A Fool and His Money in Week 7

This week, I wanted to educate you on two of my favorite types of bets, the parlay and the progressive parlay. With these two wagers, you can arm yourself with the tools necessary to lose money like Chadam and I do. Excited?

My Hard-Earned Winnings
Creative Commons License photo credit: locusolus

A parlay is when you combine several point-spread wagers into one bet. If you pick all the games correctly, you receive a big payout, but if any one of the teams loses, you lose your entire bet.

There is a very high risk in this bet, but it also has a high reward. For example, if you think the Titans, Colts and Jets are all going to cover the spread, you could make three $10 individual bets on each team. If they all win, you win $28.56 in profits ($9.52 on each).

If you bet $30 on a parlay (+644) for those three teams, and they won, you would win $64.42 profit. At the same time, if one team lost you would lose all $30 in the parlay, but you would still make $9 profit from the three individual bets.

You can do a parlay for any amount of game lines you want, but be cautious. Pick too many, and it’s a sucker bet.

A progressive parlay is similar to a parlay but with different odds for how many games you correctly choose. For example, a four-team progressive parlay may pay (+400) if you correctly choose all four games and pay (+100) if you choose three of the four correctly. You have a little room for error in your picks.

The reward for choosing all the games correctly is lower than a parlay payout, but you still have a chance of winning money even if you make one wrong pick.

Progressive parlays change depending on how many games there are. The more teams in the progressive parlay, the more incorrect picks you can make and still win money — Chadam loves these bets.

Chadam had so many lines he loved this week, he couldn’t choose just one to endorse as his favorite. He’s pimping a three-team, seven-point teaser with the Titans (-0.5), Saints (+4) and Jets (+4). Buyer beware.

I like the Colts, Chargers and Jets in a three-team parlay. I might include the Titans and make it progressive…or just make both bets.

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants

Chadam Takes: 49ers (+10) over GIANTS
This is my mini-upset of the week, and if Elisha’s chest injury is worse than Coughlin has let on, then I’ll be looking pretty good.

Nick Takes: GIANTS (-10) over 49ers
So what if Giants lost to the Browns last week? The Giants will bounce back at home. I have no respect for Mike Martz, and I think the 49ers are overrated. That’s right, a 2-4 team is overrated. They have only beaten the Lions and the Seahawks while Seattle was injured. The 49ers won’t get more than five wins this season. Boom tho.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

Chadam Takes: Steelers (-9.5) over BENGALS
If I were Fitzpatrick, I would be calling in sick to work this weekend. They’ll eventually win a game, just not this one.

Nick Takes: Steelers (-9.5) over BENGALS
I think I got shafted last week because I picked the Bengals thinking they had Carson Palmer. This week, I know they don’t have him, just like I know the Bengals don’t have a chance in this one.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Chadam Takes: Titans (-7.5) over CHIEFS
I couldn’t believe it when coach Herm Edwards said the Chiefs defense looked amazing last week. Wait, they were on bye? And they were playing against the Chiefs offense? Well, that explains everything.

Nick Takes: Titans (-7.5) over CHIEFS
All Chiefs’ players are going to be disappointed because they weren’t traded away before the trade deadline this past Tuesday. They are going to have no motivation to play hard, especially against a team like the Titans. Consider this game the rent money special.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Chadam Takes: BEARS (-3) over Vikings
Yeah, I’ve decided that these two teams are the exact same, like clones of each other. Let’s roll with the home team on this one and see where it takes us.

Nick Takes: BEARS (-3) over Vikings
I’m not sure what to think about these teams after Chicago losing to Atlanta and the Vikings barely beating the Lions. Frerotte has played well so far, but I still don’t trust him.

San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills

Chadam Takes: BILLS (+1) over Chargers
But only because I have to cheer for Trent Edwards for a month in a league where I lost Romo.

Nick Takes: Chargers (-1) over BILLS
Move over L.T., the Chargers’ offense now revolves around Philip Rivers. Rivers is getting it done, and I expect it to continue against the soon-to-be-exposed Bills.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Chadam Takes: Saints (-3) over PANTHERS
It’s like these two teams didn’t even play games last week. What a line. I have a feeling Nick and I will be selling kidneys to finance our wagering on this one.

Nick Takes: Saints (+3) over PANTHERS
The Panthers’ confidence has to be a little shaken after the whooping the Bucs put on them. I expect the Saints to win if they run McAllister and keep dumping off to Bush in short screen passes. If they stick with that formula, I think they can take the division.

Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Rams

Chadam Takes: Cowboys (-7) over RAMS
The Rams took out Washington with a lucky fumble return and some field goals. I’m willing to bet that Brad “The Human Checkdown” Johnson can beat the Rams with Dallas’ new stud, Roy Williams.

Nick Takes: RAMS (+7) over Cowboys
I love seeing the Cowboys exposed the past few weeks, but expecting the Rams to knock off two NFC East teams in a row seems a bit much. I’m going to take the points because I’m not really sure what to expect with Brad Johnson and the depleted secondary of the Cowboys.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Chadam Takes: Ravens (+2.5) over DOLPHINS
The only good thing about Miami is Dexter.

Nick Takes: DOLPHINS (-2.5) over Ravens
It’s going to be tough for Joe Flacco to bounce back from his horrible showing last week against the Colts. I think this rookie has finally hit the wall.

Detroit Lions at Houston Texans

Chadam Takes: TEXANS (-8.5) over Lions
Here’s the answer to last week’s puzzle: Use the first letter of my picks to form a message for Sage. (Ed. Note: Look at Chadam finding creative ways to be vulgar.) A little late, I know, but the Indy loss still stings even after Sunday’s comeback over Miami. As for this week, I’m thinking the Texans will rush four and have the other seven defenders chase Calvin Johnson around now that Roy Williams and Jon Kitna are out of the picture.

Nick Takes: TEXANS (-8.5) over Lions
Did anyone see Dan Orlovsky run out of the back of his own end zone last week and not even realize it? Kids in Pop Warner don’t even make those kinds of mistakes. Expecting the Texans to win by more than a touchdown is tough, but I believe the Lions are that bad.

New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

Chadam Takes: Jets (-3) over RAIDERS
Didn’t the Raiders just get pwned like n00bs by 31 points? I’m finding it really hard to hate on the Jets with these money-in-the-bank lines Vegas is providing.

Nick Takes: Jets (-3) over RAIDERS
I’m not a fan of the Jets, but I love this bet. Maybe the Raiders will play hard for their new coach, but I don’t think it matters. No way the Raiders can stop Thomas Jones and Brett Favre, much less put up any points under the inaccurate arm of JaMarcus Russell.

Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers

Chadam Takes: Colts (-1.5) over PACKERS
I hate to say it, but Peyton carved up a very good defense last week. I’ll give them the nod in a possible shootout.

Nick Takes: Colts (-1.5) over PACKERS
I am all about the favorites this week. The Colts finally found their offense just like I knew they would. Aaron Rodgers is about to get schooled by one of the premiere QBs in the NFL. Jeez, I’m going to be putting a lot of money down this weekend.

Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins

Chadam Takes: REDSKINS (-7) over Browns
So much for The Zorn Supremacy. I had the stupid Redskins in an Eliminator league. Guess how that worked out. Anyways, I want to see Cleveland look good one more week before I pay them respect.

Nick Takes: REDSKINS (-7) over Browns
This is an interesting matchup because both teams performed the polar opposite of what we expected last week. The Redskins lost to the winless Rams and the Browns knocked off the undefeated reigning Super Bowl champions. I’m sticking with the Redskins because, looking at the stats last week, I determined that they should have won if it wasn’t for all those turnovers — very uncharacteristic of them.

Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pacman LeapingChadam Takes: BUCS (-10.5) over Seahawks
Tampa Bay is like an adopted son to me, and they are one preseason favorite of mine that is actually panning out. By the way, I visited Tampa Bay this past weekend for some boozing and baseball. If you get a chance, hit up Mons Venus. Pacman would give it two thumbs up.

Nick Takes: Seahawks (+10.5) over BUCS
I’m guessing the Bucs will be a little cocky after last week and let their guard down. As the Rams showed us, any team in the NFL is capable of winning on any given Sunday…except the Lions.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

Chadam Takes: Broncos (+3) over PATRIOTS
I hope the Broncos blow this game open and look good doing it so Nick will be tempted to wager on them again.

Nick Takes: Broncos (+3) over PATRIOTS
I will finally admit it; the Patriots are worthless without Brady. They just can’t seem to get any offense going. I know Belichick is using running back by committee, but he just needs to pick one so they can get some rhythm and continuity going in that offense. Matt Cassel isn’t going to provide any, so he might as well try out a running back. I think they are capable of winning this game by 10 points, but I just don’t trust them anymore. I’m going to take the points, but the Broncos are still in my doghouse.

Last Week:

Chadam: 7-7
Nick: 7-7

Current Standings after Week 6:

Chadam: 43-40-2
Nick: 46-37-2
Simmons: 44-41-3

Q&A QB: How to Draft First Overall in Nine-Team Division

Q&A QB is a new head-smacking, hard-hitting, name-taking question and answer series where Jacob assists readers and his Twitter followers in perfecting their draft strategy and winning their league. This post is the first run at it. Let Jacob know what you think in the comments, and if you’d like to be featured in a future Q&A QB post, send Jacob an email or tweet him, whatever that means.

This week in Q&A QB, we’ll take a look at several questions and a walkthrough for how to draft with the first overall pick in a nine-team division.

QUESTION: I have the first pick in the draft, and there are nine teams in a point-only division. What would your team look like?

Basically, you luck out with LaDainian Tomlinson then load up on wide receivers that score a lot and a top quarterback. Once you have found your top players in each category, snag a productive second running back and another receiver.

I suggest using this draft strategy: L.T., WR, WR, RB or QB, RB or QB, WR. Flesh out your roster from there.

After taking L.T. in the first, hopefully you will still be able to pick two out of Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards for your second and third round back-to-back picks. Lynch is hard to pass up if he is there, but he is more a yardage guy than a touchdown machine. Of course, one can always hope for change.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: I’m obviously going L.T. first, and since it’s a nine-team league, my next pick will be the 18th overall pick.

With the second and third round back-to-back picks, I was thinking Braylon Edwards then, if available, one of the top-10 QBs. Hoping Romo will slip and fall that far, but I’m doubting it. So most likely it will be Drew Brees or Matt Hasselbeck. That way, I at least have a top tier in each position and fill in from there.

On my next picks, I’m thinking players like Santonio Holmes will slip to me and maybe someone like LenDale White. What are your suggestions?

I’d target Braylon Edwards if you can get him in the second round. If not, take one of the top-10 WRs if there is still one on the board.

In your third round, I think you could go WR or QB. If Romo is still on the board, definitely take him. Brees is probably worth taking as well.

If a top WR like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still on the board, I might pass on Brees and take another WR hoping that an elite QB will fall to you.

I definitely would not use your third round pick on Hasselbeck. I’m avoiding him this season, and I don’t think he’s worth a high pick this year. His WRs are all banged up and the new RBBC could reduce Hasselbeck’s throwing attempts.

In the fourth round, I would look at the QB situation and decide what you want to do. There may still be one or two elite QBs here. This pick is close to where Ben Roethlisberger is being taken, but I think it’s a little high for him.

If you are worried you are going to miss out on all the top QBs, take one here with one of your picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Otherwise, you could wait longer.

Here’s the strategy with waiting:

You could push your luck and hope that Derek Anderson falls to you in the sixth round. I think he’s got about as good a chance as Big Ben of being a strong QB this year. With just nine teams, you’ll only be about 54 picks in by the sixth round and just across the 60 pick mark when your pick comes up.

In standard scoring, that’s where Anderson, Hasselbeck (if you like him) and Jay Cutler are all going. You could take two of those guys back-to-back in the sixth and seventh rounds to have a strong QB tandem that could trade off every week.

Note: This advice was given before Anderson’s concussion against the Giants, but I still think he can be counted on this season.

It’s really up to you how you want to play the QB, but don’t reach for anyone. Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Jake Delhomme also make good backup QBs that you can probably get in the eighth round with just nine teams. Just depends on how many teams are in need of a QB by the time the sixth round rolls around.

Back to the fourth round, if you decide to pass on a QB there or have taken one already in the third round, you should look at Michael Turner, Edgerrin James, Thomas Jones or LenDale White here. All of them are 1) strong workhorse RBs that will get the majority of carries for their team and 2) not going to lose TD touches.

Turner and Edge are both going to get plenty of carries as their young QBs develop. Jones will have the running lanes open because of Favre. White gets so many chances to run the ball that gravity forces him to produce. If any of them are available, spend a pick on them and then another WR like Plaxico Burress, Torry Holt, Roy Williams or maybe Brandon Marshall if you don’t mind his two- or three-game suspension.

I like all of those guys better than Santonio Holmes. I have some concern that Big Ben is not going to throw the TDs as much this year, and when he does throw them, I think Holmes loses catches to Heath Miller and Hines Ward.

From there on out, look for value picks that get a lot of touches and targets in their offense.

Stick with guys that have huge upsides and little risk, and you should improve a lot this year. With a nine-man league, there will probably be plenty of waiver wire grabs to save your team by the middle of the season as well.

Drafting Your Fantasy Running Backs: The Details to Consider in 2008

If breaking down the details for this year’s fantasy running backs doesn’t make you want to take LaDainian Tomlinson first overall in your re-draft league, I don’t know what will. Seriously, people.

When you’re talking fantasy running backs, what separates the vets from the noobs is consideration of a few minor factors beyond how high-powered a running back’s offense was last year and where the running back ranks on cheat sheets this season. Looking at the slight details like what defenses they face, contract lengths and ages can help you make the call between two closely-ranked RBs in your draft.

Let’s jump into how these factors will affect some top fantasy running backs this season with some good ol’ plus or minus analysis — and we go with negative first around these parts.

The Age Old Rule

First, let’s talk age. When you’re an old running back, you’re like a hot potato. No one wants to get stuck holding you when you crack.

Fantasy Football Toolbox told all with a list of all the running backs age 29 or older. There won’t be any pluses in this category, so we will have Big/Mini shades of Minus — a very scientific method, fingers crossed.

For fantasy’s sake, here’s who is getting to be old bones:

BIG Minus –

  • Warrick Dunn – Tampa Bay: I know you thought he was a spring chicken.
  • Ahman Green – Houston Texans: His knees show his age like the rings in a tree trunk.
  • LaMont Jordan – Oakland Raiders: Age and injury have punched Jordan’s ticket out of Oakland.
  • Thomas Jones – New York Jets: Things could go either way for Jones in 2008 with a new O-line.
  • Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: It’s hard to make a comeback with just a couple of years left in the tank.
  • Deuce McAllister – New Orleans Saints: Coming off injury AND old. Not pretty. “Little Deuce” Aaron Stecker (32) isn’t getting younger for the Saints either.
  • The New England Trio: Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris – New England Patriots: Most of New England’s backfield is over 30. The Patriots can get production out of the old guys, but these guys have got to be breaking down this year. Maybe they will remember that they have Laurence Maroney.

Mini Minus –

  • Jamal Lewis – Cleveland Browns: I think he was reborn when he became a Brown because he certainly did his owners right last year.
  • Fred Taylor – Jacksonville Jaguars: Everyone keeps calling for Maurice Jones-Drew, but Taylor seems to find gas in the tank.
  • Edgerrin James – Arizona Cardinals: Old with flashes of youth still left.
  • Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia Eagles: Only 28 but backup is Correll Buckhalter (29). No wonder the Eagles wanted Lorenzo Booker, a spry 24, from Miami.

Strength of Schedules: Running into Brick Walls

NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano ranked the rushing schedules of fantasy running backs last week while we were just sitting around chatting about the free agents of 2009, which is the next section.

Fantasy Football Xtreme’s Smitty also put together a strength of schedule analysis earlier this offseason, showing L.T. is the set to be at the top in 2008.

Pouring out a little link love for my homies, Fantasy Football Librarian noted that Fabiano’s breakdown makes Laurence Maroney look pretty favorable, and Football Jabber singled out the top and bottom five teams. Frank Gore has his work cut out for him, and no one in Houston’s backfield has it easy this year.

Here’s who’ll be hurting on and who’ll be hurting from run defenses this year:

Minus –

  • Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers: Even if he isn’t the focus of the offense, he will still be the focus of the defense. It’s not looking good. I might go Tom Brady over Gore in the first round, but I’m not totally quitting on him yet.
  • Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants: Long road back to the top against some of the best defenses out there at stopping the run. Giants will have to keep it dynamic in the run game to say ahead.
  • Edgerrin James – Arizona Cardinals: Notch Edge down another point for this one.
  • Ahman Green (and friends) – Houston Texans: No one will have an easy time running for Houston. With a pack of inconsistent backs, I’d avoid them all in your drafts this year.
  • Jamal Lewis – Cleveland Browns: Age AND a schedule full of stacked run defenses. That hurts.
  • Julius Jones – Seattle Seahawks: Jones can’t improve his stock much in Seattle against the best in the biz of stopping him.
  • Marion Barber and Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys: A huge offense makes this a minor point. Does this stat mean they will throw more? PLUS to Romo if that’s the case.

Plus +

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers: You couldn’t really ask for much more than L.T. having the best schedule of any RB. For the most part, Tomlinson will be running against the bottom-of-the-barrel run defenses.
  • Laurence Maroney – New England Patriots: Will the Patriots use him with the easiest rushing defense schedule? I think they might just let Brady throw all day again, but he could run easy when they let him.
  • Thomas Jones – New York Jets: If his new O-line can block for him, Jones has it free and clear this season.
  • Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: Two bounce backs is possible. My money’s on Brown more than Ricky.
  • Travis Henry – Denver Broncos: Easy street should win him some points with Shanny.
  • Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints: The Saints offense is in line for a big year. Bush is the probably the better back to snag.
  • Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills: The second-best rookie of 2008 gets forgotten at times, but he should have a nice 2008 season with an easy rushing schedule and an improved offense. I’m high on this kid and owned him last year.
  • Larry Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs: Rebounds abound? Maybe. Johnson has an easy schedule to redeem himself for last year.
  • Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons: All that postseason hype won’t weigh down Turner much in Atlanta when he faces mostly low-end or middle-of-the-pack run defenses. In an offense based off the run this year, Turner could be more productive than people think.

Freebirds in Free Agency of 2009

Who’s looking to bust a move? Running backs who have a payday coming are always more likely to impress, but those who just got paid can be slowed by their wallets.

Plus +

  • Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams: The big man might get money before the season, but if not, stay out of his way.
  • Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants: He’s got his work cut out for him, but boy, he wants to work.
  • Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: The “Freebird” title of this section was purely unintentional — I promise. Ricky probably has to make enough money over the next two years to rebuild his straw hut in a foreign country and smoke away the pain…That might not be very much though.

Minus –

  • Marion Barber – Dallas Cowboys: Likely to have just signed a major deal by the time the season starts even though he is a free agent now. Hopefully, money won’t weigh him down like it did Shaun Alexander.

In Closing

When it’s all said and done, these three factors paint a picture for who looks better than they might have beforehand and worse now than ever before. Some older backs may make nice RB2s, but don’t fall for drafting them as RB1s again this season.

Ricky Williams is still risky, but he has a lot going in his favor. Ronnie Brown is the more dependable guy to have for Miami, but Ricky cold be a good value pick. On the other hand, Marion Barber might have two strikes against him going into the season. Jamal Lewis looks like a player to avoid in the worst way possible.

Take all these factors into your noggin this offseason and remember to factor them in when you are choosing between two running backs in your draft. Upside is hard to find with running backs since the RBBCs are forming everywhere in the league, but make sure you get the most out of your running back picks. Don’t get stuck making the wrong call. Some rookies with young legs might be worth betting on over solid veterans.

Let me echo this again: L.T. looks good overlooking the age effect. In my mind, these factors put him clearly up there in the No. 1 overall spot. Take him first in your re-draft leagues, and call me in the morning.

Agree, disagree or explode in the comments below.

Off-season Update: Running backs take focus this week, QBs and WRs stink it up [NFL News]

Everyone took pity on quarterbacks this week. Atlanta saw fit to bring back Joey Harrington after releasing him–even though we all know they will probably pick a QB up in the draft *cough* Matt Ryan *cough*. The Rams chose Trent Green to be the back up to Marc Bulger, but is it good practice to pick a concussion-prone quarterback as the best back up for an oft-injured Bulger? Me thinks the Rams will need a solid third quarterback on the roster if they plan to make it through the season.

Sadly, the New York Giants, not to be seen as uncharitable, decided they had enough money leftover from the Super Bowl blow parties to bring back the white-gloved wonder David Carr. I really thought we were going to get rid of him this year. Apparently, my gut feeling doubted the power of the gloves.

But enough about that. The real meat of this week’s free agent moves was in the running backs.

While the hot buzz item is Shaun Alexander‘s likely boot from Seattle after the signing of Julius Jones, Detroit made the big cut in axing Kevin Jones. Due to Jones’ brittle nature, Tatum Bell will finally get more carries in Detroit. Maybe Tatum can finally escape his “journeyman” label in a Detroit offense re-making the run game–Hashmarks sees his potential–but Detroit still has a long way to go. In short, Bell may be fantasy relevant this season, but he won’t be at the top of any lists.

With draft implications, Jesse Chatman of the one-win Miami of 2007 moved over to the New York Jets to act as a back up and potential change of pace back for Thomas Jones. Behind the offensive line that the Jets built this offseason, both RBs could see fantasy relevance, but it could be Darren McFadden replacing Jesse Chatman as the second man in that rotation after the draft.

Note: I don’t believe that the Jets will pass on McFadden if he falls to them. Jones is no astonishing talent, and McFadden could work miracles behind the O-line the Jets have put together.

The Houston Texans–who everyone thinks will also not be passing on any RBs in this year’s draft–seem to be set on taking free agent running backs from now on. Even though they are “really high” on this Chris Taylor kid who didn’t see a down due to injury in 2007, the Houston Texans went out and signed Chris Brown, formerly of the Titans. Depth charts are definitely uncertain in Houston now as they could still take one more RB left in the draft and then, hopefully, release a lot of their broken has-beens like Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. In addition, we now know that Chris Brown never likes to be the only Chris in his position on any team [see: Chris Henry of Titans].

Warrick Dunn found new life in Tampa Bay with their oodles of extra money this offseason. Even with rumors of Cadillac Williams not being able to return though, I can’t see Dunn being more than a back up or lightly used back behind Earnest Graham to start 2008.

The Bucs also saw fit to invest in Antonio Bryant, the troubled receiver that hasn’t found a place to call home since being shipped out of Dallas. He is likely to not be much of an impact.

Non-impact seemed to be a theme in any area besides running backs this week. Drew Carter signed with the Raiders after posting a fantasy footnote in Carolina last year. I expect him to be third behind Javon Walker and Ronald Curry, but he could surprise me if he ever lives up to his “burner” status. I just haven’t seen it.

One receiver that could be of use is Justin McCareins, back in Tennessee after his stint with the Jets last season. The Titans know how to use him, and he has to catch better than the core group of slippery-fingered banana-handlers they have now. I might actually look to snag Vince Young as my QB2 this year in a later round if they can rebuild the receiving game this offseason. A rookie WR in the draft could give it some edge.

With free agency winding down, look for a newly updated mock draft and more fantasy offseason list making than you could ever desire from a fantasy site coming in the next several days.