Fantasy Football: Matchups to avoid, exploit in Week 11

Published:
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) makes a touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) makes a touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) — Bill Kostroun

Forgive us for recommending the Bears in Week 10. We were duped by a strong Week Eight performance against Minnesota – obviously a one-week anomaly. A few weeks ago, Coach John Fox reportedly told acquaintances that he was “done” with Jay Cutler. After watching Cutler revert back to being a turnover machine in Tampa, one can understand the sentiment. Facing one of the league’s worst defenses, Cutler’s 16 of 30, 182-yard performance (27.4 percent of those yards coming on a Hail Mary) included a pick-six, another interception and two incomprehensible fumbles, one resulting in a safety. Not sure if there has ever been a performance more destructive to an entire roster than Cutler’s debacle last Sunday. If he remains on your fantasy roster, you should waive him on principle.

On to Week 11 …

MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT

Giants (vs. Bears) Sunday, noon

We’ll stick with the pounding-the-Bears theme. Although the Bears 11th-ranked defense is no pushover, Chicago’s misfiring offense is likely to produce a lot of three-and-outs. The Giants should have plenty of opportunities to get their passing game going.

Must start: Odell Beckham

Solid play: Eli Manning, Robbie Gould, Giants D/ST

Worth a look: Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins, Sterling Shepard, Will Tye

Steelers (@ Browns) Sunday, noon

The Browns may not be headed for 0-16, but they are most definitely headed for 0-11. The worst scenario for Big Ben owners is if the Steelers jump out to an early lead and focus on the ground game. Obviously, this is a dream matchup for Le’Veon Bell, but with DeAngelo Williams out, who might be the RB2 who benefits in garbage time? The Steelers' depth chart indicates Fitzgerald Toussaint is next in line. This would be a good week to play Eli Rogers. He has emerged as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 WR. Sammie Coates has caught a total of one pass in the past four weeks and was on the field for just two snaps in last week’s loss to Dallas. Ladarius Green had three receptions for 30 yards in his 2016 debut. Jesse James played more snaps and had better numbers (five catches for 59 yards), but Green might be worth a speculative waiver claim.

Must start: Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown

Solid play: Chris Boswell, Steelers D/ST

Worth a look: Rogers, Green, James

Last resort: Toussaint

Stay away: Coates

Titans (@ Colts) Sunday, noon

Would you believe the Titans have the league’s seventh-most productive offense? Sure, we all know their third-ranked rushing attack is the real deal, but second-year QB Marcus Mariota has thrown 21 TDs this year against just eight picks. They’ll face the Colts and their 30th-ranked defense this week.  

Must start: DeMarco Murray, Delanie Walker

Solid play: Mariota, Ryan Succop

Worth a look: Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe

Last resort: Derrick Henry, Kendall Wright

Stay away: Titans D/ST

Patriots (@ 49ers) Sunday, 3:25

The 49ers showed a pulse against Arizona last week, but they are about to find out that the Patriots are a lot better than the Cardinals. New England should be able to score as much as it wants in this game. Stinging from last week’s loss to Seattle, Tom Brady and company, you can rest assured, are going to want to score a bunch. Rob Gronkowski will reportedly miss the game with a punctured lung.

Must start: Brady, LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett (if no Gronk), Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots D/ST

Solid play: Julian Edelman

Worth a look: James White

Last resort: Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola

ALSO CONSIDER

Chiefs (vs. Bucs) Sunday, noon

Spencer Ware should have a good day against Tampa’s inept run defense. If Jeremy Maclin (groin) remains out, Tyreek Hill is a solid play.  

Lions (vs. Jaguars), Sunday, noon

The Jags defense is 8th in fewest yards allowed, but they are 25th in points allowed (26.6) per game. Look for Marvin Jones to get back on track this week.

MATCHUPS TO AVOID

Cowboys (vs. Ravens) Sunday, noon

OK, “avoid” might be a bit exaggerated here. Just beware that the Cowboys are coming off a huge win and will face an unheralded Ravens defense that has quietly climbed to No. 1 in terms of fewest yards allowed. Baltimore yields just 281 yards and 17.8 points per game. They are particularly stingy against the run, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and 71.3 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed an NFL-low four rushing TDs this season. No one in his or her right mind would suggest sitting Ezekiel Elliot, but this is not a favorable matchup for him.  

Must start: Elliott

Solid play: Dez Bryant, Jason Witten

Worth a look: Dak Prescott, Dan Bailey, Cowboys D/ST

Last resort: Cole Beasley

Dolphins (@ Rams) Sunday, 3:05

Miami has won a surprising four consecutive games, but you have to wonder what impact a second straight West Coast game will have on them. They will be facing a tough, though undisciplined, Rams defense. The Dolphins have averaged 29 points and 385 yards per game during their winning streak. Jay Ajayi could do well – L.A.’s seventh-ranked defense is better against the pass (eighth) than the run (17th).

Must start: Ajayi

Solid play: Jarvis Landry, Dolphins D/ST

Worth a look: DeVante Parker

Last resort: Damien Williams, Kenny Stills

Stay away: Andrew Franks

Eagles (@ Seahawks) Sunday, 3:25

Seattle’s defense has slipped to ninth in total yards, but they are second to Minnesota in points, allowing just 17.6 per game. The Eagles are coming off a big win at home against Atlanta, but they have not won on the road since Week Two in Chicago. On the season, Philadelphia is 5-0 at home, but just 1-4 on the road. On a good week, the Eagles don’t offer a lot of fantasy upside. This is not a good week.

Must start: none

Solid play: none

Worth a look: Ryan Mathews, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz

Last resort: Darren Sproles, Eagles D/ST, Caleb Sturgis

Stay away: Carson Wentz, Nelson Agholor

ALSO BEWARE

Cardinals (@ Vikings), Sunday, noon

The Vikings' defense has slipped lately but is still a very good unit against the pass. The Cardinals' best bet will be David Johnson. This is a bad matchup for Carson Palmer.

Vikings (vs. Cardinals), Sunday, noon

Don’t expect much scoring in a game featuring two top-five defenses. The odds makers certainly do not – the over/under in this game is around 41.

*Check injury status