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Flex Plays: Players to Watch in Week 11

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

I undersold Vincent Brown last week as a bonus recommendation that I deemed a "savvy desperation start." If you watched him on Thursday Night Football you saw a display of the type of tremendous hands and aggressiveness as a receiver that creates superstars in this league. There's no one receiver he reminded me of exactly, but he impressed me enough to warrant more than just the words "desperation start" this week. That's for sure.

In all, my Week 10 was a great success. Counting Brown, my record came in at 19-14 for my second straight week over 0.500. Additionally, I topped Week 9's mark of six big-time performances with eight guys that reached at least 18 points. Headlining that group were Michael Bush's monster smackdown of the Chargers, Laurent Robinson's two-score affair and Marshawn Lynch's Beast Mode effort versus Baltimore. With Bush leading the way I was 3-for-3 on my favorite picks as well. Of course certain names didn't come through like those fellas as Jerome Simpson, Jon Baldwin and Pierre Thomas left me wanting more. A lot more.

Week 11 poses the last big hurdle of the season before stretch-run playoff pushes. Four teams (Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh) are taking a break and robbing the fantasy world of a lot of talent in an ever-important, must-win week for many teams, so get out your pen and paper and jot down the four names I'm locking in as my favorites to step up and replace any missing stars. Reggie Bush, Laurent Robinson, Damian Williams and Matt Ryan will fill in those big numbers you're used to and may put your team over the top in this pivotal week.

As an encore to the Brown bonus play I offered last week, I would like to point out the name Maurice Morris as a surprise star this time around. If the Panthers defense will let Chris Johnson score, who won't they let score?

Thursday 11/17/11

New York Jets @ Denver


Mark Sanchez (QB) for Jets - Mr. Sanchez has now accounted for at least two touchdowns in all but two games this year. Coincidentally, the Broncos are allowing opposing teams to pass for an average of exactly two scores per game. If my math is right, that equals a high chance of Sanchez getting his two.

Lance Ball (RB) for Broncos - Ball saw a career-high 30 carries after Knowshon Moreno (knee) and Willis McGahee (leg) both went down versus the Chiefs last week. With Moreno heading to IR and McGahee hurting on a short week, expect to see plenty more Ball when Denver's option attack can't throw at all on the Jets.

Sunday 11/20/11

Tampa Bay @ Green Bay


Josh Freeman (QB) for Buccaneers - The Packers defense makes awesome fantasy starts out of good quarterbacks and good fantasy starts out of average quarterbacks. So although Freeman falls into the latter category, he's a strong play facing off against this friendly pass defense.

James Starks (RB) for Packers - Starks has gotten exactly 13 carries now in four straight games, so even though his upside is limited, his high floor makes him a worthy flex. And against a terrible Bucs' rush defense that's allowed 557 yards through three games, Starks should blow through his floor this week.

Carolina @ Detroit

Jonathan Stewart (RB) for Panthers - With Cam Newton slowing down and the Lions struggling, look for Carolina to take advantage of a Detroit run defense that's allowed 433 yards on the ground in their past three games. Stewart, the Panthers' best back, will take the most advantage.

Greg Olsen (TE) for Panthers - The Detroit pass defense is tied with Pittsburgh for allowing the fewest yards-per-attempt (5.8) in the league. What that means for the Carolina passing attack is that Olsen, who's had 18 targets over his last two games, will continue to see a lot of looks on short and intermediate routes.

Jacksonville @ Cleveland

Greg Little (WR) for Browns - McCoy has got to throw to someone, and with Little finally flashing his big-play potential with a 52-yard bomb, last week he's proven to be not just the team's most targeted receiver but also their most talented. In a winnable game for the Browns, look for Little to keep displaying his big upside.

Chris Ogbonnaya (RB) for Browns - I'm no longer suggesting him as a start just because I love to say his name. Ogbonnaya proved last week that he is capable of posting the numbers a starting NFL running back should put up when given opportunities. With Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty still out, those chances are still there.

Oakland @ Minnesota

Michael Bush (RB) for Raiders - After last week's huge performance I don't even care if Darren McFadden does return to steal the starting job back. Bush is going to get his, especially as the team's preferred goal line back. Keep him active regardless of Run DMC's status.

Denarius Moore (WR) for Raiders - Carson Palmer is giving his receivers chances to make plays. Moore is a playmaker. Start him, sit back and enjoy the show.

Buffalo @ Miami

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) for Bills - Buffalo badly needs a win. Miami is really bad defending the pass. Enter a hungry Bills offense led by a heady signal caller. Fitzpatrick will see to it Buffalo doesn't leave South Beach without a W.

Reggie Bush (RB) for Dolphins - The past few weeks have been very nice for Bushes in the NFL. Against a weak Buffalo defense, the east coast Bush will continue his recent tear by racking up some big yardage.

Dallas @ Washington

Laurent Robinson (WR) for Cowboys - No Miles Austin equals a must-start for Robinson. In four games that Austin has been out or left the game, he's piled up 270 yards and three scores. Expect that trend to continue.

Roy Helu (RB) for Redskins - Helu averaged a full five yards per carry more than Ryan Torain in the Skins' loss to Miami, getting all of his rushes in the second half. I think (emphasis on "think") Mike Shanahan has finally established a lead back in Helu.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore

Cedric Benson (RB) for Bengals - Benson has yet to receive under 15 carries in a game, and with Baltimore giving up two 100-yard rushers and three touchdowns in their past four games, that could spell a nice day for him, especially if A.J. Green is out or limited and the Bengals lean more on the ground attack.

Ed Dickson (TE) for Ravens - Dickson is second on the Ravens in targets. Joe Flacco is third in the league in pass attempts, averaging 40 per game. Coming off a career game, Dickson will continue to see a lot of balls come his way.

Arizona @ San Francisco

John Skelton (QB) for Cardinals - Skelton has exhibited the type of calm, cool demeanor that does not get unnerved by a physical defense such as the Niners' unit. In a matchup that will force the Cardinals to throw frequently, he'll post some solid stats with the help of Larry Fitzgerald.

Kendall Hunter (RB) for 49ers - The Cardinals proved last week that they are no pushover. But the Niners are also no folding chair like the Philadelphia Eagles. Gore will get some rest in this less-than-scary contest for San Fran, opening the door for Hunter to rack up some serious yardage as the lead back.

Seattle @ St. Louis

Sam Bradford (QB) for Rams - Last week Bradford went into the Dawg Pound and beat Cleveland while throwing a score against the Browns' No. 1 ranked pass defense. This week he'll work Mark Clayton into the rotation and boost the yards in a big way against a Seattle team that just isn't the same when they travel.

Brandon Lloyd (WR) for Rams - Though the team he's suiting up for limits his upside, Lloyd simply cannot be benched in this offensive system, particularly since he's basically the No. 1 and No. 2 receiver for the Rams. Keep him going for the steady production.

Tennessee @ Atlanta

Damian Williams (WR) for Titans - In his last five full games, Williams has scored in four of them and totaled 60 yards the one time he was held out of the end zone. He's coming into his own as the Titan's clear No. 1 receiver and that process should continue in the Georgia Dome.

Matt Ryan (QB) for Falcons - In his last two weeks Ryan has 626 passing yards and five touchdowns and showed last week that he can still get it done without Julio Jones. With another home game on the docket (where he's typically much better), Ryan will keep up his recent hot streak.

San Diego @ Chicago

Vincent Brown (WR) for Chargers - I could throw out stats to back this up, but if you saw the highlights of Brown's catches against the Raiders, you wouldn't need them either. This young man is a pure talent and has already become a favorite weapon of Philip Rivers in just two weeks.

Earl Bennett (WR) for Bears - No other Bear had more than a single catch last week as Bennett has made himself the clear No. 1 target of Jay Cutler in the two weeks since he's returned from injury. He hasn't dropped a pass in those games and hasn't been below 80 yards. That kind of floor makes him a strong flex.

Philadelphia @ New York Giants

Brandon Jacobs (RB) for Giants - With Ahmad Bradshaw likely out again this week, Jacobs is in line for a big outing against a Philly defense that remains soft against the run.

Mario Manningham (WR) for Giants - Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will draw the most attention from the Eagles secondary, allowing Manningham to step into the fantasy limelight with his best performance of the year. His first 100-yard game and possibly a touch could be on the horizon.

Monday 11/21/11

Kansas City @ New England


Dwayne Bowe (WR) for Chiefs - With Tyler Palko at the helm the Chiefs look a bit like a garbage dump for fantasy players. But don't dismiss the fact that the Pats are still dead last in passing yards and that no one knows just what Palko can do. What I do know for sure though is this: he'll look Bowe's way a lot in a blowout.

Aaron Hernandez (TE) for Patriots - Hernandez has notched a touchdown in every game he's played this year that wasn't against the Jets. Facing a Chiefs team that has begun an implosion, Hernandez should return to business as usual.