One more week of byes to deal with and with the season winding down, there are many fantasy owners with matchups coming up that they must win if they have any hope of making their league playoffs. With certain notable players out of their lineups this week, these owners will be forced to make the decision on who to use as a fill-in. I’ve got one name you can scratch off of your list. For you other owners who may have Beanie Wells on your starting roster, you also might want to look elsewhere.
Week 11 Weakling
First of all, Beanie Wells hasn’t exactly had a stellar season. While battling an injury early on he has managed to put together decent, but not great, numbers. At best you could call him a RB2, although I would argue that his stats for the past five games have been more like a RB3. This is not entirely his fault. The offensive line for Arizona is not the best at run-blocking. As a matter of fact, I’d probably place them in the bottom third of the league. Wells is a talented athlete, but even the most gifted running backs cannot gain much yardage if nobody is blocking for them. The Cardinals offensive line is built more for pass protection, which they are much better at than run blocking. To make matters just a little worse their starting right tackle, Brandon Keith, will most likely sit this week with a knee injury.
In his last five games, dating back to Week 5, Wells has a total of 87 carries for 267 yards and 2 TDs. That’s an average of 3.06 yards per carry. Considering the fact that he averages 4.0 yards per carry and has 7 TDs on the season, it is fairly obvious that he has not been as productive in his last five games as he was in his first three (he has only played in eight of nine so far). One reason for this is that he is still dealing with a knee injury suffered earlier in the season, the other reason I have already explained above. This week he will have a third reason for his struggles, and that would be the Cardinals’ opponent in Week 11.
In my Week 5 article I based my decision to sit LeGarrette Blount on the stiff run defense put forth by the San Francisco 49ers. I argued that the SF defense was top notch and may likely take them far into the playoffs. Looking at the statistics and standings five weeks later, I would say that both of these observations are just as true now as they were then. The 49ers have stifled running backs all season long. Big names, little names, medium names, long names with hyphens in them, it doesn’t matter. If you’re an NFL running back, the last team you want to face in 2011 is the San Francisco 49ers.
First of all, in order to run anywhere up the middle, they would have to find their way around Isaac Sopoaga. Perhaps that isn’t such a daunting task though. After all, he only weighs 330 pounds. As a matter of fact he doesn’t actually accumulate all that many tackles. On the season he only has 11 combined (6 solo and 5 assists) but he is so darn big that it forces the opposing team to run to the outside. When they do that, they have to contend with Ray McDonald or Justin Smith, both of which are speedy outside defensive linemen who can catch a running back from behind, although it usually doesn’t come to that. If by some miracle they make it past the defensive line, things only tend to get worse — 99 times out of 100 Patrick Willis is waiting there to greet them.
Statistically speaking, the 49ers run defense is head and heels above the rest of the NFL. Opposing running backs are averaging only 3.4 yards per carry. They have only allowed one run of over 20 yards to any running back and have given up a whopping ZERO touchdowns on the ground this year through nine games. Unless someone goes off for 300 plus yards and four touchdowns on them, I don’t see them losing their No. 1 ranking against the run anytime soon.
The bottom line is this: I really don’t care what team it is or who the running back is. If your running back is facing San Francisco, I’d seriously consider other options. This should hold true for the rest of the season.
Projection: 15 carries, 38 yards, 3 receptions, 14 yards, no TDs, 1 fumble
Eli Ricke knows absolutely nothing about Fantasy Football that everyone else doesn’t already know. All of his success in Fantasy Football can be attributed entirely to dumb luck. He has been playing Fantasy Football since 1999 and is a habitual liar. You will occasionally run across him in the café forums under the name 204BC, a name that has no particular meaning whatsoever. He just made it up, the same thing he does with most of the advice he gives.
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