FOX Sports' Josh Halpin gives you the advice you need to rule your fantasy team this week.
Through 10 weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool has become a pretty good guide to help you find good matchups. It won’t help you bring Mike James back from his broken ankle, but what are you gonna do? As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Drew Brees and Marshawn Lynch, because you should always start Drew Brees and Marshawn Lynch.
Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues, and always refer to the position being discussed.
Week 11 Byes: Cowboys, Rams
Thursday game: Colts at Titans
Did you know that Kaepernick has thrown for over 200 yards just twice in nine games? He’ll need to run quite a bit to overcome that kind of passing production, and this week’s tilt in New Orleans against the Saints’ third-ranked fantasy defense (12.9 FPPG to opposing QBs) doesn’t look promising.
- The Bears’ defense has been decent against opposing quarterbacks, giving up 18.5 FPPG (12th). Joe Flacco needs to show us more production before we start him against even a mediocre opponent.
Roethlisberger’s week-to-week numbers have been all over the board, but overall his 2,534 passing yards and 13 touchdowns are good totals. Against a Lions’ defense that ranks 27th against the pass and 16th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks (19.8 FPPG), he should have a nice day.
- Who’s giving up on Matt Ryan? Not me! Ryan plays this week against a Bucs’ defense that – while recently improved – ranks 25th with 22.8 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Let’s give him one more chance, OK?
- Case Keenum? Maybe, against the 26th-ranked Raiders’ fantasy defense (22.8 FPPG), as a fill-in for Tony Romo or something. Don’t get too excited, though.
Have you heard about the Shane Vereen Bandwagon? It’s been cruising around since Week 1, when its namesake racked up 159 yards from scrimmage before hurting his wrist. During that time, its riders have been dreaming of repeat days from Vereen, anticipating a handful of receptions and plenty of rushing yards as an unstoppable Belichickian weapon. Nothing against Vereen, but his fantasy glory might not happen right away. On Tuesday, the Boston Herald reported that we should expect Vereen to “regain a starting-caliber role in passing situations.” Against a Carolina defense that ranks fifth against opposing fantasy backs (13.9 FPPG), Vereen and Stevan Ridley don’t figure to have much room to run. If I owned Vereen, I’d lean toward benching him for Week 11 - at least in standard formats – and have him teed up for next week’s megawatt showdown with the Broncos.
- Will C.J. Spiller’s snap count ever overtake Fred Jackson’s? Maybe, but we’re 10 weeks into the season, so even I’m going to stop being stubborn. Spiller isn’t a must-bench, but odds are that he’ll have a rough time against the Jets’ third-ranked fantasy defense (13 FPPG). Putting your hopes in a 70-yard TD run is a risky fantasy strategy.
Leonard and Bobby Rainey will be in some sort of timeshare in the wake of Mike James’ season-ending ankle injury, but since Leonard is a good receiver AND a good pass blocker AND one of head coach Greg Schiano’s Rutgers guys, it’s safe to assume that he’ll be the busier back against the Falcons’ 21st-ranked fantasy defense (18.3 FPPG vs. opposing RBs). Leonard is a top-30 back on my board. Not great, but not bad.
- Rashard Mendenhall? The three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust guy? Yep. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians signaled Monday that we can expect the Mendenhall-Andre Ellington committee to continue, and the Cards have a matchup this week against a Jaguars’ 28th-ranked fantasy defense (22.2 FPPG to opposing RBs) that has allowed a ridiculous 153 rushing yards per game. That’s 18 percent more yards THAN THE NEXT WORST TEAM. Mendy should run 12-15 times and be on goal-line duty.
- Bernard Pierce might be a bit of a reach, but against the Bears’ 27th-ranked fantasy defense (21.4 FPPG to opposing RBs), you can give him a chance if byes or injuries have you in a bind. Pierce is RB34 on my board, and could start swiping some carries from Ray Rice, no matter how much John Harbaugh denies that possibility.
Stay away: Roddy White, Falcons (at Buccaneers)
I might be hanging in with Matt Ryan, but I’m not trusting White until he shows us something. After a three-game absence due to hamstring/ankle injuries, White caught one pass for 20 yards against the Seahawks in Week 10. The Bucs have been OK against opposing wideouts (23.2 FPPG), and White figures to draw the improving Darrelle Revis. Avoid White this week if you can, but keep him ready for some soft late-season matchups.
- Aaron Dobson has been improving every week, but his Monday night matchup with the Panthers’ second-ranked fantasy defense (15.4 FPPG to opposing WRs) is a tough spot.
Tate is the No. 20 wide receiver in FOXSports.com fantasy scoring this season, but he’s currently in just 44.5 percent of starting lineups. This week, he’s got a home date with the Vikings’ 24th ranked fantasy defense (26.2 FPPG to opposing WRs). Don’t let Percy Harvin’s activation scare you away from Tate, who’s a solid fantasy start.
- Riley Cooper got a little lucky last week. One of his touchdowns was an underthrown 45-yarder that he adjusted to before the double coverage did, and the other was a 32-yarder on which he was inexplicably left wide open. Still, 241 yards and five scores over two games is nothing to sneeze at, and Cooper has a matchup coming with the Redskins’ 25th-ranked fantasy defense (26.5 FPPG to opposing WRs). I’ve got Cooper at WR22, and that might be conservative.
Stay away: John Carlson, Vikings (at Seahawks)
Starting in place of the injured Kyle Rudolph, Carlson turned heads in Week 10 with a seven-catch, 98-yard outing that included a 28-yard TD. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to like him this week against the Seahawks, who rank fourth against opposing fantasy tight ends (5.5 FPPG).
- Heath Miller has a dated rep for being Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target, but he’s been inconsistent this season, with just 25 catches for 274 yards and a score in seven games. Try to avoid him in Sunday’s matchup with the Lions’ ninth-ranked fantasy defense (6.4 FPPG to opposing TEs).
Play, play, play: Rob Housler, Cardinals (at Jaguars)
Housler has also been inconsistent, but he’s caught 16 passes over his last four games, and scored his first touchdown of the season in Week 10. His Week 11 matchup with the 31st-ranked Jaguars (11.3 FPPG vs. opposing TEs) is one that screams for attention from owners of Jason Witten (bye) and possibly Vernon Davis (concussion). Housler is owned in just 2.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and is TE12 on my board.
- Speaking of Cardinals-Jaguars, the only team worse than the Jags against opposing fantasy tight ends has been the Cards, who have allowed 13.9 FPPG to players at the position. If you need to reach deep and can’t get Housler, try Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis, who had his best game of the season (three receptions, 39 yards) in Week 10.
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