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, Nov 5, 2014 at 10:34 PM
Subject: Breakfast Table
To: Mark Stopa

I'm really looking forward to watching Mark Sanchez play. Welcome to NFL, 2014.

Glad we didn't Table last week because I would have ODed on all the Pats-Broncos stuff. New England held serve and good for it, but it's probably not going to mean a lot down the line. Denver's schedule is paper mache, New England's is a meat grinder. The road to the AFC Championship will run through Mile High.

I'll be shocked if anyone springs an upset in Denver.

Where are we on Arizona? Underrated team that completes the job, or an overrated team that slides along because the conference is so lacking. They don't pass the eye test at all to me. I see all through your lies and falsehoods, Arizona.

Make some sense of it all, Marky Mark.

From: mark stopa
Date: Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 11:32 PM
Subject: Breakfast Table
To: pianow

I led with the Cardinals in my Run-N-Shoot, yet I hated it. What's their best-case scenario? Can you make an argument for them winning the Super Bowl? In what area do they dominate? Run defense? Yawn - that means nothing nowadays (sorry, Rex Ryan, it's true). It's telling how Vegas has the Cardinals at 12:1 to win the Super Bowl, while the Seahawks, two games back in the division, are 17:2. Massey Peabody has the Cardinals ranked 12th - that sounds about right to me. Playoff team, yes, and hat tip to Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, but they're not a title contender.

Then again, everyone in the NFC has major fleas. Just look at the M-P rankings - the top 5 teams are all in the AFC. Who's your NFC favorite? With Romo hurt, I take Green Bay over anyone, but Detroit is a game up in the division and is 6-2 with Megatron giving them nothing so far. There's something to be said for 6-2 without your best player, right?

Detroit-Miami is a surprisingly juicy matchup. The Dolphins are up to third on the M-P ranks. Third! Ahead of your Patriots! As a Pats fan, do the Dolphins concern you at all? Ryan Tannehill looks like a different player with the read-option over the last month. Who's winning in Detroit this week?

Of course the Pats can win in Denver in January. Two words: Gronk smash. But let's not get ahead of ourselves - some of us are just hoping to get invited to the dance. Is this week's Chiefs-Bills winner a Wild Card team? Or have the playoffs been such a distant memory for my Bills that I'm deluding myself there?

How far can Mark Sanchez take the Eagles? Does that answer hinge on Romo's health? Where do you rank Sanchez in fantasy - he's a QB1, right?

The Packers put the Bears out of their misery on Sunday night, don't they? Same for the Saints against the Niners? Or does Kaepernick bounce back on Bourbon Street? What happened to that once-dominant Niners offensive line?

We have to talk Pittsburgh with Ben's NFL record 12 TD passes over 2 games. Are they for real? Is Antonio Brown the NFL's best receiver? The Jets won't stop them this week, but can the Steelers challenge the AFC's top dogs? Are the Steelers the class of the AFC North? Is that division any good, or are the records inflated by beating up on the NFC South?

From: scott pianowski
Date: Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 6:12 PM
Subject: Breakfast Table
To: Mark Stopa

Man, you ask a lot of questions. I'm going to start calling you The Riddler (no one remembers Question Mark and the Mysterians).

The Cardinals excel in winning close games, which is not a skill. They have also outscored their yardage ranks, which I'm suspicious of in a single-season sample. They've done a very good job protecting the ball, but that 14:2 ratio of TDs and picks is not something I'd ever get behind (when it comes from Carson Palmer). I can't see them beating 2-3 good teams in the playoffs.

Massey-Peabody has the Cardinals 12th, Football Outsiders lists then 16th. So the spreadsheet police don't buy in.

I don't think the NFC is as bad off as you might. Denver's miles ahead of everyone, fine. The Packers are probably close to anyone in that next bunch. Would you prefer Indianapolis or Miami on a neutral site? Maybe the Saints are getting their act together, and they still have five home games. I can assure you no one in the NFC wants the Seahawks in the playoffs. And at least Detroit can boast the league's best defense.

I like the Eagles more than Massey-Peabody does (11th). Interestingly, the Outsiders have them sixth. I see Foles to Sanchez as the Cutler-McCown of 2013. I trust the supporting cast and I really trust the offensive designer. Sanchez's time with the Jets doesn't count for much; he was sabotaged by just about everything around him. Now we get to see him play with actual talent and depth.

Pittsburgh won't get enough stops to make a deep run, if the Steelers even make the playoffs. Roethlisberger's an obvious sell-high in fantasy, too. I bet you can get it, as his 12 touchdowns came in front of a ton of national eyes (a 4:25 pm ET game, then a stand-alone game). I can't forget the first seven games happened. Martavis Bryant is good, but he's not this good (no one is).

I've loved Miami's defense from Day 1. Everyone talks about New England's crater at KC, but the second half at Miami was more ugly. Can Ryan Tannehill keep this level of play against elite defenses? I like that they're putting his athleticism to good use; Mike Sherman had no idea what to do last year, but Bill Lazor is a forward thinker.

Jim Harbaugh looks like he has one foot out the door. I expect Chicago to give Green Bay a tussle, but I'd never pick Cutler over Aaron Rodgers.

From: mark stopa
Date: Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 7:47 PM
Subject: Breakfast Table
To: pianow

You agree the Patriots are a fundamentally different team than they were in September, right? So why can't the Steelers be the same? I'm with you on the subpar defense, fine. But if you're selling Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy, then I'm buying. Look at their schedule - NYJ, @Tenn, Bye, NO, @Cincy, @Atl, KC. Other than the bye, who's stopping Ben and those receivers? I can't see putting Roethlisberger outside the top 6 in fantasy (Luck, Peyton, Rodgers, Brees, Brady), and his $7,500 price tag on DraftKings Millionaire contest this week is ridiculously low.

What's so scary about the 2014 Seahawks, especially if they're on the road? The 2013 defense doesn't exist; this year's version is 29th in sacks, 23rd in QB Rating, and 25th in takeaways. Do you think they have a switch they can just turn on when the games matter more? I don't - this isn't the NBA. Seattle's offense isn't good enough to bail out its mediocre defense, either - Russell Wilson is great, but would you point to any of his receiving options and say "I want him"? If (when) Seattle is on the road in January, I'd take Detroit, Green Bay, Philly, even Arizona to win. Heck, Seattle is no lock to even make the playoffs - they still have SF and AZ twice, at KC and at Philly. Going 3-3 there would give them 6 losses; 10-6 teams frequently stay home in January.

Nobody believes in the Dolphins because there's nothing sexy about them. Tannehill is improving, and I'd love a roster of guys like Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes, but they're hardly household names. Let's see what Tannehill does against the Lions and Bills - both teams with dominant front fours - these next two games. (Remember, Buffalo embarrassed Tannehill in Week 2.) Until then, I'd take the Colts on a neutral field and the Lions this week, 24-16.

Brees and the Saints all but end the 49ers season, 27-20. Nobody's crying for you, though, Bay area sports fans.

Mark Sanchez lights up the Panthers, and Jeremy Maclin goes off again. 34-27.

Romo sits, and the Jaguars spring an upset. 21-17.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Subject: Breakfast Table
To: Mark Stopa

Roethlisberger's weekly fantasy finishes: 9, 31, 20, 8, 24, 22, 13, 1, 1. I'd try to sell his seasonal point total, which is grossly misleading.

Seattle didn't have a "want him" receiver last year, either. Getting healthier on defense and the offensive line will go a long way to what ails them. I still trust Russell Wilson more than most of the quarterbacks in this league, and more than a lot of NFC contenders. You want Stafford over him, or Palmer, or Kaepernick, or any NFC East quarterback, you go right ahead.

I do think we have to say a nice word about Jay Payton. He coaxed 60 touchdown passes out of Red Dalton the last two years, and now his hodge-podge Redskins offense leads the league in YPA. Sure, DeSean Jackson runs by people, but he has to keep him engaged. And he's done it with three quarterbacks, and I'm not sure any of them are any good.

Eagles by six. Cowboys escape by three. Packers by seven. Falcons by 355 (okay, that's heart over head; curse you, Lovie Smith).

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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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