Maximum Value Match-up
With just one more week of byes after this, your team should be fairly close to its final form, minus one or two spots for the necessary waiver pick-ups. With that in mind, remember just how important week 11 and week 12 can be in a tight playoff race. Soon, everyone is going to be back at full strength.
This week, we focus on the wide receiver position across two games.
Cleveland Browns WRs and Washington Redskins WRs
After last week’s shellacking of the Bengals, the Browns’ run seems like their primary focus moving forward. Although the passing game could pick up with the possible return of Josh Gordon in week 12, Cleveland doesn’t have an aerial star at the moment. So, why do I advise starting the Browns’ receivers?
First off, the Texans’ pass defense isn’t much to write home about. Houston has given up the second-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position this season with an average of 27.7 points per game. The Texans allowed 10 double-digit scores to wide receivers in their first 9 games, so the success is not only consistent, but startable as well.
The Browns have several receiving targets, but unfortunately none of them have accumulated more than three touchdowns on the year. Two guys should be startable on the Browns this week, though: Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel.
Hawkins is the consistent guy, having racked up the most receptions, yards and targets on the team. He was out against the Bengals, but is listed as probable against the Texans. He should be a great start in PPR leagues and an acceptable fill-in in standard leagues.
Gabriel is the team’s big-play threat and the man responsible for taking the top off the defense in Gordon’s absence. He averages the highest yards per reception on the team with Jordan Cameron’s absence and should be considered a boom-or-bust play for Sunday in a pinch.
Don’t take the Texans’ poor pass defense to mean you can start just any Browns WR against them. However, against tight ends, Houston has been considerably tougher, ranking as the sixth-toughest defense to face for fantasy tight ends and giving up only three touchdowns to the position all season.
The Redskins receivers, Desean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are much easier to pick out than the Browns’ WRs. Jackson is an every-week start at this point, so no one needs to tell you to put him in your lineup. However, Garcon has been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2014 fantasy season after leading the league in receptions last year. At the moment, he’s on more benches than starting lineups.
If there is ever a week to start Garcon, this is the one. The Buccaneers rank dead last in defending wide receivers, giving up an average of over 30 points per game. Furthermore, Robert Griffin is back in the lineup and despite playing few games this season his rapport with Garcon from last year can’t be ignored.
Jackson is still the clear favorite in this offense. However, as bad as the Buccaneers have been against the pass, they will have to make an effort to contain Jackson. While that effort is unlikely to succeed, it should open up more opportunities for Garcon to produce. If he can’t put up points against Tampa, then he never will.