Week 11 is officially upon us and that means you’re probably facing some tough lineup decisions due to a combo of injuries & a final group of dreaded bye weeks. Of course, with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, now is as important as ever to call the right shots.
Naturally, our aim is to help you make those right decisions (that is, unless you’re in our leagues). That’s why we’ve enlisted a new group of Featured Pros to offer advice on several pressing questions for week 11. Read on to see what the pundits have to say about the impact of QB injuries as well as the players they figure to surprise and disappoint.
Q1: Three starting QBs (Vick/Roethlisberger/Cutler) will be out of action this week. Which offensive player on either PHI, PIT or CHI will be negatively impacted the most? Is there a separate player that stands to benefit above all others?
Most Negatively Impacted
Heath Miller (TE – PIT): Miller is the most likely to get negatively impacted. He didn’t get a single pass thrown his way after Ben Roethlisberger went down in week 10. Byron Leftwich is a lot less elusive than Roethlisberger and it’s likely Miller will be staying in to block more often to help protect Leftwich. Fantasy owners have been very happy with Miller most of this season as he’s averaged nearly 9 points per game in standard scoring systems, but with Leftwich at QB, I’m expecting that to drop off, possibly dramatically. - Russ Bliss (Fantasy Football Starters)
Mike Wallace (WR – PIT) & Brandon Marshall (WR – CHI): The two offensive players who will be hurt most by this are Mike Wallace and Brandon Marshall. It’s close, but I think the tie would have to go to the former because Jay Cutler won’t be out for very long. Ben Roethlisberger will miss six weeks or so. Leftwich has a long delivery, which will prompt Todd Haley to call more runs and screens. – Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football)
Brandon Marshall (WR – CHI): Marshall will be the player negatively impacted the most this week because of QB injuries. The Chicago-San Francisco game was probably going to be fairly low-scoring even if Cutler was playing. Now that Cutler is out, it’s likely that Marshall will be even more focused by the 49ers’ secondary and not see nearly as many targets from Jason Campbell as he usually does from Cutler. Plus, the 49ers are fifth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. - Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
Brandon Marshall (WR – CHI): As the starter for the Redskins in 2008, Jason Campbell attempted throws of 20+ yards on just 6.9% of his drop backs, which was the lowest rate in the league. Jay Cutler attempted throws of 20+ yards on 14.1% of his drop backs this year, which is the fifth highest rate in the league. About 28.2% of Brandon Marshall’s targets this year have been over 15 yards, so the downgrade from Cutler to Campbell really limits Marshall’s upside and big play ability. – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
Most Positively Impacted
LeSean McCoy (RB – PHI): On the opposite side, I think this will really benefit Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy. It’s no coincidence that the Eagles are 3-0 in games where McCoy gets 20 or more rushing attempts and 0-6 when he gets fewer than 20. With rookie Foles at QB, McCoy is likely to get a few more rushing attempts and probably a few more passing targets this week (so far this season McCoy has only been targeted on pass plays 43 times; only 5 more than Eagles #3 WR Jason Avant). I expect Andy Reid will call a more conservative game this week with more rushing attempts and encourage Foles to get the ball to McCoy on checkdowns more often. – Russ Bliss (Fantasy Football Starters)
LeSean McCoy (RB – PHI): The player who figures to benefit the most from these injuries could be LeSean McCoy. Andy Reid hates running the ball, but having a rookie quarterback under center behind a turnstile offensive line should prompt him to give McCoy more carries. – Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football)
Jeremy Maclin (WR – PHI): I think Maclin will benefit with Nick Foles at QB for the Eagles. It was obvious after Michael Vick left the game against Dallas on Sunday that Maclin was Foles’ favorite target. The Eagles are going to have to pass the ball to keep up with the Redskins in D.C. and I wouldn’t be surprised to see double-digit targets for Maclin. – Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
Brent Celek (TE – PHI): If Nick Foles takes the same ‘safe’ approach that Campbell is expected to take (he only went deep on two out of 34 drop backs in his debut last week), Brent Celek could be the big beneficiary against a Redskins team that allows the second most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
Q2: Last week, Danario Alexander stepped up as a bye week savior for fantasy owners. Who do you like to serve as a positive surprise this week?
Rod Streater (WR – OAK): I’m going to go totally off the board here and instead of naming someone who’s known but could be a sleeper; I’m going to go for a super sleeper probably on less than 1% of fantasy rosters: Oakland WR Rod Streater. With Darrius Heyward-Bey having sustained a hamstring injury in practice this week, there’s a chance he may not play. If he doesn’t, Streater likely will have an increased offensive role in a matchup against a Saints pass defense that is dead last in fantasy points allowed per game through the air. Carson Palmer has been on a tear of late and with Denarius Moore getting the defensive attention, it could really make things fall into place for Streater to surprise fantasy owners who like throwing the “Hail Mary” fantasy play. – Russ Bliss (Fantasy Football Starters)
Riley Cooper (WR – PHI) & Rod Streater (WR – OAK): Cooper & Streater are currently owned in the same number of leagues, and they at least have the potential to surprise in the same way Alexander did. Streater faces the Saints who allow the most net yards gained per pass attempt, and Cooper faces the Redskins who allow the fourth highest mark in that same category. One quarter of Streater’s targets have been of the deep variety this year, and one-third of Cooper’s targets were deep ones last year, so there’s potential for the big play with both guys. – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
Mohamed Sanu (WR – CIN): Sanu could be a nice surprise. He saw 6 targets this past Sunday and he keeps seeing a bigger role each week. The Chiefs, who have major issues in their secondary, will be so concerned about A.J. Green that Sanu could step up. – Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football)
Titus Young (WR – DET): Young has been rather inconsistent this season but has shown signs of what he is capable of, especially since Nate Burleson was K.O.’d for the season. Young is one of the best deep threats in the league and has one of the strongest arms in the league in Matthew Stafford throwing to him. Green Bay’s pass defense is mediocre at best and even worse with Charles Woodson out. Young could put up similar numbers to what Alexander did last week. – Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
Q3: On the flip side, more than a few owners had matchups derailed by Michael Turner’s poor showing in week 10. Give us 1 typical starting caliber player that you think is bench-worthy this week.
Mike Wallace (WR – PIT): I’m not recommending Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace with as much gusto as I normally do. Typically, Wallace is a top 20 fantasy WR and a guy you start most every week without thinking about it, but just like I think Heath Miller will be affected by Byron Leftwich, I think Wallace will be too. The Steelers are likely to attack the Ravens weak run defense and not ask Leftwich to take too much upon himself. Leftwich did take a couple of deeper shots to Wallace last week, but couldn’t connect. Maybe it was rust, maybe it was weather, or maybe Leftwich just isn’t that accurate. Rust and weather probably played a part, but history shows Leftwich just isn’t that accurate too. – Russ Bliss (Fantasy Football Starters)
Willis McGahee (RB – DEN): McGahee should be on fantasy benches. The Chargers have surrendered more than 76 rushing yards to running backs just once since Week 4. McGahee, who rushed for just 56 yards at San Diego in Week 6, has a fumbling problem. If he coughs the ball up one more time, he could be headed for the bench. – Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football)
Willis McGahee (RB – DEN): McGahee has had double digit fantasy points in just 3 games this season, and all 3 of those games were against teams that are currently 2nd, 4th, and 7th in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Those were also the only 3 games in which McGahee has averaged more than 4 yards per carry. This week McGahee will face a San Diego run defense that allows only 3.7 yards per attempt and ranks 22nd in most points allowed to opposing RBs – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
Torrey Smith (WR – BAL): Smith has been inconsistent in 2012. Yes, he had two touchdowns last week, but those were his only two catches. I don’t trust Smith against Ike Taylor and Pittsburgh’s top-ranked pass defense this week. He’s just too risky and has been too inconsistent. Smith is bench-worthy in Week 11. – Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
Thanks to this week’s Featured Pros for sharing their thoughts with us. If you’d like to read more of the experts’ advice, please be sure to check out their sites and follow them on Twitter. Best of luck to everyone this weekend!