Evan Silva


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Matchups: Feelin' Lucky

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cincinnati @ Kansas City

Although they wound up losing in overtime, last Monday night's clash with Pittsburgh provided a tantalizing glimpse of the team Kansas City was built to be. Rather than play from behind all game -- as they've done all year -- the Chiefs grabbed an early, 10-0 lead, played effective defense, and leaned on Jamaal Charles en route to 100 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Playcaller Brian Daboll still wasted ten runs on black-hole back Peyton Hillis, but Charles' effort was a reminder that he can control a game when utilized properly. And if Daboll intends to salvage his resume with some second-half wins, his best player will continue to handle the ball 20-plus times a week. The Bengals rank 20th in run defense and have allowed ten rushing TDs through nine games, so this is a quality matchup for Charles. ... Looking more and more like an offseason free-agent bust, a thoroughly ineffective Hillis has managed 46 yards on his last 18 carries (2.56 YPC), appearing so plodding on the field that it's debatable whether he'd be a fantasy asset even if Charles got hurt. ... Tony Moeaki flashed his potential on a 38-yard gain down the sideline in the Steelers loss. He's still gone 14 games without a touchdown. Moeaki is waiver-wire fodder in fantasy leagues.

The Chiefs' quarterback in any given week doesn't matter a whole lot for Dwayne Bowe, even if Matt Cassel has been slightly better at getting him the football than Brady Quinn. Inconsistency is unavoidable for Kansas City's top receiver in a thoroughly unreliable passing game. Bowe also didn't help himself last Monday night, dropping two balls. Sunday's matchup with Bengals RCB Leon Hall isn't overly unattractive, but Bowe is a coin-flip WR3 at this point. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 4, averaging five catches for 57 yards over his last five games. ... Jon Baldwin has looked like a 2011 first-round draft bust in his second season and exited the Monday nighter with a third-quarter head injury. He won't play against the Bengals. Neither Baldwin nor backup Steve Breaston is worth owning in 12- or 14-team leagues. ... Dexter McCluster has teased twice this season with productive games: In Week 1 (6-82) and Week 8 (6-54-1). McCluster has four receptions for 35 yards combined the past two weeks. He's a non-factor both in real life and fantasy.

A matchup with Kansas City's defense is ripe A.J. Green's picking. Even after cutting RCB Stanford Routt midseason, the Chiefs have refused to use Brandon Flowers against enemy No. 1 receivers. Flowers remains entrenched at left corner, and actually wound up covering Emmanuel Sanders more than Mike Wallace in last Monday's loss. Green can blow apart RCB fill-ins Jalil Brown and Javier Arenas. ... The Chiefs have surrendered an 18:6 TD-to-INT ratio to opposing quarterbacks, and allow both the highest passer rating (102.1) and yards-per-pass-attempt average (8.4) in the AFC. This is a bad defense. Andy Dalton typically lights up bad defenses, so he's on the back-end QB1 radar coming off a four-touchdown game. ... Instead of promoting Andrew Hawkins, the Bengals have demoted Armon Binns out of their No. 2 receiver rotation. It's now a mixture of Brandon Tate and rookie Mohamed Sanu, and Sanu came away from Week 10 with four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Sanu played off the bench and saw 37-of-60 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Sanu is not a trustworthy Week 11 fantasy option, but his stock is clearly on the rise. He has big, strong hands and operates comfortably in traffic.


Friday Update: Hawkins injured his knee in Friday's practice and was added to the injury report as questionable. Already an underutilized player, the in-practice injury should delete Hawkins from Week 11 fantasy consideration.

Jermaine Gresham has at least a touchdown and/or 60 yards in four of his last five games and is the No. 11 fantasy tight end through ten weeks. Although Gresham is a stiff route runner lacking dynamic physical tools, the ball is thrown in his direction enough to be a bottom-barrel fantasy starter. Dynasty leaguers should consider selling Gresham after the year if this production keeps up. He'll never be a difference maker. ... BenJarvus Green-Ellis' rushing attempts have dropped in three straight games, and the Bengals tried to get Cedric Peerman (six carries, 21 yards) more involved last week. The coaches are aware that Law Firm is hamstringing the offense. Kansas City ranks 23rd in run defense and typically presents a favorable matchup for opposing backs. Green-Ellis is just so short on talent that he's difficult to trust as more than a low-upside flex.

Score Prediction: Bengals 24, Chiefs 20

Jacksonville @ Houston

Blaine Gabbert has faced the Texans three times in his career, and you won't be surprised to recall that the results are ugly. Gabbert has completed 30-of-78 passes (38.5 percent) for 286 yards (3.67 YPA), two touchdowns, and three interceptions against Houston. He's absorbed 10 sacks. Be wary of Jags pass catchers in this game, and fire up Houston's fantasy defense. ... It's difficult to imagine the Jaguars moving the ball in Week 11. The Texans' No. 3 run defense has been particularly stout versus inside runners, and that's the type of back Rashad Jennings is. With a pathetic 178 yards on his last 64 carries (2.78 YPC), Jennings would be a stretch even as a flex play. Despite generous workloads, Jennings has played his way out of fantasy relevance. ... Top Texans CB Johnathan Joseph figures to match up with Cecil Shorts on the majority of Sunday's snaps. Since an injury-related bumpy start to the season, Pro Football Focus has charted Joseph with 15 completions allowed on 30 passes thrown into his coverage (50 percent) for just 175 yards (5.83 YPA), with no touchdowns and an interception over the past three games. This is a poor matchup for Shorts. ... X receiver Laurent Robinson should avoid Joseph and is the best play in Jacksonville's wideout group this week, even if he's not a great one. Robinson has at least nine targets in consecutive games. ... Justin Blackmon can't get open, and it continues to show up in the box score. He's averaging under ten yards per catch with one touchdown across nine starts.

Coach Gary Kubiak recently suggested early-season fantasy disappointment Andre Johnson is just beginning to round into form, following a lost offseason due to knee surgery. Johnson finished last Sunday night's win over the Bears with a modest 4-35 stat line, but he looked better on the field than the stats indicate. "Andre Johnson looked like one of the elite wide receivers, looked very, very explosive on a muddy track," ESPN's Cris Carter stated this week. "You could tell his legs are starting to get back under him." With double-digit targets in four straight games, Johnson can flirt with WR1 value again. ... The Jaguars rank 23rd versus the pass and last in sacks. While Matt Schaub's fantasy upside is always capped by Houston's run-dominant offensive design, he should have open receivers Sunday and is a worthwhile two-QB league start. Schaub will operate in a clean pocket. ... Owen Daniels was close to playing in last Sunday night's win at Chicago and returned to practice this week. The fact that Jacksonville has surrendered the fewest fantasy points to tight ends can break lineup ties if owners are loaded at the position, but Daniels is a top-four scorer in points per game. Only Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Tony Gonzalez are ahead of him. Fantasy leaguers ought to be hard pressed to leave Daniels on the bench.

In five career meetings with the Jaguars, Arian Foster has accumulated 523 yards on 129 carries (4.05 YPC) and six TDs. He's caught 17 balls for 87 more yards. While the per-play averages suggest Jacksonville has held Foster in check, it's a reminder that monster workloads carry bellcow backs through tough times. Foster is averaging over 29 touches per game against the Jags. ... On pace for a pedestrian 41-600-4 stat line, Kevin Walter is primarily a downfield run blocker in Houston's offense. He's the No. 60 fantasy receiver and unworthy of a roster spot in 10- and 12-team leagues. ... Don't overthink Ben Tate. While it's great news that he's back from the hamstring strain and will have stretch-run value as a high-upside roster stash in the event of a Foster injury, Tate hasn't played in nearly a month and isn't worth a flex play gamble. Let's see Tate play well in a football game again before counting on him for garbage-time carries. ... Justin Forsett did a great job filling in for Tate, but he'll resume third-string status this week and can be dropped in standard fantasy leagues. Forsett gets an outgoing butt-pat for averaging 4.67 yards per carry.


Friday Update: Tate experienced a setback during the practice week and has been ruled out for Week 11. So Forsett will continue to operate as Foster's ball-carrying caddy. Forsett isn't a fantasy option. Tate's recurring hamstring problems make him an increasingly less attractive "hold" in 10- and 12-team fantasy leagues.

Score Prediction: Texans 30, Jaguars 3

4:05PM ET Game

New Orleans @ Oakland

Joe Flacco only needed three quarters to shred the Raiders' defense for 341 yards and a hat trick of Week 10 touchdowns, so it's scary to think of what a red-hot Drew Brees might be capable. Compiling a 25:5 TD-to-INT ratio over his last seven games, Brees has the premier Week 11 fantasy matchup among QB1s. ... Oakland showed a particular vulnerability to tight ends in the Baltimore loss, as SLB Philip Wheeler was picked apart in pass coverage. Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson combined to secure 7-of-7 targets for 126 yards and a touchdown -- all in the first half. Jimmy Graham, step on up. ... While Marques Colston's yardage has slowed in recent weeks, end-zone trips are carrying him. He's found pay dirt seven times in his last six games. Colston (6'4/225) will give Raiders nickel corner Joselio Hanson (5'9/185) matchup nightmares in the slot in this game. ... Whenever Colston and Graham are healthy, Lance Moore is a game-specific contributor in New Orleans' offense, who can be productive if game flow and individual matchups allow. He can also be as low as the fourth option in the passing attack. It's a recipe for fantasy inconsistency. Moore’s snaps and targets have been up and down since Graham returned from an early-season ankle injury. Even in this favorable matchup, Moore is an unreliable WR3 play.

Moore started over Devery Henderson in last week's win over Atlanta. Dropping 1-of-2 targets, Henderson finished catch-less for the second time in three games. He's waiver-wire material. ... Over the past two weeks, New Orleans' backfield has shifted to Mark Ingram (25 touches) and Chris Ivory (19), and away from Pierre Thomas (14). While unexpected, it was the correct move by coach Joe Vitt. Though he lacks dynamic run skills, Ingram is a chain-moving sustainer back. Ivory is a ferocious runner who needs the ball. Thomas still played the most snaps, but primarily as a pass protector, and it's fair to wonder if Darren Sproles' return from hand surgery will all but weed Thomas out of the offense. ... Vitt went out of his way to praise Ivory -- the Saints' most gifted pure runner -- after a number of highlight-reel carries against the Falcons. "He's run over people since he's been here," Vitt said. "He's always looking to get extra yards. ... You saw him switch the ball into the proper hand when he finished his touchdown run. Those are the little things that he has really worked on to become a better player. It's fun to watch and we're proud of him." Ingram led the Saints in Week 10 carries, but Ivory is a candidate for an increased role against Oakland and a high-upside flex play. ... Sproles only averaged four carries per game before his injury, so he doesn't figure to affect the roles of early-down backs Ivory and Ingram much. Sproles was averaging six receptions, however, and should be plugged right back into PPR lineups.


Friday Update: Sproles seemed like a virtual lock to play in this game after returning to a full practice on Thursday, but he still has some swelling in the hand and will leave the decision to play up to team doctors. Due to this game's late start, this has become a situation to avoid in standard leagues. Sproles is worth waiting for in PPR leagues if you can "handcuff" him with a viable late-game alternative. Ingram and Ivory would be obvious choices.

The Vegas oddsmakers smartly place the highest over-under on Saints games every week. New Orleans' defense is a sieve, and Brees forces opponents to play aggressive offense for all four quarters. The New Orleans-Oakland score projection is a Week 11-high 54.5 points. The average points scored in Saints games this year is 56.1, so that may be conservative. Start your Raiders. ... Denarius Moore's route tree continues to expand. Strictly an "X-iso" receiver who ran sideline fly patterns as a rookie, Moore now plays all across the formation and beat Ravens CB Corey Graham for a 30-yard touchdown on a slot route last week. Facing New Orleans' No. 31 pass defense, you could argue that Moore is a legit WR1 this week. ... Forced to compensate for no running game or defense on a weekly basis, Carson Palmer is on a statistical tear. No NFL quarterback has scored more fantasy points over the past five weeks. Palmer is interception prone as a passer who relies so heavily on timing routes, but he is painting box scores right now and should keep it up against the Saints.

Rotoworld passed along quotes from two prominent Raiders coaches last week stating the staff had no confidence in Taiwan Jones from ball-security and playbook-comprehension standpoints. Therefore, it should have come as no surprise that Jones barely played at Baltimore. Jones was in for six snaps, touched the ball three times, and can be dropped in 10- and 12-team leagues. ... Marcel Reece was the Raiders' every-down back, starting the game, leading Oakland with 20 touches, and playing 58-of-75 snaps. Reece is a passing-game machine and now has 15 catches over the past two weeks. The Raiders project to throw a lot again in Week 11, so plug Reece into your lineup. ... Jeremy Stewart (14 snaps, 7 carries) is the change-up back, ahead of Jones. Stewart is a 5-foot-11, 217-pound plodding power back who went undrafted this April out of Stanford. ... Had he not suffered a right hamstring injury in practice this week, this matchup would have been right for Darrius Heyward-Bey to join the WR3 discussion. DHB is now shaping up as a game-time decision, and he's rarely played well at less than 100 percent. ... Brandon Myers has suffered four documented concussions over the past three and a half years, but somehow gained medical clearance to play one week after his latest. He must have a fast-healing brain. Myers is an appealing back-end TE1 because of how this game figures to play out. He's been Palmer's No. 2 option in the passing game all the season, behind only Moore and ahead of Heyward-Bey.


Friday Update: Heyward-Bey tweaked his hamstring in Wednesday's practice. He did not practice on Thursday or Friday, and coach Dennis Allen has deemed DHB a "game-time decision." If Heyward-Bey does not play, Derek Hagan would get the start at Z receiver with Rod Streater staying in the slot and playing only on passing downs. Hagan would be the superior fallback fantasy option, should Heyward-Bey miss the game against the Saints.

Score Prediction: Saints 35, Raiders 28

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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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