Officially, we’ve entered the back half of the football season and the fantasy playoffs are in three weeks for most, and four weeks for some. With the last of the bye weeks here, this is when fantasy football play gets interesting. It’s at this point where some injury puts a contender in fantasy football into a tailspin. Also, it’s at this point that some real life football player steps up, usually because of injury, and becomes a fantasy football starlet. Week 11 boasts some good games with several fantasy footballers primed for sensational fantasy action. In most leagues, there are several teams trying hard to make fantasy football playoffs, likely separated by a game or two. The Fantasy Greek is here to help.
As you likely know, the goal in “Fantasy Football Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football player, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up this week by reviewing the weekly match-ups and identifying which players are “On the Gridiron,” a “Coach’s Decision,” or “On the Pine.” For many of you, the information provided simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. If you like, skip the fluff, and find your player’s match-up for analysis. We also provide a down & dirty listing of players listed in each category within the Quick Hits (coming out by Wednesday).If you are looking for a waiver wire pick-up, then look for those players still on your waiver wire, and you can read that analysis too. Also, consider using The Fantasy Greek’s “Fantasy Points Allowed” tool in identifying favorable and unfavorable match-ups and in making your weekly choices for the offensive positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) and for defenses/special teams and kickers.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
ON THE GRIDIRON: Identifies players you should play because of their match-up or because of their role on their team’s offense.
COACH’S DECISION: Identifies players who you normally would play but whose match-up this week is not very good; identifies players who you normally would not play but whose match-up this week is good; or identifies players who are injured that you, the fantasy coach, will need to make the call on whether or not to play.
ON THE PINE: Identifies players who you should likely avoid unless there is no one else on your roster or on the waiver wire that can help your team win.
Sunday, November 18, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
CARDINALS (4-5) v. FALCONS (8-1)
Coming off a bye week means a team gets two weeks to prepare for their next opponent. The Cardinals did just that which makes them a dangerous team in this week’s match-up against the Falcons, who are coming off their first loss of the season. Still, the Falcons are outscoring the Cardinals almost two points to one, and the Falcons have played well against the pretty good pass defenses of the Cowboys, the Eagles, the Broncos, and the Panthers. To get things started, the Falcons should win in Week 11.
ON THE GRIDIRON: There is no question that this should be a challenging game for Falcons QB Matt Ryan against one of the better pass defense in the league. Yet, Matt Ryanremains a player that should be on fantasy football gridirons as should wide-receivers Julio Jones (if active)and Roddy White. Tight-end Tony Gonzalez has the toughest of the offensive position match-ups, but he should still be on the gridiron as last week’s offensive explosion supports. The Falcons DST is a must start against a Cardinals team giving up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing defenses and special teams.
COACH’S DECISION: Believe it or not, the Falcons rush defense is allowing the thirteenth most fantasy points to running backs which means Cardinals RB LaRod Stephens-Howling has a chance to have a decent game. Consider Stephens-Howling a flex-play with upside this week. The Falcons are top-ten in least fantasy points allowed to the wide-receiver position. So, while wide-receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts may not necessarily be on fantasy pines, they make for WR3s at best. This is a week to get the Cardinals DST on fantasy pines as the Falcons allow the fifth least fantasy points to opposing defenses/special teams. Likewise, with the Cardinals ninth in least fantasy points allowed to running backs, this could be a week to keep RB Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers on fantasy pines. However, because in three of the last four games the Cardinals have allowed over one hundred fifty yards rushing to opposing running backs, consider Turner with your other RB2 options and Rodgers with your other flex-plays.
ON THE PINE: Cardinals RB Beanie Wells could be back next week and makes for a waiver wire add for fantasy players needing depth at the position. With the exception of one game,Wells’ remaining schedule is not very favorable though. Unless the Falcons Michael Tuner or Julio Jons is a late scratch from the line-up, keep RB Jason Snelling and WR Harry Douglas on fantasy pines.
BENGALS (4-5) v. CHIEFS (1-8)
Neither team’s defense has been particularly adept at keeping their opponents out of the end-zone. Indeed, both are in the top ten in terms of most points allowed. Yet, the Bengals offense is much better, holding a seventy-four point advantage over the Chiefs. Even though the Chiefs should win another game this season, The Fantasy Greek foresees a Bengals win this week.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Regardless of what one thinks of the Chiefs in general, or their pass defense more specifically, Bengls QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green should be on fantasy gridirons this week in what should be a favorable match-up for the Bengals passing game. Likewise, the Bengals DST is a must start against a team allowing the most fantasy points to opposing defenses/special teams. For the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles makes for a good start against a Bengals rush defense allowing the fifth most fantasy points to RBs.
COACH’S DECISION: This is a favorable match-up for BenJarvus Green-Ellis against a rush defense ranked ninth in most fantasy points allowed. Yet, the offense is not built around Green-Ellis and unless he scores, Green-Ellis could be in line for some pedestrian numbers. Further, there have been reports that the Bengals could seek to increase Cedric Peerman’s workload. So, treat Green-Ellis as an RB2 to consider with your other options. Green-Ellis can be on fantasy gridirons if needed. Tight-end Jermaine Gresham has had some favorable match-ups the past couple of weeks. This week, though, he faces a Chiefs defense allowing the eleventh least fantasy points to opposing TEs. While Gresham is not a must bench, you should consider your other options as he could post TE2-type numbers this week.While this is a favorable match-up for RB Peyton Hillis, Hillis has struggled to make an impact in the offense during the course of the regular season. So, while you could play Hillis, consider your other options first, as his role is secondary to Charles. As for WR Dwayne Bowe, while his stats haven’t been so great the last few games, this is a decent, not great, match-up against a beatable Bengals pass defense. Still, consider Bowe with your other WR3 options with an eye towards avoiding Bowe if you can until the Chiefs passing game can get going again.
ON THE PINE: There have been reports that RB Cedric Peerman’s role could grow. But until his role substantially grows to a point that he begins to make a significant fantasy contribution, Peerman should be avoided in fantasy football. No other player on either team is worth fantasy consideration at this time.
BROWNS (2-7) v. COWBOYS (4-5)
The Browns are coming off a very much needed bye week. While the record may not reflect it, this is a much better Browns team than we have seen in the recent past. Only about a field goal per game separates the Browns from the Cowboys defensively (favoring the Cowboys) which suggests that this could be a closer game than many might expect. In fact, the Browns have outscored the Cowboys so far this season by roughly one point per game. With a win, the Cowboys would be very much in the playoff hunt, one game behind the division leading Giants. Expect a motivated Cowboys team to take the field this week and eke out a win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Browns running back Trent Richardson makes for a solid start against a Cowboys team whose weakness is its rush defense, ranked towards the middle of all teams in fantasy.
COACH’S DECISION: The Cowboys pass defense will present a challenge for Browns QB Brandon Weeden. While the pass defense can give up the yardage, generating a score is a different matter. Still, wide-receiver Josh Gordon is a WR3 option this albeit a low one. For the Cowboys, with the way the Browns pass defense has played in the past three weeks, QB Tony Romo, WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant, and TE Jason Witten could have a rough go of it this week. In the past three games, the Browns defense has stiffened holding its opponents, to an average of 16 points per game. In addition, the Browns have held some pretty good passing offenses (Colts, Chargers, Ravens) to about 155 yards passing per game, in the past three weeks. That said, the Cowboys are playing at a high level. The team’s receivers make for the better starts. As for Romo, if you have a better option, you may want to consider it. Otherwise, a two hundred yard game and two TD passes is a very real possibility. This week, running back Felix Jones makes for a strong RB2 against a Browns defense allowing about 135 yards rushing per game, in the past three games. With the way the Cowboys DST has been playing, it makes for a decent start against a Browns team in the middle of all teams in terms of fantasy points allowed.
ON THE PINE: The Cowboys DeMarco Murray is doubtful as opposed to having been ruled out which means he is another week closer to getting back on the gridiron. No other player is an option this week given the match-up.
PACKERS (6-3) v. LIONS (4-5)
This is the first of five intra-divisional games for the Packers and the first of three intra-divisional games for the Lions, in the remaining seven games to the season. Dominating the division is a key to making the playoffs. When it boils right down to it, regardless of the Packers struggles this season, the Packers lead the Lions in points scored (by 23), points allowed (by 35), touchdowns (by seven), and the Packers are riding a four-game winning streak. The Lions are playing some of their best ball as of late but they are still having a tough time winning the big games against the better teams. The same should be the case this weekend in what should be a Packers win. For fantasy players, this should be a high scoring game involving a shootout.
ON THE GRIDIRON: There is nothing about this match-up to suggest that QB Aaron Rogers, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Randall Cobb, and WR James Jones are anything less than must-starts this week, with the Lions ranked towards the middle of all teams in fantasy pass defense. Treat Cobb and Jones as WR3s this week to get on fantasy gridirons if you can. With the Packers having their own issues defending the pass, and in a game that is an expected shoot out, QB Mathew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson should be on fantasy gridirons too.
COACH’S DECISION: With the Lions having their share of turnover and protection issues, the Packers DST is an option this week, albeit a lower one. As the Packers allow the tenth most fantasy points to wide-receivers, consider wide-receiver Titus Young a WR3 and wide-receiver Ryan Broyles a bye week replacement. As for tight-end Brandon Pettigrew, consider your other options as he faces a Packers defense that is top-ten in least fantasy points allowed to the position.While it seems that Packers running back James Starks has fallen back into favor over running back Alex Green, this is not a good match-up against a Lions rush defense that is top-six in fantasy. However, the match-up is a bit better for Lions running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell as the Packers rank towards the middle of all teams in defending the rush. Leshoure is more of an optional RB2, and Bell is more of an optional flex play.
ON THE PINE: Running back Cedric Benson has indicated he will likely return sometime in December. WR Greg Jennings should be back for the fantasy playoffs (fingers crossed!). No other player on either team is worth a fantasy football start this week.
COLTS (6-3) v. PATRIOTS (6-3)
Defensively, the Colts and the Patriots are fairly, evenly matched. Offensively, there is no comparison as the Patriots have outscored the Colts by over one hundred points. The Colts can make a game out of this so long as Andrew Luck can kick his road-game woes. Still, this should be a Patriots win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: With the Patriots top-ten in most fantasy points allowed to the quarterback and wide-receiver position, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is an option for the fantasy gridiron and wide-receiver Reggie Wayne is a must start. The Fantasy Greek notes that Luck is an option because he could be your back-up. Treat Luck as such this week even in this favorable match-up because Luck still struggles on the road and your drafted “starter” could end up being the better play. Otherwise, Luck can be on fantasy gridirons.As usual, the Patriots Tom Brady, Wes Welker (questionable), Brandon Lloyd, and Rob Gronkowski are must starts against a Colts team susceptible to the pass. Also, RB Stevan Ridley makes for an RB2 start against a Colts team giving up the twelfth most fantasy points to running backs.
COACH’S DECISION: Since his knee issue, Colts running back Donald Brown has made his way back to the gridiron without any reported setbacks which should mean he gets the majority of snaps/touches this week, and Vick Ballard gets the second most. Note however, the Patriots do have one of the better rush defense in the league. Still, both make for decent bye week replacements. With a good possibility that the passing game gets going for the Colts, consider WR Donnie Avery a bye week replacement. With Coby Fleener ruled out of this game, Colts tight-end Dwayne Allen makes for a plus start against a Patriots defense that has given up the third most fantasy points to the position.As for the Patriots DST, they should be avoided as the Colts do a good job protecting the ball and their quarterback, top-twelve in the league.
ON THE PINE: Both Colts tight-end Coby Fleener and Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez have been ruled out of this game. While player Danny Woodhead always has an opportunity to do something, he is too hit or miss to be worth a fantasy play except in the most extreme situations.
JAGUARS (1-8) v. TEXANS (8-1)
These divisional rivals are going in two very different directions. The Texans hold a commanding 123 point lead in points scored and a commanding 97 point lead in points allowed. This is a game that should be out of reach for the Jaguars early on. Texans win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: With the Jaguars sporting the third-worst rush defense in fantasy football, Texans running back Arian Foster is primed to light up the grid-iron this week. While the Jaguars are tougher defending opposing wide-receivers (ranked fourteenth), Andre Johnson still makes for a solid start. Also, the Texans DST should be active as usual against a team giving up the third most fantasy points to opposing DSTs.
COACH’S DECISION: Generally speaking, Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings hasn’t been as productive as the injured Maurice Jones-Drew has been, but remains a weekly consideration. This week, however, Jennings will likely be on fantasy pines against the No. 1 fantasy rush defense. The same can be said of wide-receiver Cecil Shorts who is only a WR3 consideration against the No. 7 fantasy pass defense. Believe it or not, the Jaguars have been particularly good against opposing quarterbacks, top-five, making Texans QB Matt Schaub a poor option this week. Even if tight-end Owen Daniels plays this weekend, he is a poor play against the No. 1 defense against the position in fantasy. While one would think with the Texans expected to pull away in this game early, Justin Forsett could get a chance, the fact is Forsett doesn’t get enough touches (maybe 5 per game, when he gets them) to be worthwhile.
ON THE PINE: The Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew is obviously out and may or may not be back for the fantasy playoffs. The Texans Ben Tate has been ruled out too. Otherwise, there are no other Jaguars or Texans expected to make a fantasy relevant impact in the game.
JETS (3-6) v. RAMS (3-5-1)
The Jets seem to bounce back and forth between being a decent team to being a bad team. The reason for this is while the Jets have won three games, when they lose, they lose BIG, as they have been outscored by their opponents by 53 points. The Rams are not much better but certainly took to task one of this season’s Super Bowl contenders, the Forty-Niners, last weekend. Besides, given the Jets turnover issues, protection issues, and recent quarterback play, this seems to be a game where the under-rated Rams defense should come through this week for a Rams win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Rams Steven Jackson blew up it up last week against the No. 1 Forty-Niners rush defense for 127 all purposes yards and a TD. This week, Jackson should tear up a Jets rush defense which is allowing the seventh most fantasy points right now. The Jets allow close to 150 yards rushing per game, and the Jets allow on average about 1 TD to the position per week. Also, WR Danny Amendola made a big splash against one of the best pass defenses in the league. Right now, Amendola is a player that should be on fantasy gridirons regardless of the match-up, until further notice.
COACH’S DECISION: The Fantasy Greek feels Rams QB Sam Bradford makes for a bye week replacement after last week’s 275 yard, 2 TD-performance. Last week, the Jets gave up about 200 yards passing and 3 TDs to the Seahawks. Further, considerRB Daryl Richardson a solid bye week replacement or flex-play. If there is a week to get the Rams DST on fantasy gridirons, this is it against a team allowing the fourth most fantasy points to the position.For the Jets, running back Shonn Green, takes on a Rams rush defense which has struggled of late, giving up 340 yards rushing over the past two games. This is a week to keep Jets WR Jeremy Kerley on fantasy pines as he takes on two of the best cover corners in the league, and a pass defense just about top-ten in fantasy points allowed. The Jets DST is an option because of its ability to get after the quarterback and because the Rams allow the twelfth most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. Still, the unit is not a top play this week so consider it with your other options.
ON THE PINE: Even in a favorable match-up, the Jets Mark Sanchez should be on fantasy pines given his inconsistent play.
EAGLES (3-6) v. REDSKINS (3-6)
Rookie Nick Foles gets his first start of the 2102 season for the concussed Michael Vick, who has been described as having sustained a “significant,” like there is such a thing, concussion. The Redskins are coming off a much needed bye week and hopefully have re-grouped, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This is a game that will likely determine the division cellar dweller for the remainder of the season. The Eagles defense is better than the Redskins defense (by 27 points) but the Redskins offense is heads above better than the Eagles offense (by 70 points). This is a game the Eagles can win, but The Fantasy Greek thinks it will be a game that the Redskins will win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: While the Redskins rush defense has been pretty good, it hasn’t been good enough to keep Eagles RB LeSean McCoy off fantasy gridirons. Because the Redskins allow the third most fantasy points to the wide-receiver position, get both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson in fantasy line-ups. Even though the Eagles pass defense has generally defended opposing quarterbacks tough in fantasy (top-ten), it’s not enough to keep the Redskins versatile QB Robert Griffin III, who can both pas and rush the ball, off the fantasy football gridiron. RB Alfred Morris should be started against an Eagles rush defense ranked toward the middle of all teams.
COACH’S DECISION: Rookie quarterback Nick Foles did a fine job filling in for the injured Michael Vick last week (219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and this week, makes for a solid start against a Redskins pass defense allowing the second most fantasy points to the position. Foles is a solid injury or bye week replacement, as well as an option in two quarterback leagues. With the Redskins allowing the second most fantasy points to tight-ends, Eagles Brent Celek should make some noise. While the Eagles pass defense does not necessarily pose the toughest match-up, returning Redskins wide-receiver Pierre Garcon is a player to avoid as he could be eased back into the offense. While The Fantasy Greek likes Santana Moss to be the best bet to do something among the Redskins wide-outs, consider him with your other options because RGIII tends to spread the ball around. The Redskins DST makes for a plus start against a shaky offensive line and a rookie QB who will likely not improve upon the Eagles No. 2 ranking in terms of most fantasy points allowed. The Redskins DST is a sleeper defensive play for the week.
ON THE PINE: The Fantasy Greek is very much interested to see how the Redskins handle the distribution of targets between the tight-ends, specifically the returning Chris Cooley andLogan Paulsen.
BUCCANEERS (5-4) v. PANTHERS (2-7)
When these two teams met in Week 1, it was a defensive battle with the Buccaneers winning 16 to 10. Since that time, the Buccaneers have been, for the most part, a scoring machine while the Panthers haven’t. The Buccaneers have outscored the Panthers by almost 100 points this season. For the Buccaneers to win this game, the Buccaneers pass defense will have to step it up. The Fantasy Greek can’t see that happening this week and sees a Panthers win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Panthers rush defense has consistently been one of the weaker ones in the NFL this season, allowing the eighth most fantasy points heading into Week 11. Along with other reasons, Buccaneers RB Doug Martin is a must start. Also, because the Buccaneers allow the seventh most fantasy points and the second most fantasy points to the quarterback and wide-receiver position respectively, both Cam Newton and Steve Smith are must starts this week.
COACH’S DECISION: On the other hand, the Panthers have been notoriously stingy against the pass, top-ten in fantasy. In Week 1, the Panthers limited Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman to 138 yards passing and 1 touchdown. Further, the one touchdown pass went to Mike Williams (12 Yatds, 1 TD) and not to Vincent Jackson (47 yards). So, while The Fantasy Greek feels that fantasy players with Vincent Jackson will have to play him because of his upside, he may put up numbers more like a WR2 or a WR 3 this week. As for Mike Williams, he is a player to avoid because but for the touchdown, he scored in the previous meeting, he would have made for a very poor play.Because the Panthers have had their share of turnover problems, the Buccaneers DST is an option this week. With the Buccaneers sort of in the middle of defending all teams against the rush, Jonathan Stewart makes for a flex-play to be considered with your other options. The Fantasy Greek likes tight-end Greg Olsen to be in line for another solid outing, but this time against a Buccaneers defense allowing the tenth most points to the position.
ON THE PINE: Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams was an after-thought in the Week 1 meeting and hasn’t done much in the last three games (76 yards, 1 TD).No other player is worth fantasy football consideration at this time.