October 21, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 11 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

It’s our last week of byes for the season.  A string of QBs went down last week. Are any of the replacements useful this week? Will the Steelers run the wishbone with Big Ben injured and all three RBs healthy?

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. Survivor is full of tough choices for me this week. A lot of key injuries on the defensive side of the ball could make or break my decisions. Or I may have succumbed to paralysis by analysis. I’ve made a subtle, but important move for one of my top two teams.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

Quarterback      

Up: Nick Foles is the starting QB for the Eagles and should be starting for you this week as I see him finishing in the top 12 against a suspect Washington defense. Yes, they get Brandon Meriweather back this week, but that’s not going to change the defensive backfield immensely. Foles has a chance to take the job and run with it. He’s got a series of great matchups for the rest of the season and should be owned in all leagues.

Tony Romo is at number 12 in the rankings this week so he’s a start in most leagues. However, I can see him moving a bit higher and would start him with confidence (if you are thinking of sitting him). The Browns are coming off a bye and have a solid defense (they’ve held the last three QBs they’ve faced to less than 190 yards! passing each). The Cowboys are going to struggle to run the ball this week as the Browns are expected to have both Ahtbya Rubin and Phil Taylor back in the middle of their front four. Romo will probably have to throw the ball (and with Joe Haden less than 100% he should have the space to do so) a lot this week for the Cowboys to succeed.

Joe Flacco has had a couple of pieces written about him and his ‘big game’ success against the Steelers. I’d personally stay away, but he has had some good games against them (last year he threw for 300 yards and a TD at Heinz Field). He’s a deeper league play if you are desperate.

Down: There aren’t any guys in the top 12 this week that I’d be too concerned about starting. Josh Freeman has a tough matchup against a very solid Carolina Panthers pass defense. They haven’t given up multiple passing TDs since Week 4 aginst Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Freeman put up just 138 yards and 1 TD in Week 1 against them. I’d probably put Nick Foles ahead of him (and you may have better options on your squad since Freeman was likely a late round pick or waiver wire claim).

Philip Rivers also has a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos. In his first matchup against them this season he turned the ball over six times. However, the Chargers were up 24-0 at halftime before the epic implosion. I’d probably shy away from Rivers if I had to make a choice (especially if Ryan Matthews doesn’t play).

Running back

Up: The Ravens cannot stop the run and the Steelers are starting Byron Leftwich at QB. I see all three Steelers RBs as potential starts this week as flex options. It looks like Isaac Redman will be the third down and goal line back so I like him in PPR leagues. Rashard Mendenhall is going to start with Jonathan Dwyer spelling him. I can see an almost 60/40 split in favor of Mendenhall making both potential options this week. None of the three of them will carry the load, but I can see the Steelers handing out 40 carries this week.

Joique Bell has value in most leagues (especially PPR) due to his “closer” role. He’ll play the fourth quarter and could catch passes as they Lions try to claw back against the Packers. Or, if the Lions find themselves ahead, he could carry the load to salt away the victory. Either way I see a top 25 outing from Bell this week.

LaRod Stephens-Howling has a good matchup this week and I can see him sneaking into the top 15. The Cardinals will have to do something to protect John Skelton and if they can run the ball, that should help keep him upright a bit longer. I might start him over someone like Matt Forte who could struggle against the 49ers and with Jason Campbell at QB.

I do like the ranking of Saints RBs (with the exception of Sproles) this week. I think Mark Ingram has a chance to have some value in shallow leagues down the stretch.

Down: Darren Sproles is a flex option in PPR leagues and a wait and see in non-PPR leagues for me this week. His value is in catching passes and Sproles is recovering from a broken hand. I’d only start him if I have no other option this week.

The St. Louis Rams have given up tons of yardage to good RBs. They have mostly muzzled bad RBs. Which category does Shonn Greene fall into? You guessed it. Sit Greene this week. He’s a desperation play in deep leagues.

Felix Jones is also a flex option only for me this week. The Browns get both run stuff DTs back this week and should be able to shut down the slight Jones.

Watch the injury reports on Sunday to see if Ryan Matthews is playing. He may not be worth the risk. Jackie Battle is the handcuff and should be owned by Matthews owners everywhere.

Wide Receiver

Up: It is time to see if the Cardinals follow up on their promise to get Michael Floyd more involved. Prior to the bye week, Floyd had supplanted Early Doucet as the third WR in the set. He had 18 total targets in the two weeks prior to the bye. I like Floyd as a PPR flex play this week as the Falcons shut down WR1s and WR2s, but struggle against others.

Watch the injury report to see if Tyvon Branch does not start for the Raiders. If he doesn’t, I’d upgrade all Saints WRs in an already juicy matchup. Lance Moore could finally find the end zone this week and I like him top 20 option this week without Branch in the lineup.

In deep leagues, Pierre Garcon is back and it looks like he will give it a try this week. He’s played sparingly all year due to an extremely painful toe injury. When he has played, Robert Griffin III has looked his way often. He could have WR1 upside this week against a soft Eagles defense. However, he could just as easily produce a zero in the fantasy points column. If you need to swing for the fences, Garcon is your man.

Even though Derek Hagan is the likely replacement in the starting lineup for the Oakland Raiders should Darrius Heyward-Bey miss the game, I’d take my chances with Rod Streater. Hagan is a replacement level player while Streater offers the upside one would want from a risky play.

Down:  Torrey Smith had two TDs last week. He had two catches last week. I’m not sure that ratio is sustainable. The Steelers have the defense to shut Smith down. I’d leave him on the bench this week (I’m starting one of Lance Moore, Danario Alexander or Pierre Garcon over him).

The Chiefs do a good job defending the WR. I wouldn’t worry about A.J. Green, but the supporting cast of Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins is best left on your bench.

I’d move Andre Johnson out of the top 25. The Texans should take care of the Jaguars without any issues. I can see them running the ball for much of the day. Johnson hasn’t been a big part of the offense this year. Moreover, the Jags do not give up a lot of TDs to WRs.

Julio Jones and Wes Welker are both game time decisions so be aware of their status heading into your games. Welker has a great matchup while Jones’ is less so.

Tight End

Up: Brent Celek should be starting in all leagues. With rookie Nick Foles at the helm, he will be looking for a safety blanket. There is no warmer spot in the league than the soft spot in the middle of Washington’s defense. Expect top five production from Celek this week.

Dwayne Allen continues to be the main TE for the Colt this week as Coby Fleener sits out again. I like him against a Patriots defense that gives up TDs to TEs. He’s a top 10 TE this week.

Down: Jason Witten is not a top five option this week. I’d actually consider sitting him for this matchup. Witten has been heavily targeted all year, but that has rarely translated to fantasy production. In PPR leagues, Witten is viable, but in TD heavy leagues, I’d look elsewhere this week. The Browns can defend the TE and haven’t given up more than four catches to a TE this season.

Brandon Myers concerns me this week. Yes, he is recovered from his second concussion this season, but he’s just one more hit away from leaving the game again this week. There should be better options out there for you this week. The Saints look to have a solid defense against TE, but they haven’t exactly faced the 1927 Yankees of TEs this season. Still, I’d sit Myers until we see he is fully healthy.

Let someone else take the risk on Vernon Davis this week. I see the reasoning behind the ranking, but I disagree that it will help put Davis in the top 10. The Bears probably don’t scheme for TEs because they don’t have to. I don’t want any part of Davis with a recently concussed Alex Smith or rookie Colin Kaepernick under center.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. The Packers are back off their bye so make sure to dump him before he ruins your week.

Defense

Up: The Cincinnati Bengals are at number seven in the rankings this week, but this is just a reminder to get them into your lineup. The Chiefs are a friendly lot for fantasy defenses.

I wouldn’t have the Cleveland Browns so far down (ranked number 22) the list this week. They are off a bye and even without Joe Haden, they can be formidable. I’d see them being a top 15 option this week against a mistake prone Dallas offense.

Down: The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers face off against each this week. The Ravens are a popular choice due to the Steelers moving Byron Leftwich into the starting lineup. However, I can’t see the Steelers placing the ball in his hands to win the game. I see the Ravens finishing outside of the top 12.

The same can be said for the Steelers as I don’t think they will have a big day against a Ravens offense which will likely try to keep the ball out of Joe Flacco’s hands (and in Ray Rice’s).

Survivor

Week 10 saw the San Francisco 49ers fall. Maybe. Or maybe not. Depending on how your pool handled it (or if they had any rules for it all), you may or may not be alive with a 49ers choice last week. My opinion is that it should be a loss and the entries are out. But, I’m not the commissioner of your pool (or mine).

Enough about rules and winners and losers. On to Week 11. Something has to give soon. This is the last week of byes so you’ll have a full slate of teams next week. Choose wisely so you can see Week 12.

I’ve also got a quick preview of Thursday’s game below.

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants

Survivor Pool – Week 11 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Saturday night:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Dallas Cowboys

33.90%

1

Dallas Cowboys

43.29%

2

Denver Broncos

19.70%

2

Denver Broncos

14.68%

3

Houston Texans

14.80%

3

Houston Texans

14.49%

4

Atlanta Falcons

12.10%

4

Atlanta Falcons

8.12%

5

New Orleans Saints

6.70%

5

New Orleans Saints

7.72%

6

New England Patriots

6.50%

6

New England Patriots

3.72%

7

St. Louis Rams

1.70%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.52%

8

Cincinnati Bengals

1.50%

8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1.23%

9

Washington Redskins

1.00%

9

St. Louis Rams

1.01%

10

Buffalo Bills (W)

0.60%

10

Washington Redskins

0.53%

Do you trust the Cowboys and Tony Romo? I’m a Cowboys fan and I’m not sure I do. Where should we go? I’ll give you a long list as I imagine many entrants don’t have a couple of the top options. I’m having trouble coming up with a solid list. The first six choices are exactly the same in both sets of data (perhaps the first time I’ve seen that this year). I’ve dropped the Cowboys from #2 to #4 in a virtual tie with the Broncos. I still like the Cowboys a touch more than Denver, but it closer to a coin flip than I originally thought.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Houston Texans – If you have the Texans, take them. I can’t imagine they’ll be a bigger favorite this year. They have the defense to stop the Jaguars offense which seems to be trending toward a one-dimensional passing attack led by Blaine Gabbert. Let that last sentence sink in. I give the Texans an 87% chance of winning.
  2. New England Patriots – Every time I write the Patriots name I cringe. I don’t know why. It’s almost Pavlovian at his point. Again, there isn’t any reason to believe the Patriots should lose at home to the Colts. The Colts have looked better, but they still have a rookie QB. I could see me moving the Pats down a bit as the week goes on. I give the Patriots a 79% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons come off their first loss (at the hands of the surging Saints) and face an Arizona team off their bye week, but still with John Skelton at QB. The Cardinals head east to Atlanta and though Atlanta barely defeated the Raiders in a similar trip, I think the loss to the Saints will offer some focus for the Falcons. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.
  4. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys are at home. They haven’t been great at home this year. The Browns are coming off a bye and Trent Richardson seems to be close to 100% healthy.  I’ve put them this high because of the injury that Joe Haden suffered in practice this week. The Browns defense is a much different defense without Haden. Check back for my final column to see Haden’s status. The Browns have both of their starting DTs this season which could turn the Cowboys into a one-dimensional offense. I give the Cowboys a 74% chance to win (without Haden in the lineup).
  5. Denver Broncos – This was my initial choice for the week (as I don’t have most of the big boys left), but I’ve dropped them a bit due to Haden’s injury for the Browns. This is a division game and the Chargers are almost past the point of desperation. However, the Broncos offer a balanced offensive attacked backed up by a stout defense. I can’t see Philip Rivers solving that defense on a regular basis. I give the Broncos a 74% chance of winning.
  6. New Orleans Saints – This will be the week to see if the Saints are really back or not. They go on the road to face a Raiders team that was annihilated in Baltimore last week. The Raiders have no running game and have to throw on nearly every down. The Saints have a poor defense, but their offense looks to be back to pre-Joe Vitt status. I give the Saints a 73% of winning.
  7. Washington Redskins - The Redskins are off a bye. The Eagles have a rookie QB to work into the offense.  The Eagles can win this game if they give LeSean McCoy 25+ carries. Andy Reid hasn’t struck me as someone who really wants to do that…ever. This is the week to do it to protect Nick Foles. One of these teams has to win, right? I give the advantage to Robert Griffin III and the Washington football team. I give them a 65% chance of winning.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Green Bay Packers on the road. The Packers continue to win, but continue to lose players to injury (Clay Matthews is out this week). At some point, I believe those injuries will come back to haunt them. The Lions offense looks to be clicking and their defense isn’t awful. I’d hold off this week on the Packers. There should be other options out there.

There shouldn’t be a need to go with the St. Louis Rams either. Yes, the Jets are a tire fire of a team, but they still have talent. The Rams are young and could overlook this Jets squad.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens. Yes, Byron Leftwich will be under center. Yes, Joe Flacco has performed relatively well against the Steelers. But, I think the Steelers will attempt to control the ball on the ground (they have enough RBs to do so) and the Ravens aren’t great against the run.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

About Chris Garosi

Chris Garosi is a Contributor to District Sports Page. Chris is a diehard Maryland Terrapins fan in all sports and a fan of things New England sports-related (except for football). Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He also writes for The Fantasy Fix. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Fantasy Football: Week 11 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start 'em and Sit 'emDistrict Sports PageHe could have WR1 upside this week against a soft Eagles defense. However, he could just as easily produce a zero in the fantasy points column. If you need to swing for the fences, Garcon is your man. Even though Derek Hagan is the likely replacement …and more » [...]

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