Nate Silver is having a much better month than me.
While he was predicting the election down to what color undergarments John Boehner was wearing, I was crunching fantasy football numbers. Yards per catch. Yards after contact. Turnover differential.
It’s all less than scientific, but there is a method to the madness. And make no mistake, the NFL is total madness. You can’t control it.
I guess what I’m saying is, make your own decisions. There is no way to accurately predict every performance and matchup unless you can go back in time. Football players are as human as you and I.
Still, we can arm ourselves with as much information as possible in order to make smart decisions. And at this point in the season, bad decisions mean missed opportunities and a short season.
Week 11 marks the end of bye weeks in the NFL. That means one more week of stalking the waiver wire for the best possible additions to your oft-depleted roster.
The following is a list of possible fill-ins for your team in Week 11 and beyond. Some of them may still be available in your league, and could help carry your team into the playoffs.
Say what you will about Fitzpatrick, but don’t be afraid to pick him up and play him this week against the Dolphins.
Fitzpatrick is coming off a strong performance against the Patriots in Week 10, in which he threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns. New England is ranked 27th in the league against the pass, right behind the Dolphins (26th), whom Fitzpatrick and the Bills face in Week 11.
He’s been wildly inconsistent this season, but Fitzpatrick offers a lot of upside for fantasy purposes, especially against poor passing defenses. The Titans dismantled Miami last week, and Buffalo could be next.
Don’t discount Tannehill for his Week 10 performance against the Titans.
Tannehill passed for just 217 yards and three interceptions last week, but the Dolphins looked bad as a team. It was a down week. Miami will bounce back in Week 11.
The Dolphins play Buffalo this week as the first of two second-half meetings. The Bills are ranked 20th in the league against the pass and dead last against the run.
Tannehill shouldn’t have to do too much against the Bills if Reggie Bush can establish a solid running game, which is exactly what he needs to post a nice fantasy stat line. He’s not the best option out there, but can fill a void in deeper leagues.
Bradford played a very solid game against one of the best defenses in the league last week. If not for a costly delay of game penalty in overtime, Bradford would have walked away from San Francisco with a win as well.
Bradford posted his third-best passer rating of the season in Week 10 (104.1), and also threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns. With Danny Amendola back from injury, Bradford’s fantasy value is as high as it will be all year.
The Rams host the Jets in Week 11, but what you should really look at are Weeks 14-16. Just in time for the fantasy playoffs, the Rams play the Bills, Vikings and Buccaneers.
Even if you don’t need Bradford this week, it may be wise to stash him on your bench for the end of the season.
Last week, I suggested adding Shane Vereen to your roster because of Brandon Bolden’s mysterious knee injury and looming suspension. It was Woodhead who stepped up and made a big impact in relief of Stevan Ridley, however.
Woodhead only had one carry in Week 11, but it went for 15 yards and a touchdown. He added 46 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game as well, and certainly pled his case for more playing time behind Ridley.
The Patriots host the Colts in Week 11.
Though Indianapolis has been playing well, it’s unlikely the Colts’ 17th-ranked defense will be able to stop such a high-octane offense.
Woodhead will get plenty of looks against the Colts, especially considering Vereen’s ineffectiveness and Bolden’s suspension. Consider Woodhead a solid flex play this week.
Who knew Darren Sproles’s injury would be so beneficial for Chris Ivory?
Ivory is one of the most violent runners in the NFL, and he’s been smashing his way through opposing defenses the last two weeks. He has turned 17 carries into 120 yards and two touchdowns, and has seemingly propelled himself to the top of New Orleans’s depth chart at running back.
The Saints play the Raiders in Week 11, and Ivory should be in your lineup. Oakland is 20th in the league against the run, and has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns on the year (third most in the NFL). With New Orleans playing its best football to date and Sproles still on the sidelines, Ivory should be included for RB2 consideration this week.
Brown is owned in about 60 percent of all fantasy leagues, but if he’s still available in yours, go get him.
Ahmad Bradshaw has been dinged up, and rookie David Wilson hasn’t been in Tom Coughlin’s good graces for much of the season.
Brown is getting the work, and he’s making the most of it. Brown has 22 carries for 123 yards and four touchdowns in the last four weeks, including 65 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati in Week 10.
Brown seems to have taken over the goal-line role this season (much to the dismay of Bradshaw owners), and offers as much upside as any complementary back in the league. If he’s still on the waiver wire, pick him up and stash him away.
The Giants have a bye in Week 11, but finish the season with several soft rushing defenses.
It didn’t take Alexander very long to ruin my Sunday.
Philip Rivers hit Alexander for an 80-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter on Sunday against the Buccaneers, and then proceeded to find him four more times for another 54 yards. Alexander had a big game, and there are likely a lot more to come.
Alexander is a huge target, which is exactly what San Diego loves in its receivers. He also has terrific speed, and could prove to be Rivers’ favorite target moving forward.
No shirt, no shoes, no problem. You have to have Shorts, though.
Shorts is owned in 17 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Again, 17 percent. Go pick him up.
In the last four weeks, Blaine Gabbert’s favorite receiving target has hauled in 21 catches for 356 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been on a roll. Despite a tough matchup in Week 11, Shorts should continue to see a lot of targets, so don’t be afraid to plug him in as a WR3 or flex play.
Now is the time to pick up Denver receivers.
Stokley had a solid fantasy performance in Week 10 against the Panthers. Even at 36 years old, Stokley offers some potential moving forward. He’s caught a touchdown in four games this season, and Denver’s schedule is a cakewalk to finish the year.
The Broncos face San Diego, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Oakland the next four weeks. Stokley should see plenty of targets, and should be on your radar with fantasy playoffs approaching.
When Pitta is getting consistent looks, he’s one of the better tight ends in the AFC. His production is dependent on Joe Flacco’s consistency.
Pitta was targeted five times last week against the Raiders, and he hauled in five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. In the last three weeks, Pitta has been targeted 16 times.
Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in the league, but the Steelers have been susceptible to big plays over the middle of the field.
Both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark have been banged up, and Polamalu could remain on the sidelines another week. Pitta could duplicate his Week 10 performance this week given consistent targets in the middle of the field.
I’ve been saying it for weeks: Go get this guy.
Myers has been one of the most consistent tight ends in fantasy football this year. He’s tallied at least 49 yards in all but two games this season, and is coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers in Week 9.
Myers was knocked out of last week’s game with concussion-like symptoms, and it’s unclear whether he will be available for Oakland’s Week 11 game against the Saints. If Myers is good to go, don’t be afraid to play him. New Orleans is 31st in the NFL against the pass.
Chandler is having a very nice season, aided by two quality performances against the Patriots. Last week, Chandler posted five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in New England.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent this season, but Chandler has been one of his favorite targets. He’s tallied 27 catches, 350 yards and five touchdowns through nine games, and could finish the season with double-digit scores.
Miami enters Week 11 ranked 26th in pass defense this season, so feel comfortable playing Chandler if you are in a deep league or need a bye-week fill-in.
Some matchups should always be exploited. Graham against the Jaguars is one of those matchups.
Jacksonville has been awful this season, and Graham is sure to have plenty of opportunities in Week 11. Houston predicates its offensive attack on the ground game, which leaves the Texans vulnerable to stalled drives in the red zone.
Graham kicked two field goals and three extra points in Houston’s first meeting with Jacksonville, and could have more attempts in Week 11.
Bailey should have plenty of opportunities to post points for you this week.
Cleveland has a solid defense, and Dallas has had issues with drives stalling out in the red zone this season. Bailey made four field goals against Carolina earlier this year, but could top that mark this week against the Browns.
Thin Denver air and a solid San Diego defense will create an opportunity for Prater to put up big fantasy points this week.
Prater is nine-for-nine at home this season, and has converted two field goals of 50-plus yards in those games. Don’t be surprised if Prater leads all kickers in scoring this week.
Kansas City’s turnover differential is -20 this season. In other words, start defenses that play the Chiefs.
Matt Cassel has thrown one touchdown and five interceptions in his last four games, including a game-ending interception in overtime against the Steelers in Week 10. After how well Cincinnati played the Giants last week, it should be an easy decision to start the Bengals this week.
St. Louis Rams
Even I can’t blame Jets fans for demanding more Tim Tebow. The Jets are ranked 30th in the league in total offense, and are coming off a game in which Seattle held New York to seven points.
St. Louis is tied for sixth in the NFL with 26 sacks, and should have a field day against the disheveled Jets. Expect top-five scoring from the Rams’ defense this week.
New Orleans Saints
Call me crazy, but I’d play New Orleans this week against the Raiders.
The Saints are hot right now, and they’re coming off a couple nice defenses performances the last two weeks. New Orleans’ defense amassed seven sacks two weeks ago against the hapless Eagles.
Oakland has had its issues on offense lately—namely the injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. If Oakland can’t run the football, it may be a long day for Carson Palmer and the Raiders’ offense.