Before I get into what I garnered from week eleven in the NFL, I want to give some recognition to St. John Fisher Cardinals football. St. John Fisher College has hosted the Buffalo Bills training camp every year since 2000. It is the current college of yours truly, where I was a member of the athletics department in sports information for a few years as an undergrad. Thus, I have some investment in the program. The Cardinals were one of five teams to receive an at-large bid into the 2013 NCAA Division III Football Championship. With an 8-2 record, they hit the road for the first round to take on the 9-1 John Carroll Blue Streaks at Don Shula Stadium. Yes, John Carroll stadium is named after that Don Shula and have graduates like veteran linebacker London Fletcher. The last time the Cardinals made the playoffs (I know playoffs in college football … crazy stuff) that were an at-large team that made some hay and stormed to the quarterfinals before bowing out to St. Thomas. There’s something so awesome about watching a Division III football game, especially one at a perennial power program like Fisher. Hopes are high out here in Western New York for another great run and I would like to wish them luck in their quest for the title.
Now, we move on and look at the storylines from week eleven in the NFL. It was a week that saw the Kansas City Chiefs put up a good fight against the Denver Broncos before falling for the first time on the season. It was also a week where the Houston Texans seemed to hit rock bottom by losing at home to the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets lost in order to keep their trend of alternating wins and losses each week they play, and the Jacksonville Jaguars returned to normalcy by losing once again.
Week eleven meant a chance to cement your team as playoff team or one that may just play spoiler down the stretch. Also, another week of fantasy football means another week of hits and misses from this column. The hits: Santonio Holmes, Ray Rice, Jerricho Cotchery, Rashad Jennings, Rishard Matthews, Andre Brown, John Carlson, and Matt Prater. The rest are classified as misses.
Remember: This column is not designed to spotlight the top options at each position. If you are looking for advice on start/sit options or top players at a specific position, check out our rankings and other columns throughout the week. This is going to be a weekly spotlight of one player from each game this weekend that has a shot to be a nice flex or last starting option (a WR3 or RB3 for example). Will they all produce a large number of points? No. These are nice lottery tickets to fill in on your team and give you a chance to steal the win.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Chris Ogbonnaya (Cleveland Browns) – Based on last week and the word out of Cleveland, Ogbonnaya has past Willis McGahee as the starting back for the Browns. He had a nice all-around day against the Bengals this past Sunday with eight carries for 69 rushing yards and six catches on 12 targets for 30 receiving yards. A running back getting 12 targets is certainly a flex play if not a RB2 play in all PPR leagues. While this type of attention on passing plays is most likely not going to continue, I still like the potential of Ogbonnaya going forward. I see him as a nice flex play in PPR leagues and a spot starter in standard scoring systems. He gets a shaky Steelers defense at home, a unit where he could have a solid overall day. Ogbonnaya gets nine carries for 55 yards and four catches for 30 yards and a possible score thrown into the mix.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions
Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Very quietly, Mike Glennon has been putting up solid QB2 point totals week in and week out. Yes, this is a run heavy team and Glennon is a game manager of sorts. But, he has a great matchup in the Detroit Lions this Sunday. The Lions are a top five defense against the run and are a bottom of the league defense against the pass. So, as the running game of the Bucs struggles and they fall behind the Lions’ explosive offense, Tampa will have to lean on the passing game to maintain contact with their opponents. So, sounds like a nice day for Glennon is ahead and he makes a great spot starter with the four teams on a bye this week. Glennon gets 250 yards and two scores on his afternoon.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
John Carlson (Minnesota Vikings) – Carlson has emerged as the number one target in the Minnesota passing game, especially with Christian Ponder under center. He added another five catches for 69 yards in Seattle last Sunday and I would not expect him to slow down his production until the return of Kyle Rudolph from his injury. Carlson is a legit TE1 (top five tight end) in the time being, someone that will get five to seven catches a game and score touchdowns in the red zone. He has shown this potential in the past and seems to have been reenergized with a return to the starting lineup in Minnesota. I would start him over Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas right now in PPR leagues. Carlson gets five catches for 70 yards and a score in Green Bay.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Ryan Succop (Kansas City Chiefs) – Succop gets the great opportunity to be on an offense that can move the ball down the field, but does not have the consistency to push the ball all the way for the touchdown. An unassuming week in Denver last Sunday night as expected for the kicker. But, now he gets a Chargers team that the Chiefs offense can move the ball on. The Chiefs will have a few drives that will stall out as usual and leave Succop a few field goals on the day.
Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams
Chris Givens (St. Louis Rams) – Yes, this may be a long shot going with Chris Givens, but I feel this may be the week he hits on one of his deep shots. The Bears are banged up on the defensive end and will have to spotlight Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin after their nice performances lately. This will open up Givens to some one-on-one coverage and he can use his great speed to take the top off of the defense. Givens gets three receptions for 65 yards.
Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins
Rishard Matthews (Miami Dolphins) – I have to go with Matthews again here after a nice follow-up to his breakout performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he got 11 receptions for 120 yards and two scores on 14 targets. Against the Chargers, he grabbed four receptions for 52 yards on six targets. Matthews took over the slot position from Brandon Gibson, who is out for the season. There is a slight dependence on the slot receiver in the Dolphins’ offensive attack, especially with the quick throws now needed as the offensive line is in shambles. He gets five catches for 50 yards and a score against the Panthers.
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
Santonio Holmes (New York Jets) – Holmes looked good in his return to the starting lineup last week against the Buffalo Bills. In the extremely windy conditions here in Western New York, he caught two of his eight targets for 71 yards, leading the team in targets and in yards. I think this is a precursor of what is to come for the rest of the season. Holmes can be a legit WR2 if Geno Smith finds a level of consistency from week to week. Holmes has the talent if he can just stay healthy. Against the Ravens, it will be tough matchup against an improving defense, but one that Holmes can still shine in. Let’s all remember that the Jets alternate wins and losses; thus this week is a win and a good performance from the offense. Holmes gets five receptions for 65 yards and a score.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Case Keenum (Houston Texans) – It’s the “I need to start this guy because he’s playing the Jaguars” play of the week. Keenum struggled against the Oakland Raiders at home last Sunday and was pulled for the also ineffective Matt Schaub. So, coming into this week, Keenum was named the starter once again. The great thing about Keenum is that he is a playmaker, someone that will buy time to make a strike down the field. Against the Jaguars, there are plenty of opportunities to strike for deep scores. The Jaguars seem very lost of the defensive end throughout the season and this will continue into this week. Keenum gets 250 yards and three scores.
Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans) – The former TE2 in San Francisco has emerged in the past few games as a viable receiving option for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has replaced Jake Locker as the starting quarterback. There seems to some sort of connection between the two players and this has led to three touchdowns in his last four games, including 10 catches last week. Walker has the physical abilities to be a matchup problem against opposing defenses. It has always been a question of translating that ability to production on the field. I think that working with the veteran quarterback has led to more opportunity and he will continue to benefit from this for the rest of the year. Walker gets five catches for 55 yards and a score against an Oakland team that has been burned by tight ends for touchdowns over recent games.
Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals defense – It’s all about the Bruce Arians effect in this game. The former Colts interim head coach knows how to shutdown the Colts’ offensive attack from his experience with the team last season. Combine that with the fact that the Cardinals have been dominant at home on the defensive end and that the Colts have been inconsistent on the offensive end in recent weeks, and you get my top defensive unit this week. They give up seven points and get three turnovers with four sacks.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Miles Austin (Dallas Cowboys) – Oh my goodness … Miles Austin is supposedly healthy!! That is what must be going through Tony Romo’s mind as the shock sets in after it is announced Austin is returning from injury. Austin can be a dangerous weapon in the Cowboys’ offense as long he is able to stay on the field. His constant injuries have limited any upside to having Austin on your fantasy roster in most leagues, unless you are in a deep league in terms of bench size or number of members. Hopefully the hamstring is healed up and ready to go as the Cowboys need him to spark an underperforming offense. Austin will most likely be eased into playing shape, but, if you are in desperate need of a receiver, I’d pick him up for a shot. Austin gets four catches for 45 yards and last through the entire game.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Montee Ball (Denver Broncos) – The truth is that there is not many under-the-radar options in this game. You are starting the normal options from both teams and, outside of them, there are not many guys to choose from. Ball came out of nowhere to get two scores against the Chiefs. Will Ball be the goal-line back going forward? Only time will tell. I think Knowshon Moreno will be involved in the goal-to-go situations as well. But, Ball could be a nice flex play if he gains a Mike Tolbert role in the Broncos offense (aka touchdown vulture). Ball gets seven carries for 25 yards and a score.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers) – How the great have fallen, eh? Kaepernick was supposed to be the new age quarterback that would change the game, but he has fallen way short of that this season. It just has been a struggle week in and week out to establish Kaepernick as a viable option in fantasy leagues. There is just no consistency in the offense for the 49ers and the passing game is in total shambles as they cannot stretch the field at all. So, why is he in here this week if everything is pointing to the fact he should not be started in fantasy leagues? Well, the Washington Redskins is the reason. This is the defense that made Christian Ponder and Josh McCown look like Pro Bowlers. This is kinda like the Ray Rice reasoning from a week ago. If Kaepernick cannot produce against the Redskins, he is in major trouble for the rest of the season. Kaepernick gets 200 yards passing and two scores with 40 yards rushing and a score.
As you head out into the rest of week twelve in the NFL, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. This is all about filling that last flex spot in your starting lineup with a guy that has a good matchup or a solid chance of production. These guys are my best options for that to occur. I wish everyone luck in their twelfth week of the season and hope your team finishes the stretch run of the season with a dominating performance.