Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 11

With four teams on their bye there are 14 matchups on the slate in NFL Week 11, including a Sunday Night Football showdown between two NFC East rival teams. The Philadelphia Eagles are smoking hot and will be traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys, who might have trouble producing a single star.

Out in Houston, the Arizona Cardinals will be trotting out their third-string quarterback. Will it be enough to take down Tom Savage and the Texans? There are sure to be some surprise performances — both good and bad — that stem from this showdown.

Meanwhile, Mexico plays host to the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots. This should be a high-scoring contest that produces some elite performances from a couple of wide receivers.

So who’ll put up monster numbers this weekend? Which players will fall flat on their faces?

Stud: Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings

It’s time to start spreading some love Thielen’s way. The undrafted fourth-year wide receiver has been nothing but spectacular in his last two games, tallying 13 catches for 264 yards and two touchdowns. This week, Thielen’s Vikings will host the Los Angeles Rams, and we have to assume a heavy passing game will be the plan. The Rams offense is on fire. In order to keep up with the pace, Thielen will be heavily involved. The Rams have given up 223.3 receiving yards and 19.1 receptions on average per game.

Dud: Alfred Morris, running back, Dallas Cowboys

Morris assumed the starting role in Week 10 in Ezekiel Elliott’s absence. He received 11 carries and rushed for 53 yards. But, if that sampling from Sunday’s blowout loss against the Atlanta Falcons is a sign of things to come, the Cowboys are in trouble without Elliott. Morris and the Cowboys next host the Eagles, who excel at stopping the run. Instead of Morris attempting to build on last week’s numbers, he will be fighting to not get stuffed on each attempt. Philadelphia has allowed just 3.6 yards per carry and 66.4 yards per game, as well as only four rushing touchdowns. Morris will not eat under these conditions.

Stud: Marcus Peters, cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs

Talk about a matchup for Peters to savor. He and the Chiefs travel to MetLife to face the 1-8 New York Giants. Peters should create all kinds of nightmares for quarterback Eli Manning and Co. Take a turnover-prone quarterback missing his best receivers and pit him against Peters and just watch the devastation unravel. To date, Peters has tallied three interceptions, defended eight passes, forced two fumbles and scored one touchdown. The two-time Pro Bowler should be a busy guy once Manning’s offense takes the field.

Dud: Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

Brown has been pretty quiet as of late putting up some not-so-fabulous numbers. In his past two games, the All-Pro wideout has yet to score and has only tallied 117 yards. He might find it hard to suddenly snap his dry spell when the Steelers host the Tennessee Titans. Over their last three games, the Titans have given up only 12 wide receiver catches on average per tilt. With JuJu Smith-Schuster becoming the hot commodity, Brown may not rebound this week. Plus, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been on the decline, and is already dreading his Thursday Night Football matchup.

Stud: Melvin Gordon, running back, Los Angeles Chargers

Gordon should be on his way to a bounce-back game as he leaves last week’s 27-rushing-yard stinker in the toilet. He is the fortunate recipient of a home matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have been horrendous defending the run as of late. In their last two games they have generously given up 475 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Gordon should deliver a big-time fantasy performance and prove he is the superior back to Austin Ekeler. Otherwise, it will be time to panic.

Dud: Marvin Jones, wide receiver, Detroit Lions

Jones’ production just came to a screeching halt after he posted a total of 229 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 8-9. He will not find things any easier when the Lions travel to Chicago to face the Bears. Chicago has allowed just one wide receiving touchdown in its last three games. The Bears have given up just 10 catches on average per game to opposing wideouts during this three-game stretch. Plus, Jones will have to fight target hog Golden Tate for attention. Jones looks to be the one left out in the cold when projecting this matchup.

Stud: Blaine Gabbert, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

Do not laugh just yet. The Cardinals have a legitimate shot with third-stringer Gabbert under center this week. Fortunately, Gabbert receives his first crack at starting against the Texans. Even on the road, Gabbert will be staged for success. The Texans are on a three-game losing streak and have given up 1,115 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns during this stretch. Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is primed for a golden performance as well against a Texans defense that has allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to date.

Dud: D.J. Swearinger, safety, Washington Redskins

Swearinger enjoyed a two-interception breakout performance last week against the Minnesota Vikings. But it won’t be easy to match that in the Big Easy. The Redskins travel to face the New Orleans Saints, who feature the most accurate passer in the league. When the Saints are not running the ball, Brees is completing 71.7 percent of his passes. He has also thrown just four interceptions in 300 passing attempts. The Saints offense is hardly one that is easy to force mistakes against. This means Swearinger settles back down to Earth this week.

Stud: Michael Crabtree, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders

This tilt in Mexico has Crabtree and the Raiders hosting the Patriots. The Patriots defense has not been sharp against the pass and has allowed a league-high 299.4 receiving yards per game. Plus, we just saw Denver Broncos No. 2 wideout, Emmanuel Sanders, turn six catches into 137 yards in Week 10. That was accomplished with Brock Osweiler under center. We would like to think that quarterback Derek Carr and his No. 2 guy — Crabtree — follow suit. Meanwhile, Amari Cooper should be the receiver drawing double coverage.

Dud: Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

We already touched on Washington’s matchup on the road at the Saints. This is not a very friendly one for Cousins in Week 11. The Saints defense is allowing its opposing quarterbacks to complete just 59.9 percent of their passes. Cousins struggled in this category in his last game, completing an uncharacteristic 57.8 percent of his passes. The Saints also tie for the 10th-most sacks (25) in the league. All signs points towards Cousins fighting an uphill battle this game.

Stud: Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens player we trust to be the most productive in Week 11 is old faithful kicker, Justin Tucker. Tucker and his Ravens will play at Green Bay’s chilly Lambeau Stadium. We can hardly trust quarterback Joe Flacco to lead his team in scoring. The Packers have given up 18 field goals — the fifth-most — on the season, including 11 from 40 yards or more. Plus, the Ravens boast the worst passing offense in the NFL. Thankfully, they have a guy like Tucker to put points on the board.

Dud: Adrian Peterson, running back, Arizona Cardinals

Peterson’s performances have been all over the charts since he became a Cardinal. That means it is not easy to predict what type of game AP will have on a weekly basis. Peterson’s Cardinals will be in Houston, where a passing game should dominate. Peterson’s presence in the passing game is practically non-existent. As for rushing, the Texans have given up only one running back rushing score all season. And, opposing running backs are averaging just 76.6 rushing yards per game. Peterson should be put on ice this week.

Stud: Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has not exactly been delivering MVP performances this season. But, he has the chance to shine like an MVP on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle’s defense has given up six passing touchdowns and 264 yards on average over its last four games. The is the perfect environment for Ryan to thrive in, with a helping hand from Julio Jones. Jones normally would have drawn coverage from cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman’s absence is no good for the Seahawks, but it is favorable for opposing quarterbacks. Ryan should deliver the goods this week.

Dud: Leonard Fournette, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette’s numbers tanked in his Week 10 return when he managed only 33 yards on 17 carries. He also failed to score for the first time in seven games. Upcoming for Fournette is a road trip to Cleveland to take on a stout Browns run defense. Believe it or not, the Browns have allowed a league-low 3.1 yards per carry. They have also yielded only four running back rushing touchdowns. This presents quite the danger zone for Fournette, who will fail to rally from last week’s disastrous performance.

Stud: Tyler Kroft, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals

Kroft and his Bengals travel to meet up with those struggling Denver Broncos. Kroft should explode against a Denver defense that has given up 203 receiving yards and two touchdowns to its opposing tight ends in the past two games. This is a ridiculous giveaway stat that favors a pass-catching tight end like Kroft. Forget Kroft’s poor Week 10 performance and look for him to turn a couple of catches into some major yardage in Denver.

Dud: Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams 

Watkins has come out of hiding and scored a touchdown in his past two games. Also in that stretch, he has turned three catches into 108 yards. This is electric enough that he will likely be shadowed by Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes in Minnesota. Overall this season, Watkins has averaged a career-best 17.7 yards per reception. There are only three other receivers in the league who have a least 20 catches that have a higher yards-per-reception rate than Watkins. He will be the Rams receiver the Vikings attempt to shut down.

Stud: Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, New England Patriots

Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks

Cooks heads to Mexico to compete with a Raiders offense that should have no trouble piling up yards against his Patriots defense. To keep competitive, Cooks will be relied upon by quarterback Tom Brady for his big-play potential. To Cooks’ advantage, the Raiders have given up four wide receiving touchdowns and 176 wide receiving yards on average in their past three games. Cooks is primed for a huge performance, especially if fellow wideout Chris Hogan remains sidelined.

Dud: Derrick Henry, running back, Tennessee Titans

Judging from the results of last week’s game, Henry took a backseat to fellow back DeMarco Murray. Henry received 11 carries and rushed for 52 yards. This is compared to Murray’s 18 total touches, which resulted in 72 yards and three touchdowns. We should expect another pedestrian performance for Henry at the home of the Steelers. On the season, the Steelers have given up only four rushing touchdowns to their opposing running backs. Plus in their last three games, Pittsburgh has allowed just 3.1 yards per carry to the position. Henry, and possibly even Murray, will be tested under these conditions.

Stud: Adrian Clayborn, defensive end, Atlanta Falcons

Clayborn had himself a career day when he sacked Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott SIX times last Sunday. Now on course for 14 sacks for the season, Clayborn should remain in a roll. He and the Falcons head to Seattle to face quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Wilson’s offensive line often does not do him many favors, as he has taken an average of 2.5 sacks per game. Clayborn should be giddy over this upcoming matchup.

Dud: Jay Ajayi, running back, Philadelphia Eagles

Ajayi enjoyed a sweet 77-rushing yard, one-touchdown performance in his debut as an Eagle in Week 9. But, the applause should be held for Ajayi on the road against the Cowboys in Sunday Night Football. He will face a Dallas defense that has given up only two rushing touchdowns to running backs in its last four games. Plus, opposing running backs have averaged just 64.7 yards per tilt in this span. Instead of running the ball, the Eagles will likely dominate with a heavy passing game that failed to target Ajayi once in Week 9. Ajayi’s fantasy owners should take note.