Top 5 Week 11 Busts: Sit 'Em Down
What's interesting about fantasy football is that it pretty much boils down to a game of risk. Not Risk the board game, mind you - although we've been over that one before! - but risk in the same way a stock portfolio is about risk. It's not really about always picking home runs; it's about not picking the players who will kill your roster.
So with that in mind, here's a few land mines you'll need to avoid in Week 11, powered by the mathematical models that make us the most accurate projection engine in the business. Remember kids, if it ain't math, it's probably just some fat guy and his opinion.
Let's dispense with the obvious up front: he's playing a lot better than he was as recently as three weeks ago. Whether it's due to the return of Gronk, the re-emergence of Stevan Ridley, or better back massages from Gisele (let's be G-rated here, shall we?), ol' Tommy Boy has slowly begun to justify where he was likely drafted in your league.
Bench him this week.
Again, not that he's not playing well - he is. But we kick it math style here at numberFire and, well, a matchup on the road at Carolina isn't what we call advantageous. Carolina ranks #2 in our defensive power rankings, surrendering nearly a whole TD less than "average" defenses would in the same situation.
So he finally showed some life, didn't he? Savor the flavor, Mighty Mouse: the bell tolls this week for thee.
The Cardinals are a lot of things, but defensively deficient, they are now. They rank #3 in our algorithmic power rankings, and impressively, a strong #2 in the run. This means that it's fair to expect Maurice Jones-Drew to return to his usual 2013 form of running into a pile at the line of scrimmage and falling down. How bad has it been, you ask? His top statistical comparable is 2006 Cadillac Williams, he of the 3.5 yards per carry, drive-killing vintage.
Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams/Mike Tolbert
This one isn't even about the matchup - although the Patriots power-rank #4 in defense, and #6 specifically against the run. No, it's about the dreaded running back-by-committee and a simple case of what is a fundamental human concept: sharing.
Of the 66 snaps the Panthers had last week, Tolbert was on the field for 35 of them. Does that mean he's the most efficient runner the Panthers have? No, he's actually dead last. But what he does do well is pass protect; of those 35, passes were called 79% of the time.
Of the remaining 31, the snaps were split generally equal, with Stewart out-carrying DeAngelo 13-9. Sorry to burst your bubble here, people - that's simply not enough touches, and certainly not against a strong defense like the Patriots. Bench them all.
Instead, consider the above mentions but also throw in Rashard Mendenhall, who, despite being much less efficient than Andre Ellington, has a vote of confidence from his coach and a matchup with the #29 Jags to boot.
The Detroit Lions are a tale of two teams; they must be Charles Dickens' favorite squad. While they are ranked #17 in our defensive power-rankings, they are a strong #4 on the rush defense side, which basically means they can't stop anyone, anywhere through the air.
This means that Le'Veon Bell - he of the Stacey Mack 2001 top comparable - will have a tough go of it on Sunday. All the more reason to start Big Ben over Tom Brady, right? Between the matchup and the strange workload vulturing from replacement-level backs in Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones, Bell simply isn't startable.
Mario Manningham? Please. Until Michael Crabtree comes back or until Vernon Davis is fully healthy, there's no one even remotely competent other than Anquan Boldin in the 49ers WR corps. Why would anyone pay attention to Bruce Miller when he's running a seam route?
New Orleans is also the #4 power-ranked pass defense, Colin Kaepernick is coming off a truly awful game, and the game is in the Superdome. No thanks.
Instead of Boldin, consider Denarius Moore against a #26 Houston defense that is without Ed Reed (probably for the better, really) or Larry Fitzgerald, who is a great bet to destroy the hapless Jags secondary.