There's a new leader atop the rankings, though it's anyone's game with seven weeks to play. Mark rode a big week from Sidney Rice to jump into first place, But Scott and Tony are close behind.
The last round of NFL bye weeks are upon us, but this Sunday and Monday you'll have to go without players on Minnesota, Seattle, Tennessee and the New York Giants.
That means no Percy Harvin (although he likely wouldn't have played this week), Sidney Rice, Chris Johnson or Eli Manning. Injuries are beginning to pile up late in the season, so these potential start-sit plays are becoming more crucial every week.
Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
5 points if a player scores 25+ points
5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 11. Good luck!
Last place to first place in one week after a nice run in Week 10, so I'll keep the same philosophy of riding players who performed well last week and who should carry that into favorable matchups in Week 11. However, I'm benching those players who were once must-starts, are still big names but aren't fantasy starters in their respective offenses.
Marcel Reese, RB -- OAK (vs. NO)
Imagine this: Reese has rushed for 48 yards combined the last two weeks, but has 24 combined fantasy points in that span. He's not going to give you much on run plays, but Reese has caught 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. And with Darren McFadden likely out for Week 11, Reese will be the workhorse in the Oakland backfield and looks to be a nice flex play against the Saints' defense.
Jeremy Maclin, WR -- PHI (@ WAS)
Maclin's been an extremely inconsistent and frustrating player to own this year, but it appears he may be on to something with Nick Foles starting at quarterback. Maclin had games of 3 and 2 points, before going off for 15 points last week against the Cowboys. I'm going to roll the dice on Maclin one more week, especially if Foles is looking for him like he was last week.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE -- DET (vs. GB)
Pettigrew found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 2, but that's not why I like him as a TE1 this week. The Packers' defense is dealing with a handful of key injuries, including Clay Matthews' hamstring which will keep him out Sunday. That means less blocking and chipping assignments for Pettigrew, and more routes downfield against a Packers' linebacking corps that has struggled against the pass and is missing three regular starters.
Michael Turner, RB -- ATL (vs. ARZ)
If it weren't already obvious, Turner is no longer a focal point of the Falcons' pass-first offense. True, he has rushed at least 11 times in every game this year, but behind Roddy White, Julio Jones and now Tony Gonzalez, Turner is no longer a viable option every week. And this week I believe that will continue, albeit against a shaky Cardinals' front seven. This may be beating a dead horse, but Atlanta is becoming one of the premier passing teams in the NFL, and that doesn't include The Burner.
Dwyane Bowe, WR -- KC (vs. CIN)
Bowe is the best option on the the worst offense in the league, which certainly has its benefits. Targets will come his way, he's always going to catch at least a few passes each week and may even find the end zone. But the Chiefs' offense is that bad. I don't feel safe starting any skill position player in Kansas City, even if it's against an average Bengals' secondary. Pass on Bowe this week, and yell at me if he goes off.
Mikel Leshoure, RB -- DET (vs. GB)
The Packers' run defense has had the top run defense in the NFL since Week 4, something defensive coordinator Dom Capers specifically mentioned. While running backs have found the end zone against the Packers in each of the last four weeks, it's going to be tough for Leshoure to find yards against a Packers' defense struggling against the pass. There are better RB2 and Flex options than Leshoure this week.
Last week didn't go so well for me. I don't want to talk about it. Bush was awful, Decker had his worst game of the season, Flacco went off (thought it helped lead me to a victory in one league) and Nicks looked resurgent. Just one of those weeks, I guess. Oh well. At least I was right with Palmer and Forte. I'm confident my picks will be quite a bit better this week. And yes, I'm going right back to Bush.
Tony Romo, QB -- DAL (vs. CLE)
My guy Romo has been a very solid fantasy quarterback over the past five weeks, scoring at least 14 points in every outing. The Cowboys are struggling to run the ball, so the entire offense runs through Romo's right arm. Cleveland has allowed multiple TD passes in five games this year and give up an average of 17 points a game to opposing QBs. Look for Romo to get 15+ in standard scoring.
Reggie Bush, RB -- MIA (@ BUF)
Let's try this again. the Dolphins got rolled last week at home against the lowly Titans and Bush received just four carries, thanks to a benching following a fumble. Don't worry about the benching, Bush is clearly the best back Miami has. He draws a cushy matchup this week in Buffalo, who has allowed 14 rushing TDs this season and has surrendered 200 or more rushing yards in three games this year.
Steve Smith, WR -- CAR (vs TB)
2012 has not been a year to remember for Steve Smith, with just one TD and four games in which he was held under 60 yards. That all crescendoed in being benched late in last week's game so Carolina could showcase other WRs. Don't be bothered by that. Smith will get back on the field this week, against a Tampa Bay secondary that is near the last in the league in nearly every category.
Josh Freeman, QB -- TB (@ CAR)
Freeman has been arguably the hottest fantasy QB of late, but he may run into a wall against Carolina this week. While he's tossed multiple TDs in five straight weeks (a total of 13 in that span), the Panthers have allowed multiple TDs through the air just once this season. Meanwhile, they've struggled to stop the run consistently, so Doug Martin figures to have the big day in the Bucs' offense this week.
Ryan Mathews, RB -- SD (@ DEN)
Mathews is dealing with a neck issue right now, but has struggled even when on the field this season, with zero 100-yard games and just one week above even 10 fantasy points. The Broncos defense has been phenomenal lately, allowing just 37 fantasy points to running backs over the last three games (Saints, Bengals, Panthers).
Andre Johnson, WR -- HOU (vs. JAC)
Andre Johnson is no longer a fantasy stud. There's no way around it. He's in the middle of the pack among WRs and no longer a must-start. Maybe it's the fact he has crossed that 30-year-old threshold. Maybe it's the fact Houston almost always has a lead, so they're focused more on running the ball. Whatever it is, don't start 'Dre this week. The Texans should be able to handle Jacksonville easily, leading to more ball-control offense. Plus, the Jags have surrendered just seven TDs to opposing WRs, and none since Week 8. Find another option.
Scott Krinch (Week 10: 15 points; Season total: 113)
Well with Mark back in the saddle, it looks like I'm going to have knock him off his high horse with my picks this week. Tony had been the fantasy workhorse, but he lost his saddle last week. Last weekend I started Ryan Fitzy and he went off against the Patriots which helped me big time. I'm done starting The "Jersey" LeShoure because he seems to have his worst games when I insert him into my lineup. Last week my BOLD PREDICTION was that Torrey Smith would catch a pass for over 65 yards
. His TD went for 47-yards, so I wasn't too far off. My prediction this week? Simple. I win because all I do is win, win, win...
You'll probably look at my picks this week and think "What the heck is this guy thinking?" But, I promise that there is a method behind my madness. And with that, I give you this week's choices. Start 'em:Sam Bradford, QB -- Rams (vs. NYJ)
Don't sleep on Sammy B. Don't you ever sleep on Sammy B. With Danny Amendizzle back in fold, Bradford's numbers should continue to increase. The Jets have been shutting down No. 1 receivers as of late, but the team is in shambles right now and Bradford should have a field day on their secondary. After Karlie Kross' gentleman-friend tears apart the Jets, Rex Ryan will be one step-further out the door in New York. LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB -- Cardinals (@ ATL)
Why am I starting LRSH this week? Because, that's why. But really, he's the feature back in Arizona's offense right now, mainly because he's all they've got with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells on the IR. Atlanta has the 25th-ranked run defense in the league and all it takes is one big run from the speedster to reach his fantasy value. People think this game will be a shootout, but Arizona's defense is no slouch. I see it being close for the most part and the Cardinals will need to feed Stephens-Howling the rock to stay in the game. You'll be happy if you keep him in your lineup. Jordy Nelson, WR -- Packers (@ DET)
I know he's listed as questionable, but Mark (who's a Packers fan) tells me Jordy will play this week. I trust you Mark. A healthy Nelson should give your fantasy team a healthy point total on Sunday. The last two indoor games for Nelson, he's accumulated 243 yards and four touchdowns. What happened the last time he played the Lions? Nine catches for 162 yards and three scores. This game has all the makings of an old-fashioned Texas shootout. Last team with the ball will win this game and Nelson's owners should get their popcorn ready, sit back and enjoy the show. Sit 'em:Philip Rivers, QB -- Chargers (@ DEN)
Will Rivers get revenge against the Chargers? I think not. Last time he faced them, the Broncos forced six turnovers. Filippo has only reached the 20-point mark once in Fantasy since Week 2. I have no optimism for him this week and it would be beneficial to you if you take him out of your lineup IMMEDIATELY. Frank Gore, RB -- 49ers (vs. CHI)
I've said it over and over again that I'd be benching at least one player going against the Bears' defense every week. This week, Frank Gore gets the call. If Alex Smith can't play, the Bears are going to key in on stopping Gore and the 49ers' running attack. Chicago has allowed the fourth-fewest rush yards per game in the league and I don't see it going any different Monday night.
Marques Colston, WR -- Saints (@ OAK)
Colston has touchdowns in last two games, but his receptions and targets have declined. Drew Brees has been looking Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore's way a lot more (no pun intended) lately and with the emergence of Chris Ivory, I don't see huge value in Colston anymore. Granted, he's still a very good receiver, but I wouldn't trust him in my fantasy leagues down the stretch, nor should you. Do the right thing and park him on your bench.
Tags: Steve Smith
, Jeremy Maclin
, Philip Rivers
, Michael Turner
, Tony Romo
, reggie bush
, dwayne bowe
, Brandon Pettigrew
, Marcel Reese