Start 'em, Sit 'em, Smash 'em
While the Sunday live chat is no more, I’m still available to answer any and all fantasy questions throughout the week on twitter @JoeFortenbaugh if you use the hashtags #FSTLV and #GMCFF. Fire over some good ones and they just may end up on the Fantasy Sports Network Sunday morning between 10:00am-12:00pm eastern.
WEEK 2 SURVIVOR PICK
Last week: Won with Green Bay, lost with Tampa Bay
Plan A: New England Patriots over Oakland Raiders
Plan B: Cincinnati Bengals over Tennessee Titans
Why: I’m not sure you really need a detailed analysis to understand why we like the 14-point favorite New England Patriots over the Oakland Raiders this weekend.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Last week: Buffalo Bills (+1) over Miami Dolphins (win)
This week: Carolina Panthers (-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Since 2013, the Carolina Panthers are surrendering an average of just 11.4 points per game when playing within the confines of Bank of America Stadium. Pittsburgh has looked suspect at best through two games this year, nearly blowing a 27-3 halftime lead against the Browns in Week 1 before getting thrashed 26-6 in Week 2 at Baltimore. This defense is no longer the intimidating black & yellow unit we remember from the last decade. Note that the Steelers are 5-16 ATS over their last 21 games played in the month of September while the Panthers are 7-1-1 ATS over their last nine home games. This game can still be purchased at a price of Carolina -3, but you may need to act quickly, as Sportsbook Review.com shows a movement in juice towards Carolina -3.5.
LVH SUPERCONTEST SELECTIONS
Last week: 1-4
Quite the ass-kicking the Big Puma and I have sustained to open the season. We’re currently in the process of finalizing our card, but the following three plays have already made the cut:
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-6.5) over Tennessee Titans
BUFFALO BILLS (-2.5) over San Diego Chargers
START ‘EM UP
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (vs. Denver): Wilson burnt the Broncos for 206 yards and two touchdowns (with an additional 26 rushing yards) in February’s Super Bowl, but this time around gets Peyton Manning and company within the hostile confines of CenturyLink Field. Coming off a Week 2 loss at San Diego, you can bank on the fact that Pete Carroll’s crew will be 100 percent prepared for Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch. In addition, take note that the Broncos are currently surrendering an average of 24.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (second-most in NFL).
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts (at Jacksonville): In 17 regular season games with the Indianapolis Colts, Trent Richardson has averaged less than 3.9 yards per carry 16 times. Additionally, Bradshaw has been making a strong case for the starting gig as of late, recording 181 total yards and two scores on just 26 touches through the first two games of the season. Sunday at Jacksonville offers up another favorable matchup, as the Jaguars have given up more fantasy points to opposing running backs through two weeks than any other team in the league (34.5 fantasy pts/gm).
Russell Wilson can be had for an excellent price in daily fantasy leagues as well.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (vs. San Diego): Scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 2 as part of an eight-catch, 117-yard explosion against division rival Miami. Be advised that Watkins is playing hurt (ribs), but we like his chances for a solid encore Sunday against a San Diego defense that is traveling across the country for an early start time while surrendering an average of 24.1 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (sixth-most in NFL).
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots (vs. Oakland): It’s been hit or miss with the New England backfield so far this season, with Ridley busting loose in Week 2 at Minnesota to the tune of 101 yards and a score on 25 carries. Look for the team’s top inside runner to handle a significant portion of the workload Sunday against a Raiders defense that is permitting an average of 28.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (second-most in NFL). The upside here is that if the 14-point favorite Patriots can build a big lead by the third quarter, the team will likely attempt to grind out the clock via the ground game, which means plenty of touches for Ridley.
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins (vs. Kansas City): Wallace is off to a fast start this season with touchdowns in each of his first two games to go along with a total of 12 receptions for 137 yards on 19 targets. Ride the hot hand again in Week 3 as Kansas City and the league’s 19th-ranked passing defense (240.0 yds/gm) come to town for a humid Sunday showdown. Note that Kansas City is currently giving up an average of 23.3 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (8th-most in NFL).
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams (vs. Dallas): Admittedly, this one is a bit of a long shot, as Cook has notched just eight receptions for 102 yards on 12 targets through his first two outings. However, the Cowboys have done an absolutely dreadful job of defending the tight end position this season, allowing Vernon Davis to find the end zone twice in Week 1 prior to watching Delanie Walker haul in 10 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown last Sunday. Those two performances have the Cowboys giving up an average of 18.3 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, which ranks second-worst behind only Indianapolis.
Buffalo Bills, D/ST (vs. San Diego): We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Buffalo’s home field advantage is one of the best in the league. Despite the team’s annual spot at the bottom of the AFC East standings, the Bills have gone 5-4 at home since head coach Doug Marrone took over in 2013, surrendering just 19.3 points per game while forcing 19 turnovers. Week 3 offers up a very favorable spot against a San Diego team that has to fly across the country for an early start time after going toe-to-toe in an extremely physical encounter with the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. Don’t be surprised if the Buffalo Bills are 3-0 when the dust settles Sunday night.
THE BIG PUMA’S “8 MILE DIAMOND FANTASY PLAY OF THE WEEK”
Fresh off an eight-hour battle at the tables and annihilation of the seafood buffet, the Big Puma demanded a place in this column for his deep sleeper of the week. For some yet to be discovered reason, I decided to acquiesce. Puma likes St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brian Quick to go off against the Cowboys this Sunday. His official prediction is eight “grabs” for 137 yards and a “tud.”
SIT ‘EM DOWN
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (vs. Oakland): Brady is listed in this section of the column merely as a warning. There’s a good chance the Patriots blow the Raiders out of the water early in this one on Sunday, meaning the team will be content to sit back and grind down the clock through an abundance of run calls during the second half. Note that the Raiders are currently surrendering an average of just 15.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (eighth-fewest in NFL). However, there’s always the possibility that two quarters is all Brady needs to post a solid fantasy stat line for Week 3. The choice is yours.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers (at Arizona): Gore is averaging 4.4 yards per rush this season, but has carried the rock just 29 times through his first two games. Limited touches against an Arizona defense that is surrendering only 15.5 points per game and just 12.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (fourth-fewest in NFL) this season doesn’t make for a great Week 3 start option in our opinion.
Gore has so far handled a very modest workload this season.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (at Carolina): It’s understandable that most Brown owners are going to start the Pittsburgh wide receiver regardless of the matchup. That’s cool. Just be advised that the Panthers are giving up an average of only 11.4 points per game when playing at home since 2013. This is a bad matchup for the Steelers and outside of a big touchdown grab, we see Brown struggling to produce a respectable stat line on Sunday.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. San Francisco): Has produced respectable results despite battling a foot injury, but has yet to find the end zone and runs into a San Francisco defense in Week 3 that is permitting an average of just 12.5 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this year (fifth-fewest in NFL). Vegas has the total for this game lined at 42 points for a reason. Expect a relatively low-scoring, defensive affair.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants (vs. Houston): The Big Blue offense is in shambles and through two games Cruz has caught just seven passes for 84 yards with an alarming number of drops. This is a sit recommendation until further notice.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns (vs. Baltimore): Is battling a shoulder injury that kept him out of action in Week 2 and runs into a Baltimore defense on Sunday that is permitting an average of just 3.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (fourth-fewest in NFL). Also note that in five career games against the Ravens, Cameron has caught only eight passes for 117 yards with zero touchdowns.
Pittsburgh Steelers, D/ST (at Carolina): It’s important that we view the Steelers defense for what it currently is and not what it was. Through two outings in 2014, Pittsburgh’s defense has surrendered 53 total points and 712 yards of offense while forcing a grand total of zero turnovers to go along with just three sacks. Carolina may not be the most explosive football team in the league, but we can no longer lean on Dick LeBeau’s unit like we have in the past.
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