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Fantasy Hipsters Week 11 guide: A Sterling starter

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  • By The Fantasy Hipsters: Matt Franciscovich and Matt Harmon NFL.com
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The Fantasy Hipsters are back for the 2017 season with their weekly guide to how to approach fantasy football a little bit off the beaten path. In this space, Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) will give you a mix players to add, overlooked weekly plays and in-depth stats all layered with the type of unique, off-the-mainstream tone you can only expect from these two well-groomed hipsters. Since the communal approach to creating a living space is the only way to exist in harmony, the duo will split the work. Here's this week's division of labor.

Harmon:
Barrel-aged bargain
Sustainable pickup

Franchise:
Vintage veteran
Most ironic stats

Communal living space:
Pour over your lineup

Vintage Veteran


Some things get better with time. Like a full-flavored cask of aged bourbon or that one pair of skinny jeans you've worn in so much that they feel like sweatpants (let's be honest, I have, like, eight pairs of those). Same goes for fantasy football players. Did you draft Hunter Henry thinking the shiny new young tight end would be the next big thing? Get in line with the rest of the herd. While you and the rest of the mainstream horde are all about the up-and-coming young talent in the NFL, we Fantasy Hipsters are sticking with experience over youth. Each week in this space, we'll deliver one Vintage Veteran player of the week that you can rely on to produce for your fantasy team. Now where did I put my great-grandpa's brogues?

Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

From EDM music festivals to beach-roaming lunks showing off their spray-tanned pecs 24/7, Miami was just too mainstream for an underappreciated running back like Jay Ajayi. The fourth-year pro was getting dissed by his coach left and right and his production was held back by, what some might call, an unproductive offense down in South Beach.

But less than a week after he landed in Philly via trade, Ajayi scored his first touchdown of the season and led his new squad in rushing yards. Philadelphia is clearly the place to be if you're into football. Look, I even said on the Fantasy Hipsters podcast, like, eight months ago, that I was into what the Eagles were doing in terms of offseason moves and building around Carson Wentz. Clearly, I was 100 percent correct and can predict the future contrary to popular belief. I started meditating recently, that might have something to do with it. Anyway, the Ajayi trade may be the final piece of the puzzle for what is most obviously a playoff-bound Philadelphia team.

And this week, I am gushing over Jay Ajayi's upside against the Dallas Cowboys in a primetime slot Sunday night. The Eagles had a bye week to get Ajayi integrated into their game plan and the coaching staff has showered the veteran running back with positive praise. There's no doubt that he sees an uptick in volume and there's a good chance that he goes crazy for fantasy owners. Dallas will likely be without linebacker Sean Lee. This season, Cowboys allow 80.3 rush yards per game with Lee playing compared to the 153.3 with Lee out of the lineup. So that's kind of important. Plus, the Eagles rank in the top five in the NFL both in rushing yards per game (136.8) and rush attempts per game (31.4).

If you hadn't noticed yet this week, I'm going all-in on Ajayi. I've written, like, three articles about him now, and have talked him on video twice and once on a podcast, too. If he doesn't perform, I may just quit my job. Thanks for tuning in, kids.

Proof that Franchise is all-in on Ajayi for Week 11:

Ajayi featured in Week 11FedEx Air & Ground preview
Ajayi featured in Trade Calls: Video and editorial
Ajayi discussd on the Dave Dameshek Football Program
Ajayi discussed on the Fantasy Live Podcast

Sustainable pickup of the week:


Sustainability is all about preparing for the future. From discovering and developing new sources of energy like wind and solar to crop rotation and water conservation, we all have to do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment. A small investment now goes a long way down the road. And when it comes to fantasy football, a major key to building sustainable depth from waiver wire adds means finding players that you can rely on for the long term without wasting resources. So in this section, the Fantasy Hipsters will get ahead of the curve and offer up one player to add for depth who should pay off dividends in the future. Hey man, turn that light off in the other room. It's not hard, okay?

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

So, it's come to this. Before you skewer me for this take, and please don't I just bought this vintage denim jacket, let me just review some of the quarterbacks that are at least in the mix this weekend.

Nathan Peterman
Kellen Clemens
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Joe Flacco
Tom Savage
Blaine Gabbert
Brock Osweiler

The combined career passer rating of this cast of characters (minus Peterman and his 10 attempts) is a gorgeous 74.8. You could say we're in desperate need of quarterback help, especially those of us correctly streaming the position.

In comes Blake Bortles. I get it. He's not good at real football. Whatever, that doesn't really matter. Bortles has actually stabilized to have a real floor in fantasy football, as he's crossed 16 points in each of his last three games. It's not as if he's some kind of dominating fantasy presence but that at least puts him on the streaming radar.

In Week 11, he draws a matchup with the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed 19 passing touchdowns this season, tied for second-most in the NFL. Bortles could actually help you over the next few weeks, which is why he's the sustainable pickup (try to keep up here). The Jaguars get the Cardinals, Colts, Texans, and 49ers in four of their next five games. All of those teams come with secondaries that even a passer like Bortles can overcome.

Barrel-aged bargain:


When we're building lineups for the week, we're always looking for a bargain. The thing is, those of us who don't want to live cookie-cutter lives aren't chasing for some boring old fill-in; we're still after something fresh. Just like a good barrel-aged craft beer that's off the beaten path away from dull domestic brews, we want a different kind of bargain brought on by a unique spin on an outcome of a game that the public just hasn't considered yet.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

I see the bandwagon is starting to fill-up now that Sterling Shepard has pretty clearly established himself as a must-start fantasy receiver. The haters and losers were very unfair to Shepard coming into this season, drafting him like eight rounds behind Brandon Marshall. Well, I never lost faith. This is a player I've been a huge fan of since January 2016 when he was a college prospect.

With the decimation befallen the Giants wide receiver corps, the spotlight of opportunity has shifted over to the young slot receiver. Shepard's 22 targets over the last two weeks are more than Julio Jones (20), Dez Bryant (19), Doug Baldwin (18), Jarvis Landry (17) and Golden Tate (16). Alongside tight end Evan Engram, he's a locked-in volume monster.

You can expect Shepard to push for five-plus catches every game the rest of the way, it's a feat he's already accomplished in all but one of the games that he's finished this season. That presents a great floor but Shepard accessed a ceiling last week with a massive game against the floundering 49ers pass defense.

Shepard has a strong shot at an encore this week, and what kind of square doesn't stick around for the band's encore? That's where you get early access to what their next big hit might be. Otherwise, you're waiting around on YouTube like a chump. Anyway, Shepard draws a matchup with the Chiefs this week, who have a woeful secondary. Kansas City ranks inside the top-three in targets and yards allowed to receivers and leads the NFL in touchdowns and fantasy points ceded to the position. Shepard is once again in a smash spot in Week 11 and is a WR2 going forward.

Most Ironic Stats of the Week


Every week, there are some pretty crazy stats floating around that you might be able to apply to making decisions in your fantasy lineups. So, just for kicks (actually I need a new pair of vintage Converse), here are the most ironic stats of Week 11. Enjoy. Or don't ... it's more ironic that way.

-- Alex Smith faces a Giants defense that has allowed a top-four fantasy quarterback in three straight games. This should be fun.
-- The Eagles are allowing 2.9 yards per rush to opposing running backs, the fewest in the league. And you thought Alfred Morris was a good play.
-- The Broncos have allowed the most fantasy points per game to tight ends since Week 6. Get your Tyler Kroft shares fired up.
-- Joe Mixon has scored in two straight games and faces a Denver defense that has allowed eight touchdowns to running backs over the last four games. Gio Bernard will get the touchdown.
-- Matthew Stafford faces a Bears defense that has allowed just one passing touchdown in their last four games. It was to Brett Hundley.

Pour over your lineup


Franchise: Well it looks like yet again, we're being called upon for some lineup help. It feels nice to be wanted. Never got that from my dad. But about this PPR question...

Harmon: For real? Do we ever get a break? I mean, even when it's the offseason we'll still be answering dynasty questions. Sidebar: can you imagine being someone reading this who doesn't play in dynasty fantasy football leagues? Total square move.

Franchise: Doesn't play dynasty? What is this, 1969? Guess it was hip to be a square back then. Gross. Anyway, this guy has three pretty nice options for PPR running backs, but he's leaving his fate in our hands.

Harmon: No doubt. So let's start with the obvious one. We're playing Rex Burkhead. No question. We nailed it with our call to start him last week against the Broncos. The Patriots will once again be missing Chris Hogan this week, freeing up more volume against a Raiders defense that is worse than your pal playing top-40 hits on a road trip. Burkhead is a must-start to me this week, do you concur?

Franchise: Absolutely agree. #RexInTheFlex for the win. I'll be starting him in a bunch of spots too, for whatever that's worth. His playing time has increased each week since he got back healthy and you want a piece of this high-scoring Patriots offense in your fantasy lineup weekly. DO IT.

Harmon: I dig it. Now for the next spot. What's your read here? Put on your bifocals and tell me whether you're playing Theo Riddick or Austin Ekeler.

Franchise: This is where it gets tough. Ekeler had the two touchdowns last week but lost that costly fumble late. Riddick also scored last week, but his lack of volume is worrisome. But I still think I roll with Riddick against the Bears this week. He's the more established player and Ameer Abdullah may find it tough to run against Chicago's defense.

Harmon: You know I go against Ameer Abdullah pretty much any chance I get. what a fantasy nightmare. But I think I go Ekeler here. The Bills allowed 535 total yards to running backs in their previous two games. Their run defense is a complete sieve. Even if Melvin Gordon gets the vast majority of the work, Ekeler could still hit.

Franchise: Shocker. The Fantasy Hipsters disagree on something. Remind me why we even hang out? But seriously, you're not worried about the ball security issue with Ekeler?

Harmon: Fumbles are random, man. Just like most things in the universe. Everything is up to chance and I like to roll with uncertainty. I hang out with you because our bosses make me. Which I guess is pretty conforming of me, huh?

Franchise: Yeah, bro. Man, you're all talk. Anyway, I guess we won't be able to agree on this one and our follower is on his own with that second RB spot. We haven't helped at all. Real cool of us.

Harmon: Well my feelings are hurt for multiple reasons. I need to go bury my emotions in some organic avocado ice cream so I'll be ready to face you by Sunday's show. See you later.

Franchise: Good luck with that. Make sure the waffle cone is gluten-free.

Follow the Fantasy Hipsters on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB and @MattFranchise. You can also see them on Sunday morning on the NFL's Twitter Blitz show streaming live 8:30 am PST on Twitter.com. You've heard of that website, right?

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