Before we delve into Week 11’s all-important Startability Index, a word of caution about late season trading. Fantasy playoffs are on the horizon, which means many owners are desperate and clamoring for a way to extend their season. Outside of Weeks 1-4 when manipulative owners test their fellow owners’ penchant for charity and flat out knowledge, these next two weeks generally breed the most lopsided trade proposals. Be smart and watch out for trading trolls. There are more out there than you think.
Onto Week 11 where the pressure is mounting. I received more player requests this week than ever before, so thank you – and let’s get right to it!
Note: Normally we only spotlight tweener players, those who are not obvious to start or sit, but since many of you are in playoff push mode and need to decide between two starting-caliber players, we’re relaxing the rules a bit.
Tom Brady at Carolina (5): According to official SU rules, Brady can never be under a (5) but this is not a pretty matchup. The Panthers have held every opponent since Week 4 to under 15 points and DPOY candidate Luke Kuechly is sure to be in Brady’s face all day.
Colin Kaepernick at New Orleans (3): Forget the Saints stifling defense for a moment or the fact that Michael Crabtree may return, Kap is a fantasy wasteland. Over his last eight games, Kap has only eclipsed the 200-yard mark once. As fantasy quarterbacks go, he is no. 17, one slot behind Alex Smith. Need I continue?
Philip Rivers at Miami (6+): After a strong start Rivers has tapered off a bit. However, he has found a nice groove with several receivers (Gates, Allen, Brown, Royal, Woodhead) and Miami doesn’t have firepower to handle that many options.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Detroit (7): For such a formidable front, the Lions have allowed big quarterback days – even Brandon Weeden threw for 292 yards. Don’t expect Big Bento put up the 25 fantasy points he did in Week 9 but he should improve on the 7 points he scored last week.
Le’Veon Bell vs. Detroit (7+): Bell has seem a nice progression in carries over the past three weeks – 13-to-16-to-22. Expect that to continue Sunday.
Gio Bernard vs. Cleveland (6+): Bernard comes off two lovely fantasy days. And while the Browns are a top run defense they’ve still allowed nine rushing touchdowns. Bernard seems to have a knack for finding the end zone.
Chris Ivory at Buffalo (5): Despite giving up ample yardage, the Bills have only allowed three rushing touchdowns on the season. You would think Ivory would get the bulk of carries Sunday but after he busted out with 34 carries and 104 yards in Week 7, he only touched the ball six times the following week.
Which Ivory will we see Sunday?
Chris Johnson vs. Indianapolis (6): Ever the inconsistent one, look for Johnson to have a nice game against a defense allowing 126 yards per game on the ground.
Knowshon Moreno vs. Kansas City (5+): Outside of C.J. Spiller’s 116 rushing yards, the Chiefs have held opposing running backs in check. Moreno has a comfortable 13-17 carries a game but it’s probably not enough to ultimately bring a big number on the week – especially with Peyton chasing records.
Darren Sproles vs. San Francisco (7): Aw, everyone’s favorite wide receiver guised as a running back. Sproles has a nice history against the 49ers. He torched them in the 2011 divisional game and last year, a down year, managed to garner 65 receiving yards on 7 receptions. Now that Sean Payton has returned, Sproles is being used properly, and San Francisco’s defense is not as potent as in previous seasons.
Keenan Allen at Miami (6+): Don’t be too concerned with Allen’s down week last Sunday. He has been integrated into this offense for too many weeks now. And even in that down week, Allen was still targeted five times.
Jarrett Boykin at New York Giants (5+): Boykin managed 112 yards on eight catches last week but I still can’t get behind anyone catching balls thrown from Scott Tolzien – especially on the road.
Antonio Brown vs. Detroit (7): Brown has re-emerged as Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target. Detroit allowed both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to garner 100 yards last week. Brown’s number would be higher if the Steelers had a more explosive offense.
Josh Gordon at Cincinnati (6-): Gordon looked great coming off the suspension but has been inconsistent since. He could always bust out but coming off a 3 catch, 44-yard performance I’d use caution.
Percy Harvin vs. Minnesota (6): Harvin and his hip are finally ready for action. While typically not a fan of relying on a newly returning player, Minnesota’s pass defense has been dismal. Harvin has extra incentive playing his former team, and he gets to do so at home.
Jordan Cameron at Cincinnati (6): Cameron had his first zero of the season against Baltimore. But he’s been such a stalwart of this offense it’s hard to envision a repeat performance.
Tony Gonzalez at Tampa Bay (5): As of this publishing Gonzalez has missed two straight days of practice following a toe injury he sustained Sunday against the Seahawks. The Falcons are remaining mum of Gonzalez’s status so stay tuned for any updates and have a backup plan in place.
Tim Wright vs. Atlanta (5-): Wright disappeared last week, and despite the two recent touchdowns, his breadth of work is not long enough to earn complete confidence.
Panthers Defense (7): The Panthers has coalesced in recent weeks, holding opponents to a maximum of fifteen points since Week 4. Brady may crack that nut or this may be another game where we ponder whether we’ve reached the beginning of the end for Brady. Better chance of the later.
San Francisco Defense (5): San Francisco’s defense just isn’t the same as 2012, and certainly not 2011. As the season has worn on they have allowed more yards and touchdowns per week. Not as if Drew Brees likes to put up big numbers or anything.