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: Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM
Subject: table for six
To: Mark Stopa

I don't want to turn this column into New England Review every week. I'm picking the Bills. You're picking the Bills, right? Next question.

Instead let's go into something no one cares about: our fantasy teams. Interesting that we're both under .500 in the Stopa 10K League (I'm 2-3, you're 1-4) despite the fact we're scoring points. You're third in points scored, I'm fourth.

Do you like your team more or less than you did when the season started? Do you have anything good to say about C.J. Spiller and Torrey Smith these days? Is C.J. Anderson your favorite lottery ticket? You don't own Cordarrelle Patterson, but what would you tell his owners?

Some of these road favorites look like easy winners, but the NFL loves to play ambush. Do the Jets have a chance against Denver? The Raiders against San Diego? And what happens when the 4-1 Cowboys to go Seattle?

That's enough to start.

From: mark stopa
Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: table for six
To: scott pianowski

My heart picks the Bills, and I took the points (Buffalo +3) against the spread in Rotowire Staff Picks, but my mind still picks the Patriots to win. How's that for a hedge?

Is there anything worse than being the second-high scorer in your league two straight weeks yet losing both times? Ugh. My saving grace is that one of our playoff seeds is determined solely by total points - a rule everyone should be employing. What other rules/format issues would you change about the way Joe Public plays fantasy leagues? You like the 2-TE format? 2-QB? Small benches?

C.J. Anderson is everything I want in a fantasy lottery ticket - plays in a great offense (Denver), behind an unproven starter (Montee Ball), and if you've been stashing him as I have, cost nothing to acquire. He reminds me a bit of Knowshon Moreno last year, actually, and we saw how that played out. I wish Anderson had a clearer path to touches, but Ronnie Hillman has had chances before and dropped the ball (literally and figuratively). Other guys I'm stashing in our fake game: Joseph Randle (great Dallas line, DeMarco always gets hurt), James Starks (Eddie Lacy is a violent runner), Carlos Hyde.

Buffalo's inability to use C.J. Spiller the right way is maddening. For all his faults, Chan Gailey did it right in 2012 - spread out the offense, give Spiller lanes and space to run. We're talking about a historically talented back - one of six guys ever to average 6.0 YPC with over 200 carries in a season. It's a shame Doug Marrone keeps limiting Spiller's touches and plowing him into the line. Torrey Smith reminds me of Lee Evans - great on the deep ball, but take that away, and there's nothing left. Spiller could flourish in a new system in 2015 (this is his walk year), but I've lost hope Torrey will become a star.

What's Calvin Johnson's value right now in fantasy? AJ Green? Where you ranking Travis Kelce?

I give the Jets no chance against Peyton. They've quit - just ask Michael Vick. The Raiders might have a little bounce-back from a new coach and a bye, but Philip Rivers is playing too well to let the Chargers lose in that spot.

This feels like the week Dallas takes it on the chin. They're not a 5-1 team, and Seattle doesn't lose at home. Seahawks 34-17.

Talk to me about the NFC North. You buying the Steelers long-term? How about this week? Can Brian Hoyer really keep that job?

Giants/Eagles deserves a mention. Is the loser of ATL/CHI done for 2014?

From: scott pianowski
Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Subject: Re: table for six
To: Mark Stopa

So you have the Patriots on a late safety? Come on, just pick a winner. I'm not giving New England the all's-well wave for one good game (and a game Cincinnati completely tanked, by the way). Buffalo is getting little respect despite a resume that includes wins at Chicago and Detroit. Kyle Orton is an easy punchline, and that keeps people from thinking. Take the quarterbacks out of it (and Brady isn't Brady anymore, to begin with); where are the Patriots better than the Bills?

I don't want to compare Anderson to Moreno. Moreno is one of the most underrated players in football, good in all packages, capable of making plays inside and outside, useful in the passing game (catching and blocking). While it's a perk to be in a Peyton Manning offense to be sure, some over-extrapolate that to mean anyone can be good in that setup. Donald Brown wasn't good until his last Indianapolis year (he's also sucked this season). Ball was horrible this year. Moreno isn't an elite talent, but heck, he did go in the first round of his class. He's a damn good football player.

A lot of pundits assumed Torrey Smith would be used like Andre Johnson, another case of over-extrapolation. These offensive schemes aren't that neatly portable, and Smith isn't even remotely close to the route runner (or the contested-ball catcher) that Johnson is. That said, I wish I saw Steve Smith coming, and I didn't - he's on zero of my rosters. It's risky to bet on Senior's touchdown count, but he's going to be a volume monster all year. He's the only guy who can run the entire route tree.

I traded Calvin Johnson and a throw-in for Ahmad Bradshaw and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, though it's on a 2-3 team that needs to mobilize. I hate, hate, hate waiting around on multiple-week injuries. I'd only keep Josh Gordon in a perfect setup (deeper benches, strong start). Play for today. The entire world will be upside down in 3-5 weeks, you watch. The NFL is a snow globe that keeps getting knocked to the ground.

Do teams really quit in October? I'm not in on Rex Ryan in any way, but I think the Jets at least show up at home. They'll cover. The sneaky story in Oakland is that Derek Carr hasn't been that bad. He's third in sack avoidance, and that impresses me given what's around him. They'll cover too.

Kelce is one of those tricky players, like Sankey and Cordarrelle Patterson. You see the upside - the gigantic upside - but you wonder why the coaching staff is so stubborn. That said, I have more faith than Andy Reid than most do. I still think he's a terrific coach six days a week, and I can excuse some of the game-theory mistakes. He's been slow to incorporate Kelce, but I think he eventually will.

I don't have much faith in Whisenhunt - I almost think he plays Greene just to flip off people who question him - and Turner (maybe Gordon happened in spite of him, not because of him). I'm glad I don't have Patterson on any cash team, because he'd be driving me bananas.

From: Mark Stopa
Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 12:43 PM
Subject: Re: table for six
To: scott pianowski

If you could be solid at head coach and QB but blah everywhere else, or solid everywhere else but blah at head coach and QB, which would you choose? Isn't that the question with Bills-Pats? NE 23-20.

This feels like the week Sankey breaks out (vs Jax) in spite of Whisenhunt. Call it 20-115-1. Start him in DFS, friends.

Have you noticed how all the QBs in Arizona played like trash under Whisenhunt's watch, yet Drew Stanton looks serviceable under Bruce Arians? I can't see Whisenhunt getting another head job after (he fails at) this one.

Steve Smith, Sr. Antonio Gates. Peyton Manning. Fred Jackson. This season has a lot of "Raul Ibanez All Stars", while a lot of the young, hyped guys have fallen flat. Patterson. Ladarius Green. Sankey. Ball. Justin Hunter. Keenan Allen. This trend should be right up your alley, amigo. It's how you play the game. Is it a trend? Or a sample-size issue?

Maybe Patterson can turn it around with Bridgewater. Little his fantasy owners can do but hope so. You mention Carr; how do you rank Carr, Bridgewater and Bortles? Which franchise is in worse shape, the Jags or Raiders?

Eagles bounce back on offense, top the Giants. Steelers over Browns. And you're right on with the snow globe - at least 10 things will happen nobody saw coming.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Subject: Re: table for six
To: Mark Stopa

Of course I'd take a super coach and QB over all else, but Brady isn't a huge edge over anyone anymore (and he's a detriment when the Pats play better teams). Buffalo fans probably look at this game like a horror movie - the killer is never really dead, even when it looks like he is. But I can't get the Miami, Oakland and KC tapes out of my head. Sometimes there's nothing to fear under the bed.

I wish we had inside information on who really fixed the Chargers offense in 2013. Maybe it's just a matter of fixing the OL and getting Norv Turner out of town.

I think I give Chip Kelly too much credit. I might be the last person to come around on the Giants. I'd buy Nick Foles low, because you can, and because those return touchdowns will dry up. And I still like the depth of skill talent here.

Who do we compare Le'Veon Bell to? He doesn't look a thing like Le'Veon Bell 2013.

I'd never rule out the Atlanta-Chicago loser because those divisions don't have runaway teams. I also think Marc Trestman is a terrific coach and Mike Smith a serviceable one. Plus they both have strong quarterbacks and dynamic receivers, which makes up for many flaws.

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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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