Before we get down to business, I need to bounce back from offering up two garbage picks last weekend (Giants +3.5, Jets -1). Here’s who I’m eyeing up heading into Sunday’s action (last week: 0-2, overall: 5-3):
DALLAS COWBOYS (-7) at Washington Redskins: I know tradition dictates that the ‘Skins almost always play the Cowboys very tight, but this Washington offense is disgusting right now. The team has lost five straight games, has failed to cover in five straight games and is averaging just 10.6 points per game during that stretch. Uh, yeah, we’ll take Romo and the Cowboys, but we’ll also buy half a point to get this line at -6.5.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+1) at Cleveland Browns: This is a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Jags are 3-0-1 against the spread in their last four games while the Browns are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six contests. Believe it or not, the only spread Cleveland covered this season was against the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 2.
10 Players To Start
Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders (at Minnesota): Palmer’s thrown five touchdown passes over his last two games and is coming off a very impressive performance against the San Diego Chargers in which the former Bengal completed 70.0% of his passes for 299 yards and two scores. We like his matchup this Sunday as Palmer heads to Minnesota on extended rest to take on a Vikings defense that is A) Without starting cornerback Antoine Winfield, B) Giving up an average of 23.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (2nd-most in NFL) and C) Ranks 30th in the NFL in pass defense (272.8 yds/gm) this season. The deck is stacked for another solid outing.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants (vs. Philadelphia): Jacobs has been hitting the hole like a man possessed ever since he stepped back into the starting lineup due to a foot injury sustained by Ahmad Bradshaw. With Bradshaw expected to miss yet another game, look for the big bulldozer to rack up 18+ carries against a Philadelphia defense that ranks 17th in the NFL against the run (120.0 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 21.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (5th-most in NFL).
Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks (at St. Louis): Rice is coming off a mild concussion suffered in Week 10 vs. Baltimore, but is expected to start Sunday at St. Louis. That’s good news for owners, as the Rams are giving up an average of 25.3 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (5th-most in NFL). Rice and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson have been building a nice rapport over the last few weeks, so don’t be surprised if the high-priced wideout records 11 or more targets on Sunday.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Tennessee): Rumors of Tony G’s demise were greatly exaggerated. This guy currently ranks sixth at the tight end position in targets (68), has found the end zone in each of his last two starts and is averaging 5.0 receptions per game this season. Quarterback Matt Ryan looked skittish during the second half of Atlanta’s Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints and repeatedly checked-down to Gonzo during crunch time. The head coach (as well as Roddy White and Julio Jones owners) may not want to see that, but it’s pure gravy for Gonzalez owners. Look for another solid outing Sunday against a Titans defense that is surrendering an average of 9.4 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (t-5th-most in NFL).
Dallas Cowboys, D/ST (at Washington): This is an easy one. Since losing running back Tim Hightower and wide receiver Santana Moss, the Washington Redskins are 0-5 and averaging just 10.6 points per game. During that same stretch, Mike Shanahan’s offense has turned the ball over a staggering 14 times and given up a mind-boggling 19 sacks. I could go on an on, but I’m sure there are some Redskins fans out there who are crying in their Fruit Loops as they read this.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans (at Atlanta): Hasselbeck’s numbers won’t knock your socks off, but he’s averaging 248.1 passing yards per game this season and has a very favorable Week 11 matchup against an Atlanta Falcons defense that currently ranks 23rd in the NFL against the pass (253.8 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of 20.0 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (10th-most in NFL). We consider him a solid QB1 for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins (vs. Buffalo): Ever since rumors starting swirling that former flame Kim Kardashian was headed for a divorce, Bush has stepped his game up. The Miami running back has racked up 313 total yards and three touchdowns over his last three games and is set up nicely for another big performance Sunday against a Buffalo Bills defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL against the run (125.4 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 21.3 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (6th-most in NFL). Nice to see that all it took was some meaningless Hollywood drama for this guy to start playing football.
David Nelson, WR, Buffalo Bills (at Miami): Nelson has found the end zone in three of his last five games as newly-minted quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been looking his way more and more ever since Stevie Johnson suffered a shoulder injury. The Dolphins have been solid against the run, but rank 25th in the NFL against the pass (256.3 yds/gm) and are giving up an average of 23.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (7th-most in NFL). Consider Nelson a solid WR3 for owners in leagues with ten or more teams.
Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit Lions (vs. Carolina): Morris hasn’t set the world on fire since taking over for the injured Jahvid Best, but he is averaging 4.65 yards per carry over his last four games while catching ten passes out of the backfield. The Lions need to bounce back this week after getting blown out in Chicago and they have the perfect candidate coming to town this weekend in order to do so. Only one team (Tampa Bay) is giving up more fantasy points to opposing running backs this season than the Panthers, who are being gashed on average for 26.2 points per game. Yikes. If Morris gets enough touches, he should put on a show. Consider him a solid flex option for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Damian Williams, WR, Tennessee Titans (at Atlanta): In case you haven’t already noticed, we are predicting that some solid fantasy numbers will emerge from the Tennessee-Atlanta game this weekend. Throw Williams into the mix, as he’s found the end zone in four of his last six games and is coming off a career-high 107 receiving yards against the Carolina Panthers. We consider Williams a WR3 option for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams.