Starts, Sits & Smashes

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SURVIVOR SMASH: WEEK 5

Teams Used: Arizona (Week 1), Pittsburgh (Week 2), San Diego (Week 3), Philadelphia (Week 4)

Week 5: NEW YORK GIANTS

Reason: The Eagles ended my survivor dream last Sunday, so I’m not sure how much stock you should put in my picks moving forward. For what it’s worth, the Seahawks are 2-8 on the road under Pete Carroll and are averaging just 15.1 points per game away from home.

POINT SPREAD SMASH OF THE WEEK

Current Record: 1-2 (no pick in Week 2)

Philadelphia Eagles/Buffalo Bills OVER 49.5: The OVER is 4-0 in Buffalo’s four games this year and 3-1 in Philadelphia’s four outings this season. In addition, the OVER is 10-1 in the Eagles’ last 11 road games and 6-1 in the Bills’ last seven games following an ATS (against the spread) loss. This one looks so obvious that it actually scares me.

CLICK HERE to check out the rest of the Week 4 odds.

START ‘EM UP

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Green Bay): The Ice Man has been a bust this season, to say the least as Ryan currently ranks 13th in fantasy scoring at the quarterback position and has tossed only six touchdown passes through four games. Expect a reversal of fortune Sunday night against a Green Bay Packers defense that is currently surrendering more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league (28.2 pts/gm). Vegas set this Over/Under at 53 points for a reason.

Vegas notes: The Falcons are 1-3 against the spread this season while the Packers are 3-1. That’s one of the reasons you saw this line move from GB -4 to GB -6 early in the week.

The Pick: PACKERS (-6)

Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints (at Carolina): Sproles gets about as much love in fantasy circles as Obama gets from the Republican party, but owners need to take note that the former San Diego Charger currently ranks 15th among running backs in standard scoring formats. Sproles is averaging a healthy 89.5 total yards per game, has found the end zone twice and takes on a Carolina Panthers team this Sunday that ranks 31st in the NFL in run defense (143.8 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 23.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (5th-most in NFL). Believe it or not, this guy has become a must start.

Vegas notes: While 80% of the public is currently backing the Saints, beware of Cam Newton’s uncanny ability to backdoor you out of you’re hard earned money. The Panthers are currently 3-0-1 against the spread this season.

The Pick: NO PLAY

Santonio HolmesWeek 5 offers Holmes and his mouth a very favorable matchup.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets (at New England): The newly-minted Holmes had no problem throwing his offense under the bus after the Jets’ abysmal Week 4 performance against the Baltimore Ravens. Now that he’s done talking, it’s time for the 27-year-old to start walking. The Patriots currently rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense (368.8 yds/gm) and are giving up more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any other team in the league (32.3 pts/gm). If you can’t produce a solid stat line against this secondary, you’ve got problems.

Vegas notes: The OVER (currently 49) is 9-1 in the Jets’ last ten games as an underdog and 3-0-1 in the last four meetings between these two teams in New England.

The Pick: NO PLAY (but I like New England in a tease)

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (at Jacksonville): The second-year tight end out of Oklahoma has posted 50 or more receiving yards in three of four starts this season and currently ranks 11th among tight ends in standard scoring formats. While Gresham doesn’t possess mammoth upside with rookie Andy Dalton at quarterback, he does make for a nice start in Week 5 against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is currently surrendering an average of 13.0 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (t-2nd-most In NFL).

Vegas notes: The Bengals are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games as an underdog, while the Jaguars 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games overall.

The Pick: BENGALS (+2.5)

New York Giants, D/ST: This one isn’t so much about the Giants defense as it is about how horrible the Seattle Seahawks are away from home. Since Pete Carroll took over this team prior to the start of the 2010 season, the Seahawks are 2-8 on the road and averaging just 15.1 points per game with 18 turnovers and 29 sacks allowed. We don’t see any reason to believe that this team will turn it around Sunday in New York.

Vegas notes: The Seahawks are 6-22 against the spread in their last 28 games as a road underdog while the Giants are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against a team with a losing record.

The Pick: GIANTS (-9.5) and the UNDER (43.5)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills (vs. Philadelphia): You have to ride the hot hand when it comes and right now, Fitzpatrick has the hot hand. Despite a disappointing performance last Sunday against a very underrated Cincinnati defense, Fitz still ranks eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Expect the 28-year-old to bounce back in Week 5 against a Philadelphia defense that just made Alex Smith look like John Elway. The Birds are surrendering an average of 20.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, so we feel confident recommending Fitzpatrick to owners in leagues with ten or more teams.

Vegas notes: The OVER is 10-1 in the Eagles’ last 11 road games and 5-0 in the Bills’ last five games overall.

The Pick: OVER (49.5) and I like it B-I-G.

Beanie WellsWells has scored at least one touchdown in all three of his starts this season.

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals (at Minnesota): Where the hell did this guy come from? After two years of making the Cardinals look like fools for drafting him in the first round, Wells has started to produce like a No. 1 running back. The former Ohio State Buckeye has found the end zone in each of his three starts this season and currently ranks seventh in scoring among fantasy running backs . Look for another solid stat line Sunday in Minnesota against a Vikings defense that is giving up an average of 21.2 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (9th-most in NFL).

Vegas notes: The underdog is 5-0 in the last five meetings between these two teams.

The Pick: NO PLAY, although taking the Cardinals in the second half is probably the closest thing you’ll ever find to a lock, as the Vikings have been outscored 80-16 in the second half this season.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Green Bay): The rookie from Alabama has posted 115 or more receiving yards in back-to-back games and currently ranks ninth in the NFL in targets (38). Don’t be surprised if Jones produces another solid stat line Sunday night against a Green Bay Packers defense that is surrendering an average of 30.2 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (3rd-most in NFL).

Vegas notes: The OVER is 4-1 in the Packers’ last five games overall and 8-2 in the Falcons’ last ten games against a team with a winning record.

The Pick: Already made above (Packers -6)

SIT ‘EM DOWN

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Tennessee): Big Ben has only tossed three touchdown passes this season, but has been sacked 14 times (3rd-most in NFL), including eight times over his last two games. The Steelers offensive line has been porous, to say the least and we don’t expect the situation to get much better Sunday against a Tennessee defense that ranks 12th in the NFL in sacks. In addition, the Titans are surrendering an average of just 14.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (5th-fewest in NFL), so we think it’s probably safer to go in a different direction for Week 5.

Vegas notes: This line opened at Pittsburgh -6.5 and was immediately bet down to Pittsburgh -3, meaning the early money is all over the Titans. No point spread has moved more in Week 5 than this one.

The Pick: TITANS (+3)

LeGarrette BlountBlount is coming off a big game vs. Indy, but it's time to move him back to the bench.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at San Francisco): Blount was the toast of the town after his 127-yard, 1-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts last Monday night. But Sunday in San Francisco offers a far greater challenge as the second-year running back out of Oregon runs into a 49ers defense that ranks fourth in the NFL against the run (74.0 yds/gm) and is giving up fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league (9.0 pts/gm). I know you guys won’t like this, but it’s time to move Blount back to the bench.

Vegas notes: The Buccaneers are 11-0 against the spread in their last 11 road games vs. a team with a winning record, while the 49ers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games vs. a team with a winning record.

The Pick: BUCCANEERS (+2.5), but this is just a lean.

Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Cincinnati): Thomas currently ranks fourth in the NFL in targets (41) and just inked a three-year contract extension worth $18 million, so needless to say, life is pretty good for the former Arizona Wildcat. Unfortunately, Thomas has a Week 5 date with a Cincinnati Bengals team that ranks third in the NFL in passing defense (188.8 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of just 14.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (t-2nd-fewest in NFL). It’s time to start looking for Plan B.

Vegas notes: The OVER is 4-1 in the Bengals’ last five games vs. the AFC and 8-2-1 in the Jaguars’ last 11 games as a home favorite of 0.5-3.0.

The Pick: Already made above (Bengals +2.5)

Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets (at New England): Despite the Patriots’ woes defending the pass this season, the team has actually done a nice job of limiting the production of opposing tight ends, as New England is giving up an average of only 6.0 fantasy points per week to opposing TEs (7th-fewest in NFL). Keller isn’t a terrible Week 5 option now that Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo is out of action, but we still feel there are better options out there for this Sunday.

Vegas notes: The Jets are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games while the Patriots are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games as a favorite.

The Pick: Already made above (No play, but I like New England in a tease)

Chicago Bears, D/ST (at Detroit): We expect the Bears to bounce back from a Week 4 performance that featured the Carolina Panthers rolling up 29 points and 543 total yards at Soldier Field, but we still don’t like the idea of you starting them Monday night at Detroit. The Lions currently rank second in the NFL in scoring (33.8 pts/gm) and are limiting opposing fantasy defenses to a pitiful average of just 5.5 fantasy points per game (t-5th-fewest in NFL). We’d actually recommend you start the Lions D/ST over the Bears in Week 5.

Vegas notes: The Bears are 5-1 against the spread in their last six Monday night games, while the Lions are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.

The Pick: BEARS (+6)

Matt HasselbeckHasselbeck has been a stud this season, but we don't like his chances at Pittsburgh.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans (at Pittsburgh): The suddenly rejuvenated Hasselbeck is the feel-good story of the 2011 fantasy season, as the former Seattle Seahawk currently ranks ninth in scoring at the quarterback position and is one of the big reasons why the Titans are an impressive 3-1 through four weeks. But even though Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison is out for Sunday’s showdown, we still feel the Pittsburgh defense is going to severely limit Hasselbeck’s upside. For as shaky as the Steelers have been this season, they’re only surrendering an average of 12.5 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (3rd-fewest in NFL). This will be the game where people start talking about the loss of wide receiver Kenny Britt.

Vegas notes: The underdog is 7-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams.

The Pick: Already made above (Titans +3)

Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos (vs. San Diego): Speaking of feel-good stories, how about the fact that McGahee currently ranks 16th in fantasy scoring among running backs (standard scoring formats) and has posted two 100+-yard performances over his last three outings? Impressive, but don’t expect much this Sunday when the San Diego Chargers come to town. The Bolts currently rank 12th in the NFL in run defense (101.5 yds/gm) and are giving up an average of just 13.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (t-5th-fewest in NFL). There are better options out there that have more upside.

Vegas notes: The Chargers are 7-1-2 against the spread in the last ten meetings between these two teams, while the OVER is 4-1 in the last five games between these two teams in Denver.

The Pick: CHARGERS (-4), but this is just a lean.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (at Jacksonville): Green is a supremely talented receiver who currently ranks 16th in fantasy scoring at the wideout position. And while we think he has the potential to develop into one of the game’s top targets, we feel his Week 5 matchup is one you should take under serious consideration. The Jaguars aren’t flashy, but they’re surrendering only 14.6 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (5th-fewest in NFL). The rookie isn’t a terrible start this week, but if you have an option with more upside on your roster, feel free to head in that direction.

Vegas notes: The Bengals are 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games at Jacksonville.

The Pick: Already made above (Bengals +2.5)

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