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Breakfast Table: Pianowski and Stopa Talk Football

Scott Pianowski

Scott Pianowski writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa has been sharing his fantasy insights for Rotowire since 2007. Mark is the 2010 and 2012 Staff Picks champion (eat your heart out, Chris Liss) and won Rotowire's 14-team Staff League II in consecutive seasons. He roots for the Bills and has season tickets on the second row, press level to the Rays.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Pianowski
To: Mark Stopa
Sent: Thu, Nov 20, 2014 4:55 pm
Subject: Snow Table

If you can't find a fantasy defense this week, you're not trying. Seven teams are favored by more than a touchdown, and a handful of the spreads are in double digits. Forget watching football this week, let's just shovel out Buffalo.

Miami drew Denver at the worst possible time, right? Or are too many key Broncos hurt?

I can't see how Detroit challenges New England, short of a Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski injury. It's interesting how quarterback hits are illegal in today's NFL, but teams can do whatever they want to Gronkowski. I wish the Patriots would protect him in blowouts.

Give me something to pay attention to. Are you looking forward to the Cowboys and Giants? Will a prime time game bail out the Saints? I'm sick of talking about Josh Gordon, but I'll give you the floor. My readers act like I canceled Christmas by ranking him in the WR2 range this week.

At least the Week 14 slate looks like fun. Bah humbug Breakfast is served.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Pianowski
To: Mark Stopa
Sent: Thu, Nov 20, 2014 6:27 pm
Subject: Snow Table

You want to know what to watch this week? I'll lay it out the way I see it, the most important stuff first.

Will the Lions defense slow down New England enough to keep the game in the 20s, or will Super-Gronk will plow through defenders like teenagers in a mosh pit? Remember, the Lions held Aaron Rodgers to seven points and have top-notch, season-long stats: 6.8 YPA, 80.8 QB Rating, and one of just two teams with as many INTs as passing TDs allowed. If the Lions don't slow down New England, nobody will.

Will the Dolphins defense do to the Broncos what the Rams did last week? You're not ignoring that possibility, are you? I'm not, particularly if Wes Welker (whose aging has been anything but graceful - he took a swan-dive over the cliff weeks ago), Andre Caldwell, and Jacob Tamme are a huge part of the offense. Against a lesser team, sure, I'd be picking a Denver blowout. But Miami has the horses on defense to make me confident taking them +7 in Staff Picks.

Can Josh Gordon be great right away? He's a ridiculously talented player, sure, but I'm betting against it. Gordon has so many variables working against him - long layoff, new coach, run-first offense. WR2 sounds right to me, for this week, anyway. Sight unseen (without knowing the O/U), I told Kevin Payne that I'd take the under on his yardage total. Fade the hype, gamers.

Will the Cardinals keep fooling everyone and win in Seattle? After a slow start, Arizona's secondary looks dominant - can they pull a 2013 Seahawks? If you had to give me two NFC contenders, besides Green Bay, would Arizona be one of them? If not, who is?

Can the Saints bounce back without Brandin Cooks? Cooks was hardly a game-changer, but the Saints were struggling even with him. What happened to all the explosive plays? What's going to save that offense? And does it even matter if New Orleans wins this week? Can any of those NFC South teams contend?

Is Bucs-Bears the Revenge Bowl for McCown? Did Chicago re-sign the wrong quarterback? That game doesn't matter much in real-life, but it sure has some fantasy goodness. I know you like Mike Evans (who doesn't?); if you were starting a new team and could pick any rookie receiver, would Evans be your guy?

Bengals-Texans has playoff implications. Do you believe in Ryan Mallett?

Stay safe, Buffalo fans. We're all rooting for you this week.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Pianowski
To: Mark Stopa
Sent: Fri, Nov 21, 2014 12:50 pm
Subject: Re: Snow Table

I rewatched the Colts and Patriots long-form, just to hear Michaels and Collinsworth again describe The Gronk Show. Oh, I know, Jonas Gray had his huge game, but Gronkowski is fascinating. He calls himself "Yo Soy Fiesta" for crying out loud. He threw the Colts defender out of the club. He mocked Castonzo's cheesy touchdown dance (at least I think Gronk was doing that). He's the most fun player in the league.

The Gordon hype is getting out of control. Last year's Week 3 explosion keeps getting mentioned, which is nice, but there's a big difference between a two-week layoff and an 11-week one. Timing matters.

Sharpness matters. It's a new freaking offense. I still have him in the WR2 range this week, but I don't think he's unbenchable in some shallower formats. But most fantasy owners live by Friendliest Loss.

Peyton Manning has enough to get to 30-plus. His record in bounce-back games is terrific. No one is a good matchup for Demaryius Thomas. C.J. Anderson at least is better than that stiff Montee Ball. Maybe this is the week they finally unleash Cody Latimer. I don't dislike Caldwell, either.

Re-signing McCown was never a legitimate option for the Bears, but Cutler isn't the answer, either. It's been said many times (and I wasn't first) - he's this generation's Jeff George. But let's be clear on what that means; George was always watchable and fun. He had a gun, he annoyed teammates, media, opponents. You never wanted to take your eye off him. There's
something to be said for entertainment.

Does everyone realize Andre Ellington's YPC is down to 3.4? It was 5.5 last year. I picked Arizona plus the spot because the line is bloated, but their Faustian Pact has to run out at some point. Drew Stanton makes too many loose throws every week. You can't blitz the better quarterbacks and get away with it. Do that against Aaron Rodgers and you'll get crushed.

Ryan Mallet's bubble will burst as soon as the league has some tape on him. The Patriots did him a favor all these years, keeping his limitations hidden. But when push came to shove, they got just about nothing for him in trade.

Give us a Bills-Jets spin. How much does this screwy week, and the shift of the game, hurt the Bills? At least Sammy Watkins will have a clear track to run past the Jets again. And heck, Buffalo already has a win in this stadium.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Stopa
To: Scott Pianowski
Sent: Fri, Nov 21, 2014 4:50 pm
Subject: Re: Snow Table

Gronk is the guy we all want to own (in fantasy), party with (in real life), and be like (if we played in the NFL). He's my favorite player in the NFL, and I can't stand Belichick, Brady, or the Patriots. Gronk 27, Megatron 24.

Forte, Jeffery, Marshall and Bennett is as talented a foursome at RB/WR/TE as any in the NFL, yet Cutler is wasting it. Why wasn't re-signing McCown an option? Nobody forced the Bears to double down with Cutler. Giving McCown a cheap contract and using him as a bridge to get to the long-term solution was certainly a viable option. And you know McCown will be thinking about that this week. Bucs 27-24.

Here are the game by game point totals allowed by Miami since its bye: 24, 14, 13, 0, 20, 9. After watching Peyton struggle to 7 points without all his weapons against a good front seven - in a dome, mind you - I can't just assume he'll go for 30(+) again. It looks like Emmanuel Sanders will play, though, so I'll call it Broncos 24-20 in a game that goes down to the final two minutes.

I'm curious to see how Ellington responds to Bruce Arians calling him out in the media this week. The foot has been an issue, but Arians clearly wants more out of Ellington. Will we see more this week? The game is in Seattle, but that doesn't mean as much as it used to, plus the Seahawks couldn't stop the Chiefs running game last week after injuries to its line. Under the circumstances, Ellington for $5,800 on DraftKings is one of the more intriguing DFS plays of the week.

Bills players are being picked up in snowmobiles ... if that's not a recipe for positive karma, nothing is. Seriously, how can the script be written any way except a feel-good win for the Bills? Who's writing the script for a Jets victory this week, Satan? If you want an Xs and Os angle, the sloppy conditions in Buffalo might have actually helped the Jets terrific front seven, but indoors, the Bills are in a better position to expose the Jets terrible secondary. Call me Allen Iverson, but the lack of practice is an overplayed angle, too - Buffalo game-planned for the Jets just a few weeks ago, and moving the game back a day will help. Bills 27-17.

Shame on the NFL for moving the game to Detroit instead of Tampa, though. Why send all the cold, miserable Bills fans to Detroit? The right play was to move the game to Tampa and watch local businesses pay to bring Bills fans down here for the game and great weather. I know I'd have chipped in, but hey, what do I know?

You ducked my questions about which rookie WR you'd most want in real life and the two NFC favorites after the Packers. Hit me up in the comments, amigo.