It’s Week 11 and time for another installment of which fantasy quarterback and defense/special teams (DSTs) you should start or sit. But first, I know you are really interested to see how I did in Week 10.
Start Eli Manning (21.44 fantasy points) – Manning always plays well against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Start Joe Flacco (22.34 FP) – Flacco always plays well at home and he torched the Jaguars last Sunday.
Sit Marcus Mariota (8.8 FP) – When Mariota plays against a good defense, he’s not very good.
Sit Russell Wilson (17.8 FP) – Wilson finished as the 11th-best fantasy QB last week.
Sit Jay Cutler (24.72 FP) – Thanks to a couple of short passes that turned into huge gains; Cutler had a great game against the Rams.
Teams on bye: Cleveland, New Orleans, New York Giants, Pittsburgh
START THESE QBS...
Derek Carr, OAK (at DET)
For a player that went mostly undrafted in the majority of fantasy drafts this year, Carr has been quite the pleasant surprise. He’s already had five games (out of nine) where he’s thrown for more than 300 yards and on the year he has 21 touchdown passes touchdowns to only six interceptions. Those are elite numbers. What is making Carr so consistently good in fantasy is that he can put up numbers not only at home, but on the road as well. That will come in handy this week as the Raiders travel to Detroit to take on a Lions teams that is currently giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to QBs. Amari Cooper has had a couple of quiet games in a row now, so expect Carr and the first-round draft pick to hook up a lot on Sunday, as the young QB posts another 300-yard game with three TDs.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. KC)
Guess who trails Tom Brady by 10 yards for the league lead? No it’s definitely not, Peyton Manning or even Drew Brees. It’s Rivers, who has 3,033 yards passing and 19 TDs in nine games. A lot of those yards are due to the fact that the Chargers are only rivaled by the Saints in having the absolute worst defense in football. That means that there is a lot of garbage-time fantasy points to be had by Rivers and if you have him on your team, you should be very thankful for that. You might not think that there will be a lot of garbage time this week as Kansas City comes to town, but the Chiefs just put up 29 points on Denver, so Alex Smith and company could be in for a big day against the Chargers’ pathetic defense. Look for Rivers to put up another 20-plus fantasy points this week against a Chiefs defense that ranks middle of the road against fantasy quarterbacks (15th to be exact).
Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. CIN)
It appears that Carson Palmer is matchup-proof (I really hope he is as I have him on three of my fantasy teams). Last week he travelled to Seattle and took the heart out of the once-feared “Legion of Boom,” throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Palmer does face another tough matchup this week in prime time, as the Cincinnati Bengals and their defense, which is giving up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, comes to town. With the weapons that Palmer has at his disposal you can see why he is matchup-proof. Throw in the fact that this is kind of a “revenge” game as Palmer faces his old team, and you can expect him to throw for close to 300 yards and three touchdowns again.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Alex Smith, KC (at SD)
Alex Smith is Alex Smith, the king of the check-down and the dink-and-dunk pass. Combining him with head coach Andy Reid makes for one of the most conservative offenses in the history of football. That said, Smith and the entire Chiefs offense have really picked things up as of late and a large part of that has to do with how well RB Charcandrick West is playing right now. With guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Drew Brees all on bye, you might be looking for a quarterback to stream. Thanks to his matchup this week against the Chargers, Smith could be in for a decent game. Don’t expect Smith to throw more than 300 yards with three touchdowns, but he should creep close to 20 fantasy points this week and at least keep you in your matchup.
SIT THESE QBs...
Andy Dalton, CIN (at ARI)
It appears that playing in prime time once again led to Dalton shrinking under the pressure. How else do you explain him putting up a pathetic 9.88 fantasy points thanks to 197 passing yards, zero touchdowns and one interception against one of the worst defenses in football, the Houston Texans? Since Dalton has been one of the best and most consistent fantasy quarterbacks this season you might think that it can’t get any worse. Well it can and it will. Up this week is yet another prime time game for Dalton and the Bengals as they travel to face Arizona on Sunday night. If you think his game against the pitiful Texans was bad, wait until Dalton takes the field against a Cardinals defense that is currently giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season? It would be wise to find an alternative to Dalton this week.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. DAL)
So much for the breakout season that everyone and their grandmother were predicting for Tannehill at the start of the season. If you look back to everyone’s breakout players list for 2015, you’d be hard pressed to find one that didn’t include Tannehill. Too bad that isn’t going to happen this year. In nine games this season, Tannehill has eclipsed 20 fantasy points twice. That’s brutal. Things don’t get any better for Tannehill this weekend as the Dallas Cowboys come to town. For all of the Cowboys’ ills, their defense has given up just nine touchdown passes on the season and are sixth in the league in fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs. Hopefully by now you’ve found a better option at quarterback.
Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. STL)
Believe it or not but Flacco has been one the better fantasy quarterbacks the past three weeks, a span that includes two games and his bye week. Back in Week 8 Flacco had 22.96 fantasy points against the San Diego Chargers and last week he scored a nice 22.34 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. So you could say that Flacco is hot right now and that you should keep on riding the wave. But notice the opponents for those two games – the Chargers and the Jaguars. Do those teams even have a defense? This week the St. Louis Rams come to town and they will be angry. The Rams are currently allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs, but are coming off a game where they surrendered 37 points to Jay Cutler and the Bears. That won’t happen this week as the Rams D will get back on track and stymie Flacco all game.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Tony Romo, DAL (at MIA)
Romo is back to save the Dallas Cowboys’ season. Romo missed the past seven games and the Cowboys lost all seven, as they barely were able to do much on offense. Now that Romo is back everyone will assume that he will pick up right where he left off. Remember back in Week 1 Romo scored 24.14 fantasy points thanks to 356 yards passing and three touchdowns (with two picks). This is an absolute must-win game for the Cowboys if they want to have any chance at a wild card berth, but Romo might be playing a week or two early, so rust and rhythm could be issues. If you need to play Romo this week to save your fantasy season, then you’re already out of it. I would wait one week on Romo and see how things go before starting him. He could easily have a big game against the Dolphins, who are a middle-of-the-pack defense (15th) in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this year, but Romo aslo could play conservative and check down a lot or hand the ball off to Darren McFadden all game.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
New York Jets (at HOU)
The Jets haven’t really been a “elite” defense over the past several games, as they have allowed opposing teams to score a lot of points. Regardless of the past, this week’s matchup against the Texans is a great one for the J-E-T-S. Texans starting quarterback Brian Hoyer might not play due to a concussion and that will mean that T.J. Yates will be under center. Yates wasn’t even in the league three weeks ago. If Darrelle Revis can contain DeAndre Hopkins, Houston isn’t going to score many points.
New England Patriots (vs. BUF, Mon.)
It’s true that the Patriots DST has been on a steady fantasy scoring decline over the last three weeks, culminating in a lowly five-point effort last week against the New York Giants. But this week the Patriots are at home and playing against a Rex Ryan-led Buffalo Bills team that struggles in the hostile environment that is Gillette Stadium. Plus, over the last four weeks, DSTs that have faced the Bills have averaged a solid 10 fantasy points per game. Start the New England DST this week.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Cincinnati Bengals (at ARI)
The Bengals have scored a respectable 33 fantasy points over the last four weeks and it wasn’t their fault that they lost to the Houston Texans last week. Cincinnati only gave up 10 points, which should be more than enough to win. This week the Bengals travel to play the uber-hot Carson Palmer and all the weapons that the Arizona Cardinals have. Opposing defenses that have gone up against Palmer and company have averaged a meager 4.78 fantasy points per game.
Buffalo Bills (at NE, Mon.)
The Bills are not the elite defense that many thought they would be. This week the Bills travel to New England to take on Tom Brady and that is never good for opposing defenses. Even though Brady has lost a few of his weapons over the past couple of weeks in Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman, that’s not enough to turn a matchup against the Patriots into a favorable one for any defense. After the first 10 weeks of the season, opposing DSTs are averaging 3.11 fantasy points against the Patriots. Don’t be silly and start the Bills this week.
— 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.