After taking a week off due to the holiday, your favorite fantasy football advisor returns. Think if it like Jordan’s comeback to the NBA…and I mean the first one at the end of the ’94-’95 season when he came back with the Bulls and he was so great it was like he never skipped a beat…not the crappy Jordan comeback we saw in the new millennium with the Wizards when he was a shell of himself. I’m still pretending that didn’t happen. “Jordan only played for the Bulls, he never left Chicago, he retired after the game winner against the Jazz in the ’98 Finals.” That’s what I tell myself to get through the day. But I digress, on to the picks!
QB- Carson Palmer (Bengals): Palmer has been far from stellar over the past month (in his past four contests- two passing TDs, one INT, two fumbles, averaging under 180 passing yards per game). What’s most concerning is his most recent bad outing against the lowly Browns (110 yards, one TD). Well luckily for the former USC star, he has a chance at redemption this week as he faces not just another terrible pass defense, but the worst pass defense this fine league has to offer. The Detroit Lions defense not only allows a league worst 281.4 passing yards per game, and the fact that they have intercepted the lowest passes in the NFL (six) isn’t the whole story either, but Detroit has also allowed a league worst 27 TD passes. That’s the holy trinity of pass defense crappiness. Come on Carson, redemption is knocking at your door.
QB- Alex Smith (49ers): The Seattle Seahawks pass defense has been very bad (25th in the league) all season and Smith has been very good in recent weeks (229.5 passing yards per game, five TDs, one INT in his past two contests). Sometimes this stuff isn’t as hard as it seems. Smith may not be a trendy play with all the bye weeks out of the way, but I’m banking on him being a top-10 fantasy QB this week. I would much rather roll with him than suspect characters like Kurt Warner/Ben Roethlisberger (both recovering from concussions) or Jay Cutler (wow, where did the guy from Denver go?). I think if you trust in Smith this week, your faith will be rewarded.
RB- Knowshon Moreno (Broncos): Moreno has really played well lately, rushing for a total of 265 yards in his last three games and averaging over seven yards per carry. The terrible Chiefs will try to slow him down this week, but that doesn’t seem likely considering that Kansas City ranks 27th in the NFL in run defense. The Chiefs have also allowed 11 rushing TDs this season, so that should help to fix Moreno’s recent struggles in finding the end zone. I think the rookie RB from Georgia reaches the 100-yard plateau for the first time in his young professional career and adds a touchdown or two to boot.
RB- Matt Forte (Bears): I’m not sure who wants this NFL season to be over more, Forte or his QB Jay Cutler. Forte has been awful this year, and I mean truly terrible. His 3.3 YPC leaves him outside of the top 50 in that category and he isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with his three rushing TDs. But it’s even worse when you look at the only two productive games that Forte has had. He rushed for 121 yards and a TD against Detroit and 90 yards and two TDs against Cleveland. Besides those two performances against God-awful teams, Forte has zero TDs, failed to reach 70 rushing yards in any game, has five games with a YPC average under 2.5, and his longest rush is of 16 yards. Luckily for Forte, he has St. Louis 28th-ranked run defense this week, so that D should be bad enough for him to produce a good line. I know it’s hard to trust him, but Forte is a good play this week.
WR- Jeremy Maclin (Eagles): With DeSean Jackson likely out of Sunday’s tilt with the Falcons, Maclin becomes a must start player. The first round pick out of Missouri has done better in his past three, surpassing 60 receiving yards in each, but he could do so much more as the focal point of the passing attack. Atlanta ranks 22nd in pass defense and they’ve given up 18 passing TDs this season, so the matchup is a juicy one for Maclin as well. Check back later in the week to be sure Jackson is out, and if he is then Maclin should produce like a top-10 wide receiver.
WR- Vincent Jackson (Chargers): Seven catches, 93 yards, 0 TDs. Those are Jackson’s numbers in his past three games…combined. To put it simply, the big San Diego wideout has been absolutely terrible in that span. With the fantasy playoffs fast approaching, owners want a sign from their players to give them confidence when they insert them into their lineups. Fortunately Jackson should be able to make his fantasy owners more comfortable as the Browns are set to play the red hot Chargers this week. Cleveland has allowed 16 passing TDs this year and their pass defense ranks 24th as a whole. I think a 100 yard performance capped off with a TD is on slate for Jackson in this one.
TE- Heath Miller (Steelers): Miller is coming off a one catch, two yard performance, but he is much better than those numbers suggest. With starting QB Ben Roethlisberger expected to be back at the helm, Miller should return to solid numbers. When you add the fact that Pittsburgh faces the Raiders this week and that they will probably try to keep it simple for Big Ben in his first game back from a concussion, I expect a lot of quick throws and check downs to the TE. Thus, Miller should have a big day.
K- Shayne Graham (Bengals): I love the Cincinnati offense to explode this week against Detroit, and of course if there are points going up on the scoreboard then the kicker will get involved and have chances, thus I like Graham a lot this week.
DEF- Buffalo Bills: The last time the Bills faced the Jets, New York QB Mark Sanchez was sacked twice and threw five INTs. Need I say more?
QB- Eli Manning (Giants): Manning has been up and down the past four weeks (six TDs, four INTs, three fumbles – only one lost), and it is unclear how much his foot injury is affecting his play. This week’s matchup looks good at first glance: a home game against the 21st-ranked pass defense and a team in which Manning threw for 330 yards against earlier this season. However, the Cowboys defense has been very stifling for more than a month now, not giving up 20 points in five straight games and allowing just five passing touchdowns in that span. With Manning battling injuries and facing a hot defense, he isn’t a reliable play this week.
QB- Vince Young (Titans): Young has started the past five games and Tennessee has won all of those contests to move to 5-6 and put them within shouting distance of the playoffs. More importantly for fantasy purposes, the 26-year-old QB has shown to be a very valuable commodity as he has three straight weeks with at least 15 fantasy points and is coming fresh off a game in which he threw for 387 yards. Having said that, the chances that Young continues his great fantasy run this week looks bleak with the Colts on the schedule. Indianapolis allows the second fewest points in the NFL (16.7 points per game allowed) and they have given up just nine passing touchdowns all season. Young’s fantasy hot streak stops here.
RB- Tim Hightower (Cardinals): Hightower is the 18th RB in fantasy points this season, meaning that he is usually a solid RB2 play. But Hightower hasn’t had more than 15 rushes in a game all season, and this week he will face the Vikings and the Williams’ wall in the middle that has a reputation for being superb in stuffing the run. Minnesota’s run D has lived up to that reputation this season, ranking second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (81.6) and they have allowed a miniscule three rushing TDs on the year. Couple that with the fact that Hightower splits carries with rookie RB Beanie Wells and that Hightower’s receiving numbers have dropped off considerably in recent weeks, and I wouldn’t even consider putting him in my lineup this week.
RB- Jamal Charles (Chiefs): The second year back out of Texas has been superb in his past three outings and the Kansas City rushing attack seems better off now that former RB Larry Johnson is gone. Charles has a touchdown in each of his past three games and has posted at least 12 fantasy points in each of those games as well. His matchup this week looks solid on the surface, as the Broncos defense that will oppose him is middle of the pack when it comes to defending the run (16th). But when one looks deeper, they see that Denver allows just 3.9 YPC and has given up only six rushing TDs all season. That doesn’t bode well for Charles to continue his good run of outings.
WR – Marques Colston (Saints): Yes Colston is very good and he is the top wideout on the top passing attack in the league, but his Saints will take on the league’s top pass defense this week when they travel to Fed Ex Field to face the Washington Redskins. Washington allows 170.4 passing yards per game and has only surrendered 11 passing TDs all season. Not only that, but this Redskins team of the past three weeks or so has been playing much better than their 3-8 record. New Orleans should still win, but with a strong pass defense opposing Colston and QB Drew Brees, I think it is going to be a lot more of the ground attack for the Saints in this one.
WR- Roddy White (Falcons): White will face the NFL’s ninth ranked pass defense in the form of Philadelphia and the Falcons top wideout will also be without his young star QB Matt Ryan who has been ruled out of this game due to turf toe. I know backup QB Chris Redman led the Falcons to victory last week after Ryan left with the injury, but come on, the opponent was Tampa Bay. And more to that point, its Chris Redman! The Eagles will prove to be a much tougher task and White will not be pleased to see CB Asante Samuel locked up with him all day. This has quiet day written all over it.
WR- Terrell Owens (Bills): In recent weeks the TO show has looked like the glory days of past years (TDs in consecutive weeks and over 85 receiving yards in his past three). But take the reemergence of the future Hall of Famer with a grain of salt. Those games were against Miami (23rd ranked pass defense), Jacksonville (26th ranked pass defense) and Tennessee (31st ranked pass defense), so it’s not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to defensive talent. This week will be a much different story, as Owens will have to face the highly regarded Jets CB Darrelle Revis. I have written about Revis many a time in this column and he has a nasty little habit of shutting down the opposing teams top receiver. It would be wise to sit Owens this week, and if you decide to start him anyway, you will be cursing Revis’ name come Thursday night around 11:30 p.m. or so.
TE- Zach Miller (Raiders): Miller has been good in three of his past four games and it is clear that the young QB Gradkowski has a good report with the talented TE. But I don’t trust Gradkowski or the Oakland offense facing a staunch Steelers defense in a game that Pittsburgh needs to win. I think everyone on the Raiders side of the ball has a very quiet day, and that includes Miller.
K- John Carney (Saints): Carney is the exception to the rule of “great offense, great kicker.” Despite how good the New Orleans offense has been, Carney and the kicking game have failed to produce. Carney is just 13/17 on field goals this year and he has missed three from the 30-39 yard range. With a good Redskins defense opposing the Saints this week, I think Carney gets even fewer chances than usual and has a less then stellar outing.
DEF- New England Patriots: For a defense that was ranked so highly in so many statistical categories, the New England defense sure is bad. They have been struggling mightily of late and the Patriots haven’t faired well in Miami in recent years either. Even though the Dolphins offense they face this week is far from explosive, the Pats D just can’t be trusted right now.
QB- Vince Young (Titans)
RB- Justin Forsett (Seahawks)
RB- Rock Cartwright (Redskins)
WR- Mohamed Massaquoi (Browns)
WR- Robert Meacham (Saints)
K- Robbie Gould (Bears)
DEF- Carolina Panthers
Week 11 Results: 12-5
Overall Record: 93-76-1
NFL Games of the Week:
Tennessee Titans (5-6) vs. Indianapolis Colts (11-0) (Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS)
Dallas Cowboys (8-3) vs. New York Giants (6-5) (Sunday at 4:15 p.m. on FOX)
Minnesota Vikings (10-1) vs. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) (Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC)