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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 11 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Dak Prescott at Falcons: Over the last five weeks, Prescott is the overall QB9 in fantasy points per game. He has multiple touchdowns in all four games in that span and has had 240 or more passing yards in three-straight games after accomplishing that just once the first six weeks. Prescott has also attempted at least 31 passes in each of the last three after averaging just 28.5 attempts Weeks 1-6 with one game above 30. It hasn’t just been the passing numbers for Prescott that have experienced a spike; he’s also using his legs more, scoring all three of his rushing touchdowns since Week 6 while averaging over six “carries” per contest in that span. The Cowboys now get an Atlanta defense that is dead last at 32nd in defensive DVOA and is bottom four against both the pass and run. Only the Bengals and Saints are allowing more fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks. Baker Mayfield threw a season-high three touchdowns versus Atlanta last week. Alex Smith has been held to exactly 178 yards passing three of the last four games with his one outlier being a 306-yard day against the Falcons in Week 9. Eli Manning had 399 yards and a score in Week 7. And Jameis Winston had 395 yards and four scores in Atlanta in Week 6. There have been five games played inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season, and the average game total in those has been a whopping 62.8 points. The 48-point total for Cowboys-Falcons seems too low, especially with the Cowboys playing better offensively. Prescott is an elite streamer.

Starts

Marcus Mariota at Colts: Since the Week 8 bye, Mariota is the overall QB7 with back-to-back multi-touchdown games against the Cowboys and Patriots. Mariota has completed 37-of-53 passes (69.8%) for 468 yards (8.83 YPA) and four touchdowns with zero picks and a fifth score via the ground. Weeks 1-7, Mariota completed 66% of his passes at 6.87 YPA with four sub-200-yards passing games and just one multi-touchdown effort. Perhaps he’s turning a corner like Mariota seems to do in the second half of the season every year. He’s also healthy after battling a nerve issue in his throwing hand the first month and a half. The Colts are 16th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks the last five weeks and 27th in pass-defense DVOA on the season. Since the Indianapolis offense plays at such a high pace as the second-fastest behind the Patriots, their defense in turn is on the field a lot, facing the seventh-most plays per game. The Titans will be up in pace playing in a friendly dome environment. Blake Bortles was able to have the overall QB7 day in Indy last Sunday with 320 yards and a pair of scores. Derek Carr threw three touchdowns and ran for another as the QB3 the previous game against the Colts. And Sam Darnold had 280 yards and a pair of scores in Week 6. Derek Anderson’s train wreck for the Bills was sandwiched in between. This is a plus-plus spot for Mariota in a game with a healthy 49-point total being played in a controlled-weather environment.

Eli Manning vs. Bucs: Manning is the QB27 in fantasy points per game and totally washed at this point in his career, but he’s still juuust good enough to be able to exploit bad defenses. Just over the last three games, Manning has faced the Falcons and 49ers in Weeks 7 and 10. He hung 399 yards and a touchdown on Atlanta and tossed three touchdowns against San Fran this past Monday night, hitting Sterling Shepard for a game-winner after finding Odell Beckham twice. (Manning and OBJ should have had a third touchdown hookup, but Eli badly under-threw him on one deep ball and misfired on another at the goal line after Beckham was held.) The Bucs are 30th in pass-defense DVOA and 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve allowed multiple touchdowns to every quarterback except Alex Smith last week and Nick Foles in Week 2, though Foles had 334 yards passing. Tampa Bay allowed five-straight 300-yard passers to open the season. Nobody has done it since, but the Bucs have been getting blown out in recent games, allowing opposing offenses to hammer the run game. The Giants likely aren’t good enough to throttle the Bucs at MetLife. This game should stay somewhat competitive and has big shootout upside. The 52-point total is the third-highest of the week behind Eagles-Saints (56) and Chiefs-Rams (63.5).

Blake Bortles vs. Steelers: Bortles is the QB18 on the season, but is coming off a QB7 day against the Colts last week following the bye. Bortles is really an all-or-nothing entity in fantasy; he has five top-12 finishes while the rest are outside of the top-20 and barely usable in two-QB leagues. It takes a lot to turn to Bortles as a streamer, but this matchup against the Steelers looks decent enough to throw a dart. The Steelers are 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 19th in pass-defense DVOA. However, over the last five weeks, only three teams have surrendered fewer fantasy points to the quarterback spot. The Steelers have faced Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, and Cam Newton in that span. Not exactly a murderers’ row outside of Newton. But Bortles is by no means an upper-echelon passer in his own right. What I do like is the Jaguars are playing up in pace against the Steelers’ ninth-fastest-paced offense, and it’s in Jacksonville with the Jaguars as six-point ‘dogs. They may be chasing all afternoon, and Pittsburgh could be in a bit of a letdown spot after stomping the Panthers last Thursday night in a big primetime win. It’s do-or-die time for the Jags. Bortles was considerably up in pace last week as well against Indy and was able to have a top-seven week. Points-chasing, paced-up, and a mediocre pass defense are what we’re hanging our hat on with Bortles against the Steelers. He’s a fine two-quarterback league play with some upside, especially if Bortles uses his legs to raise his floor. Bortles has at least 25 rushing yards in 7-of-9 games.

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Sits

Philip Rivers vs. Broncos: Rivers has flung himself into the MVP discussion for the 7-2 Chargers and has multiple touchdown passes in every game this season while averaging over 273 passing yards. He’s the fantasy QB13 on the season. While Rivers has been ultra consistent, he hasn’t had a really huge game since going for 424 yards and three scores in Week 1 against the Chiefs. Rivers now gets a Denver unit that is 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. Rivers has had his struggles against this defense in the past, even when it’s been run by coach Vance Joseph. Rivers had two games last season where he failed to eclipse 200 yards passing, and both were against the Broncos. He averaged 6.36 YPA in those contests, well below his 7.9 YPA mark for the year. Denver held Deshaun Watson to 213 yards and two scores last time out. Three games before that, Jared Goff had his worst game of the season with just 201 yards, no scores, and a pick against the Broncos. The Chargers at least get the Broncos in California instead of Mile High, but it’s not enough to make Rivers more than a high-end QB2 on a day where Melvin Gordon should be able to have his way on the ground. Denver is 18th in run-defense DVOA. The 46-point total is one of the lower ones on the board.

Matthew Stafford vs. Panthers: We’re just going to keep fading Stafford, who has shown zero upside this season as the QB25 in fantasy points per game. Stafford is dripping with talent, but coach Matt Patricia has muzzled him by forcing the Lions to run the league’s second-slowest offense in order to try and hide his pathetic defense. Stafford has also lost Golden Tate to a trade with the Eagles, and then saw Marvin Jones go down with a knee injury last week. He’s left with sophomore Kenny Golladay and pedestrian pass-game RB-turned-slot WR Theo Riddick, who is allergic to touchdowns, as his two main weapons. Carolina just got flamed by Ben Roethlisberger for five touchdowns last Thursday night and is 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks since Week 6. No team has given up more touchdown passes in that span. But the volume just isn’t there for Stafford to have any sort of upside. He has just one three-touchdown game on the year. Detroit is 25th in red-zone success after being top-10 in that department last season. The Lions are one of the few teams that has seemed to take a turn for the worst as the season has inched along.

Kirk Cousins at Bears: Cousins has been a great real-life pickup for the Vikings, checking in among the top-three in completion percentage and No. 9 in passer rating. The fantasy numbers just haven’t been there of late. After rounding out September as the overall QB7 following a huge Week 4 performance against the Rams, Cousins has been the QB23 in the six weeks since. Part of it has been the Vikings getting big leads against the Cardinals, Jets, and Lions in that span. But Cousins has shown minimal upside with zero three-touchdown efforts since Week 4 and three games with fewer than 250 passing yards. Heading out on the road against the Bears’ elite defense doesn’t look like a spot to turn things around in the box score. Chicago is No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 in interceptions. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks are playing at All-Pro levels on the defensive line, and the Minnesota offensive line has been one of the worst in the league. The 45-point total for Vikings-Bears is the third-lowest of the week and could end up being dominated by defense.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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