Week 11 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Who Are the Smart Matchup Plays in Fantasy Football?
We've finally arrived at the last of the bye weeks, and while this will be the last weekend that entire teams will take a game off, a rash of injuries in Week 10 (especially at the quarterback position) have left many fantasy football teams scrambling to find matchup plays or replacements to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
As a service to those and other fantasy owners forced to look outside the Top 10 Players at Each Position when setting their fantasy lineups, here's a look at some players who have the sort of solid matchup that should propel them to a solid statistical outing.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick: QB, Buffalo Bills (at MIA)
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Week 10 was a game to forget for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick tossed three interceptions and threw for only 146 yards, as the Bills were blown out by the Dallas Cowboys—his second consecutive game with under 200 passing yards.
The seventh-year veteran should have an excellent opportunity to redeem himself Sunday when the Bills travel to Miami, as the Dolphins have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year.
2. Carson Palmer: QB, Oakland Raiders (at MIN)
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After getting off to a rocky start, quarterback Carson Palmer had by far his best game as a member of the Oakland Raiders in last Thursday's win over the San Diego Chargers, throwing for nearly 300 yards and averaging a robust 15 yards an attempt.
Palmer could well be in for his second straight big game this week when Oakland faces the Minnesota Vikings, who are the seventh-friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks in the National Football League this season.
3. Michael Bush: RB, Oakland Raiders (at MIN)
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Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush had a stellar game in relief of the injured Darren McFadden in Week 10, gashing the San Diego Chargers for over 150 rushing yards and scoring a touchdown while pitching in three receptions for 85 yards.
McFadden has yet to ditch his walking boot and seems unlikely to play this week, so Bush should get the chance to build on those big numbers against a Minnesota Vikings defense that is middle-of-the-pack in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
4. Brandon Jacobs: RB, New York Giants (vs. PHI)
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With New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined the last two games by a foot injury, the job of lead back in the New York ground game has fallen to Brandon Jacobs, and the seventh-year pro has performed fairly well, averaging over 80 total yards a game and scoring a touchdown.
Jacobs may be in for his best game of the season this week when the Giants face the reeling Philadelphia Eagles, as the Eagles' "Wide Nine" defensive front is susceptible to runs between the tackles and has made the Eagles a top-three fantasy matchup for opposing running backs this year.
5. Marshawn Lynch: RB, Seattle Seahawks (at STL)
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Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has very quietly been posting solid numbers of late in the Emerald City, as the fifth-year pro has scored a touchdown in each of his past four games and topped 100 total yards in three of those contests.
Lynch has a very solid shot at making it four games out of five this week when the Seahawks travel to St. Louis to face the Rams, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this year.
6. Plaxico Burress: WR, New York Jets (at DEN)
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While wide receiver Plaxico Burress of the New York Jets hasn't made much of a dent in the box score yardage-wise the past three weeks with only 143 receiving yards during that stretch, the 10th-year veteran has made up for that somewhat by reeling in four touchdown catches over that span.
There's a good chance that Burress will notch another score Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, as only two teams in the National Football League allow more fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts than the Broncos.
7. DeSean Jackson: WR, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
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Wide receiver DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles left many of his fantasy owners in a lurch in Week 10, as the fourth-year pro was surprisingly benched by head coach Andy Reid after missing a team meeting Saturday.
With the health status of fellow wideout Jeremy Maclin very much in question right now, the struggling Eagles will need Jackson back in action on Sunday night when they face the New York Giants, who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.
8. Laurent Robinson: WR, Dallas Cowboys (at WAS)
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Fantasy owners who took my advice a week ago and rolled out Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson were handsomely rewarded for that decision, as the fifth-year pro continued his career renaissance with three catches for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
There's little reason to think that Robinson's hot streak won't continue this week when the Cowboys head east to meet the Washington Redskins, who still rank in the top 10 in the NFL in pass defense but have backslid significantly over the past several weeks.
9. Kellen Winslow: TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at GB)
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Kellen Winslow's eighth season in the NFL has been a frustrating one for his fantasy owners, as the tight end hasn't topped 70 receiving yards in a game all season and has found the end zone only twice for the floundering Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Winslow's matchup this week is one of the most favorable he's had all season, however, as the Green Bay Packers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so Jimmy Graham or Owen Daniels owners in a bye-week pinch could likely do worse this week than taking a flier on Winslow.
10. New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams (vs. KC)
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At first glance, the New England Patriots defense would seem to have little to offer fantasy owners, ranking dead last in the National Football League in both total defense and pass defense.
However, the Patriots meet a Kansas City Chiefs squad this week that has been inept offensively of late, was already without running back Jamaal Charles, has now lost starting quarterback Matt Cassel and has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. So, bad secondary or not, the New England defense is a very viable fantasy matchup play in Week 11.