Football with the Fantasy Freak: Week 11

942557.jpg

Football with the Fantasy Freak: Week 11

Every Friday, Fantasy Football Draft Guides Scott Gramling (a.k.a. The Fantasy Freak) will help you make the tough decisions for your fantasy teamthe sneaky sleepers that could make or break your matchup, as well as those players you may want to consider leaving on your fantasy bench. He also delves into a hot topic with our Question of the Week. Follow Scott on Twitter @nflfantasyfreak, and watch him every Friday on UNO's Sports Tonight at 6:30 pm. To submit a question to be considered for appearing on the air, do so through Twitter@CSNNE or through our Facebook page at www.facebook.comcsnne.

Week 11 Sleeper of the Week: Colts WR Donnie Avery
Avery has been solid, if not spectacular, in recent weeks with at least four catches in each of his past five games. Only one of those games came against a defense that ranked among the leagues bottom 13 in terms of the amount of fantasy points they give up to opposing receivers, and that was the Browns, who have been depending the pass a lot better even since shut-down corner Joe Haden returned from a four-game suspension the week prior to facing the Colts. Avery now faces his best matchup so far this season against a Patriots secondary thats given up quality fantasy performances in recent weeks to the likes of the Jets Jeremy Kerley, the Rams Chris Givens, and Buffalos Donald Jones. The Pats figure to be more concerned with stopping Reggie Wayne on Sunday, which could open things up for Avery to have his best fantasy output this season.

Week 11 Sleeper No. 2: Raiders WR Denarius Moore
With Darren McFadden expected to be sidelined for at least another week with the high ankle sprain he suffered against the Bucs a couple of weeks ago, you can expect Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer to keep chucking the ball early and often. Palmer has thrown at least 45 passes in three of Oaklands past four games, and Moore has clearly emerged as his preferred target. Since missing some preseason action and the 2012 season opener with a hamstring injury, Moore has been targeted at least eight times in every game hes played this season. The second-year speedster has scored in five of his last seven games, and has caught at least four passes in all seven. Expect for him to have even more success on Sunday at home against a Saints defense that gives up more fantasy points to opposing wideouts than any team in the NFL.

Week 11 Sleeper No. 3: Panthers TE Greg Olsen
Look for Olsen to maintain the momentum he gained from catching a career-high nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos this past Sunday. Olsen had a solid season opener with six catches for 56 yards against the Buccaneers, which is the team hell face this Sunday. Tampa Bay comes in as the NFLs last-ranked pass defense.

Week 11 Bust No. 1: Bears RB Matt Forte
While its hard to recommend sitting a guy whos the focal point of his teams offense the way Forte is, its even harder to imagine him putting up a solid fantasy performance against a tough 49ers defense, especially if Bears quarterback Jay Cutler ends up sitting out the Monday Night game because of the concussion he suffered against Houston. Forte managed only 37 yards from scrimmage in that Sunday night loss to the Texans, who are the only team in the NFL that gives up fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than the 49ers do.

Week 11 Bust No. 2: Chargers WR Danario Alexander
Danario Alexander was the weeks most popular waiver-wire pick-up, and rightly so given the fact that hes burst on the scene with eight catches for 195 yards and one touchdown over the past couple of weeks, including five catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in Week 10 against the Bucs. We mentioned above, however, how dismal Tampa Bay has been against the pass this season, and the team Alexander will face on Sunday, the Broncos, give up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Alexander will be a fantasy factor at times this month and next, but hes unlikely to come close to this past Sundays production when going up against Denvers Champ Bailey-led secondary.

Week 11 Bust No. 3: Steelers WR Mike Wallace
Byron Leftwich will get the start on Sunday night against the Broncos in place of an injured Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich takes longer to wind up and deliver the ball than Luis Tiant used to with the bases empty for the Red Sox in the 1970s, which makes it hard to believe Pittsburgh will be calling many slow-developing pass plays in which Wallace uses his speed to get behind an opposing defense.

Question of the Week:
Which of the Week 11 starting quarterbacks who began Week 10 as back-ups is worth picking up in a bind?
Philadelphias Michael Vick and the aforementioned Ben Roethlisberger have already been ruled out for Week 11. Chicagos Cutler was also ruled out on Friday. That leaves Eagles rookie Nick Foles and a pair of veterans, Pittsburghs Leftwich and the Bears Jason Campbell, to make their first starts of 2012. While its usually safer to go with a veteran signal caller rather than a rookie forced into making his first career start in the middle of a season, Foles is the best Week 11 option among the three. Campbell has the unenviable task of facing an extremely tough 49ers defense, and he was extremely underwhelming in completing 11-of-19 passes for 94 yards in the second half against Houston on Sunday in relief of Cutler. In Campbells defense, he was at least facing a tough D in the Texans, and had to deal with tough weather conditions, unlike Leftwich, who completed just 7-of-14 passes for 73 yards against the Chiefs after replacing Roethlisberger early in the third quarter of Monday night's overtime win. Foles, meanwhile, completed 22-of-32 passes for 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception in relief of Vick against whats been a tough Cowboys secondary (Dallas currently ranks eighth in the NFL against the pass). While Foles numbers were a little misleadinghis touchdown came on a play in which Dallas blew the coverage and he was saved from a horrible interception by a defensive holding penalty before throwing a pick-six on the following serieshe gets to face a Washington defense that gives up more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than any team other than the Saints.

Injury Update:
PHILADELPHIA QB Michael Vick (concussion) is doubtful and Nick Foles will likely start under center . . . WASHINGTON WR Pierre Garcon (foot) should be able to play for the first time since Week 5 . . . GREEN BAY WR Jordy Nelson (ankle) expects to start . . . DETROIT WR Titus Young (knee) has practiced on a limited basis, but should play . . . ARIZONA QB Kevin Kolb (ribs) remains out, leaving John Skelton to start under center again . . . ATLANTA WR Julio Jones (ankle) did not practice Thursday and will be a game-time decision . . . DALLAS RB DeMarco Murray (foot) is doutbful to return to action for the first time since Week 6. INDIANAPOLIS RB Donald Brown (knee) did not practice Thursday and is questionable . . . NEW ENGLAND TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) appears on track to play. WR Wes Welker (ankle) did not practice Thursday, but expects to start . . . JACKSONVILLE RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) has already been ruled out, but QB Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) will start . . . HOUSTON TE Owen Daniels (hip) and RB Ben Tate (hamstring) are both expected back after missing last weeks game, but Tate is a bigger uncertainty . . . KANSAS CITY QB Brady Quinn (concussion) expects to return, but will back up Matt Cassel . . . NEW ORLEANS RB Darren Sproles (hand) should play for the first time since Week 8 . . . OAKLAND RB Darren McFadden (ankle) is doubtful, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) is questionable and TE Brandon Myers (concussion) is probable . . . SAN DIEGO RB Ryan Mathews (neck) will be the dreaded game-time decision . . . BALTIMORE WR Torrey Smith (chest) was limited in Thursdays practice, but should start on Sunday. CB Jimmy Smith (hernia) is out indefinitely . . . PITTSBURGH QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) is out indefinitely, and will be replaced by Byron Leftwich. WR Antonio Brown (ankle) is doubtful, but RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) should play . . . CHICAGO QB Jay Cutler (concussion) remains questionable for Monday. If he cant play, Jason Campbell will start . . . SAN FRANCISCO QB Alex Smith (concussion) is on track to start on Monday night.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

new-england-patriots-helmets-121215_0.jpg

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.