Ranking the Week 11 defensive matchups
The DST position isn’t all that important in Fantasy generally speaking, but you throw in that the NFL has done a pretty good job getting rid of kickoff returns and you have even lessened its value. Kickoff returns are few and far between, as most teams just elect to take the touchback and thus take the ball at the 25-yard line. I mean, when was the last time we had a kickoff return for a TD? This is just another reason not to really fret about this decision on gameday.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against New Orleans): The secondary for the Eagles had issues before the injuries started to pile up. All of your regulars start here. The question is, do you start Tre’Quan Smith? I want to say yes, but after last week’s goose egg, that’s a huge risk. Brandon Marshall definitely doesn’t start.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Giants): The Giants may not be a good team, but they will be able to move the ball against a porous defense here. Eli Manning will once again make a solid streaming QB should you be looking for a replacement for Tom Brady this week. Sterling Shepard is a low-end WR3.
- Washington Redskins (against Houston): The Redskins gave up over 500 yards of offense last week to the Bucs. Yes, several turnovers in the red zone kept the Bucs to only 3 points, but you can’t rely on that week in and week out. I’m starting Demaryius Thomas and will give serious consideration to Keke Coutee should he be recovered from his hamstring injury, but would like to wait one more week for him. As for Lamar Miller, I’m not a big fan this week, as he comes in as a low-end RB2.
- New York Giants (against Tampa Bay): I’m surprised the Bucs are going back to Ryan Fitzpatrick here. You would think in a lost season they would want to give one more shot to Jameis Winston and find out if he does have a future with the team. Points should be scored in this game. DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin start here, and the aforementioned Fitzpatrick is once again a low-end QB1.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Rams): When was the last time we had a marquee game, possibly the best of the year, where we don’t expect much from either defense? The over/under is 64, and that may not be high enough. Josh Reynolds is a questionable start here, with his name coming up after Cooper Kupp’s ACL tear. Reynolds will take over for him but won’t have anywhere near the same impact and will likely be TD dependent. Still, he is a WR4/flex play in this game.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Tennessee): Marcus Mariota is healthy and playing well, and he is back to being a threat with both his arm and legs. That doesn’t make him an automatic QB1, but you shouldn’t be afraid to use him over a Matthew Stafford-type this week either. Derrick Henry is back in our good graces as well, not because of his yardage total, but because he’s become a valuable goal line runner, especially now that the Titans’ offense looks to have solved its earlier problems.
- Oakland Raiders (against Arizona): You were starting him anyway, but the Cardinals have finally figured out how to get David Johnson involved in the passing game. His involvement should also open up passing lanes for Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Yes, Kirk was a huge disappointment last week, but I’m willing to give him another shot here as a WR4.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Kansas City): The Rams have a well-known defense, but they haven’t been able to stop the run or the pass this season. All of your starters go here.
- Green Bay Packers (against Seattle): Russell Wilson has started running again the past two weeks, which Fantasy owners have been waiting for all season. The Seahawks seem to be trying to transition to a run-first team rather than one that relies on Wilson to do everything. Long-term, this is the smart thing for the franchise. In the short-term, it makes life hard for Fantasy owners, as Chris Carson will return this week. Mike Davis is also a solid back, and even rookie Rashaad Penny has finally started to look like an NFL player. I would have them ranked in that order, but none as anything more than a low-end RB2. As for the pass game, I would trust Tyler Lockett more than Doug Baldwin even though I will have Baldwin ranked slightly higher. Baldwin may get more targets, but Lockett is scoring TDs.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Atlanta): This is pretty much a playoff game for the Falcons after losing to the Browns last week. Dallas has a good but not great defense. The Falcons will be able to move the ball, especially at home. Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu will both be in my lineup, but unless you’re desperate, Ito Smith won’t be. Auston Hooper is a TE1.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Green Bay): To the delight of many, Aaron Jones has finally arrived and is a high-end RB2 versus a Seattle defense that has had their issues versus the run. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a solid WR2. As for Jimmy Graham, he’s still a solid TE, but is not having the kind of impact that we had expected.
- Detroit Lions (against Carolina): I’m not a big fan of Devin Funchess, but you probably have to keep running him out there each week. The same goes for Greg Olsen. They don’t have the speed to make electrifying plays and both will need a TD to be Fantasy relevant each week.
- New Orleans Saints (against Philadelphia): I was as surprised as anyone that Golden Tate only had 18 snaps last week. You would’ve thought two weeks would’ve been enough to get him involved in the offense. Well, the Eagles are likely to be trailing in this game and throwing the ball all over the field. I’m still starting Tate, but not with as much confidence as I would’ve thought, especially if they don’t use him in the slot. I prefer Josh Adams over all other Eagle RBs also, but he’s no more than a flex play.
- Chicago Bears (against Minnesota): If you have both Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, you’re starting Cook, but don’t release Murray. Let’s see if Cook makes it through an entire game first. Stefon Diggs should return in this game and back to your starting lineup.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Pittsburgh): The long national drama that is known as Le’Veon Bell is over; Bell won’t play this season. James Conner owners can rejoice assuming he recovers as expected from his concussion. Bell can be released in re-draft leagues.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Jacksonville): The successful return of Leonard Fournette last week has pushed both T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde to the bench for both the Jags and your Fantasy team. As for the receivers, it’s never easy figuring out which WR to start. Last week Donte Moncrief had the big game. Maybe it’s Keenan Cole this week. I still trust Dede Westbrook the most, but none as more than a WR3 or WR4.
- Carolina Panthers (against Detroit): Kerryon Johnson did have two goal-line rushing TDs last week, but both came after LeGarrette Blount wasn’t successful the first time. Blount actually hasn’t been all that good in those situations this season. I just don’t want you to get caught up in Johnson being the goal-line back now; this may have just been a one game thing. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are likely starters for me here, but Matthew Stafford is not, at least not as a QB1.
- Denver Broncos (against Chargers): It’s really just the obvious choices here: Melvin Gordon, Phillip Rivers and Keenan Allen. I’ll pass on Tyrell Williams this week.
- Tennessee Titans (against Indianapolis): The Titans have a better defense than given credit for, but they will be tested this week. The Colts have a top QB in Andrew Luck, solid RB in Marlon Mack, top WR in TY Hilton and two capable TEs in Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron, but that Titans defense may be able to keep each in check.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Cincinnati): I would be careful with the Bengals’ offense. They just don’t look the same without A.J. Green. Perhaps Tyler Boyd can’t handle the WR1 role. You’re still starting him, of course, but you may want to keep your expectations in check.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Dallas): Yes, the Cowboys scored 27 points on the road last week. Can we trust Dak Prescott to move this offense again? Probably not. Playing in Atlanta lately has been the beginning of the end for the Cowboys the past couple of seasons and will likely be again this year. It’s just Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper that start here.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Baltimore): As of this writing we don’t know who will start at QB for the Ravens on Sunday. It could be Joe Flacco (hip), Robert Griffin or Lamar Jackson. It’s not like we were in love with any of the WRs anyway, but if Flacco doesn’t start, they would each take a hit and likely be nothing more than a risky flex play. As for the run game, Alex Collins is still a low-end RB2.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Chicago): Do you realize that the Bears have the sixth-best offense in the NFL this season, likely Top 5 after this week? Strange when you consider it’s hard to trust anyone. I don’t like Jordan Howard this week but I’m in on Tarik Cohen. I don’t see Allen Robinson having another big game, but I’ll start Trey Burton.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Denver): Royce Freeman is likely to return this week, which could mean Devontae Booker returns to the bench. Freeman would still be no more than a Flex play. Phillip Lindsay seems to have cemented his role as the team’s leading ball carrier, or at least has a share of the job. Emmanuel Sanders starts here, but Courtland Sutton could be a sit should you have better options.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Oakland): Who can you trust on the Raiders? That answer would be “no one.” The Cardinals will make an interesting DST streamer this week as will any defense playing the Raiders for the ROS. I can see starting Doug Martin or Jalen Richard in PPR leagues, but that’s it.
- Houston Texans (against Washington): Washington only put up 16 points against a bad defense last week; I doubt they do much against a good defense coming off a bye this week. You probably have to start Adrian Peterson, but I wouldn’t expect much.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.