Week 11 matchups to exploit or avoid

Posted Nov. 16, 2011 @ 11:33 a.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

This week, let's take a look at some lesser-known or used fantasy players that have great matchups. We've all been in the position of needing a body because we have too many rostered players on a bye in a given week. No, you're not a bad fantasy player if that happens, because it happens to all of us.

The following teams are on bye: the Colts, Saints, Steelers and Texans. That means you lose the services of QBs Drew Bees and Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Darren Sproles, Rashard Mendenhall, Arian Foster and Ben Tate; WRs Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown; and TEs Jimmy Graham, Heath Miller and Owen Daniels. Plan accordingly, as you will have some studs out this week.   

EXPLOIT

QB Carson Palmer, Raiders (at Vikings)
Palmer enters his third game as a Raider and has a two-game average of 315.5 yards and 2.5 touchdowns with two interceptions. Quality numbers and he'll have a chance to repeat them this week, as the Vikings are allowing opposing QBs 304.3 yards and 3.3 TDs per game over their past three games.

RBs Ryan Grant and John Kuhn, Packers (vs. Bucs)
In larger leagues, at times you're caught needing a body for a one-week play because of byes. The Bucs are allowing opposing backs 260.3 offensive yards and 2.7 total TDs per game over their last three games. Grant has seen his role reduced with a three-game average of 7.3 utilizations for 22.7 offensive yards and zero TDs. Kuhn, the TD vulture, only has two rushing TDs so far this season. Their odds to punch a cheap TD in are as good as they'll get this year with the Bucs giving up nearly three per game right now. This is a matchup they can exploit.

RB Maurice Morris (vs. Panthers)
Morris has a three-game average of 13.7 utilizations for 59.3 offensive yards and 0.3 TDs per game. He has a chance to double those numbers and have his best game of the season. The Panthers are allowing opposing backs 158.7 offensive yards and one total TD per game over their last three games. Morris can exploit this matchup.

WR Roy Williams, Bears (vs. Chargers)
As I said with Grant and Kuhn, sometimes in larger leagues, the byes force you to look for a body that can help for one week. In those cases the matchups dictate who you pick up. Williams, like the rest of the Bears' receivers, was not a factor in Week 10 because of the turnovers, return game and building a quick lead, eliminating the need to pass. However, from Week Six through Week Nine, he averaged 3.3 catches for 51.7 yards and 0.3 TDs. That three-game stretch was Williams' best this year. In that time frame, he led the team in receiving. The Chargers are allowing opposing WRs, over the past four weeks, 149.5 yards and two TDs per game, which makes this is a matchup Williams can exploit.

WR Anquan Boldin, Ravens (vs. Bengals)
Boldin only went 2-22-0 in Sunday's loss to the Seahawks, but he had nine targets. QB Joe Flacco is looking for him, as Boldin has a per-game average this year of 4.8 catches for 72.1 yards and 0.2 TDs on 9.1 targets. The Bengals are allowing 201 yards and one TD to opposing WRs per game over their last three games. Like Falcons RB Michael Turner, when the matchup is there, he's usually able to exploit it.

WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers (vs. Cardinals)
Crabtree has been disappointing since he returned from his foot injury, posting a four-game average of five catches for 50.8 yards and 0.25 TDs. However, with RB Frank Gore not 100 percent with nagging injuries (ankle, knee), the team may attempt to open up their air attack. They may do that because the Cardinals are allowing 195 yards and 0.5 TDs per game to opposing WRs over the past four weeks. Crabtree and Niners QB Alex Smith can exploit this matchup.

TE Kellen Winslow, Bucs (at Packers)
Winslow is second on the team in targets with 70 but has posted pedestrian fantasy numbers as he enters the twilight of his career. He has a three-game average of 3.7 catches for 29 yards and 0.7 TDs. With two TDs in the last three games, he has value, especially this week. The Packers are allowing 71.3 yards and 0.7 TDs to opposing TEs per game over their last three games. Winslow should be able to exploit this matchup.

AVOID

QB Matt Hasselbeck (at Falcons)
Hasselbeck didn't play well last week, but the team rode the rushing attack, as RB Chris Johnson finally got going. I've stated Hasselbeck makes a quality No. 2 fantasy QB, and he does. However, if you have to use him this week, you're setting yourself up for failure. He has a four-game average of 204.8 yards and 1.3 TDs with 0.8 interceptions. Paltry numbers of late and they may not improve, as the Falcons are only allowing 207.7 yards and one TD to opposing QBs per game over their last three games. This is a matchup to avoid.

RB Cedric Benson, Bengals (at Ravens)
Benson's been circling the drain when you talk statistical production and has a four-game average of 18.8 attempts for 61.3 yards and 0.25 TDs. He's still producing enough to be a weekly starter, but the Ravens are allowing 103 rushing yards and 0.8 TDs per game over the past four weeks to opposing RBs. However, that figure is skewed by  Marshawn Lynch's (32-109-1) elite performance in the Week 10 Seahawks win. It's what I call an aberration. This is a matchup you should avoid.

RB Chris Johnson (at Falcons)
Everyone was happy with the production of CJ2K (27-130-1 rushing and 4-44-0 receiving on seven targets) last week, and they should be. He finally showed the team he can still produce, but he's not all the way back and did not look "great" as much as it was great to see him produce. The Falcons have quietly become one of the best teams at stopping opposing RBs and are allowing 84.3 offensive yards and zero TDs per game in their last three. You really can't bench him, but if you have other viable options, you should avoid this matchup.

WR Eric Decker, Broncos (vs. Jets)
I'm a huge fan of Decker and I love his TD output right now, with a three-game average of 3.3 catches for 58.3 yards and one TD on 6.7 targets. Last week he went 1-56-1 on three targets and has seen his targets and receptions drop weekly. Combine that with a Jets defense only allowing 117.3 yards and 0.7 TDs per week to opposing WRs in their last three games, and you avoid this matchup.

WR A.J. Green, Bengals (at Ravens)
Green (hamstring) is having a phenomenal year with a per-game average of 4.6 catches for 70.6 yards and 0.7 TDs on 7.4 targets. The team believes he'll be ready to go this week despite tweaking his right knee while scoring a touchdown last week. However, he'll need to be at 100 percent to achieve anything this week, as the Ravens are only allowing 135 yards and 0.5 TDs per game to opposing WRs over the past four weeks. Green's the go-to player in the Bengals' passing attack, but if you can avoid this matchup, do so.

WR Deion Branch, Patriots (vs. Chiefs)
Branch always is a viable consideration with a three-game average of 3.7 catches for 38.3 yards and 0.7 TDs. The Chiefs are allowing 121.8 yards and 0.5 TDs per game to opposing WRs over the past four weeks, making this a tough matchup. Branch can score anytime if you're forced to go with him, but if you have better options, you may want to avoid this one.

TE Greg Olsen, Panthers (at Lions)  
Some may not realize it, but over the last five games, QB Cam Newton only has two games over 250 yards and has been inconsistent. That's affected Olsen's numbers. He has a four-game average of 3.5 catches for 41 yards 0.3 TDs on 7.8 targets. He has seen his opportunities, but dropped passes and inaccurate throws have hurt him overall. The Lions are only allowing 27.3 yards and zero TDs to opposing tight ends per game in their last three, and this is a matchup you should avoid.

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