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Moore, Reece earn nods in Week 11
The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or four. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes an arrested development. However, instead of railing against this claim, I am embracing this subterranean bourgeoisie. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done? But I digress…Enjoy.
QB: Andy Dalton, Bengals
Hey now, stop rolling your eyes. While this counsel may appear to be a slave to persuasion from last week’s performance (21-for-30, 199 yards, four touchdowns), Week 10’s dismantling of the G-Men marked the fourth time in 2012 that the Red Rifle tossed for three or more scores. Dalton has a reasonable shot at adding another notch to his belt this weekend in Kansas City, as the Chiefs are surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points in the AFC to opposing quarterbacks. Though the Cincinnati signal caller does have 13 turnovers this year, the juice is worth the squeeze in deeper leagues or two-quarterback formats.
Other starts: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer
RB: Stevan Ridley, Patriots
The Colts aren’t as shabby against the run as imagined, evidenced by just 37 yards conceded to the Jaguars last Sunday (to be fair, Jacksonville’s Rashad Jennings would struggle to start for most CFL teams at this point, but still). Nevertheless, Ridley has quietly averaged nearly 97 yards in his last six games, and if Week 10 is any indication, should see a higher workload on the horizon with backup Shane Vereen struggling to become acclimated to the New England offense. As Ridley has only been started in 55.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues the past two weeks, make sure he’s implemented on your first-string squad this weekend.
Other starts: Reggie Bush, Willis McGahee
WR: Denarius Moore, Raiders
Receivers encountering the Saints secondary are like the protagonists in the Marvel Comics movies: no matter if you’re a star or sycophant, said party is going to bank. (With Roddy White as Robert Downey, Jr. and Malcom Floyd the equivalent to Chris Evans, obviously.) Keeping this asinine analogy in mind, it would behoove oneself to give the nod to Moore, who has posted 22 receptions, 392 yards and four trips to pay dirt in the last five games.
Other starts: Steve Smith, Mike Williams
TE: Brent Celek, Eagles
In last week’s Fantasy Basement column, we warned that Celek’s standing as a backup fantasy tight end would only alter in the event of a quarterback coup for the Eagles. This swap is coming to fruition for Philadelphia, as neophyte Nick Foles will be at helm as the team travels to Washington in Week 11. Though Foles has a cannon, expect the playbook to be fairly limited, meaning a multitude of quick-hits and short-out routes, which should equate to a bountiful day for Celek. While we are here, don’t tend to make light of concussions, but isn’t it a little too convenient that Mike Vick goes down just as the cries for Foles reached a fever pitch? Perhaps this injury allows Vick and Andy Reid to transition to this new era without causing as big a controversy compared to a straight benching. It’s a theory, probably erroneous, but it’s a theory.
Other starts: Greg Olsen, Jermaine Gresham
DEF: Baltimore Ravens
You may argue that the Ravens are giving up the third-most yards in the AFC, and rightfully so. My counter? Byron Leftwich is starting for the Steelers. So, yeah.
Other starts: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos
QB: Joe Flacco, Ravens
Cat is coming off 340 yards and four touchdowns, but Flacco is far from a formidable option. Even without Troy Polamalu, the Steelers secondary is suffocating quarterbacks to a league-low 171.1 yards per game, and the defense as a whole is one of seven units holding oppositions to under 20 points per contest. Moreover, before last week’s accolades, Flacco had averaged a meager 180 aerial yards in his previous four ballgames And let’s be honest: he knocked around Oakland. Big whoop, right?
I know there’s an array of arms down for the count this weekend, yet more advantageous alternatives are available than Average Joe.
Other sits: Philip Rivers, Tony Romo
RB: Frank Gore, 49ers
Gore submitted a commendable outing (21 carries, 97 yards, touchdowns) in that “epic” tilt versus the Rams last Sunday, but the venerable back is suited for the bench in Week 11. (Yes, a nationally-known analyst referred to the San Francisco-St. Louis tie in that manner, almost making my ears bleed. Entertaining? Yes, but doubt we’ll see that barn-burner on NFL Films in five years.) Not only is Gore going up against a Chicago front seven that is relinquishing the third-fewest points to fantasy backs this season, but Alex Smith could miss Monday’s matchup, meaning untested Colin Kaepernick would take the reins. If this comes to, ahem, “pass,” envision the Bears defense loading up the line and forcing the young quarterback to beat them, furthering inhibiting Gore’s value. Understand that Gore’s strong campaign will keep him in many lineups; just be wary of a letdown.
Other sits: Rashad Jennings, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WR: Mike Wallace
Wallace has underwhelmed as of late, hauling in three catches or less in four of his last six games. And while Baltimore is yielding over 270 receiving yards per game, again, Byron Leftwich will be starting for the Steelers.
Other sits: Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers
Since scoring four times in the season’s first three games, Davis has fallen short of 40 receiving yards in five of the last six weeks. Worse, for the first time since 2008, the tight end is not the primary target in the passing game, with Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham taking that mantle. With the plethora of practical plays at the position this year, Davis’ slump, as well as Chicago’s stoutness against tight ends, makes the Maryland product a no-go this week.
Other sits: Scott Chandler, Dwayne Allen
DEF: Miami Dolphins
Never good when an offense led by Jake Locker has a Fourth of July fireworks display on the scoreboard against your team. Though the Dolphins aren’t as bad as last week conveyed, the Bearded Bomber of Buffalo is always a good bet for garbage-time touchdowns, clouding the forecast for the ‘Fins.
Other sits: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets
The Sports Movie Head Scratcher of the Week
There’s an inherent petition from most sports films that the patrons must suspend belief regarding some of the picture’s narrative. However, while a grain of salt is usually acquiesced from the audience, there remain storylines from these athletic classics that defy logic and reason that need to be examined with greater scrutiny. These preposterous plot points will be analyzed along with a questionable call from the previous week of football.
We’ve already lampooned Varsity Blues in these parts, but luckily the film offers more than a few plot conundrums. In order to further showcase the maliciousness of coach Bud Kilmer, it’s revealed that the West Canaan Coyotes don’t run in the red zone in order to restrict the star running back, who is black, from receiving the praise that comes with touchdowns. Call me crazy, but if we are to believe Kilmer is a gridiron genius, pretty sure he’s going to keep it on the ground inside the 20. And if this paragraph seems short, it’s because further analysis into this topic was given the, “Please don’t go there in a fantasy article” signal. Anyway, seems like the writers dropped the ball on this one.
Speaking of dropping the ball, attaway to seize the moment, Atlanta. Several Falcons complained throughout the week about the lack of coverage on the team’s 8-0 start. Apropos, then, that Atlanta went out and validated their critics by choking in the waning moments, floundering inside the one-yard line in their battle with the Saints. And while Matty Ice has made the leap in the fantasy realm, those two incompletions near the Promised Land were dubious decisions that keep his name out of the likes of Manning, Brees, Brady and Rodgers. Until they do any damage in the playoffs, consider me a doubter of the Dirty Birds.
Waiver Wire Watch: Marcel Reece, Raiders
Despite finishing with 104 total yards (13 carries, 48 yards; seven catches, 56 yards) versus Baltimore in substitution of Darren McFadden, Reece is available in 74 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues. If you’re in a league where the Raiders replacement is attainable, snatch him up for this week’s skirmish with the Saints, as the New Orleans defense is conceding the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Thanks to an Oakland line that makes the French’s protection at the Battle of Agincourt look impermeable, Reece won’t do much on the soil, yet his prowess in the passing game and Carson Palmer’s ridiculous yardage output should correlate to a generous harvest. (Yeah, that’s right, dropping antiquity lessons on you fools. Need to start utilizing this history minor somehow.)
Email of the Week
This week’s winner comes from Kerry outside of Memphis, who writes:
“What are the odds that Maurice Jones-Drew is actually fine and is restarting his protest for a new contract?”
Considering I love me some conspiracy theories (alluded to above in Vick’s predicament), I’m borderline upset that this didn’t occur to me first. Well done, Kerry. Unfortunately, while the Jags are o-fer in his absence, they weren’t tearing the league a new one with MJD, either, so little leverage in his corner. Even though Jones-Drew’s proxy, Jennings, has been an abomination, Jones-Drew had just one solid effort in five contests before suffering a foot ailment. A good bet for a Jones-Drew return is after Thanksgiving.
Fantasy Flyer: Nick Foles, Eagles
Why not? The rookie out of Arizona was respectable in mop-up duty in his debut, and his adversary this weekend, Washington, has allowed opposing field generals to have a field day, giving up over 300 yards and two scores per game. I’m not as infatuated with his preseason production as some (besides, truth bomb: Trent Edwards outperformed him in August), yet compared to some of the other options like Jason Campbell and Leftwich, Foles has the capacity to submit a solid showing in our nation’s capital.
The Real Debate
Previously mentioned, the play calling under Atlanta coach Mike Smith has once again come into question, as the team has exhibited a disconcerting penchant of coming out on the business end of high-profile contests under his regime. Yet Smith’s merits as a coach should not be the discussion; rather, the Real Debate should be this: is there a bigger moniker misnomer than Michael “the Burner” Turner? Sure, he’s been able to manufacture a couple creditable endeavors this year, and does have four scores to his name. In that same vein, Turner has four games of 42 yards or less, including a disastrous 15 yards on 13 carries Sunday. Think it’s time we extinguish that nickname. (Get it, burner, extinguish? Thank you, I’ll be here all week. )
Rookie Review: Michael Floyd, Cardinals
At this juncture of the season, many users inquire, “What under-the-radar player can make a difference?” Enter Floyd, a greenhorn out of Notre Dame. After a slow assimilation process to the professional ranks (a scant eight catches through his first seven games), Floyd has snagged 10 receptions in his last two contests. He remains the third option in a wounded offense, yet for those in deeper leagues, Floyd is one of the few entities left with decent potential.
This Week in Kevin Walter
K-Walt might not have blown up the box score, but he certainly sent many a Bears defender on their back on the tundra of Soldier Field last Sunday night, as Walter’s blocking helped pave the way for a 100-yard day from Arian Foster against one of the top rush resistances in football. With election season in our rearview mirror, a few readers have inquired if the Pride of Ypsilanti would make a good politician. As I view “good politician” as an oxymoron, I would say no. However, Walter as part of the Secret Service? Think about it: an honorable duty that receives almost zero praise. Now there’s an occupation that seems right up his alley.
Walter’s 2012 Stats: 23 receptions, 337 yards, two touchdowns
Walter’s Cornerback Body Count: Eight
Personal Foul on: the New York Giants
At this point, their disregard for the regular season is bordering on an unparalleled hubris. Though I like most of the G-Men, here’s to hoping their vanity comes back to bite them in the behind.
Gatorade Shower Goes to: New Orleans Saints
Can you imagine the awkwardness on the Super Bowl podium between the Saints and Roger Goodell? It’d be exactly like the hug between Red and Andy at the end of Shawshank Redemption. And by “exactly” I mean the complete opposite.
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