First of all, I'd like to congratulate those of you lucky enough to not be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (it's been a bad season). Every decision that you make from here on out will have wide-ranging ramifications. It's time to abandon the wait-and-see approach and start taking some risks. Every victory, every point, every smack talking email that you send, matters. There's cash on the line. There's pride. There's a hunger for domination that needs to be satisfied. Every Sunday is a must-win. And as any fantasy veteran can tell you, things start getting a little..."weird" toward the end of the year. You're going to have to be willing to experiment, to think outside the box, if you hope to catch one of the many lightning bugs that dot the fantasy landscape at this time in the season. To help you out, I've identified a few players that may just shock some life into your team for Week 11.
Kurt Warner @ SeattleDrew Brees @ Kansas CityJay Cutler @ AtlantaPeyton Manning vs. HoustonAaron Rodgers vs. ChicagoDonovan McNabb @ CincinnatiJake Delhomme vs. DetroitPhilip Rivers @ PittsburghTony Romo @ WashingtonMatt Ryan vs. DenverEli Manning vs. BaltimoreTyler Thigpen vs. New Orleans
Sage Rosenfels @ IndianapolisBrett Favre @ New EnglandMatt Cassel vs. New York JetsJeff Garcia vs. MinnesotaChad Pennington vs. OaklandJason Campbell vs. DallasGus Frerotte @ Tampa BayBen Roethlisberger vs. San Diego
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. PhiladelphiaDavid Garrard vs. TennesseeRex Grossman @ Green BayBrady Quinn @ BuffaloKerry Collins @ JacksonvilleShaun Hill vs. St. LouisMatt Hasselbeck vs. ArizonaJoe Flacco @ New York GiantsMarc Bulger/Trent Green @ San FranciscoJaMarcus Russell/Andrew Walter @ MiamiDaunte Culpepper/Drew Stanton @ Carolina
Thigpen: Since being chosen by default as the starting QB for Kansas City three weeks ago, Thigpen is averaging 236 passing yards per game. He's also got six touchdowns, hasn't thrown an interception in his last 124 attempts, and is completing 64.7 percent of his passes, all while bestowing fantasy relevance upon Mark Bradley. Put simply, the dude's on a roll.
And you know what's not stopping the Thigpen train? The Saints cornerbacks, or rather, their lack thereof. Due to injuries, New Orleans will be relying on Jason David and Randall Gay to halt the suddenly potent Chiefs passing attack. Living in Indianapolis, I had the displeasure of watching David on a regular basis for three years, and I can say without a doubt, he's my least favorite Colts player of all-time. If stats were kept on most times "burnt to the point of embarrassment," David would lead the league every year.
As for Gay, I'll just say that if I were assigned the task of sketching a "steaming pile of mediocrity" during a game of Win, Lose or Draw, my picture would look strikingly like the Saints cornerback. The Chiefs offense -- enhanced by the re-addition of Larry Johnson -- will have no trouble moving the ball against that makeshift unit.
Delhomme: 9-of-27 for 72 yards. Four interceptions and one touchdown. Those are Delhomme's numbers from last week. Take one final glance at them...and now delete them from you memory. As far as you know, the game against Oakland never happened.
All you should be thinking about is the upcoming matchup with Detroit. I'm pretty sure that I mention this in every column, but I really can't emphasize enough just how bad the Lions pass defense is. They've surrendered 16 touchdown passes, and picked off only two. They're giving up mopre than 30 points, 245 passing yards and a league-high 111.3 QB rating to the opposition. That works out to an average of over 22 fantasy points scored by quarterbacks against them each week. They're the stray hair in a tuna sandwich; the turd in a public swimming pool; inappropriately bad to an almost indescribable level. Which is exactly why Delhomme needs to be started over such fantasy stalwarts as Rivers and Romo this week.
I was way off on my assessment of Rosenfels last week when I said he "turns the ball over like a near-sighted rookie point guard." What I should have said was that he turns the ball over like a near-sighted, one-armed, club-footed, rookie point guard. My bad ...You know who Roethlisberger reminds me of? Gus Frerotte. Seriously, look at their numbers. They've each thrown for 1,600 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, yet Roethlisberger is started in nearly every league, while Frerotte wastes away in free agency. And yes, I'm one of those idiots that continues to start "Burly Ben" ... Quinn was pretty impressive last week, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Don't forget, Fitzpatrick threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his debut ...
Adrian Peterson @ Tampa BayMichael Turner vs. DenverFrank Gore vs. St. LouisBrian Westbrook @ CincinnatiClinton Portis vs. DallasLaDainian Tomlinson @ PittsburghMatt Forte @ Green BayTim Hightower @ SeattleMarion Barber @ WashingtonThomas Jones @ New EnglandDeAngelo Williams vs. DetroitBrandon Jacobs vs. BaltimoreChris Johnson @ JacksonvilleLenDale White @ JacksonvilleMarshawn Lynch vs. ClevelandJamal Lewis @ BuffaloLarry Johnson vs. New Orleans
SteveSlaton @ IndianapolisWillis McGahee @ New York GiantsJerious Norwood vs. DenverWillie Parker vs. San DiegoMewelde Moore vs. San DiegoBenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. New York JetsCedric Benson vs. PhiladelphiaRyan Grant vs. ChicagoReggie Bush @ Kansas CityJustin Fargas @ MiamiJulius Jones vs. ArizonaTatum Bell @ AtlantaRicky Williams vs. OaklandKevin Faulk vs. New York JetsDominic Rhodes vs. HoustonDeuce McAllister @ Kansas City
Kevin Smith @ CarolinaMaurice Jones-Drew vs. TennesseeJonathan Stewart vs. DetroitAhman Green @ IndianapolisRonnie Brown vs. OaklandJoseph Addai vs. HoustonPeyton Hillis @ AtlantaFred Taylor vs. TennesseeEarnest Graham vs. MinnesotaFelix Jones @ WashingtonFred Jackson vs. ClevelandLeon Washington @ New EnglandDerrick Ward vs. BaltimorePierre Thomas @ Kansas CityRay Rice @ New York GiantsDarren McFadden @ MiamiKenneth Darby @ San FranciscoLe'Ron McClain @ New York GiantsCarnell Williams vs. MinnesotaWarrick Dunn vs. MinnesotaSammy Morris vs. New York JetsAntonio Pittman @ San Francisco
Norwood: In my mind, one of the biggest mysteries over the last two-and-a-half years is why Norwood hasn't been given the opportunity to be a feature back, or at least option 1A in a time share. He's never had a significant injury. He averages over six yards-per-carry for his career, and is a great receiver out of the backfield. I don't get it, but for whatever reason, it's the reality that Norwood owners are faced with.
His only value comes as a spot-starter, and trying to figure out which games he'll be successful in is harder than convincing my girlfriend that I've been downloading pictures of Uma Thurman for this column. Although, if you examine the numbers close enough, a pattern does start to emerge. The Falcons have played three of the four worst run defenses in the league (Detroit, Kansas City, and Oakland), and in those games, Norwood received double-digit carries and ran for more than 60 yards each time. He also scored his only two rushing touchdowns in those contests.
Denver comes into the game ranked 27th against the run. In their last three games, the Broncos have allowed seven different runners to total 40 yards or more. As Charles Barkley might say, "they're turrible." All Norwood has ever needed was an opportunity, and he'll get that this weekend. If you've got someone facing a tough matchup (like Grant or Benson, for instance), don't hesitate to call upon the Falcons speedster.
Bell: I know. This is a little ridiculous right? I mean, things have really gone downhill quickly for Bell, haven't they? Entering the 2006 season, he was the Broncos' starting running back and was widely considered to be a blossoming fantasy superstar. By the start of '08, he was being run out of town by a team with no wins, in favor of a broken down Rudi Johnson. Of course, this extreme fall from grace led him to do what any rational thinking, red-blooded American male would do; he stole a bunch of Johnson's stuff.
Now he's back with Denver, where he's just a year removed from a 1,000-yard season. He knows the offense, has a great relationship with running backs coach Bobby Turner, and is facing a pass-catching fullback and a gimp-groined tailback as his only competition for playing time. And the Broncos are playing a bottom-tier rush defense in the Falcons. If this doesn't seem like the perfect "stars are aligned" scenario, then I don't know anything.
Of course, it should be noted that in his first stint with Denver, Bell earned the reputation for being a self-centered, lazy, fumbler. So there's a chance he alienates everyone in the locker room by Saturday night and never sees the field. If he does play though, Bell could be the surprise of the week.
"Famine, famine, feast." That's been Peterson's battle cry all year, and he's perfected the art of staying patient, softening the defense up, and then crushing their spleen with a long touchdown run. I'm not even sure he's human ... Uh-oh. Words like "rookie wall" and "worn down" are being tossed around regarding Slaton. He did have 93 yards and two scores last time he faced the Colts, but I'm proceeding ever so cautiously for the time being ... There's no committee in Carolina anymore. Thanks to Stewart's heel injury and overall ineffectiveness --more than 20 percent of his carries have gone for no gain or negative yards -- Williams is finally the man. Took long enough ... What can Brown do for you? Apparently about 50 yards, the occasional touchdown, and ... that's about it. Williams will be getting the bulk of the carries in Miami by fantasy playoff time ... Good to see Carnell Williams back on the board. He has absolutely no fantasy value this week, but still, my life felt a little empty without Cadillac around ...
Anquan Boldin @ SeattleSteve Smith vs. DetroitMarques Colston @ Kansas CityReggie Wayne vs. HoustonRoddy White vs. DenverAndre Johnson @ IndianapolisLarry Fitzgerald @ SeattleBrandon Marshall @ AtlantaTerrell Owens @ WashingtonGreg Jennings vs. ChicagoCalvin Johnson @ CarolinaRandy Moss vs. New York JetsSantana Moss vs. DallasDwayne Bowe vs. New OrleansLee Evans vs. ClevelandDeSean Jackson @ CincinnatiHines Ward vs. San DiegoGreg Camarillo vs. OaklandWes Welker vs. New York Jets
Michael Jenkins vs. DenverSantonio Holmes vs. San DiegoT.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. PhiladelphiaChad Johnson vs. PhiladelphiaRoy Williams @ WashingtonBraylon Edwards @ BuffaloMark Bradley vs. New OrleansDonald Driver vs. ChicagoJerricho Cotchery @ New EnglandLaveranues Coles @ New EnglandSteve Breaston @ SeattleMuhsin Muhammad vs. DetroitKevin Curtis @ CincinnatiVincent Jackson @ PittsburghLance Moore @ Kansas CityBernard Berrian @ Tampa BayAnthony Gonzalez vs. HoustonTorry Holt @ San FranciscoDonnie Avery @ San FranciscoMatt Jones vs. TennesseeJosh Morgan vs. St. LouisJason Hill vs. St. Louis
Marvin Harrison vs. HoustonReggie Brown @ CincinnatiDerrick Mason @ New York GiantsMark Clayton @ New York GiantsKevin Walter @ IndianapolisKoren Robinson vs. ArizonaAmani Toomer vs. BaltimoreAntwaan Randle El vs. DallasMalcom Floyd @ PittsburghNate Washington vs. San DiegoJoey Galloway vs. MinnesotaDeion Branch vs. ArizonaIsaac Bruce vs. St. LouisTed Ginn Jr. vs. OaklandDevery Henderson @ Kansas CityChris Chambers @ Pittsburgh
Camarillo: Last week I told you about the difficulties that top-flight receivers had when Nnamdi Asomugha was charged with guarding them. I warned you to stay away from Steve Smith because of it, and he finished with one catch for nine yards. So if you were hoping that Ginn had a follow up to last week's strong outing, think again. Pennington's a smart guy, and there's no way that he'll so much as look Ginn's way with Asomugha on him. Which brings me to the upside of the "Nnamdi Factor."
With the lead receiver shut down, it gives the No. 2 man a great opportunity to produce big numbers. Muhammad led the Panthers in receiving and caught a touchdown this past week. Jenkins had two scores. Heck, even Demetrius Williams was able to burn them for a 70 yarder.
An unassuming, efficient route runner with great hands, he's already displayed the ability to command Pennington's attention (11 catches for 111 yards against Denver). If you're in a points-per-reception league, Camarillo should be a must-start, and I'll go so far as to say that he has a better day than the man he is so often compared to ... Chad Johnson. Or is it Welker that he's likened to? Either way, he'll outperform both.
Jenkins: I didn't want to believe when Roddy White started doing well last year. I left him on my bench for weeks, despite outstanding games, because thanks to Michael Vick, I'd been programmed to never trust a Falcons receiver. White clearly proved that's not the case anymore, but I've still had a hard time accepting Jenkins with open arms.
Atlanta can't possibly have two viable fantasy options at the wideout position, can they? Well, over the last four weeks, just as Ryan has started to come into his own, that's exactly what they've had. Jenkins has been over the 50-yard mark in every game and has two touchdowns on 15 catches. That would make him a decent flex play on any given week, and against the injury ravaged Broncos defense, you can go ahead and elevate him to full green-light status.
Santana Moss always kills the Cowboys. He's played them six times as a Redskin and is averaging 113 yards on six catches while scoring four times ... Early in the season, when Favre was slinging the ball everywhere, it was great that he would look to Coles and Cotchery with the same frequency. Unfortunately, now that it seems Favre might be settling into the Kerry Collins stage of his career, it's not so cute anymore. One catch apiece on Sunday? If you're down with either of the "C & C Boyz," it's time to start worrying ... Surprisingly enough, Bradley has more targets than Bowe since Thigpen took control of the offense. He's also increased his yardage total each week, and against the Saints, he's a great play ... The Giants defense scares me. So do dislocated shoulders. Just two of the reasons why I'm not starting Mason this week ...
Tony Gonzalez vs. New OrleansKellen Winslow @ BuffaloJason Witten @ WashingtonDallas Clark vs. HoustonAntonio Gates @ PittsburghTony Scheffler @ AtlantaChris Cooley vs. DallasOwen Daniels @ IndianapolisBo Scaife @ Jacksonville
Dustin Keller @ New England|Billy Miller @ Kansas CityJohn Carlson vs. ArizonaKevin Boss vs. BaltimoreZach Miller @ MiamiGreg Olsen @ Green BayMarcedes Lewis vs. TennesseeTodd Heap @ New York GiantsL.J. Smith @ CincinnatiRobert Royal vs. ClevelandAnthony Fasano vs. Oakland
Jeremy Shockey @ Kansas CityVisanthe Shiancoe @ Tampa BayMatt Spaeth vs. San DiegoDonald Lee vs. ChicagoVernon Davis @ St. LouisBenjamin Watson vs. New York JetsDesmond Clark @ Green BayJustin Peelle vs. DenverDante Rosario vs. DetroitJerramy Stevens vs. Minnesota
I was sitting around with some league mates on Sunday, and when Heap caught his second touchdown pass, someone asked if he was available. A quick check of the free agency pool revealed that he was indeed there for the taking. After 20 seconds of silence, in which no one made a move to their computer, I asked if anybody was going to pick him up. I got a couple of amused stares, a few quick "No's," and I'm pretty sure I heard someone mutter, "I hate Turd Heap." I guess the point I'm trying to make is that Heap's value has dropped so low that not even a five-catch, 58-yard, two-touchdown performance is enough to make owners trust him again. He is worth picking up and watching though ... How long before Philly fans start chanting Brent Celek's name during games? This week? Next? Smith just isn't the player he used to be ... Following games in which he has two catches or less, Royal is averaging around four receptions and 40 yards. He only caught one ball for six yards on Sunday...hey, it's something.