Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 11: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Owners
Week 11's arrival means that there are only three weeks left in most fantasy football league regular seasons.
If you are 7-3 or better, you're gunning for a first-round bye and easier path to the championship. If you're 6-4 or 5-5, you're trying to hold serve and get to the playoffs. A record of 4-6 has no margin of error but still a chance to make it to the postseason in most leagues.
Even teams that are guaranteed losing records can still play spoiler and gain respect. If you can't make the playoffs, at least you can make another team stay home with you. Misery loves company, right?
Let's take a look at the best starts and sits this week.
START: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Any doubts that Andrew Luck hasn't taken his spot among the elite fantasy quarterbacks should be dispelled this weekend after his showdown with Tom Brady in Foxboro.
Luck will have to put up a lot of points to keep up with Brady, but he'll face a Patriots defense that has allowed at least 283 yards passing in six of their last seven games.
They've also given up 17 passing touchdowns during the span, including three to Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco (each), and six to Ryan Fitzpatrick in two games, all of whom are arguably lesser passers than Luck.
Unless you have another quarterback of Brady's caliber, Luck should be in your lineup this week.
SIT: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Browns star cornerback Joe Haden is a game-time decision, but he did travel to Dallas, which is a good sign he will play. The Cleveland Browns will also have their immovable combination of defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin on the field together for the first time this year.
This is a tough matchup for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense. Romo still has more interceptions than passing touchdowns this year, and he has only thrown for more than one score in one-third of his nine games.
He might return to his productive ways before the end of the season, but probably not in Week 11.
START: Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer is one of the hottest quarterbacks in fantasy football, even though his team has been getting hammered while he is putting up big numbers.
Palmer has thrown for six touchdowns (and four interceptions) and almost 800 yards in the last two games on 106 attempts, and the Raiders will need him to air it out again to keep up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Quarterbacks are actually averaging over 300 yards per game against the Saints, and the New Orleans defense has allowed at least three passing touchdowns in four of its last six contests. Start Palmer with confidence.
SIT: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco is coming off of one of his best game of the year, but he might follow it with his worst. Of course, that might be difficult since he had failed to eclipse 200 yards in the three of the last four games before the 55-20 romp over the Oakland Raiders last week.
This week's opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, haven't allowed a passing touchdown in their last two games and have only given up three in their last five games. The last four quarterbacks they've faced have failed to put up over 200 passing yards and haven't even averaged 150 passing yards over the span.
Expect a street fight at Heinz Field that won't be kind to fantasy football teams.
START: Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders
With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson out once again, and Taiwan Jones getting no trust from the Oakland Raiders coaching staff, it will be the Marcel Reece show in the backfield once again this week in Oakland.
Reece had over 100 yards on 20 touches last week versus Baltimore, including seven catches, boosting his value to an elite play in PPR leagues.
The Saints have given up more yards per game on the ground than any other team in the NFL, including over five yards per carry. Reece should have no trouble leaving them in pieces in what is sure to be a high-scoring game.
SIT: Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
You might be tempted to start Shonn Greene this week against a Rams defense that has given up three rushing touchdowns and two games over 97 yards in their last two contests, but don't give in to the temptation.
The Jets offense is on the verge of collapse...if there is anything left to collapse after they didn't score an offensive touchdown last week at Seattle.
Greene has since backed away from comments to Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver that perhaps Tim Tebow deserves a chance to start, but the damage has been done. Whether Greene is distracted or is the distraction, you don't want him in your lineup this week.
START: Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams
It took almost two months, but the St. Louis Rams finally gave Steven Jackson more than 20 carries for the first time since Week 1 last week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Jackson responded with a stirring performance, leading the Rams to a near-upset win with over 100 yards and many collisions that 49ers defenders took the worst of over the course of the game.
Look for them to feed Jackson once against a Jets defense that was just gashed for 124 yards and a touchdown by another physical runner, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
SIT: Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews is a game-time decision against the Denver Broncos, but you might be better off leaving him on your bench even if he is active on Sunday afternoon.
Scott Bair of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Mathews participated in practice Friday on a limited basis, which gives him a chance to play.
Mathews hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game yet this season, and he only has one total touchdown.
Against a Broncos defense that hasn't allowed any running back to go over 74 yards in the last four games, Mathews is unlikely to break through this week even if he plays.
START: Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
Instead of comparing Danny Amendola to fellow Texas Tech Red Raider Wes Welker, maybe we should be wondering if Welker can produce up to Amendola's level.
Amendola has averaged over eight catches and 90 yards in the five games he has played from start to finish this year, and he had an 80-yard catch that would have likely won the game over the 49ers in overtime called back by an incidental illegal formation penalty last week.
The Jets' best corner, Antonio Cromartie, is much better against big, fast wide receivers than small, quick receivers like Amendola. He's a must-start this week.
SIT: Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Torrey Smith is explosive, but he is not consistent enough in the box score to trust as an every-week fantasy starter.
He hasn't gone over four catches in any of his last five games, and Smith has only eclipsed 50 receiving yards in one of those five games.
His fantasy value has mainly come from four scores in that span, but that is a bad thing to rely on against a defense that has only allowed wide receivers to score three times in the last six games.
Smith may help your team get to and win in the fantasy playoffs, but not this week.
START: Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
After Jordy Nelson missed a game with a hamstring injury and then promptly suffered an ankle injury upon his return, it would be understandable if his owners were reluctant to play him this week.
It wouldn't be smart, though. Nelson is probable and has been practicing "just like it's a normal week," according to ESPN Wisconsin.
A "normal week" for Nelson before he got hurt was usually good for at least eight catches, 93 yards and a touchdown—numbers he put up as a baseline in three of the last four games before he went down.
With Greg Jennings still out, Nelson is surely on his way to another big game this week.
SIT: Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger being out of the Pittsburgh Steelers lineup should be your cue to have any of your Steelers join him on the bench in your fantasy league.
Byron Leftwich might have the big arm to actually overthrow Wallace, but the chances for him or the offensive line to be effective enough for Leftwich to actually find Wallace downfield against the Ravens is very small.
Wallace doesn't have more than four catches in any of the six games he has played without Roethlisberger, and he has only found the end zone in one of them.
Don't expect the night game against Baltimore to be the second.
START: Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
Steve Smith is coming off of his worst game of the season, but you shouldn't shy away from playing him in a bounce-back week against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary.
Tampa has allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers in the last four weeks. No team has given up more yards through the air this year than the Buccaneers.
Smith had over 100 yards when these teams met in Week 1, and that was when Aqib Talib was still a Buc. With undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson in the lineup, look for Smith to get behind the Tampa defensive backs at least once in this game.
SIT: Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Michael Crabtree has three touchdowns in a two-week span for the first time in his career, but his hot streak is likely to come to a halt on Monday night against the Chicago Bears.
No team has given up fewer passing touchdowns this season than Chicago, and Crabtree isn't even guaranteed to have Alex Smith in the lineup.
Smith is on track to play, but he still has to pass a concussion test before he can, according to the Sacramento Bee. That risk plus the terrible matchup should be more than enough incentive to leave Crabtree on your bench.
START: Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Fantasy owners of Antonio Gates have been waiting for the old Gates to show up this year, but he already did once—the first time the Broncos and Chargers played this season.
Gates had two touchdowns, but his performance was overshadowed by an epic collapse that has sent the team into a tailspin.
The Broncos have been one of the worst teams in the league at limiting tight end production, with six other touchdowns allowed to the position in addition to the pair Gates scored. The last two tight ends to face Denver notched over 100 yards.
If the Chargers have a chance of pulling off the upset, Gates will need to have a big game.
SIT: Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Twelve catches, 120 yards and no touchdowns. A good line for a game, maybe even acceptable for two games if we're looking at fantasy tight ends, but that is Heath Miller's line in six games without Ben Roethlisberger since 2009.
Miller will likely be kept in to block more with injuries on the offensive line and quarterback Byron Leftwich's slow-motion release. That should limit his targets and ability to produce against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has only given up one touchdown to a tight end this year.
Miller has been a rock for his fantasy teams this year, but his value is sinking like a stone without his starting quarterback.