Fantasy football start/sit for Week 11: 49ers surging again with Purdy

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As the fantasy football season heads into the home stretch, setting an optimal lineup each week becomes more and more important in the battle for playoff positioning.

Four more NFL teams are on bye in Week 11 (the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints), so fantasy managers may find themselves with a number of holes in their lineups that need to be filled.

So let’s take a look at some of the more interesting matchups this week’s games have to offer.

Here’s who to start (and who to sit) for Week 11 NFL fantasy football.

Quarterbacks to start in Week 11

Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

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The Niners snapped their three-game losing streak in dominating fashion Sunday by routing the Jacksonville Jaguars. It may be no small coincidence that San Francisco’s offense was without wide receiver Deebo Samuel for almost the entirety of those three games – and once he returned, things started clicking again. Purdy also got back on track, throwing for multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 5.

The Niners return home this week as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to make a cross-country trek. The Bucs are in a virtual tie with the Jags in allowing the second-most passing yards per game, so Purdy should have an excellent opportunity to match or even exceed Sunday’s stat line.

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Sure, there’s some risk in starting a quarterback who hasn’t played for more than a month due to a dislocated thumb. But Fields had already begun doing some limited on-field work last week, and if the Bears hadn’t been scheduled to play on Thursday night, he might’ve been able to start with a full week of practice.

Fields should be cleared to return this Sunday, and he’ll likely be very busy trying to keep pace with the first-place Detroit Lions. If you’ve forgotten how well Fields was playing earlier this season, he was coming off back-to-back four-touchdown games before he got hurt.

Quarterbacks to sit in Week 11

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

With a week off to prepare for the 49ers, Lawrence and the Jags offense laid an egg. If not for the brilliance of RB Travis Etienne, there might be some serious soul-searching going on in Jacksonville. The third-year quarterback has multiple touchdowns in just two of his nine games, with another challenging matchup against the Tennessee Titans on deck.

After being intercepted twice by the Niners, Lawrence has an unimpressive 9/6 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season and is ranked 24th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game.

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

If you have Burrow, you probably aren’t benching him – no matter what the numbers might say. But this week’s matchup at Baltimore is not an easy one. While Deshaun Watson was able to pull off a miracle comeback win over the Ravens this past week, he didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet, throwing for 213 yards and one touchdown. Plus, he had a pick-six.

Baltimore’s defense gives up the fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. And it isn’t particularly close. Most fantasy managers don’t have a viable alternative in reserve, but if Burrow is locked into your lineup, be sure to temper expectations.

Running backs to start in Week 11

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

Going slightly out on a limb here, but Pollard can’t be this bad at the same time the Cowboys offense looks this good. Pollard rushed for two touchdowns in the season opener and hasn’t found the end zone since. In fact, he hasn’t even topped 55 rushing yards since Week 3. Why even consider him when he couldn’t even get on track this past week in a blowout win over the Giants?

Look at it this way: Dallas has been able to fix just about everything that wasn’t working on offense earlier in the season. Getting Pollard going should be the top priority vs. 1-8 Carolina. And the Panthers have been very accommodating to running backs, yielding the second-most yards and fantasy points per game to the position.

Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

Starter Alexander Mattison would be a smash play this week at Denver if he hadn’t left Sunday’s game with concussion symptoms. Even so, Chandler had already rushed for a red-zone touchdown and had more carries than Mattison at the time of the injury. The second-year back finished with a modest stat line, but should see the bulk of the first-team work in practice.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have a short week to prepare after playing on Monday night. And they are the league’s worst defense against running backs, giving up 136.2 rushing yards and 32.9 fantasy points per game to the position. There’s (purple and) gold in them hills!

Running backs to sit in Week 9

Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Pacheco posted his worst fantasy performances of the season in the Chiefs’ last two games before the bye. This week, he runs into the Philadelphia Eagles’ top-ranked run defense – one that’s given up the fewest yards and fantasy points per game to running backs.

If the Chiefs are going to be successful on offense, they’ll need to lean on the right arm of Patrick Mahomes to take advantage of Philly’s vulnerability against the pass. Pacheco can catch the ball, but he had only one target in his last game.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Henry seems to be wasting away in Nashville after not getting traded at the deadline. He was held to just 24 rushing yards on 11 carries last week, and things won’t get any easier as the Titans travel to Jacksonville.

The Jags have the NFL’s No. 5 rushing defense, and they allow the fifth-fewest yards per game to running backs. Where they can be exploited is in passing game, allowing more receptions to running backs than any other team. But that’s not Henry’s forte – at least not this season. He has just 19 catches in nine games.

Wide receivers to start in Week 9

Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns

Cooper has certainly benefited from the return of QB Deshaun Watson, racking up 237 receiving yards over the past two games. That’s more yardage than he had combined in the four games Watson missed. He gets a nice matchup this week at home against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers give up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. And although Cooper will likely see a heavy dose of cornerback Patrick Peterson, he did have seven catches for 90 yards in Pittsburgh when the two teams met in Week 2.

Tank Dell, Houston Texans

The Texans offense has been on fire the past two weeks, rolling up an average of 520 yards and 34.5 points per game. Dell has played a major role, drawing 25 targets and scoring three touchdowns over that span. (He’s even had three rushing attempts.)

While fellow wideout Noah Brown has put up eye-popping yardage totals, Nico Collins looks to be on track to return from a one-week absence, joining veteran Robert Woods in the receiving mix. But it’s Dell who’s led the receiving corps in snaps each of the past three weeks and will be the one to watch this week at home against Arizona.

Wide receivers to sit in Week 9

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In past years, Mike Evans and Godwin were wide receivers 1 and 1A on the Bucs, but the difference between them this year has been much greater. Godwin has one touchdown all season (compared to six for Evans) and he has just six catches for 70 yards over the past two games.

This week, the Bucs have to travel cross-country to face the resurgent San Francisco 49ers, who held the Jaguars to 162 passing yards on Sunday and lead the league in interceptions.

Jakobi Meyers, Las Vegas Raiders

Meyers was excellent earlier in the season, but has seemed to disappear with Jimmy Garoppolo no longer the starting quarterback. He’s been held to two or fewer receptions in each of the past three games. Even top wideout Davante Adams has had trouble converting targets into catches.

The Raiders travel to face the Miami Dolphins, who are coming off their bye week and should be fully prepared to stop whatever QB Aidan O’Connell throws at them.

Tight ends to start in Week 9

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

Since veteran Zach Ertz went on injured reserve, McBride has become a more important part of the Arizona offense. In his first game with Kyler Murray under center, the rookie caught seven of his eight targets for a season-high 131 yards.

This week, he faces the Texans, who allow the most targets, receptions and fantasy points per game to tight ends. McBride has just one touchdown catch all season, but a big game and a trip to the end zone seem like a good possibility in what figures to be a shootout in Houston.

Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

Speaking of rookie tight ends, Musgrave had a season-high 64 receiving yards on Sunday in Pittsburgh, albeit on just two catches. However, his big-play ability is something the Packers desperately need on offense.

He should have ample opportunity Sunday against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that ranks second in receptions and yards per game allowed to tight ends.

Tight end to sit in Week 9

Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders

While QB Sam Howell has posted three consecutive 300-yard passing games, Thomas hasn’t really reaped the benefits. He did have a touchdown catch in Week 8, but hasn’t topped 44 receiving yards in any of those games. And this week’s opponent, the New York Giants, are tied for the third-fewest fantasy points allowed per game to tight ends.

Despite giving up 79 points over the past two weeks, the G-Men have typically played Washington tough. In the teams’ first meeting in Week 7, the Giants won 14-7.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY