My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week 11:
1) Tom Brady, New England @ Philadelphia
Brady is coming off of the Patriots bye week and the team’s first loss of the season the week prior. He’s going up against a team with the fourth best rush defense, but a middle of the pack pass defense. The Eagles allow roughly 240 passing yards per game and have allowed double touchdowns to interceptions this season. Brady does have one interception in five of nine games this season, something that’s uncharatistic, but has exceeded the 240-yard passing mark in eight of nine games. With Philadelphia allowing minimal yards on the ground per game, New England will have to turn to the air. I expect Brady to have three TDs and one pick.
2) Drew Brees, New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
The Saints are coming off of one of the biggest upsets of the season: a home loss to the one-win Atlanta Falcons. He had no TDs and under 300 yards for the first time in all completed games this season. However, this week he’s going up against a team with the worst-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Tampa Bay just allowed Cardinals’ wide receiver Christian Kirk to come alive, allowing three TDs and nearly 200 yards. Imagine what a guy like Brees can do to the Buccaneers with a guy like Michael Thomas. Last week was a freak game and the Saints know how important clinching a first-round bye will be in the playoffs with a tight NFC race. They won’t lose to a bad team twice in a row.
3) Derek Carr, Oakland vs Cincinnati
The Bengals only have three takeaways through the air this season. Though they have a respectable 14 allowed passing scores, their 12 rushing scores shows the weakness in the defense. While running back Josh Jacobs (and possibly a pop-in from Jalen Richard) will likely take away at least one score, I think this could be a game the Raiders try and work their receivers. We just saw Ravens’ tight end Mark Andrews catch two TDs, so Darren Waller should have a bounce-back game. WR Tyrell Williams has also been quiet, but I could see a lot of work going to guys like Hunter Renfrow and maybe even Zay Jones who has climbed up to the No. 3 WR slot.
1) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia vs New England
While the Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for a home matchup with a cross-conference powerhouse, they now don’t have WR DeSean Jackson and likely won’t have No. 1 WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle). Bad news is, New England is coming off its bye too. Furthermore, Philadelphia re-signed WR Jordan Matthews during its bye week and now have him and Nelson Agholor leading the receiving core with who knows who else. This looks like a game moreso for Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Sanders could fill in for the No. 3 WR role as a pass-catching back, but the Patriots have been exposed by the run. I expect Howard to continue to see his expanded role like he did two weeks prior to the bye.
2) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota vs Denver
Denver has the fourth-best pass defense in the league, allowing approximately 200 passing yards per game. While Cousins has hovered around that total for the past three weeks, he has also been struggling to connect with his receivers. While it doesn’t help that top wideout Adam Thielen is out, his inconsistencies with Stefon Diggs has opened the door moreso for RB Dalvin Cook. While Cousins’ TDs have picked up since the season has gone on, I expect him to have more trouble against Denver’s secondary this week.
3) Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Rudolph has just two TDs over the past two weeks and hasn’t eclipsed 250 yards in the same span. In fact, his highest yardage totals of the season came against Miami three weeks ago where he passed for 251 yards. Although the Browns have underperformed, the Steelers are being carried by their defense in recent weeks; not their offense. Pittsburgh will also most likely get RB James Conner back and Conner has had the best games of his career against Cleveland, including a 147-yard performance last year. While his presence will help Rudolph’s drop-backs, his receivers won’t.
Sleeper: Dak Prescott, Dallas @ Detroit
We saw last week how the Lions struggled without Matthew Stafford. Even though Dallas is leading the division because of the poor strength of its division, Prescott could do better in this matchup simply because Detroit’s offense is in shambles. Stafford will likely miss more time, RB Kerryon Johnson has been on IR and RB Ty Johnson is in danger of missing the game. With QB Jeff Driskel leading the way without a clear RB, the Cowboys should be on offense often. The Lions have also allowed 19 TDs this season through the air compared to just three INTs. Averaging 272 yards given up per game, Prescott could do damage early even if the run game takes over in the second half.
Bust Alert: Kyler Murray, Arizona vs San Francisco
It worked for the Cardinals just two weeks ago when Murray had nearly 30 fantasy points and Arizona was able to utilize a successful ground game to counteract the best defense in the league. It had newly acquired Kenyan Drake running who had a fire under him for being fully unbelieved in by another coaching staff that traded him away from Miami. The 49ers were never able to game plan for the new combination, but now they can. Murray can throw the ball, but his specialty is running. Although San Francisco is 18th in rushing in the NFL, it still allows barely 100 yards per game and just four rushing scores. With the top pass defense in the league, even after the Seattle game this past week, I’ll be surprised if Murray has the same success.
1) James Conner, Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Conner is the RB start of the week in my opinion. He’s back in the starting lineup after missing two games to injury and is facing the team that has given him his career-high in rushing yards. In 2018 Conner had 147 yards against the Browns on the ground alone. He has fresh legs coming into the contest and Cleveland is right around that career-high in rushing yards allowed per game this season. It sits at 27th in the league with 135 YPG. The Browns are also seventh best in pass defense, although allowing a 4:1 TD:INT ratio. The Steelers are going to do their damage on the ground and they have one of the best backs in the NFL back to do it.
2) Brian Hill, Atlanta @ Carolina
Falcons’ starting RB Devonta Freeman is officially ruled out and this waiver wire or free agent pick up should go right in your starting lineup. Hill came in last week when Freeman exited early and had 20 carries for 61 yards and a 10-yard TD reception in relief. This week he’s going up against a Panthers team that allowed Packers RB Aaron Jones three TDs last week, as well as giving up 13 TDs to RBs in their last five games. Helllllllooo. That’s horrible. I normally don’t feel good going off of one game as a sample size but there are too many signs pointing in the right direction for this to be ignored.
3) Jordan Howard, Philadelphia vs New England
The Patriots cannot contain the run. In recent weeks they’ve allowed both Mark Ingram and Nick Chubb to run for more than 115 yards each. They’ve also allowed respectable rushing yards this season to guys on poor teams like Le’Veon Bell when he had more than 70. Howard should play despite a minor shoulder injury and he should be started with confidence. He’s averaging 21 carries in the last two weeks and is on a two-game TD scoring streak.
1) Sony Michel, New England @ Philadelphia
While Howard should soar in this matchup, Michel won’t. The Eagles have the fourth-best rush defense in the league and he just struggled against the Ravens who were right up there with the eighth best. Michel had just four rushes for 18 yards last game, while he watched James White succeed again and take away his rushing score. Rex Burkhead is also in the lineup creating even more of a spread out rushing game. Furthermore, only Ezekiel Elliott has more than 60 yards rushing against Philadelphia this season.
2) Kalen Ballage, Miami vs Buffalo
Ballage scored a few weeks ago against the Bills on the road but the situation was completely different for the Dolphins in that game. He had just three rushes for seven yards and the rushing score came on a designed red zone play. However, Ballage was third on the depth chart then and in the short amount of time between these divisional games Kenyan Drake has been traded and Mark Walton has been suspended. Ballage also only has two yards per carry. While the Bills’ defense is struggling with the run as of late (and really defense as a whole) I still don’t like his struggles with carrying the ball. I was surprised Miami didn’t use Patrick Laird until the fourth quarter and only had Myles Gaskins touch the ball in the backfield once against the Colts last week when they were reported to all split time. That’s the only thing going for Ballage really in this matchup if the Dolphins do this again.
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3) Adrian Peterson, Washington vs New York Jets
This has nothing to do with Derrius Guice being activated. It has to do with Peterson being limited in practice on Wednesday, missing practice Thursday and going against the second best rushing defense in the NFL. Yes, the Jets have the second best rushing defense. I’m encouraged if Peterson plays in some capacity that he’d find the end zone, because New York has allowed 10 rushing TDs in nine games, it would counteract the 82 yards given up by the Jets on average on the ground. But it’s unlikely he’ll be 100-percent, so he won’t get close to the 82-yard mark.
Sleeper: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati @ Oakland
We can probably right off the team as a whole at this point, but Mixon has a chance to pick up his first rushing score of the season on the road. The Raiders have allowed a rushing score in their past five games and Mixon just had 151 yards against Baltimore. Those yards also didn’t all come in garbage time. Mixon also has six catches over the past two games, even with a QB switch as well as two passing scores in the last three weeks. Oakland also allows nearly 100 yards per game on the ground.
Bust Alert: Damien Williams, Kansas City vs Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City
Williams should shine against a team who struggles against the run and excels against the pass. However, this is a team with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and other viable passing options. In their matchups last season it heavily involved passing and back and forth contests. I think Williams will be given a bunch of opportunities on the ground, but may not have the stat line owners are hoping for. It’s important to note that Williams also had a costly fumble last week and didn’t find the end zone.
1) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay vs New Orleans
This is a revenge game for Evans. In their first meeting this season Evans had his lowest target total of the season (3) and caught nothing. It helped that he was being covered by the Saints’ top corner, but just three tries to catch a ball? Come on. Evans has had games with 12, 15, 16 and 17 targets this year, as well as a game with three TDs. I don’t expect Evans to have that monster of a game, but history is not going to repeat itself.
2) Jamison Crowder, New York Jets @ Washington
This is a revenge game for Crowder. Crowder is returning to Washington for the first time after signing with the Jets in the offseason. He has 13 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets in his last two games with a struggling New York team. Both teams are in the bottom of the league with three combined wins, but the Jets seem to have it together a lot more than the Redskins. Although Washington has kept games low scoring recently, I like QB Sam Darnold as a sleeper and I think he can utilize Crowder who’s familiar with the way the Redskins operate.
3) D.J. Moore, Carolina vs Atlanta
This is a revenge…no I’m just kidding. The theme only goes on so long.
Moore is coming off of back-to-back 100-yard games and facing a Falcons defense who have been notorious this season for being unable to stop the pass. Before you bring up last weekend’s Saints game, no one understands how that happened and no one will. Atlanta only has two INTs to its 19 passing scores this season and Moore is the best passing option in this game for the Panthers. I think he makes this his third 100-yard game in a row.
1) Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia vs New England
Alshon Jeffery has been ruled out and DeSean Jackson is on IR so Agholor will enter the game as the No. 1 WR. But he won’t play like one by any means. For a majority of his time in the NFL he has been anything but spectacular and he’s facing a stout pass defense. He has just nine catches in the last three games for 52 yards. With the Patriots only allowing 150 yards through the air on average, there’s no way Agholor has a third of those with the way he’s playing.
2) Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Cleveland vs Pittsburgh
I expect this to be a low scoring game, and even if Cleveland gets down early I think it’ll factor in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as much as possible. Beckham Jr. hasn’t caught more than five passes since week six and has more than 60 yards just once in that span. Landry has been better of the two as of late with his TDs, but the yardage is still left to be desired. He’ll likely need a TD to be fantasy relevant.
3) Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, Arizona @ San Francisco
Last week was the last week you should feel comfortable starting these guys for a while. They combined for six catches for 46 yards just two weeks ago at home against the 49ers and San Francisco is coming off a vengeful first loss of the season. While I don’t think David Johnson and Kenyan Drake will run for as much as Drake did in the last meeting, I don’t think this will be a 28-25 close game again. Kirk had a big game last week because of going against the worst ranked pass defense in the NFL, but prior to that he was basically droppable.
Sleeper: Marquise Brown, Baltimore vs Houston
Brown scored in another high-scoring game for the Ravens last week against the last-place Bengals. It’s not surprising that when Baltimore puts up a lot of points he’s involved in some way. He crushed Miami for two TDs and 147 yards in week one and put up his first score since week five last week along with 80 yards. The Texans allow the fourth most points to receivers and this should be a back and forth game. While TE Mark Andrews is the favorite air target I think Brown finds the end zone.
Bust Alert: Tyrell Williams, Oakland vs Cincinnati
Oh the Bengals are coming to town, every offensive guy is going to have a relevant fantasy day! I’m not so sure. Williams is on a huge lapse after being the only WR to score in every game he played in until week nine. He did have two games under 40 yards in that span and in his last two games he has just 73 yards combined. Oakland is trying out a bunch of guys they’ve been grooming this year like Hunter Renfrow and still using Darren Waller.
1) Mark Andrews, Baltimore vs Houston
I have to go with Andrews this week. This is another game plan where running the ball will work for Baltimore, but it won’t be forced too in order to win. Andrews is the No. 1 air target for the Ravens and he’s coming off a two-TD game when Baltimore didn’t have to rely on running the ball to win.
2) Greg Olsen, Carolina vs Atlanta
Olsen has 16 targets in the last two games, including 10 last week for 98 yards. Last week was the first time in five weeks that the Falcons didn’t allow a score to the opposing TE (and it was Jared Cook so that could’ve been expected). However, it looks like QB Kyle Allen likes using Olsen and the two have been on the same page. With an impending high scoring game, I like that Olsen should be used a lot.
3) Jason Witten, Dallas @ Detroit
I know my articles are focused for non-PPR, but I think Witten is a great PPR candidate this week. Detroit has allowed a TE TD in the past four games and I think that positions Witten up well for his third TD of the year. He’s getting a decent amount of catches so if he pops into the end zone he could be a top-10 TE this week. This is more of a gamble call, but I have a feeling.
1) Mike Gesicki, Miami vs Buffalo
I had hope for him after his huge game against the Jets two weeks ago but he looked horrendous last week in Indianapolis. He fumbled when he was barely touched and had just 28 yards on three catches. Gesicki only caught four passes against the Bills the first time this season and has no TDs on the year. Buffalo’s defense is trending downwards, but the Dolphins have too many offensive problems.
2) T.J. Hockenson, Detroit vs Dallas
QB Matthew Stafford is out again and Hockenson hasn’t had much success since opening weekend. He also only has two TDs this season and none since week week four. He still only finished with 8.7 fantasy points in that game. Jeff Driskel did better than I expected in place of Stafford, but without a run game he has been under a lot of pressure. Driskel isn’t Stafford and the Cowboys should win easily.
3) Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota vs Denver
Rudolph has three TDs in the last two games and everyone snatched him up off waivers. But why? He needs a TD to be relevant and needing to trust someone like that has bad fantasy managing written all over it. Without his two scores, he had three catches for less than 10 yards. Denver has a stingy defense and I don’t like the matchup.
Sleeper: Jared Cook, New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
Cook had 74 yards on 10 targets last week against Atlanta and Tampa Bay allows the second-most points to TEs. This game likely has “shootout” written all over it and Cook has a favorable matchup.
Bust Alert: Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams vs Chicago
WR Brandin Cooks is out again and while he’s been doing well filling in I think this will be a low scoring game. Something is clearly off with Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky, but something is off with Rams QB Jared Goff too. Chicago’s defense hasn’t been stellar like last year but I think this will be a let down of a Sunday Night Football game.