by Joe Fortenbaugh
September 23, 02011
I appreciate all of the feedback from last week’s article and due to popular demand, Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em, Smash ‘Em is back in text.
No time to waste on fancy intros today, this thing is a beast. Lets get after it…
KICK MY BUTT, WIN MONEY
Think you have what it takes to beat me in a weekly game of fantasy football? Here’s your chance to find out. $300 in prizes and a guaranteed $5 just for scoring more points than I do. Don’t be scurred, it’s just fantasy.
Editor's Note: I forgot to mention this, but the FanDuel league is 100% free to enter!
SURVIVOR SMASH: WEEK 3
San Diego Chargers: I had the Cleveland Browns as my primary survivor pick in Week 1, so take these selections with a grain of salt. However, operating under the assumption that I used my backup option in Week 1 (the Arizona Cardinals), we’ll pretend for the time being that I’m still alive after going with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 (as declared on my man Ken Broo’s 700 WLW radio show in Cincinnati last Sunday morning).
Sorry-ass disclaimers aside, take the Bolts this weekend. They’re 15-point favorites against a Chiefs team that has only scored ten total points all year. Some of you may want to save the Chargers for a later date, but I say do whatever it takes to get to Week 4.
POINT SPREAD SMASH OF THE WEEK
BALTIMORE RAVENS -4 at St. Louis Rams: After dismantling hated divisional opponent Pittsburgh in Week 1, the Ravens laid an egg in a semi-obvious letdown game last Sunday at Tennessee. Expect John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis to rally the troops for their Week 3 showdown against a banged-up Rams team that is coming in to this one on short rest.
START ‘EM UP
Fitzpatrick could find himself knees deep in a shootout on Sunday, which is always good news for fantasy owners.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England): Currently ranked fifth in scoring among fantasy quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 200+ yards and three or more touchdowns in each of his two starts this season. Look for the numbers to keep pouring in on Sunday as the Bills play host to a New England Patriots defense that has surrendered more fantasy to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league (32.4 fantasy pts/gm), with the exception of the Green Bay Packers.
Vegas notes: The over/under for this game opened at 50.5, quickly started moving north and has since settled at 54. Bookmakers and sharps alike are thinking a lot of points will be scored in this one.
Mike Tolbert & Ryan Mathews, RBs, San Diego Chargers (vs. Kansas City): Each running back is currently averaging 17 or more touches per game, a mark that should no doubt be eclipsed in Week 3 as the Bolts welcome in a Kansas City Chiefs team that has already been torched for 89 points (most in NFL) and currently ranks 25th in the NFL in run defense (126.0 yds/gm). Only the Vikings and Eagles have given up more fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season, so we feel comfortable recommending that both Tolbert and Mathews be inserted into the starting lineup this weekend.
Vegas notes: The Chiefs are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games at San Diego. The Chargers opened as 15-point favorites with the current line ranging anywhere from SD -14 to SD -16.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. San Francisco): The rookie from Georgia has found the end zone in each of his first two career starts and is coming off a breakout performance against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 that consisted of ten receptions (14 targets) for 124 yards and a score. Throw Green back into the lineup this Sunday for the Bengals’ 1:00pm showdown with a 49ers team has been victimized through the air so far this season. San Francisco currently ranks 25th in pass defense (291.0 yds/gm) and has given up more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any other team in the league (36.7 pts/gm). Expect another big week from Green and quarterback Andy Dalton.
Vegas notes: The Bengals are a strong play here, especially if you grabbed the opening number. Bookmakers posted Cincinnati as a 1-point favorite and then watched the sharps quickly bet it up to -2.5, meaning the early money is backing the Bengals.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (at Dallas, Monday): Did you know that Davis is currently a top-six fantasy tight end in standard scoring formats? The three-year veteran has been targeted six or more times and posted 85 or more receiving yards in each of the Redskins’ first two games this season. Don’t be surprised if the former USC Trojan delivers the goods again in Week 3 against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is surrendering an average of 13.5 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2011 (fifth-most in NFL).
Vegas notes: The Redskins are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games at Dallas.
San Diego Chargers, D/ST (vs. Kansas City): This one is simple: The Chiefs currently rank 30th in the NFL in total offense (240.0 yds/gm), dead-last in scoring (5.0 pts/gm) and have turned the ball over more than any other team in the league through two games (9 turnovers). Even Notre Dame’s overrated defense could score 15 fantasy points against these guys.
Vegas notes: The Chiefs are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games against the AFC West.
Just like in a game of dice, you've got to ride the hot hand.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (vs. Jacksonville): At this point, why the hell not? The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner currently ranks second in the NFL (behind Tom Brady) in passing yards (854) after back-to-back 400+-yard performances to open his career. Not only that, but keep in mind that Newton has also found the end zone via the ground game in each of the Panthers’ first two outings. The Jaguars are coming off a 32-3 blowout loss to the New York Jets in Week 2 and are making the switch to Blaine Gabbert at QB on Sunday, so don’t be surprised if the Panthers jump on top early in this one.
Vegas notes: As of Friday morning, 76% of the tickets coming in were backing the Panthers (-3.5).
Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions (at Minnesota): Lost in the shuffle of the Detroit Lions’ 2-0 start is the fact that Jahvid Best currently ranks seventh in scoring among fantasy running backs in standard scoring formats. The California product is currently averaging 23.5 touches per game and should find some more success Sunday in Minnesota against a Vikings defense that is giving up more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league (31.7 pts/gm). The Lions haven’t won a game at Minnesota since 1997, so we fully expect them to get up in a big way for this one.
Vegas notes: The UNDER is 6-0 in the last six meetings between these two teams, while the favorite is 3-0-1 against the spread over the last four.
David Nelson, WR, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England): One of the hottest names on the waiver wire this past week, Nelson is currently averaging 9.5 targets and 7.0 receptions per game this season. Not only that, but the former Florida Gator is coming off a career-high 83 receiving yards in last weekend’s come-from-behind win over the Oakland Raiders. In a game many are predicting will feature a plethora of scoring, Nelson gets a crack at a New England Patriots defense on Sunday that is surrendering an average of 34.8 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers. Only the 49ers are currently giving up more as of the current moment.
Vegas notes: This game opened with the Patriots laying nine points, but has since been bet down as low as NE -7.5 in some places. Be advised that New England is 7-0 against the spread in their last seven games at Buffalo.
SIT EM DOWN
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams (vs. Baltimore): The second-year signal-caller out of Oklahoma currently ranks 27th in scoring among fantasy quarterbacks, one spot above Tarvaris Jackson and one spot below Alex Smith. Not good. Through two games, Bradford is completing just 51.3% of his passes and has thrown only one touchdown pass. We don’t expect his fortunes to change this Sunday vs. a Baltimore defense that is currently allowing an average of only 17.4 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (10th-fewest in NFL).
Vegas notes: The Ravens are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games after giving up 250 or more passing yards in their previous game.
ICONMcCluster owners (as well as Jones owners) should take a pass in Week 3.
Thomas Jones & Dexter McCluster, RBs, Kansas City Chiefs (at San Diego): Anytime a star running back goes down with a season-ending injury, there’s generally a period of mass panic before the fantasy football world wakes up and looks to pillage the waiver wire. We saw this happen just a few days ago, as Jamaal Charles was lost for the year after tearing his ACL against the Detroit Lions, which prompted a waiver wire race for backups Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster. While both ball carriers have some upside, Week 3 is not the time to experiment. If Kansas City could only muster ten points in two games with a guy like Charles, we doubt they do much more with Jones or McCluster.
Vegas notes: The UNDER is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these two teams in San Diego.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (at Philadelphia): Nothing against Nicks (we think he’s a beast), but Week 3 is a bad spot for the former Tar Heel. Eli Manning isn’t playing very well at the current moment and the Giants head to South Philly this Sunday to take on a loaded Eagles secondary that is giving up an average of just 12.6 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (third-fewest in NFL). A divisional showdown like this against the hated Giants is one of the main reasons why cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is now an Eagle.
Vegas notes: The Giants are 0-6 against the spread in the last six meetings between these two teams.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans (at New Orleans): Despite scoring a touchdown in last Sunday’s win at Miami, Daniels has gotten off to a very slow start. The guy has been targeted only seven times in two games and has recorded a grand total of just 37 receiving yards so far this season. Add in the fact that the Saints are giving up an average of only 2.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season and you have the recipe for a weekend in the Sits column.
Vegas notes: I don’t know if the Saints are undervalued or the Texans are overvalued, but this game opened at NO -5.5 and has since moved Houston’s way to NO -4. I have a hard time believing that New Orleans won’t win this one with relative ease. Unless the sharps got it wrong, this game could be a trap.
Lach and the Bears are in for a tough test this Sunday at Soldier.
Chicago Bears, D/ST (vs. Green Bay): The Bears are currently a top-8 fantasy D/ST and have the luxury of playing at home this Sunday, but we think it’s wise to find a matchup that offers more upside. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers currently rank fourth in the NFL in scoring (36.0 pts/gm), ninth in total offense (409.0 yds/gm) and have once again proven to be a nightmare for fantasy D/STs, as evidenced by the fact that opposing defenses are scoring an average of only 4.0 fantasy pts/gm against the Pack this season (fewest in NFL). There are better options on the open market.
Vegas notes: The Packers opened as a 4-point favorite, but the line has since dropped to GB -3.5 and can be found as low as GB -3, lending credibility to the notion that you don’t bet against home dogs in divisional matchups.
Kyle Orton, QB, Denver Broncos (at Tennessee): Orton’s having a decent year (499 passing yards, 3 TDs), but this Titans defense is underrated. Tennessee currently ranks third in the NFL in total defense (276.0 yds/gm), fourth in scoring defense (14.5 pts/gm) and is surrendering fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league (10.3 pts/gm). Throw in a banged up Brandon Lloyd and you can see where this is going.
Vegas notes: The Titans were apparently a favorite of the sharps when the line opened at TENN -4.5 earlier this week. In just four days, the damn thing has skyrocketed all the way to TENN -7.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Washington, Monday): Jones suffered a separated shoulder in last Sunday’s win at San Francisco, but is expected to play Monday night against the Redskins. If he’s able to suit up, we’re betting he won’t see an abundance of carries, as the Cowboys would probably prefer to avoid running their starting tailback into the ground. On the other side of the ball, be advised that the ‘Skins are giving up an average of just 15.2 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (10th-fewest in NFL).
Vegas notes: The UNDER is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams.
Austin Collie & Pierre Garcon, WRs, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Pittsburgh): Through two games, Collie and Garcon have combined for just nine receptions for 91 yards and no touchdowns. A date with the Pittsburgh Steelers isn’t going to turn things around for the sinking Colts. The real question here is whether or not you should continue to use up a roster spot on these guys.
Vegas notes: The Colts are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games against AFC opponents. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite.
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh