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Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 11

Here’s who I like and don’t like for Week 11:

Quarterbacks

IN: Carson Palmer, Raiders
After a slow start, Palmer has put up over 18 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks and his best game with the Silver and Black could be just around the corner. The Raiders will face the Vikings on Sunday, a team that’s not only ranked 30th in the league against the pass and has allowed the second-most passing touchdowns in the NFL (18), but is also missing one of its key players in the secondary (Antoine Winfield). On extra rest, look for Palmer to air it out and put up some nice fantasy numbers this week.

OUT: Joe Flacco, Ravens
Flacco has been as inconsistent as the Ravens these days, averaging just over 12 fantasy points in his last five games. His track record against this week’s opponent, the Bengals, doesn’t garner much confidence — in the last four matchups, Flacco hasn’t topped 200 yards and has  just two touchdowns while throwing nine interceptions. Cincinnati’s defense is giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, so Flacco could be in for another tough day.

Running backs

IN: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
Lynch has rewarded fantasy owners who have stuck by him — he’s scored a touchdown in each of his last five games and has notched 100-yard performances in back-to-back weeks (including against that tough Ravens D in Week 10). The Rams have had issues stopping the run all season, most recently giving up 126 yards to the Browns, who were missing their top two backs. Lynch will have a chance to put up some nice numbers again in Week 11.

OUT: LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
When Earnest Graham was lost for the year, many thought Blount would make the most of his increased workload, but the opposite happened. Since returning from injury, the Bucs back has produced single-digit fantasy points in each of the last three games and had only 34 yards last week against Houston. Tampa was trailing early in that game, and the same will be true this week against Green Bay. In all likelihood the Bucs will be throwing the ball to keep pace with the high-flying Packers, who are ranked eighth against the run this season.

Wide Receivers

IN: Jordy Nelson, Packers
Every Green Bay receiver has benefited from the outstanding play of Aaron Rodgers, but lately it’s been Nelson coming up big.  He’s ranked seventh among fantasy receivers and is coming off his first multi-touchdown game of the season. Nelson has become much more involved in the offense over the last couple of weeks (four touchdowns in four games and two 100-yard performances over that span) and his production should continue this week against the lowly Bucs, who are ranked 28th against the pass.

OUT: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
With Matt Cassel out for the foreseeable future, Tyler Palko takes over under center in Kansas City and will make his first career start against the Patriots on Sunday. Yes, New England is giving up the most fantasy points to wideouts this year, but who knows what you’re going to get from Palko. Bowe will still be his main target, but I think the risk is too great to play him with any confidence.

Tight Ends

IN: Greg Olsen, Panthers
Olsen’s numbers have been far from impressive lately — in his last five games, the tight end has hit double digit fantasy points just once and has recorded fewer than five three times. Olsen is coming off a tough game last week against the Titans where he had only 45 yards and a red-zone fumble, but I think he’s worth a play this week. The Lions have a good defense, but this game could be a shootout so Olsen and Cam Newton should reconnect Sunday at Ford Field.

OUT: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Gresham found the end zone last week in his return from a two-game absence with a hamstring injury. He has chemistry with Andy Dalton (four touchdowns in his seven games this season) and has become an every-week starter…well, except this week. The matchup is horrible for Gresham: the Ravens are giving up the fewest fantasy points to the position this season and are the only team in the league that hasn’t allowed a tight end to score a touchdown. Gresham will be hard-pressed to produce in Week 11.

Kickers

IN: Nick Novak, Chargers
Even though he missed a field goal last week against the Raiders, Novak has been very consistent (17-for-19) since taking over for the injured Nate Kaeding. The San Diego offense has stumbled lately, but Novak has still put up solid numbers — he has eight or more fantasy points in four of his last six games. The Chargers still have one of the most explosive offenses in the league which means Novak will get his chances Sunday against Chicago.

OUT: Phil Dawson, Browns
Dawson has recorded double-digit fantasy points twice in the last four games, including last week’s 12-point performance against the Rams (despite missing the game-winning field goal). Even though Dawson is reliable, the reality is Cleveland’s offense isn’t very good and Jacksonville has been effective against kickers this year (allowing fewer than six fantasy points to the position, the lowest in the league).  You might want to look for a different option this week.

Defenses

IN: Patriots
Yes, this unit still ranks dead last in the league, but the Pats are coming off a good performance against the Jets in Week 10: five sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble and just 16 points allowed. New England’s defense is improving (especially by pressuring the quarterback more) and this week the Pats host Kansas City and new quarterback Tyler Palko, who, as mentioned, will be making his first career start. The Patriots’ defense could be in for another big fantasy day.

OUT: Eagles
In a losing effort last week against the Cardinals, the Eagles put up a respectable 14 points (Asante Samuel’s interception return for a touchdown did most of the damage), but there are some major cracks in the defensive armor. Philly has given up at least 370 yards of offense in each of its last two games, and more recently John Skelton was able to throw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in Week 10. When the Eagles faced the Giants back in Week 3, they scored only three fantasy points, and there’s no reason why Eli Manning and company won’t put up lots of points against this squad again on Sunday.