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.
DAILY FANTASY PLAYERS TO WATCH
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.