So maybe I got too cocky after nailing 15/16 starts in Week 9, or maybe regression to the mean is super real, but last week was a bit of a dud by my standards. Even still, hopefully, you benefited from Jared Goff (QB3), Matthew Stafford (QB7), Robby Anderson (WR13), or the Rams D/ST which was the best play on the slate. It was actually a great week for my streaming recommendations as C.J. Beathard finished as the QB5, Orleans Darkwa posted a solid RB19 performance and GARRETT CELEK FINISHED AS THE TE3. Holy Garrett Celek game, Batman!

Week 11 is “yuge”, you guys. It’s the last of the dreaded bye weeks, so make sure all your Panthers, Jets, Colts and Niners are out of your lineups. Let’s aim for more success with a microscope on key players for the Week 11 slate.

Starts Record: 101/151 (66.9%)
Sits Record: 97/135 (71.9%)
Sleeper Record: 32/57 (56.1%)
*Note: These statistics do not include injured players or players who are essentially a wash and did not really help you or hurt you if you started them.
**Assume .5 PPR scoring for any reference to a player’s season-long ranking or in-week ranking

Hate me for ruining your fantasy week? Love me for winning it? Tell me on Twitter @eweiner_bball

Quarterback

Start: Derek Carr vs. New England (Mexico City)

Despite tightening the screws recently, New England has still allowed the second-most points to quarterbacks and is a defense to exploit. They still gave up Matt Ryan‘s second-best fantasy performance of the season and made Brock Osweiler look not terrible last week. Carr had an extra week to gameplan and has a talented pass catcher corps that should be able to find the open spots in the defense. Per Football Outsiders, New England’s defensive line has the seventh-worst adjusted sack rate while Oakland’s offensive line has allowed the eighth-best sack rate, so Carr should have a pretty clean pocket throughout the game. This matchup has the highest implied point total of the week (52.5) and we will want pieces of it for fantasy purposes.

Start: Alex Smith @ New York Giants

This one’s pretty easy as it seems the entire Giants defense (which was supposed to be good) has quit on head coach Ben McAdoo. Even with Janoris Jenkins back last week, CJ Beathard shredded this defense on his way to the fifth-best QB score on the slate. The G-Men are now allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and Andy Reid had an extra week to gameplan and exploit the weaknesses of this defense. Even with more floor games recently, Smith is still the QB4 on the season and is a must-start in this juicy matchup. The only real concern is if the Chiefs get up to a big lead and put the ball in Kareem Hunt‘s belly, but it’s reasonable to assume Smith’s arm will have helped build that lead. This feels like a sneaky shootout game considering both defenses rank bottom-five in defense DVOA.

Other Recommended Starts:

Eli Manning vs. Kansas City: Eli delivered as a recommended streamer last week (QB13) and has displayed a decent floor the last two weeks by smartly honing in on Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. Kansas City has allowed the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks and, per Rotoworld’s Ray Summerlin, four of the last six quarterbacks they’ve faced have scored 20+ points. This game has sneaky shootout potential given the state of both pass defenses which means Eli will likely have to throw a ton to keep up with gunslingin’ Alex Smith.

Sit: Matt Ryan @ Seattle

There aren’t a ton of obvious sits this week with lots of great matchups for the top QB tier, so I’ll go with last year’s MVP. Merely the QB17 on the season, Ryan clearly hasn’t earned starter consideration in tough road matchups, and playing at Seattle is perennially as tough as they come. Ryan has yet to cross the 20-point threshold this year, so a ceiling game is unlikely. Although Seattle lost Richard Sherman for the year (achilles), Pete Carroll said he expects difference-making safety Earl Thomas (hamstring) to suit up this week. Ryan is a middling low-ceiling QB2 option on Monday night.

Sit: Jared Goff @ Minnesota

Ok, I’ll admit this doesn’t feel very comfortable considering how hot Goff is right now. But context is important and we need to step back from Goff’s last two performances and look at the bigger picture. Goff has smashed in easy matchups this year, torching the likes of the Giants, Niners and Texans. But he’s struggled in tougher matchups, never topping 12 points when he faced the Redskins, Seahawks and Jaguars. Minnesota has allowed the 10th-fewest points to quarterbacks this year and qualifies as a tough matchup. The Vikings rank eighth in defensive DVOA and are allowing the second-fewest points per game at home this year (15.2). Goff is more of a QB2 this week and will only be considered matchup proof if he’s able to come away with QB1 numbers in this one.

Sleepers/Streamers:

Blaine Gabbert @ Houston: While I wouldn’t stake my reputation on it and I’m clearly going out on a limb here, I think Gabbert is in play as a deep 2QB-league streamer in a week thin on streaming options outside of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Houston has allowed the third-most points to quarterbacks and offers a pass-funnel situation by ranking as the sixth-best run defense per DVOA (Football Outsiders). Houston has yielded the ninth-most quarterback rushing yards without Brian Cushing, JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus holding things down, while Gabbert averaged 5.84 points per game with his legs last year.

Wide Receiver

Start: Amari Cooper vs. New England

As you can see, I’m all in on this Pats/Raiders game. The game has the highest implied point total of the slate (52.5) and is our best bet for fantasy goodness this week. New England is still giving up the second-most points to wide receivers and was consistently burned by Emmanuel Sanders last week. Cooper is averaging 11 targets per game since Derek Carr returned from his back injury and has displayed a monster ceiling that’s worth chasing in matchups like this one.

Start: Sterling Shepard vs. Kansas City

Clearly over his ankle injury, Shepard has seen nine and 13 targets over his last two healthy games, parlaying them into 212 receiving yards. As Eli’s go-to option in an offense that struggles to run the ball and will face plenty of negative game scripts, Shepard feels like a WR2 moving forward. No team has given up more points to receivers than Kansas City has this season, and Shepard will get to line up in the slot a ton and subsequently avoid Marcus Peters.

Other Recommended Starts:

Larry Fitzgerald vs. Houston: Houston is hemorrhaging points to wide receivers and Kareem Jackson continues to get burned out of the slot. Blaine Gabbert consistently honed in on Jeremy Kerley in the slot last year, so it makes sense he’ll use Larry Fitz in a similar manner. I’m not running away from an all-time great here as I’m expecting 9+ targets from Gabbert in his first start.
DeVante Parker vs. Tampa Bay: Parker has displayed an ultra-safe floor, having topped at least four catches and 65 yards in every healthy game this season. Here’s betting on more of a ceiling game against a Tampa Bay defense allowing the fourth-most points to wide receivers.

Sit: Sammy Watkins @ Minnesota

Don’t let Watkins’s two long touchdowns over the past two weeks fool you into starting him. He’s seen only five targets combined over the same span and is the most likely to see Xavier Rhodes‘ coverage. No thanks.

Sit: Corey Coleman vs. Jacksonville

It’s Coleman’s first game back from a hand injury and his reward is playing against Jacksonville and legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jalen Ramsey. While Coleman is an exciting talent, he’s actually a great sell candidate to receiver-needy owners who might get excited about a player returning from a long layoff. His ROS schedule: @CIN, @LAC, GB, BAL, @CHI. Only one of those matchups is enticing (GB) and three are full fades.

Other Recommended Sits:

Jordy Nelson vs. Baltimore: This feels like low-hanging fruit, but Jordy is still being started in several leagues I play in. He’s simply not trustworthy with Hundley running the show and is displaying a basement-level floor without his touchdown deodorant. Baltimore is not an enticing matchup. 

Sleepers/Streamers:

Jamison Crowder @ New Orleans: With Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley shutting things down outside, New Orleans has been most vulnerable to slot options all year long. With 24 targets over his last two healthy games, Crowder appears to have assumed the lead receiver role in Washington. Game script and the high implied point total are both working in Crowder’s favor.
Jeremy Maclin @ Green Bay: Green Bay has been flamed by slot options all year long and just made Josh Bellamy and Dontrelle Inman look like Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Maclin is averaging seven targets per game since Week 4 and seems to have forged a connection with Joe Flacco coming off his two best games of the season.
Bruce Ellington vs. Arizona: With Will Fuller (ribs) ruled out, Ellington will start in two-wide sets and play a full complement of snaps against Arizona. With Patrick Peterson very likely to shadow DeAndre Hopkins, Ellington could be in line for plenty of looks. He’s sneakily already seen eight targets in both Savage’s previous two starts.

Running Back

Start: Kenyan Drake vs. Tampa Bay

Drake has looked like the real deal in the two weeks since the Ajayi trade, finally scoring Miami’s first rushing touchdown of the year on a 66-yard scamper last week. Damien Williams technically got the start last week, but he’s averaged an ugly 2.1 yards per carry since the trade, while Drake has averaged a sterling 9.44 ypc over the same time span. He’s clearly the most natural runner on the team and is facing a Tampa Bay defense allowing the eighth-most points per game to running backs. Tampa has also allowed the eighth-most receiving yards to running backs this year, while Drake has caught eight passes over the last two. He’s a fine RB2 this week and should be involved no matter the game script.

Start: Rex Burkhead

Can you tell I’m excited about this game? Per Rotoworld’s Ray Summerlin, Burkhead played a season-high 51 percent of the team snaps in Week 10 and was rewarded with 13 touches and a touchdown. Burkhead’s versatile combination of between the tackles running and crisp routes makes him the best fit for this Pats offense that never wants to show its hand before the snap. With Chris Hogan (shoulder) likely still out, Burkhead should continue to take some snaps from the slot and enjoy mismatches against linebackers. I’m gonna end up saying this a ton but this game has the highest implied point total on the week.

Other Recommended Starts:

Chris Thompson @ New Orleans: The Saints have given up the third-most receptions and sixth-most receiving yards to running backs and Thompson should be on the field a ton with Rob Kelley (ankle) out. The Redskins are 7.5-point underdogs and this game has the second-highest implied point total on the slate (51), both of which sets Thompson up for a ton of catches.
Jay Ajayi @ Dallas: Philadelphia had two weeks to find ways to design plays for Ajayi and the team is reportedly pleased with how quickly he’s learned the playbook. Dallas ranks 26th in rush defense DVOA and will be without difference-making linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring). This game has the third-highest implied point total this week.
Doug Martin: Martin has been known to explode just when we’ve counted him out, but this is more a bet on Miami’s crumbling defense. 

Sit: Alfred Morris vs. Philadelphia

To be honest, I think Morris is a solid buy-low candidate if his owner merely looked at last week’s box score and was let down by his 11-carry game. Due to his lack of pass-catching chops, Morris is going to have a low floor in negative game scripts, which is what happened last week and what is projected to happen this week. Philly enters as 3.5-point road favorites and its imposing front seven should spend a ton of time in the backfield if elite left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) can’t go again. We saw last week Smith is arguably the second-most important player on the Cowboys in both the run and passing game, and Philly has allowed the fourth-fewest points to running backs. With run-stopper Sean Lee (hamstring) also expected to sit, the Eagles may spend a ton of time with the ball. This is shaping up to be more of a Rod Smith game than a Morris one. That said, Dallas should see more favorable game scripts going forward which is why I like Morris as a buy-low candidate.

Sit: Joe Mixon @ Denver

Mixon papered over a low-floor game with a touchdown last week and still only managed 10 points. Cincy simply can’t run block and though they’ve shown signs of cracks, Denver’s run defense still ranks as the best in football by DVOA (Football Outsiders). Yet to reach 12.5 points in a game this season, Mixon hasn’t displayed a tangible ceiling and has a scary floor in a low-scoring, low-efficiency offense playing on the road in a difficult matchup. The implied point total for this game is under 40 points.

Other Recommended Sits:

Tarik Cohen vs. Detroit: Cohen is closer to droppable than startable with just one catch in five straight games. John Fox can’t get fired fast enough.
Samaje Perine @ New Orleans: Perine is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, has only six catches on the year and is a fumble away from getting benched in any given game. With the Saints favored by 7.5, this sets up as a Chris Thompson game.

Sleepers/Streamers:

J.D. McKissic vs. Atlanta: Deep cut here, but with CJ Prosise (ankle) on IR and no other Seattle running back doing anything of note, McKissic is a PPR streamer coming off a season-high nine touches last week. Not only were his four catches a season high, his five carries were also his best to date which suggests Seattle has finally realized he’s the most dynamic player in that backfield.

Tight End

Start: Cameron Brate @ Miami

It’s not comfortable but I’m doubling down on Brate here even after last week’s total dud. Miami has allowed the fifth-most points to opposing tight ends and over its last three weeks has given up touchdowns to Ed Dickson and Ben Watson while also allowing Jared Cook‘s 8/126 explosion. Put simply, this defense will wake up your tight end in a slump. I’m betting on Brate to score a touchdown in a potentially high-scoring affair given the state of both pass defenses. Miami is in a free fall right now and is a team to attack at every level of the defense.

Start: Jared Cook vs. New England (Mexico City)

It’s wheels up for this entire offense against the Pats this week. New England will have to travel much further than the Raiders to get to Mexico City and will have to adjust considerably more to the time zone and travel. The Pats have given up the 12th-most points to tight ends and even that number is skewed by the Broncos barely-there tight end group and an overturned touchdown against Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Cook is the per-game TE10 on the year and a borderline every week starter considering he’s fourth in yards per game at the position. As stated above many times, this game has the highest implied point total of the week (52.5). The Raiders are 6.5-point underdogs and may have to throw a ton to keep up with the Pats aggressive offense.

Sit: Eric Ebron @ Chicago

Ebron scored a touchdown in a golden matchup against the Browns last week, but it’s not smart to chase those layup points. He’s still the TE31 on the season and only saw three targets last week. The Bears have been the fifth-best tight end defense this year and notoriously play better at home. We’ve been down this road with Ebron before, so don’t get fooled by last week’s score. This game has a low implied point total (41.5) and doesn’t scream fantasy goodness.

Sit: Charles Clay @ Los Angeles Chargers

In the wake of the Bills surprising benching of Tyrod Taylor, fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman will get the start against the Chargers. Just in general, I’m never running out to start skill players in an offense helmed by a rookie quarterback making his first career start. That’s before we remember the Bills have to travel across the country and play against an underrated Chargers defense that ranks 11th in defense DVOA and sixth in pass defense DVOA (Football Outsiders). The Chargers are specifically allowing a paltry 5.3 points per game to tight ends, second-best in the league.

Sleepers/Streamers:

Marcedes Lewis @ Cleveland: Ebron and Garrett Celek reminded us last week that every tight end going up against the Giants and Browns is in play as a streamer. Since Travis Kelce will feast on the poor Giants and is too obvious to make this column, I’m obligated to mention Lewis has a date with the Browns. He’s a deep league touchdown-or-bust streamer
Tyler Kroft: Nothing new here. Denver’s elevated corner play inherently funnels targets to tight ends, so they’ve allowed the second-most points to the position. Kroft busted last week but he’s seen six targets in two of his last three games. He’s firmly in play as a low-floor, touchdown-dependent streamer this week. 

Defense

Start: Arizona @ Houston

Likely to have high DFS ownership, Arizona is an easy play against sloth-like quarterback Tom Savage. While Bill O’Brien‘s decision to continue throwing Savage out there is up for debate, what isn’t debatable is attacking this offense for fantasy purposes. Through Savage’s three starts this year (one of which he got benched at halftime), he’s been sacked 11 times, thrown two interceptions and lost five fumbles. Houston is averaging a paltry 9.3 points per game in Savage’s starts. Arizona should feast on an offensive line that ranks 30th in pass blocking DVOA (Football Outsiders) and traded left tackle Duane Brown two weeks ago. Arizona hasn’t been a great fantasy defense this year but still averages 2.6 sacks and .9 interceptions per game, so it should pair a solid floor with a sky-high ceiling. Arizona’s outlook is further improved by Will Fuller’s (ribs) expected absence. I wrote all of that before reading this tweet:

Start: Houston vs. Arizona

Even before looking at the lines, you know any game featuring Tom Savage and Drew Stanton is going to have a low implied point total. Stanton has only played 10 quarters of football this year, but he’s taken four sacks and thrown two interceptions. While those numbers aren’t Savage-level bad, they’re still not #good. It turns out Stanton suffered an injury on Thursday night, and so Bruce Arians will turn the keys of the offense over to… Blaine Gabbert! What a world. I actually think Gabbert may be better than Stanton and don’t mind him as a streamer this week given his rushing ability, but he’s an obvious target for fantasy defenses. Houston has feasted on bad opponents and struggled against good ones, so it makes sense to expect more of the same here. Arizona just lost left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) for the year.

Other Recommended Starts:

-Cincinnati @ Denver: Maybe the Broncos should just sign Tim Tebow and put us all out of our misery.
-Detroit @ Chicago: Trubisky absorbed five sacks from the Green Bay defense last week and Detroit has been great all year long. The Lions are tied for second in the league in turnovers forced.
-Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo: The Bills are questionably starting fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman in a cross-country road game. 

Sit: Minnesota vs. Los Angeles Rams

Despite a great real-life defense, Minnesota has been just the 22nd-best fantasy defense on the season. The Rams offense has been the toughest nut to crack for fantasy defenses all season long and ranks second in passing DVOA, per Football Outsiders. Stud pass rusher Everson Griffen (foot/back) sat out last week and is questionable at best for this game.

Sit: New England @ Oakland

Even though New England has been the eighth-best fantasy defense over last four weeks, I’m not really buying a complete turnaround. One of those games was against the Chargers mediocre offense and another against Brock Osweiler. Oakland has not been an offense to attack with a top-10 offensive line and great receiving corps. I sound like a broken record, but this game has the highest implied point total on the slate.

Other Recommended Sits:

-Buffalo @ Los Angeles Chargers: Buffalo has given up 81 points over the last two weeks and is on the road against a Chargers offense that’s allowed the seventh-fewest points to defenses.

 

Statistics courtesy of nfl.com, rotoworld.com, Yahoo.com, fantasylabs.com, footballguys.com, footballoutsiders.com, profootballfocus.com and pro-football-reference.com

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