This is the Week 11 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding Def/ST’s). I will list five players from each position group (excluding K) that I feel good about each week, followed by others that I don’t. As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.
Drew Brees vs. Washington Redskins (22nd | 18.4 FPPG) — We’ve finally come to a time where Brees’ play can be based on efficiency rather than volume. He did very little in a blowout win over the Bills last week, but that was a tough matchup. This week is different. It’s in New Orleans against a team that is susceptible to giving up some good QB performances.
Derek Carr vs. New England Patriots (32nd | 22.3 FPPG) — This is a huge game for Carr. If he doesn’t show up against the worst D/ST against QB’s, then there’s a problem. This should be a shoot-out between him and Tom Brady.
Dak Prescott vs. Philadelphia Eagles (19th | 17.2 FPPG) — I don’t see Dak getting sacked 8 times again this week, although this could turn into a tough matchup. If Dallas’ coaches are smart, they’ll adapt to life without Tyron Smith and give Prescott short drops and quick throws. His ability to scramble is always an added bonus as well.
Blake Bortles @ Cleveland Browns (24th | 19.3 FPPG) — Sweet Jesus. I hoped I’d never get to this point. However, Bortles actually has a good matchup this week against Cleveland. Led by a strong run game, he should continue his efficient play and should be able to get his pass-catchers into the end zone.
Eli Manning vs. Kansas City Chiefs (27th | 20.0 FPPG) — Not that they’re going anymore, but Eli is going to have to carry this team the rest of the season like he has all year. There’s a good chance that Kansas City starts to pull away with this one, leading to a ton of passing from Manning.
Kirk Cousins @ New Orleans Saints (14th | 16.2 FPPG) — The Saints D/ST has been a tough one to crack, and Washington has had a tough time with their passing game. With Rob Kelley also now going on Injured Reserve, I don’t expect Cousins to have this thing humming against New Orleans.
Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara vs. Washington Redskins (12th | 22.4 FPPG) — These two are on a roll. Both are must-starts on a weekly basis at this point, and their matchups really don’t matter because they both are factors in the passing game as well.
Leonard Fournette @ Cleveland Browns (10th | 22.2 FPPG) — Fournette’s return to the field last week was very disappointing, totaling just 46 yards on 19 touches. He proved to be matchup-proof earlier in the season (averaged 21.28 FPPG in first six games), so a matchup with the Browns is another test to see what he’s got. I’d prefer to bet on him than against him.
*UPDATE: The Jaguars are playing it cautious with Fournette’s ankle again. He was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, then did not practice at all on Friday. According to Roy Cummings of FloridaFootballInsiders.com, if Fournette does play on Sunday, he will have a reduced role. Keep an eye on this, but it makes Chris Ivory a playable Flex option on Sunday.
Doug Martin @ Miami Dolphins (21st | 24.3 FPPG) — The fantasy production hasn’t been there for Martin lately, but it’s coming. He’s averaging 16.3 touches for 59.8 yards per game. In the last five weeks, Miami’s D/ST has given up 129.4 rushing YPG to their opponent, including 201 yards and 2 TD’s to the Panthers last week.
James White @ Oakland Raiders (29th | 26.1 FPPG) — White is a pretty good bet most weeks because of his role in the passing game. Although he only gets a handful of carries per game, he averages 5.1 catches and has a TD in two of the last three weeks. Oakland gives up approximately 6.0 catches per game to opposing RB’s.
Kenyan Drake/Damien Williams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26th | 25.2 FPPG) — Tampa is significantly worse against RB’s on the road than they are at home. At home, they allow opponents just 58.8 rushing YPG and have allowed 1 TD. On the road, it’s 131.0 rushing YPG and 6 TD’s. Miami has given both Drake and Williams an opportunity to make an impact, giving each 24 touches over the last two weeks since taking over for Jay Ajayi.
Joe Mixon @ Denver Broncos (11th | 22.3 FPPG) — Mixon’s fantasy value is very TD-dependent because of his low YPC (3.0). He does catch the ball, which helps big-time, but he’s only averaging 58.7 total YPG. Denver has done a nice job against RB’s overall, holding Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and Kareem Hunt to 56.4 total YPG.
Mike Evans @ Miami Dolphins (15th | 31.0 FPPG) — This will be a telling game for Evans’ fantasy value this season. He returns from a one-game suspension and should be plenty determined to play well, especially without his QB Jameis Winston around. Evans is an elite receiver and should be able to perform well, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Julio Jones @ Seattle Seahawks (17th | 31.5 FPPG) — Even if Seattle had Richard Sherman, Jones would be a start for me this week. We’ve seen the Seahawks defense implode before when missing key pieces — let’s see if it begins to happen now without Sherman.
Sterling Shepard vs. Kansas City Chiefs (32nd | 41.5 FPPG) — Shepard is New York’s WR1 now, and it’s showing. In the last two weeks, he has caught 16-of-22 targets for 212 yards. This is a great matchup against a team that is already the last-ranked D/ST against WR’s and gives up an average of 47.0 FPPG to WR’s on the road.
Michael Crabtree vs. New England Patriots (30th | 39.2 FPPG) — Both Crabtree and Amari Cooper have a a great matchup this week, but Crabtree is the safer bet. He averages 4.5 catches (6.9 targets) for 56.4 yards per game and has scored 6 TD’s.
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Tennessee Titans (24th | 35.1 FPPG) — JuJu’s been on that beat lately (I’ll see myself out), catching 12-of-17 targets for 290 yards in the last two games and scoring 3 TD’s in the last three weeks. Tennessee’s D/ST is among the bottom of the league against WR’s.
Demaryius Thomas vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5th | 25.3 FPPG) — Aside from him dealing with a knee issue, this is all about Thomas’ QB situation and not an indictment on him. While Thomas has scored in each of the last two weeks, saving his fantasy value, he hasn’t had more than 70 yards in the last four games. The Bengals are among the best against WR’s. This doesn’t stack up well for Thomas.
Jared Cook vs. New England Patriots (20th | 12.6 FPPG) — Cook is having one of the better seasons of his career, and he’s turned it up lately. In the last three weeks, he’s averaging 6.0 catches (7.0 targets) for 96.7 yards, including two 100-yard games. Play the hot hand, especially in a good matchup this week.
Cameron Brate @ Miami Dolphins (28th | 15.3 FPPG) — Brate has had two awful games in a row, catching just 2-of-7 targets for 19 yards total. I’m not ready to pull the plug yet, though. He’s still one of the NFL’s most productive TE’s and gets a good matchup this week.
Tyler Kroft @ Denver Broncos (31st | 18.4 FPPG) — Denver is giving up 21.0 FPPG to TE’s at home since Week 2. Kroft has been a reliable target for QB Andy Dalton, averaging 4.9 targets and 40.9 YPG.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Los Angeles Rams (12th | 10.7 FPPG) — Rudolph is usually a pretty good play, being targeted 7.8 times per week in his last five games. He should be able to get you a little something against the Rams.
Jason Witten vs. Philadelphia Eagles (26th | 13.4 FPPG) — Like I mentioned with Dak earlier, it would be a good idea for the Cowboys to plan to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Witten would be a recipient of plenty of those looks. The Eagles struggle against good TE’s, so this stacks up well for the old man this week.
Delanie Walker @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd | 9.5 FPPG) — For starters, it’s a Thursday game. So, Walker is playing on a short week and he’s been banged-up lately. He’s not listed on the TNF injury report, but he has missed some practice time earlier in the week. Last week, the Steelers shut TE Jack Doyle down to the tune of 2 catches for 9 yards. Doyle is usually very productive, so if the Steelers made him a non-factor, they should be able to do it with Walker as well.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns (31st | 12.3 FPPG) — Jacksonville is the No. 1 D/ST, and Cleveland allows the second-most FPPG to D/ST’s. No-brainer.
Baltimore Ravens @ Green Bay Packers (18th | 7.6 FPPG) — Packers QB Brett Hundley is showing improvement, but Baltimore has had a stout defense all year. They should be able to put up a pretty standard fantasy D/ST scoring line at the very least.
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (29th | 10.3 FPPG) — The Lions have quietly been among the league’s best D/ST’s all season as well. This week, they get a rookie QB in Mitchell Trubisky who has a 3:2 TD-to-INT ratio and has only eclipsed 200 passing yards in one game.
New Orleans Saints vs. Washington Redskins (24th | 8.2 FPPG) — We already covered this in the Cousins ‘Flop’ entry, but New Orleans’ D/ST is no joke. They’re scoring approximately 12.67 FPPG.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons (11th | 5.2 FPPG) — No Sherman, no problem? We’ll see. Seattle is also dealing with issues with both starting safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Thomas missed the last two games with a hamstring issue but is expected to be back this week, and Chancellor suffered a stinger last week, his status hanging up in the air.
*UPDATE: Chancellor is now said to be going on season-ending Injured Reserve.
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