Gridiron 11

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Gridiron 11

Our great national crisis is over ... again. I'm not referring to the pullout of the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq. I refer to the annual announcement-three years and counting now-that has had football fans, reporters and players alike all kowtowing to the NFL's all-time passing leader. Finally, the Vikings' three wise men (Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell) convinced the man to come down from the mountain in Mississippi with word of his intentions. It's official: Brett Favre will return as Vikings quarterback in 2010. Let the rejoicing begin.

Even the most ardent Favre supporters must admit that his days as a Top-5 or Top-10 fantasy quarterback have long since passed, but the fantasy lead, buried in the simple statement that Favre will play, is the effect that he has on the players around him. Now Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe and even Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart won't have to endure playing in the horror we've all seen before-a Tarvaris Jackson-operated offense-and therefore are all much more valuable for it.

While his MVP days are gone, Favre is still one of the most exciting players in the league, and more important, he's among the most pivotal players in fantasy leagues, with pivotal defined here as someone whose play affects the stats of numerous members of his team, a concept much different from most valuable players. As we count down the 11 most pivotal fantasy players, you'll notice that Chris Johnson and Maurice-Jones Drew aren't listed. That's because their teams, the Titans and Jaguars, respectively, are nearly devoid of fantasy talent. Either can be considered among the league's most valuable players, but their absence wouldn't kill their teammates' fantasy worth, since there's not much other value there to begin with. Same goes for Drew Brees, who, although he plays in a potent offense, doesn't have any sure-thing every-week starters around him save Marques Colston.

So, let's get on with it, fantasy football's most pivotal players.

For more insights, follow SI's fantasy expert David Sabino on Twitter at SI_DavidSabino.