All-Purpose Playbook: Week 7 NFL underdog picks, survivor pools, fantasy football and more

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr's improved play makes Oakland a good-looking home dog this Sunday.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Welcome to the All-Purpose Playbook, a Buzzer column that is (1) either a guide to many things NFL and wagering, such as survivor pools and teasers and fantasy football or (2) a road map to hell. Check back here on Thursdays for more football picks, a smattering of GIFs and occasional nonsense.

Follow me @brettsmiley on Twitter, and you can e-mail me with any questions or comments at basmiley [at] gmail [dot] com.


For the past six weeks, I’ve spent the majority of this column discussing survivor pools and strategy for navigating rocky survivor pool waters.

The ship has sunk. There’s nothing left, no survivors.

prompting cornerback Adam Jones to say later, "Do your job," and "We work (too) hard to miss (expletive) like that!"

Ditto to what Jones said. The dream is dead. A small fraction of poolsters remain, and best wishes to them going forward.

So, who’s worth a look? Well, if you haven’t taken the Patriots yet, now’s the time. The Jets usually play the Patriots tough, but Gang Green is just a hot mess right now and the fire still burns in Tom Brady. Consider:

Tom Brady is 6-0 in Thursday games and has won 18 consecutive home divisional contests, each at least tied for best mark in NFL history.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 16, 2014


The St. Louis Rams (+3.5) failed to cover last week in a loss to the 49ers, dropping the season underdog picks to 5-3. The pick went whirling around the toilet when Brandon Lloyd got behind Janoris Jenkins with under 30 seconds remaining in the first half for an 80-yard touchdown catch, sucking the momentum from the game, consequently destroying Austin Davis’s ability to complete a pass.

Indeed, last week was a no good, terrible, very bad week, capped by my New York Giants getting annihilated by the Eagles, worsened by the brutal injury suffered by Victor Cruz.

Nevertheless, we must bravely march forward into the NFL abyss and pick some winners.



Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt notes that since Locker became the Titans starter in 2012, he’s posted passer ratings of 93.8, 92.1 and 122.9 in his first games back from injury during a season.

The Snyders are just not a very good football team and shouldn’t be a 5.5-point favorite over anyone. The majority of wagers are coming in on Washington, and I’d rather be on the other side.


This doubles as the game most likely to be relocated because of the Ebola virus. The line opened with the Cowboys a 4.5-point favorite but has since jumped to 6.5 or 7 because bettors are pounding Dallas, recently anointed top dog on a number of NFL power rankings. Meanwhile, the Giants got bludgeoned on Sunday Night Football. The Giants have some good veteran leadership and the offensive line can’t play any worse than it did last week, so I think we’ll see them bounce back against a divisional opponent. If you can get 7 on the Giants right now, I’d take it.


Now is the time when I highlight some non-obvious plays. Last week I suggested starting Ronnie Hillman (100 yards rushing, 3 receptions for 16 yards) and Luke Willson (whopping 2 catches for 16 yards), and sitting Sammy Watkins (2 catches for 27 yards) and Zac Stacy (17 rushing yards, two catches for 17 yards). I’ll go ahead and give myself an A- on those recommendations, and a slap on the butt.

SIT: Drew Brees (QB, Saints): I swear, I’m not on LSD. Hear me out: If you’re in a 10-team or 12-team league, you’ve probably got another startable or marginal top-15 fantasy QB on the roster. The Saints habitually struggle outside of the Superdome and they head to Detroit, which is the No. 1 ranked passing defense, according to Football Outsiders (thanks in large part to the fierce defensive line). Jimmy Graham will be iffy for the Saints and Brees will have to look out for suplexes or worse. If you have another option at QB like Joe Flacco or even Brian Hoyer, I think you’ll be wise to go that way.

START: Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, Giants): ODB could be a Charger because the dude is a lightning bolt. The rookie will take over for Victor Cruz and try to "make him proud" against the Cowboys on Sunday. Beckham is line for a lot of looks and he’s got the speed and wits to take any ball to the house.

SIT: Steven Jackson (RB, Falcons): Jackson got only six carries last week. The Falcons are struggling to get a push up front and with Roddy White and Julio Jones on the outside, this is a pass-first offense. Atlanta heads to Baltimore on Sunday, who has held opponents to only 90 yards rushing per game. Find a place on the pine for Jackson.

START: Trent Richardson (RB, Colts): He’s averaging a brutal 3.2 yards per carry but hey, he’s getting a lot of carries. 17 of them last week! The Bengals are now ranked dead last in the league after surrendering 107 rushing yards to Cam Newton. You won’t feel good about yourself slotting Richardson in there. It’ll kind of feel like setting for some unsatisfying second-rate snack after searching the fridge and pantry back-and-forth. I guess Richardson is this week’s crappy, "it’ll have to do" snack. Enjoy.

Follow me @brettsmiley on Twitter, and you can e-mail me with any questions or comments at basmiley [at] gmail [dot] com.