Fantasy Football Week 11 Sleepers and More

So last night Tim Tebow was Tebowing (willing God to concentrate his powers on winning a football game, ignoring his duties in Africa and elsewhere in the universe) and Mark Sanchez was Sanchezing (finding a way to lose a football game, not willing his team to win.  Formerly known as Romoing) and the Broncos pulled out a 17-13 win on a 20-yard Tebow touchdown run with :58 left.  

It was his longest run of the game, and much like in his previous four starts, he pretty much saved the majority of his fantasy points and production for the very end of the game.  

Denver engineered a 95-yard drive to win the game after they previously had eight of eleven drives go for three downs or less.  They only had three drives all night go for longer than 15 yards and before the final moments, they had punted it on their last eight possessions.  

Much will be made of Tim Tebow after this, but I'm pretty sure he does not play on defense and special teams.  Much credit on the Broncos win should be given to their defense and Mark Sanchez.  The Jets missed two field goals in the first half, and in the second half they had an interception returned for a touchdown, followed by a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.  

Tebow was 9 of 20 passing for 104 yards, 0 TD/0 INT and 68 yards rushing with that touchdown.  Overall, the Broncos run game was stuffed, with neither Willis McGahee or Lance Ball topping 18 yards.  Eric Decker didn't catch a pass, and you should not be seriously considering using Denver wide receivers right now.

Sanchez was 24 of 40 for 252 yards, 0 TD/1 INT.  Shonn Greene had 10 yards on three carries, and left with a rib injury.  Joe McKnight took over and had 59 yards rushing and six catches for 62 yards.  He also fumbled.  Greene may not miss any time, but McKnight should be added.  

Plaxico Burress had 4 catches for 64 yards and Santonio Holmes had 4 for 39.  Dustin Keller had 5 catches for 40 yards.  

Here's the preview for the rest of the week.

Now that these posts are sponsored as "Sleepers of the Week" I'm going to focus a little more on the sleepers and then hit the rest of the predictions after that.  Never be afraid to change format.

The Sleepers

Denarius Moore against the Vikings

In his two starts, Carson Palmer is averaging 315 yards passing.  Jason Campbell averaged 195 yards per game.  That pretty much says all you need to hear.  Moore has 9 catches and 184 yards with 2 touchdowns in the last two games and the preseason sleeper has woken up for the first time since week two.

I had honestly forgotten that Palmer started 16 games for the Bengals last year.  It seems like he spent so much time at home after the season that he really seemed like a guy who took at least a year off, but he threw for nearly 4,000 yards last season with 26 touchdowns.  Palmer is familiar with Hue Jackson and he can still play at a high level.

Besides Palmer being a must-own, and great start for anyone who has Michael Vick or Matt Schaub, Moore is looking like his number one target especially with Jacoby Ford hurt.  Ford and Darren McFadden both look very doubtful for Sunday.  Michael Bush will be decent, but I could see huge days for Palmer and Moore.  

If you are really desperate, then Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are super deep sleepers.  I like the Raiders chances coming off of a long week against a Vikings pass defense ranked 30th with 18 touchdown passes allowed.

Palmer is a top 10 QB this week and Moore is a top 20 wide receiver.

Jake Ballard versus the Eagles

The Eagles have given up 17 touchdown passes this season, including ones to Vernon Davis, Matt Spaeth, and two to Tony Gonzalez.  Fred Davis had 6 catches for 95 yards.

In their first meeting of the year, Jake Ballard didn't play a role, but the Eagles are just a mess right now.  At that time, it seemed like they were playing for an important early season game to see who could win the division.  Now, it's just a first place team against a team that is not going to the playoffs.  

Ballard has replaced Kevin Boss and then some with 26 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns.  He becomes more integrated into the offense every week.

Overall, I like the Giants entire passing offense.  Eli Manning threw four touchdowns in their first match, and Victor Cruz had two touchdowns and 110 yards.  

Tarvaris Jackson versus the Rams

Most people have a quarterback that they're very comfortable with.  Many people have two of them.  Just in case you are in a deep league and have someone like Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, or Michael Vick, then Jackson might be an option this week.

He hasn't thrown a touchdown since week five, and he has four interceptions since then, but he has thrown for 253 yards per game over that time.  He also faced three very tough defenses and his three interception game against Dallas was more like a one interception game if you watched it.

The Hawks have been trying more explosive passing plays as the season has gone on and I expect that Tarvaris will go deep several times, especially against a Rams defense that has given up 15 passing touchdowns against only 6 interceptions.

Best guess: 275 yards, 2 TD/1 INT.  

I also like Sidney Rice, if he plays, and Doug Baldwin, if he plays.  If they don't play, then Ben Obomanu and Mike Williams are super deep sleepers.

James Jones versus the Bucs

Well, not many sleepers on the Green Bay offense with a whole bunch of stars in the passing game, but the veteran Jones can contribute on some nights as well.  Between weeks 4 and 8 he had four touchdowns averaged 61.4 yards per game.

The danger is that last week he had 1 catch for 9 yards against the soft Vikings defense.

The Bucs have allowed 15 passing touchdowns this season.  If you're in a bind, Jones could help, but he's a deep sleeper.  I'll take a stab and say 3 catches for 40 yards and 1 TD.

Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston versus the Patriots

Tyler Palko is the new starting quarterback for the Chiefs and though that might seem like a death curse, I wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions.  Many times in history a backup quarterback has stepped in from out of nowhere and while he couldn't help his team win games, he could put up some decent stats.  

In the world of fantasy, we don't care how many interceptions our wide receivers quarterback throws.  Only yards and touchdowns going to "our guy."  Oftentimes, you will see the 2nd or 3rd WR on a team get a bump in production because he spent a lot of time on the second team offense with the backup QB.  

First round pick Jonathan Baldwin could be an interesting pickup this week.  I would be wary of starting him now, but I wouldn't hesitate to pick him up if it looks like him and Palko are working well together.  

New England has only allowed under 300 yards passing three times this year, and two of those were Mark Sanchez.  Palko might not top 300, but the Chiefs could potentially attempt 40 passes after they fall behind early.  All it takes is one lucky bomb in order for a guy like Baldwin or Breaston to have a good day.  Pay very close attention to targets in this one.

Kendall Hunter versus the Cardinals

What's the formula for a backup running back as a sleeper who could have a good day?

An ailing starter, a bad rush defense, and only three days to prepare for the next opponent.

Frank Gore should be good to go against Arizona, but Jim Harbaugh is going to take precaution with the best player on his offense.  The rookie Hunter has gotten six or more carries in six of the last seven games and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

In relief of Gore last week he had 6 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown.  I expect him to get the first 10+ carry game of his career and he could be good for 60+ yards and a touchdown.  If the Niners grab an early lead, he could be the full time back in the second half of the game and could have a very nice day.  San Francisco plays the Ravens on Thursday and they'll want Gore to be good to go.

The Cardinals are 21st against the run and have allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the league: 12.

I am in a desperate situation in one of my leagues and am starting Hunter.  I'm not happy about the fact that I don't have a better option, but he's the very best of the guys that aren't starters.

Maurice Morris versus the Panthers

The other team in the NFL to allow 12 rushing touchdowns is Carolina and they face a desperate Lions team in need to stop a skid that has seen them drop three of their last four games.

I expect Matthew Stafford to come out gunning it, but they won't ignore the run game.  I think this will be a close game, but the Lions will want to take advantage of the worst overall run defense in the NFL.  Morris is averaging a respectable 4.2 yards per carry and he has some ability to catch balls out of the backfield, but he's only scored once this season.

Keiland Williams has been a disappointment when given opportunities, averaging only 3 yards per carry, and I have been burned by him already this season so I won't be considering him.  But against Carolina, he's a deep option and goal-line player.

Kevin Smith is trying to give it one more go with Detroit.  He ran for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2008 (including 671 yards rushing, 124 yards receiving and four touchdowns over the last eight games, making him one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy in 2009) but we can't expect him to just all of a sudden figure it out again.

Pay close attention to how the carries are distributed.  I miss Jahvid Best like crazy, but who knows how long this concussion will drag out.

James Starks versus the Buccaneers

I have been saying since before the season started that I don't like the Packers running backs in fantasy.  Almost never.  I still don't like Starks this week, but the Bucs have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns.  

The Packers are Aaron Rodgers.  Even on the ground he has twice as many rushing touchdowns (2) as Starks and Ryan Grant combined.  John Kuhn has four total touchdowns himself.  

Starks is averaging a very nice 4.6 yards per carry but he has 109 rushing attempts compared to 295 passing attempts by Rodgers.  This is a pass first/pass second team and rushing comes later.  Even in their blowout victory against the Vikings, they were passing it well into the second half.  

 

Players That Struggle

Beanie Wells versus the Niners

Wells has struggled since his early season magic that made him one of the top breakout candidates and a lingering knee injury isn't helping.  He didn't get much against a bad Eagles run defense last week and now he faces the best run defense in the league.

San Francisco hasn't allowed a running back to get 100 yards in 31 straight games and hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown all year.  I would be tempted (tempted, mind you) to rank Kendall Hunter over Wells in this game.

Ray Rice versus the Bengals

It's interesting that Cincinnati has allowed eight rushing touchdowns this year, because otherwise they're right there with the Niners as the toughest run D in the league.  

The Bengals allow only 3.4 yards per carry and 86.8 yards per game.  

Meanwhile, Rice has averaged 40.25 yards per game and 3.28 yards per carry over his last four.  On the bright side, he had three rushing touchdowns against the Cardinals and has caught 25 passes over that time.

You start Rice, but just keep in mind that the Bengals are a tough match and Rice is struggling on the ground right now.

Philip Rivers versus the Bears

How about those Bears?  Winners of four in a row and five of the last six and doing so in convincing fashion.

They have forced 12 turnovers in their last three games and now they face the QB that leads the NFL in interceptions.  Rivers has two or more picks in six games this year.  This seems like a recipe for a disaster game for Rivers.

On the other hand, he could still throw two touchdowns and interceptions don't usually hurt that bad in fantasy.  It normally takes three interceptions to negate a single touchdown.

Still, this is the big name QB that could have another very long day.

Steve Smith versus the Lions

The Lions may be struggling, but they could get on track against the Panthers on Sunday at home.  Besides an opportunity for Stafford and co. to bounce back, the Lions need to toughen up a defense that ranks 27th against the run.

That also means that Carolina could be pounding the ball on the ground all day long in an effort to avoid trying to beat one of the toughest pass defenses in the NFL.  

Detroit hasn't allowed a team to top 200 yards passing since week five against Chicago.  They're 9th in the NFL against the pass and have allowed the fourth fewest passing touchdowns.  Cam Newton could be a good play because of his legs, but he may have a hard time getting the ball to Smith.

 

The Players I Love, Such an Obese Child Would Enjoy Cake and Other Desserts

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson versus the Panthers

As I have said twice already, I think these two bounce back in a big way.  Stafford passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns, hopefully two of those to Megatron.

Aaron Rodgers versus the Bucs

Rodgers is the best player in the NFL.  The Bucs are 28th against the pass.  400 yards and maybe four touchdowns.

Brandon Jacobs versus the Eagles

Ahmad Bradshaw will miss another game and Jacobs should get 15-20 carries against one of the league's worst run defenses.  He may not top 100 yards, but I could see two rushing touchdowns for Jacobs.  To their credit, Philly has held three of the last four opponents under 90 yards after allowing over 100 yards in their first five games.  But the Eagles are a mess right now.

DeMarco Murray versus the Redskins

Because I love the kid.  I've been praising him as a potential top 5 back for 2012.  The Redskins are okay against the run, but not good enough to stop DeMarco.

Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski versus the Chiefs

Tom Brady should be awesome too, but from a WR/TE perspective, these two should have huge nights on Monday against Kansas City.

As always, follow me on twitter @casetines

MORE NOTES

 

  • We are now in two stages of the Broncos 2011 season: 5 games with mostly all Orton, and 5 games with Tebow.  What I find interesting is that in the first 5 games, the Broncos defense allowed 385 yards of total offense per game and in Tebows 4-1 start they're allowing 327 yards.  The run defense went from giving up 123.4 yards per game to 104.8 yards per game, but it should be noted that they gave up 190 yards to the Raiders in week one and 206 yards to the Chargers in week five.  With Tebow, the highest total allowed was 134 yards to the Chiefs.  I think they're like a college basketball team that takes down the shot clock on offense and limits possessions for the opposing team to keep games as low-scoring as possible.  Just a theory I haven't worked on yet.
  • The Ravens are coming off of a "WTF?" loss to the Seahawks and must now defeat the Bengals to stay in the division hunt.  On the other hand, the Bengals are coming off of a loss to Pittsburgh and must beat the Ravens to prove they belong.  Both A.J. Green and Ray Lewis will miss this game, taking away two huge factors from both sides.  Which loss will be more important?  Are the Bengals hungrier than the Ravens?  It would be huge if Cincinnati could win this game and if they did, Flacco would be under even more pressure.
  • The Bills and Dolphins play each other and they both feature pretty bad defenses.  Interestingly, the Bills probably have a worse all-around defense as the Dolphins have been good against the run and bad against the pass.  They've given up 14 passing touchdowns against 3 rushing touchdowns.  This is actually going to be a test for Fred Jackson.  I almost prefer Reggie Bush to Jackson based on this matchup.  I am also predicting the third straight win for the Dolphins.  That would put Miami two games back of Buffalo, when three weeks ago the Dolphins were winless and the Bills were in first place.
  • Cowboys travel to Washington, a team that has lost five straight.  They better not get caught looking ahead to Thanksgiving.  They've won six straight games in the week before Turkey day.
  • 3-6 Jags play the 3-6 Browns.  These are two very different 3-6 teams.  I think Jacksonville is miles ahead of Cleveland, potentially one of the worst three teams in the NFL.  I'll say it again: Browns should trade both of their first round picks and whatever else they need to do in order to get Andrew Luck from the Colts.
  • The Niners will be 9-1 if they beat Arizona.  They haven't won 9 games since 2002.  
  • There is a good chance that the AFC West standings will be: Oakland 6-4, Denver 5-5, San Diego 4-6, Kansas City 4-6 after Monday.  Who would have predicted that?  Raiders are the clear frontrunner to win the division for me, but we still have six more games left and at most two games separating first from last.  I still say that the AFC West is the worst division in the NFL, because at least the NFC West has the second best team in the NFC (if not the entire NFL.)  And the AFC South has two good teams.  
  • Speaking of the Texans, I still think they are Super Bowl contenders without Matt Schaub.  I know who Matt Leinart is, but hear me out: the strength of their offense is running the football.  They've thrown in 292 times and ran it 357 times this year.  Leinart won't be asked to throw it much, and when Andre Johnson returns next week, he'll have one of the best receivers in the league along with Owen Daniels Kevin Walter, Joel Dreessen, and Arian Foster catching passes.  He's familiar with the system, won't be asked to do too much, and the strength of Houston is still: running the football and playing defense.  Texans will win the South and maybe win a game or two in the playoffs, if not more.
  • Texans, Colts, Saints, and Steelers on a bye.

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