Football with the Fantasy Freak: Week 11


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.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"


Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0


Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.