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Tuesday 22nd Aug 2017

Way back, 40 years, when I was first out of college and manning my first real job, working for the City of Oakland, I had a friend, Dee Holloway.

Dee was a big guy, with a huge smile and as many street smarts as anyone I have known. Dee grew up in the Richmond projects, and worked as a prison guard, but he was smart, and had some polish, and he then got a gig as a sort of "enforcer" for the western region of the Boy Scouts of America.

Enforcer meant that when groups or organizations made monetary pledges to the council, Dee would follow up and ensure the commitment was kept.

When I met him, he was a housing manager for the City of Oakland, and it was with Dee that I first started picking and betting football games.

We would pick every match-up each week, and a correct pick was worth $2, and a loss -$2, and for a little over a year, Dee kicked my ass because I was foolish enough to think that if I liked a team, they could win, and if I hated a team, they might lose.

Such were the seeds of the objectivity I have worked to attain as a sports--and fantasy--analyst, and though the Raiders were indeed the best team on earth 40 years ago, for the past 30, they have been the worst.

I have tried to disengage from the hold of the Raiders, the team I have loved since their first season in 1961, proud to have a renegade team that represented the city in which I was born. But, this year, with a veteran Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper as offensive weapons, I had this hope that Oakland could win maybe six games.

In fact, I invested a chunk of my rosters among these three theoretical up-and-comers, and well, if you watched any of the team's opener against the Bengals, you can see that the lessons I learned 40 years ago went out the window as Oakland played worse than a Division II team.

So much for the best laid plans of mice and Raiders, but, there were some interesting developments and players in the league aside from the disaster at the Coliseum, so let's look at a few.

James Jones (Packers, WR): Boy, the Raiders, who rostered Jones last year and then waived him, might really be able to use him now! Jones, filling in for Jordy Nelson and the still somewhat hobbled Randall Cobb, bagged a pair of scores and caught four for 51 yards. A former Packer, Jones has a history with Aaron Rodgers and he is probably slotted to start the rest of the year, and he's only on 30.7% of ESPN fantasy teams. That means there will be a bidding war for Jones this week. (I'd keep an eye on Green Bay Tight End Richard Rodgers, too.)

Johnny Manziel (Browns, QB): Wow, his first TD pass for the guy with flair. It is interesting how a guy like Manziel seems to have what it takes while the likes of Tim Tebow just doesn't have it, and I am not recommending Manziel as much because he is untested as because his team looks almost as bad as the Raiders. But, he sure as hell is interesting, and if you are in a 2-QB play league, you have to add him for the bye weeks.

Percy Harvin (Bills, WR): Caught his first pass for a 51-yarder from Tyrod Taylor, and there is no ignoring Harvin's skill. Buffalo might be pretty good, and so might Taylor, and Harvin might be talented, but I would expect a meltdown and not invest no matter how flashy the receiver looks at this point.

Karlos Williams (Bills, RB): On the other hand, I would jump on the rookie who scored and will be the next big Buffalo thing.

Nick Foles (Rams, QB): Foles is seemingly the opposite of Manziel (well, literally, it is probably Tebow), but I watched a lot of the Seattle/St. Louis game and was increasingly impressed with Foles' skill and moxie. If I am dropping Derek Carr due to his hand injury and potentially awful team, I am going with Foles, who was only selected on 11.6% of ESPN teams. Sign me up! 

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