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Start/Bench - Week 11

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Welcome to Week 11! Hopefully you find all of your teams in the thick of a playoff race. Even if your team is out of the playoff hunt, remember, it’s not all about the wins and losses. It’s about pride in your ability to manage a team and continue to be competitive even during those seasons where you find yourself with a less-than-stellar team. So, continue to pluck that gem off the waiver wire keeping him from those in the playoff hunt and let everyone know, that even in defeat, you’re going to be a factor in the playoff race.

Now on to this week’s Start/Bench!

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Robert Griffin III
Eli Manning *bye*
Peyton Manning
Aaron Rodgers
Ben Roethlisberger
Matt Ryan

START

Carson Palmer, Oakland vs. New Orleans: Palmer will be facing the worst fantasy defense in the league against quarterbacks. He has also scored less than 14 fantasy points only once this year, which occurred all the way back in Week 4. With running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson likely to miss this week’s game Palmer will have no choice but air it out.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis at New England: Luck will be facing a Patriots defense that is the sixth-most generous in fantasy against quarterbacks. On the road with a running game that is adequate at best, Luck is going to have to put on an aerial display if the Colts are going to have any chance in this game. The Patriots have given up more than 300 yards passing in five out of nine games this year. Luck has passed for more than 300 yards four times. At least 300 yards passing and multiple passing scores are on tap.

Cam Newton, Carolina vs. Tampa Bay: Newton had one of his two 300-yard passing games against Tampa Bay back in Week 1 and will now face a Buccaneers defense that has allowed 1,379 yards passing and 12 touchdowns over its last four games. It appears that Carolina has no interest in establishing a running game and will simply rely on Newton to take care of business. This game is just what Newton needs to get back on track and allow him to finish up his sophomore campaign with a bang.

BENCH
Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco vs. Chicago: Be it either a concussed Alex Smith or second-year man Colin Kaepernick, the Bears’ No. 1 ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks will be on a mission after failing to find the end zone for only the second time since Week 2. The Bears defense needs to prove that it can compete with the elite teams in the NFL and should be looking to make a statement this week.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay at Carolina: Freeman will be facing a Panthers defense that hasn’t allowed multiple passing touchdowns since Week 4. The emergence of running back Doug Martin has the Buccaneers relying less on the arm of Freeman and more on a potent ground attack. I can see Freeman being used as a bye week fill-in but make sure to temper your expectations.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Flacco had a great game last week throwing for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns for the first time since Week 3. But let’s not forget about the five games in between where he threw for one or less touchdowns in each game. Flacco will be facing a Steelers defense that is the third-toughest against quarterbacks in fantasy and hasn’t allowed multiple touchdown passes since Week 5.

RUNNING BACKS

STUDS

Reggie Bush
Jamaal Charles
Arian Foster
Frank Gore
Maurice Jones-Drew
Marshawn Lynch *bye*
Doug Martin
LeSean McCoy
Darren McFadden
Alfred Morris
Adrian Peterson *bye*
Ray Rice

START

Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. New York Jets: Jackson topped 20 carries for the first time since Week 1 and converted them into his first 100-yard effort of the season against a very stout San Francisco defense. Was last week a game plan that played towards a 49ers weakness or is this going to be the norm moving forward? I don’t know, but given a matchup against a Jets defense that has allowed 100 or more yards rushing in seven out of nine games this year, I’ve got to ride with Jackson this week.

Joique Bell, Detroit vs. Green Bay: This game is going to be a shootout, and Bell is the preferred option at running back for the Lions when they go to pass mode. Those in points per reception leagues should especially take note as Bell’s pass-catching prowess should allow him to be at least a productive flex play this week.

 

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo vs. Miami: Did I really need to include Spiller on the ‘start’ list? No, I didn’t. But when he goes off on a tough Miami defense, I don’t want to be the only one left behind when the other industry analysts toot their own horns for having made such a ‘bold’ prediction. On the other hand, should Spiller tank this Thursday, forget that you ever read this.

BENCH

Chris Ivory, New Orleans at Oakland: While the Oakland defense is ranked as the fourth-most generous against running backs, most of that can be attributed to two games in which the Raiders gave up a combined 505 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Sans those two games, the Oakland defense has only allowed three rushing touchdowns in seven games. As long as the Saints continue to employ an running back by committee, your guess is as good as mine as to when Ivory will find the end zone, as that is what will make him flex-worthy.

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville at Houston: We’ve seen enough to know that Jennings cannot handle the role of feature back. We’ve also seen enough to know that when healthy, Maurice Jones-Drew is a first-round talent. While a healthy Jones-Drew would be firmly planted on the ‘Studs’ list against this matchup with the Texans, Jennings gets a seat on the ‘bench.’

James Starks/Alex Green, Green Bay at Detroit: While the Lions have given up 100-plus yards rushing in five out of nine games this year, they have only allowed three rushing touchdowns on the season. Regardless of the defense that Green Bay is facing, the running back position is a virtual non-factor in their offense as they prefer to let Aaron Rodgers do the heavy lifting. This is a timeshare that is best avoided.

WIDE RECEIVERS

STUDS

Marques Colston
Victor Cruz *bye*
Larry Fitzgerald
AJ Green
Percy Harvin
Vincent Jackson
Andre Johnson
Calvin Johnson
Brandon Marshall
Jordy Nelson
Hakeem Nicks *bye*
Steve Smith
Mike Wallace
Reggie Wayne
Wes Welker
Roddy White

 

 

START

Denarius Moore, Oakland vs. New Orleans: Moore has scored a touchdown in five out of his last seven games and this week he gets a matchup with a Saints defense that is the worst in the league when it comes to defending wide receivers. You may want to see if Moore’s owner is willing to part with him as he has a favorable schedule the rest of the way.

Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers defense has given up less than 200 yards receiving to opposing wide receivers just once this season, back in Week 6. They have given up six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the last four weeks. While Smith has struggled mightily this season, look for him to put up his best game to-date against the Buccaneers this weekend.

Dez Bryant, Dallas vs. Cleveland: The Browns have held opposing wide receivers to less than 100 yards only once this season. While Bryant has only scored three touchdowns on the season, the talk this week has been about how Bryant is progressing as a football player. His diving touchdown grab last week should definitely increase Tony Romo’s confidence in Bryant, opening the door for bigger performances down the road.

BENCH

Danario Alexander, San Diego at Denver: Alexander took advantage of a plus-matchup and a missed tackle to score on an 80-yard pass play last week. But there’s a huge difference between Tampa Bay and Denver, who are the fourth-toughest defense in fantasy against wide receivers. There will be no gifts from the Broncos defense this week.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco vs. Chicago: Crabtree should be on your bench regardless of who is starting at quarterback for the 49ers this week, but more so should Colin Kaepernick get the start. The Bears were able to hold the Texans wide receivers to a mere six catches for 65 yards. The Bears need to post a high profile win and they’ll be very motivated come Monday night.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville at Houston: The Texans defense has shut down both the Chicago and Buffalo wide receivers over the last two weeks. Shorts was held without a catch back in Week 2 against the Texans and figures to get the same treatment again this week.

TIGHT ENDS

STUDS

Owen Daniels
Vernon Davis
Tony Gonzalez
Jimmy Graham
Rob Gronkowski
Aaron Hernandez
Heath Miller
Brandon Pettigrew
Jason Witten

START

Antonio Gates, San Diego at Denver: After not scoring a touchdown in the Chargers’ first five games, Gates has found the end zone four times in their last four games. This week Gates has a tasty matchup against a Broncos defense that is the worst in the league at stopping tight ends. Another solid game by Gates and he just may find himself back on the ‘studs’ list.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia at Washington: This call is more about opportunity as Celek has a matchup against the second worst team in fantasy when it comes to defending tight ends. And if a tight end is truly a rookie quarterback’s best friend, then Celek should be in for a big game.

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis at New England: With Coby Fleener expected to miss a couple more weeks, Allen will be the focus at tight end for the Colts. With a solid matchup against a Patriots defense that has been very generous to opposing tight ends, a six-catch, 70-yard effort with a possible touchdown is not out of the question.

BENCH

Jacob Tamme, Denver vs. San Diego: The Chargers have only allowed two touchdowns and one double-digit scoring effort by an opposing teams’ tight ends. Add in touchdown vulture Joel Dreessen, and you’re looking at a very unproductive day by Tamme.

Logan Paulsen, Washington vs. Philadelphia: It’s possible that we’ve seen the best from Paulsen. If super-sleeper, Fred Davis, was unable to thrive in the Redskins’ new offense, what are we to expect from Paulsen? With Robert Griffin III under center, the Redskins prefer to throw the ball to their wide receivers at the expense of their tight ends. Although, those in points per reception leagues who are desperate for help at tight end could do worse than Paulsen.

Aaron Hernandez, New England vs. Indianapolis: I know that Hernandez is on the ‘studs’ list, so please don’t get all bent out of shape. David Grey will tell you that not everything in life is black and white. I’m tired of playing this game with the Patriots as to whether Hernandez will or won’t start. It’s best to play it safe until you’ve actually seen him play a game, especially since this week they’ll be facing the No. 1 defense in fantasy when it comes to defending tight ends.

Jim Bukowski is the content manager and a fantasy writer for fantasysharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at bukowski@fantasysharks.com.