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Week 11 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”


QUARTERBACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Alex Smith (@ NYG)

Everything is lining up for Smith to have a huge day after a minor bump in the road before the bye week. First of all, Andy Reid is great with the extra time to prepare, so Kansas City should come out firing, and with the Giants seemingly ready for the offseason, a punch in the mouth early could lead to them quitting again. Also, Smith has been better on the road than at home with 22.2 fantasy points per game in his five starts away from Arrowhead, and New York is allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Only Tom Brady is a better option for me this week.

 

Thumbs Up: Ben Roethlisberger (v TEN)

Anyone who has relied on Roethlisberger being their fantasy starter this year is surely disappointed, as he has yet to surpass 17 fantasy points in a single week and hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game since last Christmas. Despite adding second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster to an already-loaded offense, Big Ben just hasn’t been very good this season, but I think he could be in for a second-half surge. Pittsburgh will play five of their final seven games at home, and that starts against Tennessee on Thursday night. It should help that Roethlisberger thinks the team is ready to use more no-huddle in Week 11 after they averaged more than eight yards per play with it against the Colts last Sunday. I think a 3+ touchdown game could be coming in primetime.

 

Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v NE)

Like Roethlisberger, Derek Carr has been a disappointment this year for those relying on him as their QB1, as he’s averaged just 13.4 fantasy points per game in his healthy starts. However, he’s been better recently with at least 300 passing yards in each of the past three games, and he’s averaging more than 343 yards per game over that stretch. New England has improved dramatically on defense since a slow start to the season, but this Sunday in Mexico City could turn into an old-fashioned shootout. Carr should be a solid QB1.

 

Thumbs Up: Jay Cutler (v TB)

Cutler made a really bad mistake at the end of the first half in Monday night’s loss to Carolina, but overall, he’s been the least of Miami’s problems (contrary to what Twitter believes). The Dolphins have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, so there isn’t much time for perimeter threats DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills to get downfield. Fortunately, the Bucs’ pass rushers aren’t great, and Cutler might not need time anyway due to Parker’s ability to win jump balls over the small Tampa Bay cornerbacks. I like Cutler as a quality streamer in Week 11.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Matt Ryan (@ SEA)

As I stated in the description for the quarterback rankings for this week, Matt Ryan threw for at least 335 yards and three scores in both games against Seattle in 2016, but that was with Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator. I think Ryan would probably magically have Richard Sherman healed and on the field for the Seahawks if it meant Atlanta got Shanahan back, but we know that’s not happening. The Falcons quarterback has gotten going a bit with three-straight weeks with two touchdowns, but he’s averaged just 15.7 fantasy points per game over that span. I would be surprised if he was any better in Seattle.

 

Thumbs Down: Jared Goff (@ MIN)

Goff has been awesome this season, but his two worst games of the season have come against elite defensive back groups, as he threw for just 124 yards and one touchdown in Jacksonville and 288 yards and two interceptions versus Seattle. The Vikings have arguably the best secondary in the NFL, so going to Minnesota is a difficult draw for the second-year quarterback. I still have him as a borderline QB1, but this would be the week to bench Goff.

 

Thumbs Down: Brett Hundley (v BAL)

Brett Hundley had his best game as a pro in last week’s win over the Bears, and the 24-year-old continues to get better with experience, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who aren’t prone to “hot takes.” That said, Hundley faces a stiff test on Sunday against a Baltimore team that’s coming off a bye week and hasn’t allowed more than 14 fantasy points in a game—excluding their blowout loss in London that has proven to be an outlier— to a quarterback all season; his floor is too low to put in lineups.

 

Thumbs Down: Andy Dalton (@ DEN)

After a dreadful start to the season (zero touchdowns and four interceptions in two games), Andy Dalton has turned things around a bit since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator, as he’s thrown for multiple touchdown passes in five-of-seven games and has just four interceptions over that span. But while the Broncos defense has been awful over the past two weeks (46 points per game to the Eagles and Patriots), they have too many pieces not to fix things at home. Don’t be misled by Denver being 17th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks.

 

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Tevin Coleman (@ SEA)

People forget it because Devonta Freeman has been so good over the past two-and-a-half seasons, but Tevin Coleman actually won the starting running back job outright as a rookie in 2015, but broken ribs suffered in Week 2 of that year opened the door for Freeman to breakout. In Coleman’s two healthy starts so far in his career, he’s averaged 19 carries and 95 rushing yards per game, and he found the end zone before leaving the other start with his rib injury. The former third-round pick is set to make his fourth career start on Monday night with Freeman (concussion) not expected to play, and he should handle 20+ touches. Even in a difficult matchup, Coleman is a surefire RB1, and it’s worth noting that in last year’s playoff game, he turned 14 touches into 79 yards and a touchdown against Seattle—and that was with his backfield partner healthy and starting.

 

Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (v LAR)

Last week, I had Murray here and I couldn’t figure out why most people had him ranked so low (35th at the position), but he turned in 68 rushing yards and a touchdown in a win. This week, he’s jumped 10 spots in FantasyPros expert consensus rankings, but he should be an every-week RB2 in my opinion. The Vikings offense is operating on all cylinders, and teams can’t stack the box with Stefon Diggs healthy and doing damage with Adam Thielen, especially since Case Keenum is playing the best football of his career. Look for another strong day out of Murray against the Rams’ beatable run defense (4.5 yards per carry allowed).

 

Thumbs Up: Doug Martin (@ MIA)

Martin probably loved what he saw Carolina do to Miami’s defense in Week 10, as the Panthers ran for 296 yards on Monday Night Football. Some of that was due to Cam Newton’s 95 yards on the ground, but over the past five weeks, the Dolphins have bled production to opposing running backs with 5.22 yards per carry and 129.4 yards per game allowed to the position. If he gets 20 carries like he did a week ago, Martin could have a huge day.

 

Thumbs Up: Rex Burkhead (@ OAK)

One of the top waiver-wire pickups of the week, Rex Burkhead looks like he will be a weekly contributor down the stretch for New England’s high-powered offense after Mike Gillislee was a healthy inactive on Sunday night. Burkhead can do everything for the Patriots—run inside, run outside, block, catch passes, run routes—and he should be on the field a lot against Oakland in Week 11 with Chris Hogan (shoulder) expected to miss another game. The former Bengal looks like an every-week FLEX in both standard and PPR leagues.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: LeSean McCoy (@ LAC)

After breaking out at the end of October with 28 touches for 122 yards and two scores against the Buccaneers and 33 touches for 173 yards and one touchdown against the Raiders, LeSean McCoy has been limited to just 23 total touches over the past two weeks—both big loses. Things won’t get much better after Tyrod Taylor was benched for fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman, so Shady should see some more loaded boxes against Los Angeles after they limited Leonard Fournette to 33 yards on 17 carries in Week 10. McCoy is still an RB2, but are his elite days over for good?

 

Thumbs Down: Lamar Miller (v ARI)

Lamar Miller has actually had his two most-efficient games of the season with Tom Savage in the lineup over the past two weeks, but that’s because Houston has been running in more passing situations, so his 5.6 yards-per-carry average is a little misleading against softer fronts. Still averaging just 3.9 yards per carry on the year and splitting work with D’Onta Foreman, Miller is just a FLEX in a tough matchup with Arizona this week.

 

Thumbs Down: Orleans Darkwa (v KC)

Darkwa has been one of the few productive players for New York this season, as he’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 81 attempts, but he isn’t scoring touchdowns on a bad offense and isn’t a great receiver, which limits his appeal in all formats. As far as this week goes, he might be erased from the game plan early if Kansas City’s offense explodes like I’m expecting it to, and the Giants will be without their best offensive lineman in Justin Pugh (who was already forced to kick from guard to right tackle).

 

Thumbs Down: LeGarrette Blount (@ DAL)

If not for the Eagles acquiring Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline, Blount would probably be a low-end RB2/FLEX option heading into Sunday night’s matchup with the Cowboys. Instead, Ajayi is the lead runner and a solid RB1, and Corey Clement will probably be the main change-of-pace option, which doesn’t leave much for Blount. He barely cracks the top 50 at the position in Week 11.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Brandin Cooks (@ OAK)

This week is a great one to go after upside at the wide receiver position, and Brandin Cooks headlines the group. The Raiders have been toasted by smaller, faster receivers over the past two years, and that includes Cooks himself in 2016 with the Saints when he caught six-of-nine targets for 143 yards and two touchdowns against them. I think a monster performance is coming for New England’s top receiver, and only Antonio Brown tops him as a fantasy play in both standard and PPR leagues.

 

Thumbs Up: Tyreek Hill (@ NYG)

Right behind Cooks in the Week 11 rankings is Tyreek Hill, and his upside is basically just as high. The final play in the first half of Kansas City’s loss to the Cowboys two weeks ago could be a preview of the entire game for Hill this Sunday, as the Giants haven’t tackled anyone in recent weeks, and they’ve also been torched by the deep ball. Honestly, “Cheetah” would probably be a top-five play if the New York defense just needed to two-hand touch him.

 

Thumbs Up: JuJu Smith-Schuster (v TEN)

This is the third-straight week I have JuJu as a “Thumbs Up,” but he’s been red hot and too many people are still too low on him. For example, ESPN has him as their 27th best receiver, and no one has him in WR2 territory. My only question is, have they been watching the games? The rookie is averaging six receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown per game since becoming the clear number-two behind Antonio Brown, and he knows how to get open against different coverages and can make contested catches. I’m excited to see what he’ll do with Big Ben back at home this week.

 

Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (@ DAL)

Held to a combined five receptions for 62 yards over the past two weeks, Agholor is well-positioned to catch fire again this week against Dallas. The Cowboys have limited perimeter receiving options this season, including Julio Jones last week, so Carson Wentz should look to work the middle with Agholor and Zach Ertz, especially with Sean Lee out of the lineup. There is concern the Eagles run away with the game if left tackle Tyron Smith is inactive for Dallas, but Agholor should get enough targets to be worth inserting into lineups as a high-end FLEX play.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins (v ARI)

Hopkins has at least seven fantasy points in every game this season no matter who’s playing quarterback or what the matchup is, but a meeting with Patrick Peterson should give fantasy owners pause. Peterson is fully expected to shadow Houston’s top offensive weapon, so both his ceiling and floor are significantly lowered in Week 11. Most fantasy owners probably don’t have a choice but to play Hopkins, but he’s a low-end WR2/FLEX for me.

 

Thumbs Down: A.J. Green (@ DEN)

Another elite receiver with a difficult matchup, A.J. Green has faced Denver in each of the past three seasons, and interestingly, the only time Cincinnati came out on top was in 2014 when Green didn’t catch a pass as he battled a shoulder injury. In the other two games, Green had gone for lines of 5/57/1 in 2015 and 8/77 in 2016, so when healthy, he’s been able to produce against the Broncos. Still, I think their secondary has too much pride to be torched for the third-straight week, and stopping Green should be the priority. Consider him a midrange WR2 instead of a high-end WR1.

 

Thumbs Down: Marvin Jones (@ CHI)

Just when everyone buys into Marvin Jones after 331 yards and three touchdowns over a three-game span, he puts up just 22 yards in a matchup with the Browns. Like the beginning of 2016, it appears the fantasy community has been hoodwinked into buying into Jones as an WR1, when he’s basically just a streaky FLEX option. The Bears are good against number-one wideouts, so I’d avoid Jones in Week 11 if I can.

 

Thumbs Down: Kelvin Benjamin (@ LAC)

I actually think Nathan Peterman taking over for Tyrod Taylor as Buffalo’s starter could be a good thing for Benjamin, as it’d be natural for the rookie to lock onto his six-foot-five receiver, but I’m staying far away from KB until we see Peterman in action for an extended period of time. Also, he might be shadowed by Casey Hayward, and LA’s top corner has had success against taller wideouts—and that includes Benjamin (one reception for 11 yards) last season.

 

 

TIGHT END

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Cook (v NE)

At tight end right now, I would say there is the Gronk tier, the non-Gronk-elite tier (Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz), the Jimmy-Graham-touchdown tier, and Evan Engram, but after that? It’s pretty jumbled. Hunter Henry isn’t used consistently, Cameron Brate is struggling without Jameis Winston, and Kyle Rudolph hasn’t shown great chemistry with Case Keenum. With Jordan Reed still hurt and Delanie Walker in a difficult matchup, Cook seems like the best option outside of the top five, and I expect New England to focus on Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree more than Oakland’s tight end.

 

Thumbs Up: Tyler Kroft (@ DEN)

Kroft was held to one reception for four yards in Sunday’s loss to the Titans, but he has a chance to bounce back this week against the Broncos, as Denver hasn’t been good against opposing tight ends. Two years ago, Kroft caught four passes for 46 yards against the Broncos, and he should have a larger role and is a better player than he was then.

 

Thumbs Up: Jason Witten (v PHI)

Sunday night is basically a do-or-die game for the Cowboys when it comes to their chances of winning the NFC East this year, and the veteran Witten should know that better than anyone. The Eagles have a weakened middle of the defense with Jordan Hicks done for the year, so Dak Prescott should look to his tight end. I’m normally lower on Witten than most, but he’s worth considering in Week 11.

 

Thumbs Up: Marcedes Lewis (@ CLE)

Anyone playing against the Browns is also worth considering, and that will be Marcedes Lewis this week. Cleveland has allowed 9.1 fantasy points per game to the position, and the best players they’ve faced have been Delanie Walker and Kyle Rudolph. You could certainly do worse than Lewis as a lottery ticket.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Charles Clay (@ LAC)

Like I said with Benjamin, I think it’d be best to sit Clay this week and see how Nathan Peterman looks, especially since the Chargers have been really good against opposing tight ends, including holding Travis Kelce to one yard earlier this season.

 

Thumbs Down: Eric Ebron (@ CHI)

Ebron was usable last week against the Browns, but unless it gives him some confidence to carry through the rest of the season, he could probably go back on the waiver wire. Chicago hasn’t allowed a tight end to surpass 50 yards since Austin Hooper had 128 on two receptions because of busted coverages in the season opener.

 

Thumbs Down: Julius Thomas (v TB)

A nice shovel pass allowed Julius Thomas find the end zone for the second-straight week, but he had just eight yards against the Panthers and has been held to single-digit yardage outputs in two-of-three games. Thomas belongs on the waiver wire.

 

Thumbs Down: Martellus Bennett (@ OAK)

Now that he’s somewhat relevant after snaking his way out of Green Bay, I can put Martellus Bennett back as a weekly “Thumbs Down.” If you didn’t know, this guy burnt every bridge out of Wisconsin and forced everyone from Jordy Nelson to Aaron Rodgers to former players come to the defense of the Packers’ team doctor after Bennett attempted to slander him. And then he was miraculously on the field a few days after claiming his shoulder injury required season-ending surgery.

 

For defense and kicker advice—and all your start/sit decisions—check out our full Week 11 rankings.

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