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  • Texans-Redskins may be overlooked, but don't overthink your lineup decisions. More advice in this week's Start 'Em, Sit 'Em.
By Michael Beller
November 15, 2018

One of the underrated important games on the Week 11 slate is Houston at Washington. Both teams are 6-3 and in first in their respective divisions. At the same time, they’re likely the two least respected division leaders, with any number of people ready to hand the AFC South to the Titans or Colts, and the NFC East to the Cowboys or Eagles. So, yeah, Texans-Redskins might get lost in the shuffle of Chiefs-Rams, Bears-Vikings and Eagles-Saints, but the playoff implications in the game are enormous.

The game’s getting overlooked in the fantasy world, as well, for two major reasons. First, the over/under on the game is 42.5, second-lowest on the board in Week 11 (ahead of only Raiders-Cardinals). Second, there aren’t many tough start/sit calls in the matchup. Fantasy owners are starting Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins with extreme confidence. Adrian Peterson is an easy start, too, even if he doesn’t have as good an outlook as Watson or Hopkins, while Demaryius Thomas carries a WR3 tag into the game. It’s just as obvious to bench Alex Smith as it is to start Watson and Hopkins, and while Jordan Reed hasn’t inspired much confidence, he’s likely starting for his owners, given the lack of depth at tight end. There just isn’t a whole lot of thinking that needs to go into this game from a fantasy perspective.

The one player who could buck that trend is Lamar Miller. Miller has had some great games this season, with his two best performances of the year coming in Weeks 7 and 8. In those two games, wins over the Jaguars and Dolphins, Miller totaled 233 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries, crossing the century mark and scoring in both victories. He’s also had his fair share of duds, totaling 70 scrimmage yards or fewer in three games. Miller has an RB2 average, RB1 ceiling and RB4 floor, which makes him one of the hardest players to rank every week. This week, however, should be one in which he has your trust.

Put most simply, Washington is a fraud. Their six wins came against the Cardinals, Packers, Panthers, Cowboys, Giants and Buccaneers, teams with a combined record of 21-33-1. The Panthers are the only team in the bunch over .500, and they beat the Packers when Aaron Rodgers was still hobbling around the field after suffering his knee injury two weeks before their meeting.

Their three losses, on the other hand, came against the Colts, Saints and Falcons by a combined score of 102-42. Lest you think that’s the result of the Saints running up the score on them, they surrendered 38 points to the Falcons at home, and lost to the Colts by 12, also in Washington. This is not some sort of defensive powerhouse that is grinding out wins and protecting homefield. It’s a classic good-bad team, generally taking care of business against lesser opponents, while getting waxed by superior foes. Houston falls into the latter category.

What’s more, Washington has struggled with backs in recent weeks. Peyton Barber ran for 61 yards on 13 carries, while Jacquizz Rodgers caught eight passes for 102 yards against the Redskins last week, while Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith combined for 148 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and six catches for 72 yards and two more scores against them in Week 9. Not only is this team nowhere near as good as its record suggests, it falls apart all too easily and regularly when it plays good teams.

If you believe, as I do, that the Texans are the better team and should win this game, then you should have confidence in Miller. He has hit at least 14 touches in every game this season, and at least 17 in all but three, so volume is not an issue. In Texans wins in which he has had at least 15 touches this season, he has averaged 14.6 points per game in half-PPR leagues. I expect him to hit or surpass that total again this week.

With that, let’s get to the rest of the Week 11 Start ’Em, Sit ’Em.

Quarterbacks

Start

Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (vs. Vikings)

As I wrote in this week’s Target and Snap Report, no quarterback has scored more fantasy points per game than Trubisky since the final week of September. Trubisky has thrown for 1,713 yards, 9.21 yards per attempt and 17 touchdowns against four interceptions, while racking up 256 yards and two scores on the ground in that span, translating to 28.35 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. The Vikings unquestionably present a tough matchup, but the Bears are at home, where Trubisky has been at his best, and favored by a field goal. This is a good spot for him.

Philip Rivers, Chargers (vs. Broncos)

We’re really doing this again with Rivers? After everything we’ve seen from him this season, we’re still underrating his weekly value because of matchup concerns? That seems to be the case, with Rivers checking in as the No. 15 quarterback in FantasyPros’ consensus rankings. You know the last time Rivers threw for fewer than two touchdowns in a game? Week 16 of last year. He has had at least 7.5 YPA in all but one game this season, and at least 8.5 in all but two. QB15? Give me a break. Get Rivers in your lineups.

Kirk Cousins, Vikings (at Bears)

Cousins and the Vikings have had two weeks to prepare for their huge showdown with the Bears in Chicago on Sunday night. He’s expected to get Stefon Diggs back, who missed the team’s last game with chest and rib injuries, and will be going up against a defense that can be susceptible to big plays when its pass rush doesn’t get home. This isn’t an excellent spot overall for Cousins, but one in which he should still be able to reach low-end QB1 numbers. I’d play Trubisky and Rivers over him, but would go with Cousins ahead of every other quarterback about to be mentioned in this column, which includes a few more start recommendations.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys (at Falcons)

Prescott has quietly put together a strong three-game run, throwing for 786 yards, 7.78 YPA and four touchdowns against one interception, while picking up 53 yards and two scores on the ground. That’s good for an average of 21.25 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. His weekly fantasy finishes in those three weeks: QB9, QB16 and QB8. Now he gets a matchup with a Falcons defense ranked 31st against quarterbacks in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA), and has surrendered at least 20 points to all but two quarterbacks it has faced this season, a group that includes Jameis Winston, Eli Manning and Baker Mayfield. Prescott’s run is unlikely to end this week.

PAULSEN: Week 11 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts

Superflex Special

Eli Manning, Giants (vs. Buccaneers)

The Buccaneers are nearly as friendly to quarterbacks as the Falcons, ranking 30th in positional aFPA. They’ve allowed 20 points to all but one quarterback they’ve faced this season, getting burned by high-end guys like Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan, but also Mayfield and Nick Foles. Manning hasn’t been terrible of late, topping 300 yards in two of his last three games, and throwing for three touchdowns in the Giants’ Week 10 win over the 49ers. He’s a mid-tier QB2 this week.

Start, but…

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers (at Giants)

Fitzpatrick had a bizarre game last week, throwing for 406 yards and nearly 10 YPA, but turning it over four times and leading his team to just three points in a loss to Washington. Still, the yards and YPA are better indicators of how he will perform in the future, starting with Sunday against the Giants. His tendency to turn the ball over makes keeps him from being an unmitigated start, and in addition to the players listed in that section, I’d play Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson and Ben Roethlisberger over him. Fitzpatrick should be considered a top-16 quarterback for Week 11, with easy top-10 upside.

Marcus Mariota, Titans (at Colts)

Mariota has been efficient in his last two games, totaling 468 yards, 8.83 YPA and four touchdowns against zero picks. He has also made some noise with his legs, running for 53 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Titans-Colts has legitimate shootout potential with an over/under at 48.5, and Mariota is likely going to have to do more through the air to keep up with Andrew Luck. He’s not a full-fledged start because his efficiency hasn’t translated to monster games, but he’s still someone you can turn to with confidence this week, especially if you’re a Tom Brady owner in need of a spot starter.

Sit

Matthew Stafford, Lions (vs. Panthers)

Stafford cobbled together enough production in garbage time last week to come out of Detroit’s 34-22 loss to Chicago with a useful fantasy stat line, ending the game with 274 yards, 6.52 YPA, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Still, he needed 42 attempts to get to his modest total of 17.86 fantasy points, continuing a downward trend for this passing game. Marvin Jones is expected to play through a bone bruise on his knee, but chances are he’ll be less than 100%. Stafford is a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency quarterback this week.

Andy Dalton, Bengals (at Ravens)

Speaking of emergencies, the Bengals’ season is unraveling before our eyes. We were concerned about what would happen to this offense without A.J. Green, and our worries were validated in last week’s 51-14 drubbing at the hands of the Saints. Dalton was terrible in that game, throwing for 153 yards, 7.65 YPA, one touchdown and two interceptions. Neither Tyler Boyd nor John Ross stepped up in Green’s absence, creating some real questions about the value of this passing game for the rest of the season. Baltimore, meanwhile, is one of the league’s best pass defenses, ranking sixth in quarterback aFPA. Dalton carved up the Ravens in their first meeting this season, but that was at home with Green, who caught five balls for 69 yards and three touchdowns in that game. His circumstances will be dramatically different on Sunday.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars (vs. Steelers)

The Steelers’ defense was a mess over the first month of the season, allowing at least 22.2 fantasy points, and an average of 28.43, to the quartet of Tyrod Taylor, Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco. Since then, they’ve surrendered an average of 14.16 points to Matt Ryan, Dalton, Baker Mayfield, Flacco and Cam Newton, holding Ryan, Dalton and Newton all below their season averages. This game may be in Jacksonville, but that’s not going to matter for Bortles. Pittsburgh’s defense is a nightmare matchup for a below-average quarterback.

EAKINS: Fantasy Football Buy, Sell, or Hold: Alex Collins is a Sneaky Trade Target

Running Backs

Start

Tarik Cohen, Bears (vs. Vikings)

Cohen was held in check last week, catching six passes for 29 yards and running for 15 yards on seven carries in the Bears’ 34-22 win over the Lions. Still, he got 14 opportunities—carries plus targets—in the game, which is a key number when projecting future production. Cohen has been great this year, but he’s not Todd Gurley. He’s not going to deliver in every single game. So long as the volume is there, though, he’s a good bet to churn out at least RB2 numbers. The Vikings are a tough matchup for any back, but they’ve been slightly worse against the position in PPR formats, which bodes well for Cohen. In recent weeks, they’ve allowed four catches for 69 yards to Trenton Cannon, seven catches for 31 yards and a touchdown to Alvin Kamara, and seven catches for 36 yards to Theo Riddick.

Doug Martin, Raiders (at Cardinals)

In three games since Marshawn Lynch went on IR, Martin has 182 yards on 39 carries, good for 4.7 yards per carry, and six catches for 68 yards. He has had at least 13 opportunities and 12 touches in every game, even though the Raiders have lost them all by multiple scores. In other words, Martin is clearly the lead back in Oakland’s backfield, and his workload is game-script dependent. Even in an ugly offense, that makes him a fantasy RB2. He brings a higher ceiling than usual into this game, with the Cardinals ranked 27th in running back aFPA in standard leagues, and 26th in PPR formats.

Alex Collins, Ravens (vs. Bengals)

The Ravens are coming off a bye for a matchup with the Bengals and their 32nd-ranked defense in running back aFPA. They’ve been slightly less terrible in PPR leagues, ranking 31st against the position. Collins’ has lost some favor in fantasy leagues, but he deserves some slack after facing the Steelers, Saints and Titans in four of his last six games, with all of those defenses ranked fourth or better in running back aFPA. He still managed to score four touchdowns in those four games, and averaged 10.92 points per game in half-PPR leagues in that whole six-game span. This line isn’t available yet because of Joe Flacco’s uncertain status, but the Ravens will be comfortable favorites, no matter who’s under center. This matchup sets up wonderfully for Collins.

Sit

Derrick Henry, Titans (at Colts)

Henry has scored four touchdowns in his last three games, which has masked the negative aspects of his performance in those games. First, he has been entirely touchdown-dependent, running for 118 yards on 29 carries. Second, Dion Lewis remains in charge of the backfield, playing at least twice as many snaps as Henry in all three of those games. Taken as a whole, Lewis has a snap rate 74.3% in the team’s last three games, while Henry has a 26.2% snap rate. So long as he’s playing one snap for every three that Lewis is out there, he’s going to be a hard player to start in fantasy leagues. Additionally, a game with legitimate shootout potential is a bad spot for a running back with zero receiving upside.

Josh Adams, Eagles (at Saints)

Adams has been unquestionably the most effective runner out of the Eagles’ backfield over the team’s last two games. What’s just as true is that he hasn’t received nearly enough volume for that to mean anything, and that there’s no reason to expect that to change this week. Sure, it’s impressive that Adams has racked up 108 yards on 16 carries in his last two games, but does it really matter if the fantasy community can’t reasonably expect him to get any more than eight or nine carries on Sunday. Plus, he offers nothing in the passing game, and the Saints are good for 30-plus points against any defense, especially at home. Not only is Adams’ role unlikely to grow on Sunday, he could be in for his fewest touches in more than a month.

Ito Smith, Falcons (vs. Cowboys)

Why are we back here again? Why do we need to talk about Smith as an obvious sit yet again? He has a consensus ranking of 30th on FantasyPros, laughably high for a player with a floor of, oh, I don’t know, 26 yards from scrimmage? That’s what Smith had in last week’s 28-16 loss to Cleveland. In four games since Devonta Freeman went on IR, Smith has had fewer than 50 yards from scrimmage three times. He has failed to reach 30 total yards in two of those games. Please, fellow rankers, stop forcing me to quash your Smith-related dreams. Just for good measure, the Cowboys rank 11th in running back aFPA in both standard and PPR leagues.

Royce Freeman, Broncos (at Chargers)

We have to do this one again, too, huh? What, was it the bye week that made the fantasy community forget that Phillip Lindsay has been far and away the best back in Denver this season, and that this offense is incapable of supporting two fantasy-relevant running backs? Do you know the last time Freeman had more than 50 yards from scrimmage in a single game? It was way back in Week 4. He got 13 carries in his last game, which was a month ago, but that was largely driven by game script in a 45-10 Broncos’ blowout of the Cardinals. Lindsay is in total command of this backfield, yet Freeman is the RB34 on FantasyPros, which suggests he’s firmly in the flex discussion. Start Freeman? He’s closer to the cut line.

BELLER: Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings: How Do the Rams Adjust Without Cooper Kupp?

Wide Receivers

Start

Allen Robinson, Bears (vs. Vikings)

I was surprised to see Robinson down at WR26 on FantasyPros’ consensus rankings this. That’s still high enough to make him an easy start call for most owners, but after his huge return to the field last week, in which he caught six passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears’ 34-22 win over the Lions, I expected him to be a few slots higher. Once again, this is a case of matchup concerns run amok. The Vikings are ranked fourth in wide receiver aFPA in both standard and PPR leagues, and Robinson is expected to see a healthy dose of Xavier Rhodes on Sunday. Still, the Bears’ passing game has been clicking over the last six weeks, and Robinson is clearly the No. 1 option in that attack when healthy. If you believe the Bears can win and cover the three-point spread, you should like Robinson as at least a WR2.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos (at Chargers)

In Denver’s first game without Demaryius Thomas, Sutton caught three of five targets for 57 yards. He didn’t get the increase in target share that was expected, which was legitimately disappointing, but he once again made the most of his opportunities. Just because his target share didn’t jump in his first game as a starter doesn’t mean he’s stuck in the same role he was in before the team traded Thomas. He’s in a good spot to break out this week, with the Chargers ranked 20th in receiver aFPA in standard leagues and 23rd in PPR formats, and this matchup carrying a 46.5-point over/under.

Michael Crabtree, Ravens (vs. Bengals)

The Bengals have allowed a receiver in each of their last four games to score at least 17.1 fantasy points in half-PPR leagues. In two of those games, a win over the Buccaneers and a loss to the Steelers, they let another receiver rack up 14-plus points. Sure, there’s no shame in getting burned by Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans and Michael Thomas, but the fact remains that receivers have gotten going against the Bengals more often than not this season. You have to go back to their Week 5 game with the Dolphins, not exactly a dangerous passing offense, to find a game where they kept all receivers south of 17 points. That’s also the only game all season in which an opposing receiver didn’t score at least 13 points against them. John Brown is an obvious play this week, but Crabtree is nearly as good an option, no matter who draws the start for the Ravens at quarterback.

Calvin Ridley, Falcons (vs. Cowboys)

An electric start to the season helped hide Ridley’s touchdown-dependence, but it has shown through over Atlanta’s last five games. He has topped 50 yards once in that span, averaging just 8.02 points per game in half-PPR leagues. I’m not arguing that Ridley’s touchdown dependence is suddenly going to go away. I am arguing, though, that this is not a bad week to bet on him finding the end zone. Dallas has been very good against receivers this year, ranking third in positional aFPA in both standard and PPR leagues. Ridley, however, is likely to spend most of his afternoon lined up across from Chidobe Awuzie, giving him the softest individual matchup. Mohamed Sanu, meanwhile, will have his hands full with Anthony Brown, who is developing into a top-level slot corner. Julio Jones is always going to get his, but the expectation here is that Ridley is closer to nine or 10 targets than five or six, making him a worthy play in all leagues.

Maurice Harris, Redskins (vs. Texans)

Harris is the first of two deeper-league options we’ll mention in this week’s Start ’Em, Sit ’Em. Paul Richardson is guaranteed to be out this week, while Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson are also expected to miss another game. That trio has been on the sidelines in both of Washington’s last two contests (Richardson suffered his season-ending injury in Week 9), and in those games Harris has caught 15 of 17 targets for 176 yards. He has played 77.2% of the team’s snaps and leads the team in targets in that span, five clear of Jordan Reed. Houston has been a neutral matchup for receivers this season, and Harris is likely to see eight or more targets in this game. Consider him a WR4 with legitimate WR2 upside.

Donte Moncrief, Jaguars (vs. Steelers)

If you haven’t noticed Moncrief becoming the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville, don’t worry. There’s no shame in largely ignoring a passing attack that has produced so little fantasy value this year. Still, Moncrief has 35 targets in his last five games, and that includes a goose egg against the Cowboys in Week 6. He has hauled in 20 of those passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. As my friend Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros pointed out when I guested on their podcast this week, Moncrief ranks 12th in the NFL in team share of air yards, a good indication that he is Blake Bortles’ favorite target. Like Harris, Moncrief can’t be thought of as more than a WR4, but he has obvious top-25 upside at the position.

Sit

Goiden Tate, Eagles (at Saints)

Look, it’s entirely possible that the Eagles didn’t want to throw Tate into the fire too quickly, and that he was still learning the offense going into last week’s 27-20 loss to the Cowboys, which would help explain why he played fewer than 30% of the snaps. Still, Tate is a veteran who likely doesn’t need much time to get comfortable in a new offense, and he had two weeks with the team before playing Dallas, given that he was traded there during Philadelphia’s bye week. Nelson Agholor, meanwhile, played nearly 90% of the snaps, with Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Matthews serving as the outside receivers. There was enough risk tied to Tate because of Jeffery and Zach Ertz, even when it appeared he’d be the No. 3 option in the offense. He still might be that, but now we can’t be so sure. This is a great matchup, but I’m staying away from Tate this week.

D.J. Moore, Panthers (at Lions)

I’ll be the first to admit that the next three sit calls aren’t very aggressive. Go take a look at my rankings, though. I’ve got Demaryius Thomas 35th, Anthony Miller 36th, Chris Godwin 37th, Moncrief 38th, Devin Funchess 39th, and Willie Snead 40th. Can we really call any of those players outright sits? I don’t think so. It’s a good week to be a wide receiver, which makes finding players that are compelling sits hard to do. Moore has been a disappointment after what looked like what was going to be a midseason breakout, catching just five passes for 36 yards in his last two games.

John Ross, Bengals (at Ravens)

Ross is going to get some attention after catching a touchdown last week, but take a look at the rest of his line. He caught two of six targets for 39 yards, failing to step up in a meaningful way with A.J. Green out because of a foot injury. The Ravens are a terrible matchup across the board for any offense, let alone one missing its best player. They rank fifth in receiver aFPA in both standard and PPR leagues, and have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver this season despite two matchups with Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, and individual games against Green and Michael Thomas.

Dede Westbrook, Jaguars (vs. Steelers)

Like Ross, Westbrook is going to end up in some starting lineups this week because of recency bias. He got 10 targets last week, catching five of them for 30 yards in the Jaguars’ 29-26 loss to the Colts. As we just discussed, Donte Moncrief has turned himself into the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville’s offense. In that same five-game span where Moncrief totaled 35 targets, 20 receptions, 304 yards and one touchdown, Westbrook had 30 targets, 17 catches, 171 yards and two scores. There’s little value in this passing game to begin with, making it hard to trust anyone who’s even just one tick down the depth chart.

BELLER: Targeting Defenses for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

Tight Ends

Start

Jeff Heuerman, Broncos (at Chargers)

Heuerman had easily his best game of the season in Week 9, catching 10 of 11 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown in Denver’s 19-17 loss to Houston. He led the team in targets, but it’s not as though anyone else’s workload was anomalously small. Emmanuel Sanders got nine targets, Courtland Sutton had five, and Phillip Lindsay had 17 carries while getting three looks from Case Keenum. In other words, Heuerman could absolutely be in line for a larger role in the offense now that Demaryius Thomas is gone.

Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals (vs. Raiders)

Seals-Jones was back in Arizona’s game plan in a big way last week, catching five of nine targets for 51 yards in the 26-14 loss to the Chiefs. Oakland has been terrible against tight ends this season, ranking 30th against the position in aFPA in standard leagues, and 29th in PPR formats. The Raiders have allowed an astonishing 11.63 yards per target to tight ends. For sake of comparison, Travis Kelce is putting up 9.15 yards per target on the season. If Seals-Jones gets six-plus looks in this game, he’ll be a top-10 tight end for the week.

Vance McDonald, Steelers (at Jaguars)

There’s little to go on here beyond the fact that McDonald is averaging 4.6 targets per game inside one of the best passing attacks in the league. Not counting his first game of the season, in which he was returning from an injury that kept him out of the lineup in Week 1, he has had at least three catches and 40 yards in all but one game, adding two scores along the way. It isn’t much, but it’s about as good as you can hope for on a consistent basis when you don’t own Kelce, Zach Ertz, George Kittle or O.J. Howard.

Sit

Eric Ebron, Colts (vs. Titans)

Could I really be telling you to sit a player who had three touchdowns last week? Absolutely. And I’m doing it with confidence. Ebron’s three-touchdown game in the win over the Jaguars was one of the most anomalous performances we’ve seen in recent memory. He had three targets in the game, played 38.1% of the Colts’ snaps, and one of his scores came on a running play, the third rushing attempt of his career. Jack Doyle played just shy of 90% of the snaps. He’s still clearly the tight end to own in Indianapolis.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (at Bears)

Week 9 should’ve been the week that Rudolph had been waiting for all season. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs account for 55% of Minnesota’s targets this year, leaving Rudolph to live off scraps and hope for a target inside the 10-yard line. Diggs was out because of chest and rib injuries in Week 9, though, theoretically opening up some targets for Rudolph. Instead, he got all of two looks from Kirk Cousins, catching both of them for 28 yards. Diggs is expected to return in Week 11, which releates Rudolph to scraps duty once again.

Ben Watson, Saints (vs. Eagles)

Watson showed off his floor last week, catching one pass for one yard in the Saints’ 51-14 win over the Bengals. Playing in an elite offense led by Drew Brees can be great for opportunity, but sharing that offense with Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram means that there isn’t always going to be enough to go around. Watson is a mid-tier TE2 the rest of the way, and is better cast as a streamer rather than a regular starter.

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