Breakfast Table: Pianowski and Stopa Talk Football
Breakfast Table: Pianowski and Stopa Talk Football

This article is part of our Breakfast Table series.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 9:20 AM
Subject: week 7 breakfast
To: Mark Stopa

Week 6 gave me plenty to be cranky about. Oh look, another heroic pick-six in the final minute to flip an ATS result (if you're a dog player, these are the plays you fear the most). Lovely game.

J.J. Watt is not the MVP. It frustrates me this even needs a discussion. Sure, he's the best at his position, probably the best defensive player in the league. But to endorse him for MVP is to shout out "I don't know what wins football games."

If you gave the Broncos and Texans the chance to play a game with full rosters or with Manning and Watt removed, Houston takes that deletion every time - and Denver says no way (even if the call came a week in advance of the game). The Chargers wouldn't scratch Rivers for Watt. Indianapolis wouldn't give up Luck for Watt.

I hope everyone realizes that in spite of Watt's dominance, the Colts still put up 27 first downs, 456 yards and 33 points last week. (Obviously football is a team game, and any star player can be sabotaged by his teammates, coaches, context. But it's interesting to see Houston's overall defense fail despite a superhuman performance by one man.)

We live in a world where the voting media loves to do cute things with awards. Mark Moseley, a freaking placekicker, won the MVP in 1982. Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers won MVPs as relief pitchers. There are boatloads of people who think Mariano Rivera was more critical to the Yankees dynasty than Derek Jeter. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What did the Dallas upset at Seattle tell us about each team? What happens when the Giants, off a massive no-show in Philly, play at Dallas?

Is Detroit's defense that good? Is Detroit's offense that mediocre without Calvin Johnson? I've never been in Matt Stafford's corner.

And like everyone else, I can't figure out the Saints. The bye helps, Sean Payton is a smart man. But they might be drawing the wrong team at the wrong time.

Week 7 breakfast is served.

From: stopabot
Date: Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 7:55 PM
Subject: Re: week 7 breakfast
To: pianow

When Andy Behrens takes over for Roger Goodell, I'll ask him to create a new award - Most Valuable Non-Quarterback. Because you're right - in today's game, the best quarterback is always going to make the biggest difference in wins and losses. You cite some great examples, but those clamoring for DeMarco Murray to be 2014 MVP should remember Adrian Peterson in 2012. AP had 2,097 yards in a truly fantastic season, but the real MVP doesn't let his team look helpless on offense and lose 24-10 in the Wild Card round (the only touchdown coming in garbage time).

You and I just made a trade in fantasy - my Andrew Luck for your Jordy Nelson in a 2-QB, PPR league (Geno Smith and PT Cruiser were fill-ins). Why do you think so many of our league-mates are hesitant to make trades? Are fantasy owners afraid of making a mistake? Is it somehow worse to make a trade that doesn't turn out well than err by failing to pull the trigger? You traded Tom Brady for Mike Glennon a couple of weeks ago, and I suspect a healthy Rob Gronkowski (who again looks like a man playing against grade schoolers - love your line there) makes you regret it. But is that "mistake" any worse than Chris Liss not pulling the trigger on your offer of Brady for Blake Bortles? I'm not trying to criticize anyone - predicting the NFL is damn hard - I just wish we saw more trades in our fake game.

Dallas dominating Seattle last Sunday forces us to throw our preconceived notions of both teams in the trash. Seattle's problem is on defense - they're allowing a 99.9 QB Rating and aren't making big plays - just seven sacks (only four teams have fewer) and five takeaways (more than just five teams). What's different there from 2013? Dallas, meanwhile, looks like a legit Super Bowl contender. How many NFC teams would you pick before Dallas to win it all? Are the Cowboys the new favorite? I compared the 2014 Cowboys offense to the Dallas teams from the 90s in Run 'N' Shoot. Is that comparison crazy?

I like Detroit a lot this week. Their defense is dominating against the run (3.3 YPC) and the pass (6.3 YPA, 73.2 QB Rating); holding the Packers to seven points a few weeks ago no longer looks like a fluke. The Saints aren't making any plays downfield, and even with Mark Ingram back, they won't sustain long drives against that front seven. Stafford is mediocre without Megatron, yes (not quite at the Mark Sanchez level like Jersey used to say), but against the Saints defense (7.8 YPA, 103.2 QB Rating), it won't matter. Lions 27-13.

Can the Chiefs win in San Diego? Or the Niners in Denver? What happened to the Bengals defense; will they rebound in Indy? You've never liked Cam much; what say you after last week?

From: scott pianowski
Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 11:36 PM
Subject: Re: week 7 breakfast
To: Mark Stopa

The 2012 Vikings made the playoffs and yet were 11-point underdogs at Green Bay in the Wild Card round. Okay, Joe Webb was starting at QB, that's part of the story. But even with the MVP wearing Purple, the game was a mismatch. Look for how Vegas handles line movement with respect to player injuries; that illustrates what really matters in the NFL.

The great Steve Moyer shared this Devo quote with me a while back:

Freedom of choice, is what you got
Freedom from choice, is what you want

That applies to the fantasy bit. A lot of owners are afraid to make choices, afraid to take a chance, so afraid of looking bad that they flush equity left and right. I know some owners who will liquidate depth willy-nilly just to simplify their starting options every week (I'm not merely talking about upgrading, I'm talking about clearing the deck). I don't understand it. I'll never want to play that way.

Mind you, the guys who do screwy things just to point to them (and market them) are no bargain either. But given the choice, I will always want choices. Forget worrying about Friendliest Loss; give yourself the best path you see towards being right.

I also don't mind making deals for fun sometimes, or diversity. I have a ton of Nelson shares, and I don't have any Luck shares (despite ranking him No. 4 preseason - it wasn't a hyper-aggressive position, but it was slightly above league consensus), which played into this trade a little bit.

Defense has less year-to-year continuity than offense, this is a recording. Mind you, I didn't expect Seattle's defense to play this poorly (or Carolina's, at that). The Seattle offensive line also looks like a problem, though it didn't grade well last year, either. Because I trust Russell Wilson and OC Darrell Bevell, I'm calling for Seattle to rebound at St. Louis.

The best coaches take advantage of a bye week. Drew Brees has insane numbers after a week of rest. But Detroit's defense has silly numbers too, and it's come against some good opponents (Eli, Cam, Rodgers, though maybe they got Manning and Newton at the right time - Newton beat them anyway). Is Jimmy Graham really going to play, or are the Saints trying to be coy? First team to 20 wins. Call it 20-17, Lions.

Dallas-New York presents the classic Zig Zag opportunity. The Giants laid an egg on National TV, and the Dallas win at Seattle was also watched by many, part of the thinner second wave. I have to take the points on general principle.

Newton is fun when he's running, but he also had a 6.2 YPA last week. If Kelvin Benjamin needs to rest for any length of time, this offense is in big, fat trouble. And I can't see how the Packers don't bang on the drum all day against that broken Carolina defense.

From: mark stopa
Date: Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Subject: Re: week 7 breakfast
To: scott pianowski

Cam Newton is a top-10 QB in real-life (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton, Rivers, Luck, Brees, Wilson, Brady, Tony Romo, Newton, and probably Ben Roethlisberger are my top 10 right now) and top-5 in fantasy. Sure, 6.2 YPA, yeah, yeah. But look at what's around him - the NFL's worst running backs, a rookie receiver and B-level tight end. That's it. How many NFL teams would trade their compilation of RBs, WRs and TEs for the Panthers? Carolina has no defense, either, yet Newton is taking all of that and making Carolina the clear favorite to win the NFC South.

I'm picking Green Bay this week, but the Packers defense is bad, and missing two starters in the secondary, so if Rodgers doesn't play well, Cam can win a 31-27 type of game. It's also worth noting Rotowire's Herb Ilk (who speaks up about twice a season and knows the Packers) called Carolina +7 his "lock of the year." I hate that term - there's no such thing as a "lock" in gambling - but you get the point.

You talk about Sean Payton after the bye, but how about Andy Reid? He's 14-2 after the bye, 11-5 ATS. I should have taken the Chiefs in Staff Picks - they'll find a way to pull the upset (catching the Chargers peeking ahead to the Broncos in two weeks). KC, 27-23.

I'm with you on the Friendliest Loss stuff. A similar problem - when fantasy owners refuse to cut a Montee Ball or CJ Spiller because of the acquisition cost. Maybe it's right to cut Ball or Spiller based on your league specs and maybe it's not, but the price you paid for them isn't part of the equation. I disagree with you about diversifying the fantasy portfolio, though. If you own Demaryius Thomas in only one league, the joy you get when he goes 8-112-2 is offset by the frustration of him beating you in another league. By consolidating, I sometimes crash and burn everywhere with guys like Spiller, but owning Luck (my No. 4 preseason QB) and Jordy (my No. 2 WR) in multiple leagues is so much fun.

The reverse is true, too - Mohamed Sanu isn't worth less because you got him off waivers. With Marvin Jones on IR and AJ Green not coming back any time soon, Sanu is a top-15 fantasy WR, no? Give me the Bengals to bounce back this week; they're better than Indy from 2-53. Call it 31-27.

The zig-zag theory is why I took the Giants with the points, and it feels wrong against what I just called the NFC's best team, but that's the NFL. Heck, the hapless Jets just had a kick for the win in New England. Let's call it a Giants cover but Cowboys 27-24. Maybe that's hedging, or maybe it's a sentimental choice, as a close friend's dad is terminal with brain cancer, and their whole family is going to the game and staying at Roger Staubach's house for the weekend. How cool is that? I love how sports have a way of making us feel just a bit better during the hardest times in life, and it's great when the athletes help others in that regard. This weekend, we should all be Roger Staubach fans.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM
Subject: Re: week 7 breakfast
To: Mark Stopa

I'm not sure Newton is a top-10 real-life quarterback. QB rating isn't everything, but it's a good shorthand number. Look at his indexed ratings through 53 starts, where 100 is league average: 100, 101, 103, 106. That leaves me cold. Obviously he brings value as a scrambler and he's played with a lot of spotty supporting casts (though I like Greg Olsen more than you do), but you still want that number to be higher. Even his career net yards per attempt index is a modest 105.

Hey look, the Seahawks gave us a Trent Richardson trade - dumping Percy Harvin on the Jets. It's going to be a fun day. Harvin now leads the league in overturned touchdowns and bye weeks.

I was never a Cowboys fan, but I loved Roger Staubach. The NFL was awesome in the late 70s. I wish the Rams, Patriots, Broncos and Chargers would bring back their old uniforms, too.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
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.
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