James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Now that we are in Week 11 of the NFL season, the final push for the fantasy playoffs is officially underway. Now, more than ever, it is important to make the best possible decision on who you start and who you sit because one wrong move can have you standing on the outside looking in when it comes time for the playoff party.
This week owners lost Buccaneers RB Mike James, and the big question has been which of the two remaining backs in Tampa Bay are worth owning? Coach Greg Schiano said he expects to use Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey in a timeshare going forward, but you have to look a little closer at the situation to understand it. Rainey is a 5-8 RB that relies more on his speed than his ability to run between the tackles. Furthermore, Rainey was cut by a Browns team that features Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya as its top two running backs.
Leonard is 6-1, 225, so he is better suited to handle the early-down pounding that is used to wear down the defense. Further, the size difference gives Leonard a distinct advantage in picking up the blitz.
Because RB has been a spot of weakness in general this season due to disappointing stats and injuries, Leonard is worth owning as a low-end flex play going forward. Rainey I don’t really see as someone worth owning unless you are in a deeper league or a standard league with a deep bench. I doubt he plays the Shane Vereen role (points-per-reception role) for the Buccaneers offense.
Nick Foles – QB, Eagles: I don’t care what those big-box websites say, Foles against a Redskins defense that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to QBs (23.3 points per game) is money in the bank. When asked about the Eagles QB situation going forward, Coach Chip Kelley said "16 touchdowns, no interceptions, why would we change?"
Case Keenum – QB, Texans: OK, I am finally a believer in Keenum from a fantasy standpoint. In his three games this season, Keenum is averaging 274 yards passing per game, and has thrown seven touchdowns without an INT. That’s a far cry from Matt Schaub, who threw four pick-six INTs in just six games for the Texans this season. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the 3-6 Raiders give up 22.2 fantasy PPG to QBs this season.
Rashad Jennings – RB, Raiders: I have always been leery of Terrelle Pryor because I’ve talked to those who have inside knowledge on him and even they are not impressed by him as a quarterback. As his play seems to deteriorate as the season wears on, the running back will be an even more important part of the picture because the Raiders have to move the ball somehow right? With Darren McFadden nursing a hamstring injury that is keeping him out, Jennings is the guy to own off the waiver wire (22.1 percent owned on NFL.com) this weekend. I know I like Keenum up above, but he isn’t someone that I see blowing the Raiders out early and thus taking the running game out of the Raiders playbook.
Andre Brown – RB, Giants: Brown was supposed to be eased back into his role in the offense, but instead he touched the ball 31 times and managed 115 yards rushing and a touchdown in his first game. With the Packers featuring Scott Tolzien at QB with Matt Flynn backing him up, I don’t think this one will be much of a shootout. Brown is someone that I see as a high-end RB2 with very real upside into the high-end RB1 range if he gets things going. Remember, Brown’s legs are fresh, and everyone on the Packers defense has been banging up their bodies for 10 weeks!
Marques Colston – WR, Saints: It’s hard to believe that I even have to say to start Colston, but he has been a major bust this season before finally breaking out against the Cowboys last week (107 yards and a TD). This week Colston has the 49ers, but Drew Brees is the No. 1 QB in the NFL in my opinion and I think he is looking to get on track with Colston for a playoff run. Colston is started in just 56.0 percent of NFL.com leagues right now, but I have him as a high-end WR2 with upside into the WR1 range this week.
Alshon Jeffery – WR, Bears: Too many people hear “Ravens defense” and they get nervous. Why? They give up 342.2 total YPG as a defense and are tied for the fifth-most passing touchdowns allowed this season at 16. The good news for Bears fans is that Jay Cutler was ruled out before the Bears even returned to practice, suggesting that he won’t be back until he is fully healthy. Because Josh McCown isn’t Cutler, fantasy owners then think Jeffery is someone to consider sitting. Not true. Jeffery is a weapon for the Bears and will produce solid fantasy numbers regardless of which QB the Bears run out there.
Jordan Reed – TE, Redskins: TE is an all-or-nothing position, so it is extremely hard for me to come up with sleepers most weeks. The truth is, after you get past the top 6-7 TEs around the NFL, the production gets sketchy at best. Reed is the No. 1 fantasy TE over the past month, and I have no problems whatsoever starting him over guys like Jordan Cameron, Tony Gonzalez and Greg Olsen this week.
Buffalo Bills Defense: The Bills have pretty much an average fantasy defense, and the Jets have a below average NFL offense, making this a game I like for defenses. Truthfully, I’d play either defense here and feel safe about it. This pick is really as simple as it seems; I have no faith in the Jets offense to produce points.
Colin Kaepernick – QB, 49ers: Kaepernick is someone I hound on because he is owned in 97.1 percent of NFL.com leagues, started in 66.6 percent of them, and yet is ranked 15th among fantasy QBs over the past month in standard scoring formats. The Saints actually allow just 15.6 fantasy points to QBs this season, the third-lowest mark in the NFL. Kaepernick is just too risky to play this weekend with all the better options I see on my little start/sit board.
Tom Brady – QB, Patriots: This may come back to haunt me, but the Panthers defense is No. 1 this season at shutting down fantasy QBs (13.2 PPG allowed) after boasting a TD allowed-to-INT ratio of 7:13. Brady is coming out of the bye and should have Vereen back and ready to go, which is what worries me. But, the Panthers defense is tops in the NFL against fantasy QBs after facing Russell Wilson, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. I just don’t have a good feeling about this for Brady and am finding other options for Brady on my own teams this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB, Jaguars: Can you believe that 74 total yards and a touchdown ties a season high for MJD in terms of fantasy points (13.40) on NFL.com? The Cardinals are tied for the No. 2 defense against fantasy RBs this season with 12.9 PPG allowed, and the Jaguars have done nothing to instill confidence in me that they can move the ball. And no, a win against the Titans gets no respect from me because I truly believe the Jaguars were going to run the table in reverse in order to right the wrong they made at QB when they moved up in the draft to take Blaine Gabbert.
Brian Leonard – RB, Buccaneers: Because teams all around fantasy football are struggling at RB due to a decline in fantasy production, injuries, a poor draft, and/or a lack of waiver wire prowess, too many owners are picking up Leonard and Rainey and plugging them into their starting lineups this week. It’s not that the Falcons are good at stopping fantasy RBs (13th-worst at 18.3 PPG allowed); rather, it took two season-ending injuries for Leonard to move up high enough on the depth chart to even be mentioned in a fantasy football article! Leonard was third on the depth chart and sitting on the end of the bench when Doug Martin and Mike James were healthy, and Rainey was fourth on the depth chart and was cut by the Browns!
Percy Harvin – WR, Seahawks: The guy so many of you drafted and have been holding onto for 10 weeks is finally making his season debut in Week 11 against his former team, the Vikings. The problem with Harvin is he is sure to be on a snap count in his first game back, and the Vikings are sure to gameplan for stopping him when he is on the field. I think it is just as likely that he is a colossal bust this week as it is that he is a fantasy stud. Because of the boom-or-bust factor, I am willing to miss a good game rather than play him and leave points on the bench when a WR you’ve been playing puts up more than him. Let’s see how he does before anointing him a must-start player.
Denarius Moore – WR, Raiders: As I said before about Pryor, his play is regressing and I do not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about him going forward. Pryor hasn’t thrown a TD in 3 games, and now sports 10 INTs to just 5 TDs on the season. With Pryor at QB, I have a feeling that Moore is going to see less as the season winds down. See what I did there?
John Carlson – TE, Vikings: Because Carlson hauled in 98 yards and a touchdown last week, people are running to the waiver wire and trying to plug-and-play him just like Leonard out in Tampa Bay. The problem is 1) The Seahawks have a MUCH better defense than the Redskins do. And 2) Carlson had topped 10 yards just twice this season before last weekend. Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.
Kansas City Chiefs Defense: The Chiefs face the Broncos this week and Peyton Manning isn’t a QB I want to see playing against my fantasy defense. Manning is easily able to put up 40-plus points on any team because he has weapons all over the field. The Chiefs are the best fantasy defense this season, but I’d sit them down for one week and go pick up the Bills or Jets defense as a one-week filler.