It's Week 11 of the 2011 NFL season, and while the ink is barely dry on last week's action (including a slew of injuries at the quarterback position), for fantasy owners trying to keep their fading postseason aspirations alive there's no time to reflect on the past.
We have to quickly shake off last week's hits and move forward, and with this week a do-or-die situation for many fantasy squads, here's a look at some matchup plays you should start, some players who may be best left on the bench and a few sleepers thrown in for good measure.
It's been another disappointing season for fans of the Oakland Raiders, but while it hasn't translated to wins, quarterback Carson Palmer is racking up the stats this season with his 2,723 passing yards, ranking third in the NFL through 10 weeks.
In fantasy football, fourth quarter garbage time numbers count the same as first quarter ones, and the stage is set for Palmer to have a big day in the box score this week against a New Orleans Saints team on pace to allow the most yardage in NFL history.
The 2012 season has been a tale of two quarterbacks where Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens is concerned.
At home, the fifth year pro has averaged well over 300 passing yards per game and thrown 10 touchdowns versus only three interceptions, but on the road Flacco averages fewer than 200 yards per game and has more interceptions than touchdown passes.
That makes starting Flacco on the road in the Steel City this week a very dicey proposition, especially when you consider that the Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Things have gone from bad to worse to downright ridiculous for the Philadelphia Eagles this season, as a team plagued by turnovers and poor offensive line play will now be without starting quarterback Michael Vick for the foreseeable future due to a concussion.
That injury thrusts rookie Nick Foles under center for the Eagles, and while starting a player making his first NFL start is a very risky fantasy play, desperate team owners may want to consider Foles against a Washington Redskins defense giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to signal callers in 2012.
This one isn't so much about the matchups as it is the opportunity and talent of the player involved.
Granted, the Miami Dolphins have been fairly stout against the run this year, ranking fifth in the NFL at just over 94 yards per game, but the Dolphins were just gashed for well over 100 yards by Chris Johnson in a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans last week.
Add in the fact that running back Fred Jackson will be sidelined by a concussion, and the talent that C.J. Spiller has flashed when given the lion's share of the work in the Buffalo backfield, and you have the makings of a solid fantasy start—bad matchup or not.
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is a top 20 fantasy football option at his position in 2012, and with the fifth-year pro on pace to top 1,500 total yards even after missing time it's hard to envision a situation where Forte should be left on fantasy benches.
However, if there was ever a week to consider sitting Forte this is probably it, as the Chicago Bears face a San Francisco 49ers defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing ballcarriers this season. Not only that, but the absence of quarterback Jay Cutler likely means that Forte will be staring down eight-man fronts all day long.
After getting off to a hot start this season, it appeared that Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush might actually follow through on his pledge to win the NFL's rushing title in 2012. But a recent cold streak hit rock bottom last week when Bush gained fewer than 30 total yards before being benched after a first half fumble against the Tennessee Titans.
With that said, this week's matchup with the Buffalo Bills would appear to present a prime bounce-back opportunity, as the Bills rank dead last in the NFL in run defense and have allowed the most fantasy points per game to the position.
The sophomore slump being experienced by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has impacted the fantasy production of his receivers as well, as after racking up nearly 1,400 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2011 veteran wideout Steve Smith has found the end zone only once so far this season.
With that said, the 12-year pro had one of his better games of the season in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making seven catches for 106 yards, and there's no reason not to expect a similar stat line against Tampa's porous pass defense the second time around.
A perfect microcosm for the Kansas City Chiefs' miserable 2012 season occurred during their 16-13 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown on a nifty 22-yard catch and run, only to have his fourth touchdown of the season called back by a dubious holding penalty.
Things aren't likely to get much better for the six-year veteran or his fantasy owners this week against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in 2012.
Fantasy owners of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin have to be disappointed with the production of the the fourth-year wideout in 2012, and with Maclin nursing a sore back and a rookie quarterback set to start for the Eagles, starting Maclin this week may not seem advisable at first glance.
However, that rookie quarterback locked onto Maclin to the tune of eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown last week against the Cowboys, so assuming that Maclin's back doesn't prevent him from playing, he should thrive against a Washington Redskins defense that has been making wideouts look good all season long.