Inside the Pylon : Week 2/3 (Overreaction Edition)

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WEEK 2 RECAP

Another seven days on earth, another full week of football to digest. Luckily for you all, I’m straight up starving! Where to begin? This early in the football season can be downright comical. It’s a widely known fact in today’s NFL that Week 2 is considered the ultimate “Overreaction Week”, which has a lot of truth to it – during Week 2. What’s so funny is that come Week 3, everybody overreacts equally as hard and will quite often goes as far as believing the polar opposite of what they just believed merely 7 days prior. Let’s offer up a few ‘for instances’ to hammer down this ridiculous notion that only during the 2nd week of the NFL does the public “overreact” – HA! Just last Monday (9/11) the nation was on it’s knees, respectively, bowing at the feet of the Dallas Cowboys and their world-beating sophomore duo Dak & Zeke. There were even whispers of being early Super Bowl favorites until they touched down in the great state of Colorado. Sure, on paper this game had all the ingredients for an intense, down-to-the-wire barn burner. Even in unfamilar territory the Cowboys found themselves as field goal favorites. Long story short, “America’s Team” dropped their pants around their ankles and held on for dear life as the Broncos them out back to the whoopin’ shed! Final tally was 42-17. Now, the country’s favorite fairy-tale (says who, honestly?) has an entirely new saga to OVERREACT to. And over-react they have, “Cowboys expose own flaws.”, “Sophomore slumps inevitably rears its ugly head”, “Title chances slim to none”.

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Another major storyline we like to force is this “hangover” theory, whether it be the World Series, Stanley’s Cup or in our case – the Super Bowl hangover, specifically it regards the Super Bowl loser. Below is a chart I created for the past 9 Super Bowls winners/losers records in the following seasons:

The Atlanta Falcons did little to disprove this theory in Week 1 in Chicago, luckily holding on to victory thanks to the Bears skill players dropping multiple potential game-winning TD’s in the final seconds. Green Bay came to town on Sunday Night looking to avenge the embarrassing blowout the Falcons handed them in last year’s NFL conference championship game. Not even Aaron Rodgers could persuade the football gods for sympathy as basically the exact same game script was played out on national television. Atlanta’s feared rushing attack took center stage as the 2-headed monster of Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman ran wild all night long, accumulating 3 TDs. So much for the so-called Super Bowl hangover – another over-reaction down, dozens more to negate in the coming weeks. Our society will claim a team as a bunch of real, modern-day heroes then just as easily the following week you’re all no-good, overrated, selfish, washed-up goats. People have always enjoyed drama, suspense, failures & heartwarming come-back stories played out on the gridiron. However, in today’s “I want it all & I want it now” world we live in, these once enjoyable, natural byproducts have seemingly become obsessively forced ‘needs’.

RISERS

Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs – RB) : I debated putting Hunt as a ‘riser’ in last week’s column, he certainly deserved it. Sure enough, the kid was back at it on Sunday – following up his record-breaking NFL debut with 109 yards and a pair of TD’s. His usage rate spiked after Week 1 too, from on-field for 57% plays to a hefty 73% in Week 2. Hunt leads the league by a LARGE margin with a whopping 7.6 yds/carry, including 2.5 after first contact (3rd best in NFL)! Given this unworldly start to his career in the NFL, Hunt has to be considered an RB1 for the foreseeable future with the explosive ceiling that downright single-handedly wins weeks. The minuscule window of opportunity to acquire Hunt for this historic rookie season ahead has in all likelihood closed. Sorry y’all – y’snooze, y’lose.

Rashard Higgins (Cleveland Browns – WR) : Who? You ask. Who on earth? Mike Jones! Huh? Ya know, – 281.330.8004? Nah – wrong dude? But, seriously this dude is for real. A former 5th round pick out of Colorado State (In ’14 he posted video game stats: 96 rec 1780 yds 17 TDs), Higgins has all the intangibles at 6’1” 197 lbs. However, he broke training camp on the practice squad – but that clearly didn’t last long. Corey Coleman’s broken hand and the sheer ineffectiveness displayed by Kenny Britt forced the Browns hand. Two days before their Week 2 matchup with Baltimore, Higgins was informed he’d be starting in the slot on Sunday, 11 targets & 95 yards later he’s practically a household name. Maybe not quite Mike Jones level, but Cleveland is going to HAVE to pass to someone all season. Expect Higgins to lead all Cleveland WR’s in targets and receptions from here on out, and unless Coleman returns within a reasonable timeframe, our boy will likely lead the team in TD’s as well.

Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers – RB) : He’s too fragile to handle a running back’s workload, they say. Well two weeks into the season the former WR turned RB is quieting the nay-sayers

J.J. Nelson (Arizona Cardinals – WR) : He’ll certainly be one of the most popular waiver pickups this week, and for great reason. Nelson has shown flashes of brilliance ever since he was drafted, consistency has always been his achilles heel. Dating back to last season J.J. Nelson has scored TD’s in 6 consecutive games – go ahead and shove that inconsistent tag, right up your wooHOO! – said J.J. I’ve personally scooped him everywhere I possibly could, and here’s why. The kid can flat out fly, like the type of speed that sticks out like a sore thumb despite being surrounded by world-class athletes. This speed has routinely provided him multiple chances every week to outrun a secondary and break games wide open, hence his absurd 18.7avg yds/rec. Not to mention he leads the team in targets this season with a solid 7 each week. Nelson was primed to be the slot receiver this season but with John Brown dealing with his sickle cell issues, which don’t look good as coach Bruce Arians said, “it would have to be miraculous” when asked if Brown could suit up in Week 3. Defenses will always start and finish their game plans around stopping future HOF’er Larry Fitzgerald, so when J.J. Nelson is outsprinting coverages league-wide – I’m going to reap the benefits and you might as well too.

Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans – RB) : Finally given the chance to show his stuff when Demarco Murray sat out the 2nd half last week – the former Heisman trophy finalist impressed. 14 rush 92 yds 1 TD over one-half of football will certainly turn some heads. If Murray is held out for any length of time, Henry becomes an automatic weekly starter – either RB1 or RB2 depending on the matchup.

DeShaun Watson and girlfriend Mia Khalifa (click pic for link to article)

**Honorable Mention**

DeShaun Watson (Houston Texans – QB) : While I don’t necessarily expect Watson to set the world on fire, or even to become fantasy relevant this season. I just had to at least mention the EPIC week this kid just endured. Within the matter of a few days; he was announced as the starting QB for an NFL franchise, he celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday while simultaneously gaining his 1st career victory against the Bengals and to top it all off it’s been confirmed that Watson is officially dating the online megastar in the Porn industry – Mia Khalifa. DeShaun is a “riser” in the game of life, and has put himself in prime position to rise in our fantasy game as well -> #killin’it

FALLERS

Ted Ginn Jr. (New Orleans Saints – WR) : As a Ted Ginn owner in all 3 of my leagues, this is more for me than you guys. TED GINN SUCKS! He’s always been a bum and always will be a bum, albeit the fastest bum in America (besides maybe only the Freeze, star of Atlanta Braves games). Drew Brees has far too many weapons to let a guy continue to drop crucial passes and not get open consistently. I’ve dropped Ginn in two leagues this week and while he’ll occasionally beat the defense for a long score, it’s not worth banking on. Cut ties and move on – happily.

Mike Wallace (Baltimore Ravens – WR) : Another proclamation for myself, MIKE WALLACE IS WASHED UP! I drafted him in two leagues, solely on seemingly reasonable research/advice by the Talented Mr. Roto (TMR), Matthew Berry. Didn’t I learn anything with that lost year by Wallace in Minnesota? He did nothing all season and we legit wasted millions of dollars on this all-or-nothing WR. Baltimore hasn’t even had to pass all season, barely 50 attempts so far. I still believe Wallace is Flacco’s top weapon – I just don’t foresee the Ravens utilizing him on a consistent basis at all.

LeGarrette Blount (Philadelphia Eagles – RB) : Formerly known in New England as the Touchdown Thief, he was back at it in Week 1. Never known for long runs or high averages, he received 14 rushes in Week 1. Flip the script in Week 2, completely, where Blount only was on the field for 6 plays! What? For real. Both Sproles (50) and Smallwood (14) out snapped him and his outlook on the season is seriously diminished. Keep him on your bench, however, in case they decide to utilize the running game more consistently.

Bilal Powell (New York Jets – RB) : Glamourized coming into the 2017 season after totally outperforming Matt Forte last season. Powell was expected to be given the plus side of the Jets rushing attack this season. So far, the Jets not only look historically bad (especially on offense) but 6th round rookie Elijah McGuire has factored into the mix – getting 7 touches last week. Do you have any interest in owning any of a 3-headed RB committee for one of the league’s worst offenses, possibly of all-time? Nah, exactly what I thought. Hold Powell through week 5 (vs.CLE) and if he isn’t producing at least FLEX worthy stats, kick his bunk ass to the curb! Then thank me later J

**Dis-Honorable Mention**

Jordan Howard / Ezekiel Elliott (Bears & Boys – RB’s & consensus top 15 draft picks) : Obviously, unless you spent last Sunday under a massive rock you heard about the career-worst performances by both 2nd year backs. Respectively, Elliott chewed up 9 whole yards on 8 carries meanwhile Howard kept those legs churning forward for 7 yards on even more carries with 9 of them. WOW. Talk about a freak occurrence. This Risers/Fallers portion of the column is all about players whom have gained or lost ROS (rest of season) value. As terrible as these foundational studs running backs performed last week, I still believe in them over the long haul. They are still “set and forget” players on your team and you should fully expect for them to return elite value for you, although Elliott more so than Howard due to the emergence of another stud rookie RB name Tarik Cohen.

BEATING THE BOOK

Week 2 :  9-7 ; Wins – Titans, Patriots, Chiefs, Colts, Bucs, Dolphins, Raiders, Broncos, 49ers

Losses – Browns, Bengals, Vikings, Panthers, Rams, Packers, Giants

Season Record : Week 1 adjustments. Realized I incorrectly had the Broncos as a W and didn’t notice the Bills ‘pushed’. Updated Week 1 record : 10-4-1.

Overall Record : 19-11-1  Best Bet : 2-0

If you find yourself perusing the world wide web, looking for “betting results” after a weekend during the football season – well, good luck to you. While it’s not impossible to come across some figures at the sportsbook, it’s typically very vague and without context. With an inside source, a man who is to remain unknown (let’s call him Sal Bandini), providing me valuable insight at the Las Vegas sportsbooks – you can simply allow me to examine the “wise guys” rare mistakes. Clearly, much more common than a mistake point spread is something I call a “sucker bet”. These bets are a win-win situation for the wise guys, in turn creating the ultimate sucker bet and Vegas’ ideal point-spread for the general betting public, a lose-lose betting scenario. Rather than attempt to beat these sucker bets, it’s much more lucrative to accurately spot them and avoid like the plague (there is always plenty of football with room for everyone to bet).

Week 1 was a downright ass-whoopin’ to the betting public by Vegas. I imagine this happens every year, as bettors launch back into a scene that hasn’t crossed their minds in at least 6 months. However, Week 2 was much kinder to us all. There is a handful of consensus plays (bets) within the betting public, two of which are always fade the Cleveland Browns and to lay the wood on the New England Patriots. Both of which made a lot of people a lot of money this past weekend. The 3rd most profitable event was the game in Oakland where the NY Jets were not able to cover their (2) touchdown spread against the Rayyyydahs (think Chris Berman voice) – perhaps the Raiders will arrive in Las Vegas to an already very faithful fan base if they can keep covering spreads for their future hometown fans!  As only Bill Belichek could say best, we’re on to Week 3….

THURSDAY NIGHT

Rams (-2.5) @ 49ers : If this isn’t the most stereotypical lousy TNF game, then I don’t know what is. At least they get to rock their eye-popping color rush jerseys for this Thursday Night special. With only 2 weeks of data to speculate from, I exercise caution of what actually deserves reading into and what seems flukier, without substance. That being said, The LA Rams seem to have flipped a switch this season, while the 49ers still look lost. Playing a tightly contested game against your biggest rival (Seattle) doesn’t surprise me and if anything San Fran might be sluggish after playing their asses off just four days ago. Not sure what the O/U is set at but that seems like the play here (unless Vegas set it around 32). Give me Jared Goff and the improving Ram’s offense to put a real live spankin’ at the 9er’s expense. Lay the wood on TNF. Rams 24-9.

SUNDAY GAMES

Early Early Game (9:30am EST)

Ravens (-4) @ Jaguars** : How many years in a row has Jacksonville lost a geographical home game just to fly across the pond to entertain a country that seems to care less and less for each junk game the NFL sends the country. Pretty sure Vegas set this line under one of these propositions. They either believed the Jags are actually at home for the game or they believe London has a die-hard Jaguar faithful walking its streets. Bet the 2-0 team that looks like a far superior  squad. Ravens won’t exceed 200 passing yard and will still have the game in hand by the halftime. Ravens 17-10.   **Neutral Venue (game being played in London, aka Jacksonville’s home away from home)

Early Games (1pm EST)

Browns (-1) @ Colts : Lock this one into your memory bank, because it might be a very long time before we ever see the Cleveland Browns at favorites out on the road. Honestly, you’d think out of principle taking the Colts would be wise, but I’ve seen them play. This Andrew Luck-less offense is completely inept and the Browns actually have some talent sprinkled around the roster. Don’t go bragging about this, but back the Browns on the road. Browns 27-21

Steelers (-7.5) @ Bears : As widely known a difference between home/road splits for the Steelers – might the Bears possibly be following suit? They look great against Atlanta at home, then get shellacked down in Tampa Bay. Steelers nearly lose to Cleveland on the road, then take care of business at home against the Vikings. I’ll just follow the trend and back the Bears getting over a TD at home. Steelers 21-17

Dolphins (-7) @ Jets : Here is something I can tell you for certain, anytime this season when the Jets are underdogs by a TD or fewer – I’ll ALWAYS back the opponent! I even like the Dolphins, so this is an easy call. It may be a close call for a half or so but Miami will pull away late. Lay the wood. Dolphins 31-14

Broncos (-3.5) @ Bills : Every single week we get a spread like this, it’s called a trap game for the team – well, it’s known as a trap line for the betting public. Denver is the better team on both sides of the ball and should have little trouble scoring. Something tells me that the ball will fall Buffalo’s way more times than not and they’ll score enough to hang in a close battle with the Broncos. Expect Denver to dominate the possession, but Simean throws a few costly interceptions. Back the Bills. Broncos 19-17

Texans (+13.5) @ Patriots : Well, it sure looks like Vegas has forgotten about the Week 1 debacle by New England. Houston does have a great defense, but they can’t score. If not for two plays last week, Deshaun Watson’s 50yd TD scramble & that fumble return just before the half, they only scored 3 points. I expect a 10-7 game at halftime, and then Tom Brady to devise a plan to pick apart this defense. Take the home favorite. Patriots 31-10

Saints (+6.5) @ Panthers : I bet Carolina is happy to see New Orleans on the schedule, especially after last week field goal fest against Buffalo. TD’s will be scored in bunches on Sunday afternoon. I believe this will be a very entertaining game, and whoever has the ball last will be victorious. Also, the Saints are 4-0 ATS vs Carolina in past 4. Carolina is 3-1 SU (straight-up) in those same 4 games. So, I’ll gladly follow the trends as they typically nod you in the right direction. Take New Orleans in a close, high-scoring game. Panthers 35-33.

Falcons (-3.5) @ Lions : This might be the biggest, under the radar, game of the week! Atlanta looked phenomenal last week against a formidable opponent in Green Bay. However, Detroit looked solid in all 3 facets of the game on the road. Atlanta has yet to show any effects of a Super Bowl hangover and this might be the place where it starts. Plus, the Detroit Lions are 7-1 in past 8 home games. This should be a good game, another one where the magician known as Matthew Stafford pulls out another 4th quarter comeback victory. Lions 27-24

Giants (+6) @ Eagles : New York did themselves no favors on MNF this week. Ben McAdoo is starting to look like he’s lost the locker room (after 2 weeks!), especially once he threw his QB under the bus in his post-game interview. Philly looked more than formidable in Kansas City, as they were right in the game until the last 5 minutes. The Giants defense is very sound and it takes a few lucky breaks or defensive lapses in order to take advantage. However, this Eli Manning-led offense is especially pathetic and is likely to force their defense to basically live on the field. Carson Wentz will find a few gaps in coverage to exploit and the Philadelphia defense is bound to steal a score as well. Lay the damn wood! Eagles 28-10

Buccaneers (pk) @ Vikings : It’s now Thursday and still there is no line set, due to Sam Bradford’s uncertain status. Here’s what I did, I just made one up. Basically, the Bucs would be very small favorites if Bradford were declared out, and about 3.5 point underdogs if Bradford does play. From everything I’ve read, I think it’s more likely he sits out one more week, therefore I choose a spread closer to my “no-Sam” line. Make sense, cool? With or without Bradford, I believe the Vikings defense is far too sturdy and fast for Tampa Bay – especially at home. If we had a Vegas-set spread, I’d likely make this game my best bet (Sunday morning when Bradford decides IN/OUT, Vegas will set a line.) Pound the home team. Vikings 24-14.

Late Games (4pm EST)

Seahawks (+3) @ Titans : Another very rare line for the NFL. Over the past 3 seasons, the Seahawks have only been underdogs 4 times and the Titans have only been favorites 11 times (SEA 1-3, TEN 4-6-1). We get both these rare occasions this week and for good reason. Seattle thankfully got into the end zone late in the 4th last week to narrowly defeat longtime rival San Francisco 12-9. Whereas, Tennessee turned it on in the 2nd half last week vs Jacksonville and showed why they’ve received so much hype this offseason. A low scoring first half will lead to the Titan running game finally breaking through an exhausted,  beaten-down, over-heated (90 degrees expected) Seattle front 7. All the stars have lined up for this Tennessee team to make a run at winning the AFC South. Expect this game to be looked back at as a launching pad for this season. Back Tennessee. Titans 27-16

Chiefs (-3.5) @ Chargers : Kansas City is a perfect 7-0 ATS and SU in their last 7 road games. Conversely, the Los Angeles Chargers 0-6-1 ATS and 0-7 SU in past 7 games. KC has beaten LAC in each of the last 6 games. Don’t get cute here. Lay the wood. Chiefs 24-14

Bengals (+10) @ Packers : This game is setup to be more of a shootout than most would expect. Green Bay is not operating at full strength, missing 2 of its top weapons (Nelson & Cobb), both starting OT’s as well as star DT Mike Daniels. Cincinnati just has too much talent, especially on offense, to look as bad as they have. The Bengals are still searching for their 1st touchdown of 2017! They’re hoping the firing of offensive coordinator will free Andy Dalton to utilize all of his weapons. On paper, Cincy has a gunslingin’ ginger QB, star WR, elite TE and a 3-headed monster of a backfield. Expect Cincinnati to wake up, and realize it’s mid-week 3 already, and attempt to make up for lost time. Green Bay will benefit from the cheese-head faithful but will really suffer from missing key pieces of the puzzle due to injury – not allowing them to pull away in this game. Back the road dog and if it fails, feel free to write off the Bengals for the remainder of the season. Put up or Shut up time for them. Packers 28-27

SUNDAY NIGHT (8:30pm EST)

Raiders (-3.5) @ Redskins : Finally, a matchup expected to be a bit of a shootout, being the only game with an O/U above 50 (53.5). Oakland has surprisingly been very good when playing games in EST, going 10-3 ATS in past 13 road games. Kirk Cousins is a notoriously slow starter, taking a few weeks before getting in rhythm with his weapons. I expect a very fast-paced, exciting game this Sunday night (unlike the previous two). That extra .5 hook is just enough for me to back the home dog. Raiders 31-28

MONDAY NIGHT (8:30pm EST)

**BEST BET** Cowboys (-3) @ Cardinals : This game was likely expected to be a massively anticipated matchup when the 2017-18 NFL schedule came out. The top 2 RB’s in fantasy football square off was the likely selling point. Arizona has won the past 4 meetings vs Dallas and is 7-1 in the past 8, but those numbers are very outdated as they haven’t even played since 2014. Much more relevant is the fact that the Cowboys have won 5 of past 6 when at least 3.5pt road favorites and the Cardinals have gone 0-3 ATS when a home underdog of at least 3.5pts. Expect the ‘Boys to come hard on MNF after the most embarrassing loss in recent franchise history. Arizona is in a tailspin ever since losing their offensive focal point, David Johnson – luckily beat the lowly Colts. I’d bet BIG on the Cowboys to suffocate the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. Back up the Brinks truck baby! Cowboys 35-17

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