Week 4: Upset Special
I want to put our regularly scheduled Q&A topics of discussion
on hold in order to shine my spotlight where it belongs this week—on
Mondry provides the Last Man Standing section of this column.
He is almost invariably right about his picks—and
he is invariably perceptive, entertaining, and excellent
at walking readers through the reasoning he uses to make his selections.
Last week, Mondry correctly
predicted the Lions over the Redskins as his trap game of the
The Lions had lost 19 games in a row, so even though the Redskins
have been struggling, my own response to Mondry’s trap selection
was a profanity-laden barb to the following effect: “Albert
Haynesworth could beat Detroit all by himself.”
Whenever a sports analyst wants to make a safe prediction, he
advises us to watch for whichever team has the longest losing
streak in sport X to beat their upcoming opponent. These predictions
are safe because even if they are wrong, no one holds them against
the analysts responsible for making them. The Lions have been
so bad for so long that I wouldn’t have faulted Mondry for
getting the Detroit pick wrong, so it might be easy for some readers
to dismiss him for being right.
To dismiss Mondry’s prognosticatory prowess on such grounds,
however, would be a mistake. Like his predecessor (Matthew Schiff),
Mondry has an uncanny knack for spotting trap games week in and
week out. He called the Jets over the Pats in Week 2 and the Raiders
over the Chargers in Week 1. The Jets stunned us all by defeating
the Pats 16-9, and even though the Raiders lost to San Diego,
most of us were shocked by how well they played in the 24-20 loss.
His upset picks during the selection process for Schiff’s
replacement were a key factor in landing him a permanent spot
in this column.
In his own section of this column, Mondry provides a link to
what he wrote last week. I am probably like most readers in that
I am usually too lazy to click on links that are supposed to provide
support for claims, so for those of you who will not bother to
follow Mondry’s link, here is what he wrote for last Thursday:
The Lions are not as bad as everyone might
think. Detroit was beating the Vikes 10-0 during the second quarter
and took a 3-point lead into halftime. (I can only imagine what
choice words Brad Childress used in the locker room.) Minnesota
flattened Detroit in the second half, but the Lions played an
excellent half of football.
The Detroit defense may not be as bad as we initially thought.
I am willing to give them a pass on the Week 1 debacle against
the Saints because Brees & Co. did worse to the Philadelphia
defense this week. That Eagles unit is no shabby defense, so if
the Saints can put up 48 on them, they can score at will against
That brings us to this week’s game against Minnesota. Detroit
held AP under 100 yards rushing on the day and held the Viking
offense to a total of 265 yards. That’s pretty good! Moreover,
Minnesota only converted 3 out of 11 third downs. That’s
pretty good defense too!
The offense is really what let Detroit down this week. The running
game, surprisingly, was up to the challenge and did a serviceable
job against a very strong Minnesota front 7. The problem was the
3 turnovers (two Matt Stafford interceptions, one Kevin Smith
fumble), which allowed Minnesota to put points on the board fairly
easily. The last two Minnesota TD drives started at the Detroit
27 and 16 yard lines, respectively. It’s not hard to put
up points when your drive starts in the red zone.
Now a quick look at the Lions’ victim this week: the Washington
Redskins. The Skins looked awful last week at home against the
lowly Rams—and probably should have lost the game. Their
defense is serviceable, and much upgraded from last year with
the addition of Albert Haynesworth, but the offense is pitiful.
They have the league’s second worst offense (just in front
of the Rams), averaging just 13 points per game. And remember,
that’s after playing the Rams (who lost to Seattle 0-28)
Between the careful reasoning of that prediction and his
earlier gutsy trap selections this season, Mondry has persuaded
me that there really is an art—perhaps even a science—to
I was so pleased by Mondry’s picks that I wanted to ask
the powers that be at FFToday so sponsor a special upset-picking
contest in his honor.
The only problem is that I don’t really know of a structured
way for scoring upset picks over the course of a season. I have
seen analysts (in pre-game network segments) force themselves
to choose one upset each week and track the results. But that
doesn’t really get at what Mondry does because the analysts
gravitate to the games with 1-point lines.
I have never seen an upset-picking contest that featured a mechanism
for rewarding a person for taking a 10-point underdog more than
someone who takes a 3-point underdog. I can’t help wondering
if there is a way of tracking upset picks over the course of a
season that is as addictive as Last Man Standing pools are.
If any readers of this column are willing to
share the rules for such a contest with me, I would like to
see what I can do about getting FFToday to sponsor such a contest
either during the last 10 weeks of the 2009 season or for the
whole of the 2010 season.
Alternatively, if any readers are willing to devise the rules
for such a contest, I would be willing to run those rules past
my colleagues here. Please be advised, however, that a successful
rule set will be very easy to explain and a cinch to keep track
of (much in the same way that you can explain the rules for LMS
in a few sentences and track the results for thousands of participants
with a simple spreadsheet).
We’ll see if anyone is able to help me out in next week’s
column. We will resume our Q&A discussion of advisory boards
for fantasy leagues once I have had a chance to assess the viability
of a season-spanning upset-picking contest.
For now, the important thing is to let Mondry gloat.
Last Man Standing - (Courtesy
of Marc Mondry)
Quick Review of Last Week
I sat in a sports bar just outside Washington, D.C. this Sunday
watching the Lions beat my division rival Redskins on the big
screen, surrounded by angry Washington fans. My goodness it was
glorious! I had a smile plastered on my face for no less than
six hours. Not only did the Redskins suffer a massive embarrassment,
but I nailed the upset pick of the season.
You heard it here first.
Detroit broke a 19-game losing streak this weekend, appropriately
by putting up 19 points on the Skins. They only ended up winning
by 5, and Washington had a shot to come back in the final seconds,
but if you watched the game you know it wasn’t that close.
Detroit took a 12-point lead on the Redskins after failing to
convert a 2-point conversion with just a couple of minutes left
in the game. The Lions then went into the prevent defense (the
“Let’s depart from our strategy that has won us the
game for 57 minutes and give up a touchdown!” defense) and
let the Redskins walk right down the field—twice.
Nevertheless, Detroit took a 10-0 lead into halftime—and
dominated for 56 minutes. Washington could barely move the ball,
only scoring when Santana Moss made a reception and ran 40 additional
yards for the TD. It’s going to be a long season for Redskins
Pittsburgh losing to Cincinnati – I can’t argue with
the Pittsburgh pick too much. I only mention this game to highlight
the importance of picking teams at home when possible. The Bengals
are a division rival of the Steelers. Always be careful about
divisional games, but if you do pick them, pick the favorite when
they are at home. You know the Steelers are going to play the
Bengals at Heinz field; pick them then!
Reader’s Week 3 Picks
Great week of picks guys! Out of 42 picks submitted this week,
only TWO were wrong. (Washington, Pittsburgh)
| Top Prognosticators
- Week 3
|Mark Den Adel
||BAL, GB, PHI
||GB, PHI, CHI
||BAL, NYG, SD
||NYG, DAL, GB
||NYG, DAL, BAL
||BAL, SD, CHI
||BAL, SD, NYG
||PHI, BAL, DAL
||BAL, WAS, PHI
||NYG, SD, MIN
Remember to email your
picks to me by noon on Sunday.
Trap Game: New York Jets over New Orleans
What do the Jets have to do to get some respect? I just don’t
get it. I already highlighted last week just how good Darelle
Revis is. That perspective only got stronger this week, with Revis
shutting down Justin Gage (4-37-0). It only helps my case that
the receivers Revis shut down in Weeks 1 & 2, Andre Johnson
(4-86-0) and Randy Moss (10-116-0), were back to their usual levels
of productivity in Week 3.
In three weeks, Revis has allowed the opposing team’s #1
WRs to COMBINE for 12 catches and 96 yards.
The Jets as a whole just look awesome. They demolish the Texans,
pull off a feat against Tom Brady’s Patriots not managed
in 6 years, and then go out and beat the Titans, putting up 24
points against a team that matches up against them very well on
Here’s my thought process: The Jets start 3-0 and head
down to the bayou to face a team that has a habit of crushing
bad teams and losing to good ones, so of course they will be favored,
Okay, it must just be that their opponent is also 3-0 and the
game is away, but they can’t possibly be an underdog by
more than a field goal, can they?
Wrong again! Try two field goals; that’s closer.
The Jets are a six-and-a-half point dog to the Saints this week.
If last week for the Saints had been business as usual (you know,
putting up 45+ points on the board), maybe, maybe I could understand
the 6.5 point line. On the other hand, did you watch the New Orleans
game last week?
Until Pierre Thomas came in at the beginning of the second half
and absolutely dominated the tired Buffalo defense (and flashed
the phenomenal talent I touted all pre-season), miracle man Drew
Brees and the Saints offense really didn’t get anything
going against a mediocre (at best) Bills defense. The lasting
message from this week’s game: Drew Brees is mortal. The
Bills shut him down.
If the Bills can do it, certainly the stellar Jets defense can
do it. Look for a close game this week—significantly more
so than expected, and a not unlikely Jets victory.
3. Indianapolis over Seattle
When I first looked at this week’s games, this was my #1
pick. However, with the news that Dwight Freeney will be out for
at least a couple of weeks, this game gets downgraded to the third
That said, a Seahawks team that is just starting to run the ball
semi-effectively and is without Matt Hasselbeck is going to have
a hard time beating the Colts. Admittedly, there is one small
part of me that is a bit worried that Julius Jones could abuse
the Indy run defense to the tune of 25 carries for 125+ yards.
Even if that happens, I cannot see Peyton Manning (in my opinion
head and shoulders above any other QB in the league – yes
I am ready for the influx of angry emails from Brady and Brees
fans) losing to a team like the Seahawks. Heck, a couple weeks
ago Miami trampled on the Colt defense for 45 minutes, and Peyton
still found a way to A) win the game, and B) put up 27 points
with less than fifteen minutes of offensive possession.
Do you have any faith in Seattle’s ability to shut down
the Colt offense this week? I most certainly do not. I think the
Seahawk rush defense is so suspect (allowing 139 yards/game) that
I am starting Joey Addai AND Donald Brown this week on the same
Lastly, Indy is playing at home—in the dome. The Colts
have not lost a game at Lucas Oil Stadium in over a year. Don’t
expect that trend to snap this week.
2. New York Giants over Kansas City
The Giants absolutely slaughter greatly inferior teams. One of
my pet peeves for years about the G-Men was that they didn’t
win games they were supposed to win. No longer is that the case.
Last week, they handed the Buccaneers an embarrassing 24-0 loss—in
Tampa Bay no less. The Bucs could not move the ball at all. They
totaled 86 yards from scrimmage, and you wouldn’t need a
second hand to count how many first downs they earned in the entire
game. Byron Leftwich got benched; the Bucs’ leading rusher
was their backup QB; and their leading WR was a guy named S. Shroughter.
If you can tell me his first name without looking it up, I’ll
let you write one of the game analyses next week. Honor code people;
This week the Giants head out to Kansas City to clobber the Chiefs,
a team winless on the season because they simply cannot move the
ball. Oakland held them to 10 points. Matt Cassel, as I explained
in the pre-season, looks to be a product of the Patriots’
offensive system. In fairness, he doesn’t have a single
player to throw the ball to, as Dwayne Bowe is already on the
sidelines with an injured hamstring.
Short side note: This is the second time I am picking the Giants
this season, and next week will almost certainly be the third
and last time (they host Oakland). They play three terrible teams
in these three weeks, and then the schedule gets significantly
harder in the second half of the season. Don’t be afraid
to pick them early and often this season.
1. Chicago over Detroit
No more miracles. I’m still gloating over Detroit’s
win last week, but the magic is probably over, at least for now.
Rather than hosting a pitiful Redskins team, the Lions head to
Chicago to play the division rival Bears, a team that has played
some pretty good football the last two weeks (beating both the
Steelers and Seahawks).
Going into Chicago and beating a division rival away from home
is probably a bit too much to ask from Detroit, especially after
what had to be an emotional win last week. Moreover, Kevin Smith
(who looked really good in limited time against Washington last
week) seems unlikely to play and definitely won’t be at
100% for the game.
Defensively, Detroit has done a pretty good job stopping the
run, containing Adrian Peterson and shutting down Clinton Portis
(12-42-0). Certainly they have performed better than anyone expected
against the run.
But what about the pass defense? The Detroit safeties are still
learning and at times looked lost against the Redskins, a team
without many weapons in the passing game. This inexperience (or
simple ineptitude) shows in the statistics, as the Lions allow
an average of 279 passing yards per game (after playing two teams
in a row without strong passing attacks).
Chicago, a team that many (including myself) thought would run
the ball a significant amount of the time, has shifted its offense
with the arrival of Jay Cutler, focusing much more than expected
on the passing game. This may not be the best decision given the
talent in place at the skill positions in Chicago, but it certainly
fits well against the Detroit defense.
The Bears should win handily at home.
That’s all ladies and gents. As always, make sure to email
me your picks to me
by noon on Sunday, and I’m always happy to chat football
if you have questions!
For responses to this week's fantasy question please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football