FOX Sports Exclusive
Celek set to fly in Week 11
Through 10 weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed has become a pretty good tool to help you find friendly matchups. Unfortunately, it still can’t decipher the Saints’ backfield. Oh, well.
As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees, because you should always start Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees. Make sense? Good.
Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.
Week 11 Byes: Vikings, Giants, Seahawks, Titans
With Byron Leftwich filling in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, this game figures to be either a Ravens’ blowout or a low-scoring bloodbath, even if the Baltimore D isn’t what it used to be. With the Steelers ranking fourth against opposing fantasy quarterbacks (14 FPPG) and first in real-life pass defense (171.1 passing yards per game), let’s bet on the latter and try to bench the inconsistent Flacco, who has been over 340 yards three times, and under 190 yards in three of his last five games.
Alex Smith appears on track to play following his Week 10 concussion, but you’ll want to stay away from him against the Bears’ top-ranked fantasy QB defense (10.8 FPPG). With Jay Cutler probably out, the Bears will need to buckle down.
Did you know that Palmer is third in the NFL with 2,723 passing yards? Due to the Raiders’ lack of a running game – Darren McFadden projects to be out again this week – Palmer is second in the league with 375 pass attempts. This week, he’ll face a Saints’ defense that ranks last with 26.4 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Palmer was drafted as a QB2 for many of you, but he’s clearly a top-10 option for Week 11.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills play host tonight to the Dolphins, who rank 20th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks (20 FPPG) and 28th in real life against the pass (278 passing yards per game). Air Fitz is my 11th-ranked quarterback this week.
Nick Foles had some ups and downs after replacing Michael Vick last week, and his terrible offensive line won’t help much. Still, with a matchup in D.C. against the 31st-ranked Redskins (24.1 FPPG vs. opposing QBs) on tap, he’s an interesting free-agent option if you have injury or bye issues.
We’re big on workload around here, but getting close to 20 touches per week doesn’t make you Maurice Jones-Drew. Jennings has averaged 74 yards from scrimmage in four games since taking over for the injured MJD, and this week he visits a Texans’ team that has been the league’s stingiest against opposing fantasy runners, allowing just 10.7 FPPG. Look to bench Jennings in this spot.
Now that Donald Brown is healthy and splitting carries just about evenly with Vick Ballard, you’ll want to avoid these guys against the ninth-ranked Patriots (15.1 FPPG to opposing RBs). If you must pick one, it’s probably Ballard.
Same story in Green Bay, as James Starks became a timeshare co-owner in Week 9, carrying 17 times for 61 yards against the Cardinals while Alex Green ran 11 times for 53 yards and caught a couple of passes. The strategy was to run Starks on traditional first and second downs, and play Green on third down and in the no-huddle. That sounds like a recipe for fantasy unpredictability, and makes both Packers shaky starts against the eighth-ranked Lions (15.1 FPPG to opposing RBs).
Play, play, play: Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (at Bills)
Will Reggie Bush stay in the fumble doghouse? Probably not completely, but tonight against the terrible Buffalo defense, there should be enough fantasy points to go around for both he and Thomas. The Bills have allowed 27.9 FPPG to opposing backs, which is 15 percent more than the next-worst team. In real life, they’ve given up 163.7 rushing yards per game and an astonishingly bad 5.5 yards per carry. Thomas had only five carries and five receptions last week against the Titans, but he’s been on the field more than Bush for three weeks running, and looks like a low-end RB2 for Week 11..
With Darren McFadden still in a walking boot as of Wednesday, Marcel Reece figures to be the Raiders’ primary back against the 31st-ranked Saints (24.3 FPPG to opposing RBs). Reece had 20 touches last week, and should be busy in what projects to be a high-scoring game.
Looking to reach deep? Most people agree that the Texans will probably blow out the Jaguars, who rank 30th with 24.2 FPPG allowed to opposing backs. The Texans run a lot, and figure to give Arian Foster a breather if and when things are out of hand. If Ben Tate returns from his two-game injury absence – which is possible, as he’s practicing again – he could be an interesting option. If Tate misses one more game, Justin Forsett might be a garbage-time hero.
The Broncos rank fifth with 18.1 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. Thanks in large part to CB Champ Bailey, they held Floyd to 60 yards on five catches in Week 6, and have done a pretty good job keeping lead wideouts Steve Smith, A.J. Green and Marques Colston in check over the past three weeks (17-208-1 combined). Think about benching Floyd if you can.
I probably put Anquan Boldin in this spot more than I should, but as noted in the Flacco note above, the Steelers are excellent against the pass, and rank first with 16.6 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. No, thanks.
Play, play, play: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders (vs. Saints)
We’ve established that the Raiders should do pretty well against the Saints’ defense, right? Joe Vitt’s troops rank last in the league with 30.7 FPPG allowed to opposing receivers. Denarius Moore is Oakland’s primary target and projects as a top-15 wideout for Week 11. The less-hyped Heyward-Bey has caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a score in his last two games, and should be productive as well.
The Eagles will start a rookie quarterback, but it will be against a Redskins’ defense that ranks 31st with 29.9 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. DeSean Jackson has been consistent, getting seven, eight or nine targets in every game this season, and is on pace for more than 1,200 receiving yards. Maybe you think this pick is obvious, but the feeling here is that Jackson is a bit underrated.
Why don’t we like Brian Hartline more? He’s 10th in the league in targets (80) and receiving yards (741), and tied for 12th in receptions (49). Sure, he racked up a bunch of those numbers during a 12-253-1 Week 4 explosion, but if you can’t find a way to start him against the 24th-ranked Bills (24.2 FPPG to opposing WRs), you’re probably overthinking.
Remember a couple of months ago, when everyone fell all over themselves to draft Davis because of his postseason explosion in January? Davis has caught just 29 passes for 404 yards this year, hasn’t had a touchdown since Week 3, and will face a Bears’ defense that ranks eighth with six FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. If you haven’t been able to bring yourself to bench Davis yet, now would be a good time.
Did you notice that Heath Miller didn’t get a look after Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday night’s game? Maybe that was a fluke, but it has to make you think a little. Against the slightly above average Ravens (7.4 FPPG allowed to opposing TEs), Miller is an iffy start.
Play, play, play: Brent Celek, Eagles (at Redskins)
With the Redskins being so bad against opposing tight ends (31st with 11.9 FPPG allowed), Celek looks to be a solid start. It probably helps his cause that rookie quarterbacks can always use checkdown security blankets.
Tony Moeaki has come back to life lately. He caught three passes for 68 yards on six targets Monday against the Steelers, and had four catches for 57 yards on eight targets in Week 8 versus the Raiders (he was shut out in Week 9). Against the Bengals, who rank 27th with 9.1 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends, Moeaki is an option if you need to reach deep due to a bye or injury. He’s at TE20 in my rankings.
Dustin Keller was a disappointment – here, anyway – after catching only three passes in Week 10. Still, he’s Mark Sanchez’s favorite option, and faces a Rams’ squad that ranks 21st with eight FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. This weekly article remains a pro-Keller zone.
Do we need to tell you to start Greg Olsen? He’s getting busier, with 14 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games, so you’d probably want to start him even if he didn’t have a matchup with a Bucs’ defense that ranks 24th with 8.7 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends.
Good luck in Week 11!.
More Stories From John Halpin