Week 11 opens up the final three weeks for you to make your fantasy football playoff push. With no more bye weeks, you’re not pressured to start a guy like Derek Anderson if he has a great matchup, because Drew Brees is back and you’re ready to continue your stroll down Fantasy Football Lane.
But, there are always top-notch NFL players that have bad matchups, and when you’re making that playoff run, you don’t want to risk Chris Johnson rushing for 34 yards and or rely on a slumping Randy Moss to propel you to victory.
So who are the guys who have tough matchups this week that you may consider sitting? On the flip side, who are the guys you can riskily replace them with?
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have yet to give up a 100-yard rusher on the season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a season-high 87 yards against them in Week 10, however. Now here comes Darren McFadden, who’s had at least 89 yards in every start but one, which was Week 4 against the Texans.
So it makes for a very tough decision on Sunday when you’re debating whether or not to start McFadden. The good news is that he also makes plays in the passing game.
I could see McFadden having a reasonable day, especially in the passing game, as Jason Campbell will be forced to get rid of the ball a lot quicker than usual with the Steelers pass rush.
But it’s generally advised to sit a running back against a Steelers defense that held Chris Johnson to 34 yards back in Week 2.
Randy Moss, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Washington Redskins
Here’s a fun fact: Vince Young is the most efficient passer in the NFL on passes over 20 yards. Cool stuff, eh? So with that knowledge, we automatically want to assume that Moss is a lock for a solid finish to the 2010 season.
Not so fast. For a guy who was most likely drafted in the second round of your draft, Moss has been one of the biggest fantasy football disappointments of 2010. Moss’ ability isn’t in question. But the fact that he’s on his third team in 10 weeks makes us a bit uncomfortable. That’s a lot of different plays to learn and get down so soon.
The benefit to this matchup is that he goes up against the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. The Redskins have given up 18 touchdowns on the season, and 32 passes of 20 yards or more. Moss only has two catches in his past two matchups, but this could be a great week for him if he gets more than four targets.
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills.
On paper, this matchup looks amazing. You’ve got Cedric Benson against a team that has given up more yards rushing than any other team in the NFL by more than 200 yards. But Benson hasn’t been all that fantastic in 2010. If anything, he’s been a disappointment.
Benson has rushed for over 100 yards on just one occasion, and has just three touchdowns on the ground. Against the 29th- ranked rush defense in Indianapolis last week, he only rushed for 24 yards.
So what gives? The inconsistency of this Bengals running back is mind-blowing. He’s a hard runner between the tackles, but he seems to give up on plays at times. I’d recommend him as a flex start in Week 11 solely based on the matchup. But the Bengals will also be airing it out quite a bit.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings rush defense hasn’t been as top-notch as it has been in recent years. Brandon Jackson had a decent game against the Vikings at home in Week 7 rushing for 58 yards on 13 carries and getting a touchdown.
The problem with Jackson is his lack of explosiveness. He’s not a guy that can break a big-time run against any team, and he’s only rushed for 100 yards or more in just one matchup, which was against a poor Redskins defense.
If you are desperate for a flex running back in Week 11, you can start Jackson in hopes that he at least gets a touchdown. But don’t expect him to rush for a ton of yards. He is a decent option catching out of the backfield, however.
Jon Kitna, QB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions
This isn’t a tough matchup for Kitna, but it’s no cakewalk either. Kitna has continued to turn the ball over in Dallas, despite some of those interceptions not being his fault. But he goes up a team that’s smack dab in the middle of the pack in terms of pass defense.
The Lions have given up 13 passing touchdowns, and are prone to giving up big yardage. Kitna has two 300-yard or more passing games as well, so he’s more of a reward play than a risk.
Still, with the Cowboys struggling to protect their quarterback, Kitna may not get much time to complete a ton of passes. What’s on his side, however, is the fact that he’s throwing to guys like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. You decide.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans @ New York Jets
I never thought I’d have Foster on this list with the season he’s had, but he’s going up against a defense that only gives up 3.4 yards per carry. The Jets have also only given up four rushing touchdowns on the season and four rushes over 20 yards.
The last time Foster faced a top-five rush defense, he ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego. But in Week 5, he was shut down against the New York Giants, only rushing for 25 yards, and was held scoreless.
Foster is averaging at least 20 points per matchup, so I wouldn’t recommend sitting him, but don’t be surprised if he has a rough week. Don’t forget, however, that Peyton Hillis did have a solid week against the Jets in Week 10.
Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints
Williams is a huge risk this week. While he has been targeted 80 times this season and has had a couple of big games, he’s going up against the best pass defense in the league. The Saints have given up just six touchdowns in the air all season.
To add to that, they have given up the least amount of yards in the passing game. You can hope that Williams gets targeted heavily in Week 11 and makes a few nice catches, but your best bet would be to sit him.
Troy Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I never thought of a day that I’d be including Troy Smith in a fantasy football column. Smith was fantastic in Week 10 against the Rams, throwing for 356 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.
But is it a fluke, or is Smith for real? While the Buccaneers don’t give up many yards in the air, they do give up touchdowns—they’ve given up 15 passing touchdowns on the season.
Smith is a downfield passer. He’s got a strong arm and can lead even the fastest receivers in stride, which is good for Michael Crabtree. Not to mention, he’s got Frank Gore to throw to coming out of the backfield. With no more bye weeks, Smith most likely isn’t on your team. But if he is, temper your expectations because he could just as easily fall on his face.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Law Firm has been inconsistent this season, and has been frustrating for some fantasy owners. Sure, he went five consecutive games with a touchdown, but he rushed for less than 25 yards in three of those games.
Going up against the 29th-ranked rush defense in the league sure looks favorable, but the emergence of Danny Woodhead has taken away touches from BJGE. Not to mention, the Colts have done reasonably well in the last few weeks stopping the run.
But we know Green-Ellis can do it. After all, he rushed for 87 yards on 18 carries against Pittsburgh, which is the highest rushing total the Steelers have given up all season. There’s definite reward ability here, but the risk is huge.
Kyle Orton, QB, Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Orton has been very reliable for most of the season, and fantasy owners who got him late in the draft have been very thankful for what he’s been able to do for them on the cheap.
But his matchup against the Chargers isn’t so favorable. While Orton has 16 touchdowns on the season and just five interceptions, the Chargers have only given up eight touchdowns in the air, and give up less than 200 yards of passing offense a game.
Orton has the receiving corps to have a big game, but with a hot San Diego team in the playoff hunt, it’s not going to be easy. Orton could have a big game, or he could have a game like he did against the Jets.