule wasn’t horrible, but he’s an older, injury-prone back in a timeshare, and Lacy was clearly a buy low prospect, having started the year off slowly. I pulled the trigger, and Lacy got me 35.5 points in the same time frame that Calvin Johnson got zero. Also, I noticed using Rotoviz’s Game Splits App, with Palmer about to return, Fitzgerald was due for a bounce back in scoring.


I’d score this trade as helping me out given the situation. Unfortunately, once again disaster struck one of my WRs. Victor Cruz went down in week 6 with a torn patellar tendon, leaving me once again thin at the WR position. I managed to somehow win three straight (thanks mainly to T.Y., Lacy, and Ellington) to move to 4-3-1 while grabbing Andre Holmes, Cecil Shorts III and some guy named Sammy Watkins off waivers (to be fair to my league-mates, this was before he put up two consecutive 20 point weeks, and other than week 2, had largely been uninspiring). My WR corps after Hilton was Allen, Holmes, Shorts III, and Watkins (I panicked after Fitzgerald put up 2 points with Palmer in the lineup, and dropped him for Watkins). I needed a high quality WR…

Trade 4 – Trade away Lamar Miller and Cecil Shorts III for DeSean Jackson and Bishop Sankey

The reason behind this was clear. I only needed three stud running backs since I needed to start only one or two in any given week. With Ellington, Forsett, and Lacy, I was okay there so Miller could become expendable, especially given that I was getting Sankey as insurance. DeSean gave me another starting quality receiver leaving me with the suddenly respectable trio of T.Y., DeSean, and Sammy Watkins (who put up back-to-back 20+ point weeks), with Allen as insurance, and Gordon waiting in the wings. This trade helped me out for sure, strengthening my WR corps while not penalizing me at running back. However, I’m never content. I could have stood pat and been done with my moves, but that’s just not me. I saw an opportunity once again using the Buy Low Machine. We were entering week 9, and this was Kelvin Benjamin’s schedule from week 9 through the end of my fantasy playoffs:


The easiest remaining schedule among WRs, Benjamin was definitely a trade target of mine. This led me to my final trade of the year.

Trade 5 – Trade Sammy Watkins and Tre Mason away for Kelvin Benjamin and Cincinnati D/ST

I had just picked up Tre Mason off waivers, but was not going to use him (especially given his upcoming schedule), and Watkins was an obvious sell high, coming off two 20+ point days, with the 10th toughest schedule remaining at that point according to the Buy Low Machine (or should I call it the Sell High Machine?). Watkins for Benjamin just made sense, and as a small bonus I got the Cincy D going up against lowly Jacksonville in week 9. Benjamin didn’t do so hot in week 9 despite the great match-up, but in weeks 10 and 11 he’s been a fantasy savior for me. Watkins put up a mere 6.2 points during those two weeks, although I don’t expect that trend to continue, as his schedule eases up a bit toward the fantasy playoffs. with three of his next four match-ups positive ones.

Waiver moves, attempting one more trade, and looking forward

I kept working the waiver wire, picking up Mike Evans who was only averaging 6.5 points per week before his weeks 9 through 11 blow-up. I was able to claim him off waivers by having priority after his big week 9 performance, giving me the WR quintet of T.Y. Hilton, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Josh Gordon now eligible to return. I picked up Fred Jackson off waivers after he went down with injury. His injury was short term and I wouldn’t need him in that time frame anyway. As long as he’s back for the fantasy playoffs, I was happy to roster him. He’ll simply be insurance for the fantasy playoffs, where he has a good schedule.

I was looking to make one more trade, shipping Ellington away and packaging him with one of my non-Gordon WRs to pick up another top RB given Ellington’s horrid fantasy playoff schedule and the injury to Carson Palmer, but my league-mates held tight and didn’t take the bait.

Since week 4 where I was 1-2-1, I’ve gone 5-2 and moved from 8th to 4th in the standings, with a roster very capable of winning it all. My current roster is as follows:


A few highlights of the roster:

  • Drew Brees has the 2nd easiest fantasy playoff schedule (weeks 14-16) for QBs. His schedule to this point in the year has rated 38.33 (on a 0-100 scale), but his playoff schedule rates a 69.
  • Delanie Walker has the 2nd easiest fantasy playoff schedule for TEs, with all three being good matchups
  • I have three top 10 RBs, of which I need to start one or two in any given week. I’ll likely be picking either Lacy or Forsett or both depending on the situation. Ellington, Fred Jackson, and Sankey are insurance policy.
  • I have four currently top 13 WRs plus last year’s #1 WR, Josh Gordon. I face the dreaded selection problem, but I guess that’s a good problem to have.
  • In cases where either Forsett or Lacy have a bad matchup, I’ll probably go 3 WRs.
  • Alfred Blue and Jordan Reed will be the guys I’m looking at cutting to either handcuff an RB, grab a backup QB, or grab a TE with a better match-up for week 12 (Walker has a tough match-up this week, and Reed has a hamstring issue).

Congrats if you’ve read this far! I really appreciate it. Hopefully I’ve shown that you can overcome a poor draft by being aggressive in trades, using tools available on the web (thanks Rotoviz for having some of the best tools available in my opinion!), and working the waiver wire. I’d classify four of my five trades as positive value, setting me up nicely for the fantasy playoffs. Anything can happen in the fantasy playoffs, but I feel good about the position I’ve put myself in for those three weeks.

NFL Betting: Week 6

Since I currently am in Seattle on vacation, this one will be short and sweet. No explanation on any picks. Last week was average, going 7-8, but 4-3 on real money bets for +5 units. I don’t love love any plays this week, but there are a few I’m willing to put one unit on.

Week 5 (all picks): 7-8
Week 5 (money picks): 4-3 for +5 units
Overall (all picks): 36-38-2 (48.6%)
Overall (money picks): 14-12 for +8 units (53.8%)

Week 6 picks:

Indianapolis vs. Houston (NO PICK)
Missed picking this due to vacation

Denver (-9.5) over New York Jets

Cleveland (-1.5) over Pittsburgh

Jacksonville (+4) over Tennessee

Atlanta (-3) over Chicago

Green Bay (-3) over Miami

Detroit (+1.5) over Minnesota

Cincinnati (-6.5) over Carolina

New England (-2.5) over Buffalo

Baltimore (-3.5) over Tampa Bay

San Diego (-7) over Oakland

Dallas (+8.5) over Seattle

Washington (+3.5) over Arizona

New York Giants (+3.5) over Philadelphia

San Francisco (-3.5) over St. Louis

Real Money Bets:
Dallas (+8.5) over Seattle – 1 unit
Denver (-9.5) over New York Jets – 1 unit
Atlanta (-3) over Chicago – 1 unit
Baltimore (-3.5) over Tampa Bay – 1 unit
Washington (+3.5) over Arizona – 1 unit
New York Giants (+3.5) over Philadelphia – 1 unit


NFL Betting: Week 5

Week 4 was a disaster, plain and simple. I went underdog heavy, and it came back to bite me. The poor week puts me at nearly 50/50 for the season. However, on a bright note, as posted on my facebook page like I do every week prior to the Thursday night games, I picked this Thursday’s Packers/Vikings game perfectly, and put a full 5 units on it! Big early plus to start the week.

Week 4 (all picks): 5-8
Week 4 (money picks): 2-5 for -3 units
Overall (all picks): 29-30-2 (49.2%)
Overall (money picks): 10-9 for +3 units (52.6%)

Week 5 picks:

Green Bay (-9) over Minnesota
Again, as posted on my facebook page, I put a full 5 units on this and hit! I even said I’d take the Packers up to -14…big win!

Carolina (-3) over Chicago
This line is tough, so no real money on it, but I’ll take Carolina at home against a Jekyll/Hyde Bears team.

Tennessee (-1) over Cleveland
I actually like the Titans for a bounce back game. Delanie Walker might have a field day here.

Philadelphia (-7) over St. Louis
I actually see some upset potential here, as this reminds me of a matchup last year between Minnesota and Philly where the Vikings stomped the Eagles led by Matt Cassel. I think Austin Davis has a nice fantasy day, and this game could come down to the wire. Yet I think the Eagles are just too much in the end.

Atlanta (+4) over New York Giants
I actually don’t like Atlanta on the road (Matt Ryan outdoors has an awful record), but I’ll bet it here as they are getting over a field goal against inconsistent Eli.

Tampa Bay (+11) over New Orleans
I don’t think Tampa Bay is any good, but they’ve looked better under Glennon. I think they’ll put some points on an awful New Orleans defense to keep this within single digits.

Houston (+6) over Dallas
I think Dallas is over-rated, and is being backed heavily by the public here. A nice one to fade.

Buffalo (+7.5) over Detroit
If Detroit were -6.5 I’d take them, but at -7.5 I have to take Buffalo here. We’ll see how Orton does, but I don’t see him as a downgrade whatsoever from Manuel.

Baltimore (+3.5) over Indianapolis
This game is a real money pass for me, but I’ll pick the Ravens to run the ball and keep Luck off the field.

Jacksonville (+7) over Pittsburgh
I think the Jaguars keep dropping in the public eye. I’ve seen potential from them, and they should cover here for once.

Arizona (+7.5) over Denver
Are we really getting 7.5 points for the 3-0 Cardinals? Take it and run.

San Francisco (-6) over Kansas City
San Francisco is strong at covering the TE position, and thus shouldn’t have much trouble stopping the Chiefs in the air. If they contain Charles, they win comfortably.

New York Jets (+7) over San Diego
Yes I’ll take the Jets again…doesn’t feel good though. Geno’s going to do it one day. He’s been close the last two weeks to getting the cover thanks to his defense keeping high scoring offenses relatively in check.

New England (+1.5) over Cincinnati
Yes, the Patriots aren’t the same team as they have been. But can I really really go against Brady and Belichick getting points as an underdog at home?

Seattle (-7.5) over Washington
I can’t see Cousins doing much against this defense. Just go back to the playoff game his rookie year where he couldn’t move the ball whatsoever against this D, of which many players still remain from that team.

Real Money Bets:
Green Bay (-9) over Minnesota – 5 units
Tennessee (-1) over Cleveland – 1 unit
Atlanta (+4) over New York Giants – 1 unit
Houston (+6) over Dallas – 1 unit
Buffalo (+7.5) over Detroit – 1 unit
Arizona (+7.5) over Denver – 1 unit
New England (+1.5) over Cincinnati – 1 unit

NFL Betting: Week 4

Thank goodness the weekend is here! I’m incredibly ready for some NFL action, especially after my Redskins got absolutely trounced on Thursday night. To make matters worse, I had picked the Redskins to cover the spread. Whoops. At least I didn’t put money on it. But, after two consecutive winning weeks, I’m looking to make it a trifecta – three in a row would be lovely. Let’s see how I do!

Week 3 (all picks): 8-6-2
Week 2 (money picks): 3-2 for +2 units
Overall (all picks): 24-22-2 (52.2%)
Overall (money picks): 8-4 for +6 units (66.7%)

Week 4 picks:

Washington (-3.5) over New York Giants
As stated above…whoops!

Oakland (+4.5) over Miami
I took this line earlier in the week, and glad I did. It’s moved to +4 now. With QB controversy in Miami, and both teams traveling quite some distance, the Dolphins look ripe for a letdown. Oakland hasn’t played terribly in two of their three games this year.

Chicago (+2) over Green Bay
I don’t like this line, so I’m avoiding any real money, but Green Bay has struggled, and Matt Forte could rip them apart. Brandon Marshall might miss this game, another reason to stay away with your money until we know more.

Buffalo (+3) over Houston
These teams are pretty equal, and if Arian Foster is deemed out, this line could close up a little bit. I think this game is low scoring and close. Anything within a field goal here would please me.

Tennessee (+9) over Indianapolis
The Titans as +10 would be even better, but I’ll take them +9 as well. Unless they are playing Jacksonville, Indy tends to play close games under Andrew Luck. If the Titans go with Mettenberger, I don’t see that as a downgrade from Locker. If they go with Whitehurst, that’s a downgrade.

Baltimore (-3) over Ravens
I’ve got real money on this one. I over estimated the Panthers last week. I don’t think they’ll play as poorly as they did against the Steelers, but I still think Baltimore is the better team, and at home.

New York Jets (+2) over Detroit
New York was not far from tying it up against Chicago, and I think they’ll learn from their mistakes (Geno made a few, and Mornhinweg made a few) and pull out the upset at home.

Tampa Bay (+9) over Pittsburgh
I’ll bite. They burned me bad last week. But they played a bit better under Glennon, and with Doug Martin back they could control the ball a bit better. The public is all over Pittsburgh here, so give me Tampa Bay.

Jacksonville (+14) over San Diego
I put real money on this one too. I’ve been an underdog backer this week, and it continues here. I’m looking for a backdoor cover. A late, meaningless TD to give San Diego a 10 or 13 point win, or something.

San Francisco (-4.5) over Philadelphia
Can’t go dog here. San Francisco hasn’t looked as good as they should have, but neither has Philly. Their close win against the at home against the Redskins doesn’t look as good now, they struggled with Jacksonville, and pulled out a late come from behind on the road to Indy…their only impressive result.

Minnesota (+3) over Atlanta
Am I seriously doing this? Yes, I am…80%+ money on Atlanta, Matt Ryan isn’t the same Matt Ryan outdoors, and with no Peterson, Bridgewater could actually open things up for Patterson more than Cassel by being a second threat with his legs.

Dallas (+3) over New Orleans
I’d be all over Dallas if it moved off +3, but even here I’ll go with them. Although no real money. This game seems dangerous to pick. Don’t know what Romo or what Brees you’ll get.

New England (-3.5) over Kansas City
When will Brady be the Brady we remember? Well, on MNF I’ll take that bet. If you’re a daily fantasy player, I like Julian Edelman to go off. This is not a real money bet though.

Real Money Bets: (lots of plays this week, and quite the opposite of the public this week)

  • Oakland (+4.5) over Miami – 1 unit
  • Chicago (+2) over Green Bay – 1 unit
  • Tennessee (+9) over Indianapolis – 1 unit
  • Baltimore (-3) over Carolina – 1 unit
  • Jacksonville (+14) over San Diego – 1 unit
  • Minnesota (+3) over Atlanta – 1 unit
  • New York Jets (+2) over Detroit – 1 unit

NFL Betting: Week 3

What a crazy week for me. All week I’ve been at #JMPcon, then setting up some important work meetings that took me away from making my picks on Friday. Saturday was a full day, so I’m making these picks last minute. Since I still need to set my fantasy teams, there won’t be much discussion this time unfortunately. Let’s get right to the picks.

Week 2 (all picks): 10-6
Week 1 (money picks): 4-1 for +5 units
Overall (all picks): 16-16
Overall (money picks): 5-2 for +4 units

Week 2 picks:

Tampa Bay (+7) over Atlanta
Well, that was laughable.

San Diego (+1) over Buffalo
Close one for me, I think the chargers are the better team. Being on the road going east isn’t easy, but I’m not as high on the Bills as some are.

Dallas (-2.5) over St. Louis
Not really insightful analysis, but Dallas rolls here.

Philadelphia (-6) over Washington
I need to see more from the Redskins than a win over paltry Jacksonville before I can pick them on the road against a quality team.

New York Giants (+1) over Houston
Pure gut feel here.

New Orleans (+11) over Minnesota
Normally I’d take the points, but I think New Orleans is pissed off enough to win big.

Tennessee (+7) over Cincinnati
Yes, I saw what Dallas did to the Titans. But I’m looking for a rebound. Cincy is really good though, I just think it stays close.

Cleveland (+2) over Baltimore
Supposedly Flacco has been ill some of the week limiting his prep work. And Cleveland hasn’t been all that bad. I’ll take points at home.

Green Bay (+1) over Detroit
This is a real money play. I like the Packers getting a point. Their defense will need to step up though.

Indianapolis (-7) over Jacksonville
Indy has lost two close games, to two high powered offenses. The Jags are not that.

Oakland (+14.5) over New England
I wouldn’t normally look at prior years records, but fading New England as a double digit favorite at home has been profitable over the years (15-6 recently). I don’t see this New England team as a whole lot different, even worse probably, which is why I’m allowing this comparison to stand. Tom Brady isn’t the Tom Brady of old either.

San Francisco (-3) over Arizona
Drew Stanton beat the Giants. He won’t beat the 49ers.

Seattle (-5.5) over Denver
This should be a lot closer than the super bowl, even with Seattle’s home field. But to me, Seattle at home at this line is something you just don’t go against.

Kansas City (+4) over Miami
Kansas City isn’t terrible. They aren’t great, but not terrible. I’ll ride them as a dog one more time.

Carolina (-3) over Pittsburgh
This is a real money play for me. For me, Carolina is the better team at a neutral site. I’ll take ’em -3 at home.

Chicago (+3) over New York Jets
Definitely rolling with the points here.

Real Money Bets:
San Diego (+1) over Buffalo – 1 unit
Green Bay (+1) over Detroit – 1 unit
Dallas (-2.5) over St. Louis – 2 units
Carolina (-3) over Pittsburgh – 1 unit
Chicago (+3) over New York Jets – 1 unit

NFL Betting: Week 2

So last weekend was quite historical for Vegas sportsbooks. Luckily, I only made two bets, and went 1-1. Unfortunately, I lost the larger of my two bets, meaning I came out slightly behind for week 1. My picks overall didn’t fare great, but not horribly either. But let’s be honest, I care more about my real money picks. Let’s hope week 2 is better…

Week 1 (all picks): 6-10
Week 1 (money picks): 1-1 for -1 unit
Overall (all picks): 6-10
Overall (money picks): 1-1 for -1 unit

Week 2 picks:

Pittburgh (+3) over Baltimore
Lost this one already, but I thought this would be another classic rivalry between these two teams that stayed within 3 points, especially with the Ray Rice saga. Wasn’t to be…

Carolina (-3) over Detroit
Carolina won, on the road, over the Bucs, with Derek Anderson (who, to be honest, isn’t a terrible QB). I don’t have the Bucs rated all that highly, but being at home with Cam shouldn’t hurt. Detroit is stout, and I wouldn’t put any money on this game, but since I have to pick a side and almost 80% of the money is coming in on Detroit, I’ll go contrarian and pick the home team.

Buffalo (+1) over Miami
Miami beat New England, but it was at home against New England. The Bills were even bigger underdogs on the road to Chicago and held on to win in overtime. This line implies the Bills are 4-5 points worse on a neutral field than the Dolphins, and I see them a bit more evenly matched. Give me the home dog.

Jacksonville (+6) over Washington
This pains me, but the Jaguars showed they can play last week, and the Redskins showed they still need to progress in this new offense. Although to be fair, if not for a couple fumbles deep in Texan territory, we might be singing a different tune this week. Still, Jacksonville is the play here…just wish it was +7 instead of +6.

Dallas (+3.5) over Tennessee
This half point helps. Dallas isn’t as bad as they showed last week, especially if Romo starts to see the field better. Tennessee impressed, and they are a good team. Had this line been +2.5 or +3, I might be picking Tennessee.

New York Giants (+3) over Arizona
This is another line I don’t like. at 2.5 I’d side with Arizona, but this line is too close to call. Since the betting public is riding Arizona, I’ll take the Giants, at home, getting the points.

New England (-3) over Minnesota
This pick was a real money bet even before the Adrian Peterson saga. I just don’t rate the Vikings all that highly for their blowout win over a Rams team sporting a terrible offense.

New Orleans (-7) over Cleveland
Saints will have added defensive focus, and they won’t face as potent an offense as they faced in the healthy Falcons last week. A multi-TD win is reasonable here.

Falcons (+5) over Cincinnati
This line is in the dead zone between a FG and a TD. I like the Falcons to keep it close.

St. Louis (+6.5) over Tampa Bay
Give me the points. Tampa Bay just isn’t that good. Neither is St. Louis, but if Shaun Hill can play, they’ll be ok enough. This isn’t a real money bet, because we don’t know Hill’s status.

San Diego (+6) over Seattle
Hate picking against Seattle, but San Diego won’t sacrifice half the field like the Packers did.  86% of the money is coming in on Seattle, so I’ll go contrarian again. Their defense, plus home field, should be just enough to keep it close.

Houston (-3) over Oakland
I just don’t see Carr and the Raiders ready yet at this point in time. Houston didn’t play great at home against the Redskins, but I can’t see a Carr-led offense putting up a lot of points.

Green Bay (-8) over New York Jets
This line sucks. Green Bay, extra rest, home opener, and the Jets were poor last week. Which is exactly why -8 seems too good to be true (it actually got bet down from -8.5 recently). But I’ll bite anyway. Not a real money play.

Kansas City (+13) over Denver
Public will come in heavy on Denver here. I like double-digit underdogs that the public is fading. Kansas City might bounce back against a division rival.

Chicago (+7) over San Francisco
The Bears are not as bad as they displayed last week, and I think Vegas and the public have over-compensated here.

Philadelphia (+3) over Indianapolis
I feel like this game could go either way. It could be close, Indy could win big, or Philly could win big.  Not a real money play.

Real Money Bets:
New England (-3) over Minnesota – 3 Units
New Orleans (-7) over Cleveland – 1 Unit
San Diego (+6) over Seattle – 1 Unit
Kansas City (+13) over Denver – 1 Unit
Chicago (+7) over San Francisco – 1 Unit

NFL Betting: Week 1

The season is a game old and I’ll be honest, I picked Seattle to win big. I was a bit perplexed by the Packers gameplan on the ground. Not enough between the tackles running, allowing Seattle’s quick and athletic 2nd level to make tackles that often stopped Green Bay for short gains. I did like that Green Bay left Boykin on the right flank the whole game to be matched up by Richard Sherman (Green Bay did not attempt a pass Sherman’s way all night). The Packers were clearly trying to get their two best receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb free. It worked to a degree, as Nelson had a game high 9 catches for 83 yards, while Cobb hauled in another 6 for 58 yards and one of two Green Bay touchdowns (the other was on a John Kuhn 2 yard plunge).

Sunday and Monday the rest of the NFL teams open their seasons, and as a numbers guy, I can’t help but try to find an edge over Vegas. This year (for fun) I’ll be picking every game against the spread (ATS)…but what I really am keeping track of is the actual bets I place. I’ll be making wagers every week this year, although there is no specific number of games per week that I’ll be betting.

Without further ado, here are my week 1 picks:

Seattle (-6) over Green Bay:
Yes, call me out if you want since this is after the game, but I did pick my 2nd favorite NFL team to beat up on the Packers. After seeing what they did to the Broncos, and factoring in Seattle’s 12th man advantage, I couldn’t pick any other way.

New Orleans (-3) over Atlanta:
The Falcons will be much improved this year, but their run game still concerns me and they are not as sound defensively as New Orleans. Drew Brees has had one of the better preseasons of his career, and last year’s improved Saints defense should continue to develop even more in Rob Ryan’s second year as defensive coordinator. I like the team with the better offense and defense to win by at least a field goal, even on the road.

Minnesota (+3.5) over St. Louis:
St. Louis lost Sam Bradford, but the drop off to Shaun Hill isn’t as big as one might expect. Add in the Rams’ elite pass rush on defense and home field advantage and you’d think they’d be the smart pick. However, with Norv Turner now calling the plays, look for the Vikings to be more efficient offensively this year, even with Matt Cassel under center. Norv Turner immediately created 10 plays for Cordarelle Patterson, historically likes using his tight ends (meaning Kyle Rudolph should see improved numbers), vows to get Peterson more involved in the pass game, and Cassel himself has great rapport with veteran Greg Jennings (just look at Jennings numbers last year with Cassel at QB compared to Freeman/Ponder). I think Minnesota keeps it within a field goal, even if they lose.

Pittsburgh (-7) over Cleveland
Pittsburgh should win this comfortably. Despite Joe Haden’s noted coverage skills, Antonio Brown didn’t catch less than 5 balls in any game last year – expect that to continue. Wideout Markus Wheaton impressed in the preseason, and the Bell/Blount combo should force Cleveland’s defense to respect the run. Throw in Brian Hoyer starting his first regular season game since tearing his ACL and the loss of Josh Gordon and Cleveland becomes more one dimensional than two.

Jacksonville (-10.5) over Philadelphia
I’m not picking Jacksonville to win, but I think they keep it within 10. This is less about Jacksonville improving (I see them as a 5 win team this year), and more about Philadelphia regressing a bit. Nick Foles’ 27 TD, 2 INT season last year is a statistical oddity. He should be nowhere near that ratio this year. Jeremy Maclin should not pose the same downfield thread DeSean Jackson did (and Maclin always is an injury risk), and while I like Jordan Matthews to become a quality NFL wideout, it’s his first game. The Eagles will have to rely on their ground game and tight ends, which doesn’t equate to blowout for me.

New York Jets (-5.5) over Oakland
Geno Smith really came along at the end of last season. And I’ll happily take the home team that faces a rookie QB who has to travel east for a 1pm start time game.

Baltimore (-1) over Cincinnati
I’m quite torn on this game, so I’ll go with the should-be-improved Ravens over the Bengals and a brand new offensive scheme.

Chicago (-7) over Buffalo
The Bears will be a serious threat in the NFC North this year, and it starts with a thrashing of Buffalo. Sammy Watkins will not be playing all the snaps, the Bills are missing key defenders, and E.J. Manuel still needs to prove himself in the NFL. Look for the Bears offensive weapons to score early and often.

Washington (+3) over Houston
Yes, RGIII struggled in the preseason, but I also saw moments in there that made me hopeful (as a Skins fan). Houston will be significantly better than last year, but I can’t see them being playoff caliber with Fitzpatrick at QB. These teams are a toss up at Houston +3, so I’ll go with the QB with the higher ceiling.

Kansas City (-3) over Tennessee
The Titans just might earn a playoff spot this year, but I’m still going to take the Chiefs. They have one of the most calm, collected QBs in the league, and the addition of Travis Kelce as a receiving tight end (who comps well to one Rob Gronkowski) to complement the blocking of Anthony Fasano gives Smith a nice weapon. Throw in an upper level defense and home field, and I like them, even with out Dwayne Bowe.

New England (-5) over Miami
I think this is a close line, but give me New England by a TD. They are nearing 100% health offensively. While I like Tannehill, I don’t like his receiving corps, and I really don’t like the Miami run game.

Carolina (+3) over Tampa Bay
Cam’s hurting, but I think it’s a bit overblown. The Panthers’ D will neutralize a Tampa Bay offense that’s still looking to gel, and the Panthers will grind out a close one.

Dallas (+4.5) over San Francisco
This will be a close one. But without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, a healthy Dallas offense at home should generate enough scores to keep this one close, and maybe steal the win.

Indianapolis (+8) over Denver
Denver, having seen how a good defense can dismantle a good offense, made moves to improve their own defense this year. But with suspensions to Wes Welker and Matt Prater, I think Luck and the Colts repeat what they did to the Broncos in the regular season last year. Prater won’t be there to save Denver with a 50+ yard bomb, his replacement Brandon McManus has already missed two.

Detroit (-6) over New York Giants
Detroit has a better overall game. Better run game, better passing game, better front seven defensively. And they are at home. The Giants first team offense looked terrible in the preseason, and while there were hopes on the ground, Eli won’t come close to the 70% completion rate target that quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf set for him.

San Diego (+3) over Arizona
I think San Diego wins this straight up. Arizona is another team (like the 49ers) that is missing key defensive personnel, and with news out about Andre Ellington injuring his foot on Thursday, some last minute game planning must be going on. Phillip Rivers has Malcolm Floyd (a potential fantasy sleeper) healthy again to complement Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, and the three-headed attack on the ground will get things done.

Real Money Bets:
Where’s my money going this week? Cautious in week 1, money’s going two places:

  • Chicago (-7) over Buffalo – 2 units
  • San Diego (+3) over Arizona – 1 unit

World Cup Knockout Stage Predictions

It’s win or go home time. Down to the final 16, and there are some big surprises that made it out of the group stage (as there are every world cup). Here’s how I see the knockout stage shaking out:

Brazil vs. Chile
Brazil hasn’t lost a competitive home match since 1975. Even with how well Chile has been playing and the talent they have on their roster, I don’t see this being the time that streak ends. It will be close though, but Neymar scores the game winner.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Chile 1 

Netherlands vs. Mexico
After an ugly qualifying performance that left them a Graham Zusi goal away from qualifying, Mexico has rebounded under Miguel Herrera. They are playing attractive football and creating chances. Guillermo Ochoa saved their bacon against Brazil, and this team has a fighting chance against the Netherlands. Robin van Persie is back for the Dutch side who have looked very strong in the group stage. I think this goes into extra time, and from there either side can win.
Prediction: Mexico 3, Netherlands 2 a.e.t.

Colombia vs. Uruguay
It’s hard for me to see Uruguay responding positively after the Suarez incident, the whole country is crushed and deflated. Colombia has been one of the best teams in the group stage and they roll here.
Prediction: Colombia 3, Uruguay 0

Costa Rica vs. Greece
Did I just write that?! If you had this matchup predicted, you should be in Vegas right now. Oh, but I did put two bucks down on Costa Rica winning the group (although I did not predict that in a previous post) for a $100 dollar return. Anyway, the combination of Campbell and Ruiz for Costa Rica has been a big reason they made it this far, and they continue to roll over a defensive minded Greek side that needed a last minute penalty just to get here.
Prediction: Costa Rica 2, Greece 0

France vs. Nigeria
Nigeria did just enough to get through, but their just enough is going to be no match for a very strong French side that is firing on all cylinders. Benzema bags a brace, Valbuena with another and Les Bleus roll.
Prediction: France 3, Nigeria 0

Argentina vs. Switzerland
Although their defense looked like it had more holes than their cheese against France, I think the Swiss have a chance here. Argentina has been wholly underwhelming despite earning all 9 points after the group stage. Without Messi, this side might not even have made it out of the group stage. Switzerland is a small step up from Nigeria, Iran, and Bosnia. This one is tough to call…
Prediction: Argentina 1 (4), Swizterland 1 (3) in a Penalty Shootout

Germany vs. Algeria
The Algerians are another surprise team to make it to the round of 16, but unlike Costa Rica, their road ends here. The Germans are several levels above this Algerian squad. They’ve put up a great run, but it ends here at the hands of Müller et al.
Prediction: Germany 4, Algeria 0

United States vs. Belgium
Belgium, like Argentina, is another team that earned all 9 points despite looking rather pedestrian. Belgium led for all of 24 minutes in the group stage, and played three dreadful matches (I deleted all the Belgian games from my DVR). The United States is motivated, they fight for each other, and while possibly lack the talent Belgium has, does not lack in teamwork, passion, and national pride. I believe that we will win.
Prediction: USA 3, Belgium 1

Quarterfinals and Beyond
I won’t give any descriptions of the picks from this point forward, but here’s how I see the rest of the tournament shaking out (I will create a new post as we advance toward each round).

Colombia 2 (5) Brazil 2 (3) in a Penalty Shootout
Germany 3 France 2
Costa Rica 1 Mexico 0
Argentina 2 United States 1 a.e.t.

Germany 2 Colombia 1
Argentina 2 Costa Rica 0

Third place and Finals
Colombia 2 Costa Rica 0
Germany 3 Argentina 1

World Cup 2014 Knockout Stage Predictions

Here are my group stage picks. After that, the real fun begins. Here’s how I see it shaking out.

Round of 16:
Brazil 3-2 Chile
Ivory Coast 1(4)-1(3) Italy
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 France
USA 2-0 South Korea
Spain 2-0 Croatia
England 1-0 Colombia (a.e.t.)
Argentina 3-0 Ecuador
Belgium 4-3 Germany (a.e.t.)

Brazil 2-0 Ivory Coast
United States 2(4)-2(2) Bosnia and Herzegovina
Spain 2-0 England
Argentina 2-1 Belgium

Brazil 2-0 USA
Argentina 2-1 Spain

3rd Place:
Spain 2-0 USA

Argentina 3-2 Brazil

A very small bit of actual analysis. There’s almost no chance USA wins the group, but whatever, I’m picking them anyway because “I believe that we will win.” Should that happen, though, they have a nice road to the quarterfinals as they’ll likely play Russia or South Korea in the Round of 16. From there, they would get the winner of the France/Ecuador/Switzerland/Honduras group or the runner up in the Argentina/Bosnia/Nigeria/Iran group. We can rule out Argentina from that octet, and the USA can beat any of the other seven. I have them up against Bosnia and Herzegovina, prevailing in penalties. Obviously this is all outrageous and depends on the US winning the group. A big long shot. But I don’t care. GO USA!

I like Argentina to win it all. Messi, plus a better overall team in 2014 than 2010, as well as continental advantage until the final (getting them past Spain in the semifinals). A match-up against Brazil would be epic. The disaster of 1950 repeats itself for Brazil, albeit against a different South American team. Argentina lifts the trophy.

World Cup Group Stage Predictions

The 2014 World Cup starts today! Here’s a quick look at my predictions. Note: no statistical analysis went into this. Knockout stage picks later (need to find my laptop battery).

Group A:
1. Brazil – No brainer
2. Croatia – USA can’t save Mexico this time

Group B:
1. Spain – Win over NED propels them
2. Chile – Home continent advantage over NED

Group C:
1.  Ivory Coast – Yaya, ya know
2. Colombia – Still enough without Falcao

Group D:
1. England – I’ve gone crazy
2. Italy – For Justin

Group E:
1. France – No shenanigans this time
2. Ecuador – Almost had them top, but play France in Rio, not Manaus

Group F:
1. Argentina – Don’t Messi this up for me
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina – First timers advance

Group G:
1. USA – I believe that we will win
2. Germany – It’s Jurgen’s group

Group H:
1. Belgium – Fellaini is my boy
2. South Korea – I’m part Ukrainian, not picking Russia here