Tom Brady leads the unbeaten Pats into Denver to face Peyton Manning, er Brock Osweiler and the 8-2 Broncos. Probably not what NBC was hoping for. Image c/o Keith Allison
Well I’m off to a great start picking games here at Pattison Ave, cooking up a disastrous 0-3 record for your Thanksgiving indulgence on Thursday. The Eagles looked pathetic against the 3-7 Lions, the Cowboys looked equally feeble against the still-unbeaten Panthers, the Bears managed to win their damn game outright in Lambeau in the nightcap, and I got every one of them wrong. Oh, and Tony Romo is done for the season, ending a two-game comeback as the season’s sneakiest fantasy waiver wire pick-up. And if you went up against Megatron this week with playoff hopes on the line, my condolences on your shattered season. Trust me, I’m with you.
Dammit Dez. But that segues into today’s picks because fantasy football is the theme with so many games looking lousy. Outside of Steelers/Seahawks and Pats/Broncos, you don’t have many interesting match-ups filling your screens this lovely Sunday afternoon. In the Delaware Valley, we can be thankful for the Giants/Redskins and Jets/Dolphins RIVALRIES; they’re your viewing treats at 1PM. If you’d rather be stranded on the island from LOST than watch these two slopfests, you aren’t alone. The Steelers/Seahawks game is intriguing later at 4:25, so if you’d like to prove to your significant other that yes, you actually CAN go a Sunday afternoon without watching football, this is your chance. Just remember to specify that the afternoon ends at 4:30. And get beer at Wegmans.
EARLY AFTERNOON GAMES
New Orleans Saints @ Houston Texans (-3)
This is a putrid game on paper that may turn into a shootout, but it’s far more interesting from a fantasy perspective. DeAndre Hopkins might be the best receiver in football and he’s up against a pass defense that would make Mark Sanchez look good. If you’ve got Hopkins and don’t have a great QB option, double up on Brian Hoyer (owned in only 37.5% of ESPN leagues) and watch the Texans torch this passing defense just like everyone else.
PICK: TEXANS -3
Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons (-2)
The Falcons have fallen apart after starting 5-0, with one unimpressive 10-7 win over Tennessee in their last five games. The Vikings have been feisty in the NFC North and have a chance to jump in front of Green Bay with a win here. The Falcons have the NFL’s 3rd best run defense, but I think Adrian Peterson has a big day here. One intriguing fantasy match-up is Falcons 2nd string RB Tevin Coleman (available in 38.5% of ESPN leagues) against the Vikings 16th-ranked run defense. Grab and start Coleman if you’re hurting, but I like the Vikings in this game.
PICK: VIKINGS +2
St. Louis Rams @ Cincinnati Bengals (-9)
Nick Foles (lol) is starting for the Rams, so we’re taking the Bengals. You can’t give me a single-digit spread with Nick Foles on the road against a good defense and expect me to go the other way. Gurley probably gets his in this game, but the Bengals should win fairly easily. I like Giovani Bernard way more than Jeremy Hill in this game.
PICK: BENGALS -9
Tampa Bay Bucs @ Indianapolis Colts (-3)
The Colts are still without Andrew Luck, while the Bucs have looked impressive in wins over the Cowboys and Eales in the past two weeks. Tampa is way ahead of schedule in their rebuilding project and have a legit chance to grab a wildcard in the NFC. I’m taking the Bucs here, the Colts are a mess. Watch out for Doug Martin against this Colts defense.
PICK: BUCS +3
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins (+2.5)
The Giants will take a stranglehold over the NFC East with a win here, so of course they’ll lose in classic Tom Coughlin fashion. In Coughlin Classics, the Giants don’t just play down to their opponent, they sink well below the depths of the other team and lose in the most inconceivable way possible. Kirk Cousins (owned in 26.1% of ESPN leagues) will light up this secondary and he’s a good streaming option if you’re hurting at QB. And Desean Jackson catches a long TD this week, start him if you’ve got him. Skins win and SOMEHOW the Eagles live.
PICK: REDSKINS +2.5
Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans (+1)
The NFL is really pounding us in the head with these marquee match-ups. The Raiders have been very Raidery lately, losing three in a row in heartbreaker-blowout-heartbreaker pattern. Despite the losses, Oakland appears to have a decent nucleus in place and they’re definitely a team on the upswing. Meanwhile, the Titans have Marcus Mariota and not much else. Raiders get back on track with a road win here.
PICK: RAIDERS -1
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)
Don’t look now, but the Chiefs are 5-5 with four straight double-digit wins and have one of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules. I actually like their playoff odds moving forward, but I’ve been watching football too long not to smell an Andy Reid letdown on the way. The Chiefs defense has been carrying the team lately, but they’re down to their 3rd string RB and this offense will struggle to move the ball against Buffalo. KC is getting too many points here, take Buffalo.
PICK: BILLS +5.5
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-4)
Drowning in a sea of bad football and there’s no rescue for three hours. This will be your “weird score” game of the afternoon as the Dolphins may actually move the ball against the Jets D without Darrelle Revis, but these are two bad offenses and points will be scarce. Even without Revis, Jets have the talent on defense to shutdown Miami, so New York is the pick but Jarvis Landry is a must-start in this game. High school score alert: 22-12.
PICK: JETS -4
San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-5)
The Chargers are a walking hospital while the Jags have gotten frisky of late, winning two in a row and putting themselves back in the AFC South race (which is just as terrible as the NFC East). The Chargers probably start winning enough games to ruin their draft positioning now and I like them on the road against Jacksonville. This game will also be terrible.
PICK: CHARGERS +5
LATE AFTERNOON GAMES
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (+10)
I’m 1000 words in and I’m yet to talk about a good game. I’m dehydrated and in need of watchable football. Will this be it? Of course not, it’s Jim Tomsula coaching Blaine Gabbert! The Cards will rout this poster child for dysfunction, but watch out for Niners RB Shaun Draughn. Blaine Gabbert checks down to his RB roughly 72 times per game, so Draughn (owned in 32.2% of ESPN leagues) has some value in PPR formats.
PICK: CARDINALS -10
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
FINALLY. I’m eager to watch this game and see what Antonio Brown can do against Seattle’s secondary. The Steelers haven’t been shy about attacking anyone through the air, especially with Leveon Bell done for the year. The Seahawks offense has been a mystery all year (especially for Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham owners) and they’ll want to avoid a shootout, especially with their homefield mystique gone. Seattle’s been slowly getting it together, but the Steelers have enough offense to make them play keep up. Steelers win outright.
PICK: STEELERS -3.5
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos (+3)
The Pats opened as 5.5 point favorites, so this line has come down a fair amount. The Pats are down to their 8th and 9th string WRs, but Brady has been scoring points with subpar talent all season. New England needs to be careful and not look past Denver to the dangerous Philadelphia Eagles next week, but I think they dump the Broncos in a boring game. Brady won’t have his usual studly numbers, although RB James White (owned in 32.1% of ESPN leagues) is a sneaky fantasy pickup. He’ll get at least 6-7 targets and scored each of on his two red zone touches last week. Pats win, but score under 30 again (cue sky falling in Boston).
PICK: PATS -3
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (-3)
Here’s a list of players currently on IR in Baltimore: Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs, Dennis Pitta, Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson, Ricky Wagner. The Ravens are the NFL’s Walking Dead and after losing Forsett and Flacco in the same game, they’ve probably got nothing left. The Browns get Josh McCown back starting this week, which means good things for top checkdown option Duke Johnson Jr. (owned in 56.5% of ESPN leagues). Give me the Browns as the Ravens’ nightmare season continues.
PICK: BROWNS -3
That’s what I’ve got for Week 12, I’ll be back next week giving more fantasy advice and starting a weekly column with Randy Jobst about the current state of the Eagles. If the team even exists this time next week. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and remember, if your fantasy league’s regular season doesn’t end this week, you need to have a talk with your commissioner.
OVERALL SEASON RECORD