Fantasy Football Forecast: Injury-prone Week 11
Every week we'll break down the movers, shakers, winners and losers in fantasy football, and keep an eye out for the players you should be eyeing for your fantasy rosters.
Well, it finally happened -- after weeks and weeks of football without much in the way of major injury news, we saw a passel of QBs go down with injuries this past weekend. How will these losses affect your fantasy world moving forward? If you've still got hopes of making your league's fantasy playoffs and need a pickup or two to come through, some QBs might look mighty tempting this week, but are they worth it? Let's break it down while we look at other pressing issues from the past week:
The Week 10 Debrief:
1. MFFF's picks last week = more wins than losses. We did pretty well on predicting the offensive and defensive games of the week -- if not for a defensive TD, the Jets would have been shut out against Seattle, which is right where we reckoned them to be. And even though Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin had a below-par game, the rest of the Buc offense continued to hum against the Chargers, piling up 34 points, Still, the biggest surprise of the week was the Ravens, as they rolled up 55 points on the Raiders behind one of QB Joe Flacco's best days as a pro.
Some of our individual picks that came up roses: Seattle players continue to smile in fantasy with WR Golden Tate adding to his recent scoring binge with 2 TDs (1 on a pass, 1 on a throw) and QB Russell Wilson playing error-free ball with 2 TDs and 30+ rushing yards last Sunday. Denver TE Joel Dreessen also continued his steady play with 39 yards and 1 TD.
On the other hand, we predicted good things for Pittsburgh WR Emmanuel Sanders, who only gained a paltry 30 yards in place of injured WR Antonio Brown. Raiders TE Brandon Myers was felled by a concussion. Colts RB Vick Ballard failed to make himself the clear-cut choice over RB Donald Brown last week, as he only gained 58 yards and was replaced by Brown by the fourth quarter.
2. NFC: Wild days ahead. Every division leader in the NFC except the 49ers lost last weekend, and the 49ers only eked out a tie by the skin of their noses. With the NFC North-leading Bears looking very vulnerable without QB Jay Cutler, teams like Saints potentially heating up for the stretch run, the Giants fully into their typical "second half of the season swoon" and the Cowboys' schedule giving them a shot to overtake New York, it's time to ride the hot hands on the hot teams in fantasy, which in our view are the Packers, Saints, Seahawks and Buccaneers. Teams that we believe will struggle (and take a corresponding hit in their players' fantasy production): the Giants, Bears, Vikings and Eagles. Next week, we'll see how the AFC races are shaping fantasy.
3. Quarterback Carousel. We needed a scorecard to keep track of all the injuries that felled starting QBs last week. But is the loss of a QB a real opportunity for you as a fantasy owner? To keep things realistic, let's just look at the next few games (assuming that any starter who misses time will be back in a week or two):
Philadelphia: Nick Foles for Michael Vick. If you're in desperate need for a starter for the rest of the year, Foles might be worth a look, as it looks like Vick will be sidelined for a while -- although we'd argue that overlooked QBs like the Raiders' Carson Palmer and the Rams' Sam Bradford are better long-term plays. Foles didn't do badly in replacement duty last week, passing for 219 yards and a touchdown, but he also had 1 INT (which could easily have been 2 or 3) and lost a fumble. The main problem in Philly right now is that the Eagle offensive line can't block anybody well, so we may be talking about the Eagles' third-string QB in a few weeks. Still, the Eagles play the woeful Redskins defense this Sunday, so this may be the one and only time to jump on board the Foles train. Verdict: Okay as a fill-in this week, shaky long-term.
San Francisco: Colin Caepernick for Alex Smith. Smith may yet be able to start against Chicago next Monday night, so wait until later in the week for an update on his condition, but Kaepernick is an attractive option because of his dual-threat capabilities as passer and runner. Chicago has a tough D, but the Niners have home field this time around, and Kaepernick might be just the kind of running QB that can give the Bears' disciplined but older defenders fits. Verdict: Good fill-in for this week.
Chicago: Jason Campbell for Jake Cutler. As of this writing it looks like Campbell will get the nod as starter vs. San Francisco on Monday night. The Niner defense looked vulnerable against the pass last week against the Rams, but the Bears tend to be more conservative in their playcalling, and while Campbell has a strong arm, he doesn't yet have the same chemistry Cutler had with WR Brandon Marshall. Verdict: Only if you're desperate for a starter this week.
Pittsburgh: Byron Leftwich for Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich is pretty much the same QB we've always known him as -- a tough guy with a rocket arm and a slow-as-molasses release. That was enough to lead his team to a paltry 3 points in relief duty last week, and with leading WR Antonio Brown still iffy, his offensive options will be limited. With a game against the division rival Ravens looming, we're not looking for an explosion this weekend. Verdict: Stay away.
Week 11 Fantasy Pick-ups: Injury-prone Edition
Oakland RB Marcel Reece
Speaking of injuries, the Oakland RB crew has been decimated in recent weeks, with Reece the last man standing. This is a bit of gamble if RB Darren McFadden returns to duty this week so keep your eye on the injury report, but Reece has value as both a runner and receiver, and will get his share of touches even if McFadden gets playing time.
Arizona RB Beanie Wells
Remember Beanie? We do, just barely, before he got injured a few months ago. He claims he's back and ready to go, but he might rethink his position when he sees the patchwork offensive line he has to run behind. Still, no one has been able to step up in his absence, so if he starts this week, expect him to receive a lot of touches to try and reestablish his rhythm.
New York Giants RB Andre Brown
He already has value as a goal-line back (7 TDs so far this year), but with Ahmad Bradshaw continuing to be plagued by injury and fumbling issues, this is his opportunity to start over an extended period. He's on bye this week so he might be under the radar, and ripe for a pick-up.
New Orleans RB Chris Ivory
After being MIA for the first eight weeks of the season, Ivory has busted out with 135 yards and 2 TDs these last two weeks. He might not match those numbers this Sunday, as the Raiders are an inviting target for QBs and WRs, but moving forward, he has as good as anyone on the roster to be a starting RB.
San Diego WR Danario Alexander
Alexander was expected to be a placeholder while WR Robert Meachem nurses an injury, but last week's numbers are tough to ignore: 5 catches for 134 yards and 1 TD. A below-par performance against Denver this week might lead him back to the bench, but with leading receiver Malcom Floyd likely to be covered by Denver CB Champ Bailey this week, Alexander should have plenty of opportunities to continue making a name for himself. Keep in mind he has an injury history himself, so he may only be good for a game or two.
Arizona TE Rob Housler
A forgotten man during the Cardinals' offensive struggles this year, Housler is actually one of the more reliable weapons on the team, getting 40+ receiving yards in 4 of the last 6 games. His only drawback is his lack of TD production, but if you need a fill-in for a bye player, he's a good as choice as any.
Best Offensive Matchup of the Week:
Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers are rounding into form, and they've traditionally been able to put up a lot of points versus the Lions in the Silverdome.
Best Defensive Matchup of the Week:
NY Jets at St. Louis: Until they can prove otherwise, the Jets are in line to score the least amount of points every week. St. Louis is playing for its playoff life, and coming off a frustrating tie at San Francisco last week, they should be raring to take out their anger at home.
Got a specific question or need advice on fantasy football this week? Sound off in the comments section below.