As the NFL season progresses into Week 11, there are a number of games pitting teams that are prominent fixtures in the postseason race. Based on the enhanced quality of those contests, it can make setting fantasy football lineups even more difficult.
For example, a superstar such as Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning may not be as safe of a bet when facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, since the AFC West leaders lead the league in sacks with 36.
That's just one example of the many similar dilemmas which can arise at this juncture, where the stakes in both fantasy and reality continue to rise.
Let's take a look at some offensive stars who do have favorable matchups and should thrive as they are often expected to in topping this week's rankings with big numbers.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
RGIII was calling the shots against a putrid Minnesota Vikings defense last Thursday night and had one of his most efficient games of the season in defeat.
Who will win the NFC East?
No punches should be pulled when he faces the Philadelphia Eagles for the second time this year on Sunday, as Griffin looks to avenge Week 1's loss at FedEx Field and save Washington's season on the road.
Considering the type of production the Eagles offense has seen from Griffin's counterpart Nick Foles and how electric running back LeSean McCoy can be, this contest could very well turn into a shootout.
With Philadelphia's quickly operating offense, there should be more total plays for Griffin and Co. If the Eagles are putting points on the board early, look for Griffin to try to pull out the massive road victory by going to the air against the league's 31st-ranked pass defense.
Projected Numbers: 25-of-35 for 320 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 6 carries, 50 yards, TD
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Even in a low-scoring game, the Niners did not lean on Gore as much as they perhaps could have in a 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.
In San Francisco's three losses to date, Gore has had his lowest single-game carry totals of the year. The moral of this story is to take the game out of QB Colin Kaepernick's hands and ground-and-pound with Gore as the workhorse.
Even though Gore has hit the unenviable running back milestone of age 30, he's showing no signs of slowing down.
Gore faces a better outlook in Week 11 when the Niners travel to the Superdome to take on the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints.
This is a quality adversary, no doubt, but if the Saints have an Achilles' heel, it's against the run, where they rank 23rd in the NFL, yielding 117.7 yards per contest. That number went down a lot, too, after last week's 49-17 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys, who still managed 5.6 yards per carry.
If the Niners want to avoid a second two-game losing streak in the Jim Harbaugh era, the game plan should center around Gore getting 20 or more touches, which is good news for his fantasy owners.
Projected Numbers: 25 carries, 120 yards, 2 TDs; 2 receptions, 20 yards
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
As Johnson's ESPN.com profile highlights, his yards per catch have shot up to 19.7 with Case Keenum at quarterback from the 11.2 he averaged when Matt Schaub was under center.
Now that All-Pro running back Arian Foster—who is a decisive, productive runner and a capable receiver out of the backfield—is out for the season, even more passes should fly Johnson's way.
Although he only had 37 yards on five receptions in Week 10's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson still found a way to be a fantasy stud since he made it to the end zone twice. That's not a bad day's work when marked by Cardinals freak athlete cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Credit the veteran receiver for being a consummate professional in the midst of a terribly disappointing season in Houston, with the defending AFC South champions sitting at 2-7.
One of the few teams that currently looks less competent than the Texans are the Oakland Raiders, who travel to Reliant Stadium coming off of two gut-wrenching losses to the Eagles and the New York Giants.
Raiders undrafted rookie QB Matt McGloin could make his NFL starting debut for an injured Terrelle Pryor, whose knee injury is worse than the team thought, per Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News.
The Texans have the league's No. 1 pass defense, which isn't good news for either young quarterback playing behind a shoddy offensive line.
Since Houston is still closely evaluating what they have in Keenum, expect Johnson to continue yielding big returns as a No. 1 fantasy wideout with a big performance against Oakland.
Projected Numbers: 10 receptions, 130 yards, TD
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
It will be interesting to see how Gronk fares when he's frequently matched up with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly for much of Week 11's Monday night showcase.
However, it appears Gronkowski was right not to rush back to the gridiron, considering he's been an absolute beast in two of the three games since he's returned.
Gronkowski may be limited by Kuechly to an extent, but with Tom Brady throwing the superstar tight end passes, big plays are bound to happen.
In Week 10's blowout of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Gronkowski nabbed nine receptions for 143 yards and a score on 10 targets, it was evident that his rapport with Brady was vastly improved:
Tom Brady: 9-10 targeting Rob Gronkowski last game; 10-22 in first 2 games with Gronkowski— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 14, 2013
The Panthers are excellent in defending the run, conceding an average of just 82 yards per game. That's not the Patriots' forte anyway, so Brady should take to the air rather often.
As the main beneficiary of that strategy, Gronkowski will see double-digit targets for the third time this season and convert it into a third 100-yard performance with at least one touchdown.
Projected Numbers: 8 receptions, 110 yards, TD
|Rank||Quarterback||Running Back||Wide Receiver||Tight End|
|1||Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins||Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers||Andre Johnson, Houston Texans||Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots|
|2||Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers||LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles||Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears||Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns|
|3||Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles||Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks||Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions||Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins|
|4||Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions||Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions||Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals|
|5||Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints||Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins||A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals||Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons|
Rankings are strictly opinion