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Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football Week 11: Ten Players You Must Start

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Top Ten Players You Must Start

Week 11
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Fantasy football playoff weeks continue to inch closer as we are now officially in week 11. Fantasy football week 10 was full of injuries and a big headache for some owners. We saw quarterbacks such as San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith, Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, and Philadelphia Eagles QB Mike Vick go down with concussions. Smith looks like he should be ready to go for their Monday night battle, but Cutler has already been ruled out. Backup Jason Campbell will start in place of Cutler, but he will have little relevance in the fantasy world so don't bother. Nick Foles will start in place of Mike Vick, and possibly the rest of the season if things go right in week 11.

The biggest impact injury of week 10 belongs to Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who sustained a shoulder injury against the Kansas City Chiefs. No big deal, Big Ben is a pretty tough guy, right?

Well, in terms of the shoulder injury, sure....but the real issue here is the fact that doctors confirmed later in the week that Roethlisberger indeed had a broken rib that was dangerously close to his heart. Forget football at this point, Ben is lucky he didn't try to fight it out and remain in the game against KC. Talk about avoiding a tragedy, Roesthlisberger could have been Steve Irwin in pads on live television last Sunday night if he stayed in that game.

The injury to Big Ben is devestating to a guy like me, as I own both him and New York Giants QB Eli Manning who is on a bye week. So not only did I lose one of my starting quarterbacks for possibly the rest of the season, but now I'm forced to look to the waiver wire just to have an active QB on my roster this Sunday. This is not the situation you want to be in heading into the playoff weeks, but there is nothing anyone can do about, having a short-term memory is a key in fantasy football.

Let's take a look at the top ten players you should absolutely insert into your lineups heading into week 11.

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QB Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders

Palmer
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

One of the more popular "sleeper" picks this week, but I wouldn't really call Palmer a sleeper anymore. In fact, Palmer has been a top 5 QB these past few weeks, and nothing will help that continued success like a match up against one of the leagues worst defenses in the NFL.

The New Orleans Saints have allowed more points on the road than any other team in the league. The Saints have allowed the most points to opposing quarterbacks, and have been scorched for 1,408 yards through the air and ten touchdowns in the past four games.

Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 41 pass attempts against the Saints in the past four games, and that should continue against a Raiders team, that will again, be without their starting RB Darren McFadden. Look for Palmer to throw 40+ times in this game. Something good will come out of this, promise.

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QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

Foles
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

As stated earlier, QB Mike Vick suffered a concussion last week against the Dallas Cowboys. For the time being, he has lost his starting job to Nick Foles.

Foles replaced Vick for half a game last week, and posted a solid stat line, producing 219 passing yards and a touchdown. He did throw an interception and he lost one fumble, but he still looked better than Vick has of late. Nothing better to help right the ship in Philly with a match up against the Washington Redskins who just so happen to be one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

The Redskins have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and have given up 1,112 yards and seven touchdowns in the past four weeks. Foles posted a QB rating of 85.3 last week, and if that's a sign of things to come, he should be able to muster enough production in week 11 to keep the starting job.

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RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots

Ridley
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

It's hard to actually predict what Stevan Ridley will do on a week-to-week basis, but the fact remains that he is the top dog in the Patriots backfield. Ridley has rushed for 225 yards and scored two touchdowns in the past two weeks.

Now Ridley gets to face a soft Indianapolis Colts rush defense, that has allowed 120.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Colts have done better at stopping the run as of late, but they have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to the running back position this season. Ridley should have no problem continuing his streak of touchdowns in week 11. Start him.

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RB Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Alf
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Alfred Morris has cooled down just a bit after his hot start to the 2012 season. He has failed to reach the end zone in the past three weeks, but he did rush for 120 yards against the Giants in week 7. Other than that though, it's been pretty mediocre for Morris and his owners these past few games.

This week's match up against the Eagles isn't the best on paper, as Philly actually ranks in the better half at stopping the run. However, they have struggled as of late, allowing the 6th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs in the past five weeks.

The league has clearly gotten the memo on the Eagles, as teams have rushed the ball on average 26.2 times in the past five weeks. The Eagles have also allowed 100+ rushing yards in five consecutive weeks, despite only allowing one rushing touchdown. So even if these guys do hold Morris out of the end zone, they will still allow him to rack up yards rather easily. Morris is owned in all leagues, but only being started by roughly 70% of his owners. Put the faith back in him, he will make you proud in week 11.

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RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

SJax
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Steven Jackson finally got it going in week 10, and it was against a tough 49ers defense. Jackson rushed for 101 yards on 29 carries and recorded a touchdown.

Hard to believe, but this was only the second time this season that Jackson has reached the end zone. You can't help but think, if he can put up that type of stat line against the 49ers, he surely can do it against a soft run defense like the New York Jets.

Jets currently giving up the 9th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and they have allowed 100+ rushing yards in three consecutive games. If Jackson can light up the #1 rush defense in the NFL, he without a doubt can repeat that performance against a much weaker foe in the Jets.

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WR Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

Maclin
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Eagles may have lost their starting quarterback last week, but Jeremy Maclin didn't seem to notice. Maclin had to go into the locker room in the first half last week with a potential concussion. Unlike Mike Vick, Jeremy did indeed return to the game.

After being cleared to go back into the game, Maclin connected with Nick Foles on a 44-yard touchdown. Maclin ended the game with 8 receptions for 93 yards and the one touchdown. Hopefully, this was a sign of things to come, as Foles is indeed the starter this week. Look for the chemistry to continue to develop and even if it doesn't, Foles might only trust Maclin at this point since he's the one to haul in Foles' first career touchdown.

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WR Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders

Moore
Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

This has to be the third or fourth time Mr. Moore has made my start 'em list, but hey, can you blame me? Denarius has been a complete beast as of late, recording four touchdowns in the past five weeks. He's clearly Carson Palmer's favorite target, and his counter-part, Darrius Heyward-Bey, is questionable with a hamstring injury.

Even if DHB does end up playing, Moore should have no problem making it five touchdowns (or possibly more), in the past six games. His opponent, the New Orleans Saints, have given up the second-most points to opposing wide receivers this season. Palmer will end up throwing the ball 40+ times in this game, and half of those might be targeted at Moore. What's not to like about Denarius this week, get him in those lineups!

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WR Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

Austin
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Miles Austin was only targeted four times in week 10 against the Eagles, and only hauled in two of them for a measly 32 yards. To be fair to Austin and his owners, QB Tony Romo only completed 19 passes the whole game, and I believe WR Dez Bryant was the leading receiver with 3 receptions.

Look for Austin and Romo to get back on track against a soft Cleveland Browns secondary that have allowed the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. In four road games this year, the Browns have allowed 869 receiving yards and seven touchdowns to opposing WRs. Austin has gone three consecutive weeks without a score. We will not be talking about a fourth consecutive week without a score, as Austin is going to get it right this week, so get him in that starting lineup.

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TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

Olsen
Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Well, would you look at that? Greg Olsen finally broke out in week 10 against the Denver Broncos, catching 9 balls for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Olsen failed to score a touchdown, or record more than 48 receiving yards in four consecutive weeks prior to his breakout performance.

Olsen is now somehow ranked 6th in the rankings despite only three touchdowns and one 100+ receiving day? Amazingly, he's also the team leader in receiving touchdowns now with three. Proves to all of us how flaky and unpredictable the tight end position has been in 2012, but that's a discussion we can bring up down the road.

Olsen's match up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary is one that he should win. Tampa has given up the 9th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Past two games the Buccaneers have allowed 15 receptions, 135 yards, and three touchdowns to tight ends, so why isn't Olsen going to do the same? There is no solid rush attack in Carolina. Just sudden outbursts with little/no impact on the defense mindset. Olsen will be catching balls this week if Cam Newton knew what was good for him. If you need him, feed him.

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TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Gates
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

After just hyping up Greg Olsen, and seeing that his big week 10 performance was against the Denver Broncos....how can I not say you have to go with Antonio Gates this week?

Looking back, week 6 against the Broncos, Gates saw 6 balls for 81 yards and two scores. This has been going on all year with Denver, as they have given up the most fantasy points to the tight end position this season. Gates has also scored four times in the last four weeks, so there's really not a debate here even though there's some real dummies out there (12%) that are not starting him. It's almost Sunday, please insert and smile. Thank you and good luck.

Michael J. Igyarto is a featured columnist and fantasy football expert at Rant Sports

Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy