As we enter Week 11 of the NFL season, fantasy owners are making their final push for a playoff spot. Every game counts from here on out, and it is even more important now than ever before for the right decisions to be made.
The difference between a win or a loss could be as simple as playing Matt Stafford at QB instead of Tony Romo, because you are worried about him being rusty. Or it could be as big as continuing to run Melvin Gordon out there because you burned a high 4th-rounder on him. If you have even the slightest doubt about a player, make sure you look at the numbers and not the name when setting your lineups. Fantasy football is ALL about production, not potential.
You show me a player that is full of "potential," and I will show you a player who is bound to disappoint you this weekend!
P.S. Tony Romo is back, and a must-start if you own him!
Tyrod Taylor – Bills: Taylor has been a pleasant surprise for the Bills and fantasy owners this year, but it isn't just his play alone that makes him a good streaming option for those with guys hurt or on a bye. The Patriots give up 21.2 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, but mostly because teams end up throwing from behind. I'd put Taylor in my QB1 rankings this week, and either 1 or 2 on the list for streaming QBs.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: Bortles is no longer laughed at by those big-box websites, and is currently ranked in the 10-12 range for fantasy QBs, depending on your league settings. The Titans give up 21.5 PPG to QBs this season, the 10th-most in the NFL. The Titans give up 234.1 yards and 1.8 TDs per game to QBs this year, whereas Bortles averages 264.6 yards and 2.1 TDs. The law of averages says Bortles should get owners somewhere in the 250-yard range, with 2-plus TDs on Sunday against the Titans. I'd consider him a QB1 if he reaches those numbers.
Charcandrick West – Chiefs: West has proven himself to the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles on the shelf with a torn right Achilles tendon. Over the past month West has racked up 412 total yards of offense (276 rushing and 136 receiving) and 4 TDs. Those numbers rank West as fantasy football's #5 RB over that time. This week he gets a generous Chargers defense that gives up 24.5 PPG to RBs, the most in the NFL. I'd consider West a must-start in DFS leagues, as well as standard leagues.
Darren McFadden – Cowboys: The Chargers may be the worst at defending fantasy RBs, but the Dolphins are #2 on that list! They give up 24.0 PPG, and have allowed 1,444 total yards (1,067 rushing, 377 receiving) and 12 TDs (8 rushing, 4 receiving) through 9 games this season. McFadden should have plenty of opportunities for success with Romo back and eager to get the ship headed in the right direction.
Allen Hurns – Jaguars: Through 9 games this season, Hurns has scored in 7 of those games. For those owners smart enough to grab him off the waiver wire, Hurns has paid off by averaging 4.6 receptions and 77.4 yards receiving, stats good enough to rank him #10 for fantasy WRs (average per game) this year. Every week I get asked if Hurns should be started, and every week I ask those same people why he should be sat down. Hurns is a consistent producer that should be played as a WR2 with upside each and every week.
Stefon Diggs – Vikings: The Vikings and Packers are fighting it out to see who will win the NFC North, and that battle comes to a head this weekend when they face each other in Minnesota. Forget that the Packers give up just 22.0 PPG to WRs this season, 11th-fewest in the NFL. The Vikings need to win this game, and it isn't going to come on the back of Adrian Peterson alone. Teddy Bridgewater is going to visit Diggs-town this weekend!
Eric Ebron – Lions: Ebron is one of those fantasy TEs that gets a lot of hype from those big-box websites, but I'm not really sure why up to this point because his production is spotty at best. But this weekend is a little different with the Lions taking on a Raiders team (at home) that gives up 12.5 PPG to TEs this season (2nd-most), and has allowed 10 receiving TDs (the most) to them. If there is a week to play Ebron, it would be THIS week.
Minnesota Vikings defense: The Packers are struggling after losing Jordy Nelson for the season, and refusing to bench Eddie Lacy until they finally gave in and benched him last week. With the offense not as "dialed in" as they have been in years past, the defense average, and them playing on the road in Minnesota, I am going to give the Vikings a play this week as a sneaky streaming option. They could get thumped, and I could be completely wrong, but I am going to trust in the numbers here and play the Vikings defense this week.
Jay Cutler – Bears: After Cutler lit up the Rams for 258 yards and 3 TDs last week, a lot of owners are thinking that Cutler is back on track. And with the Broncos losing two games in a row and without Peyton Manning, those fantasy websites are saying people should target them to play against. I go the opposite route; the Broncos defense will step up big with Manning down, and the once-unbeaten Super Bowl contenders are desperate to get back on track. I am looking for the Broncos to create all kinds of problems for Cutler and the Bears offense this weekend.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: Did you know the Cowboys give up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at just 18.0 PPG? While the Cowboys do give up 252.8 YPG to QBs, they allow just 1 TD and take back 0.6 INTs per game. Tannehill is averaging 1 INT per game this year, and is averaging just 1.5 TDs per game over the past 4 games. With Romo back this week, I'm looking for the Cowboys to be a little extra charged for this one.
LeSean McCoy – Bills: If everything goes as expected, the Patriots will be up and the Bills will be throwing from behind. Even though McCoy has put up back-to-back 112-yard games, people need to remember back to Week 3 when he played them and finished with 89 yards on the ground, 27 yards from the air and no endzone visits. I know I'm probably not in the minority here, but I see the Patriots putting the pedal to the medal and trying to finish the year with a perfect season. If they do, McCoy isn't a big enough factor in the passing game to finish with another big day.
Doug Martin – Buccaneers: Not many people realize how good the Eagles defense really is. Did you know they allow the 5th-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season at 14.5 PPG? Did you know they have allowed just 1 rushing touchdown and 2 receiving touchdowns to RBs this season? While Martin has been a beast on the ground (5th-most rushing yards at 706), he has just 21 receptions for 188 yards, making him a fairly one-dimensional RB. The Eagles are good at limiting RBs, and Martin produced a good portion of his numbers in a 3-game span in Weeks 4, 5 & 7. Take out those games, and Martin has been nothing special.
DeSean Jackson – Redskins: Jackson is owned in 81 percent of fantasy leagues out there, but has been nothing short of a disappointment his first two weeks back from a hamstring injury that cost him six games this season. Put aside the fact that the Panthers are undefeated and have one of the better defenses in the NFL. Try and just realize that Jackson's deep-threat game doesn't coincide with the Redskins' short passing scheme. This is just a bad marriage for Jackson and the Redskins, and one of them would be smart to find a way out of it this offseason.
DeAndre Hopkins – Texans: The people Yahoo use for their analysis seem to think that Hopkins is still a must-start player even if T.J. Yates is under center for the Texans. Here are two things I see: The Jets are 5-4 and in a dogfight with the Bills for 2nd place in the AFC East; Hopkins is likely to be shadowed by Darrelle Revis, who just held Sammy Watkins to 14 yards on 3 receptions last week (regardless what people say about him "burning" Revis on a 5-yard out route). Being a "target monster" means nothing unless you haul in those targets. Watkins was targeted 7 times, and managed to catch just 3 because of Revis. I'd be careful putting my faith in Hopkins this week, especially in those DFS leagues!
Antonio Gates – Chargers: The Chargers are coming off a bye, which is normally a good thing for offensive cohesion. However, the Chargers are down to Malcolm Floyd, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman at WR. With Melvin Gordon a disappointment at RB, the logical go-to option is Gates as a safety net. With that being fairly obvious, you would assume the Chiefs will be playing tight on Gates all game long. Add to that the fact that the Chiefs give up the fewest fantasy points to TEs this season at a measly 4.4 PPG, and you can see why I am not recommending Gates in Week 11.
Tennessee Titans defense: The AFC South is a wide-open division with the Colts and Texans sitting at 4-5, and the Jaguars having a 3-6 record. What's more, a win over the Titans could really throw the division into chaos if the Colts and Texans lose (which is very possible this week). I'm looking for the Jaguars to come out with a hunger to win, and the offense putting points on the board. The Jaguars are no cake walk for fantasy defenses this year!