Fantasy Football Week 11: Beware of These Stars Versus Tough Matchups
It's vital to adjust the fantasy football roster when star players face rough opponents this late in the season.
A starting quarterback such as Philip Rivers remains a strong option, but getting the Denver Broncos defense this Sunday warrants concern. On one hand, Rivers typically plays well versus Denver, but he can be turnover-prone at times as well.
The Broncos also present a stellar pass rush capable of increasing Rivers' potential turnovers. Still, the Chargers have a solid receiving corps and ground game for balance.
As a result he's a good start, although it's just safe to not get overhyped about the matchup. This week, Rivers isn't alone as he and other star players get unfavorable opponents.
Philip Rivers: QB, Chargers (at Broncos)
The good news is that Philip Rivers has connected on 68 percent of his passes through nine games.
The downside to that are 76 of his 204 completions coming to running backs in Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley. That's 37.2 percent of Rivers' completions coming from checkdowns and/or screens.
So it's no surprise as to why the San Diego Chargers offense continues to frustrate.
Facing the Denver Broncos on the road this week Rivers tossed four picks, lost two fumbles and was sacked four times in that Monday night loss. Fast forward to Week 11 and the Broncos will keep bringing pressure.
The pass defense has improved and Denver has also scored 44 first half points in its previous three games. Unless Rivers and the Bolts come out with an electrifying first half, don't anticipate big numbers throughout.
Larry Fitzgerald: WR, Cardinals (at Falcons)
Larry Fitzgerald can be expected to have a nice outing against the Atlanta Falcons.
After all, the Dirty Birds rank No. 20 in pass defense and allow a 63.7 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
The obvious concern, though, is the Arizona Cardinals' pocket protection.
In nine games Arizona has given up 41 sacks and Atlanta has recorded 21. By no means is that consistent dominance from the Falcons' front seven, but certainly enough to get pressure on Arizona.
As a result, Fitzgerald is provided with less time to develop routes and accumulate yards after the catch. Atlanta's defensive vulnerability may be against the pass; however, guys such as Asante Samuel and Thomas DeCoud are capable of locking down in coverage.
Include the Cardinals non-existent rushing attack and Arizona enters this game one-dimensional. That allows Atlanta to then constantly double coverage Fitz as well, which simply minimizes production and impact.
Trent Richardson: RB, Browns (at Cowboys)
Trent Richardson is obviously the main offensive weapon for the Cleveland Browns. And in totaling 815 yards with six scores thus far, he has lived up to expectations.
Traveling to Texas and lining up against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Richardson and Co. face a enormous challenge.
Big D allows just 318.8 total yards per game and is capable of blanketing Cleveland in man coverage. Doing so takes pressure off the front seven to isolate Richardson and forces the Browns into longer down-and-distance situations.
Against a stud rusher in DeMarcus Ware, Cleveland's lack of consistent run-blocking will limit Richardson's ball-carrier vision. Factor in the number of passing situations and his carry total will be reduced.
Richardson, though, is still worthy of a start since Dallas has yet to prove dominant consistently. It's also important to make note of Cleveland's inconsistency at ball control and accumulating first downs.
Andrew Luck: QB, Colts (at Patriots)
Excluding Andrew Luck's yards lost from getting sacked and the No. 1 overall pick is averaging 292 passing yards per game.
Taking on the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots this week, it's easy to anticipate plenty of yards and points from Luck and Co. For starters, the Pats allow 285.3 passing yards per game and a 66.0 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
Last season the Pats fielded one of pro football's worst pass defenses yet showed up clutch in big games. Well, this is the biggest game of the year to date for both clubs and it takes place in New England.
Even if Luck doesn't turn the ball over his possessions will be limited.
The Indianapolis Colts are suspect versus the run and the Pats are better than given credit on the ground. Luck's chances get minimized which provides Belichick additional time to make in-game adjustments.
Brandon Marshall: WR, Bears (at 49ers)
Jason Campbell says #Bears told him on Thursday that he would be starter Monday night.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) November 16, 2012
Regardless of the quarterback, though, the Chicago Bears aren't going to see much passing game success on Monday. The San Francisco 49ers are too well-versed in coverage and allow few yards after the catch.
Brandon Marshall may be one of pro football's top-tier receivers, but San Francisco is technically sound enough to shield him in man coverage. Not to mention the 49ers give up only a 59.2 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks and present an elite front seven.
Marshall's opportunities and time to get open will be significantly limited.
If the Bears are to win, running the ball heavily is the key. The St. Louis Rams and New York Giants proved that can be done at Candlestick Park, so Chicago needs that approach instead to keep the 'Niners off balance.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.