Random thoughts from Week 11:
- Is Steve Johnson a WR1? In eight games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starter, he has nine TDs. If you think this production came out of nowhere (it did), remember it's his third season in the league. We've seen this before from third-year WRs.
- Speaking of Fitzpatrick, if you were GM of the Bengals, would you trade Carson Palmer for Fitzpatrick (Palmer's former backup) right now? I asked Jeff Erickson, a Bengals fan, in Sunday's live blog and he wasn't sure. That's a crazy indication of how far Palmer has fallen and how high Fitzpatrick has risen in a couple of months.
- Several people have talked about Philip Rivers putting up an MVP-caliber season despite numerous injuries to his WRs, but how about Aaron Rodgers? Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley are out for the year and Donald Driver has been injured as well, yet the Packers are 7-3 and Rodgers has 19 TDs and 2,601 yards through 10 games. He needs some signature wins against good teams, but Rodgers has put himself in the conversation.
- How far has Pierre Garcon fallen, both in real life and fantasy? Before the season, I thought Garcon could approach Reggie Wayne's stats. After all, he did so for a long stretch last season, Wayne is getting older, and Garcon is entering his prime. At this point, though, it's clear Garcon and Peyton Manning have no chemistry, and I have the lingering suspicion that Garcon isn't a hard worker during the week.
- Could the Colts miss the playoffs? They're now 6-4 and still must face the Chargers (this week), Titans twice, Jaguars (who aren't nearly as good as their record reflects but who typically play the Colts tough), at Raiders, and the suddenly resurgent Cowboys. They'll be okay if they beat the Chargers this week, but if they fall to 6-5, Peyton Manning might be watching the playoffs with you and me.
- Speaking of a Manning missing the playoffs, the Giants are in trouble as well. Two weeks ago, they were annointed as the NFL's best team. Now, though, they're 6-4 and staring at a brutal schedule with an injury-riddled offense. There are a handful of NFC teams at 7-3, and most of them have an easier schedule. If you're a Giants fan, you have to hope Eli Manning can carry a franchise, despite injuries at WR, like his brother, Rivers, and Rodgers have done.
- What a miserable season for the highly-drafted rookie running backs. Ryan Mathews, C.J. Spiller, and Jahvid Best have been injury-prone and ineffective, whereas undrafted Arian Foster has been the NFL's best RB. This is more proof that NFL RBs are fungible.
- Danny Woodhead reminds me of Dave Meggett. Put aside rooting interests - he's a fun player to watch. Plus, he makes you feel like it's possible for anyone, not just genetic freaks, to make the NFL.
- Defenses need to crowd the line of scrimmage more against the Patriots. It's counter-intuitive, as usually you want to protect your back end (especially against elite QBs), but I haven't seen Brady beating anybody deep, and I'm not sure any of their receivers are capable of doing so on a regular basis, particularly given their size, or lack thereof.
- The Panthers look like they'll be drafting first overall, so their primary objective at this point should be to evaluate Jimmy Clausen. Of course, if they think Andrew Luck is a can't-miss, franchise QB, they'll have to take Luck regardless of what Clausen does.
- I kept waiting for the correction to come with the Bucs, but it never came. It's amazing how quickly a team can go from doormat to playoff-caliber in today's NFL. In fact, the Bucs have been the NFL's most consistent team, as they don't haven't lost to a bad/mediocre team all season.
- Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are both heading into free agency this offseason. One of them has been a Pro Bowl player in 2010 and, from all appearances, a model teammate, whereas the other has done almost nothing on the field, whined off the field, given bizarre press conferences, and seems like a lost soul. Who'd have thought Owens would be the former and Moss the latter? Owens and Moss have similar skill sets, but at this point, I have to think Owens, despite being older, has a leg up on Moss for a free agent contract.
- I was just a teen, so maybe my memory is off, but in the '90s, I didn't remember slot receivers having much of an impact in the NFL. Nowadays, though, it seems like slot guys are huge. Look how off the Giants and Colts have been without Steve Smith and Austin Collie.
- The Vince Young / Jeff Fisher feud boils down to one fact - Vince Young is immature.
- Now that the Cowboys have won two straight without him, we must ask - How bad was Wade Phillips?
- Next Sunday night, we get the Chargers and Colts in prime-time. Every other national game, though, is a snoozer - all three on Thanksgiving will have big point spreads, and the Monday-nighter is the Niners at Cardinals. Yuck. It's a shame we can't re-shuffle. You could choose at random and get better matchups than these.
- How insane is it that the Jets got Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft choice?
Now that the bye weeks have passed and everyone has a full lineup, I'm not as excited about waivers as usual. There is less need to 'plug and play' someone from waivers. Plus, we know which teams are good and which are bad, and that certainty creates less chance that a flyer will pan out. That said, here are my thoughts/suggestions for Week 12.
, QB, Jets: The Jets are slowly becoming a more balanced offense, relying more on Sanchez and less on their terrific run-blocking offensive line. This Thanksgiving, Sanchez should post more fantasy-friendly stats against a Bengals defense that mailed it in against the Bills.
and Reggie Bush
, RB, Saints: I've profiled Ivory a few times this year, as he has upside on a high-scoring Saints offense. After a 99-yard, TD performance, he should be a hot name this week even in shallow leagues. Ivory's value will take a bit of a hit if Bush comes back from his broken fibula, but Bush wasn't ready on Sunday, and it's a short week since they play on Thanksgiving, so at this point it wouldn't shock me to see the Saints hold him out again. Even if Bush does come back, he's not the typical, between-the-tackles RB, so Ivory and Bush could co-exist, especially in a decent/good matchup like the Cowboys.
, RB, Jets and Jason Snelling
, RB, Falcons: With the bye weeks gone, there isn't much sense stashing a mediocre RB or WR on your bench - you might as well hold a RB with upside. Greene and Snelling are one injury from being sure-fire fantasy starters on good offenses.
, RB, Lions: Everything I said last week about Keiland Williams
and Mike Goodson
now applies to Morris, who may be the Lions feature back this week. Kevin Smith
is on IR and Jahvid Best
is clearly not 100%; so if Best sits (and remember, it's a short week), Morris is a sneaky-good RB2 or flex play in deeper leagues.
Sydney Rice, WR, Vikings: If the Vikings have a turnaround with their new coach, similar to what the Cowboys did with Jason Garrett
, then Rice will be a big part of it. At least the upside is there.
and Derek Hagan
, WR, Giants: The Eagles are a good defense, so don't be too disappointed by Manningham's Week 11 stats. This week, against an inept Jaguars pass defense (8.8 YPA), Manningham is more likely to duplicate what he did in Week 10, when he posted 91 yards and a TD. Meanwhile, Hakeem Nicks
' injury makes Hagan relevant. He's obviously unproven, but he scored on Sunday and somebody has to catch some balls from Eli Manning
, WR, Colts: It looks like Austin Collie
suffered another head injury, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him miss this week's game. With Pierre Garcon
struggling, and the Colts in a virtual must-win game in what should be a shootout against the Chargers, White isn't a bad option for deeper leagues. We've certainly seen this year how much Manning likes the slot guys.
, TE, Steelers: The Bills are the new Texans - they're a carnival; fun for all. I expect a touchdown out of Miller this week against a defense that's struggled against opposing TEs all year.
, TE, Saints: David Thomas
is technically the Saints starting tight end with Jeremy Shockey
hurt, but Graham got 8 targets on Sunday, good for 5 catches and 72 yards, and that's after last week's 49 yards and a TD. The Saints have a short week this week, so I expect Shockey to sit again and for Graham to have surprisingly high fantasy value. Graham should be a top-10 fantasy TE from this point forward.
Browns D/ST: This week, the Browns are the lucky winner of the "get to play the Panthers" sweepstakes. Start them with confidence, since, as we saw with the Ravens last week, this is as good of a matchup as it gets for a non-elite defense.
Dead to Me:
All Titans except Chris Johnson
: I desperately wanted to give Randy Moss
and Nate Washington
another chance, as they face the Texans and Jaguars, the league's two worst pass defenses, the next two weeks, and I think fantasy owners routinely under-estimate the impact of good matchups like that. But with a rookie QB in the fold, I just can't do it. With the bye weeks in the rear view mirror, there are too many other solid, reliable options to take a flyer on Moss or Nate Washington
. It's a shame, really - the Texans pass defense is historically bad. But with a rookie QB, Moss' ceiling is lower than ever, and if you can't use him in this matchup, when will you?