The NFL season in which the actual football has taken a back seat is chugging along as we get closer and closer to the fantasy playoffs, and as the bye weeks mercifully end and it doesn't seem like as many injuries to big name players can derail your season (since many of them are already out), is progress going to be made for fantasy happiness? And if you're wondering why the title of this piece is "Celebrity Brain Crash", I just got through watching an episode of The Grand Tour and the title makes as much sense here as it did in that show.
Byes: CAR, NYJ, IND, SF
Start of the Week: QB Alex Smith (KC) at NYG
Alex Smith is an underrated fantasy QB against almost everyone, but against the Giants who, sorry to all Giants fans, have quit, especially on defense, Smith could be in for a huge game on Sunday afternoon.
Who to Start:
QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. WSH: As the Saints are officially a ground and pound team now, you may be wondering why he's a great fantasy starter this week. For one, Washington's defense has been torched by pretty much everyone this season through the air, and it stands to reason that they'll try to sell out and stop the run to force Drew Brees to beat them, which he will then likely do.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) vs. DET: He's certainly not been the fantasy option many of us expected him to be, and he's been held to single digit points in most everywhere the past few weeks. However, if the Lions gave up a big fantasy day to Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, Howard at least has a shot here.
WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. TB: He's been a solid PPR option all season for his owners in spite of the Dolphins QB malaise, and it seems every now and again he and DeVante Parker pop off for a big game or two. That could come this week against the Bucs and their far worse than expected defense.
WR Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. KC: Despite the Giants being garbage, Eli Manning has to throw it to someone, and Shepard has been the guy of late. Kansas City's secondary is not as impressive as you might think, and also consider the garbage time potential here: it could be immense!
TE Vernon Davis (WSH) at NO: Amazingly, Davis still has it. Even against brutal matchups on paper, he's chipped in big games against both Seattle and Minnesota. The Saints matchup is similar, but once is accident, twice is a trend, three times...?
DEF LA Chargers vs. BUF: Not only does this Chargers defense get to face a rookie in Nathan Peterman making his first start, on the road, the defense hasn't been why the team has lost this year. They rush the passer well, force turnovers and last week kept Leonard Fournette in check. This is a great matchup this week.
Sit of the Week: WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. BAL
He was my "Buyer Beware" last week, and many places had him as a must sit. I wasn't willing to go that far considering his draft position and ability to overcome tough matchups in the past. But now, until proven otherwise, you can't play Nelson with Brett Hundley at QB, even though he's improved recently. Baltimore's defense is also fairly stout.
Who to Sit:
QB Matt Ryan (ATL) at SEA MON: Seattle's defense is dinged up, but it's still the Seahawks at home, and with Matt Ryan's numbers this year underwhelming massively, starting him this week is a big risk, even though with Freeman's injury, he may be relied on more.
RB Lamar Miller (HOU) vs. ARZ: When teams know your QB situation is a mess, they sell out to stotp the run at all costs. Miller has faced that the last two weeks without DeShaun Watson running the offense. It'll happen this week against Arizona, who have a stout defense against the run.
WR Sammy Watkins (LAR) at MIN: Watkins has finally awaken from his fantasy slumber! But he may unfortunately slip back to earlier form this week against Xavier Rhodes and that ferocious Vikings defense. In his other road game against a defense like Minnesota, in Jacksonville, he was invisible.
WR Kelvin Benjamin (BUF) at LAC: Benjamin can't be trusted now that the QB switch in Buffalo has occurred. Until proven otherwise, and against a very solid Chargers defense, it's not a good time to be an owner of Kelvin Benjamin.
TE Coby Fleener (NO) vs. WSH: Fleener has a fantasic matchup on paper this week, but there is one problem: he's not a good blocker, and the Saints are a run first offense. Thanks to Michael Fabiano of NFL Media for this nugget: he's played in only 27% of offensive snaps for New Orleans in the last four games. Avoid.
DEF Dallas vs. PHI: No Sean Lee, and facing Carson Wentz equals a bad combination for the Cowboys defense this week in both reality and for fantasy owners. They weren't exactly bad last week, but from fantasy perspective "not bad" from defenses isn't quite good enough at this time of year.
3 Super Sleepers:
QB Jay Cutler (MIA) vs. TB: It's hard to start Cutler at all, but with a favorable matchup this week, it might be worth the risk. The Bucs defense played well last week against Josh McCown, but has struggled mightily against just about everyone else.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) at HOU: He's here and not in the "start" portion of the piece because of the QB uncertainty, but even with that, the Texans defense is a mess, and Fitz should easily pounce on that.
DEF Atlanta at SEA MON: On paper, facing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at home is not a good matchup. So why have the Falcons defense here? Well, the Seahawks can't run the ball, their offensive line is a mess, and the Falcons defense has to be feeling confident after that show they put on against the Cowboys. There is a chance this is a sneaky good play in spite of the odds this week.
QB Jared Goff (LAR) at MIN: It's impossible to not love the way Goff and the Rams offense has evolved this season, but they haven't been at their best against the best defensives such as Seattle's and Jacksonville's. Minnesota's defense is up there, so starting Goff with that in mind is a risk.
Good luck in Week 11!