Former first round pick and USC standout, Sam Darnold, runs for his life behind a subpar offensive line before fumbling the ball and sealing a Broncos victory

Elsa/Getty Images

Welcome back to "Picks, Parlays, and Props," in which I'll be going over the NFL slate every week of the season. How do we find value in these games? What favorite is getting too many points on the road? Who's going to score the first TD on Monday Night Football?

Coming off of a hot week going 4-1, I'm hoping to keep you winning into Week 4 with these picks.

The Niners, Pats, Seahawks, and Packers did us well last week. The last of which taught us an important lesson that can be applied to all facets of life: ACT ON SPITE. Did the Saints hurt you last week by laying an egg? Learn from that. Put the hex on. Get payback by having them pay you back.


Other observations from this past week. Kyler may have let the Lions prove that he's human and not about to go 16-0 on charm and dance moves alone, but there's still a larger lesson to glean here. It's pretty safe to bet the NFC West. As a division, they have a combined point differential of 100, leading far and away are the 49ers, who are currently in last place, and have played 1.5 games without their starting QB and RB, 2 without their most impactful offensive and defensive players, and 3 without their best WR. Not to mention, they had their team plane hit on the runway before spending two weeks in the Eastern time zone. The most important part of all that might be "East," because the NFC East has a combined point differential of -97. Thank the scheduling gods, those West teams will play those East teams this year, which leads us perfectly into this set of picks.

West Coast Best Coast

49ers -7 over Eagles

The Niners are back at home. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are returning. Thanks to Kyle Shanahan's scheming, the dropoff between Garoppolo and Mullens appears minimal. The man's drawing up plays for first round draft pick Brandon Aiyuck that make scoring all but inevitable. Not to mention, the defense has seemed to relish the opportunity to prove themselves sans Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. It helps when Fred Warner has entered another stratosphere of linebacking by lowering his missed tackle rate, upping his pass coverage skills, and honing his ability to rush the quarterback. A player taking a leap like this, along with depth pieces, is how you weather an injury hurricane. Meanwhile in Philly, they had exactly one healthy wide out at practice on Thursday, Wentz has shriveled into a husk of his former self, and their coach punted with 19 seconds left in overtime to preserve a tie. We saw what the Niners just did to the Jets and Giants, who rank 31st and 30th in DVOA respectively, and guess who happens to be 29th.

Rams -13.5 over Giants

Brandon Aiyuck crosses the goal line for his first career score on end around play during which he wasn't touched by a defensive player.Elsa/Getty Images

Having just finished the eulogy for the Giants' season, allow me to kick off some dirt on their grave. The McVay-led Rams, and Jared Goff especially, have seen a resurgence this season, a Seanaissance, if you will. They narrowly missed out on starting 3-0 after a borderline pass interference call set up the Bills with a fresh set of goal line downs. In a post-Gurley/11 personal world, this team has quietly been the most efficient in DVOA (ranking 4th in passing and 2nd in rushing). Give them a home game against a miserable team traveling cross country and, yeah, the 13.5 doesn't scare me.

Seahawks -6.5 over Dolphins

Nobody thought it would be like this. A Russ allowed to cook has been unleashed and we were not ready. 14 touchdowns in the first three games of a season puts Wilson in a class by himself. The absurdity of nearly averaging five (5!) touchdowns a game can hardly be quantified. This game like any one involving the Seahawks could get absolutely wonky, given the long trip to Miami and a little Fitzmagic in the air. However, it seems more likely than not that this iteration of the Dolphins peaked against the Jaguars during the post-game interview with a deeply unbuttoned shirt.

Russell Wilson just keeps on cooking.Abbie Parr/Getty Images


Gimme Those Points

Lions +4.5 over Saints

The Saints offense continues to look very un-Saint-like with the absence of Michael Thomas and the rapidly aging Drew Brees. The connection between Emmanuel Sanders feels shaky and Jared Cook hasn't looked like himself since last year's injury. Only Alvin Kamara, literally, making something out of nothing has made this offense go. Now this team will be down six starters, including their top two CBs, on the road against a frisky Lions team. Matt Stafford has the offensive weapons to make big plays, especially against some second stringers. There's no reason to start taking the Saints until they prove us all wrong.

Chargers +7.5 over Buccaneers

I thought I was done betting against the Bucs and their inflated spreads, but they've pulled me back in for one more job. Look, I would never take the Chargers to execute a two minute drill to win a game with my life on the line. There must be something deep in the institutional fabric of the team that doesn't allow them to achieve something beyond tantalizing mediocrity. However, the defense has been solid, even without Melvin Ingram, as the other half of the league's premier pass rush duo. If Bosa, fresh off his own ankle issue, can create some havoc for a Tom Brady offense without Chris Godwin or Leonard Fournette, I think there's a real chance Justin Herbert keeps it close. They've shown implicit trust with him running the show, looking at 82 attempts in two games proves as much. This will finally be the week that giving Tom Brady too much respect pays out big, he said again.

Dark Territory

Texans -4.5 over Vikings

Here's a terrible thought to type out for the world to see. The Vikings are getting screwed by COVID protocols and we must capitalize as gamblers. There it's done and said and out of the way. A team who's hardly been allowed into their facility this week will be going on the road to face a team with Deshaun Watson as their quarterback. He's not going to let the Texans slide much further and if there was ever a game to pull out all the stops, this is it.

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

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Shane Bieber faced off against the Dodgers in Spring Training. He bested Trevor Bauer, allowing only two runs, and striking out nine

Getty Images

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