Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Mike

Mike's Articles

Week 6

And then there were three.

It has been a pleasure for me to review the weekly picks of the eight semi-finalists in our Last Man Standing contest. All eight contestants (Michael Bode, Anthony Catalano, Spencer Coffey, Jeff DuBransky, Walt Kindelberger, Doug Lecorchick, Marc Mondry, and Scott Morrison) deserve a round of cyber applause for their willingness to put themselves and their football savvy on the line for the past three weeks. If you listen carefully, I’m sure you can hear the internet clapping.

After the Week 5 games, Mike Krueger (owner and editor-in-chief at FF reviewed the prognostications of all the participants by way of preparing a short list of candidates—one of whom will be selected by Matthew Schiff next week as the newly anointed and freshly appointed LMS guru for FF Today.

Here is the message that I received from Krueger on Tuesday:

My rationale for narrowing down this list to three was fairly simple. Quality of analysis, writing style and accuracy of picks were key. I must say this was a very difficult process, and we have more than three worthy candidates. I really enjoyed everybody's analysis of the games and enthusiasm for the contest. I think we have some future FF Today Staffers in this group, and I can't thank everybody enough for participating. With that being said, I've selected (in no particular order) Michael Bode, Walt Kindelberger, and Marc Mondry to be on Mr. Schiff's short list. Now he can do the honors of selecting his replacement.

I have asked Matthew Schiff to let me know of his decision by Tuesday, March 14th. He has not authorized me to reveal his email address to the general public, but if any readers of this column want to lobby for a particular choice, they can send their thoughts to me. As long as the thoughts reach me by the end of the Monday Night Football game on the 13th, I will forward them to Mr. Schiff for his consideration.

I cannot promise that Schiff will read such input or be influenced by it, but I can promise to include any particularly amusing or insightful feedback from readers in next week’s column. (If you are thinking—and I know some of you are—that it’s easy to be amusing when you are mean, don’t bother. I will be happy to include messages of support for Bode, Kindelberger, or Mondry, but there will be no room in the column for “negative campaigning.”)

The three candidates on Krueger’s short list all took a little time earlier this week to review the work of the five contestants who were eliminated this week. I invited them to select two or three excerpts from their competitors that were particularly deserving of praise.

Anthony Catalano received some love from Marc Mondry, who praised him for understanding how important transcontinental travel is in the NFL:

“The other thing I would stress is I like to try and avoid teams that are traveling across the country. There are many games in which good teams have traveled a long distance and lost to bad teams, so I try and stay away from those matchups as well.” –Catalano

Anthony – Bullseye. This may be the one factor that experts and amateurs alike ignore the most when picking games. I know I certainly wasn’t thinking much of it until you wrote it. Here’s the list of teams just from last week that traveled far distances to play and vastly underperformed:

San Diego at Miami (L 10-17)
Seattle at NYG (L 6-44)
Buffalo at Arizona (L 17-41)

Right on, Anthony.

Spencer Coffey also scored points with Mondry for his no-frills approach:

Spencer wasn’t flashy. He didn’t dazzle you with fancy vocabulary or unnecessary frills. He got you the facts. And in week 4, where most of us faltered (Michael, Walt, and I were a combined 2-7 – atrocious), Spencer came up huge and picked the following 3 games:

3. Tampa Bay over Green Bay
2. Buffalo over St. Louis
1. Carolina over Atlanta

Spencer – As I say far too often for my own good – CASH MONEY! You were the only one to escape the Week 4 debacle unscathed. The Tampa Bay pick was right on, and gutsy to boot. They were only favored by 1.5 points. Bravo friend, bravo.

Jeff Dubransky won admiration from Walt Kindelberger, who was both impressed and amused by his work:

In Week 3, Jeff gave us the upset special of Jacksonville over Indianapolis—and assured us that Chris Henry would not be named NFL Man of the Year!

Doug Lecorchick impressed all of us by getting all 4 predictions right in Week 5, but he was singled out for praise by Michael Bode for another reason:

Doug Lecorchick deserves much credit for picking Cleveland to win twice during this contest (once as a trap-game) just because I am a fan of the Browns and like to see others have faith in them.

Scott Morrison did extremely well as a prognosticator (7-2 in 9 picks over three weeks), but Mondry’s praise indicates that he had a solid sense of style to go along with his substance. According to Mondry, Morrison’s Soap Box rant was one of the highlights of the contest:

“An insightful football commentator once called the ball spotting and chain stretching routine ‘a very precise measurement of a completely arbitrary ball placement.’ Bingo. The entire process is akin to having your carpet installer guesstimate the room measurements by looking in your windows, then cutting the rug with a laser accurate to a thousandth of an inch.” –Morrison

Scott – Fantastic rant! This analogy was money, and I wholeheartedly agree with just about everything you said. Out of all of the soap box rants, I found yours to be the most entertaining and certainly worth reading. I’d love to discuss this one over a beer.

I want to thank all of our contestants for their participation thus far. I also want to thank Mike Krueger for selecting our three finalists, whose picks for Week 6 appear below.

Last Man Standing

Michael Bode’s Picks

Trap Game: Baltimore over Indianapolis
Despite the Colts being at home and coming back from an emotional rally in Houston, this matchup should continue to expose the Colts’ weaknesses. The Ravens allow a league-best 2.8 yards per carry, while the Colts give up a generous 4.9 yards per carry. And the Ravens are also the best in the NFL against the pass. Joe Flacco should have trouble moving the ball downfield against the Colts disciplined secondary, but the Ravens will only need for him to protect the football to obtain the victory this week.

#3: New Orleans over Oakland (Past picks: minnesota, philadelphia, jacksonville)
The New Orleans rush defense can be as good as holding Adrian Peterson to 32 yards rushing or as bad as their 4.5 yards per carry (including the Minnesota game) shows. The key to the Saints’ rush defense, however, is their pass defense. The New Orleans secondary is so weak that against teams with a competent passing attack, they have to leave their nickel defensive back on the field most of the time, which weakens their rush defense. Against the Vikings, the Saints left their base package in place and were effective. There is no reason that the same plan will not be put in place against the Raiders, which will force JaMarcus Russell to have to win the game. From a statistical standpoint, the Saints have the best offense in the NFL, which will be too much for the mediocre Raider defense.

#2: Washington over St. Louis (Past picks: BUFFALO, JACKSONVILLE, CAROLINA)
Sometimes the numbers do not tell the whole story. The numbers say that Washington is mediocre against the run and in the bottom third against the pass while in the bottom half of NFL pass offenses. However, the Redskins have been able to win games against tough opponents because they are following the oldest gameplan in football. They control the clock and do not beat themselves. They are tied with the Titans with a +6 in turnover differential and have a top-5 rushing offense. On the flip side, the Rams are in the bottom third in turnover differential, and they have to overcome the added turmoil of the firing of Scott Linehan. In addition, the Rams and Lions are the only two teams in the league giving up more than 9 yards per pass attempt. I believe the Rams will eventually be able to dedicate more of their offense to the run and squeak out some wins, but this should not be one of those weeks.

#1: Minnesota over Detroit (Past picks: NYG, denver, DALLAS)
The Lions are giving up more than 9 yards per pass and 5 yards per run. It stands to reason that an offense that is built around the run and long passes would give their pathetic defense the most trouble. The Vikings happen to have that exact offense. Moreover, the Vikings’ offensive line will be looking to show that the poor run-blocking performance against the Saints was a fluke. Don’t forget that the Vikings are tied with the Ravens for first place in rush defense (2.8 yards allowed per rush). Finally, the Lions have been in a noticeable tailspin since the beginning of the season, and there have been no signs of Detroit snapping out of that tailspin any time soon.

Walt Kindelberger’s Picks

Week #6 offers what appears to be a treasure trove of FFL and LMS/Elminator goodness. There are four games that on paper look to be easy picks this week. Of course that means that at least one of these "obvious" games is probably too good to be true. I hope to have found three winners for you this week. Keep in mind, however, that these picks are made on Tuesday—and a lot can change prior to Sunday.

Trap Game: Arizona over Dallas
Dallas has not looked stellar two weeks in a row. Washington handled them Week 4 and then last week Cincinnati gave them more game than anyone could have expected from an Ohio team. I know that history is on the side of Dallas in this one. Traditionally, a trip to Arizona has meant a 9th home game for Dallas. Nevertheless, this year I believe that things will be different. Arizona has an offense that can score with Dallas and a defense that, with the exception of the Jets debacle, has been much improved this year. The new mentality that Wisenhunt and Grimm brought with them from Pittsburgh seems to be paying dividends this year. Look for Arizona to either win this one or play it very closely.

#3: New Orleans over Oakland (past picks: ATLANTA, dallas, CAROLINA )
New Orleans lost a tough one on Monday night, in one of the stranger games that has been played in recent memory. New Orleans should have had the game put away in the first half, but they failed to do so. In fact, they only had a chance in the second half because of two electrifying Reggie Bush punt returns. New Orleans playing at home should simply have too much offense for Oakland to hang with. Add in the fact that Al Davis should have fired himself instead of Lane Kiffin and you have a recipe for a New Orleans win. I would be comfortable giving the points with the current line set at 7.

#2: Minnesota over Detroit (past picks: BUFFALO, cincinnati, DALLAS)
I really thought Matt Millen leaving would be enough to give the Lions a big boost last week. In short, it didn't. Detroit's football team and their auto industry have a lot in common. Just as the auto industry is clearly overmatched year to year by foreign competitors, so are the Lions. Their competitors are playing NFL football, while the Lions are still working on the Edsel. If you are a pessimist, you could point to Adrian Peterson’s performance against New Orleans and the fact that this is a division game as reasons to worry. I don't think either will keep Minnesota from handling Detroit in this one. The current 13.5 point spread seems a bit overdone though.

#1: Washington over St. Louis (past picks: NY GIANTS, denver, atlanta)
Washington has been super the past two weeks in beating division rivals Dallas and Philly both on the road. They could be primed for a let-down at home this week. Thankfully, however, they are playing St. Louis, so even a tepid effort should be enough to down the hapless Rams. Sanity has returned to St. Louis with Haslett and Bulger, but the problems there run deeper. Their defense is giving up 30+ points on a week to week basis. Going on the road to a tough stadium against a hot team from the best division in football is not a scenario in which the Rams’ fortunes are likely to turn. Look for Washington to have a fairly easy time, but possibly not as easy as the current line of 13.5 would suggest.

Marc Mondry’s Picks

There is a theme to my picks this week: strong defense along with a strong running game. Just as I said in my Spotlight (see Q & A week 5) – these are your bread and butter LMS teams, and this week, there are 4 teams that fit this mold well in addition to having excellent matchups. One of them just happens to be a trap game.

Trap Game: Baltimore over Indianapolis
I first considered San Francisco over Philadelphia. That game has a lot of the characteristics we should look for in an upset (see Mr. Coffey’s strategy note above). However, this matchup is an upset made in heaven. Indianapolis, with struggling Joseph Addai, has the worst rushing attack in the NFL, averaging less than 70 yards per game, and also happens to have the worst run defense in the league, allowing just under 190 rushing yards per game. On the other side of the field is Baltimore, touting the league’s 4th best rushing attack (153.8 ypg), championed by 260-pound human bowling ball Le’Ron McClain. The Ravens also have the league’s leading rush defense, allowing just 64 yards per game. I had the privilege of watching the Ravens in person last week, and man, that D looks even better in person than on television. Peyton will have to beat the Ravens through the air, which wouldn’t have been easy for him circa 2004, and certainly won’t be this week.

3. Minnesota over Detroit (Past picks: SEATTLE, JACKSONVILLE, NYG)
Minnesota hasn’t looked quite like the dominant defense and rushing team that we anticipated that it would, but they have made improvements over the course of the last couple weeks, particularly on defense. They held a very strong Saints team to 27 points, 14 of which came on Reggie Bush punt returns. The Vikes should build a lead early on Sunday, allowing the defense to be aggressive; that’s when it is most effective. The running game struggled last week against an average Saints rushing D, but we should assume this was an anomaly until proven otherwise – Purple Jesus has generally looked sharp, even against some tough rushing defenses in Tennessee and Carolina. And just look what he did to Indy and GB (48 carries, 263 yards). Detroit fits right in with the latter two teams, ranking 30th in rush defense, allowing 180 rush yards per game. The only chance Detroit has to keep this one competitive is for Kitna and Co. to put up something like 400 yards passing and 3 scores, in Minnesota no less, and even that might not be enough.

2. New York Giants over Cleveland (Past picks: TENNESSEE, dallas, CHICAGO)
They earned it. I was skeptical of picking the Giants all year long – they have an ugly history of blowing games they should win by large margins, and that demon almost reared its head against Cincinnati. Last week, I went with them as my number 3, and they flat out took care of business. Unlike in past years, the G-Men have uniformly crushed bad teams (league leading point differential of 78 points in just 4 games), and this week, they get to face the Browns, who are dead last in offensive yards per game, and second to last in points scored per game. This game should be an absolute blowout, no matter who starts at QB for the Browns. In fact, bold prediction: David Carr comes into the game in the second half and scores at least half the fantasy points scored by either Cleveland QB. Assuming all goes according to plan, this prediction will be the only thing on your mind if you pick the Giants in your LMS pool this week.

1. Washington over St. Louis (Past picks: BUFFALO, denver, CAROLINA)
I must say I did not think Washington would ever be my #1 selection, but the Skins have been playing fantastic ball. They are a different team than the one I watched play my Giants in Week 1. Campbell has demonstrated a lot of maturity. No turnovers in 5 games!? That’s extraordinary. On the other side of the ball, the defense, while not flashy, has neutralized the strongest offenses in the league, allowing an average of 19.6 points per game (11th best), after having faced the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 10th highest scoring offenses in the league. The question can appropriately be asked: are the Redskins a defensive juggernaut? I laugh out loud as I write, but those numbers are impressive. The Skins host the struggling, winless Rams, who rank dead last in both points scored and points allowed – making this the no-brainer top pick of the week.

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.