In the month of “Movember,” you either grow a mustache or maintain it if you already have one. You can see the Cincinnati running back’s magnificent lip-warmer through his face mask.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, on the other hand, did the unthinkable and had the team’s strength and conditioning coach cut off those surfer-boy locks. Unless you’re Amber Rose or Rose McGowan or some other celebrity Rose, who rocks a buzz cut in L.A.?
Even if you’re not superstitious, Justin, at least think of your fantasy football managers. You don’t go shearing Samson’s mane. We saw how that turned out.
I assure you this fretting has nothing to do with the fact that I’m counting on Herbert in a couple of leagues.
It’s Week 11, and as you can see from the start ‘em, sit ‘em list below, we all have to navigate hairy situations this weekend.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger at Jaguars
Roethlisberger is 13th among quarterbacks with 19.3 points per game, according to FantasyData.com, yet he’s an annoyance to fantasy managers. Despite throwing to one of the best receiving corps in the league, he’s had four games under 250 yards, two of which were below 200.
But Big Ben has surpassed 300 yards in back-to-back games and thrown seven touchdowns in that span.
He’s got terrific edge receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool (as well as JuJu Smith-Schuster when he lines up wide), and they should be able to take advantage of Jacksonville corners C.J. Henderson and Tre Herndon, both of whom have opponent passer ratings in the 100s.
Also consider: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson vs. Titans
Bengals RB Giovani Bernard at Washington Football Team
Before I delve into the case for Bernard, let me explain my fixation with Joe Mixon, which borders on disdain.
To quote Commodus from “Gladiator,” Mixon “vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.”
Unlike Maximus, who “simply won’t … die,” Mixon simply won’t stay healthy or consistent, so pinpointing when to start him is like trying to hit a moving target. Fantasy GMs might have benched him in Week 4 after a 6.5-point performance (standard scoring) against Philadelphia in Week 3, and if they did they missed out a 36-point bonanza against Jacksonville. Then he went right back to 9.4 points in Week 5.
Now Mixon’s questionable with a foot injury, and good luck getting any clarity from coach Zac Taylor.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Taylor said. “He’s day to day.”
Now that you’re terribly vexed about Mixon too, let’s discuss why you should run with Bernard.
First, there’s that glorious mustache, which must have required have the express permission of “Action Jackson” Carl Weathers.
Second, Bernard had three straight weeks of double-digit fantasy points (half-point PPR format) before a slight setback against a tough Pittsburgh defense.
But it comes down to this: Bernard is the type of dual-threat back who has thrived against an otherwise stout Washington defense. Kareem Hunt, Darrell Henderson and D’Andre Swift all hauled in touchdown catches against the Football Team.
Also consider: Chargers RB Kalen Ballage vs. Jets
Lions RB D’Andre Swift at Panthers
Ten weeks into the season, Matt Patricia finally figured out what fantasy football owners already knew they knew: Give Swift the ball.
In real football terms, the Detroit coach probably would counter that Swift had to improve at protection, reading his blocks, blah, blah and blah. All I know is the first time Swift got more than five rushing attempts, he had 14 rushes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
And then Swift got only nine and six carries, respectively, the following two games.
He finally made his first start against Washington last week, and he totaled 149 yards on 21 touches and a touchdown. Funny how that worked out, wouldn’t you say, Matt?
Matthew Stafford has a partially torn ligament in his thumb, so it’s reasonable to think the Lions will lean on the running game. Meanwhile, Carolina gives up the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Everything lines up for Swift here, as long as Patricia doesn’t insist on being the Adam Gase of Bill O’Briens.
Also consider: Patriots RB Damien Harris at Texans
Saints WR Michael Thomas vs. Falcons
Jameis Winston has been thrust into the starting role after Drew Brees’ ribs were broken. Winston might have a “clean” game, meaning no interceptions, but if you’re starting a New Orleans receiver, that’s not your main concern.
Winston’s deep ball ability and his focus on a “type” should be top of mind.
Thomas could become Winston’s new Mike Evans. Evans was second in targets (118) in 13 games last season and first (139) in 16 games in 2018. That’s an average of nine and 8.7 targets per game, respectively.
Obviously, that’s a different system but Winston has his tendencies and he may have one fewer option available with receiver Tre’Quan Smith (concussion) questionable.
Also consider: Jets WR Jamison Crowder at Chargers
Cowboys WR Amari Cooper at Vikings
It’s hard to make a solid judgment from one game, but there are two things you can be reasonably sure about with Garrett Gilbert: He appears to be a more functional quarterback than Andy Dalton (though Dalton returned to practice this week), and he doesn’t have Michael Gallup-blinders on like Ben Dinucci.
Gilbert spread the ball around fairly evenly in his lone start against Pittburgh.
Whoever starts, Cooper gets his easiest matchup since Week 4 against Cleveland, likely lining up against Minnesota’s Cameron Dantzler. Opposing quarterbacks have a team-high 128.8 rating against him, according to Rotowire.com data.
Cooper’s overdue for a breakout game and the Cowboys offense might benefit from having a bye week to prepare.
Also consider: Bengals WR Tee Higgins at Washington
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Cowboys
Jefferson put up 100-plus yards against Tennessee, Houston and Atlanta — and that’s cool — but he really opened eyes after gouging a topnotch Bears secondary with eight catches for 135 yards with the Bears dead set on stopping Dalvin Cook.
The one knock on Jefferson is he has scored in only two games. It doesn’t help that Kirk Cousins looks almost exclusively to Adam Thielen and the tight ends in the red zone. Jefferson has just three red-zone targets and none inside the 5-yard line, according to FantasyData.com.
But this matchup could break that three-game scoreless streak. Jefferson lines up on the left for 60% of his plays, so Dallas’ loss of right cornerback Trevon Diggs could be huge. Jefferson might draw Chidobe Awuzie, but he’s returning from a hamstring injury and hasn’t played since Week 2.
Kirk Cousins said Jefferson possesses certain instincts you can’t coach.
“He’s natural at tracking, catching the football, separating, making the tough catch,” Cousins said. “He caught a slant on a third down and long (Monday night) that was out in front of him, not an easy catch, and he makes it look pretty natural, pretty easy. That’s hard to teach. That’s where you say you can go get a guy who is fast or quick or strong, but is he a natural receiver.”
Also consider: Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers at Texans
Washington TE Logan Thomas vs. Bengals
With Alex Smith at the helm, Thomas has had six targets in each of the last two games, and he had a season-high 66 yards against Detroit on Sunday. Thomas leads Washington in the red zone with seven catches and three scores.
He played for Miami in 2015 when Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor spent part of the season as interim offensive coordinator.
“I’ve certainly seen him progress over the years playing for a couple different teams as a tight end,” Taylor said. “His physicalness as a blocker has really improved to the point where now he’s getting a lot of snaps for them. Again, I’ve always liked Logan. He’s done a really nice job for them.”
Also consider: Falcons TE Hayden Hurst at Saints
Dolphins K Jason Sanders at Broncos
It could’ve been matchups against Arizona and the Los Angeles Chargers, or it could’ve been the switch to Tua Tagovailoa, but something has super-charged Sanders’ numbers.
He has scored 14 fantasy points (Yahoo format) in consecutive weeks, including three 50-yarders over that span. Now he heads to Mile High, where he’ll face Denver team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers. In fact, kickers have scored in the double digits in eight of the last nine games.
Also consider: Saints K Wil Lutz vs. Falcons
Browns defense/special teams vs. Eagles
Cleveland’s sack rate (6.5% per pass attempt) is slightly higher than the league average (6.2%). Philadelphia gives up a league-high 10.2% sack rate and also is on the wrong side of the interception rate (fourth worst). The Eagles allow the fifth most fantasy points to DSTs.
Also consider: Buccaneers DST vs Rams
Eagles QB Carson Wentz at Browns
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz and his receivers: “We just have to continue to work with him. We got to continue to work with our young skill guys to get on the same page because everything matters when you get in the games. It’s all magnified.”
Whether it’s Wentz’s baffling decision-making, the carousel of receivers or a shaky offensive line, the exercise of figuring out why Wentz shines when he shines and why he stinks when he stinks has become tiresome and not worth your time.
The five rushing scores and five games with two touchdown passes mask the five games with two interceptions and the two straight 8-point games.
Cleveland plays particularly tough at home; the Browns give up average of 37 points on the road and 19.2 points at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Also consider: Rams QB Jared Goff at Buccaneers
Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde vs. Cardinals
Even if Hyde heals up enough from his hamstring injury to start in Thursday night’s game, you want no parts of this situation. Hyde doesn’t get enough looks in the passing game to offset a possible timeshare with Alex Collins and/or DeeJay Dallas. Over the last four weeks, Arizona has been third toughest matchup for running backs.
Also consider: Rams RB Darrell Henderson Jr. at Buccaneers
Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette vs. Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have given up a rushing touchdown in each of the past two games, but don’t get carried away. NFL.com fantasy stats show they’ve still given up the fourth fewest points over the past four weeks.
But here’s the more important point: Any notions by fantasy fans (including yours truly) that Fournette would eventually edge out Ronald Jones might be misguided. Jones has his faults (um, fumbling) but he consistently has looked more explosive.
Running backs coach Todd McNair seemed to confirm that Fournette is relegated to a third-down role in comments via the Tampa Bay Times: “Leonard has carved out a different niche, and he has a different skill set than Ro. He’s more effective in the passing game and stuff comes natural to him in that regard. But they’re co-existing fine.”
Also consider: Jets RB La’Mical Perine at Chargers
Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling at Colts
Not to take away from MVS’ big showing against Jacksonville, but he’s going to have a much harder time in Indianapolis.
I suspect Valdes-Scantling performs better against man-to-man coverage and takes advantage of breakdowns or missed assignments. But the Colts play smart zone coverage.
Valdes-Scantling is so dependent on long bombs and touchdowns that he’s high risk in a matchup like this.
Also consider: Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy vs. Dolphins
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Rams
DK Metcalf’s struggles against Jalen Ramsey (two catches for 28 yards) in Week 10 should be cause for alarm. The Los Angeles Rams have held receivers two four touchdowns on the season and have shut out the position in six games.
If you’re looking at the likely matchups based on where Tampa Bay receivers typically line up, the Rams will pit their best cornerbacks against Evans and Chris Godwin. If Antonio Brown, and not Godwin, draws Troy Hill most of the time, he could have a big showing.
Also consider: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Packers
Colts TE Mo Alie-Cox vs. Packers
Between Alie-Cox, Trey Burton and Jack Doyle, Alie-Cox is the only one with at least three catches in each of the last three games. He also has the most receptions and yards among the three tight ends.
But in the grand scheme of things, two running backs and three receivers have more catches before you get to any of the tight ends. And it doesn’t figure to change against Green Bay, which has been the stingiest against the position in the last four weeks, according to Fantasy.NFL.com stats.
On the subject of tight ends in this game, Indianapolis has shut out every comer from the end zone except Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith — and he scored on a run. Keep this in mind for Robert Tonyan.
Also consider: Texans TE Darren Fells vs. Patriots
Broncos K Brandon McManus vs. Dolphins
It’s hard to recommend sitting McManus at home. But game script could quickly go against him if the Denver offense struggles to keep up with Miami and has to go for touchdowns.
Denver’s giving 3 1/2 points in a game set at the lowest over-under (45) of the week. Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is day-to-day with a rib injury, so that doesn’t help McManus’ cause.
Also consider: Eagles K Jake Elliott at Browns
Cardinals defense/special teams at Seahawks
Seattle’s getting 3 points at home in what is the highest over-under among the opening lines. With a short week of preparation, you’re always in danger of having a high scoring affair on your hand, which is rarely good for your defense.
It’s also a revenge game for the Seahawks, and one with playoff implications.
Also consider: Ravens DST vs. Titans
Fantasy football: Lineup advice for NFL’s Week 11 Source link Fantasy football: Lineup advice for NFL’s Week 11