Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Best real-life Week 11 games full of fantasy implications
The most consequential real-life games aren’t necessarily the most exciting ones for fantasy purposes, and vice versa. The annals of the NFL are filled with great teams who didn’t contribute much to the fantasy community and average ones that were teeming with fantasy stars. It takes a confluence of factors for a hugely important real-life matchup to also overflow with fantasy relevance.
First, it has to happen later in the season. We may have known before the season started that Seattle and Green Bay would be playoff competitors, but it’s hard to see a Week 1 game as monumental. Second, it needs to be between teams in the same conference to add that heightened playoff feel. Third, it needs at least five regular fantasy starters and, if we’re lucky, both quarterbacks. This final point is a bonus, but it’s all the better if the teams have, at best, league-average defenses.
A game like that comes around a couple times per season. In Week 11, we have two such games.
We get the prime late afternoon game between the Eagles and Packers at Lambeau Field. No matter the size of your league, there should be at least eight fantasy starters in that game, including quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Aaron Rodgers. Vegas set the over/under on that game at 54.5. There will be points, and the winner will get a huge, inter-division win that could end up serving as a crucial tiebreaker.
That game leads right into the nightcap between the Patriots and Colts just about 400 miles south of Green Bay. This matchup could feature as many as 13 starters in fantasy leagues, not including kickers. At a bare minimum, there should be eight fantasy starters on Sunday night. The Broncos are heavy favorites in St. Louis, but the winner of this game will have, at worst, pole position for the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs.
Actual and fantasy football are both great on their own, but it sets up a truly special day of football when they come together like they have in Week 11. As for who to plug into your lineups this week, let’s get to SI.com’s Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em for Week 11.
The following recommendations are based on 12-team leagues that start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one RB/WR flex, one tight end and one defense. Starters include the top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends and defenses and top-24 running backs and receivers. The remaining backs and receivers are considered for the flex position, with the best 12 players making it as starters.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Bills: Sammy Watkins, Bills DST
Investing in this offense on a short week is a little troubling, especially with Fred Jackson and Watkins both a little dinged up. Watkins, the results weren’t there last week, but he got 10 targets and has been a full participant in practice. He’ll likely see a lot of Brent Grimes, so his owners shouldn’t expect WR1 production. In fact, he makes this group as a flex recommendation. This matchup has the potential to get ugly, which is good news for both defenses. Buffalo leads the league with 34 sacks.
Dolphins: Mike Wallace, Dolphins DST
Wallace hasn’t topped 60 yards in four straight games, but he has scored twice in that timeframe. He also got loose for what would have been a 60-yard touchdown last week, but Ryan Tannehill simply missed the throw. The Bills have a good pass rush, but are just about league average in coverage. Wallace also remains Tannehill’s favorite target in the red zone. Don’t get too down on him. There’s still a lot to like, especially as a WR2 or flex play. Cortland Finnegan is dealing with an ankle injury, but with or without him, the Dolphins are a top-five defense this week. Their 28 sacks are tied for fourth most.
Bills: Kyle Orton, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, Bryce Brown, Robert Woods, Scott Chandler
This sets up as a tough game for both quarterbacks, given that the Bills and Dolphins have two of the best pass rushes in the league. Orton struggled mightily against a similar defense in Kansas City last week. Brown could be a sneaky-good play in PPR leagues. He caught six passes for 65 yards last week, and was on his way into the end zone before getting stripped on one play. All signs point to Jackson sitting out, and that would likely mean about 12-to-15 touches for Brown. Don’t be surprised if the Bills utilize him even more in the screen game to counteract the Miami pass rush.
Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill (shoulder, ankle), Lamar Miller (shoulder), Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay (knee)
The Buffalo defense is a reasonable facsimile for the Detroit one that just shut down Tannehill last week. Tannehill has improved since his first meeting with the Bills this season, but he did throw for just 249 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Miami’s Week 2 loss. Miller played sparingly through the shoulder injury last week, and while he’s expected to be available, he’s still at less than 100 percent. On top of that, this is a tough matchup -- the Bills have allowed the third-fewest points per game to running backs -- and a short week. Landry has potential starting value in full PPR leagues, but his touchdown upside is limited.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Vikings: Jerick McKinnon, Kyle Rudolph (hernia)
The Vikings come out of their bye with a great matchup against the Bears. Chicago has struggled to cover running backs and tight ends, making McKinnon a dangerous weapon for the Vikings in the screen game. McKinnon hasn’t yet scored this season but does have an impressive 552 total yards on 110 touches. The Chicago linebackers have been terrible in coverage this season, and no team has allowed more fantasy points per game to tight ends, which bodes well for Rudolph, who's expected to return from a sports hernia this week. Assuming he gets in a good week of practice, he’ll be worth starting against this dreadful defense.
Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall (ankle), Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett (ribs)
It’s embarrassing that an offense with all this talent has taken a step back in its second year under Marc Trestman. It’s still impossible to resist the siren song of that talent in what is, at worst, a neutral matchup. Marshall tweaked his ankle injury in the shellacking at Green Bay last week, but all signs point to him suiting up on Sunday. Cutler is the only name listed above that could cause some consternation. He has been rattled by huge deficits in recent weeks, and even if the Bears are not who we thought they were, it’s hard to envision them falling way behind against the Vikings at home. That should make him more comfortable, and should also open up play action for the Bears.
Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Asiata, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright, Vikings DST
Even though the Chicago defense is in disarray, you can’t just force some of these Vikings into your starting lineup. Matchup and opportunity are two ingredients for fantasy success, but they don’t create a stew by themselves. The one interesting player here may be Jennings, who typically gets enough looks from Bridgewater to take advantage of a bad defense. However, this is such a low-impact passing game that Jennings absolutely has to score to put up a start-worthy fantasy week. Fantasy owners should not be willing to bet on that outcome.
Bears: Bears DST
This Bears defense is terrible. You’d likely want to sit the group even in a game against Oregon or TCU.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns
Texans: Arian Foster (groin), DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Johnson, Texans DST
Houston’s bye came at a perfect time, as it gave Foster two weeks to rest an injured groin suffered in their last game. It wasn’t thought to be a serious injury at the time, and it looks like Foster will be good to go against the Browns on Sunday. Ryan Mallett will make his first career start, and that can’t be anything but good news for Johnson. He’s the 45th-ranked wide receiver in standard-scoring fantasy leagues, and has just one touchdown on the year. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 13-for-31 in the red zone, so the Texans, as well as Johnson’s and Hopkins’ fantasy owners, have to be optimistic that Mallett can be better when the Texans get in scoring range.
Browns: Terrance West, Browns DST
All three Cleveland running backs scored last week, but West got more carries (26) than Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell (22) combined. Ignore the absolute number of carries Tate and Crowell received, and instead focus on the percentage. West should continue to get a majority of the touches out of the Cleveland backfield, and that’s enough to make him a low-end RB2 or flex, depending on your roster composition. The Texans have allowed nearly 4.5 yards per carry to running backs this season. It’s a rule of thumb that any defense going up against a rookie quarterback making his first start is worth a start in fantasy leagues. Congrats to the Browns for being a starter by semi-default. Watch Tashaun Gipson’s practice participation, though. He sat out earlier in the week with headaches.
Texans: Ryan Mallett, Alfred Blue, Garrett Graham
It will be interesting to see what Mallett brings to the Houston offense. He’s a big guy at 6-foot-6 and has a very strong arm that he just hasn’t been able to parlay into a starting job in the NFL. On the one hand, he was buried behind Tom Brady for the first three years of his career, but on the other, if any team saw something in him, they would have made a move for him long before the Texans did this season. No one ever got the sense that the Patriots were grooming him to be Brady’s successor, and the team confirmed that themselves by taking Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of this year’s draft.
Browns: Brian Hoyer, Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell, Andrew Hawkins (thigh/knee), Taylor Gabriel, Miles Austin, Jordan Cameron (concussion), Gary Barnidge
It’s just one more week until Josh Gordon is back, but until then, this will continue to be a lackluster passing game. Hoyer could actually have some high-end QB2 value when Gordon returns, but he’s not a worthy starter with Cameron likely out and Hawkins potentially joining him on the sidelines again this week. Don’t be fooled by the touchdowns for Tate and Crowell a week ago. The Browns ran the ball 48 times in the win over the Bengals. Both Tate and Crowell scored from short range, and you can’t count on those opportunities presenting themselves again this week.
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks DST
We have seen the immediate future of the Seattle offense, and Lynch owners should be thrilled. He carried the ball 21 times for 140 yards and four touchdowns in the Seahawks’ win over the Giants last week. The Seahawks had a ton of success with the read-option last week, and this is a team that knows its path back to where it wants to be this year can only be paved by the run game and the defense. Lynch has averaged just 17 carries per game this season, so he should be relatively fresh for the second half of the season. The Chiefs have yet to allow a rushing touchdown, but have surrendered 5.16 yards per carry to running backs.
Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce, Chiefs DST
The Chiefs’ last two opponents, the Jets and Bills, have allowed the sixth- and third-fewest points per game, respectively, to running backs. Charles averaged 16.3 points in standard-scoring leagues in those two games. The Seahawks may present him with a challenge, but he’s one of the best running backs in the league and the focal point of the offense. Seattle has also allowed the third-most receptions to running backs this year. Kelce’s maddening usage continues unabated, but he’s always going to be a better play than the weekly borderline starters (Larry Donnell, Jared Cook, et al).
Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Luke Willson, Cooper Helfet
Wilson had a productive fantasy game last week thanks to his legs. He ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries as the Seahawks carved apart the Giants with the read-option. He also threw for just 172 yards and two touchdowns. Think of Wilson, for fantasy purposes, as a running back in a quarterback’s clothing. The Chiefs have a much better defensive front than the Giants and the speed to counteract Seattle’s read-option. Don’t expect Wilson to even come close to approaching what he did a week ago.
Chiefs: Alex Smith, Knile Davis, Dwayne Bowe, A.J. Jenkins
Bowe has actually been a quietly productive receiver in full PPR leagues, catching at least six passes in his last three games. The big play is no longer a club in his bag, though, and he has yet to score a touchdown this season. Bowe is also most likely to draw Richard Sherman this week, and that’s just another strike against him in standard leagues. Smith has scored fewer than 16 fantasy points in five games this year, including in games against the Titans and Rams. That doesn’t exactly portend of big things against the Seahawks.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Falcons: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White
It has been a struggle for Ryan this year, but this is the perfect game for him to get back on track. The Panthers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. In their last seven games, the opposing quarterback has put up at least 20 points five times, while a sixth, Drew Brees, just missed. Carolina corners Antoine Cason and Melvin White are two of the worst in the league in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. This should be a big day for the Atlanta passing attack. Jackson, meanwhile, ran all over one bad NFC South defense last week, and gets another on Sunday. The Panthers have surrendered the seventh-most points per game to running backs this year.
Panthers: Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen
The Panthers may finally have a healthy offensive line on Sunday, with Amini Silatolu, Byron Bell and Trai Turner all on the mend. Silatolu and Bell played last week, and Turner looks set to return from knee and ankle injuries this week. That makes Stewart a great play against an Atlanta defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this year. Stewart picked up 36 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries last week. Benjamin and Olsen each scored double-digit fantasy points a week ago.
Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman, Antone Smith, Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Levine Toilolo, Falcons DST
You’re not really thinking about playing anyone listed above, are you? Good. Douglas does make this a more effective offense from a real-life standpoint, but each and every one of the players here should be on your league’s waiver wire. And with good reason.
Panthers: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Panthers DST
Newton misses the cut this week, even in what should be a good matchup with the Falcons. Head coach Ron Rivera said Newton was playing at 100 percent against the Eagles last week, but anyone who watched that game would have sworn otherwise. He finished the night with a respectable fantasy line thanks to garbage time production, but he’s ultimately not a reliable fantasy quarterback. He’s a decent option and borderline starter, but it’s hard to play him over Mark Sanchez, Robert Griffin and Ben Roethlisberger, just to name a few guys at the bottom of my QB1 rankings for this week.
Cincinnati Bengals at New Orleans Saints
Bengals: Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu
We still haven’t heard an adequate reason for Hill’s limited usage last week, and at this point we never will. With Andy Dalton playing too bad to raise any point-shaving speculation, Hill got just 12 carries. He fell victim to the moronic, indefensible fumble-induced benching, drawing a de facto one-quarter suspension after coughing up the ball. Even if Giovani Bernard is back this week, Hill should get enough touches to be an RB2. Green played 88 percent of the snaps last week after just 56 percent in his first game back from a toe injury. Even with Green back atop the depth chart and Dalton inspiring zero confidence, Sanu should be in lineups this week. The Saints have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to receivers.
Saints: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Jimmy Graham, Saints DST
The Ingram train kept on rolling right along last week, as he ran for 120 yards on 27 carries in a tough assignment against the 49ers. He’s now sixth among running backs in fantasy points per game, and the Bengals surrender the fourth-most points to running backs on a weekly basis. Cooks is clearly the No. 1 receiver in New Orleans. He would benefit greatly if the Bengals choose to cover Jimmy Graham with Terence Newman, which would be their only hope of slowing down the big tight end. This also has the feel of a huge game from Brees after his recent mistakes have contributed to seriously damaging losses.
Bengals: Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard (hip), Jermaine Gresham, Bengals DST
I mean, seriously though, if Dalton were shaving points last week, he would have gotten a call from someone telling him to stop being so obvious about it. This wasn’t the first terrible game of Dalton’s career, and it won’t be his last. He has bounced back in the past and would get a boost if Bernard can return, but there’s too much depth at the position to go with him. While Bernard may get back on the field after missing two games with a hip injury, there’s no telling what his role in the offense will be, especially since Hill has played well in his place. Make him prove he’s healthy before trusting him in fantasy leagues.
Saints: Pierre Thomas (shoulder), Khiry Robinson (forearm), Travaris Cadet, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills
Thomas and Robinson could return this week, but the Saints’ backfield belongs to Ingram. Thomas is the one guy who could eat into his production if the Saints choose to throw the ball more often, but Cadet has had a total of 16 targets over the last four games, and it’s unlikely Brees would target Thomas much more often than that. Colston has transitioned into a depth fantasy receiver. He has just 12 targets the last three weeks, and hasn’t scored since late September. You shouldn’t need to plumb those depths this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins
Buccaneers: Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson
In a rookie class stacked with wide receivers, it’s entirely possible that the best one resides in Tampa. Evans has 14 catches for 249 yards and three scores in his last three games. Extend that window to five games, and he’s averaging just shy of 15 fantasy points per game. He has surpassed Jackson as the top receiver in the offense, and that’s truly not a knock on Jackson. Evans is just that good. The veteran has 90 targets this year, and is always a threat to at least volume his way into WR2 territory.
Redskins: Robert Griffin, Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed
Griffin played decently in his first game back from a dislocated ankle, throwing for 251 yards, 8.96 yards per attempt one touchdown and one interception. He didn’t have a big day running the ball, but the ankle did not appear to hold him back. He’s had another two weeks to rest his ankle and get ready for a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the seventh-most points per game to quarterbacks and most to receivers. Get ready for a wave of “Griffin is back” stories on Monday. The great matchup also makes Garcon, heretofore a huge bust, a worthy play this week.
Buccaneers: Josh McCown, Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims, Doug Martin (ankle), Louis Murphy, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers DST
Rainey started for the Buccaneers last week, but it was the rookie Sims who got more carries. They divided the touches evenly, though Rainey was on the field for more snaps. Oh yeah, and Martin could return this week. In other words, I don’t see how you can start any of these guys with the slightest bit of confidence. In addition to all that murkiness, Washington has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.
Redskins: Roy Helu, Andre Roberts, Niles Paul, Redskins DST
The potential defensive streamers for this week are likely to be few and far between in most leagues with a few of our favorite targets, such as the Jaguars, Rams, and Jets, either on bye or playing teams with widely owned fantasy defenses. If you find yourself in that conundrum, consider rolling the dice in the national capital. Washington has 23 sacks this year, and McCown isn’t exactly going to strike fear in their hearts.
Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams
Broncos: Peyton Manning, C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas, Broncos DST
What will John Fox and the Broncos do with their backfield? That seems to be the million-dollar question in fantasy circles these days. With Ronnie Hillman out due to a foot sprain, Anderson is the assumed starter. He ran for 90 yards on 13 carries and caught four passes last week, including one he turned into a ridiculous 51-yard touchdown. Montee Ball is expected to return from a groin injury, and there’s no doubt the Broncos had high hopes for him coming into the season. At the same time, Anderson likely earned a shot to prove he can be the man. Don’t be surprised to see this mercurial team go with the hot-hand approach, but heading into the week, Anderson looks like a worthy fantasy starter.
Rams: No one
The Rams have pulled off a few impressive victories this season, but it’s hard to see them staying within 20 points of the Broncos on Sunday. If that’s the case, Shaun Hill is going to be dropping back 40-plus times, and there’s no one in this passing game that should excite you.
Broncos: Montee Ball (groin), Juwan Thompson, Wes Welker
If you’ve held onto Ball the entire time he has been injured, he may start paying dividends as soon as this week. We know he will have a role in the offense, but until we see it play out on the field, however, we’re just speculating. After the way Anderson played last week, it’s hard to imagine the Broncos’ coaching staff just handing Ball a workhorse role. He may prove to have the hot hand this week, and that could be the determining factor in who plays more. A lot of winning fantasy football is about mitigating the unknowns, though and Ball’s workload is perhaps the greatest unknown of Week 11.
Rams: Shaun Hill, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, Rams DST
That list above makes you yearn for Torry Holt, doesn’t it? Receiving is all the rage today, but this guy was throwing up 1,300-yard seasons when that was actually a hard thing to do. As for the current Rams, Mason and Cook are the only ones of fantasy import. Mason had 18 touches last week, but that was because the game with Arizona was close. Don’t expect that to happen on Sunday. Cook is just behind the starting class at tight end. Shaun Hill isn’t changing things, folks.
San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants
49ers: Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, 49ers DST
There’s no doubt the 49ers saw what the Seahawks did to the Giants last week and started licking their chops. The Giants have now allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs, and that, along with the expected workload, makes Gore an easy play this week. Boldin has at least 90 yards and a touchdown in three of the last four games, and has emerged as the top option in the San Francisco passing attack. The 49ers welcome back Aldon Smith this week, while NaVorro Bowman (knee) may begin practicing.
Giants: Rashad Jennings (knee), Odell Beckham Jr.
The only real question with Beckham is where his numbers might be if he didn’t miss the first month of the season with a hamstring injury. In a tiny bit of LSU-on-LSU crime, he has quickly surpassed Rueben Randle as the No. 1 receiver for the Giants. The Niners have actually been relatively friendly to receivers this season, and just allowed Brandin Cooks, who is similar in stature to Beckham, to catch five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown last week. Jennings is expected to return from a knee injury, and would be a low-end RB2 if he’s out there. The matchup isn’t great, but he’d likely get a significant workload in a close game.
49ers: Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Hyde, Michael Crabtree, Steve Johnson, Vernon Davis
Of all the omissions at any position this week, Kaepernick is the hardest. He’s my No. 13 quarterback, and is just barely behind Cutler in my rankings. The Giants had no answer for the Seahakws’ read-option attack last week, as Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson each eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. There’s no doubt that Kaepernick could do the same with Gore and Hyde. As has often been the case this season, the class of worthy starting fantasy quarterbacks is so deep, and that’s why Kaepernick falls here. Someone has to be the first quarterback cut, but if you start him, you will likely not be disappointed. Hyde, too, can be played in a pinch thanks to the matchup, but understand there may not be a ton of touches for the rookie out of Ohio State.
Giants: Eli Manning, Andre Williams, Rueben Randle, Preston Parker, Larry Donnell, Giants DST
There may not be a more disappointing running back and receiver duo over the last month than Williams and Randle. The former was a hot commodity when Jennings suffered his knee injury, but he has 165 yards on 60 carries in four starts. He has yet to reach even 60 yards rushing in a game. Randle, meanwhile, keeps on piling up targets. What he isn’t getting is yards and touchdowns. He has just 409 receiving yards despite ranking 13th in the league with 79 targets. Julian Edelman has the next fewest yards with at least as many targets, and he’s outpacing Randle by 150 yards on the season.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
Raiders: Darren McFadden, Mychal Rivera
Trusting McFadden in your starting lineup is always a bit of a risk, but there are a few factors working in his favor this week. The Chargers are a bit worse than league average against running backs, especially ones who catch passes. They’ve given up 56 receptions for 439 yards and five scores to running backs this season. So long a the Raiders keep the game respectable, McFadden should get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-to-18 touches. Rivera’s run is not a small-sample-size phenomenon. His role has changed in the offense, evidenced by his 28 targets in the last three weeks. He’s a low-end TE1 for the rest of the season.
Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews (knee), Branden Oliver, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Chargers DST
The Chargers have had two weeks to prepare for this game, as well as think about all that went wrong in their three consecutive losses. I would be shocked if this offense didn’t come out with a great gameplan against the lowly Raiders. Mathews is expected to return this week, and should immediately take over as the lead back. However, the Raiders have allowed the third-most points per game to running backs this year. Backs have amassed 43 receptions for 423 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders. Oliver isn’t going to recede completely into the background, and is a worthy fantasy complement to Mathews this week.
Raiders: Derek Carr, Andre Holmes, James Jones, Kenbrell Thompkins, Raiders DST
Every so often, a case can be made for Carr, especially in two-quarterback leagues, based on garbage time production. He threw 47 passes last week thanks to the Broncos building a huge lead, and got 4.08 yards per attempt. Holmes didn’t have a target, and Jones caught eight of his 12 for 20 yards. It seems impossible to catch eight passes for 20 yards, even for a running back. Do not let the allure of garbage-time tempt you into playing any of these Raiders.
Chargers: Eddie Royal, Malcom Floyd, Ladarius Green
Floyd and Royal are both consistent presences in the San Diego offense, but there just isn’t enough production to consider either of them in fantasy leagues. Floyd is actually getting a huge 12.05 yards per target, but that could just as likely be a function of the fact that he gets limited targets as anything else. There isn’t a whole lot of upside with Floyd or Royal.
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers
Eagles: Mark Sanchez, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin
Sanchez looked great in his first start for the Eagles, throwing for 332 yards, 8.97 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. I’m not sure if he’s some sort of reverse Samson, but Sanchez should be a QB1 for the rest of the year. This is a great matchup for him, as the winner of this key NFC clash will undoubtedly be in the 30s. McCoy’s latest 20-yard rushing performance had to feel like a stomach punch for his owners, but at least he got in the end zone. Don’t worry about Maclin’s down game in Sanchez’ first start. He had 88 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago after Sanchez relieved Nick Foles, so it’s not like there’s a lack of chemistry here.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb
There are probably few things more rewarding than eviscerating a rival the way the Packers did last week. Rodgers is now up to 2,407 yards, 8.69 yards per attempt and 25 touchdowns against three interceptions this year, and is a top-three fantasy quarterback every week. Lacy has made a huge impact in the passing game each of the last two weeks, catching a combined 11 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. He’s going to have to do so to be an RB1, as it’s unlikely he’s suddenly going to start getting 18-to-20 carries per game. If he can supplement his rushing numbers through the air, though, he can be an RB1 for the rest of the year.
Eagles: Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Eagles DST
Matthews had the best game of his young career last week, catching seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. This could be the latest example of the backup quarterback having a great rapport with his fellow second-teamers, and Matthews definitely has WR2 potential for the rest of the season. He just barely misses out on being in the overall universe of starters this week, but Green Bay presents him with a nice matchup. Ertz got just three targets last week, while Celek caught five passes for 116 yards. Neither is a fantasy option at this point.
Packers: Davante Adams, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers, Packers DST
Adams is a serious boom-or-bust play in Week 11. On the plus side, this is a great matchup and Rodgers should pick the Eagles apart. On the down side, it’s hard for anyone other than Nelson or Cobb to get a look from Rodgers. Despite Quarless and Bostick both getting in the end zone last week, they don’t have much fantasy value. Unfortunately for the Packers, they don’t get to play the Bears every week.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
Lions: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Lions DST
Johnson and Tate combined for 18 receptions, 222 yards and a touchdown last week. There’s a chance it could be even better for them on Sunday. The Cardinals feature one of the league’s best run defenses, but they’ve struggled against strong passing games this year. According to Pro Football Focus, Arizona has the second-worst pass rush in the league, but a top-10 run defense. Expect the Lions to lean on Stafford, Johnson and Tate in another huge inter-division NFC matchup. Both receivers are top-15 plays for the week, while Stafford is inside the top 10 at quarterback.
Cardinals: Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals DST
No matter how you look at it, this entire offense took a huge hit when Carson Palmer tore his ACL. There’s no evidence to support the notion that the team will lean more heavily on Ellington and the run -- if you remember, Ellington did not get any additional work in Stanton’s three previous starts. Head coach Bruce Arians isn’t going to cut back on the downfield throws, and Stanton ranks 19th in accuracy percentage (receptions plus drops) on deep passes. That would seem to bode well for Michael Floyd, but he hasn’t had 50 yards in a game since Week 3. With Stanton under center, the only receiver to trust right now is Fitzgerald.
Lions: Joique Bell, Reggie Bush (ankle), Theo Riddick, Eric Ebron (hamstring), Brandon Pettigrew
Bush has been sitting out practice this week because of his ankle injury, and that could give Riddick some value as an RB3 in PPR leagues. Outside of that, though, it’s hard to have much faith in these running backs. The Cardinals have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game and just 3.36 yards per carry to running backs. Again, this is going to be a heavy passing game for the Lions, and that’s bad news for all of the backs in Detroit.
Cardinals: Drew Stanton, Stepfan Taylor, Michael Floyd, John Brown, John Carlson
I’m trying, but really struggling, to figure out this pocket of support for Stanton. In about 12 quarters of action this season, he has 6.6 yards per attempt and has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. The only silver lining for Floyd and Brown is that the Cardinals will continue to challenge defenses deep down the field. In fact, 23 of Stanton’s 93 pass attempts have traveled at least 20 yards in the air. That’s where these two, especially Floyd, have done their most damage. Fantasy owners should wait and see how the offense plays this week, albeit in a tough matchup, before getting Floyd and Brown in their lineups.
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
Patriots: Tom Brady, Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell (illness), Rob Gronkowski
The Colts are strong in coverage, thanks primarily to Vontae Davis and Brandon, but they have the third-worst pass rush in the league. Even with Davis, that’s a bad formula going up against Brady. You probably know the gist of his numbers by now, but just for the record he has 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns against one interception in his last five games. Edelman has a high floor, and he could be even more involved in the offense with LaFell likely to see a heavy dose of Davis this week. The Colts have played three top-12 tight ends this year -- Julius Thomas, Delanie Walker and Heath Miller. They each scored 14.4 points against the Colts, totaling 19 receptions, 300 yards and five touchdowns.
Colts: Andrew Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw, Trent Richardson, T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener
You already know what to do with Luck, Bradshaw and Hilton on a weekly basis. However, this could be an especially strong game for Bradshaw. The Patriots have allowed a league-high six receiving touchdowns to running backs, as well as 56 receptions and 413 yards. All told, the Patriots have surrendered the sixth-most points per game to running backs this season. Allen is the No. 7 tight end in standard-scoring leagues, while Fleener checks in at No. 13. What’s more, they’ve both been top-10 scorers three times this season. The Patriots are also in the top six in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus, with Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner leading the way. You’re starting Luck, Hilton and Wayne with confidence, but be aware of the strength of the New England secondary.
Patriots: Jonas Gray, Danny Amendola, Tim Wright, Patriots DST
And yet, despite the strength of the New England passing defense, the unit cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes against Luck and the Colts. This also isn’t a matchup for Gray, who’s no better than an RB5 for the remainder of the season. He is much better cast in games where the Patriots figure to be protecting a big lead.
Colts: Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief
Moncrief has a bright future, but he’s not a viable fantasy option when Hilton and Wayne are healthy. Both of these receivers are too far down the rankings to consider in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant
Fantasy football is a strange game, isn’t it? After throwing for six touchdowns in consecutive games, Roethlisberger struggled against the most quarterback-friendly defense in the league. It took an 80-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to salvage his day from a fantasy perspective. The Titans have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year, but that’s thanks more to their rush than their coverage. The Steelers are the perfect foil, then, as their line is the second-best pass-blocking unit in the league. Bryant’s touchdown rate has to slow down eventually, but he’s worth getting in your lineups this week with this being a sneaky-good matchup for the Pittsburgh passing game.
Titans: Bishop Sankey, Delanie Walker
Sankey hasn’t yet had that breakout game that his owners have been waiting for, but he did get a career-high 20 touches last week, and has had at least 16 carries in three of the last four weeks. The Steelers have allowed 4.41 yards per carry to running backs this season. Walker suffered a concussion last week, and the fact that this is the Monday night makes it hard on his owners. If he’s unable to go, it could be a good spot for Kendall Wright. He’d likely be the biggest beneficiary of Walker sitting out this week.
Steelers: LeGarrette Blount, Heath Miller, Steelers DST
If you can manage to get your hands on Miller as a Walker owner, he’s a great insurance policy to have at your disposal. The Titans have done well against tight ends this year, but the flexibility Miller allows by letting you roll the dice on Walker is well worth adding him, if possible.
Titans: Zach Mettenberger, Shonn Greene, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Titans DST
After last week, I’ve finally lost all faith in Hunter. He’s completely dependent on the big plays that just aren’t there in this offense. What’s more, he has dropped about half of the big plays that he held in his hands. Wright should gobble up the targets if Walker is forced to sit because of his concussion, and he would be a start recommendation in that case. Of course, you may not know Walker’s status when you have to set your lineups. Hopefully we hear something concrete on Walker before the early games kick off on Sunday.
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Robert Griffin, Ben Roethlsiberger, Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler
Running Backs: Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram, Alfred Morris, Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Jeremy Hill, Andre Ellington, C.J. Anderson, Shane Vereen, Terrance West, Steven Jackson, Darren Sproles, Jerick McKinnon, Bishop Sankey, Rashad Jennings, Trent Richardson, Fred Jackson
Wide Receivers: Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Randall Cobb, Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, A.J. Green,
Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans, Julian Edelman, DeAndre Hopkins, Golden Tate, Odell Beckham, Vincent Jackson, Brandin Cooks, Anquan Boldin, Reggie Wayne, Roddy White
Flex: Martavis Bryant, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon LaFell, Sammy Watkins, Pierre Garcon, Keenan Allen, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Jonathan Stewart, Branden Oliver, Mike Wallace, Mohamed Sanu (bonus!)
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce, Mychal Rivera, Antonio Gates, Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett, Jordan Reed, Coby Fleener, Kyle Rudolph
Defenses: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints
On the Cusp
Quarterbacks: Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Josh McCown
Flex: Tre Mason, Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims, Joique Bell, Jordan Matthews, Giovani Bernard, Kendall Wright, Michael Crabtree, Jarvis Landry, Benny Cunningham, Ben Tate
Tight Ends: Larry Donnell, Charles Clay, Jared Cook
Defenses: Giants, Steelers, Redskins