Well owners, fans, and friends this is it. Fantasy football is in the stretch run, and it’s time to separate the men from the boys. All the bye weeks are now over and the fantasy playoffs are coming up. So time to put away the excuses and the “what ifs”, this is where your team proves to be either a contender or a pretender.
It isn’t all rosy for everyone, even I have struggled a bit throughout this season and every win becomes essential. For the season in all of my leagues I am 24-18, and in position to make the playoffs in 2 leagues, but the other 2 are going to need some work. I encourage everyone however, that no matter where your team may stand, give it your best, and try to finish the season strong. So as always, sit back, read and relax, and good luck in the home stretch.
Start Em/Sit Em
Matt Cassel, Chiefs vs Broncos: Granted most of his juice last week was in garbage time as his team was being crushed, but Cassel has been warming up of late, and now finds his team in very desperate straits as they are in need of a win. Dwayne Bowe and company have been working hard to help Cassel, so this week, against a pretty depleted Cards team, who’s season is all but over, Cassel should come up with some good stats.
Troy Smith, 49ers vs Buccaneers: Somehow,some way, the San Francisco 49ers are still in the hunt for the NFC West, and right now a red-hot Smith is the reason why. He is now 2-0 as the starting QB, and has meshed well with WR Michael Crabtree, who has scored a TD in both of Smith’s starts. This week, as my A number 1 upset, I have the 49ers actually upsetting the Bucs, and the strong play of Smith is a big reason why.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers at Vikings: Yes I know I try to stay away from obvious starts, but Rodgers jumps out even more then normal this week. The Packers need the win to keep pace in the NFC playoff race, and this should very well be the last time Rodgers will face Brett Favre, so you know he will be amped up for a big effort. The Vikings play the run well,so it will be on Rodgers shoulders to lead the way.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills at Bengals: Sorry to say to all you upstarts, but it would appear that Fitzpatrick is no longer a big surprise to defenses. He has just one TD in each of his last 2 outings, and if the Bengals do anything right on defense, it is stopping the pass.
Matt Schaub, Texans at Jets: Schaub was in the hospital earlier this week, so he is not even a guarantee to start, and if he is look somewhere else. He has struggled when he needs to be the lead guy, and for that Houston, who many thought were a playoff team, are now struggling badly at 4-5. The Jets defense has bent a bit lately, but it won’t be this bad this week.
Kyle Orton, Broncos at Chargers: The Chargers are hot right now and playing real good football, meanwhile the Broncos have been a bit of a disappointment. The Broncos may get something in garbage time, but I am in full belief that San Diego will come out strong and dominate this game, which could make it a long day for Orton.
Fred Jackson, Bills at Bengals: Finally last week we saw the Jackson that started out last season so well. Yes, the Bills are struggling, but Jackson is playing for a job next year. He still has the good hands, and is a power runner, which always plays well against the Bengals, who are much stronger in pass defense than rush defense.
Felix Jones, Cowboys vs Lions: Finally Felix “the cat” Jones cracks the start section in 2010. The Cowboys offense looked very much like the team we thought we’d see this off-season and now are ready to do some damage. The Lions watched last week as Fred Jackson and the Bills ran crazy on them, so no reason why Dallas can’t either. Jones is the main back here, and will do the most damage for Big D the rest of the way.
Ray Rice, Ravens at Panthers: For all of you who have struggled with Rice this year, this is the week he will pay off. The Panthers are terrible against the run and should be on the field very little on offense,so the Ravens stand to be in complete control, which should mean plenty of Rice.
The Jets Receivers vs Houston: Get in anyone you can, everyone is fair game against the leagues worst pass defense, who not only gave up a 50 yard Hail Mary to lose last week, but are well on pace to break the record for the single-season worst pass defense ever. Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes could be good plays this week.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers vs Buccaneers: As I said earlier when I recommended Troy Smith, this one looks like a San Fran upset in the making, and why not go with the hot hand. Crabtree has found the end zone in both of the games Troy Smith has started. Crabtree may not go off, but he is a safe play of late.
Danny Amendola, Rams vs Falcons: As good as the Falcons are this year, the Rams still are no push overs, and this guy is the number 1 weapon. Amendola gets points all over the field, as a returner, a receiver and as a TD weapon. Each week he is good for 15-20 points in PPR leagues, and should be plugged in to your team if you own him every week.
Lance Moore, Saints vs Seahawks: I am a Moore owner, so maybe I am trying reverse psychology here, but the firm belief is that if Reggie Bush is back, Moore will lose a lot of his role in this offense. Moore will also lose his punt returns as well, so it isn’t looking good for a guy who i feel is the most reliable of the Saints WRs. Maybe he will prove me wrong, heck I’m begging him too!
Raiders WR at Steelers: After a whooping by Tom Brady and the Patriots, the Steelers defense is jacked up and ready to go. We know this is a big game for Oakland, but if they are going to pull this game off, no WR will go nuts. They will have to play it cool to protect Jason Campbell and will need to make holes for the running game to try and win this one.
Mario Manningham, Giants at Eagles: Manningham looked great in relief last week as he took over for Steve Smith, but the Eagles defense is hot right now, and this huge game will not be easy for big points from anyone. The Eagles will have to do a lot to stop Hakeem Nicks, but will have enough to keep Manningham from going nuts.
Waiver Wire Wonders: Here is most likely the last chance to grab anyone worth using before the playoffs come. Here are some guys you may still be able to get and get something out of.
Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars: Thomas has been improving each week, and with Mike Sims-Walker fighting an ankle injury he can prove to be a nice pick-up. The Jags are fighting for a playoff spot, and David Garrard has looked better than he has in a few years, so try this guy to go with it.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: In what seems like an odd player to mention as being on waivers, Greene is available in every league I play in, and is starting to see more action. It appears that L.T. may be wearing down, and Greene can be a late season steal with big dividends.
Mike Goodsen, RB, Panthers: Funny how bad teams always have a guy who shows up late in the season and makes something happen. Goodsen looked good last week, and although they face a tough Ravens team, he may be all they have this week.
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins: Last week he had a big game although his team was pounded by the Eagles. However Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain are not set to come back yet, and that makes Williams pretty much the carrier of the load.
“Dear Shark”, your questions and my answers:
A: It could do pretty good things for the running game as we may expect to see more of the Wildcat set. However, if you thought owning Brandon Marshall was tough before, this may make it that much worse. Although Tyler Thigpen can be savvy, he is no star.
Q; Do I stay away from the Steelers defense, it seems like they are struggling?
A: The Steelers defense is always a good option, despite what happened to them last week. You can’t always get the best of Tom Brady, but they also don’t play him every week.
Q: What player will come to life and explode for the playoffs?
A: Well if you watch Monday night football, the answer clearly looks like Michael Vick. Vick set a fantasy football record last week according to ESPN, Yahoo and CBS Sportsline. It is hard to pin point one guy, but here are a few that may come on strong at the end:
Q: Who should I give up on as the playoffs come?
A: You can’t give up on many guys you regularly start at this point, especially if you are in a playoff spot, but if you are trying to come from behind you may want to ditch guys like Matt Forte, Joesph Addai and possibly even LaDainian Tomlinson.
Q: Will Michael Vick do that again?
A: It is hard to imagine anyone having such a day again, but for the rest of the year he will be worth starting as long as he stays healthy. Great arm and great legs make him quite a weapon.
OK so here is all you need for week 11. Read on and move forward, and good luck in week 11 everyone!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
Join ESPN Insider today for the best sports analysis online, plus ESPN The Magazine!