It's that time of the season. Because we're only a few weeks away from the fantasy playoffs, you should be trying to trade for elite starters rather than build depth for the long haul. The latter is a concrete strategy early in the season when players face the onslaught of injuries and you navigate your way through ridiculous bye weeks, however, by now, you have to build your best starting lineup.
As always, before we get into this week's Sit 'Em/Start 'Em players, let's do a quick accountability check and see how TheSportster did last week. Overall, not bad. We definitely improved on our week nine predictions by hitting on 55 percent of our week 10 predictions.
We had some nice hits and a couple of duds. For example, Percy Harvin continues to give this segment fits, and we wisely left him out of this week's column (of course, he's actually on a bye, but don't tell anyone. We'll just take the free pass). Last week, we suggested fantasy players start Harvin because he broke out in week nine against the Chiefs. It was much different in week 10 when he put up roughly six fantasy points against the Steelers.
On the bright side, we hit big on some sleepers, and hopefully you started them. Tight end Mychal Rivera put up 18 fantasy points against the Broncos. As we predicted, he grabbed many of those points in garbage time. But hey, it doesn't matter how you get the points, it just matters that you get them somehow. We also suggested that you continue to put faith in Steelers' receiver Martavis Bryant. He saved his fantasy day with a late 80-yard touchdown score and put up 20.30 points.
So that's enough recapping. Let's look ahead to week 11. (Note: All projections are based on Yahoo! Fantasy)
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20 Indianapolis Colts' Defense – SIT
You could place New England's defense here instead because this game has the potential to be a shootout at Lucas Oil Stadium. However, the Patriots' defense does have the better chance of shutting down Andrew Luck than the Colts' defense has of shutting down Tom Brady. Brady is also on a hot streak, and the Patriots' have always beat the young Luck. All in all, don't start either defense in this game, but start every skill player you can.
19 Cleveland Browns' Defense – START
The Browns are for real and their tough defense has been a large part of their success. They completely shut down Andy Dalton and the Bengals last week, holding the quarterback to 86 total passing yards on 10 attempts, as well as racking up two sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery. This week they'll face Ryan Mallett, who receives his first career start, and it's a good bet Cleveland's defense continues to roll.
18 Zach Ertz – TE, Philadelphia Eagles – SIT
He has a good matchup against the Packers, but Ertz isn't seeing any targets. And that is the main reason you shouldn't start him. Surprisingly, he's actually still owned in 71 percent of leagues. Ertz hasn't put up a double digit fantasy week (10.7 points) since week six, and the most points he's scored was in week one against the Jaguars. He tallied 13.7 points then. Unless Brent Celek goes down with an injury, we can't see Ertz having much value going forward.
17 Kyle Rudolph – TE, Minnesota Vikings – START
He's a starting-caliber tight end who is still dangling on many waiver wires. Rudolph has gone unnoticed because he's been out for six weeks with a groin injury, but could be a great start this week against a Bears' team that surrenders the most points to opposing tight ends. Although his snap count may be limited because of the injury, it's hard to sit Rudolph. He's scored double digit fantasy points in his last two games in Chicago.
16 Dwayne Bowe – WR, Kansas City Chiefs – SIT
Bowe hasn't been extraordinary this season, but he hasn't been a bust, at least in PPR formats. Further, Alex Smith is increasingly looking his way. In the past two weeks, Smith has targeted Bowe 22 times and the receiver has caught 14 of those passes. The issue is, he doesn't score touchdowns and will go up against a Seahawks' defense that surrenders the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers.
15 Mohamed Sanu – WR, Cincinnati Bengals – START
Was last week the start of a downward trend for Sanu, or just a brief blip on his continuously impressive season? I'd say more of the latter. We can blame every player and coach on the Bengals for the team's horrendous performance last week, and guys like Sanu paid the price. In that game, Dalton still threw to Sanu seven times, which is his average, and he has high upside against the Saints.
14 John Brown – WR, Arizona Cardinals – SIT
Someone has to get the targets against the stingy Detroit Lions, so who will it be? It won't be Michael Floyd, so it'll be between Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, and that's if Drew Stanton can get the ball to them. Stanton was decently impressive when he took over for Carson Palmer at the beginning of the season, so it'll be interesting to see how the now 8-1 team evolves around him. And that's the problem: "evolving." Do you really want your fantasy team to take a chance and "evolve" this late in the year around such unknown circumstances? We suggest waiting a week to see if the receiver and quarterback develop chemistry.
13 Pierre Garcon – WR, Washington Redskins – START
If you have DeSean Jackson, you're obviously starting him. However, since that's a given, let's highlight that other guy on the Redskins' offense who could play a big role. Yes, Garcon is hard to trust. He's tallied under ten fantasy points in back-to-back games, but he's also facing a Tampa Bay defense that surrenders the most points to receivers. And RGIII looks poised to break out, especially against Tampa Bay.
12 Andre Johnson – WR, Houston Texans – SIT
Johnson's performed better in PPR formats than in standard leagues, but you should be highly skeptical about his chances to put on a show this week against the Browns. Cleveland does surrender the 16th most fantasy points to receivers, but they absolutely shut down the Bengals' offense last week and Johnson will have newbie Ryan Mallett throwing to him.
11 Jordan Matthews – WR, Philadelphia Eagles – START
Sometimes a change at quarterback will spark a little used weapon, and Matthews fits this category. Quickly becoming Sanchez's favorite target, Matthews has scored three times since the former Jet took over for the injured Foles in week nine. Against Carolina, the receiver totaled seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Keep riding the hot hand with Matthews and Sanchez.
10 Bobby Rainey – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – SIT
Like the Rams, the Buccaneers have a running back-by-committee that you should avoid. However, at least the Rams have a clear leading back in Tre Mason. The Buccaneers have Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims and the always under performing Doug Martin. Rainey is inconsistent. In week nine he carried the ball 19 times, but in week 10, he carried it only six times. On top of that, Washington gives up the 10th fewest points to running back. Avoid this backfield entirely.
9 Shane Vereen – RB, New England Patriots – START
Jonas Grey might be the Patriots' bruising running back, but Shane Vereen carries more fantasy value. He's much more explosive than Gray. While Gray out carried Vereen 12-11 against the Broncos two weeks ago, the latter is still their all-purpose back whose greatest strength is catching and moving. He's a good start against an Indianapolis defense that has struggled against the pass.
8 Tre Mason – RB, St. Louis Rams – SIT
Mason looks like the best of the bunch in the Rams' running-back committee, but is that saying much? He had his first decent fantasy game of the season against the Cardinals-- a team ranked third against the run--but he faces a Broncos' defense that is even better. They rank first in the league at stopping the run. Even if he gets the lion's share of the carries, you could probably do better than Mason at RB2.
7 Jeremy Hill – RB, Cincinnati Bengals – START
Even though he racked up a disappointing four fantasy points last week, we're going down this "Hill" again (awesome pun intended). You should view his poor fantasy performance against the Browns as an anomaly--he's just too talented--and start him this week, especially if Giovani Bernard misses another game. If Bernard plays, which is highly unlikely as of Wednesday, Hill still has upside as a flex option and could vulture a touchdown.
6 Joique Bell – RB, Detroit Lions – SIT
The Cardinals have surrendered only 78 yards per game, which ranks third in the league. Is that enough for us to sway you against using Bell? He'll also have to compete for carries with Reggie Bush, even if Bush is limited, as well as Theo Riddick. Also, Bell has been pretty hit or miss this season with three games with more than 10 points and three games under 6 points. We'd bet on another miss here. So, basically, don't use Bell.
5 Rashad Jennings – RB, New York Giants – START
Jennings is healthy and will be a welcome relief to both the Giants and his fantasy owners when he returns this Sunday. It'd be shocking to see him not take the field and just as shocking to see him not take the majority of the snaps from the unacceptable Andre Williams. The 49ers are a tough matchup, but Jennings should see enough of a workload to make a fantasy impact.
4 Drew Stanton– QB, Arizona Cardinals – SIT
This week Stanton should be one of the more highly sought after quarterbacks after Carson Palmer went down with an ACL tear. While the former will lead a solid Bruce Arians' offense, Stanton was inconsistent to begin the season when he replaced an injured Palmer. During Stanton's first go-around, he put up six, 22 and four fantasy points respectively. This week he faces a Detroit squad that held Ryan Tannehill to only nine fantasy points last week. Avoid him for this week, but keep him in mind for the future.
3 Josh McCown – QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – START
We'd suggest starting McCown over someone like Stanton simply because the match up is better. Unlike Stanton who is facing a lethal Detroit defense, McCown will challenge a Washington defense that has surrendered the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Guys like Nick Foles, Eli Manning, Charlie Whitehurst, and Teddy Bridgewater put up 26, 33, 14 and 16 points against Washington respectively. In the three full games McCown has played, he's averaged 18.7 fantasy points.
2 Jay Cutler – QB, Chicago Bears – SIT
Sit. Sit. Sit Cutler until he says otherwise. What in the absolute hell happened to this Bears' offense this season? In one of his worst starts of the season, Cutler managed a quarterback rating of 68.8 and a completion percentage of 59.5%, while throwing two interceptions and one touchdown. He's now tied for second in the league with 10 interceptions and has lost five fumbles. He'll face a Vikings' team that surrenders the third fewest points to quarterbacks.
1 Robert Griffin III – QB, Washington Redskins – START
In his first start after coming back from injury, Griffin put up pretty decent fantasy numbers against the Vikings. He showed no ill-effects from his ankle dislocation in week two, rolling out on a number of occasions and hitting DeSean Jackson for a beautiful bomb. He finally provides the Redskins with some much needed versatility and should absolutely torch a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 29th in points allowed, 27th in total yards, 28th in passing yards, and 16th in rushing yards.
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