Week Eleven Preview

You ever root for someone to do something really, really stupid?

No?

Me neither, guys. Of course not. Hahaha what were you saying again?

…Are you buying it?

Okay. You caught me. I was really excited this week because I thought I was going to watch my opponent do something very dumb. Not irreparably dumb, but still – not particularly smart either. And up until the start of the Thursday night game, I thought I had walked into an edge on Team Freedom, this week’s opponent, merely because of his own carelessness.

This was his lineup until late this afternoon.

w11-almost-shot

Looks pretty good, right? I like all those players, on both sides of the ledger. I think many if not all of them could have a dynamic Week Eleven.

So where’s the mistake?

You’ll notice that one of his players has a 0 point projection. And for good reason. Rob Gronkowski – The Great And Powerful Gronk, who is during most weeks the highest-rated tight end in football, hands down, no debate – is listed as questionable this week. There’s no real news on what his injury is, other than that it’s something ribs- or chest-related. Not a punctured lung, although that was reported at first, but maybe a bruised lung. Anyway, no real details have come out about what’s up with him. There’s rumors the injury isn’t too serious, but he missed media commitments this week and has not practiced yet.

And until late this afternoon, he was still listed in Team Freedom’s lineup.

I get why that would be. If Gronk can go, you start him. End of story. He’s that good. I’d do the same if he was on my roster.

Where this becomes a problem is with where Gronk was being started, and who else was on the roster.

Freedom had it set up to play two TEs this week. He had Gronk slated in his TE slot, and he also had a TE in the flex, Coby Fleener. Which is great news for him, if he thinks he has two TEs worth starting and one is likely to be called out, because he still has the other one to take over. No back up plan needed, no waiver wire scrambling necessary.

Except that Coby Fleener plays for New Orleans, who played on Thursday night. And once that game kicked off, Fleener would be locked into the position where he was.

At the flex.

And if Gronk later got called out, he’d have no other TE to put into his TE slot. Fleener couldn’t be moved by then, and he’d be stuck scrambling for a second tight end.

I really, really hoped this hadn’t occurred to him. I prayed he’d overlook this roster mismanagement until it was too late.

Alas, it was not to be. Don’t underestimate your opponents, kids. They’re smart too, they know what’s up.

By the time the game began, Team Freedom had shuffled his lineup to put Fleener in the TE spot and Gronk out altogether. Again, I don’t blame him. Current wisdom suggests that even if Gronk’s injury isn’t serious-serious, the team’s medical staff isn’t going to want him to fly across country to San Francisco just yet, so he’ll be out by default. And of course, if that changes, Freedom can plug him back in at the flex as necessary. But it won’t change. Gronk will be out, and Team Freedom is set up now to go without him.

The silver lining for me is that I don’t have to face Gronk on a week when I expect all the Patriots to score like crazy. I have two of them in my own lineup, but I wasn’t looking forward to facing another one, especially one as key to their offense as Gronk is.

But damn, I was hoping for a mistake there. I’d have felt so much more comfortable with that little edge.

Oh well. Let’s deal with things as they are instead and take a look at the actual forecast for the week, starting with the lines.

w11-lines-shot

And, of course, the important stuff: my lineup versus Team Freedom’s.

w11-preview-shot

I do still have an edge. I have to be happy about that. I definitely liked it better when every checkmark but one was in my column, and that one was against Ezekiel Elliott for matchup reasons that I do understand but do not agree with, but hey – I can only do so much, right?

Still, talk about taking an opponent’s best shot. DeMarco Murray facing the Colts in what will probably be a shootout? Put him down for 25. C.J. Prosise just took over Seattle’s starting RB job, so put him down for a TD too. There’s literally only one player in all of Cleveland that I’d judge worth starting right now, and it’s Terrelle Pryor, so that’s not fantastic for me. I don’t love Freedom’s QB – Palmer’s looked fallible lately – but the Cardinals defense is stout.

And then there’s Fleener, who performed so poorly for most of tonight’s game and then came down with a very late touchdown. I was again close to gaining an edge, and instead Team Freedom racks up 7 points, 2 more than his projections.

Dammit.

Still, you have to love my lineup. All my wide receivers face fantastic matchups, all my running backs are matchup-proof in their studliness, and my quarterback is Tom Brady, facing a terrible defense and pissed off from a loss. He should go huge this weekend. I feel it coming on.

I did, however, face my own question mark at tight end. You may notice that the man I have listed as going for me is not one of my two regular players. I still love those guys, but their matchups are painful this weekend. Neither Cameron Brate facing Kansas City nor Kyle Rudolph facing Arizona fills me with tremendous amounts of confidence. So I decided to take a chance on a streamer instead. Zach Miller was getting the second-largest number of targets on Chicago’s offense. Then the guy who was getting the most, Alshon Jeffery, got suspended for PEDs. I don’t think Miller gets all of Jeffery’s looks, but his performance isn’t going to go down because of this. I had to get him from waivers (because he was dropped yesterday by our “football expert” friend), so I had some anxiety until that came to pass.

And then, of course, it didn’t, because my waiver position is terrible now that I’m at the top end of my league.

So, okay. New plan. Preferably, one that doesn’t involve the waiver wire. If I trusted the Rams offense, this would be a week to go with Lance Kendricks, but given that it’ll be the first week we see Jared Goff out there, I’m just not ready to bet on them. And I like C.J. Feidorowicz in Texas, but I hate the idea of betting on somebody that has to catch passes from Brock Osweiler.

But what can you do, right? I was prepared to bet on somebody that has to catch passes from Jay Cutler, so, you know, beggars can’t be choosers, am I right?

Welcome to Team BlueAndGold, C.J. We need your best this week. I know you have the matchup to deliver.

Now, here’s hoping that’s not the move that my opponent gets to look back on next week and say, “Remember when Team BlueAndGold did something really, really stupid?”

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