Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, scroll down to the end of the piece where you can find my email address.
I'm a Eli Manning owner, and with the news that Hakeem Nicks is likely to miss multiple weeks I'm really nervous. Should I drop Eli to grab Matt Cassel?-- Lance, Ariz.
I would be a slightly nervous if I was an Eli owner as well (wait, I am). I guess we will see if he can elevate his game -- like his famous brother -- when his support staff starts to thin. Not only is Nicks out, Steve Smith is also likely to miss three more games, leaving Manning to throw to guys like Mario Manningham and Derek Hagan. Manning has thrown for 16 scores in his last six contests, with each of the six games producing at least two scores. Manning has also tossed at least 30 passes in all but one game this season, so despite the perception that the Giants are a running team, Manning has still been chucking the pigskin an awful lot. Manning is also on pace to blow past 4,000-yards passing again, especially when you consider that he is completing 65.6 percent of his passes, which is the fourth-best mark in football.
There are ample concerns, though, chief among them the injury issues around him. There is also the growing controversy in the backfield where repeated fumbles by Ahmad Bradshaw has led to Brandon Jacobs being inserted into the starting lineup this week (it's not known if this is a change in name only or if Bradshaw will lose looks to Jacobs). Add in that Manning has thrown 16 interceptions, one off the NFL worst of 17 by Brett Favre, and you can let the nail biting begin.
As for Cassel, he has continued to improve, thanks mostly to the emergence of Dwayne Bowe as a legitimate WR1. Over the past three weeks Cassel has thrown eight scores against just a single interception to push his yearly totals to 18 scores and four interceptions. That is impressive. At the same time, Cassel is completing just 59.5 percent of his passes, and with the Chiefs emphasizing the run most weeks, Cassel is averaging just 207.4 yards passing per game (Manning is 259.5). It should also be noted that if you remove Cassell's 469 yard orgy against the Broncos, when the Chiefs fell behind by what seemed like 76 points in the first half, he has thrown for an average of 185 yards per game over his last six starts.
Some might disagree, but I'm still going to ride with Eli at this point.
I can't stand Jason Witten anymore. I thought he was supposed to be a top tight end this season? Should I dump him to add Joel Dreessen?-- Bill, Florida
Let's not let the facts get in our way.
Witten has 50 receptions and that is tied with Brandon Pettigrew for the most catches at the position.
Witten has 561 yards receiving yards, and that is second at the position behind only Antonio Gates (663 yards).
Sure, Witten has gotten into the end zone only three times this year, but in most scoring formats Witten not only has been a top-5 option this season (see my most recent Player Rater piece). I will admit that he has been spotty of late with eight catches for 99 yards the past three weeks, but overall he has still been pretty darn good.
As for Dreessen, he has clearly seen his role grow with each successive setback to Owen Daniels and his battered body. At this point, it's unclear if Daniels will ever be 100 percent this season, and I'm betting he won't be. That makes Dreessen a very intriguing option for people looking to bolster the tight end position as we head into the fantasy playoffs. Dreessen has two scores in his last four games, and in two of the past three weeks he has caught at least four passes for 67 yards. Still, I'm holding on to Witten, who not only has the historical edge but also the production lead in 2010.
I need help at wide receiver. Which of the following players would you target off waivers from Brian Hartline, Ben Obomanu and Mike Thomas?-- Shane, Galveston, Texas
The Dolphins are a mess -- everywhere. It appears that Tyler Thigpen will be under center in Week 12 as Chad Henne is still trying to nurse his knee back to health, and it also appears likely that Brandon Marshall will miss the game with his hamstring injury. In fact, Marshall could miss multiple weeks, which means Davone Bess and Hartline would see an increase in looks. Considering that Hartline has caught at least four passes in each of the past six games and tallied at least 50 yards in all but one of those games, he makes a fine waiver-wire add. Now if he could just get into the end zone (one score this season).
Obomanu has seen his workload increase substantially the past two weeks as the Seahawks have gone pass happy with Matt Hasselbeck tallying 699 yards in the air the past two weeks. Obomanu has caught nine balls for 147 yards and a score against the Cardinals and Saints, and that has him on everyone's watch list. What intrigues me with Obomanu is the foot injury to Mike Williams. A best case scenario has Williams being limited for multiple weeks with the ailment, and given that he has never had the speed to separate from defenders, it wouldn't be a shock if he turned into a seven-yard possession receiver the rest of the way. That would leave plenty of looks for Obomanu to stretch the field with his speed (career 14.6 YPC).
In Jacksonville Thomas has taken over as the No. 1 receiver, thanks to the ankle injury and ineffective play of Mike Sims-Walker. Thomas has gotten into the end zone in three straight games while averaging 75 yards per contest. And in two of them he has caught at least five passes. Given that the Jaguars don't exactly have a high-powered offense, it's unlikely that he will continue to be such a touchdown magnet, especially with TE Marcedes Lewis seemingly scoring each week, but Thomas appears to have plenty of value in PPR formats.
All three are solid pickups off of waivers. I would suggest rostering them in the order of Thomas, Hartline and Obomanu because I just don't know if Hartline will ever get into the end zone.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and RotoTimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Fanball.com Sirius XM Homepage (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).