Start or Sit: Week 11

Can Ray Rice be trusted against the Bears?

I moved to the Cincinnati area about three-and-a-half years ago after living the majority of my life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

While some say, “A Steeler fan living in Cincinnati? That must be terrible!”, I simply remind them that there are plenty of similarities between the two cities. And while Pittsburgh is still the best city in the world (seriously, go visit it), Cincinnati has been a fantastic home for me – there’s character, a team for the Pirates to beat in the Wild Card game of the playoffs, and great, genuine people here.

During my first year in the new city, one Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson lived here. It was the pre-Evelyn Lozada scandal Chad – the one who was always entertaining on and off the football field, rarely causing serious drama. I had always heard stories about him going on Twitter and doing things for fans, and loved the whole thought behind it.

And then I lived it.

On a winter Friday night, my significant other and I went out for dinner and a movie. A simple date night, if you will. We didn’t have a thought as to which movie we wanted to see, but we knew we wanted to see one.

As we waited in line for the movie, deciding on which one to see, I saw this crowd emerging from the outside cold. It was a pack of people – 100 or so of them – being led into the movie theater by, of course, Chad Johnson.

”Let’s go with them,” I said, anxiously wanting to be part of anything Ochocinco did.

She was hesitant, but I convinced my lady friend to be part of the group, acting like we belonged.

As we approached the entrance to actually get into the theaters, I soon realized that there was no way some teenager working the ticket counter would be able to stop the mass of people from entering. So we did – we walked right in, led by the Bengals wideout, and hoped to see a free movie.

Chad huddled us all together, asking what we wanted to watch. “Bad Teacher,” said a few of the girls. “Alright,” Chad responded. “Bad Teacher it is.”

We just followed.

The theater was packed full of laughter and people texting friends, telling them that they were about to watch a movie with Chad Johnson. He was sitting a row in front of me, and was chatting with anyone who felt like giving him lip. I, as a Steeler fan, always enjoyed his game and what he brought to the field, and since he just got me into a movie theater for free, I wasn’t about to make him angry by stating, “Rings."

The movie started, and out of the corner of my eye I saw theater employees rushing into the room with carts – literally, carts – full of popcorn and pop (it’s not soda – it’s pop). Chad had bought the entire theater popcorn and some Coke, essentially unlimited because a dozen people didn’t want any of it.

Even though the movie’s plot line was mediocre at best, the real story of the night was the fact that I got to watch a movie with Chad Johnson. You don’t get that kind of opportunity every day.

Afterwards, I rushed to the bathroom (I drank a lot of pop), and after finishing my business, was washing my hands. Beside me stood the wideout, a little shorter than I was. I looked at him and said, “Thanks for the movie, man – I really appreciate it.”

He responded, “You welcome, boss.”

I realized something in that moment. Anytime you can say those three words, you’re doing something right. My hope is that, with this column and the ones in the future, I’m able to tweet, say or email you back those three words.

You welcome, boss.

Start 'Em

Hall of Fame Jacket Chad: The Best (Solid Starts)

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson’s been great from a fantasy standpoint, having scored double-digit points in every contest this year, including five 20-plus fantasy point performances. This week he’ll go up against Minnesota, a team ranking 31st against the pass when adjusted for strength of schedule. That lines up with their 31st fantasy points against rank, having surrendered 20 passing touchdowns this season. Wilson is a must start.

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

I never imagined Foles would be a plug-and-play guy, but he’s slowly becoming just that. It’s hard to say no to a guy who’s thrown 16 touchdowns and no interceptions this season, especially when he’s facing the Redskins 18th-ranked adjusted pass defense. Foles is a nice QB1 this week.

Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers

I could plug Woodhead in this section of the column each week. He’ll face the Dolphins in Week 11, a squad that comes in as the second worst rush defense in the league. They also have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to opponent’s running backs, something that will benefit the little guy greatly. I expect him to have serious value this week in PPR leagues.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

People need to talk more about Pierre Garcon. He’s yet to have a game with fewer than five receptions, and now has seven in each of his last three contests. And in his last two games, he’s compiled nearly 300 total receiving yards.

Against the Eagles, a squad that’s allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers? Of course you should start him.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Like Garcon, Brown has been a reception machine, and is still on pace to catch close to 120 balls this year. Our metrics say that Detroit’s secondary ranks 19th in the NFL, and they’ve also given up the 3rd-most points to opposing receivers in 2013. Expect the Steelers to have to play a little catch up, with Brown benefiting tremendously from it.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

V-Jax has slowed down a bit over his last couple of outings, but should get back on track this week against the league’s worst pass defense. The last time Jackson faced the Falcons, he compiled 10 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs running game is in shambles, so Jackson will have to be the go-to piece in the offense for them to have even a shot at winning.

Chad Johnson's Career Numbers: Underrated (Sneaky Starts)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tennessee Titans

When you combine an always-sloppy game (Thursday Night Football) with an always-sloppy quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick), you hope the two negatives can create a positive.

Really though, Fitzpatrick is just as much of a fantasy option as Jake Locker was for Tennessee, and has a great matchup this week against a Colts defense that’s allowed five touchdowns over their last two games to Case Keenum and Kellen Clemens. Fitzpatrick is just one of the many streamable quarterbacks for Week 11.

Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Glennon was bad against the Dolphins last week, but really, he’s been a decent fantasy option this season. The last time he faced the Falcons – the league’s worst defense according to our metrics – he threw up 256 yards and two scores for a 19.5-point game. Atlanta still has given up two passing touchdowns in every game aside from Carolina, and Cam rushed for one in that contest. Glennon should have a decent floor against a putrid D.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Perhaps you’re just looking for a steady, consistent, reliable deep quarterback option. In that case, Tannehill is your man.

So far this season, the Dolphins passer has no less than 10.8 fantasy points in a game, but no more than 16.9. He should score towards that upper limit, as the Chargers secondary ranks as the third-worst in efficiency, and has allowed the 30th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Tannehill’s consistently mediocre, but sometimes that’s all you need if you’re in good shape for a victory without a quarterback.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens

As strange as it is to list Ray Rice as a “sneaky play”, that’s what he’s become in the Ravens offense. Baltimore’s offensive line couldn’t push a 12-year-old child out of the way right now, creating zero holes for the once-stud fantasy back. But against Chicago, there’s a chance Rice breaks loose a bit. The Bears, due to injury, have been awful against the run, allowing 25 or more fantasy points to opposing team’s backs in all but one game since Week 4.

It’s tough to trust Rice, and I wouldn’t if I wasn’t forced to, but if you’re in a bind, he’s not a bad flex option.

Rashard Mendenahll, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Mendenhall isn’t nearly as efficient as his teammate, Andre Ellington, at running the football, but his coach likes him, and he’s getting touches. Jacksonville has a bottom-10 rush defense according to our metrics, and have allowed the 28th-most points to opposing backs this season. Like Rice, you hate to do it, but Mendenhall’s matchup screams potential.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins bullying situation is taking a slight hit on the running game, and we saw it against the Bucs on Monday night. Miller touched the ball just seven times and rushed for two yards, creating his lowest outing since Week 1.

Although the Chargers have allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points against running backs, they come in as our least-efficient rush defense in the league according to our Net Expected Points data. The main reason the Bolts haven’t given up more points on the ground is because their volume against isn’t very high, and teams aren’t scoring ground touchdowns. That being said, there’s still opportunity for Miller to get 100 total yards this week.

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins

As mentioned with Tannehill, this San Diego secondary is bad. Really bad. Enter Mike Wallace, perhaps the most disappointing wide receiver in the game today. If you own him, I feel for you (not really, because we told you to avoid him entering the season), but at least you get to throw him in as a sneaky play this week.

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans

You start Wright more confidently in PPR leagues, as he catches around five or six balls every single week. This time around, however, there’s a chance he sees the end zone on Thursday night. I’d be fine throwing him in my lineup as a WR2 or 3 in most leagues.

Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Housler was a favorite sleeper for many coming into the season, and he’s finally gaining more of a role in the Cardinals offense. He scored a touchdown and had 57 yards on four catches last week, and in Week 11 will face a Jaguars defense that gets torched by tight ends. Remember how we picked out Delanie Walker last week? That’s potentially Rob Housler this week.

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz still saw over 50 percent of Eagles snaps in Week 10, but was just unable to get any action through the air. There’s a chance that changes against Washington, a team that was just wrecked by Vikings tight end John Carlson last week. I’m not trusting Ertz as anything but a deep-league play, but he has upside in Chip Kelly’s offense.

Defense to Start: New York Jets (vs. Buffalo Bills)

Sit 'Em

Chad Johnson's Name Change: Stupid (Risky Starts)

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

The Panthers are good – no, they’re great – on defense, ranking as our second-best unit when adjusted for strength of opponent. It shouldn’t surprise a soul if they jump into the top spot this week, either, even with a potentially difficult matchup against Tom Brady’s Pats.

Brady could be turning the corner, but he’s not worth a start given the fantastic waiver wire guys out there. The Panthers haven’t allowed more than 15.5 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback all season long, and they’ve stopped signal-callers short of 10 points four different times.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Sorry Kaepernick owners, he’s just not the plug-and-play starter we all thought he could be. He’s been inconsistent all season long in fantasy, and given the lack of weapons around him, he’s going to be extremely difficult to start against a Saints defense that stops the pass better than anyone outside of Kansas City, Seattle and Carolina.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

Perhaps this doesn’t deserve to be in the “Sit ‘Em” section, as Lacy will be fed at least 20 touches against the Giants this week. But just a friendly reminder: If you own a couple of other top running back options and are choosing between them and Lacy, the rookie may be the one to sit.

Though he’s been great, the Giants own the seventh-best adjusted rush defense, and have allowed zero rushing touchdowns since Week 5. They’ve faced tough running teams too, seeing Minnesota, Philadelphia and Chicago since then.

I still like Lacy as a high-end RB2, but in 8- or 10-team leagues, there could be better runners.

C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Bills were stuffed against an emotionally-charged Steelers defense last week, mostly because rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel couldn’t get a thing done with his arm. The test is no easier for them this week, facing a Jets front that’s allowed no more than 90 rushing yards to running backs in a single game this year, showing off the second-best rush defense according to our analytics.

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

This isn’t to say you should absolutely bench Allen, but in shallower leagues, you may have better options. Miami boasts the 11th-best pass defense in the league when adjusted for strength of schedule, and have given up the fourth-fewest points to opposing wide receivers. To beat the Dolphins, you run on them, which is why someone like Danny Woodhead should have a good day, not necessarily Keenan Allen.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

I warned you all about Shorts last week against Tennessee and Alterraun Verner coverage, and he rewarded my insight with a two-reception day. This week is better, sure, but he’ll face Patrick Peterson and the tough Cardinals defense. You can do better than our 35th-ranked Week 11 wideout.

Chad Johnson on the Patriots: Avoidable (Bad Starts)

Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s time to remove him from your consideration set, especially this week against one of the most underrated defenses in the league in Arizona. Henne has six starts this year, and he scored fewer than eight fantasy points in three of them. Why would you consider this?

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns

McGahee could make a home in the bad starts area of this column if he wanted to. Only Ray Rice has been less efficient on the ground this season than McGahee, and he, McGahee, has scored more than four fantasy points zero times since Week 5. I expected Chris Ogbonnaya to see a little more opportunity down the stretch, making McGahee waiver wire worthy in leagues with 12 or less teams.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Indinapolis Colts

Stone hands has just four catches since Reggie Wayne’s ACL tear, compiling 41 yards. The matchup against Tennessee isn’t easy, and Luck is already moving on to other Indianapolis pieces like Griff Whalen and Coby Fleener. Stay away from the former first-round pick.

Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

While I do expect short, quick passes from the Patriots against the Panthers in order to ease the pressure on Tom Brady, those passes are going to go to the Patriots main inside man, Danny Amendola. With Gronk back, too, it’s difficult to think of Edelman as anything but a player who’s relevant with injury.

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Miller’s clearly not 100 percent coming off that ACL tear he suffered at the end of the 2012 season, and it’s reflecting on his stat sheet. He has 10 receptions over his last four games, and only 20 yards in one of those contests. He has upside still, sure, but he’s not worth starting given his production trend.

Defense to Sit: Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Denver Broncos)

For any other start or sit questions, visit numberFire’s Questions section and take a look at our weekly rankings.