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Starts and Fades: Week 11

Well that was an interesting week. The Steelers and Saints each dropped 50-burgers on each other’s division opponents and the Bills’ feeble offense put up 41 of their own, good for the third highest score of the week. Not to mention the killer upsets by the Titans and Browns. Those weren’t by small amounts either; the Browns beat the Falcons by 12 and the Titans whipped the Patriots by a whopping 24.

Of course, of paramount importance is the fantasy fallout. There were some major booms if you picked the right players to start. There were also some major busts. Did you pick the right ones? If not, then you’re in the right place to make sure it doesn’t happen again this week. Before we dive into this week’s starts and fades however, let’s take a look at how we did last week.

Last Week’s Starts: Vance McDonald, Mark Ingram, Duke Johnson, Aaron Jones

As expected, Jesse James cut into McDonald’s playing time a bit. McDonald’s 4 catches for 44 yards wasn’t great, but he did snag a touchdown to reward the managers who took a chance on his roller-coaster production. Ingram plowed ahead for 104 rushing yards on just 13 carries. He also racked up a 3/58/1 receiving line. Duke was surprisingly a victim of game flow in this one as Cleveland held a lead for most of the game. However, he managed to pick up 46 yards and a touchdown on just 7 touches, so still not a bad fantasy outing. Owners in PPR leagues aren’t complaining about the 4 catches either. Jones was one of the major breakout stories of the week. Finally given a chance as the feature back after slogging through an inexplicable RBBC for most of the season, Jones exploded for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground while chipping in 3 catches for an additional 27 yards through the air.

Last Week’s Fades: Joe Mixon, James White, Brandin Cooks, Ezekiel Elliott

While Mixon was certainly efficient at a 5.5 YPC mark, the scoreboard quickly got out of hand. Mixon’s 85 yards and no touchdowns was a far cry from his weekly average. While we were not correct about¬†why White didn’t produce this week, we were still correct that he wouldn’t produce. He only managed 5 catches for 31 yards, and his only carry actually went for negative yards as Sony Michel returned to the lineup. Cooks was surprisingly Goff’s top target by a mile against the quietly stout Seahawks defense. He didn’t score a touchdown, but it’s hard to complain about a 100-yard game. PPR owners also loved his 10 receptions. Zeke made absolute fools of our projection. Despite facing a tough Philadelphia front seven, Zeke rumbled to an impressive 151 yards and a touchdown on the ground while chipping in a 6/36/1 receiving line.

Overall, we whiffed on a couple of the fades, but most of our were pretty accurate. Not a bad week. Let’s see if we can pick up those last couple this week.

Starts

Dion Lewis

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Since Tennessee’s bye, Lewis has definitely been fed as the lead back of the Titans’ backfield while Derrick Henry has been relegated to change-of-pace duties. Even so, the Colts defense is middle-of-the-road against the run so we’re not expecting a breakout game of any sort on the ground. The reason Lewis is here is because of his role in the passing game. Last week aside (where the Titans didn’t need to pass much as they had their way with the Patriots), Lewis’s role in the passing game has been steadily increasing. He notched 6 catches for 64 yards just before the bye against the Chargers and was actually the Titans’ leading receiver against the Cowboys with a 4/60/1 line. Running backs facing the Colts have generally found success through the air this year, including a combined 10/107/1 from the Jaguars running backs last week and 10/67/0 from the Raiders just before their bye. Lewis’s passing game role makes him valuable in all formats, but especially in PPR this week.

T. Y. Hilton

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Hilton has been quiet lately. Since coming back from his early-season injury, he’s posted a combined 8/136/2 over three games. However, he should have an easier time getting open against the Titans. While Tennessee’s secondary is certainly improving, they still struggle to contain receivers and are especially vulnerable to the deep ball. This just so happens to be one of Hilton’s specialties. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a huge volume of targets as Andrew Luck has taken a liking to his tight ends lately, but the targets Hilton does receive should be big plays.

Larry Fitzgerald

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Mike McCoy needs to apologize to Fitzgerald. The legendary receiver has been quiet for most of the season as the former OC ran the Cardinals’ offense into the ground. Enter new OC Byron Leftwich. In the two games since Leftwich took over, Fitz has posted two of his three best games of the season and the entire Cardinals offense looks to finally be lurching forward. The boost comes just in time too as Arizona takes on the hapless Raiders this week. Fitz should have a field day against Oakland’s weak secondary.

Chiefs and Rams offense

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Do you own a starting player from the Chiefs or Rams not named Gerald Everett or Tyler Higbee? If so, start them. Heck, even Everett and Higbee have a chance this week. After all,¬†the over/under for this game is one of the highest ever recorded, if not the highest. The Vegas odds pass the eye test too; the Chiefs and Rams are ranked 2 & 3 in points per game on offense and both have had their share of struggles on defense. Mahomes will be trading touchdowns with Goff and Gurley all day. Don’t overthink this one.

Fades

Julio Jones

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After a bit of a slow start to the year, Jones is finally getting into gear. Over the past four weeks, he has logged at least 7 catches and 100 yards per week while adding 2 touchdowns. However, he may find the visiting Cowboys to be a little tougher of a challenge. The Cowboys secondary has shut down opposing wideouts all year. Only two wide receivers have eclipsed 100 yards against them; DeAndre Hopkins and Golden Tate. Julio certainly has the talent to join those two and become just the third wide receiver to post 100 yards on the Cowboys, but it’s tough to feel confident in that. The sheer number of weapons Atlanta has to spread the ball between isn’t helping. Jones should still be startable, but don’t expect elite numbers this week.

Juju Smith-Schuster

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Juju has been a bit up-and-down this year. This isn’t necessarily surprising given his primary role as the deep ball specialist in the Pittsburgh offense, but it does make him susceptible to bad matchups like this week. Jacksonville’s defense certainly has not lived up to it’s billing after last year, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. A. J. Bouye is coming back this week, and the Jaguars’ D was still capable of preventing the big play even while he was out. Juju will find it difficult to find space for his big plays this week.

Dalvin Cook

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Cook finally looked healthy last week against the Lions, galloping to 89 yards on just 10 carries and chipping in for another 20 yards on 4 catches. After the encouraging showing, OC John DeFelippo stated that Cook will be a full go this week. Just in time to face…a stone wall. The Bears defense has not been kind to running backs this year. They are allowing a league-best 3.6 YPC and have only surrendered 2 touchdowns on the ground, with one of those being a QB sneak from the 1 in garbage time. There is a faint glimmer of hope in that Chicago’s defense can be beat through the air by particularly shifty checkdown targets (namely slot receivers and satellite backs), but don’t expect much in the way of rushing production.

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