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Fantasy Basement: Week 11
The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or two. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes arrested development. Um…how does that have negative connotation? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done?…Anyway, enjoy!
QB: Carson Palmer, Cardinals
You’re damn right I’m endorsing Palmer, he of 17 turnovers. This may seem like a curious choice, as only two teams are on bye this week and, you know, it’s Carson Palmer. Combined with my much-ridiculed contention that I don’t see what all the Kate Upton fuss is about, the astute reader may be questioning my sanity. My two counters:
1. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
2. Palmer faces a Jacksonville team that is conceding the third-most points to fantasy quarterbacks.
To his own merit, Palmer has tossed two touchdowns in three of his past four contests, and the ineptitude of the Cardinals rushing attack will keep the offensive emphasis on the air game. For those dealing with injuries, give Palmer a whirl.
Other starts: Nick Foles, Case Keenum
RB: Danny Woodhead, Chargers
Woodhead is not coming off the greatest of games, finishing last week’s loss to Denver with just 44 total yards, although this blow was softened by four receptions and a trip to pay dirt. Look for the diminutive rusher to bounce back against the Dolphins, who are giving up the fourth-most points to the position in 2013. I suppose there’s a bit of trepidation that the San Diego offense may stall under the “West Coast team traveling East” affliction, yet Woodhead should be free from this constraint, evidenced in his 61 targets on the season (second-most on the club). Plus, Anne Hathaway was seen rocking a Woodhead uni this week, so you’d think some type of goodwill is headed his way. (The photo does raise some questions though, doesn’t it? Is Woodhead the only third-down back to have his jersey sold in stores? Is Hathaway a Woodhead fan, or does the pullover belong to her husband? Hell, are we sure Hathaway knows San Diego has a football team? And how much of a stalker is the dude who snapped this shot, considering Hathaway has on a hat, sunglasses and football jersey – an ensemble that, if my mom was wearing, not sure I could identify her – yet the photographer “randomly” recognizes it’s a movie star? Ok, rant over.)
Other starts: Le’Veon Bell, Gio Bernard
WR: Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Usually relying on a third-string quarterback is a harbinger of dark skies - shrewd analysis, I know - yet the move from Seneca Wallace to Scott Tolzien is a positive development for Packers receivers. Unlike Wallace, Tolzien has the capability of throwing a pass over 10 yards, and displayed a reasonable cognizance for one in his first NFL game.
Enter Boykin, who hauled in eight catches for 112 yards in Week 10, and now has 89 yards or more in three of the past four contests. More importantly, Boykin was targeted a team-high 13 times against the Eagles. Despite its 3-6 record, the G-Men have been solid versus the pass this season, ranking 11th in the league at 226.9 yards allowed. Nevertheless, look for plenty of pigskins in Boykin’s direction, and for the 24-year-old to make the most of these opportunities.
Other starts: Doug Baldwin, Emmanuel Sanders
TE: Heath Miller, Steelers
Miller snagged a lone pass last week for six yards and has found the end zone just once this fall. Worse, it’s clear that Miller’s not 100 percent from offseason knee surgery.
On the bright side, the Steelers tight end has been targeted 35 times in the last six games, illustrating the two-time Pro Bowler is very much a part of Pittsburgh’s aerial attack. The Lions have been stout against opposing tight ends this year, but they’re far from an impermeable shield. Don’t be surprised if Miller does some damage in the Lions-Steelers box score.
Other starts: Martellus Bennett, Scott Chandler
DEF: Baltimore Ravens
Since the beatdown suffered at the hands of the Broncos in Week 1 (49-27), the Ravens are holding opponents to 17.5 points per game. The run game has been suffocated thanks to a front seven led by Daryl Smith, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, and Lardarius Webb and James Ihedigbo have fixed the holes in the secondary. Josh McCown or a hobbled Jay Cutler will be under center for the Bears, making Baltimore a must-play in Week 11.
Other starts: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets
QB: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Promise, I’m not stating this to be a contrarian or to kindle reaction…but, isn’t it kind of odd that not a single media entity has questioned if the Niners traded the right quarterback last offseason? Think of the yield Kaepernick would have returned after his strong showing in the playoffs, and at 29, it’s not like Alex Smith is that old.
I guarantee you this: such a proposition has definitely crossed Jim Harbaugh’s mind. Since Kaepernick’s auspicious season opener (412 passing yards, three scores), the third-year arm has severely regressed, owning more turnovers (10) than touchdowns (nine). Kaepernick’s 56.4 completion percentage ranks 29th in the NFL and is a major drop-off from last season’s 62.4 mark. Even his terrain prowess has taken a hit, averaging 5.8 yards per rush compared to 2012’s 6.6 figure.
Certainly this is not entirely Kaepernick’s fault, as the offensive line and receiving corps have been dealing with injuries. Alas, don’t look for things to improve this weekend in the Big Easy. An energized New Orleans defense is relinquishing the third-fewest fantasy points to field generals this season, and it’s concession of 18.1 points is fifth-best in the NFL. Keep Kaepernick on the pine.
Other sits: Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers
RB: Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
Their schedule has been easier than Saturday morning, yet the Chiefs’ league-best 12.3 points per game is legit. (Yeah, that’s right, “Saturday morning.” There’s nothing relaxing about Sunday: you’re exhausted from the weekend's activities, Monday is hanging over you, you likely have family or church obligations and, God forbid if it’s a non-football Sunday, because those are SUPER boring. I’ll take the excitement and promise of Saturday over Sunday, thanks.) Moreno is seeing a lot of love in the receiving arena, notching 35 targets in the last five games, but has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry over the past month. With Peyton Manning’s hitch in his step, the Chiefs could be storming the backfield early and often. As an upshot, Moreno may be collateral damage. Only start in the flex position or in deeper formats.
Other sits: Ray Rice, Chris Johnson
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Hopkins will be a popular waiver-wire add this week thanks to six catches off 11 targets against a tough Cardinals secondary. Not trying to rain on this parade: I’m all aboard the Case Keenum Express, I generally like Hopkins and the Raiders just gave up seven touchdowns two weeks ago. Sadly, what I can’t get behind is Hopkins’ lack of production prior to Week 10. The rookie from Clemson had an uninspiring 13 catches in his previous five games with only one end-zone excursion. Some of this could be chalked up to the trials of Matt Schaub, yet the stability is not there to insert in your lineup. If Hopkins is available, feel free to utilize a roster spot on the Houston wideout, just not warranting of starting status.
Other sits: Harry Douglas, Cecil Shorts
TE: John Carlson, Vikings
Carlson had a fine display in replacement of fellow Fightin’ Irish product Kyle Rudolph last week, grabbing all seven looks his way for 98 yards and a score. Unfortunately, it will be tough sledding for Carlson to replicate this output. The Seahawks are restraining tight ends to under six fantasy points a game. Also, Christian Ponder in Seattle? NOOOOOOOOO thanks.
Other sits: Tyler Eifert, Tim Wright
DEF: Cleveland Browns
It’s an intriguing play, especially with Andy Dalton’s performance the last two weeks inspiring comparisons to Paul Crewe. (And not Burt Reynolds’ rendition of the character, but Adam Sandler’s “abiding by the Wardon’s demand to throw the game” version. Cut to every Bengals fan nodding in agreement.) There’s certainly upside in this pick, but after two lackluster showings, I think the Cincinnati offense shows up on Sunday.
Other sits: Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots
Waiver Wire Watch: Riley Cooper, Eagles
As long as Nick Foles remains under center for Philly, and Lord knows why Chip Kelly fails to publically commit to him unless he loves jostling the media (and in that case, I’m all for it), Cooper will be a top-25 receiver. Aside from a hiccup against the Giants (two receptions, 13 yards), the Eagles wideout has been dominant since the end of September, posting 462 yards and six touchdowns in the past five games. The good times should continue against a Washington defense that’s, well, awful, allowing over 290 receiving yards per game. Available in over 72 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, Cooper is an asset that will help you down the fantasy homestretch.
Email of the Week
This week’s winner comes from, and this was how it was listed in my inbox, Joe A $@#!&%^ miami fan Nirenberg from DAVIE, who writes:
I bet your mom protected you from getting in to fights as a kid? I was the only white kid in my class when I lived in Chester, Pa as a kid. I was bullied everyday until I learned to fight back. This is just plain football talk done every day but now all the bleeding heart liberals like you are protecting little Miss. Martin. Get real man with comments like this I will have to stop reading your comments! Tell Martin to take up Gold! We pay Incognito millions to be our main bully! We pay him to pound people! Words are words! as a write I guess you believe words can hurt you... I grew up where the worse nickname gave you the biggest respect! This is football is isn't for the weak of heart!
- I’m guessing Joe meant “golf” instead of “Gold,” and if that deduction is correct, damn right I’m telling Martin to take up golf. As a fellow hacker, it’s a wonderful sport, one that you can play for the rest of your life. It offers a peaceful, serene setting…I could literally wax poetic about the beautiful game for hours. So yes, if Martin doesn’t have a set of sticks, I say we get him some shafts and head to the range!
- I never got into fights as an adolescent. My wit, charm and disarming smile was a walking conflict resolution.
- Joe must have really wanted me to read his message, because besides sending me an email, he posted the exact same note in the comment section.
Fantasy Flyer: Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers
We’ve mentioned it in this space before, but it bears repeating: like a baseball closer, getting the opportunity constitutes 90 percent of a running back’s value. Keeping this sentiment in mind, Rainey steps into the spotlight with Mike James and Doug Martin donzo for the season. Undrafted in 2012 out of Western Kentucky, Rainey runs tough despite his Lilliputian stature. In limited action in relief of James on Monday night, Rainey racked up 45 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. Though Brian Leonard is expected to see time in Tampa as well, look for Rainey to garner the majority of rushing attempts, making him worthy of a roster spot.
This Week in BRENT CELEK
The Eagles hit up Green Bay for 27 points; unfortunately, outside of blocking endeavors, C-Note was not part of this box-score mayhem, finishing with a lone catch for seven yards. In his defense, Celek was operating on a full stomach after destroying the Grave Digger Challenge. Allegedly Celek wanted a second burger, but apparently there are not enough cows in America to facilitate such a request.
2013 stats: 18 receptions, 248 yards, three touchdowns
Linebacker Body Count: Eight
Personal Foul on: Indianapolis Backfield
Trent Richardson and Donald Brown combined for seven carries against the Rams for…drum roll please…one yard. It’s safe to say the Colts running game has hit rock bo…(checking Twitter) wait, Richardson did WHAT?!?!? (Head shake)
Gatorade Shower Goes to: Panthers D
Admittedly, I was skeptical of Carolina’s chances heading into San Fran, convinced the Panthers were the beneficiary of a generous schedule. While I remain a Doubting Thomas on the offense, I’m a believer in Luke Kuechly and the Panthers resistance. If Cam Newton can deliver any semblance of dependability, watch out.