NFL Real Talk: Week 11

Steve Smith will not be chilling on the sidelines Week 11
Photo Credit: Matthew Straubmuller

What do Kendall Hunter, Denarius Moore, and Laurent Robinson all have in common? They were touted as worthy pickups in last week’s “NFL Real Talk” and proceeded to have big games. Now all the other bum-ass writers are telling you to pick them. Guess they got their hands on a late-pass to my jock.

So who made the cut for this week’s edition of “NFL Real Talk?” Guess you better peep game after the jump:

With Jeremy Maclin on the mend and DeSean Jackson wildly inconsistent, the time has come for Steve Smith to do work. He’s only four-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and should start opposite D-Jax this week. Sure his Week 10 performance featured some drops, but it was the first time all season Smith got a ton of playing time. He still possesses great hands and can be a very reliable target, and with a matchup coming against the team that let him walk during the offseason, the motivation will be there for Smith to kill it. Michael Vick should play regardless of his rib injury since the Eagles are desperate, but even if Vince Young is throwing the rock, he should throw it plenty to the safe and sure-handed Smith. This is the final bye week of the NFL season and those of you in deeper leagues who are short on WR options should at least consider Smith for your flex or WR3 spot. And who knows, a strong performance in Week 11 coupled with D-Jax’s diva antics and Maclin’s injury could make Smith the best fantasy WR in Philly for the remainder of the year.

While Vincent Brown didn’t make it into the actual edition of last week’s “NFL Real Talk,” he did show up in the comments section when I mentioned him as an intriguing deep sleeper for the rest of the season. Lo and behold, Brown went on to have a great fantasy performance Thursday night (five catches, 97 yards, TD). With Malcom Floyd still nursing a hip injury and a nasty case of “suck-itis,” Brown remains a plausible WR3. He’s an agressive pass-catcher who should have plenty of opportunities to make plays as teams zero in on Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson.

Dallas Clark wasn’t doing jack shit when he was playing, so many assumed the same would hold true for Jacob Tamme once Clark went down with a leg injury.  Yet Tamme came up with six catches for 75 yards in Week 10, which was more productive than all but one of Clark’s performances. The fact that Curtis Painter is under center obviously limits any Colt’s potential, but Clark’s poor play wasn’t all Painter’s fault. Clark is among the league leaders in drops  and simply hasn’t looked very good all year. Obviously the loss of Peyton Manning plays the biggest role in his production drop off, but Clark’s elite fantasy labeling was the product of the sheer volume of targets thrown his way. Without all those looks, Clark has been exposed as a solid, though unspectacular, talent. Now with Tamme starting, Painter should feel more comfortable throwing passes to a TE who can actually hang on to one of his rarely accurate throws. We’ve all seen how crappy QBs can latch onto a TE like a clingy girlfriend. so if you are not sold on your current starting option, take a flier on Tamme.

I’ll admit that I was very skeptical of Carson Palmer being a legit fantasy play in most leagues, but the accuracy he’s shown in his short time with the Raiders is impressive as he really seems to be gelling with his team. It also helps that Oakland’s beastly running game can keep defenses honest while the Raiders’ offensive line offers ample protection for Palmer to find the open man. Right now he’s playing like a low-end QB1 and with an array of receivers who can make plays after the catch, he should continue to put up solid numbers.

While DeMarco Murray has been sensational over his last four games (8.01 YPC on 75 carries) he is a great sell-high target. Yes he’s been unbelievable, but these monster efforts have come against the Bills, Rams, Seahawks, and Eagles. Plus, Felix Jones is expected to make his return this week and while owner Jerry Jones has said that Murray will remain the starter, Jones should still pilfer at least 10 touches per game. Look, Murray will probably be worth starting the rest of the way as an RB2 even with Jones healthy, but you could conceivably net a lot in return for his services with the streak he’s on.  You should at least see what an owner in your league would be willing to part with for Murray.

You just can’t start Ryan Fitzpatrick these days. His early season success was a nice story, but with Fred Jackson dominating, Fitzpatrick is averaging under 30 pass attempts in his last five starts. The weak-armed QB is an easy signal-caller to game plan against since you all you have to do is take away the short and mid-field plays to render him useless. In these crucial weeks of the fantasy football season, trusting Fitzpatrick to produce even modest QB totals is a risk fantasy owners should not be willing to take.

A few short weeks ago, it appeared as though Jackie Battle would fill the RB vacuum left by Jamaal Charles’ season-ending injury. While Battle is the starter on paper, Dexter McCluster should be the preferred fantasy option. The problem with Battle is the Chiefs’ tendency to be forced into throwing the ball. Battle makes sense for Kansas City when they are trying to preserve a lead as he wears down opposing defenders and eats up the clock, but with Matt Cassel likely out for the year, this offense isn’t getting a lead on anybody (and let’s face it, it isn’t like the Chiefs offense were world-beaters with Cassel under center). To make matters worse, they will be facing a slew of teams with high-scoring potential like New England, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh the rest of the way, meaning Battle might not even sniff 10 carries in most weeks. This is where McCluster comes in. The versatility McCluster brings to the table will make him a fixture on the field and he’s dynamic enough to be a worthy flex option with around 15 touches per game (he had 14 last week). McCluster is somehow available in 71-percent of Yahoo! leagues and should be picked up in more leagues because he could very well be one of those random players who ends coming up big when you need it most (pause).

Damian Williams is at least worth a pickup for owners desperate for some WR help. Nate Washington is banged up and Williams has scored in two straight games while taking over as the defacto number one WR in Tennessee. He’s not an explosive player, but Williams is a pretty good route runner, can make tough catches, and has above-average speed. I’ll admit that he’s only worth adding because he’s the last man standing at WR for the Titans, but he has some pretty good matchups on tap and is talented enough to take advantage of the opportunity. You don’t want to start him just yet, but keep him on the bench so you aren’t forced to fight for him in the event he has another productive outing.

The expression “you never want to see a guy get hurt” is used often in sports, especially in football. However, this isn’t the case with Matthew Stafford and I. You see, Stafford was a player I wasn’t excited about coming into the season. It was never a question about talent (because he’s got plenty of it), but rather about unpredictability. The quarterback position is about the only position in fantasy football where you can feel comfortable knowing that a player will not succumb to a long-term injury. If you take a look back at your draft/auction results, the top 20 QBs have all maintained their health (sans Peyton Manning, who came into your draft/auction as a major injury risk, and Matt Schaub). Granted, Stafford is currently ranked as the fifth best QB in Yahoo! fantasy and has produced a profit on his ADP. Still, if he plays hurt the rest of the way or misses any time, all those big numbers from the beginning of the season won’t mean a damn thing to the Stafford owners missing the playoffs. It may seem vain to wish pain on Stafford just because I didn’t see his breakout coming… and it totally is. Look, Big Poppa Pockets loves being right, even if it comes at the expense of others. Plus, the Lions are acting like a bunch of d-bags anyway, so who really gives a shit if their QB (and season) falls apart? That’s what Jim Schwartz gets for pulling the “I’ll wait until bodies are between us and then go ape shit so that people think my wuss-ass really wants to fight you” move on Jim Harbaugh. Karma’s a bitch sucka.

Speaking of Schaub, his replacement Matt Leinart is getting way too much consideration in fantasy circles. Words like “redemption” are being tossed around, which is laughable. Dude is a bum. People are talking about the offense in Houston and how ideal it is for Leinart, but keep in mind that Schaub was playing like a QB2 prior to his injury. If you start Leinart, you deserve the ass-whooping your opponent will be delivering to you.



About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.