Nicky the Note is an opinionated S.O.B. who has been around the sports analysis and media review block for quite some time now. His primary Fantasy Football league is celebrating it's 21st season in existence, true fantasy football pioneers. He also has over 18 years of sports wagering experience. Additionally, his knowledge and feel for the game seem to keep evolving and growing in tandem with his ego.
Besides the football and sports worlds, Nicky has also written film/music reviews as well as conducted feature artist interviews for online publications such as FilmMonthly.com and MachineGunFunk.
Watch for all my columns and Fantasy Football analysis this season on drinkfive.com. Good luck, and have a blast this season!
Are you looking for a vote of confidence when finalizing your weekly confidence pool picks or placing your game wagers? Let me be that football wizard who has seen the prophecies of victory and can set your wagering soul at ease. In this column, I will briefly go over each match up, explaining the main reasons for my decision on the winner of every game. I will also tell you who I'd pick when it comes to point spreads and over/unders. Confidence pool tip: when making my picks, I start with the easiest game/highest number and work my way down. I then go over my final decisions a couple times as well as making changes during the week as injuries and other factors come into play. Remember, St. Nick always checks that list twice and so should you.
NICK'S WEEK 4 PICKS:
DOLPHINS @ BENGALS - Cincy should of had a win but they did play Denver. The Dolphins almost lost to the Browns at home. I think this game will have above average scoring with Cincinnati coming out on top. Results- Bengals will win and barely cover the spread. Pick the under.
COLTS @ JAGUARS - Two mystery teams playing in a foreign land. So, not only are these squads hard to figure out, neither have home field advantage. I'm going with the Colts on this one because Frank Gore and the running game seems more crisp than that of the Jags and I'm also impressed with the play of tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle. Colts will pull off a close win and cover the close spread. I'm going with the over since both defenses will probably miss the plane to London.
BILLS @ PATRIOTS - What's to be said here? The Pats are not going to lose in Foxboro, no matter who is under center, and the under-achieving Bills pulled off a miracle last week against a very good team to save their coach's job. The Patriots will win decisively and cover the spread without a problem. The over might be a little high because of last week's charity thrown the Bill's way.
SEAHAWKS @ JETS - I'm a realist... and I really don't think Russel Wilson will play much, if at all. If he suits up and plays, he will be ineffective. I also think the Jets had a hiccup and are a much better team than Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the guys showed against the Chiefs last week. Seattle still has a good defense, but so do the Jets. This game will come down to a few big plays. I'm leaning on the Jets to pull off the upset, so put low numbers on confidence pools and stay away from the spread. Definitely the under on this one.
BROWNS @ REDSKINS - The Browns did not look like the Browns we all know and ridicule last week because they played Miami, a Jekyll & Hyde team. They will not fare so well against the Redskins this week, who are a much better team in my opinion and are starting to hit their stride. The Redskins will win but won't cover the spread as the game barely makes the under.
LIONS @ BEARS - This one is so easy, a soccer fan could figure it out. The Bears are banged up and brutal while Matthew Stafford has shifted the Lions offense into high gear. Detroit will come away with a big time division win, so put the big time confidence points on them. Also, take the Lions and the low spread which is a steal. I feel confident in the over even if the game is lopsided.
RAIDERS @ RAVENS - Now that the Ravens have pulled off three games in a row, this game is a little easier to pick. The Raiders have given up a lot of yards this year and will continue to do so against Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing attack. Baltimore will easily cover the spread and would tread with some caution if picking the under, which is where I'm leaning.
TITANS @ TEXANS - The Texans came up empty last week, but it was against the Patriots on the road for a prime time game. I believe they will do a lot better against division rival Titans this week, but put low pool numbers on this one. With J.J. Watt gone, there will be more running lanes for Demarco Murray to enable the Titans to get some offense going. Stay away from the spread but definitely go for the over.
PANTHERS @ FALCONS - Another tight division game? Not exactly. Yeah, I know Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking good, but Monday night's win came against the worst defense in football. They will have their hands full playing the stout defense of the reigning NFC champion Panthers. Carolina only lost because they faced Minnesota's defense, one of the best in the league. The Panthers should cover the spread and I'd put mid-range pool points on them. Stay away from picking the total points.
BRONCOS @ BUCCANEERS - I think Denver's offense is the real deal and we all know their defense is tops in the AFC. The Bucs are another Jekyll & Hyde team that is hard to put your finger on. I would take Denver in both pools and point spreads, as well as taking the over in this contest.
SAINTS @ CHARGERS - This is a classic example of a game where you want to put low numbers on the confidence pool and stay away from the spread. Both teams put up large amounts of points but have weak defenses. That being said, I would take the over if I touched anything in this game. If I had to pick a winner, it would be San Diego because of home field advantage and a slightly better defense.
RAMS @ CARDINALS - What the hell happened to the Cardinals last week? I want to forget about that game altogether... and so does my wallet. Arrrgh! The Rams have a good defense and obviously a potential star RB in Todd Gurley. The problem is, they are too hard to predict as they are only showing flashes of potential. Arizona should win this game with all of their talented offensive weapons, including their own star RB David Johnson and a tough defense to boot. I would pick the Cardinals covering the spread, low pool points and would stay away from the over/under due to the strong defense play on both sides of the ball.
COWBOYS @ 49ERS - Dallas is on the rise with their rookie QB and RB duo. San Fran are a bunch of jokers with flash in the pan ability. Definitely no consistency to beat a surging Cowboys team. I would pick Dallas all day to cover the spread, mid-to high pool points and would pick the over.
CHIEFS @ STEELERS - Pittsburgh is coming off an embarrassing loss and the Chiefs finally played like the team people remembered them to be a season ago. The Steelers have home field advantage with Le'Veon Bell returning to action, so Heinz Field will be like playing in an insane asylum if you're the visiting team. I'd go with low pool points and safely take the Steelers and the spread, which is under a touchdown, but would stay away from the over/under.
GIANTS @ VIKINGS - This game would be a lot closer to decide if it weren't for the crazy play of Minnesota's defense and the electricity of playing at home in a new stadium. Sam Bradford looks like he has been with the Vikings for multiple seasons, not multiple weeks and Stefon Diggs has become the talk of the WR world. Now, the Giants have a trio of playmakers in Beckham, Cruz and Shephard, as well as a beefed-up defensive front, but I just don't think it will be enough to get past the Vikings. Stick with low to mid on pool points, safely take Minnesota and the spread, but stay away from the over/under.
Zap! You have the lethal, fantasy football death ray in your hands and it's time to use it against the rival, 'wasting' space scum in your league. I'm going to explain how to switch that laser from stun to disintegrate, resulting in mismatched trades in your favor. Now listen up, some of your fantasy foes might be a little too savvy to pull the trigger on one of your 'delicious dishes of deception'. However, most are hungry for a move that appears to fatten their roster but in reality, equals the caloric content of a few carrot sticks.
As the season unfolds, the value of NFL players becomes apparent if not evident. Injuries, demotions, promotions and evolving styles of play can and will affect the value of players- whether they are proven veterans, 2nd tier skill guys or up and comers. A great piece of advice is not to get too sentimental when it comes to name recognition. Just because a guy is a household name and has past seasons of numerical glory to back up his value, doesn't mean he can't turn into a 'Johnny Bum' overnight... even barring a major injury. Sometimes a new coach, system or quarterback can change the dynamic of a team, resulting in a decreased workload or maybe just getting fewer looks while playing the same amount of snaps. Sometimes it's just the player himself; maybe underachieving while team competition at that position is becoming the better option. Bottom line is that fantasy value is hiding all over the place, and if you're smart, you can grab no-namers off the waiver wire as well as an opponent's roster. Names are just names and the past is the past. The present and future are the only factors of time you need to concern yourself with.
Now, with all of the above being said, you can also deal a flash in the pan for a steady, well-known player that might have a minor injury or is just slow getting out of the gate this season. There is no true system or one method that is universal. Like life itself, all decisions are situational. The moves you make are going to depend on your team's needs(injuries, handcuffs, bye-week fillers,etc.) as well as taking advantage of others to strengthen your bench. That is one point I cannot stress enough: build a solid bench! If you are barely hanging on to your fantasy strength by starters only, you need to get on the good foot and start making moves... via trades and free agency. The whole point to any of this is winning your league. Yes, there is luck involved but the best players on the block know how to put together a strong, well-balanced squad.
Entice the competition by making it seem you are unsure or hesitant when making a trade offer. In the comments section of a trade offer sheet, write things such as, "Not sure I want to offer this" or "I'm taking a big risk unloading this guy, but...". This will have people not adept in psychological manipulation thinking that you're the one who doesn't have a fantasy clue. Most times in a competitive league, this won't happen. For every time that it does work, the instant rise in team potential - as well as peace of mind to your fantasy supremacy - will be worth the moves you make. Manipulation is the key factor. Make it seem like you're giving up more to get less even though this isn't the case. You may only be gaining a little from certain trades but any advantage turns you into the victor of the deal. Sure, things can always backfire, that is the nature of sports gambling. Nonetheless, you have to roll the dice.
Here are a few players from the 2016 season to trade for and to trade away:
You want Eddie Lacy. Slow start, but two road games to begin the season with one against a stout Minnesota D. Green Bay's next 4 games are at home against mediocre defenses.
You want Willie Snead. This guy is not a flash in the pan. Check out his numbers through his last 17 games. Almost the same stat line of Miami's Jarvis Landry.
You want Mohamed Sanu. With Julio Jones always nursing some sort of minor injury and still getting double covered, Sanu will be an excellent weekly WR2, especially playing in the warmth of Atlanta.
You want Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's no Joe Namath... yet.
You might want to trade away Travis Benjamin. Emerging as San Diego's WR1 by injury default, he has 2 consecutive double digit weeks and is coming off a monster, 2 TD game. He could be a 'flash in the pan' player as I mentioned earlier and may not live up to his new role as the #1 guy. This makes him excellent trade bait for a quality player with above average weekly consistency over a boom or bust candidate.
You might want to trade away Isaiah Crowell. Coming off two consecutive weeks scoring a TD in each contest and amassing over 230 total yards, his upside looks great. However, Browns' QB Josh McCown got injured, left the game and the team switched to the run... which did not work. Additionally, 85 of Crowell's 133 yards came from one play. I wouldn't say he has no value, but you can find better out there, especially a guy who isn't on the Browns. This is the perfect player to entice a fantasy rookie or someone who doesn't do their research, looking to land a cheap thrill.
You might want to trade away Charles Sims. Definitely some upside with Doug Martin leaving week 2's game with a hamstring injury and no exact timetable for his return. Sure, Sims didn't fare that well this past week, but it was on the road against Arizona's tough defense. He'll have value to those in need of RBs because for the uncertain future, he will be the main ball carrier in Tampa Bay... for now.