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Week 11 fantasy pickups include Rishard Matthews, Bernard Pierce, Case Keenum, Shane Vereen

Bernard-Pierce-RavensCompared to recent weeks, there is probably not a whole lot available on the fantasy waiver wire in your leagues heading into Week 11. There were very few breakout performances in Week 10 and not many injuries, but that doesn’t mean valuable pieces can’t be found. In addition to the players we told you to keep an eye on when Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Mike James went down on Monday night, here are some other players to consider for Week 11.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins: We can almost guaranteed that Matthews’ 11/120/2 game against Tampa Bay on Monday night will be his best of the season. That doesn’t mean he won’t have some WR3 value going forward, especially in PPR leagues. After catching just five passes in the first six games of the season, Matthews has clearly developed some chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. He has 16 catches on 24 targets in the past three weeks. He has also received a bump since Brandon Gibson went down with an injury. We don’t expect him to light it up by any means, but you could do worse for receiver depth.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens: Pierce is already owned in many leagues as a handcuff to Ray Rice. The Ravens’ run game is an absolute mess. Rice has been completely ineffective in recent weeks, which could be the result of a lingering hip issue and is certainly the result of poor offensive line play. John Harbaugh told reporters this week that the team is planing to go with a “hot hand” approach going forward. That could mean Pierce is in for more carries if he can provide a spark. The Ravens can only be so loyal to Rice if he is not getting the job done, making Pierce worth an add.

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UCLA Defense Is a QB Killing Machine

A week after getting embarrassed at home by Stanford 35-0, UCLA bounced back with a win over Conference USA foe Houston 31-13 at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins are nowhere near a good team, but their defense is decent enough to keep them competitive on most nights. Their offense is another story — it’s by far one of the worst in the Pac-10 and possibly the worst I’ve ever seen from the Bruins. Luckily the defense brought the hurt to Houston Saturday night.

UCLA somehow managed to knock not one, but two Cougars quarterbacks out of the game. Moreover, both of Houston’s top two slingers were lost for the season after the Bruins got done with them. Actually, starter Case Keenum being lost for the year is more about what he did rather than UCLA.

Keenum, playing despite suffering a minor concussion the previous week trying to make a tackle following an interception, hurt himself again trying to make a tackle on an interception. He had driven the Cougars down to the UCLA two-yard line when he was picked off by Akeem Ayers. Keenum somehow tore his ACL as he tried to tackle Ayers by the sideline and is now done for the season. That happened in the second quarter.

As if Keenum’s injury wasn’t devastating enough, backup Cotton Turner broke his clavicle in the second half and was knocked out for the year as well. Turner was hit in the third quarter while attempting a pass and he already had season-ending surgery Sunday.

I’m honestly joking about UCLA’s ferocious defense. I really think it was coincidence more than anything else that Houston lost both its quarterbacks for the season against the Bruins. The 31-13 win was pleasing for Bruins fans, but the same concerns persist; Kevin Prince was just 9/17 for 99 yards and an interception. If you can’t throw the ball, you’re not going to have much success. UCLA fans are seeing it first hand and finding that out the hard way. They likely won’t win more than two of their remaining games which is quite sad.

Photo Credit: Nick de la Torre : Houston Chronicle

Case Keenum Might Have a Sore Arm

Case-KeenumOne of the late games on Saturday night featured Houston going to El Paso to face UTEP. The game was tied 17-17 at halftime but UTEP came out firing in the second half and piled up 41 points, winning 58-41. If there was a bright side to Houston’s disappointing first loss of the season, it’s that their offense is still clicking. Maybe that’s an understatement. Houston quarterback Case Keenum attempted a school record 76 passes, also setting a school record with 51 completions. Keenum racked up 536 yards and 5 touchdowns as the team totaled 664 yards. So if the offense was that prolific, where did they go wrong?

For starters, Houston’s defense allowed 581 yards leading to 58 points. They also lost two fumbles and saw two trips in the red zone end in field goals which didn’t help. Keenum already has well over 2,000 passing yards in five games which is ridiculous. But much like Texas Tech, there’s only so much an offense can do if the defense can’t stop anybody. Think about this one for a second: Houston gave up 58 freaking points to a team that got hammered by Texas 64-7 the week before. Yikes.