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Week 11 Starters & Benchwarmers

Posted by Ladd Biro  November 16, 2012 07:32 PM

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Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Robert Meachem? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 11 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders vs. Saints.  New Orleans’ defense is tossing out fantasy points like Mardi Gras beads, and Palmer has been blazing hot over his last three games.  Outside of the elites, Palmer is as close as anyone to a sure thing for at least 300 yards and 2 TDs.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers vs. Ravens.  He is listed as probable and is expected to start in Sunday’s showdown with the Ravens, who have given up more fantasy points to opposing runners than every team not named the Saints.  Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will get their carries, too; but the steady Mendenhall should be leaned on heavily with a backup QB at the controls.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams vs. Jets.  Admittedly, Jackson’s strong showing against the 49ers last week was a bit of a stunner.  Though he’s no sure thing – especially with Daryl Richardson sharing the load – you have to like Jackson’s chances against New York’s 30th-ranked run defense.

Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders vs. Saints.  The Saints have surrendered more than 100 yards to each of the last six RBs they’ve faced.  With Darren McFadden out again and Taiwan Jones relegated to spot duty, Reece has a great chance to soar, especially in PPR formats.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers vs. Buccaneers.  On the heels of his worst performance since late 2011, Smith’s owners are justifiably concerned with their once-elite receiver’s disappointing season.  But redemption awaits against the sieve-like Bucs defense, which is as solid against the run as it is weak against the pass.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Robert Griffin III; RBs Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley; WRs Danny Amendola, Jordy Nelson, Jeremy Maclin, Denarius Moore, Reggie Wayne, Lance Moore, Randall Cobb.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Steelers.  Coming off his first multi-TD game since Week 4, it’s too bad Flacco now must head back to your bench.  But against the NFL’s stingiest pass defense, he simply can’t be trusted.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars at Texans.  It’s really this simple: Don’t start any Jaguar whose initials aren’t MJD for the rest of the season.  Jennings has been a poor surrogate for Maurice Jones-Drew since assuming the injured starter’s role, and he is only worth keeping on rosters in the deepest of leagues.  If you need more ammo, Houston hasn’t allowed a rushing score all season.

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions vs. Packers.  Aside from his Week 9 outburst against the Jaguars, Leshoure has been fairly pedestrian as the Lions’ starter.  Coming off its bye, Green Bay’s above-average run defense will be rested and ready. Detroit’s production will come through the air.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers vs. Bears.  Even though Alex Smith (concussion) is expected to start, Crabtree is a bad option against the stout Chicago secondary.  Though he has scored three of his four TDs this year over the past two games, those highlights came against mediocre opposing secondaries.  The Bears don’t fit that profile.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns at Cowboys. The rookie has slid quite a ways from his midseason highs, and his rookie quarterback is likewise struggling mightily.  On Sunday, the pair faces arguably the most-improved secondary in the league.  Keep Gordon out of sight.

More thumbs down: QBs Matt Schaub, Nick Foles, Byron Leftwich, Alex Smith, Jason Campbell; RBs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Ryan Mathews, Isaac Redman, Shonn Greene, Alex Green; WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Dez Bryant, Malcom Floyd, Dwayne Bowe, Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts.

TAKING A FLIER

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints at Raiders.  Even if Darren Sproles (hand) returns, Ivory is bound to get plenty of touches against the pathetic Oakland run defense.  Sure, this backfield is a three- or four-headed monster, but Ivory has flashed enough game-breaking prowess to ensure a significant role in this high-scoring offense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets Pierre Garcon remain a free agent any longer.  If you’re in need of WR help down the stretch, or can easily make room on your bench for a high-upside player, Garcon is available in nearly half of all leagues.  He’s close to returning from his foot injury, and he should immediately reclaim his status as Robert Griffin III’s go-to receiver.

Originally published on the blog Fantasy Fools.

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About the author

Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.

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