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Budda Baker is dealing with some sort of foot injury. Other than saying they are awaiting results of an MRI, the Cardinals have been mum on the details. Baker missed a handful of snaps in week ten but playing time has not been a factor in his recent production slump. Combine his 11 fantasy points over the last two games with a poor matchup against Oakland and the uncertainty of the injury, and Baker becomes a risky start this week.
Haason Reddick has done next to nothing since his big week-five production. He has all but one snap in the Cardinals last five games, with fewer than eight points in the past four. For a flash it looked as if he might be headed for IDP stardom, now he should be headed for the waiver wire.
Oakland is a poor matchup for most of our defensive players, but start your Arizona pass rushers this week including Marcus Golden. The Raiders are allowing an average of four sacks per game since Week 4 including eleven in their last two outings.
Deion Jones returned to practice last week and has been activated from the Reserve/Injured list but is not a lock to play this week according to Coach Quinn. The Cowboys are an excellent matchup for linebackers in general so it would be tempting to play Jones if he is active. Resist the temptation if it comes. He has not played since Week 1 so even if active there is little chance he would have a normal workload.
Safety Damontae Kazee has not given us more than three solo tackles in a game since Week 5 but has reached double-digit fantasy points in six of seven games since becoming a starter. The drop off in tackle production came when he shifted to free safety but he has an interception in five of the last six games to make up for it. Managers that live by the big play usually die by the big play as well and Dak Prescott has been good at protecting the football.
The Bengals have been a lousy matchup for pretty much all defensive players over the last few weeks. They are not giving up a lot of sacks making them an average matchup for pass rushers and they have fallen behind early taking them out of their running game for the most part. C.J. Mosley is a must-start for most of us but keep in mind Kiko Alonso, Anthony Hitchens and Lavonte David all had four or fewer solo tackles with this matchup since Week 5. In fact, Buccaneers safety Justin Evans is the only defender with more than four tackles against Cincinnati in their last three games.
With three strong outings and three virtual goose-eggs, Mario Addison has been the poster boy for inconsistency over the last six games. It is hard to trust him as a starter after the Week 10 vanishing act versus Pittsburgh. On the other hand, if you trust matchups he should be in your lineup against Detroit. The Lions have struggled greatly to protect Matt Stafford, allowing 16 sacks in their last two games. In Addison’s defense, he was questionable with a sore shoulder leading up to last week’s game.
We have arrived at the point where Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are pretty much equal. In the last six games, Trevathan has score more points three times and Smith has led the way three times. The good news is both players have averaged well into double-digit points over that span of games.
The Bengals allowed New Orleans to score on every possession except the final kneel down in Week 10. Cincinnati responded to the historically bad numbers by parting ways with defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. That was hardly a shocker while Marvin Lewis taking over as DC has a lot of Bengals fans scratching their heads. Adding more mud to the already murky water, the team hired Hue Jackson as a so-called special assistant. Keep in mind there were many who believed Jackson would succeed Lewis as the team’s head coach before he took the Cleveland job. It just feels like there is more to this move than what we see at face value.
Neither Vontaze Burfict (hip) nor Zach Vigil (knee) was practicing early in the week so Jordan Evans is in line for at least one more week as a three-down linebacker. His play has been one of the few bright spots in recent weeks.
Joe Schobert was back on the field for Week 10. He was on a pitch count and did not play every snap like normal but most importantly Schobert came away healthy. With the Browns on bye, he should be full speed next time we see them.
Over the first nine games, Cleveland had their starting defensive linemen play nearly full time. In Week 10, they went to more of a rotation with Emmanuel Ogbah the only player up from to see 70% of the action. Giving the starters a break once in a while could be a positive in the long run so long as they continue to see around 50 snaps per game.
Sean Lee may be the leader on this defense but it is becoming rather obvious Leighton Vander Esch is the Cowboys best linebacker. The most recent hamstring injury for Lee is expected to keep him out at least a few weeks and possibly through the fantasy playoffs.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers secondary is a mess heading into Week 11. The trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been followed by a slew of injuries. Kentrell Brice was carted off the field Sunday with an ankle injury. Bashaud Breeland and Jaire Alexander started at corner but left early with a groin and a concussion respectively. At one point during the game, it was Josh Jones and undrafted rookie Raven Greene at safety with Tramon Williams moving back to corner opposite rookie Josh Jackson while undrafted rookie Tony Brown filled the slot corner role. Alexander was eventually cleared to return which is a big plus, but the Packers are still young and thin at the third level.
Brice is not practicing early in the week and is not expected to go against Seattle. That makes Jones and Williams the starting safeties. Breeland was limited on Tuesday but may be available. If not the two rookies, Alexander and Jackson will be the starters. When the dust settles, Jones is a solid waiver target at safety while either Breeland or Jackson are possible targets in corner required leagues.
The bye week came at a good time for the Texans who should get corners Jonathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin back for Week 11. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles their personnel with nearly everyone available. Justin Reid has performed exceptionally well as the full-time strong safety while Kareem Jackson was on assignment at corner. So well in fact that Jackson could stay at corner opposite Joseph with Colvin in the slot/nickel role. All things considered, however, it could be risky to start Reid if you have another quality option.
Kansas City Chiefs
A lot of fantasy managers are unhappy with the Chiefs over the Anthony Hitchens situation in Week 10. After the game, it came out that he was active for the game but the coaching staff had no intention of playing him in anything but an emergency situation. Yes, I too was caught by this sleight of hand which cost me an important win in a tight playoff race. The good news is Hitchens should play after the week off to rest his sore ribs, so at least we will have him back for what is an excellent matchup with the Rams.
Daniel Sorensen did not start in his first game back which should not have been a surprise to anyone after his long absence. He should see a bigger, possibly every-down role this week against the Rams who have been an outstanding matchup for safeties. There is some risk with Sorensen but the payoff could be big. Ron Parker should get strong consideration as well.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers lost Denzel Perryman to a serious knee injury on the first series of Sunday’s game. Hayes Pullard took some of the base package snaps at middle linebacker but it was Jatavis Brown and Adrian Phillips getting the boost in fantasy value. Brown now claims an every-down role with Phillips seeing increased time as well. Both these players managed to turn a poor matchup with Oakland into double-digit points. They have a much better matchup with Denver this week and are strong waiver targets for the stretch run.
Los Angeles Rams
Donte Fowler saw a 10% increase of playing time in his second game with the team. More importantly, he displayed the ability to make an impact on the game with a sack, forced fumble, and a recovery. The Chiefs are not a team that allows opponents to make a lot of big plays so starting Fowler this week may not be a great idea. That said, the Rams face Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Arizona in Weeks 13 through 16.
One more thing with Fowler, don’t forget he will be a linebacker next year. If someone offers a trade in a dynasty league, this could be a good time to get some capital for a player that is unlikely to have much value beyond this season.
Reshad Jones was not in the game when Miami opened in a base 4-3. He ended up playing 45 of a possible 57 snaps. Jones has not reached double-digit fantasy points since Week 5. His term as a dominating IDP force seems to be at an end.
New Orleans Saints
Alex Anzalone struggled as a three-down starter in his rookie season. This year the Saints reduced his workload, using him part time mostly in nickel sub packages early on. Things are starting to click for the second year pro. Anzalone started making impact plays in Week 8 and now has a sack, forced fumble and an interception in the last three games. What makes Anzalone particularly interesting is his increased opportunity in Week 10 when he started at middle linebacker and saw almost 80% of the action. It was by far his largest slice of the playing time this season and the first time he played more than any other linebacker on the team. One game is not a trend but Anzalone’s stock is on the rise. It might be a good idea to get in early before everyone notices.
Eli Apple should be a busy man this week against Philadelphia. He had six tackles, two assists and three passes defended when facing the Eagles earlier in the season as a member of the Giants. Carson Wentz looked for Apple in that game with success, so there is no reason to think he would not go back to the well.
New York Giants
If you have or can get Janoris Jenkins, put him in your lineup this week against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has been the best matchup in the game for corners this season with the position producing an average of 14 solo tackles, 3 passes defended and a turnover against them since Week 6. Jenkins is one tackle behind Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller for the league lead among corners and has a history of big-play production as well. B.W. Webb is a decent option as well for those in corner required leagues.
The Raiders may be a dumpster fire at this point, but there are some cornerstones in place for them to build on going forward. Rookie Maurice Hurst is one of those cornerstones. His numbers are not particularly eye-catching at 19-2-3 with a forced fumble and 3 batted passes, but they are solid considering the situation. Hurst has certainly passed the eyeball test as well and has a chance to be one of the leagues dominating interior linemen in years to come.
The loss of Ronald Darby to a knee injury is big for the Eagles and fantasy managers alike. Both are left reeling and digging for a replacement. With Jalen Mills also sidelined by a foot injury and Sidney Jones with a bad hamstring, Philadelphia is missing both starters and their nickel corner heading into a matchup with the Saints. Both Mills and Jones could be back soon; meanwhile, second-year man Rasul Douglas and Avante Maddox are the likely starters outside. Maddox has been filling in at safety but Corey Graham is back from injury and can cover the strong safety position. Recently added Cre’Von LeBlanc or Deiondre Hall will handle the nickel corner duties.
Managers looking for someone to cover the loss of Darby may be able to get by with Douglas for a week or two. The Saints are a plus matchup for corners and Douglas is coming off an eight-tackle game against Dallas.
Bradley McDougald has not played a full game since suffering the knee injury in WEek 8. He managed to be the team’s second-leading tackler against the Rams with five solo stops despite playing 44 of 65 snaps in the game. With another week to recover he should be near a full workload against the Packers who are a strong matchup for safeties.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers got a scare when Lavonte David limped off the field favoring his knee. He returned after a few plays and finished the game strong which was a great sign. The news on Tuesday was less encouraging as David was diagnosed with an MCL sprain. While it could be much worse, there is a chance he will miss some time.
Adarius Taylor is not taking advantage of his opportunity as a starter. His production has been marginal as has his play on the field. Taylor saw a significant reduction of playing time from 92% of the snaps in Week 9 to 65% against Washington. The Buccaneers hope to have Kendell Beckwith back soon but he has not yet been activated from injured reserve so the injury to Lavonte David is likely going to add more responsibility for both Taylor and Devante Bond over the next game or two. The team re-signed Kevin Minter to give them some depth. Cameron Lynch is in line to be the third linebacker until the walking wounded can get back on the field.
Safety Andrew Adams moved into a timeshare with Jordan Whitehead in Week 10. It is unclear if a complete change is on the horizon but Whitehead has seen his playing time slip in each of the past three weeks.
Players facing their former employers are often a plus start for fantasy managers, so look Jason Pierre-Paul to have big numbers this week.
Zach Brown is coming off his most productive game of the season at 7-2-0 with a forced fumble. This is somewhat surprising since it came against a pass-happy Tampa Bay offense. That said, there is nothing to get excited about here. Brown was on the field for his usual 75% of the defensive snaps. The Texans have been a strong matchup for linebackers and their use of double tight ends in a lot of situations should keep Brown on the field most of the time. With six teams on a bye, he is worthy of strong consideration as a third starter.
That does it for Week 11. Best of luck as we start the sprint to the finish line.