No strategy would have helped you win your Week 11 matchup. Unless, of course, you used reverse logic.
While we did see typical stars like Andre Johnson, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson perform exceptionally well, we also noticed some newcomers to the top of the weekly rankings. Marcel Reece, for instance, gathered 193 total yards of offense against the Saints. LaRod Stephens-Howling, the Arizona Cardinals’ default running back, scampered for 127 rushing yards and a score in Atlanta. And Matt Schaub, a player who was drafted in double-digit rounds during most fantasy drafts, threw the rock for over 520 yards.
I’m going to have a field day when I release my “by the numbers” article tomorrow, but for now, I’m simply baffled. I mean, Chad Henne replaced the Jaguars starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, in the first quarter of their game against Houston, and Henne threw for 354 yards against one of the best defenses in the NFL. He, Chad freaking Henne, was a top-5 fantasy option this week at quarterback.
Don’t even pretend like you started him.
The reason we all love the NFL is because of weeks like this one. While there weren’t many upsets, plenty of games were on the verge of big ones. I still think, even with a bizarre NFL Sunday, that there are some takeaways from the matchups we witnessed.
Can Danario Alexander help you win your fantasy championship?
Alexander now has three touchdowns over the last two games, along with 230 yards receiving. He’s been the receiver the Chargers have needed, and is reaping the benefits of having a 6′ 5” receiving lining up on the opposite side of the field as he does. His matchups aren’t necessarily ideal moving forward, though. He’s got Baltimore and Cincinnati coming up, but in the fantasy playoffs he’ll face Pittsburgh, Carolina and New York (Jets). Coming into Week 11, each of those three teams ranked in the top-10 against wide receivers in fantasy. Selling high on Alexander before your trade deadline could be a favorable idea if you get a good receiver in return.
Matt Ryan does his best Tony Romo impression.
The difference between Matt Ryan and the elite options at quarterback, unfortunately, is what we saw in Week 11. While he’s been a stud throughout the season, he’s thrown 8 interceptions against the Raiders and Cardinals combined. And, interestingly enough, both of those games were played in Atlanta.
Do you panic? No, of course not. But it’s good to point out. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are all better options than Matty Ice.
Tony Romo does his best Tony Romo impression.
While his stat line wasn’t horrific, Tony Romo had an opportunity to go off against a Haden-less Browns’ secondary. Instead, he had a modest 313 yards and 1 touchdown. It wasn’t a bad performance, but we’d all like to see more.
My takeaway from the Cowboys’ offense was that Dez Bryant is shaping up to be what we thought he’d be. He had just three more targets than Miles Austin against Cleveland, but mustered up 6 more receptions and about 90 more yards receiving.
Matthew Stafford can’t be trusted.
If you watch Stafford, you see laziness and a consistency to turning the ball over. It’s not a recipe for NFL success, nor fantasy football success. So what do you do if you own Stafford and are pushing for a playoff berth?
I’ve been saying all season – Stafford is a matchup play. If you have someone like Andrew Luck, and Stafford doesn’t have a great matchup, then play Andrew Luck. Don’t let Stafford’s name get in the way of your success. He simply can’t be trusted on a regular basis.
AJ Green continues to be the best receiver in the fantasy game.
I have a hard time dubbing AJ Green as the best receiver in the game simply because of bigger, more physical guys like Megatron and Andre Johnson. However, there’s no disputing that AJ Green is the best fantasy wide receiver this season. He has now scored in 9 straight games, making the Bengals’ opener against Baltimore as his only scoreless matchup.
I wouldn’t expect the trend to continue in perpetuity, but know that there are few trades I’d make if I were ridding of AJ Green. He has the Arian Foster consistency that you need at the wide receiver position.
Danny Amendola continues to be a PPR machine
While he only had 41 yards, Amendola’s 7 receptions tied him for fifth best at the wide receiver position in Week 11. He had 11 targets, and was looked at in the end zone as well. If you’re in a PPR league, Amendola continues to be a must start. In standard leagues, he’s an easy WR2.
Handcuff running backs for your playoff run. Don’t get cute.
There were a couple of instances in yesterday’s action where running backs either stepped up for an injured player, or stepped up in garbage time. This begs for the following question to be asked: Are any of these backs worth a stash for a deep playoff run?
In short, not really. The only running back that can make a significant impact looks to be Marcel Reece, and that’s assuming Darren McFadden stays sidelined. If I’m in a position to make the playoffs, I’m not looking for fliers on other teams. Instead, I’m handcuffing the running backs I currently have who have gotten me to the position I’m at now.
If you own Adrian Peterson, pick up Toby Gerhart. Don’t get cute and pick up Ronnie Hillman. If you have LeSean McCoy, get Bryce Brown (especially now). There’s no need for Chris Ivory on your team.
Philadelphia is a mess.
After seeing how sloppy they played against Washington, I am moving forward thinking that there are zero trustworthy Philadelphia Eagles outside of LeSean McCoy. And now, with his recent concussion, there may be zero trustworthy players on the Eagles. Period.
You can’t spell clutch without “Freeman”.
Josh Freeman has been phenomenal since the Bucs Week 5 bye. He’s thrown 3 touchdowns in four of these six games, and 2 touchdowns in the other two. At this point, I’m not even concerned about matchups with Freeman. You start him as long as you don’t have another option. And if you do, you can trade that better option for some added depth or an upgrade at receiver and running back.
One thing to point out – Freeman plays the Saints in Week 15. If you’re a Freeman owner and are solid throughout your lineup, keep him for a potential big playoff play. The last time he faced New Orleans, Freeman threw for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Are you serious, Matt Schaub?
If I told you on Saturday that the Texans would score 43 points, and Arian Foster would contribute nothing to that score, you would’ve called me insane. But that’s exactly what happened.
The Texans did feed Foster the ball on the goal line yesterday, but the fantasy football stud just couldn’t get into the end zone. It was the first time all season that Foster didn’t score. And it came in a game where Matt Schaub just happened to throw for 5 touchdowns.
Don’t panic – he’s still Arian Foster. And if you’re a Schaub owner, I’d try to sell high.
There are two unsung heroes on the Raiders.
I wrote about Brandon Myers about a month ago, and now that he’s getting into the end zone, he becomes a TE1 play each week. In Week 11, he once again had double-digit targets, and has accumulated over 35 standard fantasy points over the last three weeks. He still isn’t getting enough recognition.
The other hero, Marcel Reece, is slowly becoming a sure RB2 option. Reece had 193 total yards yesterday, and continues to be a huge part of the Raiders passing game. Considering he’s their every down back, including third downs, Reece is a monster in PPR formats and should not be benched as long as McFadden is out.
Rob Gronkowski has only one good forearm.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions already on Twitter about what to do with Rob Gronkowski. First, I’d keep him until you find out exactly how long he’s out, and whether or not it will impact your playoff matchups. Indications are that it’s 4-6 weeks, so he may be fantasy worthless for the rest of 2012.
Now what do you do? Well, luckily, the tight end position is friendly. There are tons and tons of viable tight ends, and you can play them each week by matchup. Feel free to ask me each week who some of those players are, and take a look at my weekly start/sit column. I’ll be sure to feature some more tight ends for you Gronk owners.
Are there any must-start Steelers?
Yes, there’s one must start: The Steelers’ defense. Otherwise, stay away.
Jonathan Dwyer continues to be one of my best pieces of advice this season, as he’s been a relatively decent flex play throughout the season. But he’s still not trustworthy given the three-headed monster in the Steelers’ backfield.
At wide receiver, you’d think that Mike Wallace is a must start, but with Byron Leftwich throwing him the ball, things are shaky. If the Steelers decide to call on Chuck Batch, I still think Wallace takes a huge hit because of Batch’s inability to get the ball downfield.
The Steelers miss Big Ben and Antonio Brown a lot, and it showed against the Ravens last night. I would not feel comfortable starting any of them outside of their defense in the fantasy playoffs.