The Fantasy Cover 4 – Week 11
While everyone drafts to pick the best available players at a position for the entire year, week-to-week there are always matchups to exploit and matchups to avoid. I’ve got you covered. Welcome to Start ‘Em Up and Shut ‘Em Down.
This is where you find out what matchups to jump on and which ones you may want to pass on.
(General Rule: ALWAYS start your stud players*. For everyone outside of that, follow the matchups)
Start ‘Em Up
Philip Rivers: Rivers was having a terrific season until Week 9 in Miami when the entire offense crashed and burned. He and the Chargers had the bye week to work out the kinks, and what better way to get confidence back then play the patsy Raiders. Oakland is in a 4 way logjam for 20th in the league with 17 TD passes allowed, and have only 5 interceptions (T 26th). The Raiders are also dead last with only 8 sacks all year, so Rivers should have all day to pick apart that weak D and get his season back on track.
Matt Ryan: It’s been a very inconsistent season for Matty Ice, who has been slowed by poor protection. He will get another favorable matchup with the Panthers, who rank 23rd in the league, giving up 254 YPG passing and allowing opposing QBs to complete 67.5% of their passes (30th in NFL).
Ben Roethlisberger: Ben should have had a monster game in a great matchup with the Jets, but after a record setting 2 weeks, Ben and the Steelers struggled. It was a game Pittsburgh should have won, and its been eating at Big Ben all week. There’s definitely a retribution factor here for the Steelers, who are in a very tight division race with all 4 teams within a half game of each other. They should have some desperation here after a bad loss. Expect Ben to bounce back strong.
Mark Ingram: Ingram has been a beast for the past 3 weeks as the feature back, and recorded his 3rd straight 100 yard performance. The Bengals defense, known in previous years for being stingy against the run, is 31st in the league, allowing 143 YPG on the ground. Expect Ingram to keep the train rolling this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw: There isn’t a tougher RB in the league, pound for pound, than AB. That bye week probably came at just the right time for him to recharge. Bradshaw gets more than half his value in the passing game as well, where he has 6 of his 8 TDs this year. The Patriots are 22nd against the run, allowing 120 YPG on the ground. They are stingier against the pass, but that’s more to do with their corners, and AB will get mismatched with LBs. He’s a strong bet dual threat this week.
Ryan Mathews: He’s been out since Week 2 due to injury, but not only is he expected back this week, he’s expected to play a heavy role in the offense. He gets to break in easy as well, as the Raiders 27th ranked run D allows almost 131 YPG on the ground. Rivers finally has his starting RB back, and the Chargers should get the offense untracked this week in all facets.
Randall Cobb: Cobb had another easy day at the office as the Pack destroyed the Bears last week. 4/72/1 is a solid line, and it likely hurt him that the game was such a blowout (42-0 at halftime) that the Packers took it easy in the second half. The Eagles play at such a fast tempo that the Packers will get plenty of opportunities to make plays as well. Aaron Rodgers should be able to find Cobb plenty against the leagues 22nd ranked pass D (252 YPG).
Golden Tate: So much for the idea that the return of Megatron would hurt Tate’s value. He still had 11 receptions (and 13 targets) for 109 yards. Matt Stafford has completely blown off his TEs this year, so expect Tate’s opportunities to keep coming, even though he won’t be the team’s #1 guy with Johnson back.
Mike Evans: It only took 9 weeks for Tampa to figure out just how big a weapon the former TAMU star really is, but since then, he’s been beasting for a 2 week total of 14 receptions, 249 yds, & 3 TDs. He’s the future at the top WR spot for Tampa Bay, and the future is now. Washington has a solid defense, but they don’t have someone who can handle Evans’ size, and they are dead last in the league with only 3 INTs (they’ve allowed 18 TDs). Ride the hot rookie.
Travis Kelce: Kelce shows flashes where he looks like he can be an impact player every week but then disappears other weeks. Fortunately, the Seahawks defense hasn’t been nearly as good this season defending the pass, they have only 6 INTs this season (T 21), and don’t get as much pressure on the QB (their 13 sacks is T 29th). Kelce should find this a favorable matchup.
Dwayne Allen: Allen hasn’t had a big year receiving but his 7 TDs from the TE spot are strong. He’s scored in 3 straight games and 6 of his last 7 as well. He’s a steady red zone threat. The strength of the Patriots’ pass D is in the CBs, and Allen isn’t going to be matched up with one. He and Ahmad Bradshaw have good matchups this week vs NE LBs and Safeties.
Greg Olsen: He got over his 2 game hiccup with 119 yds vs the Eagles last week. He’s the most consistent receiver on the Panthers and Cam Newton trusts him blindly. The Falcons give up a league worst 281 YPG in the air, and their anemic pass rush (11 sacks, 31st in NFL) should be a welcome sight for Newton, who’s been beat up all year. Unless you own one of the Big 3, you’re starting Olsen every week.
Shut ‘Em Down
Eli Manning: The Niners pass rush hasn’t been the same without Aldon Smith, but Smith returns this week for SF. The Niners still possess a stingy run D, and without a run game to help, Eli’s soft OLine is likely to get manhandled. Odell Beckham Jr is the only reliable receiver the Giants have, as “Wrong Route Reuben” Randle continues to be inconsistent. Find a better matchup.
Andy Dalton: In 3 of Dalton’s last 3 games, he’s been awful, but last week, in his own building, against a division rival, he laid as big an egg as any QB ever. This week he has to find a way to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints in the dome? Fat chance. Don’t look now, but the Saints may have finally figured out how to play D. 15 of their 21 sacks have come the past 4 weeks. Saints D on the up, Dalton on the down. You know where Dalton belongs this week.
Jay Cutler: One of the most ridiculous things I read this week was the blaming of Jay Cutler for the Bears getting crushed by Green Bay, as if Cutler was part of a defense that rolled over and played dead while Aaron Rodgers & Co. racked up 42 first half points. That said, Cutler wasn’t great last week and hasn’t been strong in 2 of his past 3 games. It should also be worth noting that his two big WRs have been battling injuries most of the season and that OLine….well…. The Vikings are a tough matchup for anyone, let alone a QB trying to get his swag back. Minnesota gives up just 214 YPG passing (4th in NFL), so look for a better matchup this week.
Ben Tate: It’s a full blown RBBC in Cleveland. Tate is happy with the team’s success but not happy with the lack of carries. Even though the Texans run D is nothing special, Tate is not guaranteed to get the majority of the opportunities, as he shares time with both Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, the latter of whom may actually be the team’s best runner.
Montee Ball: Ball was not productive as the feature back earlier this year before getting injured, and John Fox may give CJ Anderson a workload split after he showed the hot hand last week. This could also be shaping up as an RBBC, at least this week. He’s a flex play at best in deep leagues.
Rashad Jennings: The Giants have missed Jennings badly, as he’s been out since week 5, but getting the Niners D is a tough matchup for anyone, let alone a guy coming off injury playing behind a subpar OLine.
Reuben Randle: ‘Wrong Route Reuben”, despite 10 targets last week, caught only 5 passes for 39 yards. He’s now been targeted 21 times in the last 2 games and has only 9 total catches for 88 total yards. That’s inefficient and underproductive. Randle will not make Eli Manning’s day vs the Niners any easier, that’s for sure.
Larry Fitzgerald: he hasn’t been the Fitz of old, but he was clicking the past 3 weeks with Carson Palmer. Drew Stanton is a significant downgrade at QB, and in his 3 starts, Fitz didn’t break 60 yards in any of them, and didn’t score. Plan accordingly.
Dwayne Bowe: He’s big, but he’s slow and not very athletic anymore. In other words, exactly the kind of guy Seattle’s big CBs can cover easily. He also has 0 TDs, and its awful late in the season for a guy to have not scored at all and still find his way into lineups every week, especially in tough matchups. He should get familiar with your fantasy bench this week.
Jordan Cameron: he hasn’t been officially ruled out, but hes missed practice every day this week as he works his way through the league’s concussion protocol. At this point, it would be a major upset if he dressed. Look elsewhere.
Zach Ertz: how the mighty have fallen. Ertz was a big part of the Eagles offense the first 2 weeks of the season and has been completely invisible the past 2 weeks, with only 2 catches for 21 yards total. New QB Mark Sanchez has shown a rapport with Brent Celek, so Ertz isn’t likely to rebound soon.
Larry Donnell: One 3 TD game does not a season make. Donnell has been very inconsistent this year, and even without Patrick Willis, the Niners D should still give him some trouble. Donnell does see a decent number of tagets, but he’s a boom or bust play this week. Considering he’s only scored once the past 5 weeks, he should only be used if you’re desperate.
Week 11 Top 5’s
Peyton Manning – Den (@ StL)
Andrew Luck – Ind (vs NE)
Aaron Rodgers – GB (vs Phi)
Tom Brady – NE (@ Ind)
Matt Ryan – Atl (@ Car)
Matt Forte – Chi (vs Min)
Arian Foster – Hou (@ Cle)
Le’Veon Bell – Pit (@ Ten)
Jamaal Charles – KC ( vs Sea)
Marshawn Lynch – Sea (@ KC)
Demaryius Thomas – Den (@ StL)
Julio Jones – Atl (@ Car)
Jordy Nelson – GB ( vs Phi)
Antonio Brown – Pit (@ Ten)
Calvin Johnson – Det (@ AZ)
Rob Gronkowski – NE (@ Ind)
Julius Thomas – Den (@ StL)
Jimmy Graham – NO (vs Cin)
Antonio Gates – SD (vs Oak)
Dwayne Allen – Ind (vs NE)
QB: Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers, Luck
RB: Charles, McCoy, Forte, Lynch, Murray, Bell, Foster
WR: A. Brown, Bryant, AJ Green, C. Johnson, Marshall, Nelson, D. Thomas, Julio Jones
TE: Graham, Gronkowski, J. Thomas, Gates
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1