Week 11: Sleepers
Big Ben endured trade rumors over the weekend, but who could blame him if they were true? The former Miami (Ohio) QB is the NFL's active sacked leader (379). The next QB on the list (who plays regularly) is Tom Brady at 329 and he has five years on Roethlisberger. The Steelers are undergoing a bit of a lull, so maybe a fresh start could help both parties. Kudos to him for getting out in front of the media and denying his interest in going anywhere. As for Week 11, the Steelers host the Lions and their average-on-a-good-day defense against opposing QBs. Detroit has allowed QBs to score at least 16 fantasy points (4pt TDs) in every contest and at least 20 FPs five times. Roethlisberger must take better care of the football moving forward and part of that responsibility falls on the offensive line's inability to pass protect. He only has two games with more than one passing TD, but Roethlisberger is getting his points from yardage, not TDs. He is on pace to eclipse 4,500 yards; when you're in need of a backup, sometimes it's best to play it safe with a guy you can count on for 250-plus yards and a score.
Ryan Tannehill and his Miami Dolphins handed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their first win during Monday Night Football, but it wasn't entirely on his shoulders. Miami finished the game with two rushing yards in the wake of all their offensive line drama (which I won't bother to address). Without his offensive line intact, it's a balancing act for Tannehill. On one hand, he'll have more opportunities to throw (but defenses already know it's coming). Next week should be a little easier because of San Diego's struggling defense against QBs. The Chargers are allowing 24.4 fantasy points per game to QBs. They allowed Peyton Manning to throw four TDs last week. Miami WR Rishard Matthews blew up last week (11-120-2), so anything that will take away attention from Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline is great thing. Tannehill is a high QB2 this week.
Ellington has a great matchup coming against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags limited Tennessee's Chris Johnson to 30 rushing yards, but on the year as a whole they've struggled against RBs. They are one of six teams that've conceded double-digit RB TDs. The main concern when starting Ellington is wondering how the carries will be split between he and Rashard Mendenhall. Arizona's head coach [Bruce Arians] has said on multiple occasions Mendenhall is his number one guy and he would prefer to limit Ellington's workload. Regardless, the rookie back has home run potential and also sees a good number of receptions with yardage. He won't see more than 15 touches; however, he has the talent, agility and speed to outproduce modest expectations.
Stewart is right back in the mix for Carolina. He led the team last week with 13 carries against San Francisco. The former Oregon Ducks runner has not yet firmly established he can produce big numbers. Through two games this year, he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry -- about a yard below his career average. Week 11's opponent is New England and the Pats rank among the ten worst in rush yards allowed per carry. In their last three games, they've allowed Le'Veon Bell, Lamar Miller and Chris Ivory to rush for 267yards (79 ypg). Assuming Stewart retains the lead role in Carolina, he should continue to improve as he gets his feet wet. Just keep in mind that Carolina has a fractured backfield with a lot of mouths to feed and this makes it risky in starting any of them, Stewart included.
Despite a three-game losing skid, the Texans' passing attack has been reinvigorated by Case Keenum. The former Houston Cougars QB has six TD passes in his last two games. With his rise, the trickle-down economy of fantasy football is worth monitoring for a guy like Hopkins. He saw 11 targets last week, catching six of them for 69 yards. While the rookie has been good (but not great) all year, this could be a time of the year where he really turns it on. Houston is playing from behind most weeks, which leads to a lot more passing. Hopkins now has 17 targets in his last two games -- his highest totals since Week 2, back when fantasy owners first jumped on waivers to grab him. If Keenum could find him for one TD, he'd make the leap into becoming a rosterable commodity.