Welcome to week one of the second year of Eliminator Breakdown. For those who have followed me from the late and great FFOasis.com, you know the drill, but here’s a quick rundown for those new to the program. Each week I will breakdown all the NFL matchups coming up, tell you which games to avoid picking from, as well as advise a couple options that I recommend you use. While I wish I could guarantee following my advice would help you win your league, what I can guarantee is it doesn’t hurt to be informed of all the options on the table. Let’s get going!
Step 1 – Avoid Division Matchups
On September 21, 2008, the New England Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins riding a record breaking 21 game regular season win streak. The Dolphins on the other hand were 0-2 to start the season and were coming off a 1-15 record the year prior. The result? Miami 38, New England 13. Division games are some of the most unpredictable games of the year.
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Look at last year where the Jacksonville Jaguars started their season going 0-8 before their week nine bye. The week after their bye they traveled to play their division foes the Titans in Tennessee. The Titans were an average 4-4 coming off a nice win over the St. Louis Rams. Most people were picking the Titans to keep their win streak going. The result? Jacksonville won 29-27 and lots of people lost their eliminator season. The Jags finished the season 4-12, with three of their four wins coming against division opponents. The Cleveland Browns also only won four games last season, two of which came against the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals and the old Cleveland Browns, better known as the Baltimore Ravens. The Houston Texans won only two games last year, but one come against division rival Tennessee. Catch a trend yet?
Heed my advice and avoid the below division matchups in Week One:
- New Orleans at Atlanta
- Cleveland at Pittsburgh
- Cincinnati at Baltimore
- New England at Miami
- Carolina at Tampa Bay
Step 2 – Avoid Marquee Matchups
If I were a betting man, I would bet that the Broncos are going to open their season in prime time with a win over Andrew Luck and the Colts on Sunday night. However, since I am a betting man, I would much rather put money on a game that is a little more lopsided in terms of team talent. Odds are that if the game is on prime time, it’s probably not a game you want to risk your entire eliminator season on.
Avoid the following prime time games:
- Green Bay at Seattle
- NY Giants at Detroit
- San Diego at Arizona
- Indianapolis at Denver
Step 3 – Avoid Picking Against Home Field Advantage
Everyone has heard the phrase “home field advantage” and it is something you should keep in mind when making your eliminator decision. Some of the biggest upsets come when a favored team has to travel across the country. Last season the Carolina Panthers were a very dominant team at home, losing only to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seahawks. However, when on the road they lost to New Orleans, Arizona, and even the lowly Buffalo Bills. Even the Seahawks lost to the 49ers and Colts when having to travel on the road. Every year, many teams are victims of long travel times. Avoid the following games where the favorite is the away team:
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- San Francisco at Dallas
Step 4 – Make your pick!
The Bills have struggled mightily throughout the preseason, and rumors are swirling that the team is growing impatient of youngster EJ Manuel. Throw in an injured Sammy Watkins and I like Jay Cutler and his many offensive weapons to defend home field advantage to start the season. My favorite pick for this week is:
- Chicago over Buffalo
I’m also a fan of Chip Kelly and the Eagles over the lowly Jaguars and I believe the strong defense of the NY Jets will be able to shut down whatever QB ends up under center for the Raiders in week 1.
- Philadelphia over Jacksonville
- NY Jets over Oakland
Feel free to follow me for great fantasy football advice on twitter @DE_aaron
If you need an eliminator league to join check out ESPN Eliminator Challenge