Five up, five down for Week 11
Many owners are scrambling to find healthy running backs with Fantasy potential on Week 11. Our Nathan Zegura shares his top starts and sits for owners to contemplate.
Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.
It is the grand finale of the bye weeks in Week 11. The good news for Fantasy owners is that this week you get to bench your Giants, so when they score nothing it will happen on your bench. You also will not have the services of three of the top running backs in the NFL with Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Marshawn Lynch all off this week. With that in mind, I'll put a little extra focus on the running back position this week.
Get 'em active ...
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts (at NE)
Current own/start %: 99/56
I'd start him over: Josh Freeman (at CAR), Robert Griffin III (vs. PHI), Matt Schaub (vs. JAC)
In Week 9, Andrew Luck continued his phenomenal rookie campaign with his first multiple touchdown game on the road. Now, he did not throw any touchdowns against the Jaguars because he didn't really have to, but he did run in two more scores. Luck now has five rushing touchdowns on the year, which is second among all quarterbacks. He has multiple touchdowns in six of his last eight games and has thrown for 280 or more yards on six occasions as well. For the first time in what will be a long and storied career, I am expecting Andrew Luck to do both of those things against the very generous Patriots pass defense. The Pats are allowing 298 yards passing per game (fourth) and 2.11 passing touchdowns per game (tied for most), which is why they have surrendered an average of 21.78 points per game to quarterbacks, sixth most in the NFL. Five of the last seven quarterbacks who have played the Pats have put up at least 22 Fantasy points, thrown multiple touchdowns and thrown for at least 328 yards. The only quarterbacks who were held to fewer than 22 points were Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez and the latter still threw for 328 yards with absolutely no receiving corps. This is the perfect matchup for Luck to have the defining road game of his career and I think he will be a great start for his Fantasy owners once again.
Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders (vs. NO)
Current own/start %: 90/43
I'd start him over: Cam Newton (vs. TB), Josh Freeman (at CAR), Tony Romo (vs. CLE)
Carson Palmer has been on fire of late and his Fantasy production certainly reflects that. In his last four games, Palmer has produced an average of 322.25 yards passing with 2.25 touchdowns, 1.5 interceptions and most importantly, 24.25 Fantasy points per game. Palmer has been a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback in all four weeks and should make it five in a row against the Saints in Week 11. With an absolutely dreadful defense and no real running game, Palmer has played from behind in each of the last two weeks to great Fantasy success, compiling 782 yards passing, six touchdowns, four interceptions and 58 Fantasy points against Tampa Bay and Baltimore. I have a feeling that Drew Brees and the Saints will put a ton of points on the board against Oakland and Palmer will chuck it 45 or more times for the third straight week. It also certainly helps Palmer that no team in the NFL allows more passing yards (322), passing touchdowns (2.11) or Fantasy points per game (25.33) to opposing quarterbacks. Three of the last four quarterbacks to face the Saints have topped 30 Fantasy points and only one quarterback all year has even been held below 19 points. In their last six games, the Saints have been worse than ever, giving up 347 yards, 2.7 touchdowns and 28.5 points per game. Palmer is as good a start as there is at the position this week and will pay back the Fantasy owners who have stuck with him all year.
Other QBs with favorable matchups: Cam Newton (vs. TB), Matthew Stafford (vs. GB), Andy Dalton (at KC), Robert Griffin III (vs. PHI), Tony Romo (vs. CLE); Bye Week Broskis: Matt Schaub (vs. JAC), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. MIA), Nick Foles (at WAS)
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams (vs. NYJ)
Current own/start %: 99/63
I'd start him over: Shonn Greene (at STL), Michael Turner (vs. ARI), Ryan Mathews (at DEN)
Yes it is bizarro world for my running back starts this week and we will kick it off with Steven Jackson. It sure seems like the bye week enabled Jeff Fisher to get his head on straight as it relates to his top offensive weapon. There certainly was not a running-back-by-committee approach when the Rams took on the San Francisco 49ers as Jackson carried the ball a season-high 29 times for 101 tough yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes and finished with season highs in touches (31), total yards (127) and Fantasy points (18). Daryl Richardson had just eight touches to Jackson's 31 and frankly for the rest of 2012 that is the way the Rams should go. They tied that game due in large part to the punishing running of Jackson, which wore down the tough 49ers' defense. This week it will be much easier for Jackson against the Jets and hopefully Jeff Fisher sticks with this bell cow approach so that you get to reap the rewards. The Jets have allowed three straight running back groups and six of the last seven to run for 100 yards and five of those teams have rushed for at least 130. Marshawn Lynch just wore down the Jets with 124 yards and a touchdown last week on 27 carries and Jackson could put up similar numbers. Every running back who has taken at least 19 carries against the Jets has produced at least 13 Fantasy points and I think Jackson can make that happen in Week 11.
Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders (vs. NO)
Current own/start %: 68/50
I'd start him over: Shonn Greene (at STL), Mikel Leshoure (vs. GB), Pierre Thomas (at OAK)
With the news that Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are both still in walking boots, Reece is looking like a great start once again in Week 11. Reece was the starter for the Raiders in Week 10 against Baltimore and led the team with 13 carries for 48 yards rushing. He also saw nine targets and caught seven of them for 56 yards to finish with a very solid 104 total yards. Reece was the most targeted running back in the NFL for the second straight week and his 22 targets plus carries were on par with the workload of any starting running back. This week Reece will take on the Saints in a game that is sure to see a ton of points scored. With the Raiders unable to stop anybody, look for Reece to once again see a plethora of targets in a come-from-behind effort. I think he is a lock for another 20 touches this week and with a soft defense on the schedule, that means that 10 or more Fantasy points is highly likely. After all, New Orleans has allowed at least 110 total yards to every running back group except for Michael Turner and the Falcons last week. The Saints allow 5.1 yards per carry (second highest), 182 total yards per game (league high) and 22.78 Fantasy points per game to running backs. Already two teams have had more than 80 receiving yards from their running backs against the Saints and Reece could easily become the third. He is a high-end No. 2 runner in PPR leagues and may even be a borderline No. 1. In standard leagues, you are looking at 100 total yards again and if he finds the end zone, you will have a Top 12 running back on your hands. Not too bad considering you just scooped him off of the waiver wire.
Other RBs with favorable matchups: C.J. Spiller (vs. MIA), Felix Jones (vs. CLE), Alfred Morris (vs. PHI), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at KC), Willis McGahee (vs. SD), Ryan Mathews (at DEN), Jamaal Charles (vs. CIN), Bye Week Broksis: Chris Ivory (at OAK), Shonn Greene (at STL), Reggie Bush/Daniel Thomas (at BUF), LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. ATL), Pittsburgh starter (vs. BAL), Mark Ingram (at OAK)
Lance Moore, WR, Saints (at OAK)
Current own/start %: 99/65
I'd start him over: Torrey Smith (at PIT), Michael Crabtree (vs. CHI), Jeremy Maclin (at WAS)
When it comes to scoring touchdowns, Lance Moore has gone from "super cool" to "super cold" as he has not found the end zone in five straight games. His last touchdown came in Week 3 against the Chiefs and I think another AFC West foe -- the Raiders -- will be just the remedy for his touchdown woes. The Raiders have given up at least one receiver score in seven straight games and they have allowed 10 total receiver touchdowns during that span. The Raiders have allowed two receiver scores in back to back games and Moore has a great shot to score, as opposing No. 2 receivers have scored four times in the last seven games. Even though he has not scored in five straight, Moore has been very effective with 28 catches in those games and at least 60 yards receiving in four of the five. The Raiders have given up 58 points to receivers over the last two weeks and have surrendered at least 23 points in five of their last seven games. Moore is long overdue for a score and he should get it this week in what will be a shootout in Oakland, so start him as a low-end No. 2 receiver or a great No. 3.
Other WRs and TEs with favorable matchups: DeSean Jackson/Jeremy Maclin (at WAS), Denarius Moore/Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. NO), Mike Wallace (vs. BAL), Brian Hartline (at BUF), Steve Johnson (vs. MIA), Titus Young (vs. GB), Randall Cobb/James Jones/Jordy Nelson (at DET), Dwayne Bowe (vs. CIN), Steve Smith (vs. TB), Mike Williams (at CAR), Danny Amendola (vs. NYJ), Dez Bryant (at CLE), Antonio Gates (at DEN), Brent Celek (at WAS), Greg Olsen (vs. TB); Bye Week Broskis: Donald Jones (vs. MIA), Andre Roberts (at ATL), Cecil Shorts (at HOU), Donnie Avery (at NE), Davone Bess (at BUF), Scott Chandler (vs. MIA), Dwayne Allen (at NE), Jermichael Finley (vs. DET)
Ride the pine ...
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (at PIT)
Current own/start %: 89/25
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton (vs. KC), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. MIA), Matt Schaub (vs. JAC)
What do you get when you take road Joe Flacco against the league's top-ranked pass defense? As many points as Eli Manning has been giving his Fantasy owners of late is certainly a reasonable answer. This is a classic recipe for disaster for Flacco as he travels to Pittsburgh for a good old-fashioned AFC North slobber knocker in primetime on Sunday night. With Big Ben out for the Steelers, look for the Pittsburgh defense to really try and shoulder the load against the Ravens, which could mean that Flacco will be in for a long day. In his four road games this year, Flacco has not thrown for multiple touchdowns, has not produced more than 14 Fantasy points and has topped 200 yards passing only once. He has 41 total Fantasy points in the four road games, which is six more points than he scored last week against the Raiders! Things will be much tougher on Flacco this week, who has the potential to go from first to worst at the quarterback position in only a week. No quarterback has produced more than 16 Fantasy points against Pittsburgh in six straight games, five quarterbacks have been held under 200 yards passing against them during that span and three quarterbacks failed to even produce 10 Fantasy points. You would have to be whacko to start Flacco this week and I would take just about any other quarterback with a pulse over him in Week 11.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers (at CAR)
Current own/start %: 95/43
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer (vs. NO), Cam Newton (vs. TB), Andrew Luck (at NE)
Let me start by saying that I love what Josh Freeman has been doing of late and he is still a solid start, but I think his numbers could disappoint in Week 11 compared to what he has done over the last five weeks. Freeman has multiple touchdown passes in five straight games, with 13 total passing scores during that span, but the streak could very well come to an end in Week 11 at the Panthers. Carolina has been a very solid pass defense this year, which has somehow flown a little bit under the radar. No quarterback has thrown for multiple passing scores against the Panthers in five straight games and Matt Ryan, who had three touchdown passes at home against Carolina in Week 4, is the only quarterback to have done so all year. In their last five games, the Panthers have faced Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Russel Wilson and Jay Cutler, a solid group of Fantasy quarterbacks. Only Manning threw for more than 230 yards against the Panthers in the last five games and more importantly, not a single one of those quarterbacks produced more than 16 Fantasy points. In fact, that fivesome averaged just 12.5 Fantasy points per game against this Carolina pass defense. Freeman is averaging less than 240 yards passing in his last three games and if the Panthers can limit him to just one score, it will be a disappointing Fantasy week for Freeman.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars (at HOU)
Current own/start %: 89/44
I'd rather start: Daniel Thomas (@BUF), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@KC), Chris Ivory (@OAK)
Rashad Jennings does not have a single rushing touchdown and the Texans have not surrendered a single rushing touchdown all year. Already this sounds like a no-brainer but that is only half of the story. In Jennings' first two games as the primary runner for the Jags, he topped 100 yards both times thanks to at least six catches and 50 yards receiving in each game. Apparently the Jags did not like Jennings being so involved as a pass catcher because two weeks ago, they decided to take him off of the field in passing situations. As a result, Rashad has just three catches for seven yards in his last two games total and that's why he has been able to generate just 79 yards of total offense in those contests. The Jags will get blown out by the Texans in Week 11 and Jennings will be facing a defense that just limited Matt Forte to 32 total yards on 16 touches in Week 10. I do not think you can even use Jennings as a flex option this week despite the fact that we have four starting running backs on their byes this week.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (vs. CHI)
Current own/start %: 95/41
I'd rather start: Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. NO), Donald Jones (vs. MIA), Cecil Shorts (at HOU)
There may not be a hotter receiver in the league right now than Michael Crabtree, who has caught 10 of his 11 targets for 142 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Unfortunately his streak of back-to-back games with at least 13 Fantasy points is coming to an end in Week 11 against Charles Tillman and the Bears. Peanut Tillman has been rough on opposing No. 1 receivers this year and has not allowed a single touchdown pass against him in one-on-one coverage this season. In the last four games alone he has held Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Kenny Britt to a grand total of 23 Fantasy points or less than six per game. It really does not matter who the quarterback is for the 49ers this week, they will struggle to pass against this Bears defense and the red hot Crabtree will quickly see his production feel the cool of Tillman. Look for a higher upside option this week at wide receiver and keep Crabtree reserved.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers (at DEN)
Current own/start %: 98/56
I'd rather start: Denarius Moore (vs. NO), Lance Moore (at OAK), Danny Amendola (vs. NYJ)
Last week I talked about how dominant Champ Bailey has been and that was the main reason why you should sit Steve Smith. Well, Champ held Smith to just one catch for 19 yards on seven targets. That kind of lockdown defense is why Bailey has allowed exactly one passing touchdown against him in his last 15 games. Malcom Floyd had 60 yards in their first meeting this year and will likely have a similar total again this week. It is tough enough to produce when you are facing Champ Bailey, but it's even tougher when you are under-targeted like Floyd. Malcom is seeing just over six targets per game and that is huge reason why he has reached 70 yards receiving only twice all year long. If you have a 77 percent chance of staying below seven Fantasy points if you don't score and you are playing a cornerback who doesn't allow touchdowns, the odds certainly say to stay away from Floyd this week. To be fair, Floyd is averaging over 10 yards per target, so he has been great, but when you don't have a ton of chances and have to play one of the best in the business, you should be on the Fantasy bench.
Good luck this week!
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