Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 11: Offensive Stars Presenting Difficult Lineup Decisions

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 14, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos walks with the football on the sideline during the football game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium November 10, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A few fantasy football superstars are creating conundrums as many owners prepare to set their lineups ahead of Week 11's NFL action.

Whether it be health, a bad matchup or the viability of their supporting casts—or a combination of those factors—it's never good when a player who is almost always bankable for points is suddenly raising red flags.

Let's take a look at some of the established big names who might find the going tough on the gridiron this week.

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws a touchdown to Demaryius Thomas #88 against the San Diego Chargers during their game on November 10, 2013 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/G
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

An ankle injury makes Manning more of a questionable play than most weeks. It will be tempting to plug him in anyway based on the sensational season he's having, but it's at least worth stopping to consider otherwise.

The Broncos are squaring off against the undefeated, AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in what is the highest-stakes game of the 2013 season to date.

Manning will be on the field regardless of how hobbled he is. That shows how competitive he is, yet it could also be his downfall against a menacing Chiefs front seven featuring Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe among others.

It's not that Manning can't handle exotic pressures being thrown at him—it's more of a concern as to whether he can get rid of the ball in time. Kansas City's beasts in the trenches have helped the team lead the NFL with 36 sacks on the year.

B/R expert Michael Schottey believes Manning is in trouble, while ESPN fantasy expert Matthew Berry isn't even worried about Manning missing a practice early in the week:

Tread with caution if you decide to plug Manning in.

Just know that other spot start options should be available. Those include Cleveland Browns QB Jason Campbell and Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Tennessee Titans—both of whom are mobile enough to create yards with their legs, too.

Start/Sit Verdict: Start

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Discouraging Peterson is unwise on a regular basis, too, but a trip to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks could yield disappointment—even if it isn't AP's fault.

In last season's matchup in Seattle, Peterson ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-20 loss despite his QB Christian Ponder throwing for only 63 yards on 22 attempts. Pathetic stuff there from the former first-round pick.

But Minnesota's offense had the diversion of Percy Harvin for at least the early portion of that game, and now Harvin is likely going to make his debut for the Seahawks against his ex-Vikings teammates.

Seattle has the league's second-best rushing offense as it is, led by bruising RB Marshawn Lynch and dangerous dual-threat signal-caller Russell Wilson.

The Vikings also have one of the worst pass defenses in football, which makes the impending presence of Harvin even more ominous. That means Ponder—if he can play after dislocating his left shoulder in Week 10—is going to have to throw it quite often on arguably the league's most talented secondary.

If it were ever possible to not recommend Peterson, who is always capable of the big play, this is the week. Unless he is the foundation of your fantasy team, you're better off exploring elsewhere just for this game.

Start/Sit Verdict: Sit

Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers

Oct 20, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The ageless 34-year-old wonder is averaging just 10.7 yards per catch in 2013, which would be a career low for a full single season if it stands.

Smith did come up with some big catches down the stretch of the Panthers' landmark 10-9 victory in San Francisco in Week 10, and matched his season high with six catches. The 63 yards he piled up were also the second-most he's had in a game all year.

So anyone still sticking with Smith is banking on him to break out. Against the New England Patriots on Monday night, it might actually happen.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski in the fold, and as good of a cover linebacker as Luke Kuechly is for the Panthers, he won't be able to check Gronk for the entire game.

Carolina's ground game with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in the backfield—along with QB Cam Newton—should gash the Pats' 30th-ranked rush defense, though.

That will set up opportunities for Newton to work off of play-action, where it will be up to Smith to gain separation on downfield routes as well as when Newton extends the play with his feet.

For such a talented, consistently productive receiver who is the top wideout with someone as gifted as Newton throwing him the ball, it's a shock that Smith has played in every game this year and hasn't topped 100 yards.

Now is the time for Smith to break out in the midst of what should be his first winning season with the Panthers since 2008.

Start/Sit Verdict: Start

Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 13:  Lardarius Webb #21 of the Baltimore Ravens breaks up a pass intended for Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter during a game at M&T Bank Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by P
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

At 6'3" and 217 pounds, there is always upside for Nelson as a red-zone target. His production over the past two-plus seasons is also impeccable:

However, without Aaron Rodgers to rifle him back-shoulder throws—not to mention the duo's innate chemistry—Nelson's value takes a huge hit.

The New York Giants have played sensational defense in the past three games, so it's no surprise they're suddenly in the thick of the NFC East division race.

Perhaps what's counting most against Nelson is that he will be receiving passes from Scott Tolzien, who will make his debut as an NFL starter.

None of that sounds good for Nelson fantasy owners. If Green Bay is meant to have success on the road against a team riding a ton of momentum, it will have to rely on the newly established rushing attack featuring running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

Although he is still likely going to be the No. 1 target, Nelson only has nine catches for 96 yards since Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury, per Don't expect much from him here.

Start/Sit Verdict: Sit


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