Nov 18, 2011
It is an ugly slate of games this week, but we had some interesting matchups last week and things did not turn out so well. Let us jump into the Week Eleven action.
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
Cam Newton is coming off one of his worst games in his young career, and admitted the Titans did a great job getting pressure on him, which the team didn’t react to well. He better be ready from more of the same this week against an even better Lion pass rush. Newton has been able to put up numbers in tough matchups, so I’m not too worried about him, but I might lower my expectations just a little bit. Neither one of these teams has run the ball with any consistent success this season, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. It’s interesting to note that Kevin Smith was already working ahead of Keiland Williams in practice, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him utilized a bit more in this game. I can understand if you’re a little worried about Matthew Stafford. I’m not there yet based on an ugly game in bad conditions, but I will be concerned if he’s not getting it done at home against a beatable Panther defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers
Josh Freeman said he’s a better QB this year than he was last year. The fantasy community and I disagree. His thumb injury may be part of the problem, but it’s pretty obvious this team is worse than they were last season and Freeman has not progressed, which we continue to believe has something to do with the lockout. The Packer defense looked much better against the Vikings last week, but it’s not like they were challenged by anyone except Adrian Peterson. You know the Packers will do whatever they want through the air with Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson looking like the most reliable options in their receiving corps. All indications are that James Starks has finally moved ahead of Ryan Grant for good although the team continues to say they want to split touches.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
If Mike Shanahan named himself the starting RB over Roy Helu this week, it wouldn’t surprise me. Ryan Torain has been terrible and yet we continue to see Helu. However, we got a hint as to why Helu isn’t starting as OC Kyle Shanahan noted Helu’s issues in pass protection. Torain might not be much better, but more often than not the Redskins are going to trust the veteran over the rookie. We could see Tashard Choice make his Redskin debut this week, which would only caused more problems trying to figure out this hellacious RBBC. The Redskins probably the worst team in football right now. On the flip side, I really want to buy into the Cowboys. Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant are both producing for fantasy and Tony Romo did his best Aaron Rodgers impression in a very efficient performance last week. They play good defense (most of the time) and can run it well, although I don’t think the Dallas OL gets enough credit for the monstrous holes they open up for DeMarco Murray.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Both of these teams could be playing this game without marquee players. It looks like the Bengals will be without A.J. Green after he missed all of practice this week with a knee injury. That would move Andre Caldwell into the starting lineup opposite Jerome Simpson. Caldwell typically plays inside, but did say he feels more comfortable on the outside since he can use his speed and versatility a lot more. If you’re stuck, he’s not a bad option if Green is out. Green brings a dynamic element to this offense that the Bengals don’t really have anywhere else and their offense as a whole could struggle since I don’t expect Cedric Benson to do much against a good Raven run defense. However, that brings us to the other injury, which is the toe issue Ray Lewis is dealing with that is expected to keep him out of action. He’s not the top player on this defense, but he’s an important contributor to their ability to stop the run. Baltimore’s passing offense is unpredictable because you never know what you’re going to get from Joe Flacco. As we saw last week, he was shaky and the team lost to the inferior Seahawks. However, it should be noted that he was getting Ed Dickson a lot more involved and as I said last week, it could bring some stability to this offense if Dickson were to develop into a reliable #2 passing option behind Anquan Boldin since we don’t know when Lee Evans will return from his ankle injury and because Torrey Smith is just a deep threat. Oh, and Cam Cameron should probably make sure Ray Rice gets more than 5 carries since I’d rather not rely on Rice throwing TDs for fantasy production.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Let’s make this short and sweet. Stay away from all Browns and it’s Maurice Jones-Drew or nothing for the Jaguars. This is a terrible fantasy matchup, so let’s just move along to more important things.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Daniel Thomas would like some touches, please. While I wouldn’t compare their skill sets, Thomas is having a similar rookie season to the one Ryan Mathews had last year. Both guys battled injuries and another back stealing touches to limit their ability to break out. I think Thomas will start to see more touches going forward because I don’t believe Reggie Bush can continue to be a reliable lead ball carrier. Thomas says he’s healthy and is no longer rehabbing his hamstring, so let’s see if he can do something if the touches come his way in a good matchup. Brandon Marshall is somewhat quietly having a very nice season on a bad team. I didn’t think Matt Moore taking over for Chad Pennington would cause a drop-off in Marshall’s number and they haven’t Marshall is a very safe player to own. Stevie Johnson is banged up, but expected to play though a shoulder injury. I’m taking a shot with Donald Jones this week since Johnson banged up and has to deal with Vontae Davis.
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings
Carson Palmer is improving by the week and appears to be in love with Denarius Moore. That makes both of them great starts this week against a Viking secondary without top CBs Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook. The Viking run defense is pretty solid, but considering how committed the Raiders are to running the ball, I’d keep rolling with Mike Bush. The Vikings don’t use their skill players to the best of their abilities, but they only have two really good ones in Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. Harvin may still be raw as a receiver, but when you put the ball in his hands, good things happen. The Vikings need to be more creative with him in an otherwise stagnant offense.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Marshawn Lynch is making waves by running forward. That seems like such a simple idea, but that’s really been the difference in his game that’s made him a reliable fantasy option. Lynch played behind a bad OL in Buffalo and another bad one now in Seattle, but instead of running east-west looking for holes to open, he’s now getting back to being a north-south runner and using his power to his advantage. Tarvaris Jackson isn’t a good QB when he’s healthy, so you can forget trusting anyone involved with their passing game as long as he continues to be limited by a pectoral injury. Steven Jackson continues to roll right along, but could be challenged a bit this week. Brandon Lloyd has been solid since coming over to the Rams and I think he’ll get better as he plays more with Sam Bradford.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore is expected to play through ankle and knee injuries, but Jim Harbaugh has hinted at possibly limiting Gore. He didn’t say that specifically, but he made a point to talk up the stable of backs the team has and after Kendall Hunter looked very good in relief of Gore, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them use Hunter more, especially if they have a comfortable lead. I’m not a big Alex Smith fan, but I’m stuck at QB this week and am giving him a shot against this beatable matchup. The Niners came out throwing last week and maybe they’ll take some more shots in a beatable matchup. Smith doesn’t have much upside, but he feels very safe this week. There doesn’t seem to be a rush to get Kevin Kolb back on the field, and that’s because John Skelton hasn’t been bad and is getting Larry Fitzgerald the ball.
Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons
There’s nothing exciting about the Titan offense, but Chris Johnson has looked better and Damien Williams has stepped up to give Matt Hasselbeck another reliable option in the passing game. Tennessee should be able to throw it well, but their run defense has been fantastic and that probably means Johnson will struggle. However, if he can be productive in a tough matchup, we can start to believe in him once again. Tennessee’s defense is solid, but still beatable and that’s good for Michael Turner and the Falcon offense. They want to run it first and foremost and should be able to do that to keep everything on schedule. Julio Jones will probably not play and that eliminates the only dynamic element of the Falcon offense, although they may not need it in this game. He may not have much fantasy relevance yet, but Jacquizz Rodgers is getting meaningful touches for the Falcons.
San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
The Bear defense struggled early in the season, but they’ve completely turned it around by being more physical and better disciplined. I still think you can throw on them and Philip Rivers should be fine, but their run defense has stepped up in a big way, so it could be a tough go of it for Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, although both can make up for it through the air. Vincent Brown gets another start with Malcom Floyd out and I’d be willing to roll with him in a game that should feature a lot of passes by the Chargers. We know Matt Forte has been money, but I’m ready to say Earl Bennett is a very solid #2 fantasy WR in PPR leagues. Other than that, just stay away from the Bears.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
It looks like the Eagles will be without Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin on Sunday night, so we’ll see Vince Young in for Vick and a combination of Riley Cooper and Jason Avant. Young might be a “winner” and can throw a good deep ball, but I’m not buying into him when he has to face a Giant defense that leads the league in sacks. The Eagles stupidly got away from LeSean McCoy last week, but I have to think we’ll see a large dose of him and he should do well with Michael Boley not expected to play because of a hamstring injury. The Giant passing game is dangerous and you can make a case that they have the best WR corps outside of the Packers. Eli Manning is money and should do well against an Eagle defense that refuses to use CB Nnamdi Asomugha exclusively as a cover corner on the outside. Moves like that are why this team is 3-6.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Tyler Palko will kill the fantasy value of the Chief WRs because he can’t throw the ball and crumbles under pressure. The Chiefs are dead in the water because Jackie Battle isn’t going anywhere against the Patriot defense. Look for the Patriots to continue to feature Rob Gronkowski, but also Aaron Hernandez in this matchup since the Chiefs are vulnerable deep down the middle. I want to say BenJarvus Green-Ellis should be able to get carries in what should be a blowout, but this RBBC has become a giant headache once again, so you can’t trust them. I might even take a shot with the Patriot defense this week. This one is going to be ugly.
Leave you questions and comments below or get me on Twitter (@TheMattCamp). Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 11!