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NFC North Fantasy Preview: Week 11 is defined by rivalry games

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The top-two NFC North teams are matched up this week along with a Packers trip to Seattle for a Thursday night showdown.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC North features a rivalry game between two teams at the top of the division and another battle between teams that have become pseudo-rivals over the past few seasons.

At 6-3 the Bears host the Vikings (5-3-1) with a spot at the top of the NFC North on the line. A rare instance in which Packer fans will be rooting for a Minnesota victory, in order to help put the division lead within shouting distance.

The Packers, meanwhile, travel to Seattle on Thursday night to take on the Seahawks. Along with the Cowboys and Falcons, the Seahawks have been in the mix for non-division rivals after the many post-season battles and replacement ref subterfuge.

Elsewhere, the Lions take on the Panthers in Detroit. Both teams are coming off two fairly embarrassing losses, so it’ll be interesting to see how both teams respond.

Now, on to the fantasy discussion for Week 11.

Vikings @ Chicago

Start: Stefon Diggs, WR

Diggs has had a fairly up-and-down season, but when he’s up, he’s way up. He missed Week 9 with a rib injury, but got an extra week of rest with a bye in there. Despite the career year out of Adam Thielen, Diggs has managed double-digit targets in all, but two games this year. If Kirk Cousins can stay upright, then Diggs should see his fair amount of targets.

By DVOA, the Bears are the best defense in the league. If they were to have a weakness, it’s been against WR2’s and TE’s where they rank 12th and 20th, respectively.

Sit: Allen Robinson II, WR

If I had to pick anyone, it’d be Robinson. He might still have flex value, but there’s a reason Minnesota is number one in passing DVOA against WR1’s and it’s Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes should have the task of shadowing Robinson during this game. Trubisky has been hitting a lot of open receivers lately, but he won’t have that luxury here.

Panthers @ Lions

Start: Cam Newton, QB

As I said at the top, both teams are coming off embarrassing defeats. I do like the narrative, though, of Cam Newton bouncing back after that terrible loss to prove that the Panthers are a playoff team. Detroit is 30th overall in defensive DVOA (31st against the pass, 25th against the run). Looking closer at those efficiency numbers, Detroit is 32nd against WR1’s (we saw how Allen Robinson ate against them last week), 27th against WR2’s, 32nd against Other WR’s, and 30th against TE’s. Cam should have plenty of opportunities to get this offense back on track.

Sit: LeGarrette Blount, RB

There are still some significant byes this week, but streaming Blount would be a heavy gamble. He was a touchdown vulture earlier in the season, but over the past three weeks, he hasn’t found the end zone and is only averaging five yards per game, over that span. Not five yards per carry, five yards PER GAME. This would be a high-risk play.

Packers @ Seahawks

Start: Jimmy Graham, TE

You’re likely starting Jimmy Graham anyway, but I feel good about Graham going into Seattle and putting up a prove-them-wrong game. He’s only registered six catches over the past three games, but Seattle is only middling against tight ends. Again, this is about narrative, but Graham should want to put in the extra effort this week.

Sit: Seattle’s Defense

The Seahawks defense by DVOA is just inside the top-10. Their best games, however, came against the Raiders, Lions and Cowboys— three offenses that aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. The Packers should be able to run on them and Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers.