6 Fantasy Football Stars to Start or Sit for Week 11
I thought we were in agreement at this point. With 10 weeks behind us in the NFL season, I thought it was assumed who most of the must-start candidates were. I was apparently wrong. Where exactly are the 30+ percent of people not starting C.J. Spiller right now?
Spiller and Alfred Morris highlight a running back-heavy look at six of the key players that can make or break your fantasy week. If you're looking for the full list of who we recommend for this week, head to our Week 11 Projections Page, but for some more in-depth analysis of this week's cut line guys, read below. As always on Thursdays, there's a heavy focus on tonight's Dolphins/Bills matchup, but both Morris and Michael Turner provide plenty of intrigue as well for those making the tough decisions on game day.
Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 11
C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills
Week 11: 13.51 Projected Points (#5 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 69%
Verdict: Start Him
Why is this even a question for 31% of people? If you leave C.J. Spiller on your bench this week, you're leaving valuable points on the table, plain and simple.
I've mentioned Spiller's prowess in multiple places so far this week, but it bears repeating: if Spiller played full snaps, he would be an MVP candidate. He's gaining the Bills more Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush than any single running back since 2000 with at least 10 carries per game. And this week, with Fred Jackson out, Spiller's carrying the primary load once again.
Some may be scared off by the supposedly vaunted Miami run defense, but the old Dolphin tricks are growing stale. Last week against Tennessee, Chris Johnson ran up and around the Miami defense to the tune of 126 yards on 23 carries, none of which longer than 21 yards (meaning that he was consistently getting long gains rather than one long rush). The two games before that, the Dolphins allowed 3.9 yards per carry to Vick Ballard and 5.1 yards per carry to Shonn Greene. I'm not worried about Spiller's production in the least.
Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins
Week 11: 8.72 Projected Points (#26 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 55%
Verdict: Sit Him (with maybe emergency flex status)
Brian Hartline has returned to his clear #1 receiver ways in Miami, but it shouldn't be enough this week to get him over the hump and make him anything better than a borderline flex play. There are arguments to both sides of the story for Hartline, so let's play a little Good Cop/Bad Cop.
Good Cop: With 10 targets last week and 12 targets in Week 9, it seems that Tannehill is finally going back to the Hart of the matter after a few weeks of looking increasingly at Davone Bess. Each week, Hartline was the only Dolphins player above eight targets, and he accounted for over 25% of Tannehill's throws. When facing the dead-last opponent-adjusted defense on a short week, he figures to get his looks. Trust me here, targets mean everything.
Bad Cop: Yes, but will he do anything with them? Since his Week 4 breakout game against Arizona, Hartline has exactly as many touchdown receptions as I do (and trust me, I'm only average as a tight end). The Dolphins as a team haven't done much better; they've topped 20 points only once in their past five games since that Week 4 shootout. Hartline's 0.32 projected TD receptions this week ranks 40th among all receivers, worse than Anquan Boldin, Cecil Shorts, or Brandon LaFell. Yes he'll get his yards, but his upside potential (which is what you want from a flex spot, really) is limited.
I'm siding with the Bad Cop here.
Steve Johnson - Buffalo Bills
Week 11: 9.57 Projected Points (#16 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 52%
Verdict: Start Him
But my reservations go flying out the window when talking about his #1 receiver counterpart, Steve Johnson. Even coming off a thigh injury, Johnson was the most productive receiver for the Bills last week and looks poised to further that production against the weaker Dolphins secondary tonight.
During the Bills' first seven games this season, when Johnson was fully healthy (as he is for this game), the Bills' main main finished with four double-digit fantasy point (FP) outings and never finished a game with less than seven targets. In those games, Fitzpatrick targeted Johnson on a quarter of his total throws, far exceeding any other Buffalo player.
He's even better playing against the weaker teams. He's finished with double-digit FP in five of the seven games against defenses in the bottom half of the league; both failures to do so were against the Patriots. The Bills' offense as a whole, meanwhile, has not scored less than 28 points in those games, indicating a high chance for a Johnson score tonight.
Scott Chandler - Buffalo Bills
Week 11: 6.40 Projected Points (#13 Ranked TE)
Percent Started: 34%
Verdict: Sit Him
That love for all things Buffalo does not extend to the tight end position, however. The Dirty Blond Wonder is simply too inconsistent and doesn't get enough looks to warrant trusting on a week-to-week basis.
Remember how I was gushing about Johnson's targets above? Yeah, those are looks that Chandler isn't receiving. Over his past three games, Chandler has finished third (Week 10), tied for fourth (Week 9), and fifth (Week 7) on the team in targets. Even when he does get the looks, he's not a lock to convert; Chandler's 55% catch rate ranks near the bottom of all tight ends. In fact, last week's 65 yards and five catches were both season-highs for the tight end, showing just how limited his upside can be.
If you were going to use Chandler as a bye week replacement for a starter such as Kyle Rudolph or Martellus Bennett, I'd strongly suggest looking elsewhere. We project Jermaine Gresham (available in 28% of ESPN leagues), Greg Olsen (46%), and Brandon Myers (85%) to all have better weeks than the Bills' tight end.
Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins
Week 11: 12.39 Projected Points (#8 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 62%
Verdict: Start Him
Now that we're through the Bills and Dolphins players on the bubble, I'm sure there's not any more egregious benchings out there... wait, there are still 38% of people out there unsure about Alfred Morris this week? And he's being started in fewer leagues than either Mikel LeShoure or Ryan Mathews just two weeks after being started in 89% of all ESPN leagues? This may be a case of forgetting to reinsert him after the bye week, but either way, I think I need to lie down for a bit.
Yes, I fully realize that he had two single-digit fantasy games entering Washington's Week 10 bye. I'm also aware that his 13 carries in both of those performances were the lowest totals of his season thus far. But absolutely no running back is set to poach carries from Morris in that backfield; Evan Royster combined for four carries in those two games, and no other running back had a single one. With Morris still running successfully - a high 36% of his rushes have increased the Redskins' net expected points on a particular play - he'll get his looks.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles, he'll be able to milk those carries for all they're worth as well. After spending the beginning part of the season as one of numberFire's top five defensive units, the Eagles have fallen all the way down to No. 10. A big reason for that is the utter lack of run defense. The Eagles have not allowed fewer than 3.9 yards per rush in any of their previous five games; two weeks ago, non-running efficient New Orleans finished with a 5.6 ypc average. And the Eagles have not faced a single fantasy back ranked as highly as Morris's current #12 slot since Week 2 of this season.
Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Week 11: 7.34 Projected Points (#24 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 89%
Verdict: Sit Him
numberFire likes to differ from the general consensus on some issues. There's the fact that we think the 4-5 Saints only have an 8% chance at the playoffs. There's the fact that the Carolina Panthers are playing more efficient football than the Baltimore Ravens by our standards. And there's that key point of the Cardinals having the third-most efficient defense in the league despite allowing 4.9 yards per carry over the past four weeks. It's that last fact that's important here.
While teams have supposedly run over the Cardinals over the past four weeks, it hasn't amounted to much on the fantasy side. No single running back has gotten more than six FP against Arizona over the past two weeks; last week, over one-third of the Packers' rushing yards were a combined effort from Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. Our analytics look at the high yards per carry as a fluke - in typical situations, they are performing well above average defensively.
Especially when it comes to the inefficient Turner, that should be enough to scare fantasy owners away. Last week against the No. 31 opponent-adjusted defense, Turner managed 15 yards on 13 carries. Even with his high carry count - and he hasn't had less than 11 carries all season - he still cannot be counted on for consistent production. Only use Turner this week if he's a bye week replacement for Peterson, CJ1K, Lynch, or Bradshaw, and even then I would tread extremely carefully and look at my other potential options like Mikel LeShoure or La'Rod Stephens-Howling.
Don't expect another great week from Philip Rivers - the Denver defense ain't nothing to mess with. That goes for Danario Alexander as well. For the second straight week, Stevan Ridley is a great RB2 play against a weak Colts defense. If you're in a PPR league, there's some RB3/Flex value for Marcel Reece; he's a great pass-catching back and the Raiders will have to throw to keep pace with the Saints. No chance for Rashad Jennings to do anything of note against the stout Texans defense. I love the matchups in the Norris this week, particularly any of the Packers receivers against Detroit.