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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

Truths and Lies: Week 11

It’s the home stretch for fantasy owners. Three games to grab a ticket to the fantasy playoffs or be doomed to wait nine long months to begin the next title quest. Are you ready?

This was supposed to be another six-team bye weekend, but Tampa Bay and Miami are playing their Week 1 hurricane-delayed game. Carolina, New York Jets, Indianapolis and San Francisco are sitting out this week.

Not much rain or snow in the forecast, perhaps Seattle for Monday night, but double-digit wind is expected in Cleveland, Green Bay, Houston, Chicago and New York and that can be more troublesome.

Jonathan Stewart

Jonathan Stewart scored double-digit fantasy points Thursday night... the first time since Week 1.


“The truth is never dangerous, except when told.” - Philip Moeller

1) “I was told all week that I was a fantasy sleeper. I had to get everyone some points.” Garrett Celek TE San Francisco

True. Every tight end scores big when they play the New York Giants (13.8 FPts/G allowed) and Celek was the trendy play last Sunday. He responded with his best game since 2015 – four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown worth 12.7 fantasy points. His previous high this season was just 6.1 points. Sometimes, past results DO indicate future performance. For those looking forward, the Giants play; Kansas City, Washington, Oakland, Dallas, Philadelphia and Arizona through Week 16. Expect every one of those tight ends to be highly ranked and No. 1 overall in a couple of cases.

2) Jonathan Stewart is still not “allowed” to score touchdowns.

Unfortunately true. Despite posting a season-high 110 yards, when it came to actually putting the ball into the end zone, the scores went to; Christian McCaffrey and lightly-used Cameron Artis-Payne. J-Stew still has just one rushing touchdown this season and he’s 1-for-20 in the red zone. You can’t win fantasy leagues that way.

3) Jamaal Williams will be the most added player in Week 11, but isn’t likely to give you as many points as you would hope.

True. The Ravens, Green Bay’s next opponent, have only yielded one running back more than 18 points this season (Le’Veon Bell) and Williams certainly isn’t in Bell’s league. In fact, the only backs to have cracked 12 points against Baltimore this season are; Leonard Fournette, Bell, Jordan Howard and Latavius Murray. Williams’ fantasy value in Week 11 should come in around 6-8 points.

4) Russell Wilson leads all active quarterbacks over the past five weeks (30.9 FPts/G) after averaging 22.9 through the first five games.

Fact. This shouldn’t surprise any fantasy owners. Wilson always comes on as the season progresses. Last season he averaged 18.0 over the first eight games and 22.9 over the final eight. In 2015, the split was more pronounced – 20.0/29.8. Wilson won’t face a top-10 defense (based on fantasy points allowed) through the end of the fantasy regular season, but the fantasy playoffs could be a challenge with top-ranked Jacksonville in Week 14 and No. 6 Los Angeles Rams in Week 15.

5) Antonio Brown has not been a top-10 receiver since Week 6.

Check it out. He’s not even the No. 1 receiver on the Steelers. In the last four games JuJu Smith-Schuster has averaged 13.5 FPts/G, good enough for third overall behind DeAndre Hopkins and Robert Woods, while Brown is averaging 11.4 points. Obviously, the reason JuJu is open so often, is because of the attention that Brown requires, but fantasy owners only care about results. Unless defenses end up fearing Smith-Schuster more than Brown (very unlikely) or Ben Roethlisberger decides to force the ball to No. 84 through double coverage, Brown’s totals could continue to be “pedestrian.”


“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

1) LeGarrette Blount is still the Eagles starting running back.

In name only. I expect Jay Ajayi to see slightly more work and the former Dolphin is a better runner than Blount. The Eagles bye came at the perfect time for Ajayi to learn the entire offense. Blount will become completely touchdown dependent and probably shouldn’t be started. Corey Clement, he of the three-touchdown game against Denver shouldn’t be started either. I’m thinking 18 touches for Ajayi, 12 rushing attempts for Blount and eight touches for Clement.

2) Drew Brees is still an elite fantasy quarterback.

Sorry, not any more. Part of the reason for his decline is the improvement of the rest of the team. Brees no longer is forced to win 48-45 shootouts. The New Orleans defense has become a force, yielding just 18.3 points per game. In addition, the two-headed monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has become dynamic. Ingram has posted three 100-yards games this season, is averaging 4.7 ypc and scored seven times. Kamara has emerged since the trade of Adrian Peterson, scoring four times in the last three games, and averaging 109 yards from scrimmage over the past six contests. Given all that, Brees doesn’t need to throw as much, so he’s not, though he’s still completing a league-leading 71.7 percent of his throws. He’s on pace to attempt 533 passes, the fewest since 2009 when he threw the ball just 514 times. Ironically, that was the year New Orleans won the Super Bowl. Coincidence, probably not.

3) Fantasy owners can replace Ezekiel Elliott with Alfred Morris/Rod Smith/Darren McFadden and survive.

No, no, a thousand times no. Zeke is a special talent and no matter how good the Cowboys offensive line is supposed to be, there is going to be a significant drop off. Even if Tyron Smith returns at LT, fantasy owners will suffer. Smith’s absence affected the Dallas passing game more than running game last week in Atlanta. Morris averaged 4.8 ypc and Rod Smith averaged 4.7. But the threat of Elliott running the football opens up almost every option for Dak Prescott and the passing game. Without Elliott, defenses don’t fear the Dallas run game. Not only can’t any of the three running backs fill Elliott’s shoes, but his absence hurts Prescott and Dez Bryant’s fantasy values.

4) Teddy Bridgewater should end up starting for the Vikings this season.

Fairy tale. It’s a nice story for beat writers, but has anyone looked at his statistics from 2015. He threw for an average 202 yards per game, tossed 14 touchdowns and was picked off nine times. He also rushed for 12 yards per game and scored three times. He ranked 26th among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts (35th overall) scoring 15.9 FPts/G. His record was 11-5 (.687 win percentage). Case Keenum is 5-2 (.714 win percentage), averaging 239.3 ypg, has 11 touchdown passes against five interceptions and is averaging 18.3 FPts/G. Long-term, I understand the desire for Bridgewater to be the starter, but shoving him in the lineup of a Super Bowl contender after missing 18 months is foolish and I don’t think Minnesota’s management team is foolhardy.

5) No one should want to start a wide receiver from run-heavy Jacksonville.

I would, and did. Sure, the Jaguars are a run-first team, led by rookie Leonard Fournette, but Blake Bortles has been respectable of late, averaging 19.9 FPts/G and 37.5 passing attempts since Week 6. Bortles has actually thrown 30 or more passes in six of his last eight games. Marqise Lee has been the primary beneficiary of the “improved” Bortles, seeing almost 10 targets per game and averaging 10.6 FPts/G. That’s WR2 level. The Jaguars face Cleveland, Arizona and Indianapolis to finish out the fantasy regular season and Seattle, Houston and San Francisco in the fantasy playoffs – a favorable schedule.

Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.