Fantasy football is all about matchups.
OK, so machines like Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson don't really care who lines up opposite them, but often times, a bad matchup can turn a great player into a good one—at least for statistical and fantasy purposes—and a good player into an average one.
In this virtual game that we all love and hate so much, that can make the difference during any given week.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some top players (100 percent owned) who face difficult Week 11 matchups.
QB: Tom Brady, Patriots
Brady, who had an inconsistent start to the season by his lofty standards, restored faith for his owners in Week 9 with a 432-yard, four-touchdown explosion against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But the Carolina Panthers are not the Steelers—there's a sentence I haven't been able to say, at least in this contest, since Nemo was first swimming his way into our hearts.
Just take a look at what opposing quarterbacks have done against Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott's defense since Carolina's bye in Week 4:
|Quarterbacks against the Panthers|
|Week||Quarterback||Completions/Attempts||Passing Yards||Passing TDs||INTs|
Granted, those names are not Tom Brady. But some of them have shown the propensity to put up ginormous numbers in the past and were stifled by Carolina's defense.
With rookie Star Lotulelei eating up space in the trenches and making it easier for Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson to wreck havoc in the backfield, and with Luke Kuechly seemingly being everywhere at once, this defense is undoubtedly one of the best in the NFL.
In fact, the Panthers have given up the least amount of fantasy points to quarterbacks in the league.
Now, I wouldn't dare benching Gisele's hubby. He is coming off a bye week and has a full cast of characters with Danny Amendola as healthy as he has been all season and pass-catching running back Shane Vereen possibly back in action.
But don't expect him to blow up against this stout defense, which will be fired up at home in its biggest game in years.
RB: Fred Jackson, Bills
Consistency, thy name is Fred Jackson.
The veteran running back, who was supposed to be supplanted by C.J. Spiller's 900 carries—or however many he was being hyped to get preseason—has been a rock solid RB2 this year, averaging 80.9 total yards per week to go with six touchdowns in 10 games.
In standard fantasy leagues, he has tallied at least 10 points in seven of those 10 games.
But in Week 11, he gets pretty much the worst possible matchup.
The New York Jets' front seven, anchored by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, has been nearly impossible to create running lanes against—they are first in the NFL in both yards per rush allowed and rushing yards allowed per game.
Jackson's timeshare isn't as much of a concern with C.J. Spiller struggling, but this feels like one of those 15-carry, 45-yard weeks.
WR: Eric Decker, Broncos
The Broncos' crowded group of skill players has never been a problem before. You start anyone you have, sit back and enjoy the Peyton Manning show.
This week will be different, though.
Kansas City boasts one of the best defenses in the league, as it allows just 208 passing yards and 12.3 points per contest—the latter standing as the best mark in the NFL.
Don't get me wrong. This is still Manning, and there will still be yards and points put on the board. But unlike most weeks, there are going to be a couple of fantasy casualties in this offense.
Decker stands out as the most obvious choice.
He is third on the team in targets and second in receiving yards, but he is the biggest downfield threat, averaging 14.7 yards per reception.
Against the Chiefs, who lead the league with 36 sacks, a less-than-100-percent Manning is going to have to get the ball out quick. That means screens to Demaryius Thomas and short stuff underneath to slot-machine Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas.
Decker isn't likely to make up for it in the red zone, either. Thomas, Thomas, Welker and Moreno all have nine touchdowns each this season, while Decker has just three.
If you have a healthy WR corps, don't be afraid to keep one-half of Black and Decker on the bench.