Tuesday - Dec 11, 2018

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START/BENCH: Week 11

As we head into the 11th week of the 2018 fantasy football campaign, there are teams than run the gamut — 10-0, 9-1, and 8-2 teams having all sorts of fun this season.

And 0-10, 1-9, and 2-8 fantasy squads trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

The answer to that question isn’t an easy one to pinpoint. There are any number of reasons why a fantasy season can come off the rails. Maybe you drafted Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook — both of whom have spent more time on the sidelines and injury report than on the field.

Maybe your receiving corps was anchored by Larry Fitzgerald and Doug Baltimoredwin. Or your starting quarterback at the beginning of the year was Matthew Stafford.

However, the teams that are sitting pretty and kicking butt have a few things in common.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes has already sailed past 3,000 passing yards and set a new single-season franchise record for touchdown passes. Not bad for a second-year pro who had an average draft position (ADP) of QB16 over the summer at My Fantasy League.

Los Angeles Rams tailback Todd Gurley has put the debate about the No. 1 pick in 2019 to rest before 2018 is even over. Gurley isn’t just the No. 1 running back in fantasy football this year. He’s the No. 1 player overall — by a margin of over five points per game. There hasn’t been a game this season in which Gurley hasn’t found the end zone.

Up in Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen has been ridiculously consistent. In eight of nine games this year, Thielen has topped the 100-yard mark. In seven of those games, Thielen scored a touchdown.

If you have one of those players, things have probably gone OK for you. If you have two, it’s been a fun year. If you have all three?

Screw you, pal. That’s just not fair.

With that said, no matter who’s on your roster or what your record is, for a few more weeks at least we all have one thing in common — we’re all trying to set a lineup that will get us a win in fantasy leagues.

The scheduling jerks didn’t make that any easier in Week 11. Six teams are on a bye. The entire AFC East (Buffalo, Miami, New England, New York Jets) are joined on the sidelines by Cleveland and San Francisco.

QUARTERBACKS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Dak Prescott, Dallas (at Atlanta)

As Jennifer Eakins wrote for Sports Illustrated, Prescott’s a great streaming option in Week 11 — and beyond.

“Prescott turned in another useful performance in Week 10,” she said, “throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown, and adding a score on the ground, in (Dallas’) 27-20 win over (Philadelphia). He’s been trending upward the past three games, with six total touchdowns, one interception and an average of 262 passing yards per game. He gets a dream matchup in Week 11, facing (Atlanta’s) 31st-ranked defense in quarterback Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA). He has some long-term value, as well, with three of his next five opponents ranking 28th or worse in that same category.”

Over the last four weeks, Prescott’s worked himself back into fantasy relevance — he ranks 10th in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks over that span. With a matchup upcoming against an Atlanta team that’s third in fantasy points allowed to signal-callers this year, that hot streak looks likely to continue.

ROLL THEM OUT

Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. Tampa Bay)

I’m already regretting this call — this isn’t the first time this year I’ve recommended Manning in a favorable matchup only to wind up with egg on my face. But Manning threw three touchdown passes last week against San Francisco, and Tampa Bay is a hot mess defensively.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (at Indianapolis)

Like Prescott, Mariota has picked up his level of play substantially of late — he ranks one slot higher than Prescott in terms of fantasy points per game over the last month. That bodes well heading into a favorable matchup with Indianapolis.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (at New Orleans)

At 4-5, Wentz and Philadelphia are in desperation mode. And to be fair, Wentz’s numbers are down significantly compared to last year. But Philadelphia has no choice but to come out firing Sunday against a New Orleans team allowing the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

SIT THEM DOWN

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at Baltimore)

If last week was any indication, the loss of AJ Green is a massive blow to Cincinnati offensively. Now, on top of that huge hole in the Cincinnati passing-game arsenal, Cincinnati faces a desperate Baltimore defense that’s 26th in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay (at New York Giants)

Last week, Tampa Bay did something that no team in the NFL’s modern era ever had — rack up more than 500 yards of total offense and score all of three points. For all the Giants’ issues this year, allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks hasn’t been one of them.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (vs. Tennessee)

Luck’s making a strong case for Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2018 — after missing all of last season only Patrick Mahomes has more touchdown passes than Luck’s 26. But Tennessee leads the NFL in scoring defense and rank 30th in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.