NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Oct. 11, 2020 (Week Five)

I started writing these weekly columns for a few reasons. The one I’ve advertised is that I had a really strong year last year picking games against the spread. I went 33-23 over the full 2019 NFL season, and I wanted to see if that was merely a stroke of luck or if I was actually good at this.

We’re only a quarter of the way through the NFL season, but early returns have been positive. After posting a 2-1-1 mark last weekend, I’m at 11-4-1 for the year to this point, and a few of my DFS players to watch have hit big. That’s encouraging, and if anything I’ve written has helped you make some money in one way or another, that’s fantastic.

The other big reason I’m doing this, though, is as much for my mental health as anything else. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has flipped the world upside-down. With neither a conceivable end date in sight, nor a date we can expect a working vaccine, everyone is looking for some sort of refuge from the chaos.

For me, it’s writing and prognosticating. I’ve wanted to be a sportswriter since I was a kid, when my dad took me to high school football games as part of freelance work with The Register Star, a small newspaper in upstate New York. I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of cool stuff. I’ve worked at a renewal of the Winter Olympics. I’ve covered college sports on an NCAA tournament level. I’ve served as a digital media whiz for two different TV networks and one of the most respected publications in gambling.

I’ve been out of sportswriting and the gambling business, at least on a full-time basis, for almost two years now. There are days where I really miss it, and this allows me to scratch that itch while providing content I’m proud of.

Now’s when we get into the deep water. A lot of what I’ve done and how I’ve done it, including the production of this very website, has been built on the premise of me being told, “you can’t do this.” I get mean tweets and messages just like everyone else who puts their opinions out there, and some of the stories are actually pretty entertaining. My first job out of college was in a Division I athletic department, and it started a few months after someone I emailed told me my chances of getting a job in a Division I athletic department were practically zero. I’ve become friendly with a guy who was one of my bigger, louder detractors when I took over the DRF Formulator Twitter account. One guy who once told me, “keep the digital media stuff, lose the handicapping,” has since DM’d me multiple times to congratulate me for producing winning tickets.

Whether it’s focused on horses or sports betting, I know I’m capable of producing stuff people enjoy, and I know that I put in enough work to occasionally be rewarded for it. That thought process sparked the emergence of Gimmick Andrew, which got a dose of rocket fuel in the summer of 2017 when nobody in racing picked more winners at Saratoga than I did. My emergence as a prominent handicapper wasn’t anyone’s idea, and I know for a fact this did not sit well with at least one well-known person in racing media.

Some people immediately got that this was my version of a wrestling character, and that me being confident in my abilities was natural while the brash, bombastic bravado was part of an act. A few of these people are some of my closest friends in the world, and they never once told me to stop. For others, the gimmick flew straight over their heads, and that’s fine. It wasn’t for everyone, just my fellow wrestling fans and one particular person who needed to be bashed over the head with how wrong an assessment of me in early-2017 truly was.

The important point: If you think Normal Andrew and Gimmick Andrew are one and the same…no. Just no. I’m confident because of the work I put in and the results I’ve gotten, not cocky because I was born on third base and think I hit a triple. When you see something I put together, whether it’s this column or an episode of the “Champagne and J.D.” YouTube show, you’re getting me doing this not because I’m paid for it, but because I’m passionate about it and think I have something to offer. If you’ve read down this far, know that I appreciate you and that I hope I can help you make some money.

Anyway, on with the picks, plays, and players to watch. As always, spreads and point totals are courtesy of America’s Line, and DFS costs are courtesy of DraftKings. Let’s keep the good mojo going!


Cardinals -7 over Jets

Say it with me, everyone: The Jets are historically bad.

I asked for that particular interactive exercise because this line has moved in a curious way. Arizona was favored by 8.5 points to start the week, but the Jets, yes, the Jets, have taken enough money to drive the spread down a point and a half.

Bluntly, I find that action ludicrous. Perhaps Arizona’s season-opening win over San Francisco hasn’t aged too well, but their offense is still more than capable of putting up points against overmatched teams. No team has been more overmatched this year than the Jets, and I’d be tempted to take the Cardinals giving as many as 10 points.

Carolina/Atlanta: OVER 53.5

All together now: Atlanta’s defense is horrible.

Much like the Jets, the Falcons have started their season by finding ways to lose in painful fashion. It’s a different kind of pain, though, to be sure. While their offense has done an OK job of moving the football, their defense simply cannot keep opposing offenses at bay.

As longtime readers will attest, I’ve been high on Carolina’s offense from the jump. Robby Anderson has emerged as a legitimate deep threat, and backup running back Mike Davis (more on him later) is dangerous enough to keep the ball moving despite the absence of regular starter Christian McCaffery. This hits me as a 31-28 kind of game, and I’m hoping for video game numbers in the dome on Sunday.

Cincinnati/Baltimore: UNDER 51

Everybody all at once: This total is simply too high.

Joe Burrow has done an excellent job to this point in his rookie season. The Bengal offense has shown an ability to put up points, and he’s going to be a very good quarterback for a very long time. However, the run-heavy Ravens are Cincinnati’s worst nightmare. The Bengals rank in the bottom quarter of the league in rushing yards allowed per game, which isn’t a recipe for success going against Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and company.

I think Baltimore will have the opportunity to string together several very long drives in this game that keep Burrow’s unit off the field. For that reason, give me the under on a total that hits me as several points too high.

Seahawks -7 over Vikings

Shout it from the rooftops: Russell Wilson is really, really good.

The Vikings are almost certainly not as bad as their record would indicate. I wasn’t alone in being high on them to start the season, and I think they’re getting better. Still, I cannot possibly endorse any logic saying the Kirk Cousins-led offense will be able to keep pace with the high-flying Seahawks.

Seven points simply seems like too small of a spread. I think Seattle wins by two scores, and in doing so stays on the path to being one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.


RB Mike Davis, CAR ($6,400)
WR D.J. Moore, CAR ($6,000)
QB Teddy Bridgewater, CAR ($5,900)
WR Robby Anderson, CAR ($5,900)

Remember when I said the Falcons had major defensive issues? I’m putting my belief in that into action this week by employing stacks of Panthers in several lineups. This is an offense that’s done pretty well to this point in the season, and each of these guys strikes me as a bargain.

In particular, Teddy Bridgewater at $5,900 just seems way too low. He’s coming off a great outing against the Cardinals and gets another juicy matchup in a game where he’ll likely have plenty of opportunities to make big plays. If Carolina puts up a big total, chances are at least a few of my lineups cash.

WR Darius Slayton, NYG ($4,800)

If you’re in need of a cheap flex play this week, I think you can do far worse than Slayton, who has been on the field for almost all of New York’s offensive snaps the past two games and has yet to be targeted fewer than six times in a game this year. This week, the Giants face the Cowboys, whose defense was torched by the Browns a week ago.

Much has been made of Dallas losing both starting offensive tackles, but they should still be able to put up plenty of points and place the Giants into a pass-heavy game script. For that reason, I’m buying plenty of shares in Slayton, and I’ll also dabble in Daniel Jones, one of the cheaper quarterbacks available. I think a fair amount of points get scored here, and I think the stars will align for Slayton to outperform his modest price point.

TE Mo Alie-Cox, IND ($4,200)

Philip Rivers has always loved his tight ends, and that hasn’t changed following his move to Indianapolis. This has meant the emergence of Mo Alie-Cox, a converted college basketball player who has scored in back-to-back games ahead of this weekend’s clash with Cleveland.

It’s entirely possible he’s a touchdown-dependent, boom-or-bust option. However, the Colts aren’t exactly loaded with talent on the outside, and they may need to throw a lot to keep up with the Browns if the Baker Mayfield-led offense keeps chugging along. For that reason, I’m leaning on another big performance from Alie-Cox, who certainly seems like he’s still improving.

NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Oct. 4, 2020 (Week Four)

My lead-in this week is very, very short. I would love to have something funny or witty to say here, but other things take precedent.

As we all know, President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. He was transported to the hospital Friday, and social media is abuzz with everything from well-wishes to people essentially putting him into the ground already.

My message: If you’re in that latter group, stop and re-evaluate yourself.

I lost my grandmother to COVID-19 earlier this year. I’ve been through it. For lack of a better, more eloquent way of putting it, it sucks, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

I’m far from a Trump supporter, as anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest. Rather than cheer the news or hope for his demise, I hope he gets well, and that he and his followers (specifically those who use the word “hoax” to an alarming degree) begin to exercise rationality when it comes to the global pandemic. We all need to look out for each other, and if we’ve descended to the point where we’re celebrating someone’s death without thinking anything of it, that’s as big an issue as the virus itself.

Anyway, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into some week four NFL action. The Chiefs winning outright allowed me to salvage a 2-2 mark last weekend, and I’m now 9-3 on the season. A 75% win rate is nothing to sneeze at, and I’m hoping to keep the success going this Sunday! As a reminder, all point spreads/totals are courtesy of America’s Line, and all daily fantasy costs are courtesy of Draftkings.


Bears +3 over Colts

Are we entirely sure the Colts are good? Yes, they’re 2-1, and the offense has put up 84 points through three weeks. However, they’ve faced the Jaguars, the Vikings, and the Jets, all teams with pitiful defenses (more on Jacksonville later).

Here, Indianapolis goes on the road for its stiffest test to this point in the season. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Bears are 3-0 and were rejuvenated by a switch to new quarterback Nick Foles in a comeback win over the Falcons. Chicago will be without Tarik Cohen, but the team still has a fearsome defense, one that should give Philip Rivers and company major headaches.

I thought the initial line (Chicago giving a point and a half) was pretty spot-on. I’m surprised it’s moved so far in this direction, but I’m certainly not complaining. I’ll gladly take the points in a game I think the Bears win outright.

Seahawks -5.5 over Dolphins

I don’t love a west coast team playing an early game, but this seems generous. Russell Wilson has played as well as anyone in the league to this point, and the Seattle offense has carved up every defense it’s faced to this point. Here, they go to Miami, where they face a team that’s by no means offensively-inept, but one that doesn’t seem able to keep up with their opponents this week.

Seattle’s defense is a concern. As good as their offense has been, that unit is a significant question mark. Still, you’re telling me I can get the Seahawks giving less than seven points to a team quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick? That’s too tantalizing to pass up.

Jacksonville/Cincinnati: OVER 49

This may appear to be the least-appealing game of the Sunday slate. Neither of these teams are particularly good. However, they have lots in common, as both have pass-happy quarterbacks and shoddy defenses.

For these reasons, the total seems low to me. Jacksonville is certainly not as bad as they appeared a little more than a week ago, when they were rolled by Miami coming off a short week and a three-point loss to Tennessee. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has scored 53 points in the last two weeks behind rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who would be putting up even better numbers if his offensive line was not emulating one big turnstile on most pass plays.

I think lots of points will be scored in this game. Give me Burrow and Gardner Minshew marching their teams up and down the field for 60 minutes, and I’ll be a happy bettor.

Philadelphia/San Francisco: UNDER 45

For whatever it’s worth, this was originally going to be “under 53” in New England/Kansas City. However, that total will undoubtedly change significantly following news of Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test, which will of course sideline him for this weekend’s game. While America’s Line still shows the 53-point total, I can’t in good conscience back that when nobody will be able to play it.

Instead, I’ll turn to a Sunday night game with two teams that are incredibly banged-up. Philadelphia is almost out of wide receivers and has been playing with a patchwork offensive line since the start of the year, while San Francisco will once again roll with backup quarterback Nick Mullens and won’t have Raheem Mostert. This isn’t the highest total, but this hits me as a 21-17 kind of game, so I’ll roll with the under.


WR Kenny Golladay, DET ($6,000)
QB Matthew Stafford, DET ($5,900)
TE T.J. Hockenson, DET ($4,800)

This is largely a product of the likely game script. The Saints are 1-2 despite an offense that’s been humming, and I think they’re going to take plenty of shots on the road against Detroit. With that in mind, I think the Lions will be very pass-heavy for most of this game, so several of my lineups will have this mini-stack in them.

Of this trio, I want Golladay most. He may not have been 100% in last week’s win over Arizona, but he still found the end zone in that game. The New Orleans defense hasn’t had a great start to the year, and I think he gets open a fair bit. As one of the premier wide receivers in the game when healthy, I think $6,000 is too low of an investment.

RB Mike Davis, CAR ($5,700)

Davis was a key play for me last week and he responded, turning 21 touches into 91 total yards and a touchdown. He has soft hands and has proven to be an adequate replacement for all-world running back Christian McCaffery, and I once again think he’s undervalued.

Over the past two games, Davis has 16 receptions. You won’t find many backs more involved in their team’s passing game than that, and Carolina’s shown it can move the football effectively. At his price, Davis is once again a prominent fixture in my lineups.

DST Rams ($3,900)

This one’s pretty simple: Who do you like in a matchup between all-world defensive lineman Aaron Donald and the Giants offensive line? I don’t think that matchup ends well for Daniel Jones, who has been running for his life every game to this point in the season. I even debated playing “under 48” in this game, simply because I think the New York offense is going to have a big problem moving the ball.

NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Sept. 27, 2020 (Week Three)

The theme of this week’s column is one of the oldest standby tactics in improv comedy. They’re two very simple words with unlimited possibilities when used correctly, and in the right hands, they can be used with deadly efficiency.

I’m referring, of course, to “yes, and…,” which is often used to keep routines going and open the door for more hilarious antics. In this case, though, the reasoning behind my picks and plays for week three can be easily summed up with those two words (and, of course, the analysis that comes with them).

We moved to 7-1 last week, with our lone loss coming when the Chiefs prevailed in overtime but did not cover the spread (due in no small part to the play of Justin Herbert, who was not supposed to start but did an admirable job taking the defending champs to the limit). As always, spreads are courtesy of America’s Line, and DFS costs are courtesy of DraftKings.

Here’s hoping we can keep the good mojo going!


Titans -3 over Vikings

The Titans aren’t the flashiest team in the league.

Yes, and they’re still 2-0.

I said in week one that I felt the Titans would be a team to watch early in the season. They play in a small market, their quarterback was sent packing from Miami a few years ago, none of their receivers are household names, and the defense is the ultimate “whole is more than the sum of its parts” unit. They’ve won ugly twice this year…but have you seen the Vikings?

Minnesota, a team that many thought would be a legitimate contender at a deep run in the playoffs, has looked woefully overmatched in both of its games this season. Kirk Cousins no longer has a legitimate #1 receiver, and the defense has been unable to keep up with the Packers and Colts. I think they get overpowered again here, and that the Titans move to the most underreported 3-0 start in the league.

49ers -3.5 over Giants

Jimmy Garappolo, George Kittle, and Nick Bosa will not play.

Yes, and the Giants are still the Giants.

New York has lost Saquon Barkley for the season due to a torn ACL (rest in peace, Andrew’s hopes of a fantasy football repeat). They’ve gone out and signed Devonta Freeman, but he will almost certainly not have an active role in this contest.

San Francisco, meanwhile, still has enough weapons on both sides of the ball to be formidable. This is another East Coast game, but they stayed in that time zone after last week’s throttling of the Jets, so that won’t be an issue at all. Give me every bit of San Francisco this week, even without some of their biggest playmakers in the huddle.

Carolina/LA Chargers: OVER 43.5

Carolina will be without Christian McCaffery, and their offense was held in check by Tampa Bay last week.

Yes, and the Panther defense is still terrible.

Tom Brady could’ve had an even bigger day last week had his receivers not committed several drops on longer passes. This week, Carolina faces a rejuvenated Charger offense led by Justin Herbert, who at this point is playing for a shot at the long-term starting job.

Add in that I’m not concerned about Carolina backup running back Mike Davis or other parts of the Panther offense, and this total looks way too low. 24-21 puts us over the total, and I think we’ll soar past it here.

Chiefs +3.5 over Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens may be the most complete team in the league.

Yes, and Patrick Mahomes should not be getting more than a field goal from any opponent.

The Ravens are fun to watch. Lamar Jackson is electrifying, and their backfield-by-committee is a nightmare to prepare for. They’re sharp defensively as well, having held the Browns and Texas to just 22 combined points this season.

Still, the Chiefs offense played as poorly as we’ve seen them play in a long time last week, and they found a way to win in overtime. Mahomes will likely have many opportunities to work his magic, and I think we’ll see a true shootout on Monday night.

In this case, the half-point is crucial. The Ravens may very well win, but the Chiefs are the reigning champs for a reason, and if last week is any indication, they’ve learned how to win ugly. For that reason, I’ll take the points as my fourth and final play of the week.


QB Cam Newton, NE ($6,700)

I’m obviously not going out on a limb here, as Newton has been in the midst of an epic career revival in New England. However, I’m shocked he’s not more expensive in a tremendous matchup with the Raiders.

Newton has completed more than 71% of his passes this season while averaging nearly five yards per carry. We’re seeing a premier dual-threat performance right now, and when I saw him at $6,700, I jumped on it. I think he’ll have every opportunity to make plays against a Las Vegas defense that has given up 54 points in its first two games.

RB Mike Davis, CAR ($5,100)

Carolina’s offense is built around its starting running back. That focal point, of course, is Christian McCaffery, but Davis reeled in all eight receiving targets he saw last week and should see a heavy workload against the Chargers.

This is a case where the asking price just seems way too low. The Charger defense isn’t bad, but based on the likely workload and game script, I think Davis is a steal.

WR Michael Gallup, DAL ($5,500)
WR CeeDee Lamb, DAL ($5,400)

The Dallas Cowboys once again get a prime matchup, as they’ll take on the Seahawks. Seattle’s offense has been flying high to start the year, but their defense has gotten shredded by both Atlanta and New England. This makes Gallup and Lamb, key pieces in Dallas’s passing attack, very intriguing.

Gallup has been a bit of a disappointment so far, while Lamb is still getting up to speed as a rookie (though he’s shown there’s plenty to be excited about). I’ll happily give both guys shots in a terrific matchup. I have one team with these two, Dak Prescott, and Amari Cooper, and I won’t complain if this is a 45-42 game with lots of deep balls.

TE Jordan Reed, SF ($4,000)

Reed is an unbelievable story. He’s been hampered by injuries throughout his career and considered retiring before signing with San Francisco. George Kittle got hurt last week, and Reed responded by reeling in two touchdown passes as the Niners steamrolled the Jets.

The quarterback situation is a bit of a problem, and that’s baked into this cost. However, San Francisco doesn’t have many weapons on the outside, so I’m expecting Reed to get plenty of targets. His asking price is 17th among tight ends, and that’s just too low given his high ceiling.

NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Sept. 20, 2020 (Week Two)

Last week was a pretty big one for me against the spread. I got off to a 4-0 start to the season, no thanks to Stephen Gostkowski, who blew several kicks against the Broncos before putting the game-winner through the uprights.

Week two is now upon us, and in several of these games, I’m going against one of my bigger gambling axioms. I usually don’t like betting teams from the west in games that begin at 1 pm Eastern time. While 10 am Pacific time is a good starting time for games for viewers, it’s often not the case for players, as those teams can often come out sluggish. Still, there are a few games where the spreads are too appetizing to pass up.

As usual, spreads are courtesy of America’s Line. I’m switching it up for daily fantasy, though, and moving to DraftKings. Why? Well, I made some money there in week one after being given $10 in their season-opening promotion, so it makes sense to churn there.

Enough small talk; let’s get down to it!


49ers -7 over Jets

Yeah, there’s no sugar-coating this one: The Jets are rotten. Their offense looked positively inept in a season-opening loss to the Bills, and their defense looked outgunned by an offense that’s far from bad, but isn’t a top-tier unit. Add in that San Francisco will likely be playing angry after blowing a lead against Arizona, and I can’t go anywhere else.

If you’re a Jets fan, the one saving grace is that San Francisco will likely lean on the running game heavily, which will keep the total points down. I contemplated playing the under for that reason, but the total drifted down a few points late in the week, so I’m staying away from that. Still, the 49ers should roll here.

Rams +1.5 over Eagles

In my weekly spot on Gino Buccola’s podcast, Darin Zoccali asked me where I’d go in a survivor pool this week. I probably should’ve said San Francisco, but I went with the Rams against the Eagles. Even with the home-field advantage, I’m stunned the Eagles are favored in this spot.

Philadelphia’s offensive line was manhandled by Washington last week. Carson Wentz had very little time to throw, and I can’t see those circumstances getting better with Aaron Donald lining up on the other side on Sunday. Add in that the Rams went on the road to defeat a talented Dallas team last week, and my confidence gets even higher.

I’d consider a money-line play here as well, and I’d likely back the Rams if they were giving this spread instead of getting it. Until the Eagles have something resembling a healthy offensive line, I can’t endorse them against a talented defense.

Carolina/Tampa Bay: OVER 47.5

I liked Carolina’s offense and detested Carolina’s defense even before last week’s shootout against Las Vegas, which soared over the total. This week, they face off with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who lost a shootout in New Orleans but return home here.

This may not be the most fun game to watch. Tampa Bay is favored by 8.5 points, and that’s a legitimate spread. Still, 31-17 puts a game over the total, and I think this game could be a shootout. Perhaps Tampa Bay’s defense is better than they showed in the opener, but I doubt the same can be said for Carolina. I think at least one side has no trouble putting up points, so this is a fairly easy call for me.

Chiefs -8.5 over Chargers

There’s a sizable gap in confidence between my first three picks and this one, which closes out my action for the weekend. I would’ve loved Kansas City giving 5.5, as they were to start the week, but the number has moved up considerably, and for good reason.

The Chargers survived a season opener with Cincinnati. Joe Burrow did everything he could despite his offensive line being horribly overmatched, only to see Randy Bullock push a potential game-tying field goal. LA’s offense, meanwhile, didn’t exactly set the world on fire behind new quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and I just can’t see how they’ll keep up with the high-flying Chiefs in this one.

Kansas City just seems to have too many weapons, even for a competent defense like the Chargers have. I don’t think this is a blowout, but it seems like a game the reigning Super Bowl champions win by two touchdowns or so.


QB Dak Prescott, DAL ($6,800)
WR Amari Cooper, DAL ($6,300)
WR Michael Gallup, DAL ($5,600)

I love when I can lump multiple players into one entry for the same reason. In this case, that reason is simple: The Falcons defense showed in week one that they still have significant issues.

I want as many Cowboys as I can afford this week, and the above three are all reasonably-priced. If you want to put Ezekiel Elliot in here as well, you can do that, but he doesn’t come cheap ($8,200). My guess is the Cowboys are in line to put up a lot of points this week, so I’m maximizing my chances at a big total if they see fit to throw the ball up and down the field at will.

RB J.K. Dobbins, BAL ($5,100)

Dobbins found the end zone twice in his NFL debut and certainly seems to have earned a role in Baltimore’s backfield. This week, the Ravens get the Texans, and this hits me as another game where a lot of points will be scored.

It’s tough to have too much confidence in a running back that hasn’t shown he can catch the ball, so there’s some risk here. Still, if Dobbins is the goal-line back, he’s going to get some opportunities to punch it in.

TE Logan Thomas, WAS ($3,600)

The Washington tight end with two first names saw eight targets in week one and turned one of them into a touchdown. He’s a fascinating story as a former Virginia Tech quarterback finding professional success at a different position, and I think he draws a solid matchup against Arizona.

The Cardinals have plenty of offensive firepower, and if the Washington that fell behind 17-0 early against Philadelphia shows up, they’ll likely have to throw a lot from a very early juncture. Terry McLaurin will see plenty of targets outside, but Thomas has gotten the attention of Dwayne Haskins as well. At his price tag, he hits me as one of the biggest bargains of the week.

NFL Picks, Plays, and Daily Fantasy: Sept. 13, 2020 (Week One)

Many years ago, college-aged Andrew huddled over a keyboard while following an live chat with fantasy analyst Matthew Berry. As a TV/Radio major in college with a heavy emphasis on sports media production, I eagerly asked (probably more than once) what advice he would give aspiring people looking to go down this road as a career path.

Proof that this happened (Willie Garson also verified the second story).

His response: “Circle me like a vulture and wait for me to die.”

In a lot of ways, I’ve kind of done that. I went to college in central New York (Ithaca College, though, not Syracuse). I moved to California to work in television, and have kept my hands in a lot of projects over the years in an attempt to keep myself busy and “build a brand,” as the cool kids say.

Last year, I tried something new on my Twitter account. I set about picking four games a week against NFL point spreads. I posted a solid 33-23 record, good for just shy of 59%. This came while also winning my main fantasy football league (thank you, fellow GM’s in this keeper league, for allowing me to take Patrick Mahomes and Saquon Barkley in the same draft).

I thought to myself, “maybe I know a little something here.” I’ve got a website, I’ve got a bit of a following, and with the 2020 Saratoga season in the books, I’ve made like Styx, have too much (clap clap) time on my hands, and it’s ticking away at my sanity (good luck getting that out of your heads, everybody).

With that in mind, I’m going deeper into NFL football coverage this year, from both a betting and fantasy standpoint. In short, I’ll be writing more stuff, and I’ll be doing more videos. My goal with this is the same as it is with my horse racing content. I want to create content that appeals to a wide variety of fans and players, with the goal of giving that audience something they’ll enjoy and maybe even learn from.

I’ll dip my toe into the water with plays on four NFL games this weekend, plus a few players to watch if you’re diving into daily fantasy action during the first week of the season. Note that all odds, spreads, and player costs are as of Saturday afternoon, courtesy of America’s Line and Fanduel. Also, my plays go in chronological order, not in order of confidence.

If you’ve got something you want to see, or if you’re from a company and looking to work with a handicapper, I’m an easy guy to find. You can tweet me at @AndrewChampagne or use this site’s “contact” page. That’s connected to my email address, and I read everything that comes in.

Enough exposition; on with the show!


Packers +3.5 over Vikings

In this case, the half-point is key. I like the Vikings as a team, even after the loss of Stefon Diggs. They’re balanced on offense, and they’ve got legitimate playmakers on defense. However, Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, and with the Packers seeming to send a very clear message to him in the offseason, I’m banking on him playing with a chip on his shoulder.

With very little in the way of time to prepare for the season, I’m going with experience under center. The Vikings might win, but the Packers getting more than a field goal here makes them the play.

Seattle/Atlanta: OVER 49

This is one of two games that hits me as a track meet waiting to happen. Both teams have explosive offenses, and the dome setting means there won’t be any weather interference. I think Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan will both have big days, and this total just seems too low. 28-21 is a push, and I think that’s a worst-case scenario.

This is one of two games in the early window that hits me as a shootout. Give me lots of points in the Peach State, and I’ll be a happy bettor.

Las Vegas/Carolina: OVER 46.5

This is the other potential shootout, and in this case, I think the total is way too low. Both offenses have surprising firepower and motivated quarterbacks, and both defenses have major question marks. While I’m not sure how “good” these teams are, I think this might be the most entertaining game to watch on the first Sunday of the season.

Not only do I think you want the “over” here, I also think you want a few players in daily fantasy lineups, as they’ll be relative bargains. For now, though, just give me points, regardless of where they’re coming from.

Titans +3 over Broncos

This line seems wrong to me. Tennessee is coming off a season in which they found their quarterback (the revitalized Ryan Tannehill) and advanced to the AFC Championship game. Their 2020 campaign starts with a trip to Denver, where they’ll face a Broncos squad that just lost Von Miller for the year and may be without Courtland Sutton after a mid-week injury.

I love the Titans getting three points here, and I’d also consider a money-line play as well. I believe they’re better than most people think, and I’m going to keep a close eye on their point spreads in the early part of the season in hopes of a few cheap scores before lines adjust accordingly.


QB Teddy Bridgewater, CAR ($6,800)
WR Hunter Renfrow, LV ($5,200)

Remember what I said about how I see the Las Vegas/Carolina game? I think you want to load up on Raiders and Panthers, and not just Christian McCaffery, either.

Teddy Bridgewater will have McCaffery, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson at his disposal this year, and Carolina’s porous defense will ensure he gets the green light to take shots downfield with surprising regularity. He’s one of the cheapest quarterbacks available this week, and buying low on Bridgewater allows you to spend elsewhere.

Renfrow, meanwhile, worked his way into a slot receiver role with the Raiders as a rookie and saw 18 targets in the last two games of the 2019 season. His figure hits me as a steal, and I think he’ll see plenty of looks against a suspect secondary.

WR Terry McLaurin, WAS ($6,500)

At this point, who else does Washington have? I think McLaurin will be peppered by targets in a game where his team could be playing from behind early. I had figured his asking price would be far greater than this number, one that could allow you to also pick up a legitimate stud (someone like Michael Thomas at $8,800) or a playmaker in a situation to do damage (perhaps Chris Godwin at $7,700).

McLaurin’s floor is high, and his ceiling is as lofty as almost anyone else at the position. He may see some double-teams, but I simply think his likely volume makes him too attractive to ignore.

RB Raheem Mostert, SF ($6,200)

San Francisco does have options at running back, but Mostert should get the lion’s share of the carries in a run-friendly offense. He flashed plenty of talent last season when rushing for nearly six yards per carry, and second-leading rusher Matt Brieda is now in Miami. Jerick McKinnon will take some of those carries, but questions remain about how healthy he is after missing the last two seasons due to injuries.

Mostert should be in line for a big year, and that starts with a friendly matchup against Arizona. I’m banking on the Niner defense giving Kyler Murray and company major problems while the offense runs the ball early and often. This is another case where a talented player has a high floor and a favorable situation, and I need to buy as much Mostert stock as I can.

Detroit DEF ($3,700)

In general, betting against Mitchell Trubisky seems like a smart strategy. The Lions have done significant work to overhaul their defense, and they’ll be at home for the 2020 opener. Will home-field advantage matter as much during the COVID-19 pandemic? We don’t know that yet, but we do know Detroit’s asking price is in the lower half of the league. That seems way too low, and I think they’ll outperform that figure.