QB: Andrew Luck at NE – Continuing his historic rookie year, Andrew Luck ran in another two touchdowns last week. Through nine games, he’s currently sitting at a 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio with five rushing touchdown… not bad for a rookie. This week Luck draws the best matchup of all Week 11 quarterbacks; he’ll face a Patriots’ secondary that is allowing an average of 25.4 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Start Luck with confidence. On a side note, Carson Palmer against the Saints is another option worth looking at for owners who need a quarterback.
RB: C.J. Spiller vs. MIA – This ‘start’ is not based on Spiller’s tough matchup but rather his incredible playmaking ability. Spiller will play his third game without Fred Jackson in the lineup this season on Thursday night; in the first two, he averaged a godly 182 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns. Arguably more impressive, over the course of the season Spiller is averaging fewer than 13 touches per game – somehow he’s still averaging 103.2 yards per game. That, my friends, is efficiency at its finest. With Jackson out, Spiller becomes a full-blown RB1.
Felix Jones vs. CLE – Coming off a nice performance against the Eagles, the Cowboys will face the Browns. With DeMarco Murray likely out for his fifth straight week, Felix Jones has the look of an attractive flex play. Facing a Browns defense that has played much better pass defense than run defense, Jones should find some running lanes.
Reggie Bush at BUF – Despite his declining role – in part due to his Week 10 fumble – Reggie Bush is a strong flex play against the Bills 32nd ranked run defense. Allowing a league worst 5.5 yards per carry and 163.7 rushing yards per game, Bush won’t need a heavy workload to take advantage of this matchup. As the Dolphins’ best skill player, it’s highly unlikely he’ll remain on the bench.
Marcel Reece vs. NO – This week Marcel Reece draws the Saints’ 31st ranked run defense. Despite not being a special talent, Raiders coach Dennis Allen confirmed that Reece will remain the Raiders’ lead back. A big part of the passing game, Reece will have plenty of chances to rack up yardage and possibly find the end zone against one of the league’s worst tackling teams.
WR: Randall Cobb at DET – Although Jordy Nelson is returning to the lineup, don’t even think about benching Randall Cobb. One of the league’s most electrifying players, Cobb’s role is very unlikely to be scaled back. Per Pro Football Focus, Cobb is third in the league in percentage of targets caught. Also tied for sixth out of wide receivers in missed tackles forced, the Packers would be silly to reduce his usage.
Stevie Johnson vs. MIA – Coming off his season high of 86 receiving yards, it appears that Stevie Johnson is finally over his nagging thigh injury. Absent from the Week 11 injury report, Johnson is a solid play facing the Dolphins’ 28th ranked pass defense. A featured player in Chan Gailey’s offense, Johnson should capitalize on the favorable matchup.
Steve Smith vs. TB – Unsurprisingly Cam Newton wasn’t able to get Steve Smith the ball with Champ Bailey’s suffocating coverage and it led to his weakest performance of the season. While shadowing opposing teams’ best receiver the entire season, Champ Bailey has allowed just one touchdown. Still playing at a very high level, we can chalk Smith’s last game up to a bad matchup. This matchup is at the opposite side of the spectrum. Allowing the most fantasy points to opposing receivers, Smith dominated the Bucs in Week 1, finishing with seven catches for 106 yards. Considering Tampa Bay is giving up a league worst 321.3 passing yards per game, owners should be starting Smiff with confidence.
Jeremy Maclin at WAS – Last week Jeremy Maclin finally broke out after the injury to Michael Vick. Do I think his value is stable with Foles replacing Vick? No. But I do believe that Foles can help him exploit favorable matchups. Maclin is going to be inconsistent whoever is at quarterback because the Eagles’ offensive is among the worst in the league. Despite that fact, the Redskins defense has been porous against the pass, currently allowing 301.7 yards – good for 30th in the league. They’re also tied for allowing a league worst 20 touchdown passes. I expect the Eagles to be playing from behind for most of the game, giving Foles a healthy amount of pass attempts. It appeared last week Maclin was his favorite target.
TE: Dwayne Allen at NE – With Coby Fleener out of the lineup, Dwayne Allen is shaping up as an attractive play. The Patriots’ linebackers has struggled significantly in coverage and with Patriots coach Bill Belichick likely aiming to take Wayne out of the equation, Allen may be someone the Colts try and target. With the Patriots offense facing the Colts defense on the other side of the ball, there should plenty opportunities for Colts pass-catchers to make plays.
QB: Joe Flacco at PIT – With Joe Flacco’s destruction against the Raiders last week, it’s easy to forget that he struggled mightily in his previous four games; averaging just 180.3 passing yards per game with a 3:3 TD-to-INT ratio. Over that stretch, he faced KC, DAL, HOU, and CLE. Flacco has been able to exploit the easy matchups this season, against CIN, NE, and OAK for big games but hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in any of his other games. This week he faces off against the Steelers’ No. 1 ranked pass defense that is allowing just 171.1 pass yards per game. Bench him.
RB: Michael Turner vs. AZ – It appears that Michael Turner’s late season struggles have started early this season. Facing off against one of the league’s worst rush defenses, Turner totaled just 15 yards on 13 carries against the Saints. Not included much in the passing game and lacking big play ability, Turner needs touchdowns for production. Since the Falcons passing game moves the ball with relative ease, he will face favorable running formations and does receive the goal-line scores. But particularly in PPR leagues, he’s a low-upside RB2.
Rashad Jennings at HOU – Rashad Jennings’ stock is falling as fast as any player. Proving to have little wiggle or ability to generate yards after contact, Jennings simply gets what the defense gives him. Previously relying on his role in the passing game for weekly production, Jennings caught zero passes last week. Considering he had just 52 scoreless yards against the Lions and just 27 scoreless yards against the Colts, I wouldn’t trust him against the Texans.
Jonathan Stewart vs. TB – My oh my has Jonathan Stewart’s stock fallen since rumors of becoming the Panthers’ featured back in Week 8. Receiving just ten touches against the Broncos last week, Stewart isn’t receiving a heavy enough workload to have consistent value. It doesn’t help that he’s facing the NFL’s first ranked run defense this week. Allowing just 80.1 yards per game, Stewart isn’t likely to have many running lanes, which coupled with limited touches, is a recipe for disaster.
WR: Josh Gordon at DAL – Despite scoring four touchdowns this season, Josh Gordon is yet to top three receptions in any game this season. A boom-or-bust player, Gordon has relied on deep touchdowns for fantasy production. This week he’s facing a Rob Ryan-led defense that has been superior against the pass this season – I wouldn’t bet on a deep touchdown this week.
Cecil Shorts at HOU – Coming on lately, Cecil Shorts has averaged a 5.25/89/0.5 stat line over his last four games. A very intriguing option, Cecil Shorts has been good enough to draw weekly WR3 consideration. That said, this week he’ll face off against the Texans top cover corner Jonathan Joseph. Considering Joseph held Torrey Smith and Stevie Johnson in check in two of the last three weeks, I wouldn’t bet on Shorts for production.
Danario Alexander at DEN – With his huge five catch, 134-yard performance against the Buccaneers, Danario Alexander took the fantasy football world by storm. He’s a tall, athletic receiver that has can certainly be a difference-maker if provided with a full load of snaps. While I do recognize his potential for the future, Alexander has a good chance of drawing Champ Bailey in coverage this week. Remember he’s going from facing the 32nd ranked pass defense, to the 11th ranked pass defense.
TE: Jermichael Finley at DET – Yet to top 31 yards since Week 4, Jermichael Finley must be avoided in fantasy leagues. It’s obviously that the Packers have removed him from being a focal point in the passing game. Considering he’s dropped seven passes (second most out of all tight ends) on just 45 targets and the Packers have Cobb, Nelson, and Jones, I don’t blame them for phasing him out.
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!