This week in Higher/Lower/Over/Under focuses on quarterbacks - there's a couple who you need to consider being must-starts if you want to win a title. And there's a couple who, despite our pre-season projections, remain matchup-based starters. We'll also talk old Raiders, young Colts and my new favorite Neil-Diamond-inspired-NFL-nickname.
1: How many times Jerry Jones will get locked out of the Cowboys locker room for the rest of his life. Under. Can you imagine being a low-level intern standing outside the door when this happened? If it was me, I would have prayed with all my might I could get beamed out of there like in "Star Trek." Dallas is a mess right now. But at least Tony Romo seems to have righted himself enough to be worthy of starting again. He's figured things out: Throw it to Miles Austin and Jason Witten and leave Dez Bryant out of things. He's averaged more than 15 fantasy points per game the last month -- and 15 points is a viable start from your quarterback. I'm not saying you're starting him the rest of the way, but now he's an option once again.
4: How many different tight ends you'll wind up starting at some point this season on your fantasy team. Push. Every week it's the same, unless you own Gronk, Graham, Gonzalez, Witten or Daniels: Here's a tight end with a big game, so I'll pick him up and start him and then he stinks for me. The list is long: Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph, Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, Anthony Fasano, Zach Miller, Dustin Keller - and on and on. This week, Jermaine Gresham, Joel Dreessen and Brandon Myers are popular waiver wire selections. Why not? The guy you have now is probably no good anyway! (I do that with blue jeans. I fall in love with a pair in the store, buy them, and a month later I'm putting them in the Goodwill pile.) But of the three, I like Gresham's potential the most -- he's become Andy Dalton's No. 2 option behind A.J. Green in that offense. Dreesen gets some red zone looks, and Myers is worth a whirl, but for staying power, it's Gresham.
5: Total number of defensive/special teams touchdowns in the Texans-Bears game this week. Under. I'm saying four. Two touchdowns each. Here's how ridiculously good the Bears defense has been in fantasy. They have 150 points this season. If the Bears 'D were a quarterback, they'd rank seventh in points overall (just behind Matt Ryan). If the Bears 'D was a running back, they'd be ranked third overall (less than two points than running back leader Doug Martin). And if the Bears 'D was a wide receiver, they'd be No. 1 overall - with a 27-point lead over A.J. Green.
25: How many "Should I play Joe Flacco this week?" tweets I'll get between now and Sunday. Over. There's a very simple formula to starting Joe Flacco. Ask yourself two questions: 1) Is he at home? If the answer is "yes", you can proceed to question No. 2. This year, Flacco's fantasy points in four home games have gone like this: 19.86, 25.58, 22.64, 13.56. (In four away games he's averaging just over eight points per game.) The 13 point game was against Dallas, who is pretty terrific against the pass. So that's your next query: 2) Does he have a favorable matchup? Flacco still can't shred the very good defenses, so you have to watch out for that. This week the Ravens are facing the Raiders, who are at best, a middle of the pack defense. So this means you can start Flacco! It's a simple formula, and lucky for me because the last math class I took was Probability and Statistics my freshman year at Syracuse and I think I got a C-plus. Of course, actually attending class might have helped, but it is what it is.
50: The number of "Those aren't real fantasy points, they're garbage time fantasy points" tweets I'll get regarding Chris Johnson. Over. Doesn't matter when you get them, they still count for you. And now CJ2K is ranked 12th overall in fantasy points for running backs. He's been in double digits in five of the last six weeks and is starting to come on. You have to play him because at any time he can break off an 80-yard touchdown like he did Sunday. He's got a tough matchup Sunday at Miami, who are third overall in yards allowed per game (83.9), but really, are you sitting him? And are you sitting him at any point the rest of the season? Sure, he may give you some duds the rest of the way, but do you want to be the owner who sits him and then watches him go for 150 yards and a score?
500: How many points the Tennessee Titans will allow this season. Over. If this happens, Tennessee will be just the fourth team in NFL history to accomplish this. They've allowed 308 so far after the Bears 50-Burger last week. (Mmmmm. 50 Burger. Mmmmm.) They do everything horribly. They can't defend against the run (141 YPG - 30th in the NFL), or the pass (273 YPG - 27th), and have allowed 20 touchdowns through the air (worst in the game) and nine on the ground (24th). Throw on top of this owner Bud Adams putting his entire team on notice and you have a coaching staff updating their resumes while trying to prepare for the games. But for you, this means good plays when they take on the Titans between now and December: Reggie Bush, Brian (Turn on your) Hartline, Rashad Jennings, Cecil Shorts and maybe even Justin Blackmon. Thankfully the Titans have their bye mixed in. And yeah, I'm going to run the Neil Diamond-Brian Hartline thing into the ground. In fact, I may recommend starting him every week just so I can say "Turn on your Haaaaaaatline."
4,131: How many passing yards for Carson Palmer this season. Over. Waaaay over. This was Palmer's 2007 total, the most yards he's thrown for in one year in his career. With his entire backfield injured (Oakland signed Mark Van Eeghen this week), he'll keep chucking it. I would love to see 61 passes a week but that's not likely. However, he's averaging more than 300 yards a game in the last month (or right around the time when Oakland realized Darren McFadden can no longer be the centerpiece of their team) and he has an easy schedule the rest of the way. Palmer could wind up being the rarest of players, who we see one or two of per year: the late-season free agent pickup who carries your team to a championship.