Admittedly, I’m not much of an outdoorsman. I don’t think I’ve ever even paged through an issue of
Field and Stream. But last Saturday was opening day of deer season in Missouri, so off to the woods I went with the old man. In recent years, he’s been spending hunting season looking for bigger game in the mountains of the northwest with my brother (who makes Ted Nugent look like a shut-in), but he decided to scale it back this year. Survival instincts might be kicking in.
So at 3 a.m., the alarm went off and I rolled out of bed. Not sure about you, but I’d rather be staying up until 3 a.m. rather than waking up at that time. We grabbed a bite to eat, loaded the gear into the truck and headed out to the fields. We were both in our stands with plenty of time left before sunrise. As light crept into the horizon I saw a couple of does at the end of the field. When I say “end of the field,” think more “end of the earth.” No quarterback, kicker or punter could ever get a ball that far, combined. It was easily more than three football fields away. I wasn’t hunting for does anyway.
Light slowly filled the sky and the dawn turned to day, and I quickly figured out why the deer were passing across the field so far away. Directly across the field from me was the neighboring farmer’s land. They didn’t grow crops on the neighbor’s property, although that would’ve been nice in order to fatten up any bucks that roamed the area. No, they grew sheep. Fine, “tended.” Whatever. I couldn’t picture any deer plowing through a herd of sheep or hurtling them just to make it into my field. My stand wasn’t in a good position to put it mildly.
With only a few weeks left in the regular season of fantasy football, is your standing in good position? Are you a lock for the playoffs? Congratulations, that is the ultimate goal. Make it to the dance and have a shot at being crowned king. In the hunt? Do everything you can. If your trade deadline hasn’t passed yet, leverage your bench to improve your starters. You need the most points in your starting lineup, not on the sidelines. Sleepers won’t do you any good if you’re not playing in the postseason.
If the deadline has passed, you need to focus on each week as it comes. If your opponent had Ben Roethlisberger go down this past week and you’re set at quarterback, pick one up ahead of him anyways. In that instance, points on your bench are better than in his starting lineup. Do whatever it takes to make it to the big show. Anything can happen from there.
Out of it completely? Sucks, bro. Bad luck and injuries happen to us all. Whatever you do, don’t bail! I’m guessing you haven’t if you’re still reading fantasy football articles at this point in the year. You might not be able to make the playoffs, but I’m guessing you can impact who does. Misery loves company, right? A good friend still reminds me of how he knocked me out of playoff contention years ago in the final week of play. Winning or losing, this game is about fun. Get it, however you can.
Winning is more fun than losing though by far, so here’s this week’s buys, sells and holds to help you do just that. Here’s the good, the bad, and a little bit of everything else for Week 11.
Matchups I like this week
QB Carson Palmer vs. New Orleans. In each of Carson Palmer’s last two games he’s thrown for more than 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. He even topped 400 yards passing two weeks ago, and was flirting with it last week. He won’t need to do too much flirting this week in order to score on the Saints. The Saints continue to be the worst defense against quarterbacks, and just gave up more than 400 yards last week to Matt Ryan.
RB Reggie Bush at Buffalo.There’s a good chance that Bush, or more likely head coach Joe Philbin, took you to an unhappy place last week. After losing the ball halfway through the first quarter, Bush was planted on the bench. The end result, zero points for the week. Deep breath, he’s about to make up for it. Buffalo is the NFL’s autobahn for running backs - they get to rev their engines and run free. Bush ran for more than 200 yards and a score the last time the two teams met, and I’m betting he’s ready for some open lanes.
WR Steve Smith vs. Tampa Bay. Smith is the next bounce back candidate. Last week was a 19-yard outing. That sucks. Just calling a spade a spade. Smith is definitely off the pace that he set last season. Before last week’s one-point day, he had put up back-to-back double digit weeks, sadly only for the third and fourth time this year. This week against Tampa Bay, he stands a good chance to put together his fifth of the season. The only team that gives up more points to wide receivers at this point is the New Orleans Saints. This week’s column is starting to sound more like a redemption story. I’ll try and throw some cold water on it.
QB Matt Ryan vs. Arizona.Even with Julio Jones off the field for most of the game, Ryan was able to stockpile more than 400 yards and a trio of touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints. The bad news, the Falcons still lost the game. The Falcons are moving the ball better through the air than they are on the ground, but they aren’t facing the Saints secondary this week. This week they get the Arizona Cardinals secondary, which is a formidable crew. I still think they move the ball, but probably not at will like last week.
RB C.J. Spiller vs. Miami.The last time Spiller grabbed hold of the reigns all by himself, he led the league in rushing. This week he gets the reigns back. The Dolphins are a top-tier team against the run, but Spiller is a special talent and the Bills will look to get him the ball any way they can. It’ll be interesting to see who comes away with more points in this game, Reggie Bush or C.J. Spiller?
WR Brandon Marshall at San Francisco.Don’t know if you saw the Houston game last week, but Jay Cutler got knocked the fog out. Or did the fog get knocked in? Either way, after a hit like that, there’s no doubt his vision was fuzzy. Cutler “could” make it back by Monday night for the Bears’ bout with the 49ers, but I’m skeptical. That leaves Marshall with backup Jason Campbell chucking him the ball. Campbell may be one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks, but look at it this way: he’s backing up Cutler, and I wouldn’t even want to start Cutler against this 49ers defense. Danny Amendola was able to go for more than 100 yards against the 49ers last week, but that was the exception not the rule.
Matchups to avoid this week
QB Alex Smith vs. Chicago.Whether it’s Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick, I don’t trust either passer against the Bears defense. The Bears are
still the best defense in the league when it comes to limiting quarterbacks. They’re one of the best defenses, period. Even if Smith starts the game, that’s no guarantee that he finishes it. The Bears hit hard and create problems for the pass and the run. There have to be better options available than this one.
RB Rashad Jennings vs. Houston.Jennings looked capable in the preseason when Jones-Drew was holding out, but this isn’t the preseason. Since filling in for Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings has struggled and his production has been trending downwards. He’s gone from 15 points against Oakland, to eight points at Green Bay, to six against Detroit, and finally two last week against Indianapolis (hardly a tough match-up). Where does it go from there, one point? Zero?
WR Danario Alexander at Denver.If you have Danario Alexander on your roster, you probably had one of the first claims on the waiver wire this past week. The Chargers' wideout had the second-best performance of all receivers, behind only Calvin Johnson. Alexander has always had the skills to be a difference maker, even as a receiver at Missouri. Know what else he’s had since his time at Missouri? Knee problems. I’m not worried about his knees that much this week, that’s a concern for down the road. I’m worried about his match-up with Denver. If Champ Bailey is covering him, which likely will be the case, that’s a tough draw. It’s good to see Alexander make his way back into the league and have some success, even if it’s at the expense of Robert Meachem, but his continued success is likely to take a week off.