Fantasy Football: The Comfortables, The Cautions & The Casualties: Week 11
We’re back in business this week with full analysis. The byes are almost coming to an end, and soon it’ll be the end of the fantasy regular season. Hope you’re still in contention. Let’s get that playoff push going! On to Week 11!
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” may be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues. “Sleepers” are meant for FLEX spots in 12- and 14-team leagues
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Kendall Wright, Indianapolis Defense
Cautions: Donald Brown, Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson, Coby Fleener, Tennessee Defense
Casualties: Shonn Greene, Darius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Delaine Walker
Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick
This Thursday night matchup is interesting from a real game perspective. Here you have two teams who are coming off humiliating home losses to bottom-feeding NFL teams meeting on Thursday night, which has produced some viable fantasy performances lately but traditionally has been pretty light. Despite throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble, Andrew Luck had a decent fantasy day last week against St. Louis by packing on the yards and getting a touchdown. I believe that he’ll do the same this week, even though Tennessee has some elite corners. T.Y. Hilton could possibly be put in check, but trust in his speed to break away for a long one. I’ve completely given up on Trent Richardson. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him; he’s just not finding the holes. He’s certainly not must-start material in 10-team leagues or even 12-team leagues. I’d rather start Donald Brown to be honest. Nor would I want to start Chris Johnson. It looks like his 150-yard performance a couple weeks back was an anomaly. Kendall Wright continues to be a PPR play, but you’d like to see some touchdowns go with the catches.
Prediction: The Colts handle Fitzpatrick and bounce back with a road division win.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Comfortables: New York Jets Defense, Buffalo Defense
Cautions: Chris Ivory, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller, Santonio Holmes (if active)
Casualties: Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Bilal Powell, Mike Goodson, All Pass-Catchers
Sleeper: David Nelson (if active)
I trust no offensive options in this game. None. EJ Manuel is still easing back into action after a major injury, so he’s out. Geno Smith torched the Bills the last time they played but has been pretty bad over the past couple weeks, so you can’t start him comfortably. CJ Spiller is getting a bigger workload, which cuts into Fred Jackson’s fantasy value, and they’re playing the stingiest run defense in the NFL, so you can’t start them comfortably. Rex Ryan likes to go with the hot hand at running back so it’s impossible to predict who will go off between Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. Jeremy Kerley and Stevie Johnson are doubtful. Santonio Holmes might play but how healthy will he be? Do yourself a favor: start the defenses and be done with it.
Prediction: Bills squeak out a victory.
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Comfortables: Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles, Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jordan Reed
Cautions: Brent Celek, Philadelphia Defense
Casualties: Roy Helu, Bryce Brown, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Jason Avant, Demaris Johnson, Zach Ertz, Washington Defense
Nick Foles is racist. And for real. And a must-start against an awful Washington defense. I say he’s racist because he loves fellow racist Riley Cooper. Cooper is for real, and I may have to go against my original vow to not have any known racists on my fantasy team. I was hoping that I could win honorably but the dude keeps catching touchdown passes. All of the starting options are good to go. This should be a shootout. Granted, I said the same thing about the Dallas/Philly game a couple weeks back, and look how that turned out. But err on the side of caution.
Prediction: I’m rooting for the Redskins to win, but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Comfortables: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Defense
Cautions: Matt Ryan, Mike Glennon, Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Harry Douglas, Roddy White, Taiquan Underwood, Tony Gonzalez (if active), Tim Wright, Atlanta Defense
Casualties: Jason Snelling
Sleeper: Bobby Rainey or Brian Leonard
How the mighty have fallen. I’m actually talking about both teams. Injuries and just plain bad luck have put these two franchises in the basement. I can’t in good conscience start anybody on offense with the exception of V-Jax. I’d like to be able to plug in Mike Glennon as a bye week fill-in for Tony Romo, but Greg Schiano has scaled back his throwing attempts. But with Mike James joining Doug Martin in the inactive list (but not IR, not yet), they may have no choice. It isn’t like Atlanta’s defense has been shut-down as of late. Let’s hope Glennon throws to actual receivers and not his lineman for touchdowns. As for who’s taking over in Tampa’s backfield, it looks like an even split between the Killer Bs, Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey. Take your pick if you want, but I’m not touching this situation with a 20-foot pole unless I’m absolutely desperate.
Prediction: Glennon and Revis lead Tampa to what we call a winning streak.
Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans
Comfortables: Case Keenum, Rashad Jennings, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson, Houston Defense
Cautions: Terrelle Pryor (if active), Denarius Moore, DeAndre Hopkins, Garrett Graham, Oakland Defense
Casualties: Pat McGroin (if Pryor is inactive), Marcel Reese, Rod Streater, Mychal Rivera
Sleeper: Dennis Johnson
I said last week that Case Keenum was the real deal. He finally figured out that Andre Johnson can be a red zone threat. If I can grab Case this week to fill in for Romo over Colin Kaepernick in one of my leagues, I’m going to do it. The Raiders defense is nothing to fear anymore. Ben Tate is playing with cracked ribs, and Arian Foster is out for the year, so make sure you grab Dennis Johnson if he’s available in any of your leagues. Stash away! I’m always afraid to start Rashad Jennings when he’s filling in for somebody (MJD last year, DMC this year), because he always fails. But he did alright for himself against a stout Giants run D, so he’s safe to start this time around too. No clue if Terelle Pryor is going to play, but Matt McGloin (not Pat McGroin as I mentioned above), isn’t a viable replacement. You can’t replace a mobile threat like that.
Prediction: Texans snap the losing streak.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Matt Forte, Torrey Smith, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery
Cautions: Joe Flacco, Josh McCown, Ray Rice, Martellus Bennett, Baltimore Defense, Chicago Defense
Casualties: Bernard Pierce, Michael Bush, Tandon Doss, Dallas Clark
Sleeper: Marlon Brown
Charles “Peanut” Tillman is out, so I had to downgrade the Chicago Bears defense, which is good news for Torrey Smith and his owners. I also had to downgrade Ray Rice, through mainly the fault of his offensive line. They are opening nothing up for him, and defenses don’t fear the multimillion-dollar man Joe Flacco. Stick with the other big names, as Josh McCown is not going to affect the fantasy value of Forte, Marshall or Jeffery.
Prediction: Bears sneak out a win at home.
Detroit Lions vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Le’Veon Bell, Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown
Cautions: Ben Roethlisberger, Joique Bell, Kris Durham, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandon Pettigrew, Heath Miller, Detroit Defense
Casualties: Felix Jones, Jonathan Dwyer, Joseph Fauria, Pittsburgh Defense
Sleeper: Nate Burleson (if active)
Stafford to Megatron. All day, everyday. You can’t stop it, you can’t even hope to contain it. It’s amazing to me that a defense knows that the ball is going to Calvin Johnson, yet there’s nothing they can do about it. Megatron is the kind of player you can tell your kids you saw in his prime. Maybe it’ll end in a playoff appearance for the Lions. I also like Reggie Bush this week, although he’s been kept out of the endzone the past few weeks. Maybe that changes. Le’Veon Bell’s been solid if unspectacular for Pittsburgh. The ceiling is capped, but the floor is quite high.
Prediction: Lions continue the hot streak on the road.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Comfortables: Andre Ellington, Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Fitzgerald, Cecil Shorts, Arizona Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Chad Henne, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Floyd (if active), Mike Brown, Rob Housler, Jacksonville Defense
Casualties: Jordan Todman, Marcedes Lewis
Sleeper: Andre Roberts
The Cardinals are better than you think, which makes it all the more maddening why Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t busted out as a WR1 over the past two games while he rests up his hamstring. Andre Roberts becomes an intriguing flier if Michael Floyd can’t go. Bruce Arians seems stubborn in relying on Rashard Mendenhall, but he also understands that he can’t run his rookie RB Andre Ellington into the ground his first year. Still, Ellington does enough with the limited touches he has that he’s a must start, akin to Gio Bernard in Cincy. Cecil Shorts owners (cough cough) were disappointed to see that he doesn’t do well if the Jaguars are winning, because there’s no need to throw. He’ll also have Patrick Peterson covering him in this game, but I’m willing to roll the dice for another week. I think Jacksonville will be playing from behind, which will require Henne to throw, and Shorts (and Mike Brown) will benefit.
Prediction: The Cardinals pull it out on the road.
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Comfortables: Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, Josh Gordon, AJ Green, Jordan Cameron, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Jason Campbell, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Greg Little, Marvin Jones, Cleveland Defense
Casualties: All Cleveland Running Backs, Davone Bess, Andrew Hawkins, Mohammad Sanu, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham (if active)
Sleeper: Greg Little
All AJ Green and Andy Dalton owners who benefitted from that Hail Mary, screw you. That was a ridiculous play and shouldn’t have even counted for fantasy points! (You can tell I own neither). Here’s hoping Marvin Jones can get back in the fantasy picture after a couple quiet weeks. Cleveland’s been better and are fantasy relevant with Jason Campbell at the helm, but they have no run game to speak of, and Campbell seems gun-shy about slinging it to the two best players on the team, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Here’s hoping that in the bye week, Rod Chudzinski’s figured out a way to get both of them open so Campbell can find them. It’s a bit disconcerting, but I’ll give another week to see how it goes.
Prediction: The Bengals win a big division game at home.
San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins
Comfortables: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Lamar Miller, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gats
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Eddie Royal, Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, San Diego Defense, Miami Defense
Casualties: Ronnie Brown, Daniel Thomas, Vincent Brown
Sleeper: Rishard Matthews
I don’t know what you could call the Dolphins’s so-called run game last Monday. I call it awful. I know a lot of people are making a big deal of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin saga, but lost in the shuffle is the fact that Miami has lost two of its starting offensive lineman on a line that wasn’t really that great to begin with. Tannehill has no time to throw, and the running game is going nowhere. I’m rolling with Lamar Miller in a league only because my other option is Fred Jackson against the Jets. But I’m not feeling great about this. I am feeling great about San Diego, who manages to produce fantasy points weekly. You can still roll with both Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, and if the Chargers are ahead in this one, I really like Mathews to grind out the yards. Keenan Allen was left out of the end zone last week, but should get back on track this week.
Prediction: San Diego wins and things go from bad to worse in Miami.
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Frank Gore, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Vernon Davis (if active), Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Defense
Cautions: Colin Kaepernick, Kendall Hunter, Mark Ingram, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Kenny Stills, San Francisco Defense
Casualties: Anthony Dixon, LaMichael James, Khiry Robinson, Lance Moore
The Saints at home are for real, and so is their defense. They turned a potent Cowboys offense into nothing. So against a Niners offense that’s been struggling to put up yards? They’ll eat them for lunch. I’m a believer in Rob Ryan’s defense. If Vernon Davis plays, he’ll come up with schemes to make him a non-factor. If Davis doesn’t play, he’ll have the Saints load the box to stop Gore and the run game, and dare Kaepernick to beat them through the air, where he’s struggled. Boldin can’t get open. Manningham’s only on his second game back after a serious ACL tear. My only case for Kaepernick is that the NFL is wacky and a lot of times the thing that’s supposed to happen doesn’t end up happening. But I can’t pin my fantasy hopes on something screwy happening; I have to look at what’s presented in front of me. Kaepernick’s a sit, which is a shame because I have him backing up Romo in one of my leagues. Feel free to roll with Sproles and Thomas, but be careful about Ingram. I think he got a lot of garbage time play, and while it could happen again in this game, again, I won’t bank on it.
Prediction: Saints stay undefeated at home.
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Comfortables: Eddie Lacy, Andre Brown, Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle, New York Giants Defense
Cautions: Eli Manning, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Hakeem Nicks, Green Bay Defense
Casualties: Scott Tolzien, Jonathan Franklin, James Starks, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs (if active), Myles White, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Myers
Sleeper: Brandon Bostick
Rodgers? Out. Seneca Wallace? Out. Scott Tolzien? THE LORD OF THE RINGS! Everybody in the Packers passing game gets a downgrade when a practice squad QB is involved. The Giants have feasted on backup QBs two out of the last three weeks. The Giants D is a very good play this week. I’ve downgraded Hakeem Nicks to a caution, and I’m this close to doing the same to Victor Cruz if he doesn’t put up a good game. It’s not his fault though; something is definitely wrong with Eli. He missed Cruz on an easy touchdown last week. I stupidly listened to Tom Coughlin when he said he was going to ease in Andre Brown his first game back. Yeah, “eased in” to the tune of 30 carries for 115 yards. Needless to say, A-Brown’s a must start this week.
Prediction: The Giants continue their winning streak.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Percy Harvin (if active), Seattle Defense
Cautions: Adrian Peterson
Casualties: All Vikings Except Peterson and Carlson (including Defense), Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse
Sleeper: John Carlson
I wouldn’t start any Viking. It doesn’t matter who’s behind center. It doesn’t matter that Adrian Peterson has got his legs back underneath him. It’s Seattle at home. The Vikes got a big win against Washington, but Seattle ain’t Washington (well…they’re in Washington, but it’s a different kind of Washignton…er, let’s move on). If Percy Harvin plays, he’s a must start, especially against his former team. I still like Golden Tate, but Harvin’s appearance downgrades Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who had flourished in his and Sidney Rice’s absence.
Prediction: Seattle at home.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, Knowshon Moreno, Demariyus Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas
Cautions: Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Kansas City Defense, Denver Defense
Casualties: Knile Davis, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, CJ Anderson, Dexter McCluster, Andre Caldwell, Shaun McGrath, Anthony Fasano, Joel Dreessen
This is the big matchup of the week, especially since Peyton is planning to play. All of the starting Broncos are must-starts, and I’d downgrade the Chiefs D to a caution. In fact, the only Chief I’d play is Jamaal Charles. I know the Broncos have the tendency to get gashed in the secondary, but Alex Smith doesn’t throw it deep, so can you really trust Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery here?
Prediction: Peyton and Denver hand the Chiefs their first loss.
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Steve Smith, Rob Gronkowski
Cautions: DeAngelo Williams, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen, New England Defense, Carolina Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman
Sleeper: Shane Vereen (if active)
This is a really intriguing Monday night matchup, as both teams are good, the latter a surprise. I’ve got Tom Brady straddling the line between comfortable and caution, but that’s based solely off his performance against Pittsburgh in Week 9. Otherwise, I’d recommend that he sit. But if Amendola, Gronk, and Aaron Dobson are rolling, then you have no choice but to go with Brady here. Cam didn’t do well against the Niners D, but New England doesn’t have as good of a defense, plus he’s at home. I think Cam will do the things he normally does, and will get the points both through the air and on the ground. Even though Shane Vereen might come back, I still like Ridley here. I expect the touchdown streak to continue if the Pats get close to the goal line. Unless Vereen gets hurt again, you can stay away from Blount or Bolden. I’m also staying away from the Panther backfield. Yes, DeAngelo scored, but with Newton’s running ability, that’s too many running options to deal with.
Prediction: Carolina shocks the world and topples the mighty Patriots.
Good luck in Week 11!