Only a couple of weeks remain before fantasy football leagues everywhere will begin their playoffs.
For this reason, it’s important to start the safest team possible. This includes benching players with difficult matchups, troubling injuries or disappointing production on a consistent basis. Loyalty should also be thrown out the window. Just because you drafted a certain player in the first round, or he helped you win a league in the past, it doesn’t mean he must start on a weekly basis during this year’s run toward a championship.
Let’s take a look at some disappointing players who must be benched in Week 11.
Terrelle Pryor, QB: Sit vs. Texans
Pryor has not passed for 300 yards or more in a game this season, and he probably won’t break that streak on Sunday when he faces a Houston defense that ranks first against the pass (166.6 yards/game). In his last four games, Pryor has thrown for an average of just 178.5 pass yards with a total of one touchdown and eight interceptions. In his last three games, he has no touchdowns and five interceptions.
With the fifth-best running game in the NFL, expect the Raiders to establish the run early and limit the amount of times Pryor that has to drop back and pass against the talented Texans secondary.
Ray Rice, RB: Sit vs. Bears
Rice has arguably been the biggest running back disappointment this season. He’s rushed for only 289 yards with a 2.5 yards per carry average through eight games, and he’s failed to find the endzone in six of his last seven games. One of the top reasons why Rice was drafted so high is because of his pass-catching ability, but he’s tallied 100 or more total yards in just one game.
Rice’s struggles have also allowed Ravens backup Bernard Pierce to get more involved in the offense, and if he’s running better than his teammate on Sunday, expect head coach John Harbaugh to use Pierce as the feature back. The Bears have the second-worst run defense in football, but Rice’s struggles are too concerning to start him this week.
Matt Ryan, QB: Sit vs. Buccaneers
The 2013 season has been a disaster for Ryan, and it’s not all his fault. Injuries to starting running back Steven Jackson and his two best receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White have limited his options in the passing game. His matchup this week is against the Buccaneers, who actually have a decent defense despite their poor record.
White will be matched up against elite cover corner Darrelle Revis, which could severely limit the amount of times he’s open. If Ryan has to look elsewhere, Harry Douglas is his next-best receiving option.
Over the last three weeks, Ryan has averaged 230.66 passing yards per game, with a total of three touchdown passes and seven interceptions. In one-quarterback leagues, it would be wise to find a better option than Ryan this week if possible. His recent performances and tough matchup make him a risky start.
C.J. Spiller, RB: Sit vs. Jets
Spiller was a first-round pick in a lot of leagues this season, but he’s been one of the most disappointing running backs with an average of 55.6 rushing yards and one total touchdown through nine games.
The Jets defense presents a tough matchup for Spiller this week. No running back has rushed for 75 yards or more against them this year, which is why it’s no surprise that New York ranks first in run defense. Another concern for Spiller owners is that he’s sharing carries with veteran Fred Jackson. Buffalo has used a two-running back system all year, and Jackson has received 10 or more carries in nine of the team’s 10 games this year.
A poor matchup and the fact that he’s not the sole option in the running game makes Spiller a must-bench in Week 11.
Anquan Boldin, WR: Sit vs. Saints
The Saints defense did a remarkable job shutting down Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and the talented Cowboys offense last week, and there’s no reason to believe that success won’t continue against a 49ers offense with the fewest passing yards per game (173.9) in the NFL.
Boldin has averaged only 3.5 receptions per game since his brilliant Week 1 performance, and he’s also found the endzone just one time in that span. The most effective way to beat the Saints is to run the football, and since the 49ers rushing attack with Frank Gore has been excellent since their bye week, expect head coach Jim Harbaugh to stay away from the passing game as much as possible. New Orleans ranks 23rd against the run and Gore has ran for at least 70 yards in seven straight games.
The possible return of star tight end Vernon Davis could also take away some of the targets Boldin could be expected to get on Sunday.