Week eleven proved to be an interesting one for fantasy football. This is the type of week that can really mix up the playoff race. Teams, who are performing poorly in the second half of the season, could have won the week with players from the waiver wire. Teams with losing records are still very important in fantasy football. Even if a team has no shot of making the playoffs at this point in the season, they can still determine who is going to the playoffs. Remember, anyone can win on any given week. If you have one of the top teams in your league, you should not write off the games against the league’s worst as wins. If you are at the bottom of the league, keep on playing. Just because you cannot win this season, does not mean you should give up. This is the point in the season where you can gain the most knowledge going into next year’s draft. Keep evaluating talent and, even if this season is a wash, you still should look ahead to the next year. After all, nobody wants to go through two losing years in a row.
Ben Roethlisberger silenced his critics in week eleven. Going into the matchup against the Lions, there was a lot of talk about whether or not the Steelers should attempt to trade the two-time Super Bowl champ. Big Ben’s 367 passing yards and four touchdown passes should end that discussion quickly. Fantasy owners had given up on the Steelers’ quarterback. In most leagues he was drafted as a backup, but his poor play quickly earned him a spot in free agency. The Steelers are rolling now and Big Ben has been a great fantasy option in the past couple of weeks. He is not a player who starts off the season well, but he is one of fantasy football’s best insurance policies at the quarterback position in the latter half of the season. This is the point in the season where some owners need to reach out for a quarterback and Roethlisberger definitely responded to those owners’ call this week. Next week the Steelers are on the road in Cleveland to play the Browns who have been one of the best defensive units this season. Roethlisberger should have a decent game, but if it is possible try to start somebody with an easier matchup.
One thing we have learned this season is the Bucs can run the football. Bobby Rainey turned out to be the best running back option of week eleven. Rainey was seen as a decent flex option for the week with both Doug Martin and Mike James injured; however, he was still going to have to compete for touches with Brian Leonard. At least that is what everyone thought. The Bucs ran Rainey like a mad man, handing him the ball 30 times. He ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns and added a third score on a short pass in the redzone. Next week, Rainey will be facing Detroit’s fifth ranked rushing defense. He is still a good start next week. He will once again be handed the ball between 25 and 30 times. Any time any running back touches the ball that many times, big things are sure to happen.
Calvin Johnson had a huge first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He caught six passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns before the Lions even headed to the locker room for the first time. Unfortunately, Johnson was shut out in the second half. The Steelers made some good adjustments at half time and Johnson did not lay a finger on the ball the rest of the game. By this point, the damage had already been done. Fantasy owners’ got more production in two quarters out of Johnson than any other receiver did in four. Next week, the Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It looks like Johnson is primed for another huge first half… and second half.
Does anybody wonder if the 49ers miss Delanie Walker? Walker probably did not make them feel too good about trading him when he burned the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. Walker caught ten passes for 91 yards and scored a touchdown in the game. In standard scoring formats, Graham Garrett of the Houston Texans would have been the top scoring tight end in fantasy football. Delanie Walker was more valuable in point-per reception leagues than the Texans’ tight end. Also, nobody would have started Garrett, regardless of scoring format. Walker has been a solid option at the tight end position for fantasy owners all season long. He will continue to put up good stats for the remainder of the season. He should be trusted to be a huge part of the Titans game plan in week twelve against the Raiders who have struggled against the pass this season.
Adam Vinatieri puts the “still kickin’” in the phrase “over 40 and still kickin’”. He may not be the top fantasy kicker in the game like he used to be, but he is still a very valuable guy to have. Last week he made all three of his field goal attempts, including one 50 yarder and knocked three extra point attempts through the uprights. Vinatieri should be trusted to get the job done week in and week out for fantasy owners. He normally will not be the best kicker of the week, but he will never fail you. Next week he faces the Raiders. He will have his chance to defend his title as long as Andrew Luck and the Colt offense comes out to play football.
With all the hype about the Seahawks and Chiefs as the most dominant defenses in fantasy football, one team has really gone under the radar. This team is the Cincinnati Bengals. Their defense is loaded with talent and can burn opposing offenses as well as fantasy opponents. This week, the Bengals’ defense lit up the stats sheet with four sacks, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery. They only let up a mere 14 points, but scored two touchdowns themselves. The Bengals are proving to be one of the few defensive unit fantasy owners can trust every week. Next week, Bengals defense owners will need to grab a team off the waiver wire to start, but do not drop Cincinnati for any reason. It is only one week before they return from their bye.
In his first NFL start, Matthew McGloin was masterful. The Penn State product burned the Texans’ defense for 197 passing yards and three touchdowns. He was starting in the place of the injured Raiders’ quarterback Terrell Pryor. If you are planning on throwing McGloin in your lineup next week you must watch Pryor’s progress. If Pryor is able to start, the Raiders will probably start him. If you start McGloin, you will just end up with a giant goose egg. However, the Pryor is unable to play in week twelve, McGloin will start. The question then becomes should you start him in your fantasy lineup. Whenever a quarterback plays for the first time, defensive coordinators are unsure what to do to stop him. Now there is game film on McGloin. The Titans will diagnose this game film and try to figure out the best way to expose McGloin’s weaknesses. More than likely, they will figure out how to stop him. He is not a good option for week twelve.
Bobby Rainey was not expected to see the bulk of the carries against the Atlanta Falcons. He was expected to be used as a change of pace back. It was only advised to use him as a flex starter. Rainey came out of nowhere to post the most fantasy points by any running back in week eleven. He should now be seen as a strong option to start as a second running back or flex player for the rest of the season.
A.J. Green was on fire up until this past weekend. He had a string of four consecutive 100 plus yard games and was leading the NFL in receiving yards. Week eleven ended both of these for him. Green only caught two passes and only gained seven yards the whole day. This is the type of performance that leaves fantasy owners in tears. Hopefully, the bye week proves useful for Green and he can come back and perform the way he was before this miserable outing. More than likely, this was just a speed bump. He should continue to be one of the best wide receivers in the game once the Bengals return to the field in week thirteen.
Ray Rice is the only player so far this season to have won this award a second time. That is not really a good thing. This means he performed poorly and had a good week, and followed it up with another string of poor performances. In week eleven, Rice had his best performance of the entire season running for 131 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for an additional 17 yards. It is unlikely he will be able to have a repeat performance against the New York Jets. The Jets field the best rushing defense in the league. The good news is, following this matchup, Rice will see more easy opponents. If he can have a good day this week against New York, he should be kept in the starting lineup for the rest of the season. If he does not, he might once again be forced to ride the bench in fantasy football.
As was mentioned in the opening statement, week eleven was a week where anybody could win solely off performances of waiver wire pickups. Bobby Rainey was the king of these types of players. His 167 total yards and three touchdown outing was one of the best performances of any running back for the entire season. He was worth a spot start, but now he is a guy who needs to be in the fantasy lineup every week. Rainey proves fantasy gold is out there in free agency, you just have to look for it and be brave enough to start them. The teams that take risks are the teams that win. Expect great things for this winner going forward.