Denarius Moore, WR, OAK – Moore hauled in five passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10; and it looks like he’ll be the Raiders’ top receiver while Jacoby Ford is out with an injury. Ford’s replacement, Darrius Heyward-Bey - the team’s top wide out for a few weeks earlier this season - saw zero targets after replacing him. Moore, meanwhile, has seen 19 targets over the past two weeks and looks like one of the bigger steals of this year’s draft. He has a ton of talent, and Carson Palmer actually looks like an upgrade at quarterback. Moore could easily be a WR2 for fantasy purposes from here on out.
Vincent Brown, WR, SD – With Malcom Floyd out, Brown got an extended look in last Thursday’s game against the Raiders. Brown was impressive, leading the Chargers with five receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. The rookie could become a major part of San Diego’s passing offense moving forward with Floyd still banged up and Antonio Gates still limited by his foot injury. Brown saw nine targets last week and is averaging18.4 yards per catch this season. He should be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA – Lynch received a whopping 37 touches Sunday and led the NFL in that category, with 61 total, over the last two weeks. Despite racking up just 24 yards in one contest, and missing Week 7 with a back injury, he averaged 116.3 total yards over his last four games and scored in each of the last five. Volume has helped, but Lynch has done some of the work himself - his 22 broken tackles are tied for the seventh most among running backs this season.
Vince Young, QB, PHI – Michael Vick may very well play Sunday night, but he’s highly questionable; and although Young’s lone pass attempt this season resulted in an interception, he has the upside to be a top-12 fantasy QB in Philly’s pass-friendly system. Young is anything but a slam dunk replacement, but he averaged 8.0 YPA with a 10:3 TD:INT ratio last year and his rushing ability makes him even more intriguing. At minimum he needs to be owned, and it’s plausible he ends up being a difference maker if Vick misses a couple weeks.
Carson Palmer, QB, OAK – Palmer threw six interceptions in his first six quarters as a Raider, but he has also thrown five touchdowns while putting up an incredible 11.5 YPA over his last two games - his only two as the Raiders’ starter. He has also taken a modest three sacks over that span and has shown renewed arm strength as well. Palmer looks rejuvenated and should be treated as a top-12 fantasy quarterback right now.
Lance Ball, RB, DEN – Ball’s inclusion is purely speculative with Willis McGahee (hamstring) expected to play Thursday, but with Knowshon Moreno (ACL) also out for the season, Ball is worth an add regardless. If McGahee were to miss time, even the uninspiring Ball would be worth using in deep leagues (including Thursday against the Jets) given the rush-heavy attack the Broncos are currently using.
John Skelton, QB, ARI – Skelton threw four touchdown passes over the last two games, both resulting in Cardinals wins. Although admittedly the sample size is small, it’s hard not to consider him an upgrade over Kevin Kolb right now, especially since the Cardinals entered Sunday’s win over the Eagles as 14-point underdogs. Skelton has taken seven sacks over the last two contests, and his career completion percentage is 50.2, so he’s still not much more than an average fantasy option; but if nothing else, his presence in the lineup continues to boost the fantasy value of Larry Fitzgerald.
Tony Romo, QB, DAL – Romo opened Sunday’s game 13-for-13 for 195 yards (15.0 YPA) with two touchdowns. He slowed down a bit after the Cowboys jumped out to a big lead, but he still finished the game 18-of-19 for 237 yards and three scores. Other than most games Aaron Rodgers has played this season, there probably hasn’t been a more impressive performance in 2011. I usually don’t like to upgrade a player of Romo’s caliber, especially after just one impressive performance, but the takeaway here is that hopefully Romo is finally over his rib injury, and a big finish could be in store.
Roy Helu, RB, WAS – Mike Shanahan continues to be the most frustrating coach in the NFL, and this goes beyond fantasy purposes. There’s little rhyme or reason to his preference to change starters on game days, and frankly, his job should be in danger. After Ryan Torain was inexplicably named the starter Sunday, he gained just 20 yards on 10 carries, giving him a 1.7 YPC mark over his last five games. He was again replaced by Helu, who received just nine touches after getting 24 the week prior. While Helu’s activity dipped some, and the Washington offense is in shambles, he could actually be considered a buy-low candidate, as he’s clearly the best option in Washington’s backfield. Unfortunatly, Shanahan might not agree.
Matt Schaub, QB, HOU – Losing Schaub for the season is a really tough and unfortunate blow for the Texans, but with a ridiculously easy remaining schedule, a legit defense, and the NFL’s best rushing attack - not to mention Andre Johnson’s return – they will still have a shot at the top seed in the AFC with Matt Leinart at the helm. The loss of Schaub makes the Texans’ offense less potent, but it could actually result in more rushing attempts for both Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Texans already have 67 more rushing attempts than any other team in the league, and while they haven’t had a bye yet, volume certainly hasn’t been an issue. Leinart has been in Houston’s system for two years now and has a bye week to prepare with the first team, but he hasn’t thrown a pass since 2009. Few should be rushing to grab him considering his past performance and his current circumstances.
Julio Jones, WR, ATL – One week after I heaped my praises on Jones, he left another game with an injured hamstring, this time in his right leg. Like Miles Austin before him, it’s not yet clear if this is positive or not. Still, it’s now safe to at least worry about Jones’ durability the rest of the way.
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND – Garcon was on his way to becoming a valuable fantasy receiver after blowing up in Weeks 4 and 5, but he has been anything but since. In fact, over the past four games, he has averaged just four catches for 37.3 yards with zero touchdowns. Curtis Painter certainly isn’t doing his receivers any favors right now.
Matt Cassel, QB, KC – Cassel suffered a right hand injury Sunday and underwent surgery Monday, and although the procedure went “really well,” he’s out for the season. Cassel is anything but a stud, but the drop-off to Tyler Palko could be a big hindrance to the team’s few fantasy options.
DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI – Jackson has been extremely frustrating all year long, and it came to a head Sunday when he was declared inactive for disciplinary reasons. He could actually be considered a buy-low candidate with Jeremy Maclin injured and looking unlikely to play Sunday, but it has been a frustrating year for Jackson owners.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, NE – Green-Ellis averaged 37.3 yards from scrimmage over the last four games and did not find the end zone. He has become an extremely risky fantasy start, although it will be tempting to use him at home against Kansas City on Monday night. Green-Ellis still has scoring potential as New England’s primary goal-line option, but his usage is far too unpredictable right now to be a weekly starter.
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