Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 1 of 4 (First Take)

Here is my take on what players teams will take in the 2008 NFL draft. I’m basing this on team needs and selecting the best player available. Look for an updated list after the combines.

Jacob provides the fantasy impact on each of these picks (in italics) after each choice.

1. Miami Dolphins — Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

Let’s face it, the Dolphins are bad. They could use pretty much a guy at any position. They do have a young quarterback in John Beck who I think will be pretty good, and of course, they have Ronnie Brown. QB and RB aren’t high priorities.

Dorsey is a beast and can disrupt an entire offensive line. I think it is a crapshoot between him and DE Chris Long as the most talented players in the draft. Miami could trade out of this pick because of their many needs, but if they stay, look for Dorsey’s name to be called.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Miami tries to get rid of this pick on the market, we all know they still want Dorsey first. His defensive presence will make it hard for RBs to make their line look like Swiss cheese like they did in 2007. Miami allowed 150+ yards to opposing RBs in 2007–worst in the NFL in case you didn’t know. With this pick and a few other defensive improvements, look for Miami’s defense to start a progression towards being good again but still not be worth taking a chance on in the 2008 fantasy draft.

2. St. Louis Rams — Chris Long, DE, Virginia

I’m a little biased on Chris Long as he was a member of my college fantasy team and was the main reason I didn’t lose every game. This guy is just an athletic freak. He will find a way to get by the linemen and to the ball.

The Rams had a crazy season last year in which their best players didn’t play so hot. I think with some changes and a kick in the butt, they could look to contend next year. They could go O-line with this pick, but I look for them to take Long. Orlando Pace will be back, so they could do without a first-round lineman. I fully expect Long to start next year and have a better career than his dad Howie.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Rams defense caused many fantasy owners to jump up and down with glee during their horrible stretch of the season. They finished 2007 allowing 115+ yards per game–not horrible but below average–and also let teams pass all over them.

Long will add a star athletic presence on defense that will take away opposing QBs time to throw and force RBs to run the other way. If St. Louis can get their star players back to their original form, Long could help make more opposing teams go 3-and-out and give the ball back to The Greatest Show on Turf. Don’t expect to draft the Rams defense next year, but they might be a good bye week filler later in the season when Long adjusts to the NFL speed.

NOTE: The next 3 teams will have their order determined by coin flip, so this will probably be changed.

3. Atlanta Falcons — Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

The Falcons need a quarterback in the worst kind of way. Joey Harrington has been given at least 17 chances in this league to play QB and has sucked in 18 of them. He is just bad.

Enter Matt Ryan. I believe this guy is the most NFL-ready QB out of this class. Watching him this season, he showed great poise and rarely helped his team lose. I believe he is worthy of building a franchise around, which is what the Falcons will be doing. They need a new image, and Matt Ryan could help immensely.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Poor Harrington and poor Leftwich. Harrington never had a chance, and Leftwich seemed slower than he did at Jacksonville.

I am not sure that the Falcons take a QB here. Chris Redman, showed some poise and a nice arm. He might have argued his way into a nice backup role somewhere if not Atlanta and possibly a starting gig if Atlanta was daring enough to put off a QB in this draft and take a top WR to compliment Roddy White or a top RB like McFadden. McFadden might fit well in a committee with Jerious Norwood, and Atlanta could finally put Warrick Dunn out to pasture. Matt Ryan is not playing in the Senior Bowl under the advice of his agent who gave the same advice to Brady Quinn, so there is potential that he could fall in the draft.

If they do take Matt Ryan, he will definitely bring some stability to the offense. I see him starting right away and having a shaky but good rookie year. Look for Roddy White’s numbers to improve and possibly some better RB numbers from Atlanta if they finally had a decent, consistent arm under center. Ryan might be worth a look as a second QB for your fantasy team.

4. Oakland Raiders — Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

This could be an interesting pick. The Raiders could really, really use someone like OT Jake Long, and that would be a great pick right here. This pick would be the classic “take the best player available” pick.

Everyone knows McFadden, but here is the real question: Who are the running backs for the Raiders? Answer: LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts like the dreaded Tecmo Bowl pair of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. Jordan and Fargas combined for 7 rushing touchdowns last year. I believe McFadden could come in and score more than that in his rookie year. The Raiders will select him if he is here at this point, and they couldn’t be happier.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seriously, how many RBs does Oakland like to sit on? This year, they took Dominic Rhodes just to sit him on the bench until both Fargas and Jordan were injured or completely ineffective, but don’t forget that they also have star prospect Michael Bush who broke his leg early in 2007. The sad fact is that they will probably take McFadden, let Fargas go in free agency and address what to do with McFadden/Bush/Jordan/Rhodes after the fact.

If Jordan, Rhodes or Fargas stay, they will probably just be benched reserves. There is potential for a Bush/McFadden tandem that could kill opposing defenses, especially once McFadden gets his legs under him the NFL.

Oakland isn’t really improving it’s greatest weakness with this pick–improving the defense or snatching an additional deep threat for Russell wouldn’t be a bad call–but look for McFadden to make a huge rookie impact on whatever team takes him. He could definitely take the strain off Jamarcus Russell in his first year under center and give Oakland a very explosive offense next season in the run department. Someone in every fantasy league will take McFadden expecting him to be huge in 2008, and I wouldn’t call that a bad decision unless a committee forms around him. He is very likely to be the Adrian Peterson (MIN) of 2008 especially with the strong running offensive line of Oakland.

Just fair warning: If McFadden DOESN’T go to Oakland, don’t forget about the potential of Michael Bush in 2008!

5. Kansas City Chiefs — Jake Long, OL, Michigan

Kansas City needs linemen. Well, almost every team needs linemen, but Kansas City needs linemen. Jake Long is going to be the prototypical great NFL linemen. With the young quarterback situation in KC, Long will give Croyle the extra time he needs to read the D and find the WR. This is a no brainer pick.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Brodie Croyle loves this pick. He wants to be able to throw the ball, and Long will make that possible. Larry Johnson would appreciate some open running room as well. Look for both Croyle and Johnson to have better seasons next year if Long comes to KC.

6. New York Jets — Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

The Jets could go after a DE such as Vernon Gholston, but Sedrick Ellis is a more consistent player than Gholston. He is a big body up front and is very disruptive. He is a poor mans Dorsey, and he will get the job done for the Jets.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Jets need a better defense than they had this year. With a rookie QB and Thomas Jones at RB, they don’t put a lot of points on the board. They would love someone like McFadden here, but they’ll take Ellis and look to snag a RB to develop later in the draft.

With a better defense, the Jets could improve their offensive problems with either with Clemens or Pennington at QB and return to being a contender like they were in 2006. More time on the field means more carries for Jones and maybe more scores for this offense.

7. New England Patriots — Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

Is this really fair? The best team of the year drafting 7th. Well, that’s the Patriots voodoo working. CB Asante Samuel will be more than likely leaving the team after the season, as he was franchised last year, so NE will need a corner to replace him. Mike Jenkins is a great corner and can play all over the field.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Expect more of the same from the Belichick’s crew. If Asante leaves, it would hurt them to not replace him with a quick CB who can fill those shoes. Jenkins can take on that roll. While the Patriots may have a weaker secondary next season until he gets a feel for the NFL game, the crafty, veteran linemen and linebackers can make up for any weaknesses in the secondary, and we all know the Patriots can overcome teams in a scoring contest. The Patriots defense is almost always worth taking as a mid-level defense unless you don’t like them playing nice in the fourth quarter and letting opposing teams score back some dignity.

8. Baltimore Ravens — Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky

The Ravens need a young QB, and I think Woodson should be that guy. He played consistently well in the toughest conference in football and has the size and power to be an NFL QB. I’m not entirely sold on Brohm right here, as I think Woodson better fits the Raven’s mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brohm went here, but if I’m the Ravens, I’m taking Woodson.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I wonder what Ray Lewis would say about this pick. Whether it’s Woodson or Brohm here, it’s definitely a QB. New head coach John Harbaugh will want to start the season off building up that offense and rejuvenating it with some new blood.

Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason didn’t live up to their positions consistently in 2007, but they could in 2008 with a better QB and consistent timing. Kyle Boller and Troy Smith both showed potential, but they need to show a lot more in camp to land a starting role.

2008 will be a rebuilding year for the Baltimore offense, but with such a great defense keeping games close, an improved quarterback could give them a decent offense that can put some points on your board. Whatever QB starts in Baltimore might be worth a look as a backup QB for fantasy or a bye-week fill.

Check out the next 8 picks in the Part 2 later this week.

UPDATE: Follow these links to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of our mock draft: Part 2Part 3Part 4

Reflection on the 2007 Fantasy Football Season

After collecting my winnings from this fantasy season and posting the requisite trash talk on the message boards, I proceeded to take off for a fantasy football vacation. I used my time off to reflect on how to better develop Fantasy Football Fools as a resource for those of you looking to win your league next season.

After that painful 15 minutes, I caught a flight to Vegas for Wild Card weekend. I wish I would have spent more time at the sports book and less at the craps table, but in the end, despite winning a few bets, I came out minus all my fantasy football winnings.  A very ROUGH weekend. Unfortunately for me and lucky for you, that 15 minutes of planning and the four hours of crying on the flight home that followed my trip to Vegas made me realize how much I still want all of you to succeed in some capacity in your lives–so why not fantasy football?

Tell your friends about our site, and hit up the comments if you haven’t already. If you need inspiration for what to comment about on this post, tell us what you want to see us talk about this offseason. We love feedback whether it is encouraging or just a general hatred of our souls–dirty and stained as they may be.

Look for our upcoming NFL draft coverage and discussions of what positions you want to take first in the 2008 fantasy draft.

Foolish 2007 College Bowl Picks Results: Shame faces

The results are in. After weeks of preparation and stalking football players and coaches, our records–pitiful as they may be–are set in stone. Here’s how the three of us came out in our predictions:

Jacob: 19-13
Robert: 21-11
Cameron: 11-15

I thought at least one of us would make it through the bowl season with less than 10 wrong calls. I was wrong. In fact, I was wrong 13 times. Right about average around these parts, so I consider that better than last place. *cough* Cameron *cough*

I took some chances on some teams that hurt me (Hawaii) and some that rewarded me (Kansas) based upon my beliefs on their quarterbacks. I still have faith in Colt Brennan, but I guess he needs some more development for the NFL. Typical of this season in college football, plenty of teams surprised us in their bowl games (Oklahoma). At least on the surprises part, I was right.

Robert came out on top by 2 games–luck if you asked me–and Cameron missed the early games that would have padded his score. Maybe Robert will stop gloating enough to share some of his insight for next season. Until then, look forward to the draft talk and start prepping your fantasy drafts cheatsheets.

Foolish 2007 College Bowl Picks

Update: Winners updated. Records in future post.

The holidays have put us a little behind getting our college bowl picks up before the first few games, but hopefully, you had a pretty good idea who was going to win the Papajohns.com Bowl.

Check out our picks and see who’s right more often than anyone else–Yup, me. I’ll be facing off against a little known college football aficionado, Robert. Our picks are in chronological order, and if he is right more than me, we may just have to make him contribue to FantasyFootballFools.com a little more.

Cameron weighs in on our post-Christmas games for some insight from a true college football follower.

San Diego County Credit Union
WINNER: UTAH

  • Jacob: Utah
  • Robert: Utah

R+L Carriers New Orleans
WINNER: FLORIDA ATLANTIC

  • Jacob: Memphis
  • Robert: Florida Atlantic

Papajohns.com
WINNER: CINCINNATI

  • Jacob: Southern Mississippi
  • Robert: Cincinnati

New Mexico
WINNER: NEW MEXICO

  • Jacob: New Mexico (I mean, it’s there bowl and all)
  • Robert: New Mexico

Pioneer Las Vegas
WINNER: BYU

  • Jacob: BYU
  • Robert: BYU

Sheraton Hawaii
WINNER: EAST CAROLINA (What happened in this close one?)

  • Jacob: Boise State
  • Robert: Boise State

Now Cameron joins in for the rest of the picks…

Motor City
WINNER: PURDUE (That was close)

  • Jacob: Purdue
  • Robert: Purdue
  • Cameron: Purdue (Mainly because they are not a directional Michigan school)

Pacific Life Holiday
WINNER: TEXAS

  • Jacob: Texas (Hook ‘em)
  • Robert: Texas
  • Cameron: Texas (Please God)

(Disclaimer: All three of us are Longhorn alums)

Champs Sports
WINNER: BOSTON COLLEGE

  • Jacob: Boston College
  • Robert: Boston College
  • Cameron: Michigan St. (Goin out on a limb. BC lost 3 of their last 5 games)

Texas
WINNER: TCU

  • Jacob: TCU (They’re from Texas)
  • Robert: Houston
  • Cameron: TCU (Houston has lost 7 straight to TCU and their last 8 bowl games)

Emerald
WINNER: OREGON STATE

  • Jacob: Maryland
  • Robert: Maryland
  • Cameron: Oregon State (Coming off a win against in-state rival Oregon)

Meineke Car Care
WINNER: WAKE FOREST

  • Jacob: Wake Forest (When in doubt, don’t doubt the Wake)
  • Robert: Connecticut
  • Cameron: Connecticut (A team I have been high on all season)

AutoZone Liberty
WINNER: MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Jacob: UCF
  • Robert: Mississippi State
  • Cameron: UCF (With Heisman snub Kevin Smith at the helm, they will run and run)

Valero Alamo
WINNER: PENN STATE

  • Jacob: Penn State
  • Robert: Penn State
  • Cameron: Penn State (After a big win against Texas last year, A&M came out flat. Expect the same)

PetroSun Independence
WINNER: ALABAMA

  • Jacob: Colorado
  • Robert: Alabama
  • Cameron: Colorado (Alabama coming in on a 4-game losing streak)

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
WINNER: CALIFORNIA

  • Jacob: Air Force
  • Robert: Air Force
  • Cameron: Air Force (Cal coming in losing 6 of their last 7)

Roady’s Humanitarian
WINNER: FRESNO STATE

  • Jacob: Georgia Tech
  • Robert: Georgia Tech
  • Cameron: Georgia Tech (Just because)

Brut Sun
WINNER: OREGON (Apparently, Oregon is something without Dixon)

  • Jacob: South Florida
  • Robert: South Florida
  • Cameron: South Florida (Oregon is nothing without Dixon; plus, they have a Leaf brother playing QB)

Gaylord Hotels Music City
WINNER: KENTUCKY

  • Jacob: Kentucky
  • Robert: Kentucky
  • Cameron: Kentucky (Because they don’t cheat and lose half of their team)

Insight
WINNER: OKLAHOMA STATE

  • Jacob: Oklahoma State
  • Robert: Oklahoma State
  • Cameron: Indiana (Never know which OK State team is going to show up)

Chick-fil-A
WINNER: AUBURN

  • Jacob: Clemson
  • Robert: Auburn
  • Cameron: Clemson (Great one two punch at RB with Davis and Spiller)

Outback
WINNER: TENNESSEE

  • Jacob: Tennessee
  • Robert: Wisconsin
  • Cameron: Tennessee (PJ Hill might not play for Wisconsin, which would mean trouble)

AT&T Cotton
WINNER: MISSOURI

  • Jacob: Missouri
  • Robert: Missouri
  • Cameron: Arkansas (Missouri may be a little flat after the Big XII championship loss and may not have the defense to stop McFadden and Jones)

Konica Minolta Gator
WINNER: TEXAS TECH

  • Jacob: Texas Tech (I’m a Big 12 man)
  • Robert: Texas Tech
  • Cameron: Virginia (UV actually has the kind of defense that can hurry up Harrell and knock him down, especially with DE Chris Long)

Capital One
WINNER: MICHIGAN (Never bet against a team devoted to sending a great coach off right)

  • Jacob: Florida
  • Robert: Florida
  • Cameron: Florida (Florida played a way tougher schedule than Michigan, and it will show)

Rose Bowl Presented by Citi–they paid us to say that
WINNER: USC (Illinois should have never been in a bowl game. They certainly weren’t in this one.)

  • Jacob: USC
  • Robert: USC
  • Cameron: USC (I will be pulling for Illinois, but their athletes can’t match up to USC)

Allstate Sugar
WINNER: GEORGIA (I guess he is a system QB and/or the Hawaii linemen or worthless sacks of fatty meat.)

  • Jacob: Hawaii (I don’t think he’s just a system QB)
  • Robert: Georgia
  • Cameron: Georgia (I see this being a very close game with Georgia coming out on top because of their running game)

Tostitos Fiesta
WINNER: WEST VIRGINIA (Ouch, Stoops. Has anyone told the OU players lately that the season isn’t over after the Big 12 Championship?)

  • Jacob: Oklahoma
  • Robert: Oklahoma
  • Cameron: Oklahoma (Don’t expect OU to be caught napping again)

FedEx Orange
WINNER: KANSAS ( It was a clutch victory for Kansas and for my predictions!)

  • Jacob: Kansas
  • Robert: Virginia Tech
  • Cameron: Virginia Tech (Their D will hit Kansas in the mouth)

International
WINNER: RUTGERS (Was there any doubt? Ball State?)

  • Jacob: Rutgers
  • Robert: Rutgers
  • Cameron: Rutgers (Who cares?)

GMAC
WINNER: TULSA (I’m sorry if you watched this game. REALLY sorry.)

  • Jacob: Tulsa
  • Robert: Tulsa
  • Cameron: Tulsa (I love their offense, especially with Paul Smith running the show)

Allstate BCS Championship Game
WINNER: LSU (Can we just put OU and OSU in the same boat and say, “Stop trying.”)

  • Jacob: LSU
  • Robert: LSU
  • Cameron: Ohio State (Because the BCS wouldn’t allow a two-loss champion, would it?)

Check future post for a complete summary of how the three of us came out on this bowl season.

Who to watch this bowl season

It seems like I am practically syndicating these guys lately, but The 5 Minute Drill is back again with some good stars to watch during your bowl viewing.

These guys might be standout rookies sometime soon for your fantasy football draft, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to scout their bowl performances.

[Note: Fantasy Football College Bowl Preview episode of "The 5 Minute Drill" removed due to ONnetworks going offline. You can view the podcasts on iTunes or find out more about them at the Footballguys.com link above.]

Best Bets for NFL Week 17

My debut last week wasn’t the greatest, and it isn’t going to get any easier entering week 17 of the regular season. Hopefully, I’ll step my game up and come through in the clutch like a certain Tennessee QB needs to do this weekend–and I’m not talking about Erik Ainge.

Last week’s record: 6-9

Here are my picks for Week 17:

NEW ENGLAND (-14.5) over New York Giants
Giants will be resting starters with their playoff spot locked. New England will be playing for their undefeated season. Look for New England to make a statement heading into the playoffs.

ARIZONA (-7) over St. Louis
Both teams would like to end on a positive note, but I give the advantage to Arizona playing at home for a chance at .500.

Seattle (+2) over ATLANTA
I just can’t not take Seattle and points verse the Atlanta Falcons. I think back-up running back Maurice Morris is playing better than Shaun Alexander anyways.

TAMPA BAY (+2.5) over Carolina
Carolina looked decent versus a Cowboys team trying to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but the Bucs don’t want to enter the playoffs on a two-game skid. I like the Bucs at home in this one.

Cincinnati (-3) over MIAMI
I was impressed by the Bengals win over the Browns last week. A win this Sunday might keep Marvin Lewis around for another season. At least you didn’t go winless this year, Miami.

San Francisco (+11) over CLEVELAND
Cleveland choked last week, and they know it. San Francisco has been playing well with Shaun Hill at the helm. I like San Francisco to keep it close and have the fourth quarter decide the winner.

GREEN BAY (-4) over Detroit
The Pack has its playoff spot secured thanks to the no-show they pulled last week versus the Bears, but I think the team plays hard under the leadership of Aaron Rodgers, perennial backup as long as ironman Brett Farve is around.

Jacksonville (+4) over HOUSTON
Jacksonville will want to keep their win streak alive, and Quinn Gray is fairly capable at QB having gone 2-1 in his three starts this season. Houston got spanked by a team that had nothing to play for last week.

Minnesota (-3) over DENVER
Minnesota needs this win for a chance to make the playoffs. I thought Denver rolled over for the Chargers on Monday night. Expect Adrian Peterson to get more than the nine carries he had last week.

CHICAGO (+2) over New Orleans
Chicago got a boost of confidence last week, and it wasn’t even because of Devin Hester. Something tells me the Saints aren’t tough enough to grind out a bad weather game in the Windy City.

Kansas City (+6.5) over NEW YORK JETS
Herm Edwards will want to win this game badly. The Jets just want this season to end so they can start thinking about their high pick in next year’s draft.

PHILADELPHIA (-8) over Buffalo
I think Buffalo over-achieved a little this year, and the Eagles underachieved. I like the Eagles to end on a positive note and, hopefully, quell the rumors about Donovan McNabb’s departure.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over BALTIMORE
I think both teams will play hard in this division game, but in the end, the Ravens extend their league high losing streak to ten.

San Diego (-8) over OAKLAND
JaMarcus Russell will get the first start of his young career in Oakland this weekend. Too bad it’s against a San Diego team that is peaking at the perfect time.

INDIANAPOLIS (+3.5) over Tennessee
Vince Young was clutch throughout his college career with the Longhorns. I expect him to come through in the clutch for the Titans, but I also expect the margin of victory to be a field goal or less.

Dallas (+9.5) over WASHINGTON
I don’t think Dallas wants to see this team in the playoffs, and they will try and knock them out right here. T.O. won’t be playing. Romo will be limited, but backup QB Brad Johnson holds a grudge against the Redskins. I like Dallas in this one.

Week 17 Wire: Find players that still care this week

If you are playing a week 17 championship, my condolences. You really should try to get that changed for next year–and I do mean really.

Week 17 is unpredictable because you don’t know who will start let alone who will show up to play well. Lucky for you, plenty of injuries this week will give you players to vulture off the waiver wire.

Najeh Davenport, RB PIT
Najeh will fill in for an injured Willie Parker. If he plays like he did this week in Parker’s absence, he just might be the hottest pick up for week 17. The Stealers play Baltimore, but the Ravens have nothing left to play for this season. Keep in mind that the Steelers could rest him for their playoff run since they clinched their spot this week.

Musa Smith. RB BAL
If he takes on the full load in Willis McGahee’s absence, he could be a somewhat decent fantasy start. Against he Steelers, I wouldn’t expect much, but the Steelers have already clinched their spot in the playoffs. They might not care about giving Musa or whoever fills the McGahee void a few yards.

Laurent Robinson, WR ATL
Laurent was a preseason standout for Atlanta in a season that was never looking good. This week, he had a breakout performance with over 100 yards and a TD against Arizona with Chris Redman at the helm. He is trying to impress–and succeeding. I had him on my sleeper list to the begin the season–yeah, I’m that good. If you are hurting at receiver, he could put up another standout performance against a Seattle team resting it’s starters.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NYG
If you didn’t notice him breaking for an 88-yard TD run late in the Buffalo game this week, you should have. Bradshaw will do some great things for the Giants with his speed in the playoffs and could be decent for week 17. Look for him to get some more touches than usual next week against the Patriots. My guess is that the Pats will put a hurting on the Giants to clinch their undefeated season, and the Giants will rest most of their starters for the playoffs–including Jacobs since he is ailing again. Bradshaw could have a decent number of yards but probably won’t have another one of those breakout runs. A short yardage TD might be all to hope for in this one.

Luke McCown, QB TB
Tampa Bay sat their starters early this week, so McCown is sure to see a lot of playing time next week against Carolina. He might be your QB of choice if you were starting Jeff Garcia or someone likely to sit out this last week.

Seneca Wallace, QB SEA
Like McCown, he may see some playing time with Seattle are locked into the playoffs.

If you are looking for subs for your usual starters, try to find players that have something to play for this week. Avoid starters from any of the already clinched teams that look to sit. You might even try to find some young talent that will see more playing time with their starters resting. Follow the reports through the week and see which coaches are looking to play safe and sit their best guys.

Are you a betting man?

Oh, fantasy fools, I thought I would never see you again.

This giant Okie snagged me in an alley this week and kept me in a cage listening to Jessica Simpson albums on loop. He fed me only popcorn, and only let me go because I promised to post his best bets for this weekend.

I only wish I had enough information to file a police report. Oh yeah, he told me his name is Nick.

Check out Nick’s “Best Bets” post.

Best Bets for NFL Week 16

Some of us need more reasons to watch the NFL besides love of the game and fantasy football. That’s where sportsbooks come in. I started betting on NFL games this year and have decided to share my weekly picks with you. I’ll keep track, and post my record as the season goes on. Home team is in caps. Here are my picks for Week 16 in the NFL:

Pittsburgh (-7.5) over ST. LOUIS
Pittsburgh will come back with a vengeance after losing their last two games. Cleveland nipping at their heels for the division title provides extra motivation.

CAROLINA (+13) over Dallas
I like Matt Moore’s enthusiasm, and I don’t like T.O. pouting on the sidelines for the past two weeks. Dallas better hope Romo’s thumb heals or they are going to lose all the momentum they worked so hard to build this season, not to mention home field advantage.

ARIZONA (-10.5) over Atlanta
Both teams will be a little deflated with Arizona officially out of the playoffs and the Petrino hangover still hovering around the Falcons. Arizona is at home though and should easily beat a team that had more turnovers (5) than completions (4) last week.

Green Bay (-9) over CHICAGO
This is a simple question of motivation. Green Bay still has a chance to claim home field throughout the playoffs, and the Bears have…a chance to develop Kyle Orton?

CINCINNATI (+3) over Cleveland
Cleveland isn’t used to games that matter at the end of the year, and I’m betting they show their inexperience by letting this away game slip through their fingers.

Kansas City (+4.5) over DETROIT
Detroit is on a six-game losing streak and wondering what happened. Kansas City has some young players like Brodie Croyle and Kolby Smith who are still fighting to make a name for themselves going into the offseason. I like Kansas City in this one.

Houston (+8) over INDIANAPOLIS
This will be an interesting game. The Colts will be resting most of their starters in an attempt to get healthy for the playoffs. The Texans are playing well right now and would relish any chance to beat their annual tormentors, the Colts, even if they aren’t playing all their starters.

JACKSONVILLE (-13) over Oakland
Jacksonville is looking very good right now, and Oakland will be without Justin Fargas, their lone bright spot on a dismal season. Look for a heavy dose of Fred Taylor and a JaMarcus Russell sighting once the Raiders fall behind early.

MINNESOTA (-6.5) over Washington
This pick was a tough one. In the end, it came down to Minnesota’s defense and whether or not Todd Collins could exploit a defense that will be geared up to stop the run. I suspect he can’t.

NEW ENGLAND (-22.5) over Miami
New England just seems like a team that would enjoy stomping Miami right after their first victory of the season. Tom Brady is still chasing Manning’s single season TD record. I expect no less than 5 TD passes from him this weekend.

NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Philadelphia
I really like the Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, but the Saints will be fighting for a playoff birth and are at home. McNabb won’t be taking any risks as he contemplates where he’ll be playing next year. New Orleans rides Drew Brees and Marques Colston to victory.

BUFFALO (+3) over New York Giants
I like Buffalo in the battle for New York. When I look at the Giants, I just see a mentally soft team. The only Giant who might have some huevos would be Shockey and he is out for the season with a broken leg.

Tampa Bay (-7) over SAN FRANCISCO
Shaun Hill had a good game last week, and I’m happy for him. But there is a big difference between the Bengals and Buc’s defense. Welcome to the real NFL.

New York Jets (+9) over TENNESSEE
Is it a moral victory when you cover the spread and don’t get beat by 24 points? Vince Young looked good last week–too many dropped passes by his receivers though. Titans win but in a close one.

SAN DIEGO (-9) over Denver
Was that really Phillip Rivers completing 27 out of 30 passes last week? San Diego is peaking at just the right time. Getting the ball to LT might have something to do with it.

Balance saves you on low-scoring fantasy weeks

Hopefully, your team wasn’t counting on Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Randy Moss or even Peyton Manning this week. In some sort of crazy upside-down week, the top fantasy performers were horrible–besides LT–while the worst teams in the league took home victories.

Strangely enough, this week both the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins won. I think I might go buy a lotto ticket or something. Today, a Dolphin loss would have actually gotten them something–locking up the first pick in next year’s draft. Despite the win, I doubt they are in danger of losing that coveted achievement when they face the Patriots next week.

The Patriots were stuck in horrible weather and learned how to run again–congrats Maroney owners, you got one good game this season. The Cowboys looked completely harmless against the rival Philadelphia Eagles with Romo throwing no TDs. Manning threw just one touchdown against the Oakland Raiders with one INT, and Joseph Addai didn’t even get one TD against the defense that has handed them out like Halloween candy all season. Worthless.

On a lesser note, the Bills were completely shut out by a Cleveland team that put up just 8 points in a frigid showdown. The game could have been a high-scoring showdown for the playoff wild card spot, but instead, it was two teams bumbling around in the snow. No one besides Jamal Lewis put up decent fantasy numbers in the showing that could have saved your season. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature. Don’t expect a Christmas card.

The takeaway from this whole mess is BALANCE. When your studs have bad games, you must have the depth to back them up with quality production from your supporting staff. Weeks like these are where kickers and defenses can make the difference and where paying attention to weather conditions can save your season if they are going to be as severe as they were this weekend.

On my own team, I was led in scoring by Tony Scheffler (TE DEN) and Mason Crosby (K GB) while getting just single-digit production from Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai, Wes Welker and Lee Evans. I picked both these position players up on the wire in the last four weeks. Yes, there wasn’t really a way to see their great performance coming this week, but sometimes you just get lucky by having some great support in a week where studs are duds–or maybe I got skills.

You just might be looking across the scoreboard at huge numbers put up by Fred Taylor and Aaron Stecker or maybe the first kick return ever for the Tampa Bay defense and special teams. You probably had just as good of a chance of grabbing these players as your opponents did. The waiver wire can be the great equalizer. Next season, draft your studs then look for balance and support throughout the season–just like after happy hour.