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Staff Picks: Mark Stopa Wins the Title

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Congrats to Mark Stopa whose 11-5 showing last week got him to 136 wins and kept him two games ahead of Scott Pianowski and Dalton Del Don - who three weeks ago was a game behind me. Overall, it was a strong year for the staff picks with everyone over .500 and consensus picks going 31-21-1 (59.6%).

Enjoy the playoffs.

Erickson Pianowski Liss Stopa Del Don
Saints -11 at Seahawks Seahawks Saints Saints Saints Seahawks
Jets +2.5 at Colts Colts Jets Colts Colts Colts
Ravens -3 at Chiefs Ravens Chiefs Ravens Ravens Chiefs
Packers +2.5 at Eagles Eagles Packers Packers Packers Eagles
Best Bet Colts Saints Packers Packers Colts
Last Week's Record 9-7 10-6 11-5 11-5 12-4
2010 Record 129-122-5 134-117-5 126-125-5 136-115-5 134-117-5
Best Bet Record 7-9-1 9-7-1 9-8 10-6-1 11-5-1
Consensus Pick Record 31-21-1
2009 Playoff Record 5-6 4-7 1-10 6-5 5-6
2008 Playoff Record 6-5 5-6 5-6 8-3 4-7
2007 Playoff Record 8-3 3-8 6-5 N/A 2-9
2006 Playoff Record 7-4 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2005 Playoff Record 5-6 N/A 3-8 N/A N/A
2004 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2003 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2002 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 5-6 N/A N/A
2001 Playoff Record 6-4-1 7-3-1 4-6-1 N/A N/A
2000 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 6-5 N/A N/A
2009 Record 123-130-3 132-121-3 131-122-3 130-123-3 126-127-3
2008 Record 132-114-10 128-118-10 124-122-10 125-121-10 130-116-10
2007 Record 127-120 118-129 127-120 N/A 130-117
2006 Record 118-129 N/A 139-108 N/A N/A
2005 Record 121-126 N/A 127-120 N/A N/A
2004 Record 124-124 N/A 130-118 N/A N/A
2003 Record 121-126 118-129 124-123 N/A N/A
2002 Record 113-136 123-126 141-108 N/A N/A
2001 Record 124-113 117-120 118-119 N/A N/A
2000 Record 123-117 134-106 141-99 N/A N/A

Consensus Picks

This week we had no consensus picks.

Last week we went 4-0 on consensus picks, bringing us to 31-21-1 on the year. We finished 2009 at 19-23-1 on consensus picks, and were 24-19-2 on them in 2008.


EricksonI'm not thrilled with taking the Seahawks, because I think the Saints will ultimately win the game, but that's a very real home field advantage they have, and the Saints have traditionally struggled with road games in colder climates... The Colts might be less vulnerable against the Jets than others because of Peyton Manning's ability to spread the ball around, and because of the Jets' recent struggles getting a good pass rush... I've actually been on the Ravens a lot this year, but I'm nervous about this pick, both because it's a road game and also because I'm not sure what the Ravens' offense is going to bring to the table... It seems the conventional wisdom is on the Packers, because of how the Eagles finished up. But that Vikings game to me was pretty fluky - there was the circumstance of the weather, and a newer scheme that the Vikes revealed. I like that I'm getting the half-point hook here.
PianowskiI can't say I'm supremely confident in any of these. New Orleans gets the best-bet nod because I hate how Seattle's offense will look as soon as it's faced with a deficit. The crowd can be eliminated from the game if the Saints score early, which I expect they will.
LissThe Seahawks and Chiefs are obvious sharp plays as home dogs, but I don't care. The Ravens belong in the divisional round, and I don't think the game will be in doubt in last half of the fourth quarter. The Seahawks are the right play as a general matter, but I hate that they got a big upset win at home to qualify. To me, that was their Super Bowl - their best shot - and once the Saints get ahead, (probably early), the game will get out of hand. Colts/Jets is closer, but I don't like the matchup for New York because they can't get to the quarterback without blitzing, and you can't blitz Peyton Manning. Packers-Eagles would have been different a few weeks ago, but teams have started to solve Michael Vick, and he hasn't been consistent down the stretch. And Green Bay's D might be the best in the league.
StopaDuring the regular season, I often "go ugly," fade the public or "buy low" on a team coming off a bad loss. This week's Chiefs and Seahawks games are good examples. The Chiefs are getting points, at home, coming off an embarassing loss, and facing a Ravens team that nobody thinks they can beat. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are the worst playoff team in NFL history, so nobody is going to want to take them. But this isn't the regular season - this is the playoffs. Young, inexperienced teams like the Chiefs don't win games like this - they get exposed as pretenders. Bad teams like the Seahawks get destroyed. Yes, 11 sounds crazy for a home team (and I don't like that the Saints have to travel across the country for an early Saturday game), but all nine of Seattle's losses were by more than 15 points. Lay the wood... I've said for several weeks that the Packers are the best team in the NFC, so getting points with them has to be my best bet... I struggled the most with Indy/NYJ, as I wish I could fade both teams. The Colts aren't elite, especially without Austin Collie. The Jets defense is overrated (24 passing TDs allowed versus just 10 INTs), but the Colts pass defense is equally inept (22 TDs allowed versus 10 INTs). (If those 2:1 TD:INT ratios don't mean anything to you, check out the ratios of the teams like the Bears, Steelers, Packers or Patriots). I settled on the Colts because I can't escape the feeling that the Jets defense matches up terribly against Peyton Manning - they like to blitz, and Rex Ryan is so wedded to his style that they'll blitz a lot, but Manning's pocket presence is so good that he'll make them pay for it. I remember Ryan basically conceding as much after last year's playoff loss to Indy, and that Jets defense was far better than this one.
Del DonI actually like the setup for the Saints, coming off a loss while the Seahawks enter following an emotional win that was essentially a playoff game in primetime, but this is the single biggest line of the 2010 NFL season. And that's a long trip for New Orleans, who has to play in possibly the toughest venue in football. The Saints will also be without Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and both Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are banged up, while Matt Hasselbeck looks likely to return for Seattle. I'm certainly not saying the Saints shouldn't be a comfortable favorite, but I'd feel better rolling a teaser up to 18 points than down to four points...I picked Indy without much trepidation, yet I wouldn't be even a little surprised by a New York upset. Both teams are worse than last year's versions, when they met in the AFC Championship... The Ravens have been the more legitimate team all season, and the Chiefs have no doubt been aided by a far easier schedule, but Kansas City is coming off a horrible performance, and they were 7-0 at home beforehand. And it's not like the Ravens are some juggernaut. I'm going contrarian there... The Eagles/Packers matchup is a true coin flip, and I think there's an argument they are the second and third best teams in the NFL. Of course, the problem is picking which one will win Sunday. On a neutral field, I'd feel confident backing Green Bay, but Philly has been unbeatable coming off a bye under Andy Reid, and this is essentially the same situation (plus I'm hedging since I have a ticket for the Packers to win the SB at 30-1).

The players:

Jeff Erickson: RotoWire Senior editor, 2001, 2008 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Value Meter. Covers and roots for the Bengals.

Scott Pianowski: Fantasy expert for Yahoo! Sports, and also contributes to 2009 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the Patriots.

Chris Liss: RotoWire Managing Editor, 2000, 2002, 2006 Staff Picks Champ, 2003, 2004 co-champ. Writes Beating the Book and Surviving the Week in addition to Staff Picks. Covers and roots for the Giants.

Mark Stopa: Staff Writer, Writes Working the Wire. 2010 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the Bills.

Dalton Del Don: RotoWire Senior Staff Writer. 2007 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Game Capsules and the Barometer. Covers the Eagles and roots for the 49ers.