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Fantasy football Week 11: Start 'em and Sit 'em

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Fantasy football Week 11: Start 'em and Sit 'em

There's a new leader atop the rankings, though it's anyone's game with seven weeks to play. Mark rode a big week from Sidney Rice to jump into first place, But Scott and Tony are close behind.
The last round of NFL bye weeks are upon us, but this Sunday and Monday you'll have to go without players on Minnesota, Seattle, Tennessee and the New York Giants.
That means no Percy Harvin (although he likely wouldn't have played this week), Sidney Rice, Chris Johnson or Eli Manning. Injuries are beginning to pile up late in the season, so these potential start-sit plays are becoming more crucial every week.
Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em: 5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em: 5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 11. Good luck!
Mark Strotman (Week 10: 21 points; Season total: 118)
Last place to first place in one week after a nice run in Week 10, so I'll keep the same philosophy of riding players who performed well last week and who should carry that into favorable matchups in Week 11. However, I'm benching those players who were once must-starts, are still big names but aren't fantasy starters in their respective offenses.
Start 'em:
Marcel Reese, RB -- OAK (vs. NO)
Imagine this: Reese has rushed for 48 yards combined the last two weeks, but has 24 combined fantasy points in that span. He's not going to give you much on run plays, but Reese has caught 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. And with Darren McFadden likely out for Week 11, Reese will be the workhorse in the Oakland backfield and looks to be a nice flex play against the Saints' defense.
Jeremy Maclin, WR -- PHI (@ WAS)
Maclin's been an extremely inconsistent and frustrating player to own this year, but it appears he may be on to something with Nick Foles starting at quarterback. Maclin had games of 3 and 2 points, before going off for 15 points last week against the Cowboys. I'm going to roll the dice on Maclin one more week, especially if Foles is looking for him like he was last week.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE -- DET (vs. GB)
Pettigrew found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 2, but that's not why I like him as a TE1 this week. The Packers' defense is dealing with a handful of key injuries, including Clay Matthews' hamstring which will keep him out Sunday. That means less blocking and chipping assignments for Pettigrew, and more routes downfield against a Packers' linebacking corps that has struggled against the pass and is missing three regular starters.
Sit 'em
Michael Turner, RB -- ATL (vs. ARZ)
If it weren't already obvious, Turner is no longer a focal point of the Falcons' pass-first offense. True, he has rushed at least 11 times in every game this year, but behind Roddy White, Julio Jones and now Tony Gonzalez, Turner is no longer a viable option every week. And this week I believe that will continue, albeit against a shaky Cardinals' front seven. This may be beating a dead horse, but Atlanta is becoming one of the premier passing teams in the NFL, and that doesn't include The Burner.
Dwyane Bowe, WR -- KC (vs. CIN)
Bowe is the best option on the the worst offense in the league, which certainly has its benefits. Targets will come his way, he's always going to catch at least a few passes each week and may even find the end zone. But the Chiefs' offense is that bad. I don't feel safe starting any skill position player in Kansas City, even if it's against an average Bengals' secondary. Pass on Bowe this week, and yell at me if he goes off.
Mikel Leshoure, RB -- DET (vs. GB)
The Packers' run defense has had the top run defense in the NFL since Week 4, something defensive coordinator Dom Capers specifically mentioned. While running backs have found the end zone against the Packers in each of the last four weeks, it's going to be tough for Leshoure to find yards against a Packers' defense struggling against the pass. There are better RB2 and Flex options than Leshoure this week.
Tony Andracki: (Week 10: 11 points; Season total: 111 points)
Last week didn't go so well for me. I don't want to talk about it. Bush was awful, Decker had his worst game of the season, Flacco went off (thought it helped lead me to a victory in one league) and Nicks looked resurgent. Just one of those weeks, I guess. Oh well. At least I was right with Palmer and Forte. I'm confident my picks will be quite a bit better this week. And yes, I'm going right back to Bush. 
Start 'em
Tony Romo, QB -- DAL (vs. CLE)
My guy Romo has been a very solid fantasy quarterback over the past five weeks, scoring at least 14 points in every outing. The Cowboys are struggling to run the ball, so the entire offense runs through Romo's right arm. Cleveland has allowed multiple TD passes in five games this year and give up an average of 17 points a game to opposing QBs. Look for Romo to get 15 in standard scoring.
Reggie Bush, RB -- MIA (@ BUF)
Let's try this again. the Dolphins got rolled last week at home against the lowly Titans and Bush received just four carries, thanks to a benching following a fumble. Don't worry about the benching, Bush is clearly the best back Miami has. He draws a cushy matchup this week in Buffalo, who has allowed 14 rushing TDs this season and has surrendered 200 or more rushing yards in three games this year. 
Steve Smith, WR -- CAR (vs TB)
2012 has not been a year to remember for Steve Smith, with just one TD and four games in which he was held under 60 yards. That all crescendoed in being benched late in last week's game so Carolina could showcase other WRs. Don't be bothered by that. Smith will get back on the field this week, against a Tampa Bay secondary that is near the last in the league in nearly every category. 
Sit 'em
Josh Freeman, QB -- TB (@ CAR)
Freeman has been arguably the hottest fantasy QB of late, but he may run into a wall against Carolina this week. While he's tossed multiple TDs in five straight weeks (a total of 13 in that span), the Panthers have allowed multiple TDs through the air just once this season. Meanwhile, they've struggled to stop the run consistently, so Doug Martin figures to have the big day in the Bucs' offense this week.
Ryan Mathews, RB -- SD (@ DEN)
Mathews is dealing with a neck issue right now, but has struggled even when on the field this season, with zero 100-yard games and just one week above even 10 fantasy points. The Broncos defense has been phenomenal lately, allowing just 37 fantasy points to running backs over the last three games (Saints, Bengals, Panthers).
Andre Johnson, WR -- HOU (vs. JAC)
Andre Johnson is no longer a fantasy stud. There's no way around it. He's in the middle of the pack among WRs and no longer a must-start. Maybe it's the fact he has crossed that 30-year-old threshold. Maybe it's the fact Houston almost always has a lead, so they're focused more on running the ball. Whatever it is, don't start 'Dre this week. The Texans should be able to handle Jacksonville easily, leading to more ball-control offense. Plus, the Jags have surrendered just seven TDs to opposing WRs, and none since Week 8. Find another option.
Scott Krinch (Week 10: 15 points; Season total: 113)

Well with Mark back in the saddle, it looks like I'm going to have knock him off his high horse with my picks this week. Tony had been the fantasy workhorse, but he lost his saddle last week. Last weekend I started Ryan Fitzy and he went off against the Patriots which helped me big time. I'm done starting The "Jersey" LeShoure because he seems to have his worst games when I insert him into my lineup. Last week my BOLD PREDICTION was that Torrey Smith would catch a pass for over 65 yards. His TD went for 47-yards, so I wasn't too far off. My prediction this week? Simple. I win because all I do is win, win, win...

You'll probably look at my picks this week and think "What the heck is this guy thinking?" But, I promise that there is a method behind my madness. And with that, I give you this week's choices.

Start 'em:

Sam Bradford, QB -- Rams (vs. NYJ)

Don't sleep on Sammy B. Don't you ever sleep on Sammy B. With Danny Amendizzle back in fold, Bradford's numbers should continue to increase. The Jets have been shutting down No. 1 receivers as of late, but the team is in shambles right now and Bradford should have a field day on their secondary. After Karlie Kross' gentleman-friend tears apart the Jets, Rex Ryan will be one step-further out the door in New York.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB -- Cardinals (@ ATL)

Why am I starting LRSH this week? Because, that's why. But really, he's the feature back in Arizona's offense right now, mainly because he's all they've got with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells on the IR. Atlanta has the 25th-ranked run defense in the league and all it takes is one big run from the speedster to reach his fantasy value. People think this game will be a shootout, but Arizona's defense is no slouch. I see it being close for the most part and the Cardinals will need to feed Stephens-Howling the rock to stay in the game. You'll be happy if you keep him in your lineup.

Jordy Nelson, WR -- Packers (@ DET)

I know he's listed as questionable, but Mark (who's a Packers fan) tells me Jordy will play this week. I trust you Mark. A healthy Nelson should give your fantasy team a healthy point total on Sunday. The last two indoor games for Nelson, he's accumulated 243 yards and four touchdowns. What happened the last time he played the Lions? Nine catches for 162 yards and three scores. This game has all the makings of an old-fashioned Texas shootout. Last team with the ball will win this game and Nelson's owners should get their popcorn ready, sit back and enjoy the show.

Sit 'em:

Philip Rivers, QB -- Chargers (@ DEN)

Will Rivers get revenge against the Chargers? I think not. Last time he faced them, the Broncos forced six turnovers. Filippo has only reached the 20-point mark once in Fantasy since Week 2. I have no optimism for him this week and it would be beneficial to you if you take him out of your lineup IMMEDIATELY.

Frank Gore, RB -- 49ers (vs. CHI)

I've said it over and over again that I'd be benching at least one player going against the Bears' defense every week. This week, Frank Gore gets the call. If Alex Smith can't play, the Bears are going to key in on stopping Gore and the 49ers' running attack. Chicago has allowed the fourth-fewest rush yards per game in the league and I don't see it going any different Monday night.

Marques Colston, WR -- Saints (@ OAK)

Colston has touchdowns in last two games, but his receptions and targets have declined. Drew Brees has been looking Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore's way a lot more (no pun intended) lately and with the emergence of Chris Ivory, I don't see huge value in Colston anymore. Granted, he's still a very good receiver, but I wouldn't trust him in my fantasy leagues down the stretch, nor should you. Do the right thing and park him on your bench.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.