Rex Grossman, Redskins
In torching the Cowboys this week for 322 yards and four touchdowns, Grossman threw for more touchdowns in a single game than Donovan McNabb did all season, so he must be doing something right. The question is: Is Grossman that good, or is the pass defense of the Cowboys that bad? While it’s a bit of both, it’s worth noting that Grossman has been in the league eight years and he’s started the majority of a season exactly once. His schedule should be the determining factor in deciding Grossman’s value, and the Jaguars 25th-ranked pass defense is up next.
Tim Tebow, Broncos
Tebow had a solid debut this week against the Raiders, throwing for 138 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 78 yards and a score. The Broncos appear set to give him starts in the remaining two games, and the Texans are on tap next in a home matchup. Houston’s pass defense ranks a lowly 29th, so Tebow has a shot to top 200 yards passing, and he seems a solid bet to add to his fantasy point total each week with his running exploits. For the truly desperate (and with a number of quarterbacks injured or benched, there are owners desperate for help at quarterback), Tebow could be worth a look. He rates below Grossman, but not by as much as you might think.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
Hasselbeck was pulled during the Seahawks loss to the Falcons this week and was expected to be benched for the remainder of the season. Remarkably, head coach Pete Carroll will stick with Hasselbeck despite his 10-for-17, 71-yard, three-turnover disaster in Week 15. Over his last four games, Hasselbeck has turned the ball over 13 times, and the team has won just twice in their last seven games. The Seahawks travel to Tampa Bay this week, followed by a home game against the Rams in Week 17. The only explanation for Carroll sticking with Hasselbeck is that Seattle will capture the NFC West if they win both of their remaining games…as if that’s going to happen.
Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks
If your head coach won’t bench the guy ahead of you despite 13 turnovers in four games, you have a pretty good idea where you stand. Think career backup.
Sam Bradford, Rams
After a solid six-game stretch where he threw for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception, Bradford has gone cold. Over his last three games he has 599 yards and no touchdowns with five picks. Looks like Bradford has hit the rookie wall at exactly the wrong time for the Rams, and offensive coordinator Pat Shumur has no answers against opposing pass defenses.
Donald Brown, Colts
Brown has been a huge bust for the Colts since being taken with the 27th pick in the 2009 draft, but he came through in a must-win game this week against the Jaguars, topping 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career. Brown had 129 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries in his finest performance to date. With Joseph Addai’s return looking more unlikely with each passing week, Brown figures to start in the Colts backfield for the balance of the regular season.
Cedric Benson, Bengals
Benson ripped off a 150-yard, one-touchdown game this week against the Browns, topping 100 yards for just the third time this season on his way to his best fantasy performance of the year. His efforts gave him over 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season. He has been roundly criticized throughout the season, but the Bengals’ poor play has been a large part of the reason for Benson’s drop in production. While there has been much speculation that Bernard Scott should have a bigger role, that hasn’t happened, proving that the Bengals coaching staff is confident in Benson’s abilities.
Ray Rice, Ravens
Like Benson, Rice has been a bit of a disappointment in fantasy circles, particularly given his high draft position. And just like Benson, Rice had his best fantasy performance of the season this week, compiling 153 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns against the Saints. That likely appeased his owners who are still in the fantasy playoffs but were expecting more of those breakout performances in 2010.
Maurice Morris, Lions
Morris was essentially splitting time with Jahvid Best in Weeks 13 and 14, but he assumed the lead role this week, gaining 109 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Bucs. His schedule isn’t great with the Dolphins and Vikings up next, and it’s anybody’s guess as to how the workload will be divvied up. That relegates Morris to flex status and a bit of a desperation play as a RB2, but at least he’s coming off his best game of the season.
Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Adrian Peterson sat out Week 15 with knee and ankle injuries, causing him to miss his first game of the season—also his first missed game since his rookie season in 2008. Gerhart stepped into the starter’s role against a tough Bears run defense, gaining 77 yards on 16 carries and 18 yards on three receptions. Impressive stats, especially considering that the Vikings were forced to play rookie quarterback Joe Webb for much of the game. If Peterson can’t go in Week 16, Gerhart makes for a decent flex option against the Eagles.
Peyton Hillis, Browns
Hillis had been averaging an impressive 19.1 fantasy points per game during the first 11 games of the season, but he has slowed down considerably over the past three weeks. Despite having reasonably decent matchups against Miami, Buffalo, and Cincinnati, Hillis averaged just 9.3 points per game against those teams, gaining 224 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards while failing to find the end zone. With 311 touches, he has eclipsed his career-high in that category (82 in his rookie season in 2008) and looks as though he has hit a wall. The Ravens and the Steelers are up next, so the schedule doesn’t offer him any relief.
Mike Goodson, Panthers
Jonathan Stewart took back his lead role in Week 13, though touchdowns in Week 13 and 14 allowed Goodson to put up decent points. However, Goodson failed to find the end zone this week as he gained just 21 yards on ten carries against a fading Cardinals team. With the Steelers and the Falcons up next, Goodson won’t get many touches for the remainder of 2010 unless Stewart gets hurt, so he needs to be nailed to your bench in all formats.
Reggie Bush, Saints
Since returning from a broken fibula in Week 12, Bush has gained just 136 yards on 35 touches (3.9 yards per touch) and has failed to find the end zone. It looks like the effects of the injury are hurting his performance as he was especially awful this week against the Ravens, with only 32 yards on 11 touches. Stay away.
Danny Amendola, Rams
With seven receptions for 60 yards this week, Amendola put himself on pace to finish with a whopping 86 receptions. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s also on pace to finish with the lowest average yards per reception for any wide receiver in league history with 60 or more catches. In PPR leagues he’s still very useful and a great dynasty prospect, but he’s not much use in standard scoring formats.
Mario Manningham, Giants
If there’s a more inconsistent wide receiver than Manningham, please let me know who it is. Manningham has big games as the team’s third receiver, but he fizzles when both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith are out. And just when you’ve finally given up on him, he goes and has a big game this week against the Eagles in place of Smith, catching eight balls for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s clearly talented but doesn’t always show up. What else is there to say?
Santana Moss, Redskins
Grossman looked his way 13 times this week, with Moss catching eight passes for 72 yards and a pair of scores. That gives him 15 receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games. With the Jaguars on tap, Moss is due for another big game in Week 16.
Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
Many fantasy football enthusiasts were waiting for Lloyd to bust, and it seemed as though that was happening after he posted four receptions for 63 yards and no touchdowns through Weeks 14 and 15. Sure enough, despite having Tim Tebow under center, Lloyd responded this week against the Raiders with four receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. While his chances for a huge game are reduced with Tebow replacing Kyle Orton at quarterback, his production this week proves that Tebow won’t be the albatross many imagined.
Terrell Owens, Bengals and Austin Collie, Colts
T.O. was Moving Down last week and now he’s done for the year—just as Collie should be. Given his uncertain future, Owens has little value in dynasty leagues. Collie’s value is also on the decline after he suffered his third concussion of the 2010 season on Sunday.
Anquan Boldin, Ravens
With 813 yards through 14 games, Boldin is in danger of missing the 1000-yard mark for the first time since his injury-plagued 2007 season. He has topped 1,000 receiving yards in five of seven seasons—he missed the mark previously in 2004 when he played in just ten games. Let’s go ahead and conclude that his move to the Ravens was not the fantasy elixir that Boldin owners had hoped for. Over his last six games, he has 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with 141 of those yards and one touchdown coming in Week 13. This week he had one reception for two yards. Looks like a 1000-yard season isn’t in the cards—nor may be a fantasy championship if you’re relying on Boldin.
Sidney Rice, Vikings
With the Vikings down to rookie third-round pick Joe Webb (their third-string quarterback), Rice makes for a risky play in Week 16 when Minnesota goes on the road against the Eagles. Webb looked clueless during Monday night’s loss to the Bears, unable to read coverages or avoid negative plays. That doesn’t bode well for the touchdown opportunities of any of the Vikings’ skill position players.
Jimmy Graham, Saints
Go figure—the Saints have found another stud offensive weapon to add to their arsenal. The rich get richer. Graham is certainly talented, and he came through this week, catching five of seven targets for 29 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Ravens. Over his last five games he has 17 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns, which translates to 6.7 points per game. He offers great dynasty league potential and is worth using this year if you don’t have better options.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
He was Moving Down last week and he’s there again courtesy of speculation that he may sit out until the playoffs—if the Chargers even get there.