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Handicapping Group Chat: Week 1 'Best Bets and Survivor Picks'

September 5, 2019

The Handicapping group is back and ready throw around money and words on football. I posed the opening season question to start us and the group chimed in from there. It's an informal chat, this is the transcript, forgive any typos/spelling, etc, everyone is typing fast.

RC: OK, it's about time for some real football. We should kick things off with -- if you had a free $1,000 bet ATS right now...who are you betting on in Week 1, and why? Additionally, for the survivor pool, Week 1, who ya got...and why?


Skol:  For me, Week 1 $1000 bet would be Broncos +1 or pk - I’ve seen both.  On the road but home Field is overrated in the division and while the Raiders fans have been supportive who knows what the home field is in the last year of Oak.  Broncos DL vs Oak OL is a huge mismatch.  I think the Fangio led Broncos are going to have a party on MNF.   

About to embark on a 4-hour drive so survivor pick will be a cliffhanger...Den might be it...


Katz: There are a few good options for survivor. I am going with Seattle. Sticking to the rules of taking a home team in a non-divisional matchup, the Seahawks should run through the Bengals. 

My bet of the week is the first game of the season. Packers +3. It's free money. Bears regressing huge this year. 6-10/7-9 type year. By the time they play again in Green Bay, the Packers will be touchdown favorites. This is a screaming value.


Rabbitt: I kinda want to go Bears -3 here because the Packers roster is hot garbage outside of Aaron, but I actually think RC has me convinced the Broncos are on the right path, and I'm darn sure the raiders are not. I'm not locking it in yet, but that's where my heart is right now. 

I may just survivor whoever Miami plays all year.


Savage: Totally agree that Denver is a great bet. Denver is better on defense, no doubt about that. They might have the better offense, too. Flacco and Carr have been more or less the same guy over the last 2-3 years, and Flacco has more weapons at his disposal and the better offensive line. 

The other bet I like is Jaguars +4. I think we'll see a re-energized Jags D now that they have a QB and an offense that can keep them competitive. 4 points in Jacksonville in September is too many, even for the Chiefs. 

For survivor, I like the Eagles just a bit more than Seattle. The Seahawks tend to screw around in the first few weeks and then hit their stride in the middle of the year. I'd rather save them for later.


RC: I am wary of Washington and skittish on the Eagles in this game at the -8.5 and mildly for Survivor pool. Sometimes Case Keenum is just plausible enough. Washington has a solid defense and the Eagles defense has been melting talent the past two years. 

A month ago, I thought the Eagles were a lock but now I’m getting cold feet. Survivor pool worthy but I might take the +8.5 here, maybe. 

If I were just playing favorites, I think Seattle over Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas, New Orleans for me. 

‘At Seattle’ is a huge advantage. No AJG. Broken Cincy O-Line. Wobbly Cincy defense. Underwhelming new CIN coach. Clowney trade energy. I’m going Seattle at this point. 

Agreed Seattle tends to start slow but note — they have lost their opening road games last three years. Won every one of their home openers the last three seasons. 

If I was being sly, in survivor, I’d take Denver or Buffalo — the Jets have a kicker issue, a Darnold issue, a corner issue, and a Buffalo defense issue. However, Denver is so obvious right now it’s scary.  


Skol:  The Eagles may very well handle Washington but there’s something about this spot that makes me uneasy.  I heard Ross Tucker on a Podcast list off a decent number of Philly defensive injuries...Ross does Podcasts but also does the Eagles Pre-game show so he follows them closely.  Division dogs have been very good ATS week 1 so if this is going to be close than count me out for survivor.   

I have an irrational fear of Baltimore too.  Once upon a time this line was BAL -3...now it’s up to -7.  Just like Philly, the likelihood is the favorite wins but Miami can play the “disrespect from everyone in the world card” and they have a physical home field advantage in the heat.  I know Miami is supposed to be horrible (and I think they will be)...but Baltimore is a team that is projected to win 8.5 games...that doesn’t compute with being a 7 point road favorite ever.  Secretly, I hope the game is close or Miami can ever grab a miracle win so it sets up a decent line for the week 2 smackdown of the Cardinals in Baltimore...as of right now I’m willing to lay 13.5 in that game.   

I think Seattle is the best home team survivor for week 1 but it would be maddening if they lose because I don’t love the Seahawks...I only love the Jaguars and Broncos in 2019.


RC: Speaking of things I have to love — I need Arizona to book 6 wins fast for the over. 

What are you guys thinking Week 1...Arizona still looks wobbly and craps the bed or crushes dying Detroit with their REAL offense overwhelming in Week 1?


Skol:  I can say with a ton of conviction...I have no idea!  I’ll take ARI in office pool pick every game, but it was the first game I crossed off B5 consideration.  The Lions are the easiest home game the Cardinals have this year by a mile.  (Although they will have Peterson for most of the other matchups).  My reaction to hearing there is a secret offense nobody has ever seen that will be unveiled makes me instinctively roll my eyes.  I always look for reasons to bet against Matt Patricia (and now Bevell) but Kingsbury couldn’t win in college and if Kyler Murray joined our chat he would be the shortest guy to ever write anything on FFM.  I’m very curious to see what happens...I just have no real feel for that game...


Rabbitt: My reaction to everyone who says Kyler Murray can't play because he is short is to roll my eyes so we are in good shape there.  The real concern with Arizona is if they can keep Detroit from scoring 50.  I mean they pretty much have tried out every defensive linemen who has ever played a snap in the NFL at this point, and I still don't think they found anyone.  My guess is one of the few wins on Arizona’s schedule is Detroit, because man is that roster bad.  However, I wouldn't bet it for sure.


Skol:  Kyler Murray, you are tall as you feel!  I trust RC’s scouting eyes as far as his talent but my position is that it would be gambling negligence to just assume the lack of size won’t be an issue without any evidence.  Anyone catch Jalen Hurts’ debut for Oklahoma?  If you missed he scored 6 times...(3 passing, 3 rushing).  Murray’s college production in a conference that doesn’t play defense don’t impress-a me much.  If it 100% wasn’t an issue then there would be no reason to lie about his height...I think they did at the combine.  On “Straight Outta Vegas” (Fox Sports Radio) the guys saw him on radio row before the Super Bowl and said he was noticeable shorter than a guy who is 5’10.  The lie is a bigger red flag for me than the height.  Why would they measure him taller at the combine....oh I don’t know...millions and millions of dollars promoting a star player for the league?   Russell Wilson is the example of why Murray can make it...he might be 3 inches shorter than Wilson.  There are new age rules and passing offenses in the NFL but defenders aren’t getting shorter and lighter...and there hasn’t been another Spud Webb since Spud Webb.  Maybe Murray lights it up...all I know is even the best rookies have trouble on the road...so week 2 it’s on!


RC: Everything for Kyler is going to change when he starts rushing for 20-50 yard chunk plays at a time. It’s going to change the pass rush to nonexistent. Kyler hasn't begun to run in NFL action yet. 

I’ll bet they do a designed run or two right away and the whole game changes when faster-Michael Vick happens. 

Blitz him and Kyler goes for 100+ rushing and DJ catches 10 screen passes for 100+. 

Whether they lose 45-42 every week is my reason to sit this one out but I’m taking them in pick all games pool. 


Skol:  I’m imagining Kyler running between the legs of defenders causing them to clumsily crash into each other like the burglars trying to catch Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone...to the comedic delight of 70,000 fans.  RC, if what you say is true then do we need to consider “under” on all Murray season long stats?...he’ll miss 2-4 games for sure, no?


RC: I’ll take all rushing yards for fantasy however he gets them. 

I don’t think he’ll get hurt on running for several 50+ Yard TDs. Depends upon how elaborate the celebrations are afterwards. 


Savage: I like the Cardinals in week 1. Kingsbury's college record doesn't concern me at all. So much of the success in college is about the coach's and/or school's ability to recruit. Ohio State's coach is some guy whose name I learned 2 days ago, and they seem fine. I'm sure Kingsbury would have managed to win at a school like that too. He could still end up being a bad NFL coach, but for now I'd rather have a .500-level college coach running a modern offense than a turn-back-the-clock guy like Patricia.  

I'm also not that worried about the Cardinals O-line, provided the Cardinals operate the way I think they will. I think it's almost unfair to judge that unit on last year's results, given how poorly designed their offense was. Quick throws, Kyler's feet, and DJ in the screen game should make pass blocking a hell of a lot easier. The Lions will probably be able to score on the Cards D, but I think this might be a case where the Lions are bringing a knife to a gun fight, trying to run the ball 40 times and settling for field goals while the Cardinals score quick TD's.  


Skol:  I think we all want to throw both of these teams in the trash.  My thing with Kingsbury is if the excuse for failing in college was the inferior talent level of his team, then that is still a problem for him currently at the NFL level.  Murray good/bad as a FF QB (who I drafted tonight BTW) is a different debate than betting on this team.  However, I can never argue with a good Matt Patricia fade as the justification for a play.  

Vikings opened at -4.5...then hung at -4 for a while and now -3.5.  Thoughts on what’s going on there?!  Falcons have a rebuilt OL traveling to a top 5-8 home field advantage in the league.  If that gets to -3 I’m going to have to bid farewell to one of my existing B5s


RC: The loss of Kyle Sloter off the roster probably. 


Katz: Catching up here after a quadruple header of fantasy drafts on Labor Day. Chase Edmonds said in an interview that they kept things pretty vanilla in the preseason, which is what many people expected was going on. I don't agree with the takes that it may take a few weeks for this thing to get rolling. I think we're going to know right away. I mean within like two quarters. Either the Cardinals offense comes out firing and it's wheels up for all things Arizona in 2019 or I'm about to lose a lot fantasy leagues and my Cardinals over 5 wins bet.


RC: I disagree with Katz. I think Arizona can meander and flop around some in their debut...rookie QB, on the road, limited real-time in the offense. It could take 1-2 games before they get settled in as an offense (whether Kyler racks monster FF points is a separate argument). 

I know this -- if Arizona stumbles around Week 1, and everyone will be selling everything in a panic...DJ, Kyler, Kirk...and I'll be there to buy it all!!


Rabbitt:  I believe my final answer on survivor is Baltimore.  I just think dollars to doughnuts that is the best bet for a straight up win. That Miami roster is just awful, and I don't think there is any fitzmagic that can fix it. 

My bet of the week has to be Denver.  There is just too much stupid in that team, and I am starting to get my orange and blue goggles on that makes me feel like Denver has a real shot.


About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

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