(Editor's note: Every week this season, gay teenage NFL fan Jeremy Brener will give his perspective and predictions for the upcoming week).
People may know New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall for catching 65 career touchdowns for more than 10,000 yards and reaching the Pro Bowl with three franchises. What people may not know about Marshall is his work in the promotion of mental health.
In 2010, Marshall was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Marshall's diagnosis has propelled him to become an advocate and help this cause. Marshall says there is a stigma with mental health because there is simply not enough awareness for it. I could not agree more. Mental health problems are just as important as physical health and have just as much of an effect on society.
Marshall is using his platform to found Project375 with his wife Michi, a mental health technician. I've spoken highly in the past about how I admire professional athletes who use their platform and celebrity and use it to shape the world in a positive way. As someone who has struggled with my mental health as an LGBT athlete, I have a personal connection with Brandon Marshall's Project375.
According to Project375, 17.1 million people have experienced a diagnosable disorder, and more than 50% of mental illness starts before the age of 14, which leads to 4,600 young people committing suicide each year. The odds only increase for LGBT teens. Almost every story on Outsports relates to this dilemma. Many people who share their story with Outsports has dealt with some type of mental health problem in their journey towards acceptance, and awareness for mental health can save so many lives.
If Project375 can save a life, that person can use their life to impact others, and it becomes a chain reaction. Brandon Marshall wants to change and save lives with Project375, and he is using his platform to fulfill his duties. We need more awareness for mental health in the world, and with an All-Pro wide receiver spreading the awareness and erasing the stigma, progress is being made. Thank you Brandon Marshall.
Here's my take on Week 11:
Game of the Week
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers has now lost three straight starts for the first time since 2008. After a 6-0 start, the Packers are now looking at pushing the panic button. During Green Bay's losing streak, they have also given up their division lead to their opponent this week, the Minnesota Vikings.
Ever since they flopped on Monday Night Football in Week 1, the Vikings have won 7 of 8, only losing by a field goal on the road against the Broncos. At the beginning of the year, I thought they would make the playoffs as a wild card, but they have been playing like a division leader worthy of maybe getting a first round bye. In two years, head coach Mike Zimmer has taken the worst defense in the league to the second-best defense in the league. Veteran acquisitions Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn have created a dangerous secondary with Harrison Smith. Second-year linebacker Anthony Barr is having a good year, and it is showing in the win column. This is a big game for the Vikings. Despite holding the second-best record in the NFC, there are still doubters. A win on Sunday would officially lift them into contender status.
For the Packers, a win would give them the division lead back, but a loss would still keep them as a wild card. Nonetheless, they need a big win to steer them back on track, and to do it on the road against your stiffest division competition would do just that. Even though they have a great defense, I can't see Rodgers losing a fourth straight game. Rodgers proves to do well when the stakes are high and the pressure is on. I'm expecting a close game with Green Bay winning 22-20.
Upset of the Week
Indianapolis Colts over Atlanta Falcons
The Colts will play their third game this season without Andrew Luck on Sunday. Luck has a lacerated kidney and will not see the field for a month or two. The Colts come into this game 4-5, two games behind the 6-3 Atlanta Falcons. Both teams are coming off of their bye week and are coming off two completely different stories. Indianapolis beat an undefeated Denver Broncos team, while Atlanta could not beat a Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers squad. Matt Hasselbeck will start his third game this season, and luckily for the Colts, they haven't lost with Hasselbeck under center. The Falcons are coming off two embarrassing losses and a very ugly win against the Titans. They haven't done anything recently to prove that they can beat a team coming off their best win of the season. Maybe the bye week is exactly what Atlanta needed, or it could be exactly what Indianapolis needed. This is one of those games that could tip the scales and set the tone for the rest of the season. The Colts simply need this game more than Atlanta, and Hasselbeck's play so far this season will lead the Colts to victory 27-15.
Fantasy Start of the Week
Chiefs RB Charcandrick West vs. San Diego Chargers
In Week 6, West was my Sit of the Week. I warned people to be patient with him as soon as he got Jamaal Charles' job. Since Week 6, he has carried the ball at least 20 times in each of the last three games and has scored four touchdowns. Not only has West been consistently improving and rising in fantasy stock, he faces the worst rush defense in the league in San Diego. The Chargers have been very generous to running backs, and now they face one of the league's hottest on Sunday. So, for those Charcandrick owners who have been patient, congratulations! Your patience has been rewarded! Start West in all formats this week.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Packers RB James Starks vs. Minnesota Vikings
I know you can't spell Starks without Star, but nothing is very star-quality about Starks. Despite being "promoted" into the starting lineup over a struggling Eddie Lacy, Starks hasn't done very much to warrant keeping the "starting" job. He has clinched double-digit fantasy points in only two games this season. He had less than three yards per carry in Green Bay's loss against Detroit last week and we haven't seen anything special at a consistent rate from Starks. He got the bulk of the carries because Lacy was out with an injury. This does not include the fact that they face the Vikings this week, the team with the fifth-fewest points allowed to running backs. Starks may sound like an intriguing name as a newer "starter," but his numbers show that he is not an intriguing option this week.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi
Here I am yet again praising a rookie. Ajayi is a fifth-round pick from Boise State and is Lamar Miller's backup. He was inactive in the first seven games this season, but he has seen eleven carries in the last two games, averaging a little over eight yards per carry. Ajayi is not in any position to steal the starting role from Miller, but he is a very valuable handcuff and security option in case Miller were to get injured. And at 6'0'', 228 lbs., Ajayi could see an increase in goal line touches. He is by no means someone worthy of a starting spot in your lineup, but stash him in your bench if you have space. If he gets the opportunity, he can be quite dangerous down the stretch.
Lock of the Week
Seattle Seahawks over San Francisco 49ers
Last week proved that nothing is definite in the NFL. In 14 games last week, the road teams won 11 games, and the underdogs won 10 games. That being said, Seattle will win this week. They beat the 49ers 20-3 on the road in Week 7, and they draw them again this week at home. The Seahawks are entering desperation mode at 4-5. They are three games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West and two games behind the Packers and Falcons for a wild card. In all five of their losses, they held a lead at some point in the fourth quarter. The 49ers looked like they had given up on the season when they benched Colin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert. However, Gabbert is 1-0 as a starter and beat a good Falcons team. Let's see how we takes on the 12s in Seattle. On paper, this looks like an easy victory for the Seahawks, but there's a reason why the games are played. Good luck to the 49ers trying to pull the upset, I just don't see it happening.
Buzzer's Best Bet
Washington +7 at Carolina. Pick: Carolina.
Washington is 0-4 on the road with an average margin of defeat of 12 points.The Panthers are unbeaten and playing more dominant football the past two weeks. Washington is not playing a defense as bad as the Saints this week. The Panthers will stay unbeaten and cover the spread.
Last week: 0-1. Season: 6-4.
Hot Player of the Week
Rams QB Case Keenum
As a Houston guy, there is nobody happier than me that Keenum is the new starter for the Rams. Keenum deserves this starting opportunity in St. Louis more than anyone. He was the Texans' fourth quarterback and led us to two wins last season. One of those wins came against the Baltimore Ravens, the Rams' opponent this week. He's kinda cute too. Great body, great attitude, extremely humble. He's the ultimate good guy. St. Louis fans should be lucky to have him and I hope he can lead them to victory this Sunday.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Brener lives in Houston. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy).