BEARS WR: When Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett came to the Bears, some thought they would have an instant connection since they played together in college at Vanderbilt; but in the year-and-a-half they have been together, they never seemed to be on the same page. Until now. With Devin Hester now apparently a non-factor in the Chicago offense, Bennett has had two strong games in a row since joining the starting lineup. After passing the century mark Sunday, Bennett has 11 catches for 160 yards and two scores in the last two weeks. Johnny Knox was quiet Sunday, so suddenly it looks like Bennett is the most valuable Bear wideout.
CARDINALS QB: The head injury suffered by Derek Anderson on Sunday was no laughing matte,r and neither was Max Hall’s separated shoulder. Enter emergency quarterback John Skelton, who completed three passes in six attempts in his NFL debut. Although it’s unknown who will start this coming week, Skelton certainly can’t be any worse than the other quarterbacks the Cardinals have trotted out there in 2010.
COLTS RB: Donald Brown got the start, and Mike Hart got injured, but Javarris James was the only noteworthy fantasy running back for Indianapolis on Sunday. Not that six carries for 18 yards is anything to write home about, but James scored on two short runs and also caught two passes for 17 yards. Brown had just four carries Sunday, but with Joseph Addai still out and Hart nursing an ankle injury again, Brown could see a little more action in Week 14.
COWBOYS RB: After Sunday’s 38-35 victory, Dallas fans have to wonder why Marion Barber has received so many carries the last few years. With Barber watching from the sidelines due to a calf injury, starter Felix Jones and reserve Tashard Choice combined for 183 yards on 41 carries. Choice was especially strong, running for 100 yards and scoring on a 20-yard run on Dallas’ first drive. Barber may have to get used to watching the young duo from the bench.
COWBOYS WR: Dez Bryant probably should have stayed home Sunday. A game-time decision with a sore ankle, Bryant attempted to gut it out against the Colts. However, he suffered a broken ankle on a kick return and will miss the rest of the season. Roy Williams is now clearly the No. 2 man in Big D, and Sam Hurd should see a few more looks as well.
49ERS RB: Frank Gore’s season ended when he broke his hip last Monday, so the 49ers hoped that Brian Westbrook would continue drinking from the fountain of youth. Westbrook had a huge game, but that was against the Cardinals. He found the going tougher against the Packers Sunday, finishing with just 31 yards on nine carries. Anthony Dixon, who had 33 yards on nine carries, may have fresher legs at this point; and with the 49ers’ season slowly slipping away, they may turn to him instead.
JAGUARS WR: In news that is sure to draw shockwaves across the fantasy landscape, Mike Sims-Walker sat out Sunday’s game and was replaced in the starting lineup by Kassim Osgood. Osgood did his best Sims-Walker impersonation, failing to catch the only pass thrown his way. The Jaguars ran a whopping 53 times against Tennessee and will probably continue to ride Maurice Jones-Drew hard, so Osgood probably won’t see enough targets to be much of a fantasy factor.
LIONS QB: Though Shaun Hill claims he’ll return this year from the injury he suffered on Thanksgiving, a quarterback who breaks a finger on his throwing hand generally doesn’t come back quickly. Drew Stanton filled in ably Sunday against a tough Chicago D, throwing a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson and scoring another on the ground, but he’s not much of a long-term fantasy asset.
LIONS RB: Jahvid Best returned Sunday and had a couple of big plays, totaling 97 yards on just 10 touches. Maurice Morris was back in his customary backup role, and although he got the ball as much as Best did, he picked up just 40 yards. That’s more than we can say for Aaron Brown, who saw a little action in Best’s absence, but none Sunday.
PACKERS RB: The Packers are looking like one of the best teams in the NFC, but if they want to win it all, they need to find a real running back because Brandon Jackson isn’t cutting it. James Starks, making his NFL debut, may be the back they need. Starks had a modest 73 yards on 18 carries Sunday, and Jackson carried the ball only four times. Don’t be surprised to see Starks get most of the work the rest of the way.
RAIDERS QB: Bruce Gradkowski re-injured his shoulder in last week’s loss, so the Raiders again promoted Jason Campbell to the starting lineup. While Campbell posted mediocre passing numbers Sunday, the Oakland rushing offense steamrolled the San Diego defense to the tune of 251 yards on 52 carries. Campbell had 37 of those yards on seven rushes and scored on a nine-yarder in the first quarter. Gradkowski is done for the year, so it’s Campbell’s team now.
RAVENS TE: Todd Heap lasted only one play Sunday night before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are the no-names backing him up, and if the injury turns out to be serious, one or both would see significant playing time in the coming weeks. Still, neither should be considered for your fantasy roster unless teams in your league are in the habit of carrying three or four tight ends.
SAINTS TE: After missing a couple of games with sore ribs, Jeremy Shockey returned to the starting lineup Sunday and caught two passes for 28 yards. Jimmy Graham filled in for Shockey the last few weeks and might be the more valuable tight end going forward, but for the time being, Shockey is back on atop the depth chart.
SEAHAWKS WR: Although Mike Williams was able to return Sunday after missing last week’s game with the Chiefs, he suffered a different ankle injury and left the game without recording a catch. Ben Obomanu, who has filled in nicely for Williams, left the game with an injury himself, but his doesn’t look too serious. Obomanu should be back this week, but Deon Butler or Brandon Stokley figure to get a few extra targets if Williams can’t go.
STEELERS TE: Heath Miller left Sunday’s game with a concussion in the third quarter. Since concussions can often lead to long absences, backups David Johnson and Matt Spaeth are names you need to knowr. Johnson set career highs with three catches for 37 yards Sunday.
TITANS QB: The Rusty Smith experiment didn’t last long, as the Titans couldn’t wait to hand the reins back over to Kerry Collins. Of course, the offense didn’t look much better with Collins at the helm, scroring just six points in a loss to Jacksonville. It has been a while since Tennessee found the end zone – the last time it happened was back in Randy Moss’ first game with the team. We’re not blaming Moss for all of Tennessee’s problems on offense, but it seems strange that the struggles began happening right when he was supposed to open things up a bit. Of course, the absence of Vince Young, all of his problems notwithstanding, might have something do with that as well.
VIKINGS QB: Is this the way the world ends? Not with a bang, but a whimper? Brett Favre was drilled from behind early in Sunday’s game and sprained his shoulder. Tarvaris Jackson was shaky in relief at first, but he ultimately led the Vikings to 38 points in a row in an easy victory over Buffalo. Favre is slated for an MRI on Monday, but he’s like the Blues Brothers’ police car outside City Hall at this point. There are four weeks left in the season, and the Vikes are going nowhere. If the MRI is bad news, expect a big announcement from Minnesota this week.
VIKINGS WR: Percy Harvin’s migraines finally ended up keeping him out of a game, giving Bernard Berrian yet another chance to step up in the Minnesota offense. Berrian finished with just one catch Sunday, but Sidney Rice did serious damage for the Vikings. In Berrian’s defense, the Vikings ran it 40 times and only threw it 23 times, so there weren’t many opportunities to do much in the passing game.