I’m all in.
I was hesitant at first, kind of like when you buy a new car. You inspect it and wonder if it will give you great production for a while, but then you just buy it and ride it. That’s how I feel about a certain fantasy signal caller this season.
Let’s get to the starts and sits.
Week 11 byes: DAL, STL
Thumbs Up; Quarterbacks
Case Keenum vs Oakland Raiders: I continue to make the case for Case, and I’m loving every minute of it. What’s not to like about him? Over his last three games, against three very strong defensive units, all he’s done is throw for 822 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. In those three starts, he is averaging 0.57 fantasy points per dropback, which is fifth-most in the league. He isn’t afraid to sling it to his talented wideouts, and according to Pro Football Focus, is averaging 11.4 yards per target, the most among quarterbacks. He is making the big plays, and finally has a favorable matchup this week against the Raiders, who are allowing 22.79 points per game to quarterbacks, the eighth-most in the league. With Arian Foster out for the rest of the year, and Keenum playing for a starting job next year, he should continue to throw the ball quite a bit.
Mike Glennon vs Atlanta Falcons: You want volume? Look no further than Glennon. Since taking over the starting gig, the rookie quarterback is averaging a healthy 37.5 pass attempts per game. In half of his games, Glennon has thrown the ball 43 times or more. Combined that with the fact that the Falcons are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 66% of their passes, the fifth-highest in football right now. The last time he played Atlanta, he attempted 44 passes, tossing two touchdowns and 256 yards, resulting in a solid 21 fantasy points. Atlanta is surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to signal callers (23.63 per game). If you are missing Tony Romo this week, Glennon is a viable replacement option.
Nick Foles vs Washington Redskins: With 10 touchdown passes in his last two contests, there isn’t a hotter fantasy signal caller than Foles right now. He’s only averaging 23 pass attempts during that span, but is making the most of his opportunities, averaging a ridiculous 44.28 fantasy points in those two games. We could very well see a third-straight monster performance from Foles, as the lowly Redskins defense comes to town. This unit has allowed 19 touchdowns through the air and are surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Despite head coach Chip Kelly refusing to officially name Foles the starter, its pretty clear who the guy is going forward.
Colin Kaepernick @ New Orleans Saints: Don’t you just hate seeing a score like 10-9? Kaepernick couldn’t do anything in Sunday’s game against a very good Panthers defense, but it especially hurt him to see tight end Vernon Davis leave the game early with a concussion. Already without a ton of intriguing weapons, losing Davis would be horrendous. If this was last season, this week’s matchup would be favorable, but this is a new, rejuvenated Saints defense. Rob Ryan has done wonders, as this unit ranks seventh in total defense, and third in passing defense, allowing just 199.9 yards per game through the air. They are also one of only four teams to allow less than 10 passing scores. Opposing quarterbacks are scoring less than 14 fantasy points per game, and if Kaepernick isn’t running (as well as without weapons) he’s not a must-start guy. I’d play all the players listed above over him this week.
Andy Dalton vs Cleveland Browns: If it weren’t for a miraculous last-second Hail Mary that fell into the hands of A.J. Green, Dalton would have posted his second straight fantasy outing of under 15 fantasy points. Still, he struggled in this game, completing 47.1% of his passes and tossing three interceptions. We know Dalton is streaky, and now that his hot streak is over, let the bad commence. This week’s matchup is ugly, as division rival Cleveland comes into town for a huge game. Opposing signal callers are averaging less than 20 fantasy points per game, and when these two last met in Week 4, Dalton was held in check, limited to just 206 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
Thumbs Up; Running Backs
Andre Ellington @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Well, Bruce Arians clearly hates fantasy football. A week after watching his rookie back explode for 154 yards and a score, Ellington saw just 31 of the Cardinals’ 66 offensive snaps on Sunday. He still averaged an impressive five yards per carry, but the presence of Rashard Mendenhall is annoying. Ellington is obviously the better back, but Arizona doesn’t envision him as an every-down back. Still, he should get plenty of opportunity this week against the worst rush defense in football in Jacksonville. The Jags are allowing a league-leading 153 rushing yards per game, surrendering 14 touchdowns on the ground, which also leads the league. 26 carries over the last week is solid for Ellington, but he won’t need too much work to have a strong fantasy outing against this defense, especially without Paul Posluszny (concussion) iffy for this week.
Chris Ivory @ Buffalo Bills: Buffalo isn’t the laughing stock against the run any longer, but Ivory should still be a good play here. The Bills currently 22nd in run defense, allowing 117.3 yards per contest. They’ve been strong at limiting backs to touchdowns, as only three rushing scores have been surrendered, one of which, was to quarterback Geno Smith. Over the last three weeks, Ivory has out-carried Bilal Powell 58-22. A violent runner, Ivory could run well against Buffalo, and considering the Jets 31 rushing attempts per game this season (5th-most), there will be plenty of opportunity.
Joique Bell @ Pittsburgh Steelers: A bit of a deeper play here, but we are about providing owners with the not-so-obvious names. Bell posted his highest carry total (10) last week since Week 3. He totaled just 41 yards, but it was encouraging to see him get some more work than he has lately. That could be a good sing heading into this week, as the Steelers have been uncharacteristically bad against the run this season. They are allowing 127.2 yards per game, which is the fourth-most in football. Opponents rushing touchdown percentage currently sits at 50%, the second-highest among defenses. Meanwhile, Bell, despite being the understudy to Reggie Bush, has seen four goal-to-go carries, while Bush has seen five. If you are hurting at running back (who isn’t?), Bell could very well find the end zone for you.
Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller vs New York Jets: I was 100 percent wrong on the Buffalo backs last week, stating that both were good starts against the Steelers. However, Pittsburgh did a good job of limiting the running game, and once they got ahead in the game, the Bills were forced to throw. Jackson is the only one you can even remotely trust, based on his touchdown potential alone, but this week’s matchup is possibly the worst you can ask for. The Jets are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (73.8), and are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position (14.99). If he doesn’t score, he’ll more than likely be useless, and as much as I love Spiller, that bummed ankle may result in a lost season for the talented back.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs Cleveland Browns: The tide has (finally) turned. Rookie sensation Giovani Bernard has take over the main role in this backfield, while the Law Firm is more of an afterthought. Bernard is seeing 37.5 snaps per game, while Green-Ellis is seeing 31.1. Add the fact that the Browns held Green-Ellis to just 13 yards on six carries the last time they squared off, and there is no reason to play him. As usual, I see these Browns/Bengals game as low-scoring affairs.
Thumbs Up; Wide Receivers
Golden Tate vs Minnesota Vikings: While all the attention may be around the return (and debut) of Percy Harvin this week, the fact remains that Tate is still the best play at wide receiver on this team. Coming off a six-catch, one-touchdown performance, Tate has now found the end zone three times in his last three games. He continues to serve as a big play guy, averaging 14 yards per reception. The Vikings secondary may devote all of it’s attention to their former teammate Harvin, while Tate quietly has another nice game. Minnesota is allowing 33.27 fantasy points per game to wideouts, the 8th-most in the league. They have also surrendered 21 scores through the air, which is tied with the Bills for tops in the league. Opposing number one receivers have scored in two of the last three games against the Vikings (Garcon, Nelson).
Riley Cooper vs Washington Redskins: Ride him while he’s hot, right? It’s not a coincidence that Cooper has been putting up monster numbers during the same time his quarterback is. Over his last two games, Cooper has caught just eight balls, but five of them have been for touchdowns. Five touchdowns in two games. That’s more than Hakeem Nicks and Dwayne Bowe have all season combined. He’s been targeted at least five times in every game Foles has been under center, and he’ll have another chance to go off this week. Washington’s defense has been atrocious, allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt, the third-highest in football. They are also allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game the wideouts.
DeAndre Hopkins vs Oakland Raiders: Keenum being under center obviously skyrockets the value of Andre Johnson, but it bodes well for the rookie, too. Hopkins has been targeted a healthy 17 times over his last two games, and with no Arian Foster for the rest of the season, Houston may throw a lot more, seeing what they have in both Hopkins and Keenum. In all three of Keenum’s starts, Hopkins has at least 50 receiving yards, and he could double that against a Raiders defense that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to receivers (33.56). Hopkins is a big play guy, and considering Keenum leads the league in aDOT, shots will be taken down the field. Opposing number two wideouts have scored in two of last three games against Oakland. Unless you count Rueben Randle as the Giants number two since Hakeem Nicks has been so bad, in which case, three straight.
Roddy White @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I love White, and glad to have him back, but I think you have to wait one or two more weeks before you can feel comfortable starting him. The Falcons get a Tampa defense that certainly isn’t scary against the pass, as Matt Ryan torched them a few weeks ago, but White will likely draw coverage from Darrelle Revis. According to Pro Football Focus, he has been the best corner in football, and has only been thrown at 36 times. That doesn’t bode well for a ton of opportunity for White.
Danny Amendola @ Carolina Panthers: Despite coming off of his best performance in a while (122 yards, 2 TDs), I’m not a big fan of Amendola this week. Obviously, it’s scary that he gets banged up so easily and frequently, but the fact that he has only been targeted 10 times over his last two games doesn’t help either. With Rob Gronkowski already back and Shane Vereen set to return, there may be less looks coming his way. The matchup is terrible, too, as the Panthers are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers at 19.49 per game.
Thumbs Up; Tight Ends
Rob Housler @ Jacksonville Jaguars: A physical freak, Housler should be doing much more in the NFL than he has thus far. However, after catching his first career touchdown on Sunday, along with a career-high 57 yards, perhaps Housler is on the verge of a breakout. The Cardinals want to pass the football with Carson Palmer, and Housler is a big time target. The Cardinals are pessimistic about wideout Michael Floyd’s availability for this week, so that could mean more looks for Housler. The Jaguars are surrendering the second-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Charles Clay vs San Diego Chargers: It’s too hard to count on touchdowns, and if Clay doesn’t get you one, he’s practically useless. Clay has just 36 catches all season, three of which went for scores. He’s averaging just four grabs per game, and considering the Dolphins offensive line is in shambles, and Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 42 times, the most in football, Clay may be asked to block more. The Chargers, meanwhile, are allowing less than 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Thumbs Up; D/ST
Houston Texans defense vs Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are allowing opposing defenses to total 10.78 fantasy points per game, which is the fifth-most in football. Combined that with the fact that their only two serviceable offensive weapons in Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden are likely out for this game, and the Texans defense has been better, and I like their odds.
Kansas City Chiefs defense @ Denver Broncos: The number one defense in fantasy football, and I’m telling you to sit them. No doubt, the Chiefs defense has been outstanding, but they are playing a potential historically good Denver offense. They may get their sacks and possibly an interception, but Peyton Manning, in an AFC West tilt for first place, in Denver, should get his, and with that, so will the Denver offense.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.