In “Start or Sit,” we make a call on players who merit strong starting consideration — and players who might be best on the bench. However, owners should tailor their own lineup strategy to their roster constraints, league rules and other relevant factors.
Here’s our Week 11 rundown:
Packers RB James Starks (at Detroit) — The Lions’ run defense is not a strength. The Packers have had two weeks to prepare and could exploit this weakness. Starks has reemerged as a key part of the running game for Green Bay. He’s a solid “flex” consideration in all formats and could be a nice back to have down the stretch.
Packers TE Jermichael Finley (at Detroit) — The Lions’ secondary is shaky and could be especially vulnerable if FS Louis Delmas (knee) is again out of the lineup. Finley has had a disappointing season, but he’s very talented, and the Lions could have trouble with him. It’s a favorable matchup for Finley, who could use one as he tries to get back on track.
Raiders RB Marcel Reece (vs. New Orleans) — Frankly, Reece looks like one of the safer bets in Week 11. For one, he’s clearly ahead of reserve RBs Taiwan Jones and Jeremy Stewart for carries. Look, no one will confuse the Raiders with a ground-and-pound offense, but they will run it a little, and Reece is first in line for that work. Also, Reece will see frequent playing time in passing situations. He has been targeted nine times in each of the last two games. In yardage leagues, he’s a solid No. 2 running back. Even if he doesn’t reach the endzone, he’s very capable of grinding out 10-12 points.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (at Denver) — Starting Rivers is an easier decision in leagues that don’t penalize for interceptions, but I wouldn’t be against rolling the dice with him in any format if your QB depth isn’t superior. There are surely better options this week than Rivers, who threw four picks in the first meeting with the Broncos and has had some underwhelming performances against these AFC West rivals. Nevertheless, he intrigues me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos’ offense was sharp throughout the game against San Diego’s defense, not just for one half like the first meeting. Moreover, I have faith in the Chargers’ ability to adjust after Denver forced them into some key mistakes last time. This is exactly the sort of game I would have loved to have heard the late Charlie Jones call on NBC.
Lions WR Titus Young (vs. Green Bay) — I like what I’ve seen from Young this season, and especially since he has entered the starting lineup. While exceptionally fast, he’s not just a deep threat. He has three TD catches in the past three weeks, a positive sign for an offense without a robust running game and with a blue-chip wideout (Calvin Johnson) who’s going to draw heavy attention near the goal line. The pass-happy Lions figure to be throwing a lot on Sunday, and Young is a strong play in three-WR formats.
Eagles QB Nick Foles (at Washington) — First, a caveat: In certain circumstances, Foles is a perfectly acceptable play in Week 11. The Redskins are awful against the pass, and if you need a quarterback and have picked him up, he can be rushed into the lineup without much trouble. However, the more I consider this week’s matchups, the less I like Foles relative to other more established quarterbacks. I just wouldn’t bench, say, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton or Matt Schaub for Foles. As promising as Foles has looked in his brief NFL career, he is nonetheless making his first career start, and the Redskins will have had two weeks to prepare for Philadelphia. Owners in leagues that penalize for turnovers have to be particularly careful about starting Foles.
Lions RB Mikel Leshoure (vs. Green Bay) — Since receiving 26 carries in his NFL debut in Week Three, Leshoure hasn’t received more than 16 rushing attempts in any game since, and his opportunities in the passing game have dipped in the past two weeks, too. The Lions seem more likely to attack the Packers with the pass than the run, which limits Leshoure’s upside.
Saints running backs (at Oakland) — While New Orleans has averaged 144 rushing yards in the past two games, both contests were at home, what happens if the Saints fall behind on the road Sunday in a pivotal game as they try to get back to .500? Also, with Darren Sproles (hand) potentially back in the fold, the Saints’ backfield is quite crowded. If I had to start one of the Saints’ backs, I would prefer Sproles, if healthy and if there’s an indication he’ll have a regular role. If he’s out or limited, then I prefer Mark Ingram. In any case, having four capable backs (Sproles, Ingram, Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas) in an offense with a potent passing game is a recipe to leave some fantasy owners without a chair when the music stops.