Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Week 11

Note: Sleeper alert focuses on players who aren't considered regular starters but have favorable matchups and could produce at a high level. Owners beware focuses on prominent players with unfavorable matchups who could fail to meet statistical expectations.

START OF THE WEEK

Chester Taylor, RB, Minnesota: In less than a week's time, Taylor has gone from a fantasy afterthought and even waiver-wire fodder in some leagues to one of the most attractive options at his position. With standout rookie Adrian Peterson out of action with an injured knee, Taylor has been thrust into a prominent role against one of the leagues's worst run defenses. Oakland ranks 29th against the run, and no team has allowed more rushing yards per game on the road. A former 1,200-yard rusher, Taylor should step in and help countless owners take home a win in Week 11.


QUARTERBACKS: START 'EM

 

Marc Bulger, St. Louis: Bulger had a dreadful start to the season and was even released in some fantasy leagues, but he's back on the fantasy radar after consecutive 300-yard performances. His success should continue this week in San Francisco, where he'll face a Niners defense that ranks 21st against the pass and is allowing an average of more than 230 passing yards per game at home. Another reason to like Bulger is his career success against San Francisco. He has averaged close to 280 yards and thrown five touchdown passes in his past four starts against the NFC West rival.

Kurt Warner, Arizona: Warner posted his best stat line of the season last week with 259 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Arizona, and he should make it two monster performances in a row in Cincinnati. The Bengals rank 28th against the pass, and the past three quarterbacks to face them in Cincinnati have thrown for a combined 733 yards and eight touchdowns. The Bengals have also surrendered 20 touchdown passes after 10 weeks, so Warner and his talented duo of wide receivers (Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald) should make some real noise.

More quarterbacks with favorable matchups: Tom Brady at Buffalo, Drew Brees at Houston, Brett Favre vs. Carolina, Eli Manning at Detroit, Ben Roethlisberger at N.Y. Jets.

Sleeper alert: Matt Schaub vs. New Orleans.

QUARTERBACKS: SIT 'EM

Philip Rivers, San Diego: Philip Rivers has been a serious disappointment for fantasy owners this season. He's thrown no touchdown passes and three interceptions in his past two starts, and his quarterback rating in those games is a combined 40.0. Rivers also has more interceptions in nine games than he had all of last season. He seems to have taken a step back under coach Norv Turner, and now he'll have to face a Jacksonville defense that has surrendered an average of 199 passing yards and a combined three touchdown passes at home to starting quarterbacks this season.

Vince Young, Tennessee: It's apparent coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Norm Chow want Young to throw the football more often, as he had a season-high 41 pass attempts in last week's loss to Jacksonville. But even with the added opportunities, Young still produced a mediocre 17 fantasy points on NFL.com. Those 17 points were the most he has scored since Week 3, when he totaled 18 against New Orleans. Now he'll have to face a Denver defense that ranks eighth against the pass, so it's hard for fantasy owners to trust Young as a reliable starter in Week 11.

More quarterbacks with unfavorable matchups: Derek Anderson at Baltimore, Kellen Clemens vs. Pittsburgh, Jay Cutler vs. Tennessee, Jeff Garcia at Atlanta, Rex Grossman at Seattle.

Owners beware: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Chicago.


RUNNING BACKS: START 'EM

 

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh: Fast Willie has not been the touchdown machine of 2006, but he's still on pace to rush for a career-best 1,552 yards based on his numbers. Those projections could increase this weekend in New York, where he faces a Jets defense that is last in the NFL against the run. In fact, the lone back not to rush for 100-plus yards against the Jets in their past four games in the Meadowlands is Marshawn Lynch, and he would have reached the 100-yard mark had he not been injured in the contest. Parker should ground the J-E-T-S, so make sure he's active.

More running backs with favorable matchups: Frank Gore vs. St. Louis, Steven Jackson at San Francisco, Brandon Jacobs at Detroit, Willis McGahee vs. Cleveland, LenDale White at Denver.

Sleeper alert: Earnest Graham at Atlanta.

RUNNING BACKS: SIT 'EM

Travis Henry, Denver: Fantasy owners were thrilled with the production of Henry to start the season, but his numbers and value have fallen in recent weeks. He has averaged just 49 rushing yards and no touchdowns in his past three starts, and Henry has one 100-yard performance since September. Furthermore, Henry missed last week's contest in Kansas City due to a sore knee, and chances are he'll be forced to share carries with Selvin Young against a Tennessee defense that ranks fourth against the run. If you need to start a Denver back, Young might be the better choice.

Thomas Jones, N.Y. Jets Jones has been a serious disappointment for fantasy footballers this season. He has rushed for 100-plus yards once in his past six starts, and he hasn't found the end zone all season. The trend could continue this week, as he faces a Pittsburgh defense that ranks first against the run and hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher on turf since 2005, when Edgerrin James reached that mark in Indianapolis. The Steelers have also allowed one runner to reach the 100-yard mark in their past 59 contests (postseason included), so Jones could be in for a tough afternoon.

More running backs with unfavorable matchups: Cedric Benson at Seattle, Justin Fargas at Minnesota, DeShaun Foster at Green Bay, Rudi Johnson vs. Arizona, Marshawn Lynch vs. New England.

Owners beware: Jamal Lewis at Baltimore.


WIDE RECEIVERS: START 'EM

 

Roy Williams, Detroit: Williams has been inconsistent overall from a statistical perspective, but he broke out with two touchdown catches last week in a loss to Arizona. He should be able to turn that success into a two-week streak, as he'll face a New York Giants defense that has allowed 16 receiving touchdowns on the season. The G-Men don't have a cornerback that can cover an athletic and skilled wideout (look what Terrell Owens did against them in Week 10), so the Lions should look to Williams quite often in a contest that could turn into a shootout at Ford Field.

Plaxico Burress, N.Y. Giants: Burress had a fast start to the season, finding the end zone at least once in each of his first six starts, but he's averaged 27.0 yards and hasn't found the end zone in three consecutive contests. That should change this week, however, as Burress faces a Detroit defense that ranks 30th against the pass and has allowed 18 receiving touchdowns (third-most in the NFL). Burress does have a sore ankle, so fantasy owners need to keep tabs on his status. But if he does play (as expected), the talented wideout should remain active in all fantasy formats.

More wide receivers with favorable matchups: Anquan Boldin at Cincinnati, Torry Holt at San Francisco, Larry Fitzgerald at Cincinnati, Andre Johnson vs. New Orleans, Wes Welker at Buffalo.

Sleeper alert: Mark Clayton vs. Cleveland.

WIDE RECEIVERS: SIT 'EM

Lee Evans, Buffalo: Evans has been one of the hotter wide receivers in fantasy football, and he'll no doubt be active in most leagues. However, don't be shocked if the talented wideout fails to meet statistical expectations against New England. The Patriots rank sixth against the pass, and they've been a thorn in the side of Evans his entire career. In seven starts against the Pats, Evans has recorded a combined 14 catches for 247 yards and no touchdowns -- that's an average of two catches for 35 yards. Again, he will be active in most cases, but Evans could disappoint.

Donald Driver, Green Bay: Much like Evans, Driver will be active in most fantasy formats this weekend. However, that doesn't guarantee he'll produce monster numbers. The veteran wideout has averaged 56 yards and hasn't found the end zone in his past six starts, and now he'll have to contend with a Carolina defense that has allowed eight touchdown catches on the season. The Panthers have also allowed an average of just four catches, 48 yards and no touchdowns to No. 1 wide receivers in their past three road contests, so it could be another mediocre stat line from Driver.

More wide receivers with unfavorable matchups: Bernard Berrian at Seattle, Dwayne Bowe at Indianapolis, Laveranues Coles vs. Pittsburgh, Joey Galloway at Atlanta, Roddy White vs. Tampa Bay.

Owners beware: Steve Smith at Green Bay.


TIGHT ENDS: START 'EM

 

Jason Witten, Dallas: Witten has his worst stat line of the season last week, with one catch for 2 yards in a win over the Giants. But that shouldn't deter fantasy owners from starting him in Week 11. The talented tight end faces a Washington team that's without several of its top defenders, as LB Marcus Washington, CB Carlos Rogers and FS Sean Taylor are all injured. What's more, Witten has averaged close to five receptions in his past six games against the Redskins, so he has found success against them in the past. Dallas should score a ton, and Witten will no doubt benefit.

Owen Daniels, Houston: Daniels hasn't found the end zone this season, but he's on pace to record close to 70 receptions and 832 yards based on his current totals. The second-year tight end out of Wisconsin is back to 100 percent health from an injured ankle, and this week's matchup against New Orleans bodes well for him. The Saints rank 29th against the pass and are allowing an average of more than 260 receiving yards per game, so Daniels -- who will have Matt Schaub back under center -- should be considered a nice low-end No. 1 fantasy tight end this week.

More tight ends with favorable matchups: Vernon Davis vs. St. Louis, Todd Heap vs. Cleveland, Jeremy Shockey at Detroit, L.J. Smith vs. Miami.

Sleeper alert: Eric Johnson at Houston.

TIGHT ENDS: SIT 'EM

Alge Crumpler, Atlanta: Crumpler came back from ankle and knee injuries last week and produced a nice stat line against Carolina, but it was a bit deceptive. He had only one catch until late in the fourth quarter, when he salvaged the afternoon with a 30-yard touchdown catch. While he is still worth a roster spot on fantasy teams, Crumpler does have a tough matchup this week against a Tampa Bay defense that has held tight ends to an average three catches per game. The Bucs also rank third against the pass, so Crumpler will be hard-pressed to make much noise in this NFC South battle.

Desmond Clark, Chicago: Clark emerged as a viable No. 1 fantasy tight end last season, but inconsistent production from the quarterback position and the addition of rookie Greg Olsen has taken its toll on his value in 2007. The veteran out of Wake Forest has recorded three catches for 35 yards in his past two contests, and he hasn't found the end zone since Week 5. His struggles could continue in Seattle, where Clark faces a Seahawks defense that has surrendered an NFL-low five touchdown catches and has allowed an average of fewer than four catches per game to tight ends.

More tight end with unfavorable matchups: Donald Lee vs. Carolina, Tony Scheffler vs. Tennessee, Alex Smith at Atlanta, Benjamin Watson at Buffalo.

Owners beware: Chris Cooley at Dallas.


KICKERS: START 'EM

 

Josh Brown, Seattle: Brown has been one of the better kickers in fantasy football in the past three weeks, averaging 12 fantasy points on NFL.com. His success should continue this week at home, where he'll face a Chicago defense that has allowed an average of close to 10 fantasy points to kickers. The Bears have also allowed seven field goal to kickers in their past three games on the road, which is even more reason to start Brown. Unless weather becomes an issue (the forecast includes rain in Seattle), fantasy owners should lean on Brown in Week 11.

Matt Stover, Baltimore: Stover was an absolute dud for fantasy owners last week with one point in a loss to Cincinnati. But one bad performance is no reason to sit him in Week 11, especially against Cleveland. Over his career, Stover has owned his former team. In his past 12 games against the Browns, he has connected on 27 of 31 field goal tries. That equates to more than two field goals a game. The Browns have also allowed 20 field goals this season -- third-most in the league -- which is even more reason to utilize Stover in a prominent role this week.

More kickers with favorable matchups: David Akers vs. Miami, Olindo Mare at Houston, Jeff Reed at N.Y. Jets, Jeff Wilkins at San Francisco.

Sleeper alert: Jay Feely at Philadelphia.

KICKERS: SIT 'EM

Jason Elam, Denver: Elam produced excellent numbers in last week's win over Kansas City with 12 fantasy points, but his overall numbers have been very inconsistent. In terms of fantasy points, the veteran has recorded just one double-digit performance in his past seven starts. What's more, Elam ranks a 18th among kickers in fantasy points on NFL.com. He also has a tough matchup this Monday night against a Tennessee defense that has surrendered just 11 field goals on the season, so fantasy owners might want to look for another alternative to Elam.

John Kasay, Carolina: Kasay was once one of the more productive kickers in fantasy football, but his value has taken a serious fall in recent seasons. He finished 22nd at the position on NFL.com last season, and he's ranked 23rd among kickers through Week 10. He'll be hard-pressed to reverse his fortunes against Green Bay, which has surrendered just 12 field goals and has allowed an average of fewer than seven fantasy points on the season. The Packers have an underrated defense, so Kasay and the Panthers could struggle to produce.

More kickers with unfavorable matchups: Robbie Gould vs. Seattle, Mike Nugent vs. Pittsburgh, Dave Rayner at Indianapolis, Lawrence Tynes at Detroit.

Owners beware: Jason Hanson vs. N.Y. Giants.


DEFENSES: START 'EM

 

Seattle defense: The Seahawks scored the fifth-most points among defenses on NFL.com last week, and this unit should find continued success in Week 11 against Chicago. Defenses have averaged 16 fantasy points against the Bears on NFL.com, and the Hawks have to be licking their chops with turnover-prone Rex Grossman back under center.

Minnesota defense: Despite an awful performance in a blowout loss to Green Bay, the Vikings defense still has plenty of fantasy value this week against Oakland. The Raiders have no offense and will start the human turnover in Daunte Culpepper at quarterback, so the Vikes should bounce back and find a tremendous level of success.

More defenses with favorable matchups: Green Bay defense vs. Carolina, N.Y. Giants defense at Detroit, Philadelphia defense vs. Miami, Pittsburgh defense at N.Y. Jets.

Sleeper alert: St. Louis defense at San Francisco.

DEFENSES: SIT 'EM

Kansas City defense: The Chiefs have emerged into a viable fantasy defense this season, but it's hard to like them against Peyton Manning and an Indianapolis offense that averages 33.0 points per game at home and is still dangerous even without Marvin Harrison in the pass attack. Unless you're desperate, keep the Chiefs on the sidelines.

Washington defense: The Redskins are littered with injuries on the defensive side of the football, and that's bad news against a Dallas offense that averages close to 33 points per game at home. The Polks should score at will against the Skins, so this unit is better left to the fantasy sidelines in this important NFC East clash.

More defenses with unfavorable matchups: Arizona defense at Cincinnati, Buffalo defense vs. New England, Carolina defense at Green Bay, Houston defense vs. New Orleans.

Owners beware: Tennessee defense at Denver.

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