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Hey everybody, this is Josh Gordon, Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Just wanted to say thanks if you're one of the few lucky fantasy owners that stuck with me through this whole suspension ordeal. I say this honestly: You guys are true believers.
As I sealed the deal on my 12th straight used car sale (I promise all customers a free pine tree air freshener if you know what I mean) I could only feel bad as I watched my teammates enjoy the benefits of an easy schedule and play against some of the worst defenses in the league over a five-game stretch of the season. I can only express regret for not being there to give you all fantasy points. But Good things often come to those who wait, and success and prosperity currently lines your remaining path in the 2014 fantasy football season.
You gotta admit, that section of the Browns' schedule from Week 2-7 was as soft as the NFL's domestic violence policy. My matchups would've been pretty tasty considering our opponents consisted of Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Houston. Damn, what I could've done to those cornerbacks.
Don't fret too much, you'll still get some mileage out of me come the end of the regular season, and the first pay off will come this week against Atlanta in the comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome.
Why the Falcons' offense helps me
Well, we know their offensive line has struggled due to injuries, but the real key stat is time of possession. The Falcons are holding onto the ball an average of 28 minutes and 17 seconds per game, which ranks 25th in the league. They don't do much better at home, as they hang onto the ball for 28 minutes and 43 seconds per game. The offense relies too much on the pass as evidenced by their 38.2 pass attempts per game, which forces the clock to stop on incomplete passes and leads to punts. Of the 113 offensive drives put together by Atlanta, 28 of them have resulted in a 3 and out. That's 26th worst in the league.
All this should help Bryan Hoyer and myself stay on the field more. I know my Browns aren't exactly great in time of possession either. We actually rank behind Atlanta in that category. But, we're making changes in that area. We cut Ben Tate earlier this week, and our most talented running back in Isaiah Crowell is finally starting. Crowell averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry in his first start as a Brown against Houston last week, and the purpose he shows when running the ball should help us extend drives and keep our offense moving down the field. The longer I'm on the field, the opportunity I will have to score points. Stick that in your pipe.
How about the Atlanta defense?
It's nice if you're me. The Falcons rank dead last in passing yards allowed, averaging 281.2 per game. They're also 24th in rushing yards allowed, so our offense should be able to provide a lot of scoring for you. The Falcons gave up 292 passing yards to Carolina last week. That's right, the team whose tight end leads them in receptions managed to put up nearly 300 yards passing. The week before, Josh McCown and Tampa notched 301 passing yards against them.
There also shouldn't be a lot of pressure on the quarterback this week either. The Falcons have registered only 13 sacks on the year, which is tied for second worst in the league. Only Oakland is worse with 10. There shouldn't be any problem when it comes time for me to get open. One thing needs to happen though.
The elephant in the room
Brian Hoyer has to really show up this week. I'm not saying he can't, but he went 20-for-50 last week against a below average secondary in Houston and finished with a dismal 61 quarterback rating. Granted, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney were breathing down his neck most of the game and he won't have to deal with that so much against Atlanta, but he's got to avoid looking like that other quarterback in our division with the red hair.
But despite Hoyer's struggles last week, I think my presence gives him an added boost. I can run after the catch like nobody's business. Last year, I led the league in receiving yards on just 87 catches and only one receiver in the Top 10 had less receptions than that. I averaged 18.9 yards per catch and turned short passes into large chunks of yardage. Only Kenny Stills averaged more yards per catch than me.
All the elements are there. A good matchup, a better running game and a (hopefully) a serviceable quarterback. I should be good to help you start your run to your fantasy championship, maybe throw you around 18-20 fantasy points (roughly 120 receiving yards and a touchdown). Take care.
Start of the Week
Desean Jackson v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers #8 Weekly Rankings
Despite being the biggest one-trick pony in the league, Redskins receiver Desean Jackson has continued to prove himself as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson ranks no. 1 in the NFL in yards per reception (21.2), and is currently second on the Redskins in receptions (36).
Jackson will have a chance to build off the impressive start when he matches up against one of, if not the worst, defensive units in the NFL. According to PFF’s advanced statistics the Buccaneers secondary is the third-worst unit in the league in coverage (-37.9), and could be without the services of their best cornerback, Alterraun Verner. With Verner out, Jackson will have the benefit of matching up with either Jonathan Banks, PFF’s 12th worst cornerback in the league, or Leonard Johnson, who is allowing almost 11.0 yards per reception this season.
Jackson has been one of the hottest receivers in football over the few weeks, eclipsing the 100-yard mark four times in the team’s last five games. I expect the Redskins passing attack to find some consistency this weekend, and would consider most of the Redskins offensive players as quality fantasy starters this weekend.
Travis Kelce v. Seattle Seahawks #7 Weekly Rankings
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid recently came out and said that there were no longer any restrictions for second-year tight end Travis Kelce, something that has to have fantasy owners ecstatic.
This weekend Kelce and the Chiefs offense have a tough matchup as they welcome the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom to Arrowhead Stadium. Despite being one of the premier defensive units against opposing wide receivers the Seahawks have struggled defending opposing tight ends, especially in red zone situations. The Seahawks defense has allowed 9 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, including five in the last five weeks.
Despite being vulnearbale to giving up touchdowns, the Seahawks defense has done a very good job managing yardage to opposing tight ends, allowing less than 60 receiving yards in all but one game this season.
Now that Kelce will be playing a full allotment of snaps I expect Smith and Kelce to connect early and often this weekend. Smith has still yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season, a trend I do not expect to change this weekend. If the Chiefs want a chance to pull off the upset, Kelce needs to be the focal point of the team's passing game, especially in the red-zone.
Martavis Bryant v. Tennessee Titans #23 Weekly Rankings
Another week, another big game for Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Some fantasy owners may be wondering whether or not the recent hot streak continue, and the answer is an emphatic NO. However, I am going to keep Bryant in my lineup until he gives me a reason to put him on the bench.
Despite being inactive for the first 6 weeks of the season, Bryant has added an element to the Steelers passing game they have been looking for. Even with a limited knowledge of the playbook Bryant has been the second best receiver on the Steelers, ranking 2nd in both targets (25) and receptions (14) since week 7. Even though Markus Wheaton is still technically the "starter" Bryant has been the more dynamic receiver of the two.
Bryant has seen his snap count increase in three consecutive weeks, a trend I fully expect to continue when the Steelers match up with the Titans on Monday Night Football. Bryant will likely match up with cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson this weekend, and could be in line for another massive game. Wreh-Wilson has allowed a passer rating of 110.3 on passes thrown his direction and has allowed a team-high 5 touchdown receptions this season.
Kyle Rudolph v. Chicago Bears #12 Weekly Rankings
After being sidelined since week 3 while recovering from sports hernia surgery, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is ready to make his return this weekend against the Bears. Despite Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner indicating Rudolph could be on a snap count, I feel Rudolph could make a major impact for the Vikings this weekend.
Even if Rudolph is not asked to play a full allotment of snaps this weekend, matching up with the Bears pathetic defense puts him as a low-end TE 1 this weekend. The Bears defense has allowed 9 touchdowns as well as having allowed an average of 7 catches for 88 yards to opposing tight ends over the last team’s last five games. Although Rudolph will likely be on a snap count this weekend, I still feel like he is worth the gamble against the worst-ranked defense against opposing tight ends.
Andre Johnson v. Cleveland Browns #26 Weekly Rankings
The passing of the torch is underway in Houston, as second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has developed into the number one receiving option for the Texans. With a Ryan Mallett making his first career start this weekend, I expect another rough day for the veteran receiver.
It is clear that the days of Johnson being a top-flight fantasy receiver are behind him. Despite being the most targeted receiver on the team (77) Johnson has struggled with efficiency, hauling in just 62% of the passes headed his way. Even though Johnson is the team’s leader in catches (48), second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has taken over as the team’s big-play threat. Johnson has failed to top the 100-yard mark this season, and has not scored a touchdown since week 6 against the Colts.
This weekend, Johnson gets the pleasure of matching up with one of the premier cornerbacks in the league, Joe Haden. After a slow start to the season in which Haden allowed a passer rating of over 110.0 in three of the team’s first four games, Haden has come on strong over the last month. Over the Brown’s last four games Haden is allowing less than 10 yards per reception, and has not allowed more than 70 yards receiving to an opposing wide receiver.
Even though Johnson is a big name and likely a top-6 round selection in your fantasy drafts, fantasy owners may feel the pressure to start Johnson because of the initial investment spent on him. However, if you have another option on your bench such as Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans, or even Brandin Cooks, I would recommend playing them over Johnson as he tries to find a way off of “Haden Island”.
Mychal Rivera v. San Diego Chargers #13 Weekly Rankings
Rivera has been a savior for fantasy owners searching for a bye week replacement the past few weeks, hauling in three touchdowns in his last three games. However, this is the week I think the gravy trend ends for the Raiders tight end.
Rivera has come out of nowhere to reach the cusp of fantasy relevance, rankings second in targets (19) and first in touchdowns (3) over the last three weeks. However Rivera gets a very tough matchup against a Chargers defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Chargers have only allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends just twice this season, and have allowed three or fewer fantasy points in six games this season. If you have another quality option at the tight end position I would recommend going in another direction this weekend.
Start of the week:
LeSean McCoy @ Green Bay Packers — #4 in weekly rankings
It's tough to plug McCoy as an RB1 these days, and that's mainly because it's tough to really pin him down this year in general. He was strong the last four weeks (two 100-yard games to go along with two 80-yard games) before tossing up a dud against Carolina despite a 45 point effort by the Eagles' offense.
But despite a lackluster performance on the stat sheet as of late and only two touchdowns on the season overall by the RB, the Eagles currently sit atop the NFC and Chip Kelly has found a way to consistently utilize McCoy without relying on him to score the football to win games. Even with his not-so-amazing stats, there's still plenty of reason to get excited about his fantasy value in Week 11.
McCoy finds himself in a great matchup against a weak run defense in Green Bay. The Packers have surrendered a 30th-worst 142 rushing yards per game. McCoy will also be playing in the frigid cold of Lambeau Field, where the temperature is expected to be around 30 degrees before kickoff at 4 p.m. The Eagles had the luxury of not playing in too many cold games last season, but McCoy rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns against a bad Chicago defense in Chicago during the winter weather in 2013. McCoy also torched Green Bay for 155 yards when the two teams played in Green Bay last season.Though past efforts aren't necessarily an indication of future efforts, it's just worth noting that McCoy has been successful in the cold in past games.
When it comes to how well the offense has been playing, the Eagles offensive line continues to get stronger as they get healthier. They protected quarterback Mark Sanchez extremely well last week against Carolina, and while Julius Peppers may be a bit tougher to contain, the presence of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis should help keep the Green Bay front four in check. If you remember, the Eagles offensive line did a good job containing J.J. Watt when they played the Texans a few weeks ago, as they held one of the best defensive ends in football to just one tackle for a loss.
Weather conditions may also come into play here, as Sanchez will be having to deal with throwing a frozen ball which could mean the Eagles may opt to go more run heavy. Aside from his 12 attempts last week in a lopsided game, McCoy had rushed for 24, 21, 22 and 24 in his previous efforts. There's a good chance he does that again given the conditions in Green Bay.
Montee Ball @ St. Louis — #26 in weekly rankings
Currently listed as probable, expect Ball to be eased back into the lineup opposite C.J. Anderson. But with Ronnie Hillman out, there's a good chance Ball sees some carries and maybe snags a goal line touchdown or two. The Rams are allowing a little over 124 rushing yards per game (25th worst) but they held Andre Ellington to just 1.3 yards per carry last week and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Russell Wilson in Week 7.
Don't expect Ball to light the world on fire since he hasn't been the most explosive option even when he's been healthy (only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in his four starts), but the situation calls for him getting a little bit of action and sometimes all a player needs is a little opportunity.
Ball is a good flex play if you're in a deep league. He could vulture a touchdown on the goal line which is all you need in that spot. Just to be clear — Ball is not likely to go off this week at all, but there's potential for him to see enough of a workload to warrant a productive day.
Shane Vereen @ Indianapolis— #25 in weekly rankings
Vereen (and the entire Patriots' backfield for that matter) remain difficult to predict in fantasy football thanks to the chess-like mind of Pats' coach Bill Belichick. It's almost as if Belichick hates fantasy football and trots out the running back who hasn't scored much lately and gives him the most carries. Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley, insert-next-running-back-who-will-now-be-a-household-name-here.
Despite the wonky RB favoritism, there's a lot of potential for Vereen this week. The Colts and Patriots will likely be a shootout between two premier quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Tom Brady. The game will also be played under the comfortable dome conditions of Lucas Oil Stadium, so there's no cold interfering with the stats.
As for Vereen, he caught 13 passes over the last five games, so he's been on a PPR roll. The Patriots are coming off their bye week, so they're rested. Overall, Vereen remains the best fantasy back among the Patriots due to his versatility.
Marshawn Lynch @ Kansas City— #2 in weekly rankings
It's tough to say, but consider benching Lynch this week against Kansas City. He's banged up, and is going against a strong Kansas City defense that kept the Bills run game largely in check last week. Lynch posted his best effort of the season last week against the New York Giants, where he ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time Lynch eclipsed the 100-yard mark since Week 1 against Green Bay. Expect him to revert back to the more subdued version of beast mode against Kansas City, and likely finish with 67 yards and maybe a touchdown.
The three week long storm (of bye weeks) is finally coming to an end. If the last 2 weeks were a fantasy football hurricane, monsoon, and/or tornado for you, this week should only be partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. The worst of the storm is over, and if you’ve come away with little to no damage, then congratulations to you. If you’ve sustained irreparable damage then you have my condolences. I personally escaped fantasy destruction due to the fine work of running back/fantasy football contractor, Marshawn Lynch. The walls he erected and insulation he installed at approximately 4:25 EST on Sunday totally shielded me from disaster. He’s an expert builder as he’s built specifically for me a nearly insurmountable lead in my division that should put me into the week 15 semifinals via bye. I hope you’ve hired someone even half as reliable as my beast mode contractor, Marshawn Lynch, to get you through the coming Winter weather.
We’re back to a manageable four teams with byes, and two of those teams are barely relevant in the fantasy world (Jets, Jaguars). However, not everyone is in the clear as owners of DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Percy Harvin, Eric Decker, Chris Ivory, Denard Robinson, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith and Torrey Smith are still left with holes in the starting lineup.
You can use the following sleepers and busts advice to ensure that your Week 11 and fantasy football future will be disaster free.
Without further ado, your week 11 Sleepers and Busts:
DISCLAIMER: A sleeper is not a must start and a bust is not a must bench, they are merely indications that a player will have a better or worse game this week than they normally do. It all really depends on your alternatives. I will give an example of a few players for whom I personally would start the sleeper over or bench the bust for. These players are simply there as an indication of how good or bad I think the sleepers/busts will perform so you have a comparison in mind when applying it to your actual lineup. For example if I am comparing a QB to a stud like Andrew Luck, I am not necessarily saying you need to start him over Luck (even if I would) but it will imply that I feel really good about him.
· Colin Kaepernick at New York Giants. It’s been a strange year for Colin Kaepernick and his owners. He’s had one complete dud to this point, but he’s also only had one performance that can be considered very good. The rest of his games have just been average, ordinary and boring in terms of fantasy scoring. He’s ranked 13th among fantasy QBs, but the film shows that he should be ranked significantly higher. This past week Anquan Boldin dropped 4 passes including one that would have gone for a long TD. Boldin dropped a TD a few weeks ago from 3 yards out as well. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis can’t stop dropping passes. They each dropped 2 passes while I was writing this sentence. And Kaepernick owners remember all too well, a play where Davis and second TE, Derrick Carrier, ran into each other in the endzone on a sure TD pass.
At least a few hundred yards and at least a few TDs have been left on the table because of the 49ers pass catchers’ dropped passes. This week the 49ers travel to East Rutherford to face the New York Giants, a defense that is banged up in the secondary and at LB and is struggling mightily. The Giants rank 25th in passing yards against and dead last in rushing yards against.
The Giants last 4 opponents have scored between 27-40 points. If you watched the Giants game in week 11, you’d think they didn’t know that Russell Wilson was a running threat in the read-option game. Wilson struggled as a passer, but as a runner he ripped off several chunks of 15-30 yard gains en route to 100+ yards rushing.
Colin Kaepernick brings a similar skill-set in the run game and the 49ers sport a pass catching core of Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Vernon Davis. Sure these players (other than Boldin) have under achieved, but the Giants simply do not have the talent or play calling intelligence on defense to match up with the 49ers. Look for the 49ers to spread out the Giants, and for Kaepernick to run for a high rushing total while picking them apart in the passing game. Before any Giants fans attack me…..I am a diehard Giants fan. It just is what it is.
I’d Start Colin Kaepernick over: Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Russell Wilson
· Mark Sanchez at Green Bay. It’s been a fun two weeks for the Sanchize and his owners but the fun takes a temporary hiatus this week in Green Bay. I give Mark Sanchez (and Chip Kelly) a ton of credit for his success in his first start this season, but it occurred at home, in mild weather, against a pitiful Carolina defense. After easy matchups against the Texans (Ranked 19th against QBs) and Panthers (Rank 27th against QBs), the Packers present Sanchez his first real challenge.
They rank 9th in passing yards against and 12th against opposing fantasy QBs. The Green Bay defense will be riding high as they’re coming off a near perfect game against the Chicago Bears. The high temperature at Lambeau is projected to be only 28 degrees. Sanchez will have to throw a frozen ball, against a quality secondary, with Clay Mathews and Julius Peppers bearing down on him all game.
Even if we don’t see the old, turnover prone Sanchize from the Jets, this matchup does not bode well for a QB making just his second start since 2012.
I’d Start the following players over Mark Sanchez: Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Josh McCown, Shaun Hill
· Branden Oliver vs. Oakland. Many Brandon Oliver owners have cut bait on the young RB. Before the bye week Oliver had struggled and the return of Ryan Mathews is finally here. I am here to say that if you haven’t cut bait yet, give it at least one more week and get him in the lineup! Sure, Ryan Mathews is back…sort of. The sources out of San Diego are saying that Mathews is expected to receive approximately 15 touches.
Let’s think about this. In a matchup at home against Oakland, a game in which the Chargers should win running away, Mathews will receive 15 touches. Fine, so how many touches does that leave for other SD running backs including Branden Oliver? Since this game should be a blowout I’ll use the numbers in two Chargers blowout wins earlier this season. Against Jacksonville in Week 4, San Diego RBs received 27 touches and against the Jets in Week 5, San Diego RBs received 43 touches. Since San Diego has played Oakland already, the 33 touches RBs received in that Week 6 game are relevant as well.
Therefore, if Ryan Mathews does receive 15 touches as advertised, then that leaves Oliver and/or other SD backs with 12-28 touches. Even if we stay on the lower end of this range and say he gets 14-18 touches, that is a huge number of touches against a team that ranks 27th in rushing yards against. It’s important to note that Oliver had 124 total yards and a TD in his previous meeting with Oakland. Owners may have sourced on Oliver but his previous three games have been difficult matchups against the Chiefs, Broncos and Dolphins. This game is easier and offers huge upside to Oliver and his owners. Use him as a RB2 with confidence.
I’d start Branden Oliver over: Bishop Sankey, Ben Tate, Lamar Miller, Joique Bell
· Jeremy Hill at New Orleans. This could be a knee jerk reaction, but I just cannot forget what I witnessed in the Bengals/Browns game in Cincinnati last Thursday. Andy Dalton played one of the worst games I’ve seen in recent memory. I hope he has a Men In Black flashy thing available because he needs to forget everything that happened in that ugly, ugly, ugly game.
I do not see the cure for his struggles being a road matchup against an angry desperate Saints team who has forced 8 turnovers and 15 sacks in the last four weeks. We could see another lopsided score which will once again result in another low output from Jeremy Hill. Last week, Hill had only 61 total yards. In his last three games he has had one big time game in Jacksonville sandwiched between two disastrous games against Baltimore and Cleveland. He will go as the offense goes, so unless Dalton gets back on track immediately, Hill will struggle. I just don’t see Dalton being able to get over a 10-for-33. 83 yard passing performance in a difficult environment like New Orleans.
I’d start the following players over Jeremy Hill: Frank Gore, Andre Ellington, Shane Vereen, CJ Anderson, Branden Oliver
· Pierre Garcon vs. Tampa Bay. Pierre the waiter is a forgotten man. The emergence of DeSean Jackson has turned last year’s NFL leader in receptions into an unreliable WR 3/4. He’s a matchup play and this week I believe the matchup is ripe. For one, I believe that one of the main goals of the Redskins bye week was to renew the chemistry between RG III and his WRs, especially Garcon. Secondly, the Buccaneers, a team that ranks dead last against opposing WRs in .5 PPR leagues are coming to Washington.
Roddy White is a WR who is past his prime but still runs effective routes and even he registered a big day against the hopeless Bucs defense. White was getting free in the middle of the field for 10-25 yards at a time on slant and seam routes, and he capitalized on an even easier short crossing route for a TD.
Garcon is a younger, crisp route runner in the mold of Roddy and he should be able to capitalize off Tampa Bay’s inability to cover well run routes in the middle of the field. Garcon can pay huge dividends in the right matchup so try to put his struggles aside and get him in the lineup in deep leagues that start 3 WRs.
I’d Start Pierre Garcon over: DeAndre Hopkins, Jordan Matthews, Larry Fitzgerald, Doug Baldwin
· Brandon LaFell at Indianapolis. When Vontae Davis got injured just a handful of snaps into the game in week 8 against Pittsburgh, the floodgates opened and Pittsburgh put up 51 points. Even after giving up all of those yards and TDs to Big Ben, the Colts still rank 9th against opposing fantasy WRs. When Davis is healthy they are in the top 3. Vontae Davis is the best cornerback in the business. Bill Belichick knows this.
Belichick is the type of coach who is matchup specific in his game plans and he will not force the ball to his big play WR if the matchup isn’t right. Davis had been playing through an injury before the bye week and has had two weeks to recover and prepare.
LaFell has been a nice story and he and Rob Gronkowski have been the keys to the Patriots high powered passing attack since the Pats turned their season around several weeks ago. The Patriots can and probably will succeed passing the football but look for it to be with Gronk, Edelman, Vereen and maybe Tim Wright. LaFell should not be used in 3 WR formats this week.
I’d start the following players over Brandon LaFell: Vincent Jackson, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, John Brown
· Austin Seferian-Jenkins at Washington. Seferian Jenkins is a raw talent who at this point in his career has shaky hands. However, he does get open a lot, and he receives enough red-zone and overall targets to hold matchup play value against a team who ranks 23rd against the TE, the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are coming off back to back weeks where they were victimized by Vikings TE, Chase Ford, and Dallas’s Jason Witten who has not exactly been lighting it up. Josh McCown targeted Seferian-Jenkins 8 times last week and a successful redzone play was called specifically for him in last week’s loss to Atlanta. This marked the 3rd game in the last four where Seferian Jenkins had either topped 50 yards or scored a TD. He is a low end TE1 this week and should be started by teams who are playing the matchups every week or by those owners who drafted Vernon Davis or Dennis Pitta.
I’d start Austin Seferian-Jenkins over: Mychal Rivera, Larry Donnell, Charles Clay, Vernon Davis
· Mychal Rivera at San Diego. Everyone’s favorite pickup at TE has been a monster over the last three weeks with 21 catches, 185 yards and 3 TDs. Rivera has had immense short term value and he has long term value as well, but this week I’m going to say he has very little value. Rivera opposes San Diego the second ranked team against fantasy TEs.
The Chargers have shut down the likes of Julius Thomas and Travis Kelce as well as Rivera himself, who did not record a catch in week 6. Furthermore, Oakland and Derek Carr seem to be regressing on offense. Carr has not been able to sustain drives and he won’t figure it out all of a sudden on the road against one of the AFC’s top teams that are coming off a bye. It’s so hard to bench Rivera after the run he’s been on but these are the tough decisions fantasy owners have to make sometimes.
I’d start the following players over Mychal Rivera: Dwayne Allen, Travis Kelce, Kyle Rudolph, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
That’ll do it for week 11. Good luck in this last difficult bye week. Make sure you’ve stocked up and are well prepared for this last part of the storm.
Start of the week:
QB – Phillip Rivers v. Oakland Raiders - #6 in Weekly Rankings
The Chargers bye week could not have come at a better time for Philip Rivers. He's coming off arguably the worst game of his career, a game in which he threw 3 INTs in a 37-0 thrashing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. The bye week allowed Rivers, who had been having his second consecutive great season to push the reset button and forget about the previous week.
There may be no better way to re-start a season after a reset, then to play at home against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are ranked 21st against opposing fantasy QBs, but this ranking does not tell the story about what to expect on Sunday. The Raiders, an already porous defense, will be without CB Carlos Rogers (knee) in the secondary and could be without CB D.J. Hayden (groin) and CB Travis Carrie (ankle). Rivers could have limited, below average players or even practice squad talent lining up opposite Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal as he looks to repeat the 300+ yard 3 TDs performance he had against these very Raiders in week 6.
DEF – Denver Broncos v. St. Louis Rams - #4 in Weekly Rankings
When NFL and fantasy football fans are discussing the Broncos, they’re almost always talking about the offense. Their offense is absolutely incredible and deserves every bit of attention it gets, but the Broncos defense is vastly under rated. The team has won five out of their last six games. In the wins during this stretch they have caused 8 turnovers and have sacked the QB 15 times. The Broncos jump out to big leads and Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and company do not lose their intensity in blowouts. The Broncos travel to St. Louis where Shaun Hill will be throwing his first pass in a game since week 1. The Broncos should be able to win big and rack up the sacks and turnovers that come from a shaky QB having to play comeback football.
QB – Eli Manning v. San Francisco - #11 in Weekly Rankings
It has been a disappointing season for the New York Giants and their fans, but not for Eli Manning fantasy owners. The younger Manning, the 11th ranked QB in standard leagues, is in the midst of a fantasy resurrection and is on pace for 30 TDs and 11 INTs. This is an incredible development one year after Manning threw 18 TD and 27 INTs. The loss of Victor Cruz has not been an issue since the emergence of a superior talent, Odell Beckham Jr., occurred in the same week.
This week Manning’s matchup is not an easy one with San Francisco (Ranked 8th vs. QBs) coming to New Jersey, but the Giants welcome back a key piece of the receiving (and running) game in Rashad Jennings. Jennings absence in the passing game and in pass protection could not be filled by rookie, Andre Williams or over the hill, Peyton Hillis. Jennings' return should improve the Giants offense, an offense in which Eli had already been thriving as a fantasy QB just about every week. Keep him active if you have bye week issues or if you are playing matchups at QB.
DEF – New Orleans Saints v. Cincinnati - #6 in Weekly Rankings
In four games since their Week 6 bye, the New Orleans Saints defense has caused 8 turnovers and has had 15 sacks. Sure sometimes a great matchup or two can lead to a bunch of sacks and turnovers, but these specific weeks happened to be played against some of the league’s best quarterbacks. The 8 turnovers and 15 sacks were against teams led by Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Week 11 presents a home game against a lesser talent, Andy Dalton. Dalton is coming off the worst game by a QB this season (86 yards passing, 3 INTs) and has had only 2 TDs vs. 6 INTs in his last four games. The Saints will smell blood in the water early and will inevitably feast on more of Dalton’s mistakes.
QB – Russell Wilson at Kansas City - #15 in Weekly Rankings
Fantasy football is a funny game. When the Seahawks were struggling to win games, Russell Wilson was thriving as a top 3 fantasy QB. Now the Seahawks have won three in a row and Wilson is in the midst of a slump. In the last three weeks, Wilson has failed to reach 200 yards passing and has combined for only 2 TDs vs. 3 INTs. His 107 rushing yards against the Giants in Week 10 helped salvage a putrid fantasy performance but I would not expect another 100+ rushing yards on the road against the Chiefs, a team who actually will realize that Russell Wilson is a threat to run.
The Chiefs rank 1st in passing yards against and have not allowed a QB to score 20 fantasy points since week 2 against Denver. This stretch includes games against Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, and Philip Rivers. Their defense has five legitimate stars in Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe, guys who get after the QB and stuff the run. In the secondary, Eric Berry and Sean Smith prevent big plays from occurring. This should be a tight low scoring game, a game where you would be smart to stay away from Russell Wilson.
Defense – Washington v. Tampa Bay - #11 in Weekly Rankings
When judging the Week 11 fantasy defenses, after the top 8 or so defenses, there is a large group bunched together all who are poor teams with good matchups, or good teams with poor matchups. It's tough to figure out what to do with these teams. One team in particular is the Washington Redskins who have an ideal matchup on paper at home against Tampa Bay. Tampa is ranked 30th against opposing fantasy defenses, while Washington is ranked 30th overall as a fantasy defense on the season. However there are encouraging signs that one of these teams may not be as poor as their ranking. Tampa Bay made the move at QB back to Josh McCown.
Rookie Mike Evans has begun his ascent to becoming Tampa Bay’s top wideout. Charles Sims is an exciting rookie RB who will be getting a chance to shine from here on out. Lastly, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is starting to come into his own having caught TDs in two out of his last three games. I do not nearly have as many good things about the Washington Redskins defense.
They have had one week of relevance against the Cowboys and have been otherwise awful. If one of these 30th ranked units has the ability to be better it is definitely Tampa Bay. I do have the Redskins ranked 11th, but if one of the top 10 in the rankings is available in your league do not hesitate to grab them on the waiver wire because this matchup makes me nervous.
Preparation in fantasy football is always crucial to victory. Each week, it's like a mad dash to see who can make the right pickups first and who's ahead of the injury and matchup curve the most. As the playoffs draw near, the planning that goes into having a strong lineup in Weeks 14,15 and 16 are the staple of every fantasy owner's season.
Those three weeks mentioned above are the big climax for fantasy owners, and they want their matchups tastier than a Chip Kelly personalized smoothie. If you're already thinking your team is destined for the playoffs, then you may want to look into how you can fortify your team to make it even more tough to beat when it really matters. Here are some matchups for Week 14 that could be plausibly fruitful.
Week 14 matchups
Eric Ebron (3% owned) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a little over 100 yards receiving and just one touchdown, the tight end dubbed the second coming of Vernon Davis hasn't had a very productive rookie season due to a nagging hamstring injury that's kept him out of action for nearly half the season. Still, he's eventually expected to return to the lineup in Week 11 and has a good matchup down the road against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks second worst in the league against the pass. In a pass heavy offense loaded with plenty of receiving talent, it's not out of the question Ebron could get lost in the shuffle playing along guys like Golden Tate, Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson. Despite the possibility of low targets, he's still a good TE2 option just because of his athletic upside and a favorable matchup. With tight ends like Jordan Cameron and Vernon Davis constantly hurt, Ebron could be a good savior if you're weak at the TE position.
New Orleans Saints defense (8% owned) vs. Carolina
Carolina's offense has really struggled these past three weeks. They haven't scored more than 20 points since they tied Cincinnati 37-37 back in Week 6. Panthers QB Cam Newton has been playing hurt with two bad legs, which could severely limit his upside as a rushing quarterback. The Panthers running game has been non existent with their running backs averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Jonathan Stewart heads their paltry rushing attack with 299 yards on the year.
The Panthers receivers have also been inconsistent, with Greg Olsen serving as the team's best option with 51 catches. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has shown flashes but his route running and consistency haven't been there, as evidenced by his 43 catches on a whopping 85 targets. He's basically catching just half of the balls thrown his way. Jerricho Cotchery is still without a touchdown on the season and looks as every bit out of place as many thought the vet would be in a role too big for a guy of his age.
On the other side, the Saints' defense has improved mightily. They've registered five interceptions in their last four games and have sacked the quarterback at least four times in their last three games. Surprisingly, they rank in the top 15 in yards allowed as well. While divisional matchups can often be close, the Saints defense could be worth a play due to Carolina's struggles on the offensive end.
Allen Hurns (20% owned), Cecil Shorts (43% owned) vs. Houston Texans
The Jacksonville Jaugars lost their most targeted receiver, Allen Robinson, to a broken foot which will sideline him for the remainder of the season. With Robinson out, expect the speedy Hurns to be the primary benefactor in the Jaguars' offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown for at least 200 yards in all but two starts, and he's eclipsed the 300 yard mark once as well. He moves the ball down the field consistently.
Hurns suffered a concussion during the Jaguars' last game against Dallas, but he still leads the Jaguars in touchdowns (5) and with Robinson now out, expect Hurns to see more targets which should increase his yardage totals and overall consistency. Plus, he's still available in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. Shorts is second on the team in targets (61) and has two 100 yard games on the season.
These two receivers are good options in Week 14 because of their matchup against the Houston Texans, a team with a secondary known for getting burned throughout this season. The Texans are allowing 279 passing yards per game, which ranks 29th in the league. Hurns will have major upside as a WR3/flex guy in a bigger role with a good matchup.
Terrance Williams (81% owned) @ Chicago Bears
I know, Williams has been an inconsistent player at times. But he's still on pace for 11 touchdowns and 700 receiving yards. Williams and the Cowboys will have a gift wrapping of a matchup against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Week 14. The Bears have allowed 268 passing yards per game, which ranks 28th in the league. They're also surrendering around 30 points per game. Williams is coming off a poor game against Jacksonville where he only saw two targets, but they still took shots at him in the end zone. He's been a big part of the Cowboys' receiving game this season and while he may be feast or famine, he's unlikely to fade in an offense that values his contribution.