Raise your hand if your fantasy backfield imploded due to injury in Week 10. Michael Turner, Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown, Julius Jones, Brian Westbrook … it almost makes me feel better about some of the crummy running backs I drafted. Almost.
As always, not all of this week’s recommendations are included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Write video blog.
Read on for your Week 11 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who’s off in Week 11: Nobody — the bye weeks are over. Woo-hoo!
Also: The Dolphins and Panthers play Thursday night. Make sure to set your lineups on time.
Start him: Eli Manning, Giants
The Giants are in a tailspin, and Eli is no exception. During the team’s four-game losing streak, he’s thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions while averaging a so-so 214 yards. Coming off the bye week, the Giants host the Falcons and their super-shaky, 28th-ranked pass defense. As an analyst, I think there’s a good chance that Eli puts up some good numbers this week. As a Giants’ season-ticket holder, I demand it.
Sit him: Carson Palmer, Bengals
Despite some second thoughts about Palmer’s inclusion here due to the questionable status of RB Cedric Benson, this isn’t an easy matchup in any scenario. The Raiders are awful, but their pass defense isn’t bad, as they’ve allowed 214 yards per game and only eight passing TDs so far. Seriously, if you could run the ball down the Raiders’ throats all day and be up by two touchdowns at halftime, would you waste your time challenging All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha? Me neither. If you’ve got another good QB on your roster, he’s probably a safer play than Palmer this week.
Pick him up: Jake Delhomme, Panthers
WHAAAAAT? Yep, I’m going with my South Charlotte neighbor, who’s been taking care of the ball better over the last three weeks (no picks) even if he hasn’t been putting up great numbers (162 yards and a TD per game). Delhomme is mainly a “break glass in case of emergency” fantasy backup, but he does get the awful Bucs at home in Week 13.
Note: Chicago’s Jay Cutler is serving a two-week Wide Write suspension after throwing five interceptions against the 49ers last week. He’ll be eligible for consideration again in Week 13, when the Bears host the Rams. Even Cutler can’t screw up against the Rams, right?
Start him: Beanie Wells, Cardinals
The Cardinals’ rookie has been coming on lately, and it’s time for fantasy owners to start him. Wells had 13 carries for 72 yards in Week 9, and improved that to 16 carries for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Seahawks last week. The rookie is still in a timeshare with Tim Hightower, but if he wasn’t splitting carries, would you really be wondering whether or not to play him?
This week, the Cardinals visit the 1-8 Rams and their awful run defense, which is allowing 142 yards per game (28th in the league) and just gave up 203 yards on the ground against the Saints. The Cardinals sometimes lose interest in the run when they fall behind, but I have a feeling we won’t need to worry about that on Sunday. Look for another solid outing from Wells.
Sit him: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Charles had a really nice game last week against the Raiders – see what I mean about them being awful? – with 103 rushing yards and a score. Charles isn’t bad, but he’s more of a third-down type. With or without banged-up safety Troy Polamalu, I doubt the Steelers’ league-best rushing defense is going to give Charles much room to run.
Pick him up: Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood, Falcons
Michael Turner isn’t ruling himself out this week with a high ankle sprain, but we’re going to. Snelling has had a couple of decent games for the Falcons lately (68 yards rushing in Week 7, 61 yards in Week 10), but that’s partly because Norwood has been hurt. If you’re looking for a replacement for Turner – or just need an RB for the next couple of weeks – Snelling will probably be the Falcons’ primary option. But if Norwood returns from his four-game absence due to a hip injury, as expected, he could also be a nice pickup in a deep league. Not a great one, and maybe not as good as Snelling, but he can help.
Note: Norwood missed practice Wednesday. Since Turner could be out for awhile, Norwood still has value as a free-agent pickup, but it might not be this week.
Start him: Miles Austin, Cowboys
If you’re worried that Austin might be a fluke after catching just five passes for 69 yards over the last two games, get over it. This guy is a gamebreaker, he got targeted nine times against the Packers last week, and he’s clearly the best receiver on the Cowboys’ roster. Don’t you dare bench him if you were thinking about it.
Sit him: Lee Evans, Bills
People seem to be getting excited about Evans because he has four touchdown receptions in his last four games. Here are five reasons why I’m skeptical:
1. He’s averaging 42 receiving yards per game, and hasn’t broken 75 this season.
2. The Bills just benched Trent Edwards in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe Fitzpatrick does like to throw the deep ball more than Edwards (a.k.a. Captain Checkdown) does, but in just over three games this season, Fitzpatrick has completed just 49 percent of his passes, and has a QB rating of 49.8. That’s awful.
3. The Bills stink.
4. One of Evans’ TD receptions last week was a 27-yarder from running back Fred Jackson. I think we can agree that the odds are against Jackson throwing another TD so soon. Discounting that catch, Evans had three more receptions for 23 yards (and yes, a TD). That’s not so great.
5. Did I mention that the first thing people always seem to note about Fitzpatrick is that he went to Harvard? So did Barack Obama, but I don’t want him throwing passes to my fantasy receivers.
Pick him up: Brandon Gibson, Rams
The Rams fall behind a lot – five of their eight losses have been by 19 points or more. Most of their wide receivers have gotten hurt over the course of the season, so they’re pretty much left with Gibson and Donnie Avery. Avery caught four passes for 67 yards and a pair of TDs last week, and people are going to be fighting over him at the fantasy free agent claiming stand. I like Avery as a deep threat, and he might be able to help your fantasy team.
Look more closely, and you’ll notice that Gibson was targeted nine times to Avery’s six in Week 10, and caught seven passes for 93 yards. The Rams got Gibson from the Eagles in a trade last month, and they seem to be high on him. Also, six of the Rams’ final seven games are against teams in the bottom half of the league in pass defense, including the Cardinals (30th) in Weeks 11 and 16, and the Titans (31st) in Week 14. Gibson might surprise you, and he’s available in almost every league at this point.
Also: A couple of sources reported on Wednesday than Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown might be done for the year. If you own him, plan for the worst … Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe has been suspended for four weeks for testing positive for a banned substance. If you can wait for him, he’ll be back in Week 15 … The Ravens waived rookie PK Steve Hauschka because he missed one too many. Veteran Billy Cundiff is the replacement.
Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.
John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy. You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37).