November 21, 2009

The RotoExperts Staff looks ahead to Week 11, with lineup recommendations in every game capsule.

Jason Snelling looks like a great play while subbing for the injured Michael Turner. The only potential issue is Jerious Norwood poaching carries if he returns from his hip injury. Snelling was effective after Turner went out last week (61 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards, one TD) and he should get at least 20 touches against a mid-pack Giants rush defense, (106.4 yards per game). Matt Ryan has been interception-prone lately (10 in his past five games), and the Giants are second best against the pass in the NFL, (168 yards allowed per game). Look for 200 yards and one TD at the most from Ryan. Tony Gonzalez continues to be solid and has at least four catches in each game but one. Expect 60-70 yards. Roddy White should be started regardless of opponent at this point. Brandon Jacobs turned things around the past few weeks YPC-wise. He is a great play with Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) hurting. It is a good time for his first 100-yard game of the year. Atlanta isn't very strong against the pass, especially the deep ball. That means both Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks are solid plays, with a chance to bust a big play or two. Steve Smith is the steadiest option of the three. He is an every-week start, especially now with 16 receptions in the past two weeks. Smith has officially moved beyond his midyear "swoon", (11 catches from Weeks 4-6). Eli Manning's foot should feel better after the bye week and he is a great play against a weak Atlanta pass defense, (28th-best against the pass). Kevin Boss is a decent option since he has scored two straight weeks and the passing game should soar. -- Adam McFadden

Standout Starts:Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks

Banish to the Bench:Matt Ryan

Dick Jauron's firing is fantasy-relevant because fantasy owners can't be sure how the Marshawn Lynch/Fred Jackson platoon will play out under new leadership. Lynch has carried more, but been less effective (3.2 yards per carry to Jackson's 4.1), so the situation is worth watching closely. That said, both are average plays this week. The Jags aren't great against the run, allowing 118.7 yards per game. Each is active in the passing game too, but it might be worth waiting a week to see how the platoon plays out. New coach Perry Fewell didn't waste much time saying Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starter at quarterback, so forget about Trent Edwards as an option. Even though Lee Evans is the AFC's Santana Moss (boom or bust), he is a good play with Jags corner Rashean Mathis out. He could get his fifth TD in five games along with 100 yards. Terrell Owens is even a decent option against the Mathis-less Jags secondary. Maurice Jones-Drew is a typical no-brainer play. Buffalo has slowed Andre Johnson, Steve Smith (Carolina) and Marques Colston, but Mike Sims-Walker gained some leeway from owners with a solid day against Darrelle Revis and the Jets last week, (three catches, 49 yards and a TD). Look for something similar this time out. David Garrard has passed for at least 260 yards in every home game, but he faces the ninth-best passing defense this week. Marcedes Lewis is hit-or-miss, plus the Bills slowed Owen Daniels and Bo Scaife the past two weeks. The odds aren't in Lewis' favor for a good game. -- A.M.

Standout Starts:Lee Evans, Mike Sims-Walker

Banish to the Bench:Ryan Fitzpatrick

Brady Quinn is one of the few quarterbacks who can be facing the NFL's worst pass defense and still look like a terrible play. Stay away from anyone in the Browns' passing game. That includes Mohamed Massaquoi, who has just four catches the past three weeks. Jamal Lewis is the one Brown worth playing since his 3.6 yards per carry average, an 18th-worst run defense (114.6 yards per game) in Detroit, and a heavy workload could balance out to 90 yards and/or a touchdown. Calvin Johnson is a standout play despite the fact that the Browns haven't allowed too many passing yards, (227.7 per game). That's because teams are usually ahead of Cleveland and running the ball. Detroit might not be in that situation and Johnson looked healthy last week. Expect his first 100-yard game since Week 4.Kevin Smith has low yardage totals the past two weeks, but has averaged 4.88 yards per carry in those games. He just hasn't carried the ball much. Look for 100 yards and a touchdown against the third-worst rush defense. For those fantasy owners feeling gutsy (and without better options), Matthew Stafford is a deep sleeper. He posted a decent game under heavy duress against the Vikings (224 yards, one TD). Brandon Pettigrew and the Detroit defense are other sleeper options. -- A.M.

Standout Starts:Jamal Lewis, Kevin Smith, Calvin Johnson

Banish to the Bench:Mohamed Massaquoi

Ravens DT Haloti Ngata looks poised to return this Sunday, which vastly helps their run defense. However, fantasy owners who were planning on starting Joseph Addai shouldn't be dissuaded from deploying him. Addai has nine TDs and his involvement in the passing game keeps him relevant. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark are obvious must-starts, despite the fact that Baltimore hasn't allowed 250 passing yards in three weeks. Pierre Garcon is a shaky start based on the many dropped passes he's had and the fact that Baltimore has done a nice job of late limiting speedy WRs. The Colts may look to a shorter passing game against a talented Ravens pass defense. That would mean plenty of quick looks to Austin Collie, who is an intriguing flex starter in PPR leagues. Indy's young pass defense should help the struggling Joe Flacco put up respectable QB1 numbers. Facing a pair of rookie corners, expect Flacco to connect often with Derrick Mason. Mason has just six catches in his last two games, but this matchup is too friendly to avoid in PPR formats. Despite the positive outlook for the Ravens passing game, Todd Heap and Mark Clayton have been far too inconsistent to count on in fantasy. Ray Rice remains a must-start RB, particularly against a Colts defense that has struggled to cover elite backs. 200 total yards are a possibility for Rice. --Chris Carbonell

Standout Starts:Peyton Manning, Ray Rice, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark

Banish to the Bench:Todd Heap, Pierre Garcon, Mark Clayton, Todd Heap

Injuries to the Saints secondary have New Orleans in a vulnerable position. As a result, Josh Freeman should be an adequate QB2. Freeman's two favorite targets have been Kellen Winslow Jr. and Maurice Stovall. Winslow has been targeted 16 times in Freeman's two starts and is a must-start TE. Stovall, on the other hand, is a wait-and-see project. Any WR relying on a rookie QB needs more than a couple of sub-50 yard efforts before earning a fantasy roster spot. Freeman might have another weapon available to him if Antonio Bryant makes his return. However, Bryant struggled prior to his injury, and should be scouted before being inserted in fantasy lineups. The freedom to move the ball through the air should open up the ground game against a Saints defense that is already struggling against the run, (over 130 rushing yards allowed in last four games). However, with Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward sharing carries, fantasy owners are running a risk starting a Bucs RB even in this favorable matchup. Drew Brees remains an elite option despite throwing seven picks in his last four games. Tampa Bay's defensive line has struggled all year and the Bucs have allowed 10 passes of 40 or more yards. That bodes well for deep threats like Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem, though fantasy owners should deploy more reliable options if possible. Marques Colston has just three catches in his last two games, but his owners need to stick with him as he could go off at any time. --C.C.

Standout Starts:Kellen Winslow Jr., Drew Brees

Banish to the Bench:Maurice Stovall, Antonio Bryant

Dwayne Bowe' four-game suspension presents an opportunity for Chris Chambers and Lance Long to gain value. Chambers sees the biggest fantasy upgrade. However, the most effective way to move the ball against the Steelers through the air is with a shorter passing game, which plays well to Long's strengths. Still, fantasy owners should merely observe him this week to see how often he's utilized. As for Chambers, the extra attention he will draw from a tough Steelers defense makes him a sit candidate. Matt Cassel is someone to avoid as the loss of Bowe -- his favorite target -- hurts his value. Jamaal Charles should have a firm grip on the starting RB gig after an impressive performance last week. That said, the Steelers offense should dismantle the Chiefs' 23rd-ranked pass defense, and that will force KC to lean on the passing game. Charles could make up some yardage through the air, but he's a very risky play. As for the Steelers, all their offensive weapons are strong fantasy plays. The Chiefs rank 27th against the run, so view Rashard Mendenhall as an excellent RB2. Ben Roethlisberger should bounce-back after a weak effort last week thanks to a Chiefs defensive line that has failed to get any pressure on the QB (12 sacks). Hines Ward and Heath Miller should also find their groove against a terrible Chiefs secondary, though the team may lean on the run if they build an early lead. -- C.C.

Standout Starts:Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall

Banish to the Bench: Every Chief

Following Sidney Rice's 201-yard effort last week, the WR has earned must-start status. He seems due for another productive outing against the 22nd-ranked Seahawks pass defense. The same can be said for Brett Favre. Seattle has given up seven passing TDs in their last three games, surrendering an average of over 260 yards over that span. After watching Beanie Wells brutalize Seattle's defenders, Adrian Peterson's owners should expect big things. Matt Hasselbeck is averaging over 47 passes a game in his last three contests and that has raised the value of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who reached a season-high in catches (nine) and yards (165) last week. That QB-WR connection should be at it again versus a vulnerable Vikings secondary, (7:0 TD-to-INT ratio over the last four games). Nate Burleson figures to see plenty of action too after being held to zero catches last week due to great coverage. Seattle returning to their pass-happy ways should also benefit John Carlson. While Carlson isn't worth starting due to his underwhelming numbers, he has averaged six targets a game over his last three contests. Fantasy owners should pay attention to how involved Carlson is in the offense this week. On paper, this matchup looks like a brutal one for Justin Forsett. However, the Vikings have given up an average of 4.8 yards-per-carry in their last three games. Forsett is worth using as a flex option since he will be getting most of the carries with Julius Jones out. -- C.C.

Standout Starts:Brett Favre, Sidney Rice, Matt Hasselbeck, T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Banish to the Bench:John Carlson

The 49ers are coming off a rousing victory at home versus the Bears, but Alex Smith needs to improve his numbers if he plans on beating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers is a fine play despite facing the 49ers defense, which tallied five INTs last week off Jay Cutler. On offense, the Niners will use heavy doses of Frank Gore, but wearing down the Packers and their 3-4 linebacker rotation is not easy. If they're going to win, they'll need to execute a nearly perfect strategy on both sides of the football. Michael Crabtree is the best San Fran WR in PPR leagues, but TE Vernon Davis is the clear star of the passing game and should have a big day. Don't bother starting Josh Morgan or Isaac Bruce. For the Packers, the running game rests squarely on Ryan Grant, who's an RB2 at best even when he's in a good matchup. The Packers just don't run the ball effectively enough to expect a monster game out of Grant. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are great WR2s with upside and Jennings seems to be fine after sustaining a minor injury during the Week 10 game against Dallas. This could also be the week that Rodgers gets back playmaker Jermichael Finley at tight end; a return that shouldn't go unnoticed in leagues that play two TEs. -- Antonio D'Arcangelis

Standout Starts:Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Vernon Davis

Banish to the Bench:Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce

It's hard to tell which Dallas Cowboys team will show up this week against their division rival, but chances are this will be another defensive battle similar to the tilt in Green Bay last week. Starting Tony Romo is a no-brainer unless you're in a shallow league or have another QB with a Top 10 matchup. If anything, he'll try to establish a connection with formerly reliable target Jason Witten and get Miles Austin more looks instead of trying to appease the unappeasable Roy Williams. Consider Witten a low-end TE1 and Austin a WR2 with WR1 upside, with Williams as a replaceable WR3. The running game is similarly difficult to peg, although Marion Barber remains the goal line back and has the best chance to score over 10 fantasy points. It's worth considering Felix Jones as a FLEX play with the Dallas offense searching for playmakers and facing a defense that's been tough to crack. Maybe it'll take a huge Jones scamper to break the game open, and the Arkansas back is certainly a talented runner in space. For Washington, the options are limited to Ladell Betts and Santana Moss, with Clinton Portis still hurt. Jason Campbell is such a long shot to produce multiple scores, and none of the other receivers have established a rapport with their QB. -- A.D.

Standout Starts:Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Ladell Betts

Banish to the Bench: Redskins WRs other than Santana Moss

This should be a fantasy smorgasbord. Over the past three weeks, Kurt Warner is the third-highest scoring fantasy QB, and Larry Fitzgerald is the third-highest scoring WR (in most standard-scoring and PPR leagues), while Steve Breaston is ninth among fantasy WRs over that same span, benefiting from the injury to Anquan Boldin. If they're active, all three Cards receivers should be starting in just about every format. Arizona now offers multiple RB threats as well, with Beanie Wells coming on the past few weeks including a monster day versus Seattle last week. He's technically not the feature back, but is a hard runner in the red zone and is worth a start along with PPR standout Tim Hightower, who is still a Top 15 back in those formats. The Rams are starting to throw the ball more and have a couple of inexperienced but explosive receivers in Donnie Avery and Brandon Gibson. Both should be considered in deeper leagues as a WR3 and WR4, respectively. QB Marc Bulger might also finally have Ruvell Martin (hamstring) active, along with recently signed former Seahawks practice squad WR Jordan Kent, but Martin needs some time to get back to speed and Kent will play mostly on special teams. Neither should be fantasy factors this week. Steven Jackson should have a huge day and allow Bulger to post respectable numbers in the second half. -- A.D.

Standout Starts: All Cards starters except TE, Steven Jackson, Donnie Avery

Banish to the Bench:Tim Hightower (in non-PPR formats)

While this game has a shot at being a big upset if the Raiders defense can force turnovers, there's not much to like about the Raiders offense. Carson Palmer should have a big day throwing to Chad Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles, and with Cedric Benson likely out, they'll turn to rookie Bernard Scott to handle most of the rushing duties. Itinerant RB/special teams player Brian Leonard will be more involved in the offense as well. Scott should finish with about 100 total yards and a score while Leonard a deep sleeper this week who could pay dividends on third downs -- contributes in the 50-60 yard range. The Raiders -- who rank 30th in passing -- finally pulled the plug on former No. 1 NFL draft pick JaMarcus Russell but only have fourth-year journeyman Bruce Gradkowski to turn to. That won't make things any easier for their receivers, but should mean an improvement on last week's numbers for TE Zach Miller. The committee format at RB makes it hard to guarantee one guy will stand out among Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. It's best to just stay away from anything Oakland at this point, but if Miller's your main TE, you might not have better options. -- A.D.

Standout Starts:Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Bernard Scott

Banish to the Bench: All Raiders except Zach Miller

Mark Sanchez has scored 10-plus fantasy points in seven of nine games this season, but against an angry New England defense, double-digit points will be hard to come by. Both Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery will still prove useable, but don't trust them in anything more than a WR3 role. Dustin Keller has caught 14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. Five catches and a score are a reasonable expectation. Thomas Jones is averaging 127.5 rushing yards a game since Leon Washington went down. He's a no-brainer must-start regardless of the matchup. As always, uncertainty makes it hard to start any New England running back, but if you're in desperate need (maybe as a Ronnie Brown owner?), Laurence Maroney isn't a terrible option. Kevin Faulk was used extensively on draws and screens last week against the Colts, but the Jets defensive scheme isn't nearly as conducive to those types of plays. With Sammy Morris' status still up in the air, Maroney -- who's scored in four straight weeks -- is a lock for at least 15 touches in what promises to be a high scoring game. -- Chris Ryan

Standout Starts:Dustin Keller, Laurence Maroney

Banish to the Bench:Mark Sanchez, Kevin Faulk

LaDainian Tomlinson showed a renewed burst last week. He won't hit 100 rushing yards, but with the Chargers averaging over 28 points a game during their current four-game win streak, he's an excellent scoring option. Make sure you have him in your starting lineup. Despite their high ranking, Denver's pass defense has been subpar in their past three contests, making Phillip Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates top-tier options at their positions. Both Legedu Naane and Malcom Floyd are intriguing, high-upside players, but until one distinguishes himself, neither should be started in anything other than extremely deep leagues. With Kyle Orton sidelined with a bum ankle, Chris Simms played the second half of last week's game, completing 3 of 13 passes with an interception. The Broncos gained just 34 yards over the last two quarters. Orton's status is still uncertain, but if he's unable to go, all receiving options but Brandon Marshall should be benched. Consider Marshall a borderline WR2 if Simms is quarterbacking. Same goes for Knowshon Moreno (RB2). He had 44 yards on 18 carries in his first matchup with the Chargers. Expect a slight bump in numbers this time around. -- C.R.

Standout Starts:LaDainian Tomlinson

Banish to the Bench:Legedu Naane, Malcom Floyd, anyone catching passes from Chris Simms

Steve Slaton spent the bye week working on fumble prevention in hopes of regaining his starting role. Ryan Moats did nothing to suggest he should be the full-time back when he was given the opportunity against the Colts (38 rushing yards and a fumble), and Slaton's clearly the more explosive of the two. He'll not only take back his starting gig this week, but also look for him to put up over 100 total yards. Jacoby Jones is an incredible deep threat who could give the Titans secondary some issues. Consider him a better play than Kevin Walter this week. Vince Young offers little in terms of yardage production, but he'll mix in rushing yards and a touchdown on his way to 15 fantasy points against the Texans. His lack of passing attempts (he's throwing 20 times a game), coupled with the dominance of Chris Johnson limits the Titans to only two relevant fantasy players. -- C.R.

Standout Starts:Steve Slaton, Jacoby Jones, Vince Young

Banish to the Bench:Kevin Walter, Ryan Moats

Donovan McNabb's in store for another big game against a Bears secondary that's been sliced for five passing touchdowns twice in their last four games. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will be the obvious beneficiaries, and both are candidates to top the 100-yard mark. Stay away from Jason Avant. He had all of seven catches in his previous six games prior to last week's eight catch, 156-yard explosion. With Brian Westbrook out, LeSean McCoy has the ability to flirt with 100 total yards. He's a great play against the Bears -- especially in PPR leagues. Jay Cutler is averaging 290.4 yards over his last five games. He'll hit that number against the Eagles, but Philadelphia is third in the league in interceptions, meaning Cutler owners can count on him adding to his 17 picks on the season. Matt Forte's re-emergence in the passing game (14 catches and 194 yards in the last two games), makes it hard to rely on either Johnny Knox or Earl Bennett, even in a WR3/Flex role. Look for a combination of Forte, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen to accumulate nearly all the fantasy points delivered by Cutler's arm. -- C.R.

Standout Starts:Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy

Banish to the Bench:Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Jason Avant

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