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Starts, Sits & Smashes

Beanie Wells looks to bust up the Browns while Tony Romo and Felix Jones should have a field day at Tampa Bay. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This December 16, 2011, 01:30 PM EST

SIT ‘EM DOWN

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at San Francisco): Big Ben is currently battling a busted up ankle suffered in Week 14 against the Browns that could very well keep him out of the lineup for Monday night’s showdown at San Francisco. But for those of you wondering, even if Roethlisberger is good for Week 15 we still advise you to look in another direction. Not only will he be playing at far less than 100%, but the 49ers are surrendering an average of only 17.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (9th-fewest in NFL). This is a high-risk, low-reward situation.

The line: Off the board due to Roethlisberger’s injury.

Vegas notes: The Steelers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an against the spread loss while the 49ers are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games on grass.

The pick: No play.

Ryan MathewsMathews has rolled up some big yardage totals as of late, but he'll have a tough time Sunday evening against a stout Ravens defense.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (vs. Baltimore): Mathews has done an excellent job of rolling up the yardage as of late, but keep in mind that the second-year running back out of Fresno State has only found the end zone one time over his last nine games. Call it the Mike Tolbert effect if you want to, but it’s going to be tough for Mathews to produce a solid stat line Sunday night against a Ravens defense that currently ranks second in the NFL against the run (85.8 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of just 13.1 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (2nd-fewest in NFL). If he can’t find the end zone in Week 15, we don’t expect a big stat line from Mathews against this defense.

The line: Baltimore -2.5/44.5

Vegas notes: The Ravens are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0 while the Chargers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as a home underdog.

The pick: Chargers (+2.5)

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Jets): Over his last seven games, D-Jax has rolled up 75 or more receiving yards just one time. That’s not good, especially for a guy looking to sign a fat new contract this offseason. To make matters worse, Jackson has scored only one touchdown in his last seven games, so don’t expect anything special against Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and a red hot New York Jets defense that is giving up an average of only 17.1 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (3rd-fewest in NFL).

The line: Philadelphia -2.5/44

Vegas notes: The Jets are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games while the Eagles are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games overall.

The pick: Eagles (-2.5)

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (at St. Louis): The former Oklahoma product has put together a nice season that has featured a grand total of five touchdowns, with two coming in his last five games. Not bad, but just keep in mind that Gresham travels to St. Louis this weekend to take on a Rams defense that—while terrible—has actually done a half decent job of slowing down opposing tight ends this season (3.5 fantasy pts/gm, fewest in NFL). There are better options out there.

The line: Cincinnati -6.5/40

Vegas notes: The OVER is 5-0 in the Bengals’ last five games against teams with a losing record and 4-1 in the Rams’ last five games as a home underdog.

The pick: OVER (40)

Denver Broncos, D/ST (vs. New England): We love what John Fox, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos have done as of late, but Sunday afternoon is not a time to ride with this defense. Yes, they have done an excellent job over the previous six weeks, but Tom Brady and the Patriots are coming to town in Week 15 and they know a thing or two about putting points on the board. In fact, New England currently ranks third in the NFL in scoring (30.5 pts/gm) and is giving up an average of just 6.6 fantasy points per game to opposing D/STs this season (5th-fewest in NFL). Look elsewhere for your defensive needs.

The line: New England -7/46

Vegas notes: The OVER is 14-4 in the Patriots’ last 18 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0 and 13-3 in the Broncos’ last 16 games against teams with a winning record.

The pick: UNDER (46)

Cam NewtonNewton will have to protect the football if he and the Panthers have any hopes of knocking off the Houston Texans.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (at Houston): “Sit Cam Newton? Are you crazy?” I can already see my email inbox being flooded for this recommendation. And while I’m sure many of you will ignore this advice, just keep in mind that Newton has thrown one or fewer touchdown passes in ten of 13 games this season. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are surrendering only 13.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2011 (t-3rd-fewest in NFL). Newton is a baller, but this is a real tough matchup for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

The line: Houston -6/45

Vegas notes: The Panthers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as a road underdog while the Texans are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games on grass.

The pick: Texans (-6)

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills (vs. Miami): In one of the most favorable matchups a running back could ask for, C.J. Spiller went out and laid an egg (12-46-0) last Sunday at San Diego. In our opinion, if this guy couldn’t post a solid stat line against the Chargers, he’s not doing it Sunday against a Dolphins defense that currently ranks third in the NFL against the run (89.9 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of only 13.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (4th-fewest in NFL). Send Spiller back to the bench.

The line: Off the board.

Vegas notes: The UNDER is 7-3-1 in the last 11 meetings between these two teams.

The pick: No play.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Pittsburgh): We thought Crabtree was on the verge of some very big stat lines, but alas, the former Texas Tech product has scored only one touchdown over his last six games and has topped 100 receiving yards in a contest just once this season. Put him on the bench Monday night against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that currently ranks first in the NFL against the pass (179.1 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of only 15.1 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (2nd-fewest in NFL).

The line: Off the board due to Roethlisberger’s injury.

Vegas notes: The OVER is 6-2 in the Steelers’ last eight road games while the UNDER is 6-2 in the 49ers’ last eight games overall.

The pick: No play.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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