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Week 3

In last week’s column, I asked readers for feedback on the importance of “foregrounding the fun” in fantasy football. I also indicated that I needed someone to take over Matthew Schiff’s role in the LMS portion of this column.

I was pleased by the quality of the responses I received on the question of “foregrounding the fun,” but I was surprised by the number of folks who want to pick up where Mr. Schiff left off.

It is stunning that so many people want to take over for Mr. Schiff because the negatives of the job seem to outweigh the positives. On closer examination, however, we can see that the pros do in fact outweigh the cons.


  1. No matter how busy you are at work or at school or with your family, you have to meet an unforgiving weekly deadline.

  2. No matter how good you are at making predictions, you are going to be wrong from time to time.

  3. Since you will be wrong in public, you will get to hear from strangers who will say that they told you so even though you have never heard a word from them in your life.


  1. Since you don’t get paid for your contributions, you don’t have to do any extra work on your taxes.

  2. The people who send you death threats because your faulty number one choice got them eliminated from their pool almost never make good on the threats.

  3. Mike Krueger is very good at stonewalling debt collectors who have tracked you down via a Google search thanks to your new-found internet fame.

  4. You will be helping people . . . in offices . . . who gamble. It’s hard to imagine anything more rewarding than that.

Please don’t examine the Pros very closely. Simply note that there are more Pros than Cons—and consider the matter settled.

Therefore, in the interest of a) keeping this column as interactive as possible & b) respecting the time constraints of readers, I am going to postpone the discussion of “foregrounding the fun” in fantasy football while we shine the spotlight on the folks who aspire to be the next LMS guru at FFToday.

That spotlight will shine on all contenders for the next three weeks. I will consider extending the contest by another week if enough latecomers get entries to me before the Week 3 games begin.

What You Need to Do If You Are Interested:

If you have already sent me your predictions for the Week 3 games, then you need not do anything else this week. You should see your picks below. If you have not already sent me your picks but would like to participate in the “Tribute to Schiff” contest, then I will need to receive your picks before the Week 3 games begin.

Formatting Guidelines for Future Entries:

I did not provide formatting guidelines last week, so you need not worry about the format for your Week 3 predictions. However, starting with Week 4, I will need all contestants to submit their predictions according to the following format:

  1. Writer’s first and last name.

  2. Trap Game pick. (Schiff was positively gifted at pointing out which game was most likely to run counter to the expectations of the betting community.) Declare your winner and provide a brief paragraph of explanation.

  3. Your third favorite pick of the week. Provide a title line that declares your winner and indicates which teams you have already picked in this slot. Be sure to pick no team more than once in any of the three slots. Follow Paul Moore’s procedure here by listing your correct picks in CAPS and your incorrect picks in lower-case letters.

  4. Your second favorite pick of the week. Same format as #3.

  5. Your top pick of the week. Same format as #3.


Mike Davis

Trap Game: Texans over Titans
People who expect the Titans to defeat the Texans are probably right, but I smell an upset. The Titans have been coasting beautifully since the end of last season, and the Texans are supposed to be rusty thanks to an unexpected game postponement in Week 2. However, that postponement gave the Texans a little extra time to study and prepare for the Titans—a team that they matched up very well against last year. They lost to Tennessee by 8 points in Week 13 and just 2 points in Week 7. In light of how difficult it is for divisional rivals to sustain winning streaks, how marginal the Titans’ victories over the Texans were last year, and how pent up the energies of the Texans must be, I can easily see a Houston upset.

#3: Seattle over Saint Louis (past picks: chiefs)
This game pulls me in two directions. On the one hand, I always try to avoid divisional matchups. But on the other hand, it looks like a reasonably safe bet to pick anyone who happens to be playing against the Rams. I am not enough of a believer in the Seahawks to pick them against anyone on the road, but Seattle is at home, and the Rams are just terrible enough for me to give the nod to the “other hand” on this one.

#2: New England over Miami (past picks: saints)
The Patriots’ regular-season winning streak continues . . . with or without Tom Brady. Some readers are bound to object that I am actually picking two divisional matchups this week, but that objection only makes sense if you missed the drubbing of Miami by Arizona last week. Technically, Miami is in New England’s division. Realistically, however, New England is out of Miami’s league.

#1: Atlanta over Kansas City (past picks: CARDINALS)
After two consecutive losses (one on the road to a Patriots team that switched from Brady to Cassel and another at home to the laughably awful Raiders), the Chiefs are reeling. They probably won’t come out of their tailspin until they can keep a quarterback healthy through a week of practice and the better part of a game, which doesn’t seem likely to happen this week. The Falcons have looked exactly like you would expect a team with a talented rookie QB to look: inconsistent. Expect flashes of brilliance from the Falcons all season long—particularly when they are at home against beleaguered non-divisional opponents (as is the case in Week 3).

How the Selection Process Will Work

The prognostications of all participants will be published in this column for the next three (possibly four) weeks.

Participants will also have an opportunity to articulate their approach to LMS pools and to explain why their picks should be featured regularly on FFToday. I will be contacting participants in alphabetical order with a prepared list of questions/prompts. I do not know everyone’s last name yet, but you should expect to be featured in my Week 4 column if the first letter of your last name is near the beginning of the alphabet, in Week 5 if it is near the middle, and in Week 6 if it is near the end.

There will be a two-stage process before we settle on the prognosticator who will be featured regularly in this column.

Our judges will be Mike Krueger (Stage One) and Matthew Schiff (Stage Two). I will rank participants for them according to the following criteria:

  1. Accuracy of picks. Since we are dealing with just a few weeks here, I don’t want to overweigh the top pick. Each participant’s accuracy score will be determined by the number of correct predictions that come out of the top three picks each week. The first tie-breaker will be the number of correct top picks. The second tie-breaker will be the trap game picks.

  2. Timeliness of submissions. I need submissions from all potential contributors by noon EST each Wednesday in order to get my column to Mike Krueger on time.

  3. Quality of analysis. It is possible to be wrong for perfectly good reasons. The most important thing is to get the predictions right, but the second most important thing is to make a compelling case for your prediction whether it is right or wrong.

Stage One: Overseen by Mike Krueger

The predictions of the participants will be reviewed by Mike Krueger (head honcho at FFToday). He will create a short list for review by Matthew Schiff. I would explain his selection criteria if I understood them, but the ways of Krueger and dark and mysterious. Also, since he is my boss, I can’t very well tell him how to do his job.

Stage Two: Overseen by Matthew Schiff

Mr. Schiff has agreed to serve as the final judge in this competition. He will work from the short list prepared by Krueger to anoint his successor. Good luck to all!

Last Man Standing

The picks below reached me by noon on Wednesday, September 17th. If you did not email me your picks earlier but want to participate in the “Tribute to Schiff” contest, please email your picks to me before the Week 3 games begin. In fairness to all involved, the contest will be closed to new participants once the Week 3 games get underway.

Jeff’s Picks:

Trap Game: San Diego over the New York Jets
No way San Diego starts 0-3, right? In a normal year, with a healthy LT and Shawne Merriman... sure. But this year? I don't know who has the extremely effective Charger voodoo doll (Marty Schottenheimer, maybe?), but picking these Chargers is just tempting fate. This week, how about a last-second Kaeding field goal to win... that strikes and kills a misguided seagull before falling hopelessly short as time expires. To add insult to injury, PETA announces plans to protest every remaining Charger game.

Bonus Trap Game: Indianapolis over Jacksonville
They may be 0-2 with a brutalized offensive line, but the Jaguars have played the Colts tough in three out of the last four, and Indy's hardly clicking on all cylinders.

#3: Atlanta over Kansas City
In what could become a recurring theme, the opponent of the Chiefs is an excellent pick. I know its Atlanta this week, but their D has been tough... and the Chief's starting QB is most likely a guy named Tyler Thigpen (who was horrible last week). Eight points against the Raiders? No way they travel to Atlanta and win a road game with all their issues (see also Johnson, Larry).

#2: Carolina over Minnesota
Another team with a QB dilemma, the Vikings aren't going to be able to run all over the Panthers, and Tarvaris Jackson could find himself holding a clipboard after this loss. Delhomme's already played well against two of the tougher defenses in the league, and he'll definitely want to welcome Steve Smith back with a TD or two. Carolina wins big.

#1: New York Giants over Cincinnati
After a tour of the Bengal's practice facility and reviewing tape of the devastation of the past two weeks (228 total passing yards, 158 total rushing yards, and more player issues than Burt Reynold's team in the Longest Yard), Cincinnati was the most recent city designated as a National Disaster Area. To think they'll rebound to compete with, let alone defeat, the Defending Champs is as likely as Chris Henry for NFL Man of the Year.

Spencer Coffey’s Picks:

Trap Game: Houston over Tennessee
Houston was embarrassed in Pittsburgh and showed little signs of progress over last year. They've waited two weeks to play a game that will be the first of three straight divisional games. Houston added Chris Brown for the strong running efforts they will need against teams like Tennessee. This will be their first step to improving on a divisional record of 4-14 over the last three years. Also, don't underestimate weather-related disaster as a motivation factor (as was the case with the Saints after Katrina).

#3 Denver over New Orleans
Is there any team hotter (or luckier) than the Broncos right now? Against Washington, the Saints showed some of the struggles they had last year when McAllister went down. With four minutes to go, Pierre Thomas failed to get a first down on 3rd and 1. The Redskins stopped him for no gain. After the punt, Campbell hit Moss for 67 yards. Also, the Saints are depleted on defense.

#2 Kansas City over Atlanta
Wild pick huh? It's early....and not my number one choice. Atlanta is 20th in rushing defense and with ???? at QB, Kansas City will run and run and run the ball. Despite the Chiefs’ weak offensive line, Larry Johnson is due.

#1 San Francisco over Detroit
After this game the 49ers have a stretch of four very tough games, so this is a good spot to use them. If anyone had Detroit as their pick over Atlanta in week one...well ‘nuff said.

Walt Kindelberger’s Picks:

Week #3 offers a bevy of good opportunities for Eliminator players. Always keep in mind, however, that "If it looks to good to be true, it probably isn't.” The most obvious pick for the week is New England over Miami at home; however, Miami has normally shown up to play against the Pats in recent years, so I am staying away from that one, even though I think the Pats will win by 17 or more.

#3: Atlanta over Kansas City:
The Falcons have a good running game, have played two solid games thus far, and are at home. Kansas City is very young and very bad. The KC offense couldn't manage anything at home against Oakland, and I don't think going on the road will help them.

#2: Buffalo over Oakland:
Oakland looked better in Week 2, and Darren McFadden was certainly impressive, but it was against Kansas City (please see above). Buffalo went to Jacksonville and took it to the Jags; the Bills can and will handle Oakland at home.

#1: NY Giants over Cincinnati:
I think the Bengals have officially quit on Marvin Lewis. They have been beaten up two weeks in a row by lesser teams than the G-men. The Bengals offensive talent always makes an upset possible, but I don't think it will happen this week. The Giants have looked very good thus far, beating a solid Washington team and destroying the Rams in St. Louis. They should handle the Bengals this weekend without too much trouble.

Scott Morrison’s Picks:

Week 3 brings a decision point to those of us still alive in Survival Pool Nation: Do you cruise this week in one of the still shiny 2-0 NFL models, or do you ride the value of a home game from one of last year's old reliables that faces a 'must win' after an 0-2 start? We expected the Pats and Giants to be part of the 2-and-0s, but are the Titans, Cardinals, Bills, Broncos, and Panthers going to keep rolling? This year's bunch of 0-and-2s feature two very talented teams playing at home: the "can't catch a break" Chargers, and the "keep 'em close with FGs" Vikings.

My picks this week reflect my belief that because fortunes turn fast in the NFL -- you've GOT to roll with the 2-0 class. Yep, San Diego looks OK on paper given their last second losses, but vs. showman Jett Favre on MNF? Sorry, folks, I'm still not far enough from Norv's club's 30-16 home loss to Kansas City in Week 4 last year to make that pick. Oh yeah, last year the mighty Bolts were 1-2 going into that 'must win' game at home...

#3 -- Buffalo over Oakland
The Bills certainly appear like they are for real this year, featuring a steady, efficient offense (20-for-25 by Trent Edwards at Jacksonville last week), a stingy rush defense, and superb special teams. They match up well at home with Oakland's run-heavy (practically run-only) offense and suspect run defense.

#2 -- New England over Miami
Coach Belichick has made a living in the NFL forcing opposing offenses to become one-dimensional. For the 'Fins that might be tough to do, since they will arrive no-dimensional. Rushing? No. Wideout threats? None, not even an OJ McDuffie type. Defense is also optional. In the 1st quarter last week, Kurt Warner was 4-of-4 for 180 yds and 2TDs. Don't worry about Matt Cassell here.

#1 -- NY Giants over Cincinnati
If you haven't already picked the Giants yet this year, this certainly looks like a prime opportunity. The Super Bowl Champs are currently firing on all cylinders, playing better than they ever did in Regular Season 2007. Hmmm ... and then there's the Bengals, a team whose once-potent offense has put up a total of 17 points the past two weeks. All of those years spent trying to retool that porous defense have now taken a toll on the offense. David Carr might be handling the 4th quarter garbage time as the Giants QB in this one.

Anthony Catalano’s Picks

#3 New England over Miami
I don’t like division matchups, but New England is at home and still the team to beat. Miami just got pummeled by Arizona, and I see New England doing more of the same. Miami is over matched even with Brady out of the picture for New England. I see Moss having a big game here. The corners and safeties are going to have a hard time keeping up with him. The Dolphins have no real threat at receiver, and Ricky and Ronnie haven’t been able to get anything going as of yet.

#2 Buffalo over Oakland
The only thing the Raiders have going for them is Mcfadden as he seems to have the starting role now that Fargas is hurt. Trent Edwards seems to be taking over his offense, and the unit is doing an excellent job with Marshawn Lynch running the ball. Buffalo is on a roll early on in the season and I see them rolling to 3-0 after this is over with. Buffalo could very well challenge for the AFC East title.

#1 N.Y. Giants over Cincinnati
This a non division match up which makes it attractive. The Giants have looked impressive as the defending champs the first 2 weeks. Eli, Burress and Jacobs seem to have picked things up right where they left off. The Bengals’ offense is out of sync. The big three Palmer, Ocho Cinco, and Houshmandzadeh have done nothing, and their defense is still bad. I expect the Giants passing game to have a huge day.

Michael Bode’s Picks

#3 Carolina over Minnesota
There are bigger mismatches on the board, but this game is a bad matchup for the Vikings. The Panthers defend the run well as even their defensive backs are willing and able tacklers (especially Chris Harris). On offense, they have a diverse attack this year, particularly with Steve Smith returning for this game. The homefield advantage that Minnesota holds should not be enough to swing this game.

#2 Buffalo over Oakland
There are many things going against Oakland in this game. The Raiders have to travel over 2500 miles and play at 10am California time (1pm EST). The Buffalo defense was not bad last year, and this year they have added Marcus Stroud and gotten Paul Posluszny back from injury. Rich Stadium is still one of the most difficult stadiums for visiting teams to play in (crowd noise, swirling winds). And I have not yet mentioned that Marshawn Lynch should be able to carve out the middle of the Oakland defense.

NY Giants over Cincinnati
One has to feel badly for Carson Palmer having to face Baltimore, Tennessee and then the NY Giants to open the season. Until the Bengals prove they can block the pass rushes against these teams, I will continue to pick against them. Also, Brandon Jacobs running against the poor tackling Bengal defense just does not seem like a fair fight.

For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your LMS picks, please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.