It’s Week 11 of the NFL season, also known as the last week with any teams on bye. Fantasy-wise this means this is the last week owners should have to worry about anything other than injuries (and there are a LOT) preventing them from fielding their best lineup.
However, that doesn’t mean your best players will always play their best games for you, as we have all certainly observed and in most cases, paid the price for on at least one occasion this season. So what does Week 11 have in store for us? It’s really anyone’s best guess, but I’m willing to go out on a limb with a few BOLD prediction of my own.
Teams on bye: Cleveland, New Orleans, New York Giants, Pittsburgh
Kirk Cousins Out-Duels Cam Newton
No, that’s not a mistake. You actually read that right. Yes, I know that the Panthers are undefeated and that Newton really is playing like Superman right now. I also know that while Cousins had a career game last week (which I called I might add), completing 20-of-24 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns, that game was against New Orleans and right now a high school quarterback might be able to hang numbers like those on the Saints. Anyways, the Redskins are in a dogfight not only for the NFC East, but also to stay in the wild card hunt. With the emergence of versatile running back Matt Jones and a presumably healthy Jordan Reed at tight end, Cousins actually now has decent weapons at his disposal. If Newton doesn’t rush for a touchdown, he won’t score more than 16 fantasy points this week against the Redskins while Cousins will score more than 20, thanks in large part to Jones’ contributions as a pass catcher.
No Big Deal, Adrian Peterson Runs for Another 200 Yards
It looks like Peterson is going to take the entire Minnesota Vikings team on his back and run them into the playoffs. Whether or not that means an NFC North crown or not is still up for discussion. The Vikings currently sit atop their division for two reasons – Peterson and a stout defense. All-Day as his nickname goes, is currently leading the NFL in rushing with 961 yards and he has five TDs. This week the Vikings play host to the Packers and a win over the four-time defending division champions would really put Minnesota in the driver’s seat to end that reign. Peterson has hit 98 yards rushing or more in four straight games and faces a Green Bay defense that is allowing 116.2 yards per game and giving up the 12th-most fantasy points to RBs. If the Vikings are going to win this game it won’t be on the arm of Teddy Bridgewater, it will be on the legs of Peterson. And he will do just that, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the second straight game and finding the end zone twice.
Mike Evans Finishes the Week as Fantasy’s No. 1 WR
After a very rough start to the season that saw Evans struggle through the first five weeks thanks to a hamstring injury, the explosive WR that we all thought we drafted has finally started to emerge. Evans now has 100-plus yards in three of his past four games and this week is going up against an Eagles defense that has allowed six WRs to break the 100-yard mark thus far. Throw in that the Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs on the season and that Jameis Winston really has no one else to throw the ball too and you’ve got a recipe where Evans should see 12-plus targets and easily be able to approach 150 yards receiving with at least one touchdown.
Danny Amendola Makes Everyone Forget About Julian Edelman
We’ve seen this happen before in New England. Remember when Wes Welker got hurt and Edelman stepped in to take his place? The same thing is happening to Edelman, at least for the rest of the season. There’s no doubt that Edelman is the better player, but Amendola does have real talent, which is showcased in the fact that he’s caught 40 of his 48 targets or 83.3 pecent. That’s outstanding. When Edelman went down last week, we saw what Amendola can do, as he caught 10 of 11 targets for 79 yards, that’s 17.9 points in a PPR league. Tom Brady is going to throw the ball all over the field this week against the Buffalo Bills, who are allowing 252 passing yards per game and giving up the 11th-most fantasy points to WRs. Look for Amendola to catch at least eight passes for 100-plus and a touchdown this week.
Darren McFadden Finishes as Fantasy’s No. 1 RB
Yes, I know that Devonta Freeman is back this week and playing against the Indianapolis Colts who are starting Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. But it wouldn’t be a bold prediction to say that Freeman was going to finish the week as the No. 1 running back in fantasy. So I’m going with a guy who many thought would either be cut or injured by now in McFadden. He is basically this year’s C.J. Anderson, where around midseason he takes his team’s starting RB job and carries your fantasy team to the playoffs. McFadden has been outstanding since taking over the No. 1 role with the Dallas Cowboys (other than last week’s clunker where he only scored 5.8 fantasy points), and he’s only going to get better with Tony Romo back under center. It also helps that this week McFadden gets to go up against a Dolphins defense that is terrible against the run and is currently allowing the second-most fantasy points to RBs. Look for McFadden to surpass 150 total yards and score two touchdowns in this one.
Antonio Gates Has the Best Game of His Career
When Gates was healthy this year, which were his first two games back after serving a four-game suspension to start the season, he was the best tight end in football. Yes, even better than Rob Gronkowski. Then he suffered a MCL injury to his knee and hasn’t been the same since. Well after some much-needed rest thanks to his bye week, Gates is ready to hit the field and show that he still has some serious fantasy production left in the tank. Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football of his career and since the Chargers’ defense can’t stop anyone from scoring, they are constantly passing the ball to try to stay in games. With the wide receiver corps decimated by injury, Gates is clearly the No. 1 option in the passing game. It doesn’t matter that this week’s matchup is a terrible one against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rivers and Gates have chemistry that you can’t find anywhere else and the QB will look to get the ball to his TE no matter what. Gates is in store for a 10-plus catch, 150-yard, two-touchdown game. Yes, that is crazy.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.