Just hours before the start of Week 11 (for most teams anyways) I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, Wide Receiver
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (via Twitter) is reporting that Jones:
“Did not practice today because of his right ankle injury, but is listed as questionable (50-50) for Sunday’s tilt.”
The Falcons take on the Arizona Cardinals at 1:00 p.m. EST, so fantasy owners should have a resolution well before having to set their lineups.
If Jones is on the field, it is impossible to keep him out of your lineup, even against a Cardinals passing defense that has allowed the second fewest passing yards per game this season (194.6). Monitor the news but be prepared to utilize him.
If Jones were to sit, Harry Douglas would likely step into his spot in the lineup. That doesn’t mean he should be considered a viable fantasy option. He would be a desperation play, at best.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, Wide Receiver
Injuries could have played a factor this week, Maclin is listed as probable, so there really are no worries about his availability for the Eagles’ matchup with the Redskins. I know some people will be concerned with rookie Nick Foles throwing him the football, but the matchup is extremely intriguing. The Redskins are allowing the third most passing yards per game (301.7) and have allowed the most passing touchdowns (20, tied with the Titans) this season.
Also, Maclin is coming off one of his best performances of the season as he caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. The touchdown went for 44 yards and came courtesy of Foles early in the third quarter.
I wouldn’t shy away from Maclin based on the quarterback play and, given the matchup, he’s a viable option in all formats.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, Running Back
According to Matthew Berry of ESPN (click here for the article)
“Ran hard against San Fran and is now 14th in the NFL in yards after contact per rush among qualified runners. Jets have allowed 556 yards after contact, most of any defense in the league.”
It is definitely an intriguing stat and makes you wonder what could be possible this week. Jackson had been sharing time with Daryl Richardson, but he is coming off a 29-carry, 101-yard performance. Given the matchup and his impressive Week 10, Jackson has suddenly reemerged as a good play for this week.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, Wide Receiver
According to ESPN 980 (via Twitter):
“Source on Pierre Garcon to play Sunday? ‘I think he will go.’”
It’s a great story, especially with how long Garcon has been out this season, but it is impossible to trust him even if he does dress. He has been out too long (who knows how his timing with Robert Griffin III will be at this point), so the prudent thing to do is to keep him stashed on your bench and see how he does.
If he performs well this week, it’s a whole new ballgame for Week 12.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, Wide Receiver
According to Scott Bair of the San Diego Union-Tribune (click here for the article):
“Floyd played the “Z” receiver on Sunday against Tampa Bay, previously manned by Meachem this season and Vincent Jackson in previous years. The “Z” typically lines up on the same side as tight end Antonio Gates, and Floyd has moved there to create mismatches and make opponents pick their poison. He’ll do so again Sunday against Denver. “
As far as the impact of that move, Bair goes on to say:
“Safeties and linebackers must respect both, especially Floyd’s reputation as a deep threat. That has opened up opportunities for Gates over the middle. When he got hot last week, Floyd saw more single coverage.”
Much of the recent attention has gone towards Danario Alexander (and rightfully so), but Gates has reemerged in recent weeks. In Week 10, he posted four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown, his second straight game with a score and fourth in his past four games (over which he’s averaging almost four catches and 50 yards per game).
In other words, while Gates isn’t putting up huge numbers, he has been reestablished as one of the better options in the league and is a must start.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Running Back
In a separate article in the San Diego Union-Tribune (click here for the article), Scott Bair is reporting:
“Chargers running back Ryan Mathews practiced in a limited role Friday, his first on-field activity of any kind this week after sitting out with a neck injury. The third-year pro hasn’t played when he didn’t practice during the week, so his participation in individual and team drills offers a glimmer of hope that he could be active Sunday against Denver. “
Mathews has been struggling all season long, as fantasy owners continue to wait for his breakout performances. Over the past four games, he is averaging 86.3 total yards per game and he has failed to find the end zone (he’s scored once all year).
With a 4:25 p.m. EST game start, a matchup with the Broncos, who rank 10th in rushing yards allowed (98.3 and 5 TD) and his struggles, fantasy owners would be best served to find an alternative for this week. Given how he has performed, the risk simply outweighs the reward. Even if he dresses, it is impossible to predict how many touches he will give to Jackie Battle and/or Ronnie Brown.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, Tight End
While it is no guarantee, Nick Scurfield (via Twitter) is reporting that:
“’I think they’ve both got an excellent chance of playing.’” Kubiak on Owen Daniels (back) & Shaun Cody (ribs)”
If healthy, Daniels is among the best options in the league. Houston takes on the Jaguars at 1:00 p.m. EST. Monitor the news, but given his history, fantasy owners should have an alternative ready just in case.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots, Tight End
Albert Breer (via Twitter) is reporting that:
“Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez is expected to sit out Sunday’s game vs. the Colts, I’m told. Been out since mid-October after re-injuring ankle”
Obviously, owners have already been using an alternative, so plan on using it again this week. Hopefully he can return next week, but at this point fantasy owners shouldn’t be expecting anything.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings: