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The Shadow Knows Week 11 2017
By Gary Davenport
THE SHADOW KNOWS: Week 11
Sunday's showdown in Houston between the Texans and Arizona Cardinals features a showdown of quarterbacks the likes of which we haven't seen since the long-ago days of Marino vs. Montana. A battle that dwarfs piddling matchups like Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. Makes them look like a couple of overrated scrubs.
Sunday, we will all be treated to the greatness that is…wait for it…Tom Savage vs. Blaine Gabbert.
As those signal-callers whip the rock around the field at Reliant Stadium, Savage will face an added obstacle when attempting to target DeAndre Hopkins. As Kent Somers reported for the Arizona Republic, Hopkins will be shadowed by star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who knows he's going to be a busy man.
"You can tell he (Hopkins) wants to be great," Peterson said. "He wants to be involved in the game plan. No matter who is covering him, he wants the ball. He's going to have that opportunity Sunday. I know I've got my plate full. He's does a very good job of catching the ball with his body, so defensive backs don't have an opportunity to make a play on the ball. The way he catches the ball on the sideline, his field recognition is definitely one of the best I've ever seen. I got my work cut out for me."
I don't have to tell you that Hopkins is a must-start in Week 11, any more than I have to tell you I was being sarcastic about this "battle" of God-awful quarterbacks. But in addition to the fact that Savage is terrible (maybe not Blaine Gabbert terrible, but still terrible) Hopkins will also have Peterson (who is the NFL's only true "shadow" corner this year) to contend with.
Temper expectations. Or expect to have a temper. Whatever.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the land of Jerruh vs. Roger…
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. ATL - Desmond Trufant)
The 2017 season hasn't gone as planned for the Falcons, but Trufant's at least been able to stay relatively healthy. Still, he told Jeff Schwartz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he learned a valuable lesson from last year's lost season. "It happened for a reason, and it made me stronger and wiser," he said. "It made me appreciate everything I had going because I had to take a step back. I had no control over the situation. It just made me work harder, and now I'm excited and moving forward."
THE SHADOW SAYS: Trufant's probably even more excited after last week's big win over the Dallas Cowboys - a game in which Trufant and the Atlanta secondary held Dez Bryant to four catches for 39 yards. However, that game was in Atlanta, and unlike Bryant Baldwin spends a lot of time in the slot. The Falcons aren't a great fantasy matchup for wide receivers (26th in PPR fantasy points allowed to the position), but it's not a matchup that's so poor I'd downgrade Baldwin significantly.
Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (vs. NEP - Stephon Gilmore)
Gilmore returned to action last week against Denver after missing three games with a concussion, drawing praise from defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. "I think Steph [Gilmore] did a real good job of trying to play physical and aggressive and some of the things we asked him to do," Patricia said, via Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire. "Certainly, when you get out there and back up to live game speed it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment, but certainly I think he stepped up to go out in a very competitive situation. Denver is an extremely talented team and those wide receivers that both he and Malcolm [Butler] were on."
THE SHADOW SAYS: Last week, Gilmore spent most of the game covering Demaryius Thomas. Thomas had a decent game, reeling in five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. But the real story was the zeal (and ease) with which the Broncos attacked Malcolm Butler. Emmanuel Sanders had over 100 receiving yards in the first half before finishing with 137 on six catches. That doesn't necessarily mean this will be an Amari Cooper game. But it rather sets the stage for one.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (at DEN - Chris Harris)
Jason Marcum of SB Nation isn't feeling Green this week - or maybe he is, but in a different way. "Green is on pace to be one of the biggest fantasy busts of 2017," he said. "Thanks to the Bengals' offense taking a nosedive with two different offensive coordinators thus far, Green has failed to top 80 yards receiving in six of nine games this season. Take away a 70-yard touchdown against the Titans last week, and Green has failed to break 50 yards receiving in four straight games. Don't expect much of anything from him and this Bengals offense in Denver, making it an easy call to bench the star receiver."
THE SHADOW SAYS: With all due respect to Marcum, there's no such thing as an easy decision to bench a first-round draft pick - especially this late in the season. And the notion that the "No Fly Zone" can't be thrown on has taken a beating over the past few weeks as they were shredded by Carson Wentz and Tommy Dreamboat. This isn't to say that Green's going to have a fantastic game - those have been in short supply this season. But Denver's defense just isn't all that intimidating of late.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (at NYG - Janoris Jenkins)
Per Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Hill has taken a licking and kept on ticking in his second NFL season. "First of all, he is a tough kid -- very tough," Reid said. "He knows he is a targeted guy, and he keeps battling on everything. He does it week in and week out. He doesn't want to miss a practice, doesn't want to miss a play. He has had everything from his helmet ripped off to his head driven in the ground out of bounds. All these different things that teams are trying to do to him, he has had done. He doesn't lose his cool, he gets right back out and competes against it and makes plays. That's what I see."
THE SHADOW SAYS: I can say with absolute confidence that none of those things will happen Sunday when Hill is being covered by Jenkins, who would probably pass on tackling a four-year-old girl this season. In fact, this entire entry is an exercise in sarcasm - the Giants supposedly stout defense has been a dumpster fire in 2017. Start Hill with confidence.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. WAS - Josh Norman)
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post wrote that Norman needs to bounce back if Washington has a chance of pulling the upset in New Orleans. "Norman said his game last week was one of the worst of his career," Steinberg said. "(Vikings quarterback) Case Keenum ripped up Washington's secondary. The offense wasn't great against the Vikings, but it did enough. The defensive line is smashed by injuries. Ditto the linebackers, at least in the middle. But the corners were healthy, and they did not look good. And it was especially weird after they had played so well in Seattle, when Norman appeared to be one of the best players on the field."
THE SHADOW SAYS: Thomas had one of his better games of 2017 last week (eight catches, 117 yards), and he's on pace for a second straight season of over 1,000 yards. But in New Orleans' new balanced offense, Thomas has just two touchdown grabs on the season. That change in scheme has more to do with Thomas disconcerting status as a fantasy WR2 than a matchup with Norman, although the latter doesn't help - especially given the injuries in the middle of the Washington defense that should open up the run Sunday.
Gary Davenport is a Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks, an NFL and Fantasy Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, a Contributing Writer at Rotoworld and a Contributing Author and Associate Editor at Football Diehards. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Gary was the winner of the 2015 FSWA award for Print Article of the Year.