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NFL Barometer: Non-Action Jackson

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RISERS

Kevin Smith, RB, DET -
Smith's performance Sunday had to be one of the most out-of-nowhere in recent memory, but with such weak alternatives in Detroit's backfield, there's no way it should be written off as a fluke. It needs to be taken in context against such a poor Carolina defense that has allowed an NFL-high 14 rushing touchdowns this season, but Smith looked good and, most important, he can be a real threat as a receiver. Smith is an injury risk and was out of the league up until three weeks ago, but he's now seemingly fully recovered from knee surgery and worked hard while unemployed, and the 2008 third-round pick totaled 1,262 yards with eight touchdowns as a rookie. With Jahvid Best's status uncertain and playing in such an explosive offense, not only is Smith the obvious No. 1 waiver wire pick this week, especially so late in the year, but feel free to spend the rest of your FAAB on him as well.

Joe McKnight, RB, N.Y.J. -
It certainly appeared like Shonn Greene's injury was a blessing in disguise for the Jets, as McKnight was an upgrade. Not only does the playbook expand greatly with him in, but he's also more explosive as a runner (not sure he could handle 300 touches, though). McKnight totaled 121 total yards, which Greene has bettered in just one of his 39 career games. McKnight likely will go back to being a complementary player with Greene (and LaDainian Tomlinson) returning, but especially with his receiving ability, he'd become an extremely intriguing fantasy option should he become the feature back.

Torrey Smith, WR, BAL -
Smith led the Ravens with six catches for 165 yards and a touchdown in Week 11, ripping apart a strong Bengals secondary (albeit one without Leon Hall). Smith's 20.3 yards-per-catch mark leads the NFL (minimum 20 receptions), so he's made a major impact right away as a rookie. Even with Lee Evans back, Smith needs to see starter's snaps as his vertical speed fits well with Joe Flacco's strong arm. It appears Baltimore hit a home run with the No. 58 pick of last year's draft.

Matt Moore, QB, MIA -
Moore averages 8.5 YPA with a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over his last three games, completing 70.8 percent of his passes. Moreover, he's also taken just three sacks in that span, and remember, before last year when he played for a dreadful Carolina team that gave him a quick hook, Moore got 7.9 YPA with an 8:1 TD:INT ratio in five starts in 2009. He's 27 and already looks like an upgrade over Chad Henne. I hope Miami fans didn't have their hearts set on Andrew Luck.

Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN -
With A.J. Green sidelined, Simpson stepped up and recorded eight catches for 152 yards against a solid Ravens' secondary. It was the best game of Simpson's career, as he took full advantage of seeing 13 targets. The status of Green (knee) is uncertain, but if he misses time, then Simpson would be worth using in fantasy leagues.

Michael Crabtree, WR, S.F. -
Crabtree hauled in seven catches for 120 yards during the 49ers' win Sunday, and he would have added a touchdown had Alex Smith not overthrew him open in the end zone. The 100-yard receiving game was his first of the year, but it looks like he's getting healthier after dealing with a chronic foot problem earlier this season. And teammate Braylon Edwards remains hobbled by his knee injury, which means Crabtree is the team's unquestioned WR1.

Victor Cruz, WR, N.Y.G. -
Since he became relevant in Week 3, Cruz has produced a pace to finish a 16-game season with 88 catches, 1,566 yards and 10 touchdowns - and that's with him getting just two catches for 12 yards without a score in one game. Cruz is tied for fifth among wide receivers with nine broken tackles, and to put that in perspective, Calvin Johnson leads the league in the category with 11, and he's played 656 snaps this year. Cruz has played just 386. He should be treated as a top-20 fantasy WR.

FALLERS

Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN -
Peterson left Sunday's game with an ankle injury, which was especially unfortunate after already rushing for a score against an Oakland defense that entered having allowed 5.2 YPC this year - he was likely in store for a big game. X-rays came up negative, and he walked under his own power when he returned to the sidelines during the second half, but it appears the injury will keep him out at least Week 12, and the team has no incentive to rush its franchise player sitting at 2-8. Toby Gerhart managed just 2.6 YPC after replacing Peterson last week and is an uninspiring fantasy option, especially in Atlanta this week against a Falcons front seven that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI -
Cutler played well again Sunday, but he suffered a broken thumb while attempting to tackle a defender. The injury will require surgery, and the Bears will be lucky if he returns before the postseason. Cutler hasn't been a huge fantasy force thanks to the Bears defense and running game, but it's a big loss for Chicago. Enter Caleb Hanie, who's attempted just 14 regular season passes in his career. He impressed during the second half of last year's NFC championship game, but it's unclear if offensive coordinator Mike Martz has much faith in him, and there's a strong chance the Bears add Kyle Orton off waivers.

Fred Jackson, RB, BUF -
Jackson exited Sunday's game with a calf injury, but while X-rays were negative, his status for Week 12 is questionable. Even with the Bills losing three consecutive games, Jackson has remained plenty productive. In fact, he's on pace to finish the season with 2,202 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. If the injury lingers, it would be a major blow to fantasy owners. C.J. Spiller needs to be owned, but he'd likely be in a committee and wouldn't be much of a fantasy option.

James Starks, RB, G.B. -
While Starks recorded a career-high 53 receiving yards Sunday, he later left the game with a knee injury and also watched B.J. Raji and John Kuhn steal goal-line touchdowns. Starks has a short week to recover with the Packers playing on Thanksgiving, but he practiced Tuesday, so hopefully the knee sprain isn't overly serious.

John Skelton, QB, ARI -
Skelton completed just 6-of-19 passes with a 0:3 TD:INT ratio Sunday, effectively ending any quarterback controversy in Arizona. As soon as Kevin Kolb (toe) can return, it's his starting job without question. Skelton was so bad in Week 11, Richard Bartel actually replaced him in the second half. Skelton has improved Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy value, but he might be the most inaccurate quarterback in the league.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, N.Y.G. -
Jacobs managed just 21 yards on 12 rushing attempts in a plus matchup at home against the Eagles on Sunday night. Getting just 3.0 YPC this season, Jacobs frequently looks like he's running in quicksand, as he's been a major downgrade from Ahmad Bradshaw. Even as New York's feature back, he's not much of a fantasy option.

Chris Johnson, RB, TEN -
Enough with the excuses, Johnson has been a disaster this season, and his big Week 10 now looks worse after Kevin Smith came off the bench (and his couch) to rack up more than 200 yards against the same Panthers team. Johnson somehow managed just 13 rushing yards on 12 carries Sunday and after scoring 23 touchdowns over his previous 24 games, he's hit pay dirt just twice over his past 12 contests. Johnson's 1.9 YPC after contact this season ranks 59th among 63 qualified running backs.

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