“Mad Dog McCleese”: Heroes & Zeros (Week 11 Preferred QB/TE plays)
I’m excited to talk about my Week 10 picks but first I would like to take this opportunity to thank the real heroes of this great country! They aren’t the players we all worship on Sunday but rather the veterans responsible for our freedom. We all take for granted our freedom on a daily basis without even realizing it. Freedom isn’t free; just ask anyone who has served in any branch of the military. I’m proud to say that my family comes from a military background. This has made me really appreciate the dedication and sacrifices that our military personnel make on a daily basis. They put their lives on the line for everyone so that we can live in freedom. Please take the time this week to thank all the vets that you know personally and make sure they know how much they’re valued and appreciated.
Week 10 Picks in Review
Ben Roethlisberger (Top 5 pick) MISS
Prediction: 28-38 355 yards 3 TDs
Actual: 30-43 343 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Standard scoring: 13 pts
MLFS scoring: 18.65
Well the poster boy of week 10 was a big swing and miss for me. Let’s just face the facts that Big Ben isn’t going to toss 6 touchdowns every week……I know it’s a big shocker! The Steelers could never get it going vs the Jets for whatever reason but regardless I’m not putting much stock in this game. I’d compare it to the Browns-Bengals Thursday Night Football game in that I just want to throw it away and forget about it for fantasy purposes. The main reason for that is because I was highly invested in Roethlisberger in my DFS lineups and want to have a short memory of this and the money he cost me.
Cam Newton (Top 10) MISS
Prediction: 24-36 296 yards 2TDs, 13 rushes for 78 yards 1 TD
Actual: 25-40 306 yards 2TDs, 3 INTs, 2 rushes for 6 yards, 2 fumbles, 1 FL
Standard scoring: 12 pts
MLFS scoring: 4.77 pts
After watching MNF this week I think it’s safe to start writing Cam Newton’s Fantasy obituary for 2013. He’s officially a lost little puppy with two bad legs. The best quarterbacks in the league have great footwork and awareness, both of which Cam is severely lacking. Newton is clearly playing in a lost season and on a tanking team so garbage points will still be there for the taking, but that’s about it. Moreover, Cam’s injuries are like kryptonite taking away all Superman’s superhuman powers. And without his legs Superman is grounded from flying anywhere anytime soon.
Prediction: 26-38 338 yards 3 TDs, 5 rushes for 13 yards
Actual: 20-37 332 yards 2 TDs, 2 rushes for -1 yards
Standard scoring: 21 pts
MLFS scoring: 32.72 pts
I’m sensing a common theme here and that’s my ability to hit on the Bye week replacement pick. Mark Sanchez was my replacement for Nick Foles in a couple of leagues and I won in both of them. He was easily the star of Monday Night Football and boy did he ever put on a show on Primetime. What we’re witnessing here my friend is the reincarnation of Sanchez under Chip Kelly. The connection between Sanchez and Jordan Matthews was on full display and expect it to continue. Sanchez finished as the 3rd highest scoring quarterback in MLFS leagues and 4th highest in standard leagues. If he can keep it up his doubters like Corey Roberts might finally forget about the butt-fumble and realize that he’s for real.
Ryan Tannehill (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 28-42 258 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs, 5 rushes for 23 yards, 1 fumble
Actual: 27-38 207 yards 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 rushes for 0 yards
Standard scoring: 10 pts
MLFS scoring: 12.35 pts
Tannehill was fighting a losing battle from the kickoff of this game in the Motor City. The Lions defense proved to be up to the task of shutting down a red-hot Tannehill. It certainly didn’t help matters that Lamar Miller played a total of 11 snaps making the offense one-dimensional. Hopefully you took my advice and steered clear of Tannehill in week 10.
Colin Kaepernick (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 14-28 228 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs, 6 rushes for 32 yards
Actual: 14-32 210 yards 1 TD, 4 rushes for 24 yards, 1 fumble
Standard scoring: 12 pts
MLFS scoring: 13.9 pts
Kaepernick was harassed for the second week in a row and sacked four times by the Saints. He continued to show flashes completing a clutch 51-yard pass to Michael Crabtree on fourth down, to sustain a game-tying drive. Colin didn’t throw an interception as I predicted that he would but he did lose a costly fumble. He continues to frustrate his fantasy owners on a weekly basis. He’ll certainly have better matchups on the horizon but tread lightly in the meantime owners.
Carson Palmer (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 25-42 245 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Actual: 25-36 241 yards 0 TD, 1 INT
Standard scoring: 7 pts
MLFS scoring: 8.15 pts
I stepped outside of the box with this pick and it was definitely a leap of faith for me at the time. I felt strongly about this pick and benched Palmer in the leagues that I owned him in. I can’t celebrate this personal victory very long since it’s bittersweet considering Palmer is now on IR for the season with a torn ACL. I wish him the best and hopefully he’ll be ready to rock and roll week one in 2015.
Charles Clay (Top 10 Play) MISS
Prediction: 6 receptions for 76 yards 1 TD
Actual: 7 receptions for 45 yards
Standard scoring: 4 pts
MLFS scoring: 11.5 pts
Charles Clay was 2nd on the team in targets with 9 in week 10. The arrow is pointing up considering he’s getting plenty of targets. Clay was a cheap garbage touchdown away from being a HIT for me. This was a tough matchup for him and he still managed a decent line. Believe it or not Clay finished as the 9th ranked scoring tight end in MLFS leagues.
Heath Miller (Top 10 Play) MISS
Prediction: 9 receptions for 101 yards 1 TD
Actual: 3 receptions for 29 yards 0 TD
On a day that Big Ben struggled, I’ll chalk this one up as a MISS and move on. This matchup vs the Jets was too juicy to resist but proved to be a trap game for the Steelers and for me. It’s possible that Miller is the odd man out with all the mouths to feed in Pittsburgh.
Prediction: 2 receptions for 22 yards 0 TD
Actual: 6 receptions for 64 yards 1 TD
Standard scoring: 12 pts
MLFS scoring: 19.4 pts
Mychal Rivera proved me wrong and appears to be emerging into Derek Carr’s most reliable target. I wanted to see him do it again before I started believing and sure enough he did. It’s worth noting that his touchdown came with [0:48] left in the 4th quarter. On a win-less team there should be plenty of garbage points to be had in Rivera’s future. Hopefully you disregarded my recommendation to sit him and instead took my fellow MLFS writer Matt Barkman’s advice Sunday in his, “Off the Matt” article. He just keeps hitting homeruns with his Sunday predictions! Very impressive to say the least, keep up the great work Matt.
Zach Ertz (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 3 receptions for 34 yards 0 TD
Actual: 1 reception for 17 yards 0 TD
Standard scoring: 1 pt
MLFS scoring: 2.7 pts
Finally I HIT on a tight end! As I touched on last week Ertz is losing snaps to Celek and only saw 3 targets on Monday night. A spade is a spade and at this point Ertz is fading fast and not worthy of holding onto in the deepest of leagues. Go ahead and do yourself a favor and cut bait now if you haven’t already.
Week 11 Primer
This week’s theme is Hero or Zero replacing my Hit or Miss. My Hero picks will not only be good fantasy starts but will lead their respective teams to wins in most cases. We have 4 teams on bye with the most noteworthy of them all, the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo could definitely use the week off with his back issues so it’s a blessing in disguise. His owners will need to make alternative plans week 11. If you’re starting Flacco, Bortles, or Vick then you really need my help so keep reading. Hopefully you were lucky enough to acquire Mark Sanchez but maybe not. Carson Palmer owners may also be trolling for a replacement. My job at the end of the day isn’t to give you the obvious plays but some of the under the radar plays of the week.
Start of the Week- Top 10 QB
Teddy Bridgewater @ Chicago Bears (HERO)
Teddy Bridgewater and company travel to Soldier Field this week for a heated NFC North divisional matchup vs the sinking Bears. After watching my beloved Bears get throttled by the Packers on SNF, I’ve finally realized just how bad they really are. Teddy seems to be settling in lately after leading the Vikings to back-to-back wins vs Tampa Bay and Washington. This is a prime matchup for him to have a breakout type performance similar to when he played the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. That was his most productive game to date passing for 317 yards and running for a score. Bridgewater has yet to produce a multi-TD game as a pro which is surprising. I really think this is the week he pops the seal and showcases why many draft experts had him tabbed as a top 5 pick before his disappointing Pro Day. It will also help if he gets back his tight end Kyle Rudolph who has been recovering from a sports hernia. Bridgewater’s rookie season reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson’s. He came along slow at first but then everything started to click after he got some starts under his belt and got comfortable with the offense he was running. Bridgewater shouldn’t have any problems piling up numbers this week vs one of the worst, if not worst defensive units in the NFL. The Bears have allowed the 2nd most passing touchdowns in the NFL with 23. Roll the dice on Bridgewater this week and you will be rewarded for your leap of faith.
28-44 336 yards 2 TDs, 5 carries for 32 yards 1 rushing TD
Strong Play (Top 10 QB)
Robert Griffin III vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (HERO)
It’s been a long time since we could get excited about “Bobby Three-Sticks” but something tells me that this is the week that will change. The Redskins are coming off their bye and there have been rumblings in DC that “the jury is still out on RG3”. This quote came directly from Head Coach Jay Gruden’s mouth and reading between the lines this seems more like him challenging RG3 to step up his game. It’s a motivational tactic but at the same time it couldn’t be further from the truth. RG3 hasn’t looked like the same player he was his rookie year after his devastating ACL injury. One can only hope and pray that RG3 has shaken off some of the rust from his long layoff. I’ll admit he scares me a lot with his running style and inability to slide but he still has plenty of weapons around him to excel. RG3 showed that DeSean Jackson was his preferred target in his first game back but he needs to rediscover Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed to reach his ceiling in the Redskins offense. The Redskins will lean more on Alfred Morris and the running game early to take some pressure off RG3. This should open up the play-action playbook and allow RG3 to make some big plays downfield. The stage is set for a big game from RG3 considering that Tampa Bay has allowed the 5th most passing yards in the NFL. And if you consider that three of the four teams that have allowed more passing yards haven’t had their byes yet, that would put the Bucs at the bottom of this list. Another interesting stat I found was that the Bucs have allowed the 2nd highest completion percentage for quarterbacks this year trailing only the St. Louis Rams. I wouldn’t have any reservations inserting RG3 into my starting lineup if my starter was on bye or struggling like say Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, or Andy Dalton.
30-41 336 yards 3 TDs, 1 INT, 6 rushes for 29 yards
Bye week replacement Plug-in
Josh McCown @ Washington Redskins (HERO)
Josh McCown regained the starter role from Mike Glennon in Week 10 and didn’t disappoint. He completed 27 of 43 passes with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. McCown also led the team in rushing with 5 carries for 39 yards which is hard to believe. He did a great job spreading the ball around connecting with six different receivers, throwing touchdowns to rookies Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The turnovers are a concern and I’d like to see him build some chemistry with wily veteran and red-zone target Vincent Jackson. I was very high on McCown during the preseason and drinking the Kool-Aid since he had so many weapons at his disposal. I’ll speak for Bears fans everywhere in saying that we wish they would’ve signed McCown to a big contract instead of Cutler, but unfortunately hindsight is 20/20. McCown is a gamer and has a true passion for the game he loves to play. Proof of that was his reaction in the locker room Sunday after a tough loss to the Falcons. It was reported that he was sobbing afterwards and was comforted by his quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo. I wonder if Jay Cutler has ever cried in the locker room after a heart-breaking loss? No way, he’s too busy pointing the finger at everyone else, making excuses, and thinking about his plans after the game to care that much. This is the kind of emotional display that McCown’s teammates will remember and help gain their trust. I don’t know about you but when I go to battle I want to know that my teammates right beside me are as invested as I am and will lay it all down on the line to do whatever it takes to win. This is what makes McCown such a great leader and someone you want to hitch your wagon to. McCown’s going to come out firing in the Nation’s Capital this Sunday and will do his best to lead the Bucs to a much-needed win. In the process he can help your fantasy team win if you’re in need of a bye week replacement. Here is my fearless forecast for Josh McCown.
31-44 328 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 3 rushes for 18 yards
Stay Away QB Plays
Jay Cutler vs Minnesota Vikings (ZERO)
Can someone please get the Tampa Bay General Manager on the line so we can work a deal to get Josh McCown back in exchange for Jay Cutler?! If I owned a Jay Cutler jersey I would have burned it by now like most Cleveland Cavaliers fans burned “King James” jerseys when he left for South Beach. Ok maybe I’m going a little overboard but Cutler and Coach Trestman better figure something out and fast. We’re already heading into week eleven and the Bears have yet to win a home game. I’d like to be optimistic but instead I have to be realistic about their chances of winning this game. Minnesota has a very underrated defense that has allowed the 4th fewest passing yards in the league this year. When you take into consideration they’ve recorded the 2nd most sacks this year behind Buffalo with thirty. I’m seeing visions of Jay laying on his back a lot. Everson Griffen is a BEAST and has nine of the Vikings thirty team sacks and is going to add to this impressive total. Meanwhile, Cutler has thrown four interceptions in the last three games after tossing two more on Sunday night. The bottom line is the Vikings have the playmakers on the defensive side to shut down the Bears offense period. Brandon Marshall hasn’t practiced all week and although he’s played before without practicing there has to be a level of concern here. If Marshall is held out the ship will sink along with Cutler. I would be safe and steer your ship clear of this Cutler nightmare altogether.
26-39 247 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Russell Wilson @ Kansas City Chiefs (ZERO)
What’s going on with Russell Wilson lately? Maybe he’s “Sleepless in Seattle” or maybe he’s just not the player everyone thought he was after his incredible rookie year. You would think that the return of center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung would be the cure-all for him but apparently not. Wilson has been MIA since week 7 when he exploded against the Rams for 419 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. In the three games since he’s thrown for a total of 550 yards and only one touchdown. His saving grace has been his ability to pile up the rushing yards and he did run for 107 yards and a rushing touchdown last week vs the Giants. The Seahawks are a smash-mouth football team and are perfectly fine with grinding down opposing defenses using their stable of running backs led by Marshawn Lynch aka “Beast mode.” They ran the ball 45 times last week while Wilson attempted only 17 passes, which was a season-low for him. If you consider that Lynch is a free agent after this season, it makes sense that they’re fine with riding him until the wheels fall off. It’s like that old beater car that you drove back in college until you got your first “real” job. You got really attached to it and it got you around but when it finally broke down it wasn’t worth the money it would cost to fix it. The Seahawks have their identity and they’ll have to stick with the blueprint this week vs a Chiefs defense that has allowed the least passing yards to opposing quarterbacks. Russell Wilson is a low-end QB1 until further notice and one that I would only be streaming in good matchups. Do yourself a big favor and bench Russell Wilson this week before you blow your chances of making the playoffs.
17-28 169 yards 1 TD 2 INTs, 8 rushes for 42 yards
Mark Sanchez @ Green Bay Packers (ZERO)
No you don’t need glasses or your vision checked and I promise this isn’t a joke. Just when you think you have me figured out I throw you guys a curveball. Let me preface this pick by stating that I’m a strong believer in Mark Sanchez as long as he’s under Chip Kelly’s wing. I also believe that he’ll post top 10 fantasy quarterback numbers the rest of the season. Having said that it’s hard for me to endorse Sanchez this week vs a Packers team that has allowed the 9th fewest passing yards in the league and has recorded twelve interceptions. Not to mention that going on the road and playing on the frozen tundra isn’t exactly a walk in the park for any quarterback. The Packers have won their last home three home games by at least 21 points and an average of 31 points. The Green Bay defense is better than advertised and this week they will make Sanchez pay for any mistakes he makes. Unless “Shady” McCoy finally gets going on the ground this game could get ugly early. If you have to start him then go for it but just know that it will be his biggest test yet and one that he’s setup to fail under the conditions.
22-42 252 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs, 3 rushes for 5 yards, 1 FL
Strong TE Play (Top 10)
Travis Kelce vs Seattle Seahawks (HERO)
If you’d been reading my weekly articles then you know I’ve already professed my love for Travis Kelce. So I have a man-crush on the former Cincinnati Bearcat, I could think of a lot worse things! What’s not to love about a player going up against a Hawks team that ranks 29th in the league against tight ends and 4th in scoring? They’ve allowed ten touchdowns to opposing tight ends and multiple scores to the position in four games. This bodes well for Kelce to bounce back from his 2 catch, 19 yard performance last week vs the Buffalo Bills. Kelce prefers playing at home at Arrowhead Stadium where he’s averaged 8.8 fantasy points (standard scoring) which is almost three points higher than on the road. Another reason I’m all in on Kelce this week is because Anthony Fasano hasn’t practiced all week and is looking very questionable with a bruised knee. I feel like a broken record here but if Kelce is given an uptick in snaps he’s going to make them count and his fantasy owners very proud. Andy Reid is slowing taking the training wheels off Kelce and this just might be the week he’s fully unleashed. He’s way too smart not to attack the Seahawks at one of their major weaknesses. Make sure Kelce is locked into your starting lineup this week.
8 receptions for 89 yards, 2 TDs
Chase Ford/Kyle Rudolph @ Chicago Bears (HERO)
I know this is technically cheating since I’m picking two tight ends from the same team but here’s the deal. With all the uncertainty surrounding Kyle Rudolph and whether or not he’ll play this is a two-sided coin. If Rudolph plays he’s a great play in Norv Turner’s tight end friendly attack. Especially when you consider how bad the Bears have been lately at defending opposing tight ends. Since week 5 at Carolina the Bears have allowed nine receiving touchdowns in five games and multiple scores in three of those five. Meanwhile since Rudolph went down Teddy Bridgewater has managed to build some chemistry with Chase Ford. Teddy loves to target his tight ends and it helps that Norv likes to deploy a lot of two tight end sets. In Ford’s last two games Teddy has targeted him 13 times and he’s caught 11 of those targets. It wouldn’t surprise me if they both play and score touchdowns this week. If Rudolph sits than Chase Ford is a sneaky good option vs the Bears soft defense.
Chase Ford projections *w/o Rudolph*
5 receptions for 58 yards, 1 TD
Kyle Rudolph projections
6 receptions for 63 yards, 1 TD
Stay Away TE Plays
Jordan Reed vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ZERO)
You would think the return of RG3 would be a good thing for Jordan Reed’s fantasy value. Instead Reed was only targeted once for a 17 yard reception vs the Vikings. Hell Colt McCoy targeted Reed seven times the week before in Dallas. Going back to week one Reed has only been targeted twice in two games with RG3 under center. I’ve never trusted Reed because of his injury concerns and concussion history but the lack of targets is really concerning. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been stingy vs tight ends but I think that’s because opposing offensive coordinators have attacked the Bucs primarily through the air with their wide receivers. The Redskins will attack the Bucs with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson and won’t need to worry about involving Reed. I wouldn’t necessarily cut Reed yet but I’d plant him on your bench until further notice.
3 receptions for 33 yards
Jared Cook was a hot waiver wire add for tight end needy fantasy owners this week. This is all coming after his big game in week 10 vs the Arizona Cardinals. If you dig a little deeper you’ll find that he was only targeted three times and caught two passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. I would take this game with a grain of salt considering that the Cardinals have been one of the worst defenses this year vs tight ends. In the previous three weeks prior to this game he only registered 11 targets, 6 receptions and zero touchdowns. Cook hasn’t topped three receptions in a game since Week 6 which should concern his owners. I understand that there aren’t a lot of pass-catching options on the Rams roster after Brian Quick was lost for the season but Jared Cook isn’t the long-term answer. We’ve all seen this song and dance from Cook before and he’s teased us with a monster game only to disappear into the Abyss. He does have a good matchup this week vs the Broncos who are allowing the sixth-most points to tight ends. This stat aside, I still wouldn’t trust him to start producing consistent fantasy numbers. I would much rather start Kyle Rudolph, Mychal Rivera, or even Austin Seferian-Jenkins this week. Could he possibly score a garbage-time touchdown this week? He could but he could also leave you with a big fat zero and that’s why he’s a ZERO in my book.
Thanks for reading and hopefully I kept you guys and gals entertained and more importantly I provided you some valuable fantasy advice. I shot 50% last week with my picks and I hope to improve on that percentage every week, which is one of my personal goals. In closing I think we could all use a copy of the book “Baby Steps” which was given to Bill Murray in one of my favorite movies “What About Bob?” I’ll use this analogy in a way you can understand in Fantasy terms. You should set small, reasonable goals for your teams and focus on improving your teams on a week-to-week basis. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself and try not to let all the injuries and suspensions sink your team. Just because your team starts off 8-0 or 7-3 doesn’t mean you can just set cruise control and go to sleep at the wheel. Remember the Fantasy Football season is 16 weeks long and is a marathon, not a 40 yard dash. Good luck in Week 11 and keep your eyes on the prize at the end of the rainbow.
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Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts this Sunday November 16th from 11am-12pm EST for this week’s live episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in to ask questions live at 646.915.8596. This weeks guests are Bryan Robinson and Matt Barkman. Both Bryan and Matt write for MLFS. Bryan publishes a piece every Thursday called “FLEXual Tension” in which he focuses on the WR/RB position from week to week. Matt publishes a piece every Sunday morning at 9am EST called “Off the Matt” in which he focuses on key players either “out”, “questionable”, or “doubtful” to play Sunday or Monday. He then provides you with alternatives.
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