Testing the truth of some popular Week 11 wisdom
You’re going to hear a lot of tips going into Week 11. The buzz machine is already humming.
Let’s take a deep look and preemptively determine whether or not the buzz has substance.
“Cameron Meredith is the pickup of the week. Again.”
I was a big-time Meredith supporter when Brian Hoyer was under center. Remember those good days? Hoyer would distribute the ball among all of his weapons while throwing for more than 300 yards in every game… Well, times they are a-changing.
Alshon Jeffery will serve a four0game suspension due to violating the NFL policy on PEDs. That leaves Meredith, Eddie Royal and Zach Miller on the field, plus a possible Marquess Wilson return. The depth chart looks mighty thin.
Jay Cutler is struggling to say the least. Last week against the not-so-scary Tampa Bay defense, Cutler completed just 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 132 yards for a touchdown and two interceptions, and lost a fumble. He was under pressure on 40 percent of his dropbacks and only completed 44.4 percent of his pass attempts in those situations. And then Cutler got the quarterback kiss of death — his head coach, John Fox, announced that he’s still the starting quarterback. Well, you only have Cutler or Matt Barkley, Mr. Fox, so…
But Cutler still has to throw to someone, right?
Does he? Jordan Howard rushed for more than 100 yards for the fourth time this season in Week 11. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Fox and his staff will have to lean on Howard moving forward if they want this offense to produce with any consistency. Cutler is known for locking in on one receiver on pretty much every play. Last week that receiver was Jeffery, and he only caught four of his eight targets for 47 yards. And for the record, Jeffery caught all four of the catchable targets. No drops. Miller caught four of his seven targets for 32 yards. Miller did log one drop, so I’ll cut Cutler some slack on that one.
Meredith was the team’s highest-scoring fantasy option, and yet he only had one catch on the day off of two targets. His one catch went for 50 yards and a touchdown on a hard-to-replicate Hail Mary.
Of course you pick up Meredith where you can, but depending on him for production could be incredibly frustrating. This week the Bears are at the Giants, then they play Tennessee. In Week 13 they will get the 49ers, but many of you will start your playoffs that week. And you need to get into the playoffs first. Meredith is a boom-or-bust stash for fantasy players already playing with a full deck of talent.
Verdict: If you have room, sure, but don’t be surprised if this becomes a run-dominant offense.
“It’s time to drop Ty Montgomery.”
In Week 7, Montgomery was a great play. He carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and caught 10 passes for 66 yards. And actually, he caught 10 passes in Week 6, as well. Everyone was so excited about how the Packers were using him and thought that they sky was the limit when it came to his potential fantasy production moving forward.
Everything came to a screeching halt when news broke that he was going to be inactive in Week 8 due to sickle cell trait complications. Then there were rumors about kidney issues. The warning signs were there.
Let’s look that snap counts. In Week 7, Montgomery played in a season-high 60 of the team’s 87 offensive snaps. When he came back in Week 9, he played in 31 of the 69 total team snaps. And in Week 10 he only played in 22 of the team’s 78 offensive snaps.
You have to consider that his usage went down, as well. In Week 9 he carried the ball seven times for 53 yards and caught three passes for 38 yards. And then in Week 10 he only carried the ball three times for nine yards and caught two passes for 11 yards.
Basically, all of his usage totals are moving in the wrong direction and he’s yet to score any type of touchdown all season. And when you tack on the return of James Starks, who managed 33 yards on seven carries along with three catches for 11 yards and a touchdown in Week 10, you’re not encouraged to keep Montgomery.
I will say this: The Packers fell behind 21-0 early last week to the underrated Titans and were forced to abandon the run. Montgomery could get more involved in weeks where the Packers can slow down and control the pace of the game. However, Starks played in 55 of the team’s snaps, as opposed to Montgomery’s 22. When the Packers have to pass and hurry-up, they lean on a traditional back like Starks.
Montgomery is a gadget play and will be matchup dependent moving forward. This week, Green Bay is at Washington. You can run on Washington, so that could be interesting. But after that they are at Philadelphia, home against Houston and then Seattle. It’s going to be difficult to keep a space open for Montgomery if you’re in win-now mode. And in Week 11, most of us need that win.
Verdict: Keep him if there’s space, but Montgomery is very droppable.
“Kenneth Dixon is the newest must-play running back.”
Two weeks ago the Ravens running backs were coming off their bye and they had a great matchup at home against the rival Steelers. Terrance West was considered a real sleeper not only due to the Steelers’ inability to stop the run, but also because West needed a great performance to keep his starting role. Rookie Kenneth Dixon was getting healthier by the day.
But they both tanked.
West playing in 29 of the team’s total offensive snaps, carried the ball 15 times for 21 yards and caught one of his three targets for six yards. Dixon only played in 20 snaps, carried the ball nine times for 13 yards and caught both of his targets for zero yards. Suffice to say that no one stepped up to the plate.
Much of the same happened in Week 10 against the Browns, a team that gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs regardless of format. West played in 34 of the team’s 84 total offensive snaps (41.4 percent, the exact same as the week before), carried the ball 21 times for 65 yards and caught one of his two targets for 12 yards. Dixon played in 26 snaps (a 3.1-percent increase), carried the ball six times for 39 yards and caught five of his seven targets for 42 yards.
Reports from Baltimore indicate that West is still the lead back. Dixon clearly looks to be a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield, but this team seems insistent on keeping Dixon on the back burner. Dixon did start off the season hurt, but he keeps reiterating that he’s at 100 percent.
The real problem is that the offensive line isn’t opening up holes for anyone, West or Dixon. Of their 157 combined yards, 78 came after contact. West’s lack of production isn’t really his fault, and the offensive line isn’t going to magically open up holes if Dixon starts to take the reins.
As it stands, Dixon and West are fine fill-ins who belong on your bench. If these two players can only muster up 20 to 60 yards against Pittsburgh’s and Cleveland’s run defenses, it’s hard to believe that you can rely on them for fantasy production in less favorable matchups down the stretch.
Verdict: Dixon should be rostered, but don’t start him until we see something.