The 2014 Fantasy Football campaign is entering Week 11, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com all season. Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from fantasy perspectives with his in-depth game previews every week.
The New Orleans Saints continue their three-game homestand and look to get back to .500 against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Bengals have an above-average pass defense, but that matters little when facing a quarterback such as Drew Brees. On NFL.com, Brees is the seventh-best quarterback with 170.24 Fantasy Points (FP). He's also averaging 20.62 FP over the past four games with 1,292 passing yards and nine touchdowns. Brees even chipped in a rushing touchdown against the Panthers. As always when you own Brees, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Saints running backs Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas didn't return last week, which meant more heavy usage for Mark Ingram. At this point, even if Robinson and Thomas are back in Week 11, Ingram is at least a high-end RB2. The worry of Ingram dropping back down to 10-15 touches per game has dissipated. Ingram has simply been too impressive with 392 rushing yards and three touchdowns in three games. If Robinson or Thomas does suit up and the other doesn't, that would lock in RB3/flex value for the one that plays no matter the league type. If everyone is healthy and playing, Ingram retains value, Thomas is a RB3 in PPR leagues, Robinson is a RB3/flex in standard leagues and Travaris Cadet would be a RB4 in PPR. The good news, and reason for upside with each running back, is that the Bengals allow the fourth-most FPPG to running backs with 23.87 per game on NFL.com.
Conversely, the Bengals are the best team against opposing receivers, allowing a mere 16.92 FPPG. While it makes for a tough matchup, you will still want Saints receiver Brandin Cooks in your lineup. As seen last week, Cooks continues to develop in his rookie season and has quickly gained Brees' trust. Cooks is a WR3 in all league formats. Marques Colston has more receptions and yards than most receivers in his range. Touchdowns are tough to predict, but if Colston can notch his second of the year, a solid day will be in store. Kenny Stills continues to be the big-play option in this offense, and those needing the upside play due to byes can give him consideration.
Jimmy Graham is breathing down Rob Gronkowski's and Julius Thomas' necks for the top spot at tight end after a big performance against the 49ers. You can count of another good week from Graham, as the Bengals allow the sixth-most FPPG to tight ends at 10.20 per with the most receiving yards allowed (678).
The Saints' defense continues to be a solid source of points since the bye. In the four weeks after the bye, the Saints DST scored 7.0, 10.0, 12.0 and 6.0 FP. The Bengals give up an average of 6.44 FPPG to defenses due to their 14 turnovers (nine interceptions). Thanks to more kicking opportunities of late, Shayne Graham has moved into the K1 discussion. Over the last five games, Graham is averaging 9.2 FPPG, which would rank as the third-best mark for 2014.
Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez posted the fourth-best quarterback score last week, proving he is more than capable of being a QB1 in Chip Kelly's offense. The Eagles play the Packers this week, so expect more QB1 numbers from Sanchez. The Bucs defense is one of the most forgiving groups, which means you can roll out Washington's Robert Griffin as your QB1. The Redskins allow the third-most FPPG to quarterbacks, making Josh McCown a solid bye-week or Carson Palmer replacement.
It's not official yet, but Rashad Jennings could return this week. If so, immediately plug him back in, as the Giants' offense functions much better with him. Even against the 49ers, Jennings would be a locked-in RB2. With Ronnie Hillman missing some time, the Broncos backfield is a bit cloudy. C.J. Anderson looked great last week, but Montee Ball is supposed to return. If Ball is active, consider both high-upside/risk RB3s, as we don't know John Fox's plans. Bishop Sankey has seized the lead job in Tennessee and is seeing the corresponding workload; consider him a RB2.
Mike Evans looks to have passed Vincent Jackson in Tampa Bay. Both are great fantasy options against the Redskins defense. Like Evans, a fellow rookie, Odell Beckham is grabbing headlines and the numbers for the Giants. He should be a mainstay in your lineup at this point. The young receivers just keep impressing. Martavis Bryant is now an every-week WR3 with his play for the Steelers. Justin Hunter has all of the big-play ability and potential, but the safer Titans option continues to be Kendall Wright. Each one can fill in for your bye week needs, but which one depends on if you need the upside or the safe points.
The tight end position continues to be largely touchdown reliant for fantasy value. Travis Kelce brings potential this week, as the Seahawks have allowed the second-most touchdowns to tight ends (10). Mychal Rivera has been a huge part of the Raiders' offense the past three weeks and is third only behind Gronkowski and Graham during that span. If Kyle Rudolph returns, he does so with a favorable matchup, as the Bears allow the most FPPG to tight ends by nearly two points per game at 13.40 on NFL.com.
The exploitable Bears defense is also what makes Blair Walsh a good bye week kicker replacement, and one that could continue to have value even after this week (in case you don't get your Dan Bailey or Justin Tucker back). Nick Novak is another great option, as many owners likely dropped him for the bye, and now the Chargers face the Raiders. As for defenses, the Redskins and Bears have potential but carry risk too after the aforementioned weaknesses. The Chargers are a great pickup choice. As with Novak, many owners dropped the unit, and the Raiders allow 8.22 FPPG to opposing defenses with the second most interceptions (12).
Official team photos from the New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, November 9, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)