Starts, Sits & Smashes

Tim Tebow and Jordy Nelson headline this week’s fantasy must-starts. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This December 02, 2011, 01:30 PM EST


Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (at Houston): We recommended Ryan as a Start for Week 12 and the Atlanta quarterback came through with 262 passing yards and three touchdowns. While he’s been on a bit of a heater as of late, make the switch in Week 13 because Ryan heads to Houston to take on the NFL’s top-rated defense in the Texans. Houston is only surrendering an average of 13.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (t-2nd-fewest in NFL), so we think you’d be better served going with another signal-caller on Sunday. Also, be advised that Vegas oddsmakers have the total for this game listed at 37.5, so clearly they aren’t expecting a lot of scoring.

The line: Atlanta -2.5/37.5

Vegas notes: The under is 7-0 in the Falcons’ last seven games overall and 4-1 in the Texans’ last five home games.

The pick: Already made above (Falcons -2.5)

Ryan MathewsICONDon't let one good week fool you. Mathews is in for a tough test on Monday night.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (at Jacksonville): Mathews may have lit up the Broncos for 137 rushing yards last Sunday, but prior to that he had failed to rush for more than 57 yards in four straight games. Not only that, but the guy hasn’t scored a touchdown since September 25! That doesn’t bode well for a Monday night showdown with a Jaguars defense the is giving up an average of just 16.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (9th-fewest in NFL).

The line: San Diego -3/39

Vegas notes: These two teams are a combined 6-15-1 against the spread this season.

The pick: I’ll buy the hook and will take San Diego -2.5, but I have very little confidence in that pick.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins (vs. New York Jets): Moss returned to action last Sunday at Seattle after missing a few games with a hand injury and posted just four receptions for 24 yards. While his return to the lineup is certainly a boost for the Washington offense, Moss will most likely draw the unenviable task of trying to beat Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis this Sunday. That’s never a good thing.

The line: New York Jets -3/38.5

Vegas notes: The OVER is 7-1 in the Jets’ last eight games on grass, but the UNDER is 9-3 in the Redskins’ last 12 games on grass. Something has to give.

The pick: OVER (38.5)

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers (vs. St. Louis): Davis has found the end zone in two of his last three starts, so I can understand the hesitation if you don’t want to pull him from your starting lineup. Just be sure to note that the Rams—while dreadful—have limited opposing tight ends to an average of only 3.3 fantasy points per game this season, which is the fewest in the league. The Niners should win, but Davis may have trouble contributing to the cause.

The line: San Francisco -13.5/37.5

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

The pick: We’ll ride with the trends and will take the UNDER (37.5).

Detroit Lions, D/ST (at New Orleans): The Lions currently rank seventh in fantasy scoring at the D/ST position, but this is not a good spot for them. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will serve the first of his two-game suspension this week and oh, by the way, the Saints are averaging a mere 41.6 points per game at home in 2011. No sense in getting fancy by thinking Detroit will slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense.

The line: New Orleans -9/53.5

Vegas notes: The OVER is 7-1 in the Lions’ last eight games following an ATS loss and 16-5 in the Saints’ last 21 games following a straight up win of more than 14 points.

The pick: OVER (53.5)

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (at Cleveland): In five road games this season, Flacco is completing only 55.3% of his attempts and has tossed just seven touchdown passes to four interceptions. Just for some flavor, add to the mix the fact that Cleveland is surrendering an average of only 13.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (t-2nd-fewest in NFL) and you have a recipe for a must SIT.

The line: Baltimore -7/38

Vegas notes: The Ravens are 5-1 ATS in their last six matchups with the Browns.

The pick: This feels like a letdown game for the Ravens, so I’ll take a pass.

Patrick WillisPatrick Willis and the 49ers defense have yet to surrender a rushing touchdown this season.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams (at San Francisco): The 49ers lead the league in run defense (75.5 yds/gm) and have not allowed a single rushing touchdown all season. On the flip side, Jackson hasn’t found the end zone since October 30. That’s pretty much all we needed to see to realize this is a terrible spot for the Pro Bowl running back.

The line: San Francisco -13.5/37.5

Vegas notes: Already covered above.

The pick: Already made above (San Fran -13.5 and the UNDER 37.5)

Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee): Johnson made an ass out of himself last Sunday against the Jets when he broke the Cardinal Rule: You don’t celebrate until the clock strikes 00:00. The guy has caught heat all week for his mocking of New York wideout Plaxico Burress and quite frankly, we don’t see him bouncing back Sunday against a Titans defense that ranks 13th in the NFL against the pass (229.1 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of only 17.3 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (t-4th-fewest in NFL).

The line: Buffalo -1.5/43

Vegas notes: The Titans are 4-0 ATS in their last four games against a team with a losing record, while the Bills are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win.

The pick: Titans (+1.5)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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