Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 11
November 14, 2017 | Josh Stanley
It’s Week 11 and we are still continually being surprised. In the summer we put hours and hours into reading offseason articles and speculating which rookies landed in the best spot after the draft. We confidently draft a solid fantasy team, believing we know which players have the best projections and schedules. Then the season rolls around and we have to throw a lot of that out the window. After all, who of us had Chester Rodgers as a top 5 wide receiver or C.J. Beathard as a top 5 quarterback in Week 10?
We have a base of knowledge, but our fantasy teams must be flexible and adapt each week to the changing landscape of the NFL. This column is intended to get you thinking and help you through the frustratingly enjoyable pursuit of putting together a winning lineup. As we navigate this stretch of the season, we will skip over the studs and duds because some players will simply stay true to their talent level no matter who the competition. But, through the use of the tools and film we have available, we will create a clearer picture going into kickoff of this unpredictable sport we love so much.
Alex Smith vs Giants
After seeing the Chiefs draft a quarterback last summer, Smith decided he wanted to keep his job and has left no room for questions. Coming off his Week 10 bye, Smith is the number 3 overall fantasy player and is near the top of the league in almost all relevant quarterback statistics. He is averaging 21.01 fantasy points per game, while throwing 18 touchdowns to only 1 interception. Nothing has changed in his recent play either. Over the past 4 weeks he is still a top 5 quarterback, attempting 30+ passes and scoring at least 1 touchdown per game. Even with the Chiefs strong run game, they are still putting the ball in Smith’s hands, even in red zone, where they are calling pass plays 69 percent of the time which is the second highest in the league. In Week 11, he’ll be given the gift of facing a Giants defense that has fallen flat on its face since the beginning of the season. What looked to be a good unit, has struggled recently. They are tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns allowed with 20, giving up half of these in the last 4 games. This defense is on a decline as it averages 20.8 fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and now has to somehow attempt to contain Smith. Look for Smith to be a confident quarterback in Week 11.
Blake Bortles vs Browns
No, you read that right, Bortles is in the Start column for Week 11. He is not a good football player that is plain and simple. This was exemplified most recently by his 2nd pick last week when it looked like he was actually trying to throw it to Tre Boston. However, Bortles is not a terrible fantasy quarterback, in fact on the season he has more points than Roethlisberger, Keenum, and Carr. In his past 4 games, he has thrown at least 1 touchdown and has thrown for at least 240 yards. His receivers have been playing fairly well, especially Marquis Lee, as of late and in Week 11 Bortles should see the return of DeDe Westbrook. While Westbrook has yet to play a regular season game, the rookie did lead the league in receiving yards this preseason with 298. The thing that makes this such an enticing game for Bortles is the matchup against the Browns. This is a defense that has played well against the run but has struggled against the pass. The Browns are especially weak against the pass on the right side of the field allowing a passer rating of 117 in throws under 15 yards and 155 on throws over 15 yards. By chance this happens to be the side of the field that Bortles favors, throwing more passes to the right and having a passer rating of 98 on throws under 15 yards. Cleveland also sports a 6.6 touchdown percentage, which is tied with Denver for highest in the league. While it seems crazy, it looks like Week 11 could be a good week for the Jaguars’ quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Dolphins
In Week 10 it seemed that Fitzpatrick had lost that Fitzmagic that brought him fantasy success in New York. Starting in place of an injured Winston, he only 50 percent of his passes and threw for 187 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. This summed up to a 40 percent success rate on passing plays. He will have Mike Evans back this week, but the receiving talent is not the problem, it is the challenge of getting these balls on target that tests Fitzpatrick. In Week 11, he’ll travel to Miami where he did not fare well last year. Granted he was with a different team, but in his matchup against the Dolphins defense in 2016 he threw for 194 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Miami has continued its strong pass defense in 2017 ranking 5th in pass defense. A large part of this is because they have faced the few pass attempts in the league. Teams instead have opted to attack this defense on the ground. Over the past 4 games, the Dolphins have held 2 teams to under 200 passing yards, but have also seen 2 teams gain 239 and 295 passing yards. This may not prove this defensive unit to be the most consistent, however, it does show the potential for a shutdown unit in the passing game.
Marcus Mariota vs Steelers
Mariota has continued to struggle this year and his life will only be made harder by the Steelers in this Thursday night tilt. He has thrown for over 250 yards 3 times this season, yet he also has gone 3 games without throwing a touchdown. Importantly, his rushing ability was a big boost to his fantasy value, but before Week 10 this dimension of his game had largely disappeared. In Weeks 6-9 (bye was Week 8) he only rushed for a combined 14 yards. Now last week we did see a reemergence with 51 yards on 6 carries, but he did not make it through the game unscathed and is listed as dealing with an ankle injury which may or may not drive this number back down. Tennessee is also a run-first team. They throw the ball 55 percent of the time, which is 3 percent lower than league average. When you look at their play selection in the red zone this becomes an even more dramatic difference, calling passing plays on only 45 percent of snaps, 9 percent below league average. This skew does not allow Mariota much room to pile up high totals through the air. This may not matter in Week 11 however because the Steelers have limited quarterbacks all season. They have allowed only 8 passing touchdowns and 1,636 yards. Although this unit did lose Joe Harden to a broken leg in Week 10, the defensive line is still a great strength. They have amassed 29 sacks, good for 2nd in the league. This could present a problem for Mariota since the number of sacks he has taken has increased each week for the past month, culminating with 4 in Week 10.
Tevin Coleman vs Seahawks
With Freeman concussed and unlikely to play in Week 11, Coleman has been given the keys to the Falcons backfield. Now the question is will he sputter out and await Freeman’s return or will he hit the gas? The safe bet is on the former. Coleman is no stranger to a large workload and has shown success even in his limited role this season. He is averaging 4.81 yards per attempt and in the 2 games where he received double-digit attempts, he gained 82 and 83 yards on the ground. These numbers don’t include his receiving talent either, which the Falcons have utilized this year. Through 9 games he has 203 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. The Seahawks will host the Falcons in Week 11 and intend to test this Coleman led rushing attack. They are 10th in rushing defense but do give up 4.0 yards per attempt and an average of 78.67 rushing yards per game to running backs. This may not be much when spread across a backfield committee, but Coleman looks to handle most of the work himself. It seems that although this defense does not give up big yardage, they are susceptible to touchdowns, allowing a fairly high number of 7. While Seattle will be a tough challenge for Coleman, the volume is valuable in fantasy and sets up players for a big opportunity.
Marshawn Lynch vs Patriots
Many thought that Oakland would conserve his touches to keep him fresh throughout the year, but if they hope to make a run at postseason play then they need to unleash the beast soon. He has led the backfield in snaps and in rushing attempts by a wide margin. When he has gotten the lion’s share of the work or double-digit carries he has run fairly well. In those games, he has gained at least 43 yards or a touchdown. Similarly, in the 5 games where he has gotten double-digit touches, he has been featured in the red zone and inside the 10-yeard line. On these 10 attempts, he has successfully converted for a touchdown on 30 percent. The Patriots will try and prevent this, but they rank 24th in defensive success rate against running backs in the red zone. They are also surrendering 19.8 fantasy points to the position per game even though they are in the bottom 5 of rushing attempts faced. The 895 rushing yards they have given up is not an unbelievable amount through 9 games but is in the bottom half of the league.
Doug Martin vs Dolphins
Since returning from his suspension, Martin has not taken the reins of this rushing attack like many assumed he would. He is averaging only 3.3 yards per attempt and has not hit pay dirt in 4 games. Furthermore, he has not crossed the century mark yet this season, with his high being 74 rushing yards or 80 total yards. Now he finds himself in an offense quarterbacked by Fitzpatrick, who as we spoke about earlier did not have success in his first start of the season. Martin struggled mightily in Week 10 as well, but this was not the first time for him. In Week 7 he also saw 20 carries and only gained 49 yards, compared to the 50 yards he gained on 20 carries in Week 10. He is not necessarily trending in the wrong direction, Martin is simply remaining steady in his poor performance. In Week 11, he’ll see a Miami team that is 4th in rushing defense. They are averaging only 90.86 rushing yards and .63 touchdowns per game to the running back position before their Monday night game with the Panthers. This defense has only given up 4 games with more than 100 rushing yards, so it seems that they are better than the blow out on Monday night where the Panthers ran at will.
Samaje Perine vs Saints
The football season can be a war of attrition and Perine is the next man up for Washington. Unfortunately for them, he has not run well this year when he has been given a chance. Unlike Coleman in Atlanta who is the next man up for his respective team, Perine must contend with the success of Chris Thompson in his committee. Perine has seen double-digit carries twice this season, 21 and 19, but has only turned them into 67 and 49 yards respectively. His fellow running back Thompson, however, has been somewhat successful with his carries but has become a dangerous pass-catching weapon out of the backfield. Per game, he is averaging 54.89 receiving yards at 13 yards per reception. This is why he has far out-snapped Perine in every game, but one and out-touched him even last week after Kelley exited the game. Perine could’ve possibly been an RB2 when looking at this matchup a month ago, but the Saints defense has discovered something special and has turned their season around. No longer are they a defense you must start your players against, in fact, it is turning into the opposite. In the past 4 games, they have held teams to successively lower rushing totals beginning with 181 in Week 7 and allowing only 69 in Week 10. This continues a string of strong performances, as they have only allowed 2 teams over the past 6 games to gain more than 100 rushing yards. Over the span of this season as well they have only given up 4 touchdowns to running backs.
Sterling Shepard vs Chiefs
Shepard has come on since returning from injury in recent weeks. In his last 2 games, he has seen 9 and 13 targets, hauling them in for 70 and 142 yards respectively; Week 10 being his 2nd 100-yard receiving game this season. Manning seems to have eyes for the wideout, not only for his talent but also due to the fact that the Giant’s receiving corp has been decimated by injury. Over these past 2 weeks, he has accounted for 41 percent of the Giants air yards and 29 percent of their targets. He should continue this hot streak against a Kansas City defense that has gone cold against the wide receiver position. They are not only giving up the most fantasy point per game to the position (28.9), but they have also given up the most receiving touchdowns (15). Teams have realized this and have caused the Chiefs to face the 2nd most passing attempts among all teams in the league. Receivers have had great success in all areas of the field against them leading to 1,682 yards being gained on the season. This means they are permitting 186.89 yards to receivers per game. Add to this that the Giants will be at home and have nothing to play for expect to see what they have in their young talent and Shepard is set up for another nice game in your starting lineup.
Adam Thielen vs Rams
No longer can you nor should you doubt Thielen, even with Keenum under center. He now has 2 games with over 100 receiving yards and 3 games with 96+ receiving yards. Over the last 4 games he is averaging 11.75 targets, 6.75 catches, and in the last 2 games, he has scored a touchdown apiece. Thielen has clearly broken away from the pack of average receivers and now deserves to be a WR1 on a weekly basis. Even with Diggs active Thielen has no problem creating space and opening himself up to absorb targets from Keenum. Over the past 2 weeks as well he has commanded 57 percent of the team’s air yards and 43 percent of Keenum’s targets, giving fantasy owners a confident floor going forward. Even as he comes up against the stingy Rams defense in Week 11, Thielen still needs to be started. The Rams have only given up 5 touchdowns to receivers and average only 138.89 yards per game. They are also playing well in only allowing 16.9 fantasy points per week to the position, but you would simply be hard pressed to find a more solid option than Thielen this week.
Jordy Nelson vs Ravens
Putting Nelson in the sit column feels almost as outrageous as suggesting you start Bortles, but here we are in Week 11. Since Rodgers went down, Nelson’s best game was in Week 9 where he saw 7 targets of which he caught 4 for 35 yards. It seems that Nelson’s success may have been more dependent upon Rodgers than we all thought. His yards per reception have continued to drop, from 13 to 8.75, to 6.67, and he has not seen the end zone since Week 5. His red zone usage has completed disappeared as well. This may be more due to the fact that Hundley is not moving the offense into the red zone as often, but after Week 6 he has not seen a red zone target. Now he must try figure out how to gel with his new quarterback while navigating the 3rd ranked Baltimore secondary. One of the few teams that have actually created more interceptions than allowed touchdown passes, this pass defense leaves little room for miscommunication between receivers and quarterbacks. They are actually first in the league in defending opposing number one wide outs, allowing an average of only 40.5 yards per game. This defense has not even let a quarterback top 200 passing yards since Week 4. If you have the luxury of depth on your squad this week, sit Nelson.
Jamison Crowder vs Saints
Washington’s passing game can be a tough one to predict. While Crowder has had 2 great games in a row, we can’t forget that he had not caught more than 52 yards prior to Week 8. He may be establishing an improved rapport with Cousins, but it is yet to be seen if this is something that stays consistent or fizzles out. What is worth noting during this run of good play is that Reed has been held out due to his hamstring in both. With one less mouth to feed, Crowder’s target percentage may shrink if Reed were to return in Week 11, which is still largely unknown. As we spoke about in relation to Perine however, regardless of Reed’s return, the Saints are no longer an easy defense to start your players against. Marshon Lattimore has found his rhythm and this pass defense has started to hit its stride. They have ascended to 7th against number 1 wide receivers and 16th against opposing twos. They’re only allowing 17.1 fantasy points per week to the position and have not allowed a passer to throw for more than 150 yards in the past 4 weeks. New Orleans looks like a matchup to avoid.
Jason Witten vs Eagles
In a week where elite tight ends play easy competition and the rest of the field is a giant question mark, Witten can be confidently called on in your starting lineup. In Week 10 he caught all 7 of his targets for 59 yards and averaged 8.43 yards per reception. Over the course of the 4 games previous that that, he was only limited under 31 yards once. He may not have the highest target percentage, but he makes due with what he sees and can give your lineup a safe floor. However, he also has the chance to launch off this floor, as we saw in Weeks 1 and 2, where he caught a touchdown and had over 50 receiving yards in each game. This is a possibility against an Eagles defense that has given up 500 yards and 4 touchdowns. On average this has been 8.2 fantasy points per week. In what should be a high scoring divisional game, Witten may be the most reliable option outside of the quarterbacks.
Tyler Kroft vs Broncos
Kroft gets a great matchup in Week 11 and will be looking to score just as 6 other tight ends before he has against the Broncos this season. Yes, in 9 games the Broncos have allowed a tight end to score in 6 of them. That is a pretty good track record for Kroft going into Week 11. He has only scored in 2 games this season but will be pushing for another one in this dream matchup. He is not a touchdown-dependent tight end, however. He has also contributed to his own team and all those fantasy owners who started him through receiving totals. He’s averaging 32.33 yards per game but has had several big days thrown in, such as his 68-yard outing against Cleveland and his 79-yard performance in Week 8. This aspect of his game gives him a bit more flexibility since touchdowns usually cannot be counted on unless of course, you are a tight end playing the Broncos or the Browns. Denver is a defense that is coming undone. They have lost 5 games in a row and in the most recent two gave up scores of 41 and 51. This is completely unexpected, but Denver’s woes with tight ends are not entirely new. They also had trouble with this position in a recent season. This year they are the 2nd weakest unit against the tight end, giving up 6 touchdowns and 746 yards. The 55 allowed receptions are also 2nd highest in the league.
Ben Watson vs Packers
While being the team’s starting a tight end, Watson has done little on the year so far. He is still only topped 43 receiving yards once and only has 2 touchdowns on the year. Now with Woodhead returning much of the underneath routes and simply the number of targets will be directed away from Watson and to the running back position. What truly makes Watson a sit-in Week 11 is the matchup against the Packers. No one is better than this defense at defending this position. Through 9 games they have given up 0 touchdowns and allow only an average of 38.1 yards per game. Having seen only double-digit targets once this season as well, Watson will not be given much opportunity to find any production since Green Bay has limited tight ends to 35 receptions. There are better streamers and starters than Watson out there in Week 11.
Charles Clay vs Chargers
Much the same as the Packers, the Chargers are adept at covering tight ends. This unit has given up only 1 touchdown and 440 yards to the position. This is big enough to cause a 1.7 fantasy point differential in points allowed when compared to Green Bay, but that speaks more to how great the Cheesehead defense is against tight ends. Clay in Week 10 seemed to be shaking off the rust of his injury in his first game back since Week 5 and the Chargers are not who you want to face in your second game back. This is especially true now that Clay has Kelvin Benjamin to contend with for targets. In Week 10, Clay saw 3 and caught 2 for 13 yards, but that was all in a forgettable game for the entire Buffalo offense. Before his injury, Clay was averaging 51.6 yards per game, but that number is inflated because of a 112 yards game in Week 4. Give Clay another week to get back into game form and this offense to bounce back before starting him.
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on Twitter @stanleyjosh or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!