Welcome to Thursday’s Thoughts. This week, (a Sunday edition, because I had a busy week at work & also exploring Morocco) I go over my biggest winners and losers from the NFL week 1, discuss my Top 5 of the Week, and have a bit of fun with things I like and dislike. If you’re not a fan of sports, gambling, politics, pop culture, or fun, then you probably won’t enjoy many (any) of my blog posts, but oh well read them anyway and you might be surprised.
NFL Week 1 – Winners and Losers
Winner – Buffalo Bills title hopes
Josh Allen absolutely looked the part of a true MVP on Thursday night, and the Bills absolutely rolled the defending champs. They are the favorites to win the Super Bowl at +500, and with good reason – they have one of the best defenses in the league and were able to get pressure on Matt Stafford the whole game without blitzing. Package that with Josh Allen and his arsenal of receiving threats, and you have a team that won’t be easily beaten. I predicted the Bills to go 12-5, but that might have been underselling them.
Loser – Cowboys (yet again)
Every year, Cowboys fans think that it’s their year. Every year, they’re disappointed. (This isn’t an insult – I’m a Vikings fan, I get it!) It just usually takes more than a week for the implosion to happen. With the loss of Dak Prescott for 6-8 weeks, and the Cowboys starting Cooper Rush, we can likely write this season off as a lost cause.
Winner – “Nobody Believed In Me” Quarterbacks
This of course doesn’t apply to every quarterback who we don’t believe in, but there are a number of quarterbacks who succeeded in week 1, playing well and getting their team a win despite a plethora of naysayers. Whether they were coming off injury (Jameis Winston), on a new team (Carson Wentz, Mitch Trubisky), surprised to be in a starting role (Jacoby Brissett, Geno ‘I ain’t write back‘ Smith), or just young quarterbacks who have a lot to prove (Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones, Jalen Hurts), it was a big week for these underdogs.
Loser – Aaron Rodgers
Of course I’ll take any chance to take a shot at the Packers or Aaron Rodgers (and this may well be one of the last times I have that chance this season), but this was a bad week from the back to back MVP. Of the top 5 favorites (pre-season) for NFL MVP (all were quarterbacks), Rodgers was the only player to lose, and also the only to be held without a touchdown. The other 4 combined for a total of 13 touchdowns, and their teams scored an average of 29.4 points compared to the Packers with 7. What a loser!
Winner – NFL Fans
For sports fans, the first week of NFL action is up there with March Madness for most exciting weeks of the year. The NFL has long been the league with the most parity, and this year is no different. There are nearly a dozen teams with realistic Super Bowl aspirations and only 4 or 5 who we can confidently say right now probably won’t be fighting for a playoff spot.
Top 5 of the Week
This week for my Top 5 of the Week, I will be going through the top 5 most underrated fantasy football players right now. This list is – of course – subjective, but there are a few rules I will use as a guideline: no players who were drafted in the first 3 rounds or at the top 5 in their positions (they’re already rated highly!) and no players who I wouldn’t consider starting on at least a semi-regular basis (sure, Isaiah Spiller might finish higher than his ADP, but you’re never starting him unless Ekeler gets injured). Additionally, I’m not going to add players who have an obvious benefit due to injury or circumstance: of course Jeff Wilson is worth more than his ADP right now, that’s due to his larger role with Elijah Mitchell’s injury, not because he’s underrated.
5. Antonio Gibson
As the league moves toward running backs by committee, Gibson is one of the few running backs (outside the top guys who will be drafted in the first 20 picks) who will have the backfield largely to himself. Considering the production, this inclusion was an easy one, and he’s a guy I’m trying to trade for in all my leagues.
4. Romeo Doubs
As I mentioned above, it’s not often that Aaron Rodgers goes scoreless in a game, and Green Bay wide receivers are usually coveted. The assumption in fantasy circles has been that Allen Lazard will be the main beneficiary of Davantae Adams’s departure. Still, even the 2nd best wide receiver in a good offense will be valuable. That being said, I’m not so sure Lazard will be the 1st option. Doubs has seemingly developed a rapport with Rodgers, despite Christian Watson being drafted ahead of him. He was the most targeted Green Bay WR in week 1 (and caught the most balls), and while that trend is far from a guarantee to continue, he’s available in more than 75% of ESPN leagues, and is absolutely worth as roster spot.
3. Gerald Everett
This may be a bit of a cheat, since we’ve already seen 2 Chargers games, but I have believed in Everett since joining Justin Herbert in LA. He’s currently tied for 1st on the team in targets, and leads the team in receiving yards. This is an offense that will be elite throughout the season, and Everett looks to be a big part of that. After the top few TEs in the league (Kelce, Andrews, Pitts, Kittle), I think Everett is right there. Considering he went undrafted in most leagues, obtaining Everett should be a priority in every league.
2. Josh Jacobs
Similarly to Gibson above, Jacobs owns the Raiders backfield. After the Addition of Adams, the Las Vegas passing attack will likely be more of a factor than the running game, but a good offense will let everyone eat. I’m not sure Jacobs deserves to be the bell cow, but it seems like he’s going to get the vast majority of touches, and is therefore underrated in most leagues. Getting a full workload means he’s a high-end RB2, and he’s currently ranked 22nd overall. I’d take Jacobs over Ezekiel Elliott, Aaron Jones, Chase Edmonds, Rashaad Penny, Breece Hall or almost any other running back in a split backfield. (I say ‘almost’ because Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb exist). After a lackluster week 1, Jacobs should be obtainable, and now is the time to get him if you can.
1. Jarvis Landry
Over the last 8 seasons, Landry has been as consistent as they come. He’s missed a total of 6 games in his career, and his floor has basically been a top-30 WR. He’s available in nearly 40% of leagues, and is starting in a tiny percentage. Even when he was consistently a top-15 WR he was getting drafted well below WR2 range. I’m not sure what the bias is against him, but you can almost assuredly get him for almost nothing in any league (he’s available in 37% of ESPN leagues!), and he’s worth a start in most 12-team leagues, especially in PPR.
So I didn’t give any NFL picks last week, partially because it was week 1 and I wasn’t confident in my choices, partially because I didn’t want to be accused of bias towards the Vikings, and partially because I’m trying to limit my gambling. But mostly those other reasons are blatant lies and I just forgot to add my picks last week… Nevertheless, this weeks picks will constitute the kickoff of my 2022-23 record. (Note that the spreads come from PaddyPower.com or Bovada.lv, depending on where I’m gambling on a given week).
BAL – 3.5 vs MIA
I think this Ravens team is really good, but this pick is as much about Miami as it is about Baltimore. The Dolphins defense is very good, but I’m not sure how well they’re suited to slow down the run game, even without running back J.K. Dobbins for another week. Additionally, if Miami falls behind early, I don’t have any confidence in Tua bringing them back. I think this ends in a blowout – Ravens by 17.
ATL +10.5 @ LAR
The Rams are a much better team on paper than the Falcons, and I expect them to win. But the Falcons are better than people think, and 10.5 is a big spread. Rams win by 5 in a close game.
CIN -7.5 @ DAL
Without Dak, the Cowboys might be the worst team in the league. The Bengals had a bad loss last week, but AFC North division games have always been tough. Cincinnati went to the Super Bowl last year – they should be double digit favorites! Bengals win 35-10.
MIN +2 @ PHI
The Vikings looked good in week 1, and it didn’t feel like an aberration. They have a strong defensive line, and plenty of weapons on offense to put up big numbers. I really like Jalen Hurts, but the Eagles defense isn’t suited to stop Minnesota. It might be a similarly high scoring matchup as Philly/Detroit in week 1, but I have more confidence in the Vikings defense than the Eagles. Minnesota 34-27.
Framley Teaser League
In addition to my regular picks, I’ll also be giving my weekly teaser selections here. For those unfamiliar with teaser leagues, I’ll give a simplified version: Each person (or team) selects 4 teams each week, and the betting line is adjusted by 10 points in favor of the team you select (e.g. if you choose a team with a -3 line, their new line would be +7). Each team that goes 4/4 gets paid by all those who had at least 1 missed pick (and paid extra for more misses). I’m currently on a team with a friend – Nicholas – where we select our picks together, so he has 50% say in these picks, and our conversations will be a recurring theme here.
The lines for this league finalize on Wednesdays, these are our Week 2 options:
As you may remember from last week’s conversation, I sent Nicholas BAL, DEN, ATL, and MIN as our proposed selections (they went 4/4), and he changed ATL to LAR (who didn’t cover). This week went a bit different:
Nicholas: BAL, TB, MIN, I can’t think of a 4th.
Me: No I’m picking.
Me: I’m drunk and already sent them in.
Me: Deal with it.
Not the most scientific of methods, but we are where we are.
Final picks: BAL +6.5, WAS +12, PIT +12.5, CIN+2.5
Things I Like and Things I Don’t Like
I don’t like
Timid NFL Coaches. The Broncos coach Nate Hackett elected to kick a 64 yard field goal instead of trusting Russell Wilson (you know, the quarterback they JUST signed to $160 million in guaranteed money) to get 5 yards. I know they have been getting roasted by most pundits, but it’s for good reason. I’ll never understand how long it takes NFL coaches to adapt to such easy decisions that seemingly everyone else knows in the moment.
Jets Fans. One of the first times I was in New York, I went to a Jets game with a friend of a friend I had just met that night. It was an awesome experience, and now I’m just always a fan of Jets fans. Saw him in town last weekend at one of the only American bars in London watching the NFL. Shoutout DiLo.
I don’t like
Timberwolves Offseason. Just 2 weeks away from the preseason, and a month away from the regular season, and I’m excited to see what the final Timberwolves roster ends up as, and what the team looks like together after all the changes they’ve made.
Rudy Gobert in FIBA. After a slow (read: bad) start in the EuroBasket 2022 tournament, France has been excellent of late, led by Gobert, who has seems to have taken his game to a new level as France will take on Spain in the Finals. Career year incoming.
That’s it for this week, feel free to tell me how dumb my fantasy suggestion are, whether you agree or not with my gambling picks (when I inevitably go 0-4), or anything you’d like to hear about in the coming weeks!