[dropcap]A[/dropcap] large part of being successful in fantasy football is determining the better match-ups in your lineup. Fantasy owners debate every week on what players are the better starts for their team. The difference in choosing one player over another in just one position could easily cost a win any given week.
Each week I feature three quarterbacks, three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends and two defenses/special teams.
My attempt is not to name the guys you drafted in the first couple rounds that you should be starting every week no matter who they’re playing. These choices are almost exclusively based on the weekly opponent.
Nick Foles vs. Washington
Don’t look now, but Nick Foles is eighth in the NFL in passing touchdowns (16) after playing in just seven games. Of course, this is thanks in large part to the record-tying seven touchdowns he had against the Raiders two weeks ago. Nevertheless, Foles remains a viable starter, especially this week against Washington.
The Redskins have allowed 24.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG) to quarterbacks in 2013, fourth most in the league. That number combined with the 20.1 FPPG Foles averages should make for a nice outing in the city of brotherly love.
Robert Griffin III @ Philadelphia
Foles’ counterpart on Sunday is also a nice start in Week 11. Robert Griffin III is coming off a stellar 3 TD performance last Thursday night against the Vikings. It was his second best game of the season statistically as he showed more confidence than usual coming off the off-season knee surgery.
The 3,208 passing yards the Eagles have surrendered this season are second most to the Cowboys and the 24.1 FPPG allowed to quarterbacks are sixth worst in the NFL.
Matt Ryan @ Tampa Bay
Despite Matt Ryan’s seemingly lackluster 2013 campaign, partly because of an unhealthy supporting cast, he’s still QB11 through nine games played. He could move into Top 10 territory after playing the Buccaneers this week. Tampa Bay is giving up 23.8 FPPG to quarterbacks. Stick with Matt Ryan in your starting lineup this week.
Fantasy Running Backs
Giovani Bernard vs. Cleveland
Although he is averaging just 13.3 touches per game, Giovani Bernard is the eighth highest scoring PPR RB this season. In other words, he makes the most of his opportunities. Those opportunities should be aplenty against a key divisional match-up against the Browns on Sunday, who allow 23.2 FPPG to running backs and have allowed 5.4 catches per game to the position. Bernard maintains PPR RB1 status this week at Paul Brown Stadium.
Andre Ellington @ Jacksonville
Who’s game for starting an intervention for Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians? He refuses to give into reason; reason being giving Ellington starter status and more touches in Arizona’s backfield. Mendenhall has been so unproductive, in fact, that he has fewer PPR fantasy points than Trent Richardson. Embarrassing!
That being said, even if Ellington doesn’t get the majority of touches, as he should, he’s still a solid start against the Jaguars this weekend. Aside from the Cowboys, Jacksonville may have the worst overall defense in the league this season. As far as fantasy rush defense, they allow 27.5 FPPG to Ellington and his peers. I like Ellington as a low-end PPR RB2 in Week 11.
Ray Rice @ Chicago
Somewhat lost to some in the plethora of fantasy disappointments this season is the usually perennial standout Ray Rice. The fact that Le’Veon Bell has outscored Rice in PPR leagues despite Bell playing in two fewer games is telling. Disappointments aside, the fact remains that Rice does have an ideal match-up this week against the hurting Bears; even Bernard Pierce could be a sneaky flex start with head coach John Harbaugh saying they’ll go with the hot hand.
Chicago’s 25.8 FPPG allowed to running backs is eighth most in the league. While Rice’s inconsistency shouldn’t be ignored, he still has at least low-end PPR RB2 potential this week.
Fantasy Wide Receivers
Alshon Jeffery vs. Baltimore
Brandon Marshall gets most of the attention as far as wide receivers in Chicago are concerned, but Jeffery has more than held his own in 2013. He currently stands as the 12th highest scoring PPR WR and has just nine fewer targets than Marshall. In his last three outings, including with Josh McCown who will be starting on Sunday, Jeffery has averaged over 11 targets, 93 yards, six catches and .3 touchdowns. Jeffery has also averaged one carry per game at 10.4 yards per carry.
The news gets better for those who roster Jeffery. The Ravens allow 37.2 FPPG to wide receivers, including 10 touchdowns in nine games. Going into Week 11 I see Jeffery as a high-end WR2 to low-end WR1.
Mike Wallace vs. San Diego
Mike Wallace had what was perhaps the most lackluster and uninspired performance of his 2013 campaign on Monday night against the Buccaneers, totaling just four catches for 15 yards. The two times I’ve included Wallace in this column he’s averaged 93.5 yards, so I’m nursing my superstition again this week. And justifiably so, as the Chargers are the third worst fantasy defense against wide receivers this season at 42.8 FPPG. It may be tough, but I’d start Wallace at least as a flex.
Keep track of Wallace’s injury this weekend. If he’s hobbled or can’t play then Rishard Matthews would take a big boost. Although, it does sound like Wallace will be able to go on Sunday.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Detroit
One very intriguing fact about Emmanuel Sanders this year is that he has more targets (74) than guys like Jordy Nelson (73) and Larry Fitzgerald (70). Unfortunately for Sanders, he’s only met with those targets 55 percent of the time and has only scored twice.
Facing a Detroit Lions’ defense that allows 40.7 FPPG to wide receivers should provide a decent line for Sanders. He’s definitely a viable flex option this week. Great Fantasy Match-up!
Fantasy Tight Ends
Scott Chandler vs. NY Jets
Head coach Doug Marrone said on Wednesday that Robert Woods would not play again this week and that Stevie Johnson’s status is uncertain. One would surmise that Scott Chandler would be a big beneficiary if they both miss the Jets game. A case could also be made for tight end Chris Gragg in deeper leagues, who caught four passes four 25 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on Sunday.
What makes this situation even more favorable for Chandler/Gragg is that the Jets are giving up 10.2 FPPG to tight ends. Chandler and/or Gragg could be nice fill-ins for those who roster Jason Witten or Jared Cook.
Rob Housler @ Jacksonville
Sunday was by far Rob Housler’s best game of the season. Scoring your first touchdown will help. He also had a season-high 57 yards. He’ll look to at least duplicate that performance against the Jaguars, who are even worse than the Jets against tight ends, allowing 11.4 FPPG.
Cardinals @ Jacksonville
Is it just me or do the Cardinals have one of the more underrated defenses this season? They are currently tied for the ninth highest scoring fantasy defense and face the offense that allows the third most fantasy points to defenses in the league. Expect Chad Henne to be on the ground a lot in this contest.
Bills vs. NY Jets
I would put the Bills’ defense in the same category as the Cardinals. They’ve been quietly productive in 2013 to the tune of the 10th highest scoring fantasy defense. Buffalo is tied for third in the league with 32 sacks, an average of 3.2 a game. Meanwhile, New York surrenders the fourth most FPPG to defenses at 8.2.
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Zach hails from the bustling metropolis of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Three things Zach enjoys are football, food and water. Three things Zach doesn’t enjoy are kale, mushrooms and the company of those who enjoy either (except hobbits). Zach is a life-long Broncos fan and has been playing fantasy football longer than he hasn’t. He had top-five finishes in FantasyPros’ 2016 NFL DFAC competition and the 2016 SFB480.