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NFL Barometer: Say No to Bowe

Derek VanRiper

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Senior Baseball Editor for RotoWire.com, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210) from 11a-2p ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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Nick Foles, QB, PHI - Foles' first NFL start in Week 11 will come against a Washington defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. The severity of Michael Vick's concussion is still uncertain, but there were calls for Foles even before he was forced into action against the Cowboys on Sunday. It's entirely possible that it's audition time for the rookie, as the Eagles may have a difficult decision on their hands during the offseason. Most of the work Foles did in the passing game honed in on Jeremy Maclin (11 targets, eight catches for 92 yards and a TD), who has been a disappointment around Sunday's showing and a 130-yard game against the Lions in Week 6. Perhaps a full week to practice with the first-team offense will open up the playbook a bit more against the Redskins, but most of throws Foles made in his debut were on short drops and out of the shotgun, and many were within seven yards of the line of scrimmage.

C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF - There's really not much to add here that you don't already know, but the point of emphasis with Spiller is that he's a player with elite skills once again in a position to tap into the potential with Fred Jackson sidelined by a concussion. Unfortunately, it may only be a short-term adjustment in the Bills' gameplan forced by injury, but Spiller is a rare matchup-proof talent given his ability to contribute significantly in the passing game if the Bills fall behind. Fortunately, their upcoming schedule (MIA, @IND, JAC, STL, SEA, @MIA, NYJ) should afford plenty of close games and leads with the opportunity for a larger workload even after Jackson's eventual return.

Andre Brown, RB, NYG - For those fortunate enough to have an extra roster spot available, Brown is worth a speculative add despite the Giants' Week 11 bye as it's becoming increasingly clear that Ahmad Bradshaw is not healthy. Add in the fact that Brown has scored in four consecutive games, and that the Giants involved him in the passing game for a season-high five receptions in the loss to the Bengals on Sunday, and there's plenty to like here if the neck, foot or hand injuries that have bothered Bradshaw this season force him to miss any time.

Pierre Garcon, WR, WAS - Garcon is nearing a return to action, and may be ready to play Sunday against the Eagles. The optimal approach may be to simply pick him up as a wait-and-see addition, as the Redskins could decide to work him back into the mix slowly. As a low-volume, downfield threat, Garcon's upside is somewhat limited, but this is a way of investing in the Washington passing game down the stretch with a few potential shootouts including Philadelphia (Week 11, 16), Dallas (Week 12) and the Giants (Week 13).

Laurent Robinson, WR, JAC - Robinson has been targeted 24 times by quarterback Blaine Gabbert since returning to action from a concussion in Week 9. Cecil Shorts' move up the depth chart appears to be a bit more permanent than previously indicated, which leaves Justin Blackmon as the default No. 3 receiver at least in the short term. Considering the rookie's struggles with route running and general disinterested in look at times, it's not a huge surprise that his role is in jeopardy down the stretch. Robinson, who signed a $32.5 million deal ($14 million guaranteed) with the Jags to serve as their primary pass catcher in March, should benefit from Jags' play-from-behind tendencies down the stretch including Week 11 (at Houston) and Week 16 (New England) around matchups against vulnerable Tennessee, Buffalo and Miami secondaries.

Danario Alexander, WR, SD - Health has always been the issue for Alexander, as he's had five knee procedures since 2010, but the Chargers seem to be happier with what he's provided during his brief time in San Diego than with free-agent pickup Robert Meachem. In the Week 10 loss to Tampa Bay, Alexander played 59 of the Chargers' 66 offensive snaps, while Meachem was on the field for just eight. Most of Alexander's damage came on an 80-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, but he finished the game with five receptions for 134 yards and a score on seven targets. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Alexander has a rare combination of size and speed that could make him a very productive player in the right situation, and surely the watered-down version of Philip Rivers currently at the helm for San Diego is an upgrade over the first two seasons Alexander played primarily with Sam Bradford is his quarterback in St. Louis.

Downgrades

Michael Vick, QB, PHI - Calling a concussion "severe" the day that it happens is never a good sign. As noted above, Foles may be auditioning for a permanent hold on the job.

Russell Wilson, QB, SEA - Trust me, I'm rooting for Wilson as much as anyone, but he's note a top-10 quarterback as the last three weeks might suggest. Even during his recent 7:1 TD:INT surge, Wilson has attempted just 78 passes (26 att/game).

Matt Cassel, QB, KAN - He's going to lose his job once Brady Quinn is healthy enough to play.

Alfred Morris, RB, WAS - Only a slight downgrade, but Morris is averaging 75.5 yards per game over his last four, while finding the end zone once during that span. The workload is still reasonably safe, but as a first-year back it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his impressive 4.8 YPC as the wear and tear of a 16-game season begins to set in.

Isaac Redman, RB, PIT - Redman appeared to have the upper hand over Jonathan Dwyer entering Monday's game against the Chiefs, but the distribution of carries quickly shifted after his fumble. To make matters worse, Rashard Mendenhall is nearing a return to action.

Alex Green, RB, GB - Lost carry battle to James Starks (17-11) in Week 9. Cedric Benson is returning soon. This looks like a less promising version of the ugly situations in the Pittsburgh and New Orleans backfields.

Mike Wallace, WR, PIT - All of the Steelers' pass-catchers probably take a slight hit with Byron Leftwich under center, but Wallace has the most to lose as a top-20 receiver to this point. Put simply, starting him every week is no longer a no-brainer.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, KAN - Brady Quinn is going to be his quarterback soon. Fortunately, it's another week away as head coach Romeo Crennel announced that Matt Cassel will start against the Bengals on Sunday. Liquidate accordingly.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, NE - Although he's 18th among receivers in targets, Lloyd isn't a top-40 receiver in fantasy points per game this season. I was expecting top-20 production, but 42 targets over the last six games is a drop-off from the 33 he was given in the first three contests.

Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC - What did the coaches say to Happy Gilmore at the end of his tryout?

Brent Celek, TE, PHI - If the flurry of short passes we saw from the Eagles on Sunday is any indication, things could turn around down the stretch, but Celek was only targeted twice after Nick Foles entered the game in Week 10. Over his last four games, Celek has turned 25 targets into 15 catches for 143 yards. He's looking like a player I was flat-out wrong about this year.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.