Fantasy football Risers, Sliders: Cooper, Jeffery continue to impress
With only three or four weeks left in the fantasy season, owners need to ensure there are no duds dragging down fantasy rosters as the playoffs approach. Let's take a look at some of the guys who hurt or helped squads this week.
• Case Keenum, Houston Texans -- The former record-setting quarterback for the University of Houston started his third straight game for the Texans, going 22 for 43 for 201 yards and three touchdowns against a solid Cardinals defense. Since earning the starting job in Houston, Keenum has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He has yet to record a win, but that could change in the next two weeks, as the Texans have enticing matchups against the Raiders and the Jaguars.
• Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons -- That's three straight games with just one touchdown pass for Ryan, who went 23-for-36 for 172 yards and a score against Seattle in Week 10. The Seahawks' pass defense is excellent, but Ryan has been trending downward the last three weeks, as the Falcons have fallen apart offensively.
• Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears -- Cutler completed 21-of-40 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown in his return to action, but exited the game in the fourth quarter with what the Bears say is an ankle injury. Cutler said his groin was fine afterward, but the fact that he was knocked out again is worrisome for owners.
• Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers -- Thanks to his ground game, Kaepernick has remained a viable fantasy starter the last two weeks. However, this week's performance was his third straight below-average passing game, fantasy-wise -- Kaepernick completed 11 of 22 passes for 91 yards and an interception in a 10-9 loss to the Panthers. While he scored three times on the ground the previous two weeks, he rushed just four times for 16 yards Sunday. Now, he has even fewer weapons with Vernon Davis suffering a concussion Sunday.
• Andre Brown, New York Giants -- Supposedly, Brown was going to ease into the Giants lineup, since he was playing for the first time since the final preseason game, when he reinjured a broken leg suffered Nov. 25 of last season. That clearly wasn't the case, as he rushed 30 times for 115 yards and one touchdown. On top of that, fellow running back Peyton Hillis carried just five times -- doesn't look like Brown will be facing any sort of competition. With that kind of workload, Brown can be plugged into your starting lineup immediately if you're in need of a running back.
• Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons -- Jackson had just nine carries for 11 yards in Week 10 -- fewer rushing yards than both Jacquizz Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Since returning from a hamstring injury three weeks ago, Jackson has rushed just 33 times for 74 yards with no touchdowns. It's time to find another option for a starting fantasy running back.
• Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts -- Owners should give up hope that Richardson will return to producing on the level of a starting fantasy running back. He had his worst game of the year in Week 10, carrying five times for just two yards. Indianapolis was down big early, but Richardson did nothing with a decent matchup. His biggest rushing total this year is still just 60 yards.
• Ben Tate, Houston Texans -- With Arian Foster out for the year, Tate fell into the starting running back job, but he only rushed 15 times for 56 yards and caught three passes for eight yards. The Texans haven't been going run heavy with Case Keenum in at quarterback, and Tate has just 187 yards on 52 carries the last three weeks, a 3.6 yard-per-carry average.
• Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles -- Cooper has flourished with Nick Foles under center for the Eagles the last two weeks, and his fantasy owners should be thrilled at the fact that Foles will likely hold onto the starting job, even if Michael Vick returns. While Cooper only made three catches on five targets, he made them count for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper has five scores over the last two weeks.
• Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears -- Jeffery was targeted a team-high 18 times in Sunday's loss to the Lions, catching nine for 114 yards (while Brandon Marshall was targeted "only" 12 times by Jay Cutler and Josh McCown) and a catch in the end zone that was overturned after review. Jeffery's targets, especially in the red zone, should continue to increase over the next several weeks.
• Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams -- The highly-touted rookie finally had a breakout game, catching two passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. (He also returned a punt for a touchdown in the Rams' stunning 38-8 win over the Colts, but that doesn't count in most fantasy leagues.) Austin was only targeted three times -- and, per Pro Football Focus, played just 15 of 55 snaps -- but it's nice for owners to see him with a big game.
• Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills -- There's no doubt Stevie Johnson is still an ultra-talented wide receiver, but the Bills' quarterback situation has weighed on his fantasy value. Since Week 2, he's had just one touchdown, three weeks ago against the Saints, and caught just three passes for 48 yards on Sunday against the Steelers -- a team that hadn't been guarding No. 1 receivers very well coming into the game. The upside: He was still targeted 10 times yesterday.
• Tyler Eifert, Cininnati Bengals -- He caught only three passes for 55 yards, but he was targeted 10 times -- second-most on the team to A.J. Green. Jermaine Gresham didn't play; even if he returns next week Eifert will probably continue to get more looks.
• Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers -- Davis left Sunday's game against the Panthers with a concussion, and it's unclear when he'll be able to return.
• Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers -- Dawson hit all three of his field goal attempts against the Panthers on Sunday, including a 52-yarder.
• Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers -- The Green Bay offense isn't playing as well without Aaron Rodgers under center, and Crosby missed a pair of field goals (from 53 and 42 yards) in Sunday's loss to the Eagles.
• St. Louis Rams --The Rams returned a punt and a fumble for a touchdown, picked off Andrew Luck three times, recovered his fumble and sacked him three times. They even picked off backup Matt Hasselbeck for good measure in the 38-8 upset win over the Colts.
• Tennessee Titans -- Nine of the Jaguars' points came on a defensive touchdown (and the ensuing extra point) and a safety, but even discounting that the 20 points Tennessee's defense allowed was still tied for Jacksonville's highest output all season.
MORE WEEK 11 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
GONOS: Start 'Em Or Sit 'Em -- Chris Ivory looks to build off his recent effort
BELLER: Stat Projections -- Will Nick Foles surpass Peyton Manning's record?
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- How do marquee games in Week 11 affect rankings?
EDHOLM, MIGLIO: Bold Strategies -- Cut your losses and drop Trent Richardson
SI STAFF: Roundtable -- Can Tavon Austin repeat his Week 10 performance?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Buccaneers' backup running backs ready to step up
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Riley Cooper, Alshon Jeffery continue to impress
BELLER: Early Week 11 Advice -- Colin Kaepernick now backup status