I gaze out the living room window on a surprisingly cool and rainy late August morning. I just finished my second cup of coffee and I’m feeling a bit relieved. Not only because I sidestepped a caffeine (or lack of caffeine) headache one more day, but because I’m not playing in a Fantasy Football league this year.
Like many fantasy gamers, I have an undiagnosed case of FFOCD (Fantasy Football Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). This year, however, I sought help for the debilitating disorder. Well not really help in the classic sense of the term. I just decided not to join a Fantasy league. Instead, I organized a less time-consuming football pool – there’s a favorite and an underdog, the favorite “gives points” to the underdog, pick who wins the game. That’s it.
Now it wouldn’t be a Section 426 post without an attempt at number-crunching, would it? With the first game of the regular season nine days away, I’ll try to predict 2017 Week 1 performance based on Week 1 performances from 2016 and 2015. Apples and oranges (and bananas) you say? Maybe not.
Atlanta Falcons over Chicago Bears (+7)
Chicago was a 6.5-point “home dog” in 2015 to Green Bay and they lost 31 – 23. They were a 4.5-point underdog in Houston last year and lost 23 – 14. The Bears just lost their primary WR, Cameron Meredith, for the season. Here’s why that’s important. According to Pro Football Reference, Meredith led the team with 77 targets for nearly 750 yards and 3 TDs between the 20s (in other words, a majority of the field). Who’s going to pick up the slack for the Bears? TE Zach Miller? Maybe. In comparison, Miller was targeted 49 times for almost 400 yards and zero TDs between the 20s last year. Zach Miller has also not been what you’d call good in Week 1 the past two seasons. In 2015, he really wasn’t the featured TE, in the game for only 11 offensive plays. But last year he was in the game for 77% of offensive plays and caught 3 passes on 4 targets for 14 yards. One more thing about this game that I think is significant is Atlanta had a really horrible pass defense last year so they drafted Takkarist McKinley, a defensive end out of UCLA, who I see causing problems for a shaky starter in Mike Glennon.
Two words: Devonta Freeman. Five more words: Matt Ryan. Chip on shoulder.
Prediction: Atlanta 31, Chicago 17
Stay tuned for more Featured Picks throughout the season, unless I really botch this one.