(Editor's note: Every week this season, gay high school NFL fan Jeremy Brener will give his perspective and predictions for the upcoming week).
Last season, the NFL was hit with scandal after scandal. Whether it was Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy, the NFL did not have much to be proud of. At this January's NFL Honors, it was 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Thomas Davis, who encouraged all of the players in the NFL to "give the media something positive to talk about."
J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is such a player. He certainly gives the media something positive to talk about and I am such a huge fan. Whether it is his magazine cover abs or his $100 million smile or his infectious personality, he really is the total package. A two-time defensive player of the year in his first four seasons, it is amazing to be able to watch him play. He's a master of his craft, and he is a once-in-a-lifetime player.
He also means so much to my Houston community. When he isn't on the field, he's giving paralyzed kids hope for a better future, or he is holding a charity softball game, or he's playfully "marrying" little 6-year-old girls. But there's much more.
The week of my bar mitzvah, there was a family that was on vacation and they were involved in a fatal car accident. The accident killed both of the parents and left two of the three children paralyzed from the waist down. Watt heard about the story, and visited the children constantly. His presence gave them hope and gave the extended family hope and strength that they can overcome any situation. That's why I have such a crush on J.J. Watt. His No. 1 goal is to make the world a better place, his second goal is to win. That's the sign of a hot player and great man to me.
Week 3 notes:
Game of the Week
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers
Cancel your plans for Monday night. Say no to dates, say no to late night meetings, say no to "The Voice," say no to taking your kid to soccer practice and say no to dinner with mom. Maybe invite a couple of buddies over. The Monday night games this season have been disappointing. The 49ers made the Vikings look like a college team, and the Jets made the Colts look like a high school team. However, this game between the Chiefs and the Packers should be a battle between two contenders. The Packers look better than any team in the NFC, and the Chiefs are a Jamaal Charles fumble away from being 2-0 and defeating the Broncos. This is going to be a battle between two offenses who still look good despite injuries, and two strong defenses. I'm taking the Packers in this game for two reasons: 1) Lambeau 2) MVP #12. Packers win, 37-27.
Upset of the Week
Buffalo Bills over Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are favored here by a field goal, but I think the Bills get the job done down in South Beach. The Dolphins looked puzzled in their first two games, barely squeaking by against the Redskins, and losing to the lowly Jaguars. This team is not matching their preseason hype, and I don't think that their home opener will change their ways.
The Bills are coming into this game having faced possibly the toughest schedule to begin the season, with back-to-back games against the teams that reached the AFC Championship last year. They got a win against the Colts and competed with the Patriots, only losing by a single score. Also, with Lamar Miller questionable in this game for the Fins, along with the other offensive struggles they've had, I don't like their chances against a Bills team that has put up 29.5 points a game. I like the Bills in this game to not only beat the spread, but to win. Bills 27, Dolphins 21.
Honorable Mention: Dallas Cowboys over Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy Start of the Week
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle vs. Atlanta Falcons
I told you guys Week 1 to sit Randle vs. the Giants because it looked like he was not going to be the starter and it looked like Jason Garrett was electing to go with a committee. Well, after two games, he has 34 carries for 156 yards. Not great numbers, but certainly not terrible. Since that Week 1 game, Dez Bryant and Tony Romo have both been injured, leaving Terrance Williams and Brandon Weeden to fill their voids respectively. The Cowboys were one of the most effective run units last season, and with QB1 and WR1 out for a while, look for Randle's workload to increase, which should lead to more fantasy points. I also love his matchup this week against Atlanta, which has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Honorable Mention: Packers WR Randall Cobb vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray vs. New York Jets
It's amazing how quickly things can go from one end of the spectrum to the other so quickly in football. DeMarco Murray went from being a Cowboy and a rushing champion fantasy stud to an Eagle and a rushing fantasy dud. By this time last season, he had 51 carries for 285 yards and a pair of scores. This year, he has 21 carries for just 11 yards! His offensive line is terrible, not to mention that he is facing the Jets this week, the team that has allowed the fewest rushing yards throughout these first two weeks. This is not the week to start Murray, and I would not start him until he proves he can be a solid contributor again. However, that might take a while.
Honorable Mention: Lions QB Matthew Stafford vs. Denver Broncos
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Redskins RB Matt Jones
A friend of mine on Twitter told me before the season to watch out for a rookie out of Florida named Matt Jones. Honestly, I had to Google the guy. He was drafted in the third round by the Redskins, a bold move considering they already had Alfred Morris planted comfortably in the starting RB role. I thought that if Morris were to get injured, then he might be worth a pickup, and he might start games late in the season when the Redskins are out of it and are just looking for their youth to spice things up. Boy, was I wrong. This guy is ready to play now. Pick him up if you have an extra spot. He got more carries than Morris and only played three snaps fewer than him last week. The Redskins really believe in this guy, and I see him as a potential Pro Bowler in the future. He looked super sharp against a really good Rams front seven. He could become a reliable fantasy option soon, especially with all these "studs," (looking at you DeMarco Murray... CJ Anderson...Eddie Lacy...) playing like duds. If you're in a deep league, I might even start Jones this week with a favorable matchup against the Giants. But, if you're in a more normal league with normal numbers, pick him up, place him on your bench, and start him once he proves he is not a fluke.
Honorable Mention: Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden
Lock of the Week
Seattle Seahawks over Chicago Bears
I know I got last week's game wrong, but had I not picked the Saints to beat the Bucs, I probably would have picked the Dolphins to beat the Jaguars, or the Ravens over the Raiders, or the Rams over the Redskins, or the Colts over the Jets, and none of those outcomes happened. I doubt that there has ever been a time where five of the worst six teams from the previous season won in the same week. My survivor pool this week started with more than 130 people, and only 16 remain. Yikes! The phrase "Any Given Sunday" could not have been truer this past Sunday, (or Monday if you are talking about the Jets). But, this week, I feel very good about this lock. Even though Jim and Cyd are pessimistic about the Seahawks' chances this year, I still see them as a Super Bowl contender, and they get their first win of the season in their home opener facing a backup quarterback and a team that gave up 48 points on Sunday. It doesn't look good for the Bears, but hey, in the NFL, you can win on any given Sunday.
Honorable Mention: Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49ers
Buzzer's Best Bet
Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski will make one pick each week against the spread.
Atlanta 1-5 at Dallas. Pick: Atlanta.
The Cowboys are without their quarterback (Tony Romo) and best receiver (Dez Bryant) and maybe without stud tight end Jason Witten. I know their offensive line is good but Brandon Weeden doesn't scare anyone at QB (0-7 in his last seven starts), despite the raves of owner Jerry Jones. The Falcons have a defense that is finally competent and that will be enough against a depleted Cowboys team. On offense, no one has yet stopped Matt Ryan to Julio Jones and that trend will continue this week.
Last week's pick: Win (Pittsburgh to cover against San Francisco). Season: 2-0.
Hot Player on the Field
Rams RB Le'Veon Bell vs. St. Louis Rams
Last year's No. 2 rusher from his two-game suspension against the Rams, a team that gave up 182 rushing yards last week. Bell's backup, DeAngelo Williams, has played well in his absence, and if Bell can step in and receive the same opportunities that Williams received, Bell should have another fine season, both in the air and on the ground. I expect him to have a big day in his 2015 debut and for him to see the end zone once or twice.
Honorable Mention: Patriots WR Julian Edelman vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Hot Player of the week
Jets CB Darrelle Revis
One of the greatest shutdown corners in the NFL. Had a great game Monday night with three turnovers, and he looked good doing it.
(Photo by Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports)
Jeremy Brener lives in Houston. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy).