Two out-of-the-blue running backs exploded Sunday and a fistful of down-to-the-wire games took the sting out of the soul-crushing offensive ineptitude by the Eagles, Giants, Jets and Broncos. In short, Week 11's high-scoring affairs were worth their weight in fantasy points.
1. In Like a Lion Award: Kevin Smith. Nobody won the weekend like Smith did. In his second active game with Detroit this year, Smith has become the No. 1 waiver wire target across free world. After three mostly nondescript and injury-riddled seasons with the Lions, Smith's career-best performance 201 all-purpose yards outing with three touchdowns off the street was a revelation. Last year he had 133 yards for the season; yesterday he ran for 140. In fact, heading into Sunday, he had rushed for three career 100-yard games total. Smith should get bumped up to high-end flex status or low to mid-range RB2 rank until Jahvid Best comes back (which could be a long shot this year), thanks to a workload that the unimpressive Maurice Morris is the only competition for. What helps Smith most going forward is that he's never played with a healthy Matthew Stafford or an offense this good before.
2. Most Entertaining Award: Detroit-Carolina had something for everyone, literally, as the two combined for 84 points and 904 total yards. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford's statistical duel (combining for eight TDs between them) was just the tip of the box score iceberg as only the owners of Calvin Johnson (89 yards) may have been left wanting more. Bottom line -- when Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams both make useful appearances on the stat sheet, you know it's a big day.
3. The Not Peyton Hillis Award: Chris Ogbonnaya. If anyone doubted last week's 90-yard rushing output, yesterday's 100-plus and a TD against the Seahawks was an exclamation point on this back's potential. The four previous games the Browns had totaled 176 yards rushing. Once Montario Hardesty is healthy, it remains to be seen if he'll cut into Ogbonnaya's workload, although it's hard to be worried. What's undeniable is the production in two straight weeks as the Browns' featured back.
4. Biggest Missing Links: It's a tough pill to swallow when central players that have figured into their team's offense all season suddenly go missing despite a big outburst of points. Here are three examples that left us all scratching our heads.
A. Matt Forte: He had 59 yards rushing and was vultured at the goal line by Jay Cutler as the Bears didn't really need him. With Cutler injured, they will now, although his production will take a hit.
B. Greg Jennings: Two catches for six yards in the win over Tampa Bay snapped a three-week streak of touchdown scores.
C. Brandon Marshall: He's hardly the star he once was, but Marshall is the top target on the Dolphins and a low-end WR2/high quality WR3 who managed just one catch for five yards in a blowout of the Bills.
5. Best Performance in a Pesky Underdog Role: Tampa Bay. Despite being the most disappointing team this year not to have green in their color scheme (see Eagles, Jets), Tampa went down with the guns empty yesterday at Lambeau. Fantasy un-startables Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams all had nice games. Still, trusting any of them to be consistent going forward is a pipe dream.
6. Best Comeback: LeGarrette Blount. While we're on the subject of the Bucs, it's been a long season for Blount owners, who have been battling the dreaded sophomore slump as he hit the century mark for the second time this year and first since playing the Colts. A highlight-reel touchdown run accounted for about half of his 100-yard day, but Blount still chewed up some yardage against the Packers in a game that was close most of the way.
7. Best Super-Sub Award: It is impossible not to be impressed with Michael Bush, who's currently the poster boy for draft day handcuffs. Bush has been spelling the injured Darren McFadden in style and yesterday did it with his second 100-yard game in a row. He has 266 yards on the ground with a pair of scores combined the past two weeks with another 105 receiving overall for good measure. The two games before that, he rushed for 96 and 99 yards with a score through the air. The only thing that can stop Bush at this point, is McFadden. But don't rule out a time-share in carries even when Run-DMC returns with Bush producing at this clip.
8. The Hottest Receiver On The Planet Award: Jordy Nelson. Forget tight end Jermichael Finley as the No. 2 receiving target in Green Bay. Nelson has been on a tear with five touchdowns in his last three games, including Sunday's line of six catches, 123 yards and two scores, his second two-TD game in a row. At this rate, Nelson may even challenge Jennings as the WR1 going forward, or at very least, make up one of the best one-two punches around.
9. The Thanks For Nothing Award: Let's hear it for the Titans. Sure, it was no easy matchup with the Falcons and losing Matt Hasselbeck didn't help. But no-show performances by Chris Johnson (13 yards) and former waiver-wire standout Damian Williams (16 yards on 11 targets) were killers. Nate Washington, in a blast from the past, provided the lone highlights.
10. The Mr. Underrated Award: Brandon Lloyd. While the Rams' offense is completely listless and Sam Bradford routinely struggles to hit 200 yards passing weekly (three of his last five games have been sub-200), Lloyd has been a nice surprise. The Broncos refugee looks like he's found a home, scoring three touchdowns in his last four games and averaging nearly five catches a game in an anemic offense. Lloyd isn't the stat king he was a year ago, but he's become a decent WR3 or flex play plug-in.
11. The Rob Deer Award: Far be it for me to mix sports metaphors, but is there a bigger home run/strike out threat than Torrey Smith? He's brought the long ball back to Baltimore because when he's good, he hits it out as he did Sunday (165 yards and a TD). It's his second game in three weeks with a TD, but the strikeouts have been bad (games of 1, 32, 57, 28 yards), leaving him less than desirable as a flex play option. Since his 152-yard, three-touchdown breakout way back against the Rams he's averaged 45 yards a game before yesterday. Smith's potential is appealing but the reality for now, is keep the rookie free-swinger on the waiver wire.