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.