Oh, there's a second league, of course. That one is head to head with people from work, and I'm 0-2 there, mostly because I'm double invested in Cobb and Marshall, and Latavius Murray and Mark Ingram can't escape committees, and Julio Jones also can't stay healthy. Oh, and my TE is Coby Fleener, who has been horrible, and my flex guy is Golden Tate, who has been nearly as bad as Fleener. My opponents have also had career days, because of course they have. For all intents and purposes, my fantasy chances have likely ended before summer did.
This should be what I expect now, because fantasy football is the worst, and I am past my prime and out of luck and my solutions for every other task in life -- study and work harder, do more research and learn from past mistakes -- don't seem to work here. Funchess and Cobb and Hill were all darlings of the fantasy football community before the season started, and I'm sure that if I just traded or released any of them, they'd recover to Pro Bowl status with a quickness. It is what happens. I publish my players so that you can avoid them.
Something similar is going on in the picks, frankly. Two straight weeks of losing on the nickels, expecting the preseason Super Bowl picks to get their act in gear and fail to cover favorites lines, and the activity of picking games seems as pointless as picking fake teams.
But, well, I'm going to grind it out, and hopefully get better, because that's the honorable thing to do. I don't quit jobs because it might make sense to. Besides, if I were to do that, all of my football eggs would be in the Carson Wentz Eagle basket, and the kid's got enough riding on his shoulders as is.
And with that... on to the picks!
* * * * *
HOUSTON (-1) at New England
Can the Patriots win with QB3 Jacoby Brisset, at home, against an emerging and physical defense? Well, sure, because they do that all the time, but the Houston offense is also better than you'd think, and will grind out enough points to win. But if the Pats win this one, they're gong to be a top 2 seed at the end of the year.
Texans 24, Patriots 20
ARIZONA (-4) at Buffalo
Counter indicator NFL Logic, the kind that says the Rams can win a week after getting punked by the Niners at home against Seattle, would point you to the Bills here, who are 0-2, coming off long rest, desperate as hell and playing a Western team at 10am on their body clocks. But screw all of that. The Cardinals are pros, the Bills are Ryan ass clowns who hired the worst defensive coordinator of his generation, and the Cardinal deep threats are going to put up points beyond measure.
Cardinals 38, Bills 24
OAKLAND (+1.5) at Tennessee
Are the Raiders just the new Saints, an offense-only club that have to score 40 to win every week? Maybe, but the Titan attack of ground and fumble is the kind of outfit that can hide some ills, if only because it takes them a while to score, and a lot can go wrong, especially in the red zone. Oakland's offense has avoided turnovers and might be explosive enough to inspire mistakes.
Raiders 31, Titans 23
Cleveland at MIAMI (-9.5)
Oh, you poor Factory of Sadness. Now on QB Whatever, with WR Corey Coleman out after a practice mishap, Team Tank needs to be seriously considered as an exceptional bet for a winless year. That's probably unlikely, because the NFL has all kinds of randomness, but this week, against an 0-2 Dolphins team that has shown steel in both losses and has a hot weather home field advantage, it gets ugly.
Dolphins 27, Browns 10
BALTIMORE (-1) at Jacksonville
Time for Gus Bradley to get pink slipped in Florida? Last week's "effort" in San Diego was absolutely lifeless, the offense has been a turnover machine, the defense isn't showing signs of improvement, and we're well into Year Four of Patience, Patience, What The Hell. Baltimore is looking frisky with a better than expected passing offense, and while they aren't as good as their record, the Jags are as bad as theirs.
Ravens 24, Jaguars 20
Detroit at GREEN BAY (-7.5)
Is the Packer offense just bad now? It's been the better part of a year since QB Aaron Rodgers has had numbers that matched his pedigree. The WRs are just not getting separation, the OL isn't doing the work, but the QB has also been less than his usual self. I think some home cooking and a Lions DL that doesn't get push off the line will get him back to what appears to be normal, and the Packer defense is looking better. I'm not sure they have the ceiling I projected of them, but this week will be encouraging.
Packers 31, Lions 19
Denver at CINCINNATI (-3.5)
Wake-up time for Denver QB Trevor Siemian, who gets a road game against a quality defense (especially the secondary), and is due for looking like, well, a late draft pick and lightly regarded prospect who will be turnover-prone and rattled by serious pressure. On the other side of the ball, QB Andy Dalton will move the ball with short passes, the Bengals will be patient with the running game, and they'll look like a quality playoff team. Who will, of course, lose in the playoffs.
Bengals 27, Broncos 16
MINNESOTA (+7) at Carolina
There's something about this Panther team that doesn't feel right, and it's pretty obvious; cracks in the secondary where CB Josh Norman used to solve problems. Now, S Kurt Coleman is a real concern, the opposition does real damage with deep balls (when Torrey Smith and Blaine Gabbert are burning you in a have to throw catch-up situation, that's a red flag), and the Panther offense has to carry the mail. They'll be able to do that against the Vikings at home with slightly short rest, but not enough to cover the number. (Oh, and dirty little secret? The Vikings aren't going to miss Adrian Peterson at all, because their committee backs are just as good or better than his aging self, and their line will give new QB Sam Bradford enough time to make more plays than expected). (Oh, and there's a reasonable chance that this game goes all kinds of directions due to the local protests over the most recent police killing. Fun times, America.)
Panthers 31, Vikings 27
Washington at NY GIANTS (-4.5)
Fun fact: Slurs QB Kirk Cousins has never beaten a +.500 team, and Big Blue looks to be all of that now that they've bought themselves a defense. This game will have all kinds of stupid sideshow with WR Odell Beckham having his lover's spat with Norman, but the game will actually be won with the other starters on the field. Blue's got advantages on the vast majority of those guys. These games are always close and sluggish, but I'll take the home team, and a continuing spiral that should be very familiar to people who've paid any attention at all to Daniel Snyder's sorry ass franchise.
Giants 26, Racial Slurs 20
Los Angeles at TAMPA BAY (-5.5)
I can't figure out either of these teams so far, but the simplest theory is that neither of them can play a road game to save their lives. The Bucs will be without Martin, which might actually help since they'll be more tempted to abandon the run, and the Rams do better against that. In Florida heat, eventually the pass rush doesn't get there, and Bucs QB Jameis Winston does damage that the feeble Ram offense can't match.
Bucs 24, Rams 13
San Francisco at SEATTLE (-9.5)
I'm really tempted to say the Seahawks don't cover the number here, because their offense seems barely trustworthy to score that many on their own, and the defense hasn't been getting takeaways to give the struggling offense a short field. But what happens to Chip Kelly teams is that they fade over time, because the defense gets burned up with too many plays and too much tempo. Against a smart and physical defense and a home crowd that can turn games into runaways, I think the Seahawks get well and cover the number.
Seahawks 27, Niners 13
NY JETS (+3) at Kansas City
I'm getting off the Chief Bus, folks. Two straight games of slow starts, the defense not making plays against intact offenses, banged-up top tier weapons and an overall feeling of is this all there is. Maybe this is a lack of patience, but they just don't pass the eye test, and the Jets coming in with long rest and a pretty solid road record doesn't hurt, either.
Jets 23, Chiefs 20
San Diego at INDIANAPOLIS (-3)
I know that Colts QB Andrew Luck is a little banged up, and the Colt defense is piddling... but this is still an 0-2 team, at home in a dome, with a top-tier QB, against a defense that has coverage issues across the route tree. Oh, and the Chargers also have both of their top two weapons on offense on the shelf for the year, which means it's all on Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers now. Too much.
Colts 31, Chargers 20
PITTSBURGH (-3.5) at Philadelphia
Reality check time for the pristine Eagles, who have eight quarters of interception-free football to go with their 2-0 record and refreshingly active defense. The fact that they've done this against two of the worst teams in the league makes going against one of the AFC's best a big step up in class, and the fact that the secondary has been roasted by WR1s is really scary with the NFL's best in Antonio Brown coming to town. I think it will be a game, but that Wentz's streak of mistake-free football ends, and the Eagle WRs don't make enough plays to cover for him.
Steelers 25, Eagles 20
Chicago at DALLAS (-7.5)
Man alive, the Bears just look like dead meat right now, and get to go on the road with a short week and a banged-up QB and defense. This is the week that Dallas QB Dak Prescott has the margin to take a few chances... so if his final line still looks game managerish, that's not a good sign. Also telling: whether RB Ezekiel Elliott is over his fumbling issues, because if he isn't, the Poke offense just picked up a rather low ceiling. (Oh, and who decided that the Bears needed to be in prime time for two straight weeks? Hasn't America suffered enough with the current election campaign?)
Cowboys 27, Bears 17
Atlanta at NEW ORLEANS (-3)
For most of the Drew Brees / Sean Payton era, there have been few better bets than a MNF game in the Bayou, especially against a division rival with a suspect defense. They've got a suspect defense in their own right, and Falcons QB Matt Ryan has been solid so far this year... but I have to think that this is the week that Ryan fails in the red zone a bit, and in a shootout like this one, that's more than enough.
Saints 34, Falcons 27
Last week: 6-10