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.
Cooper has been red hot over his last two games, hauling in eight passes for 241 yards and five TDs. He clearly has a great rapport with QB Nick Foles. As long as Foles remains under center, Cooper is a high-upside WR2 and might actually find himself among fantasy's Top 10 WRs if this hot streak continues. If he's still available in your league (and his ownership numbers at Yahoo and ESPN are way too low), grab him immediately. His 19.8 yards per reception is the highest average for any receiver with 20 or more receptions as evidenced by his five receptions of 40-plus yards, which are tied for third-most in the league.