Matt Leinart, Texans
With 46 consecutive starts, Matt Schaub had gone a long ways in establishing that he wasn’t the injury prone player many thought he was after a pair of 11 start seasons when he became the Texans QB beginning in 2007. Unfortunately, he suffered a lis franc injury that will likely end his 2011 season. Enter Leinart, who hasn’t thrown a pass since the 2009 season. At least with the Texans having a bye in Week 11, he will have an extra week to get ready for Houston’s Week 12 matchup against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, it is anybody’s guess as to how Leinart will perform. Considering he did little in Arizona with a pair of Pro Bowl quality receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, we should all keep our expectations in check. That being said, the Texans have a talented offense with a strong running game so Leinart does have a chance to surprise.
Tyler Palko, Chiefs
Speaking of keeping expectations in check, I present to you Tyler Palko. Who? Great question. Who knows. I don’t profess to. Why? Because Matt Cassel has, in the word of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, a significant hand injury. Since teams keep these things pretty close to the vest, let’s assume Palko’s the man in K.C. for at least a couple of weeks. That gives him an opportunity. Now if only he were surrounded by some better talent. With no dynamic threat at running back and a lack of a pass receiving tight end, Palko shouldn’t be in your starting line up until he puts together a pair of decent games. If your options are Leinart or Palko, take Leinart.
John Skelton, Cardinals
Can you say spark? John Skelton’s record as a starter in 2011: 2-0. Kevin Kolb’s record as a starter in 2011: 1-6. And that win came in Week 1. So, let’s assume you are Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, what guy do you start? Production says Skelton. At $65-million over five years, contract says Kolb. Skelton was the top ranked fantasy passer on Sunday, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns. The two picks weren’t great but if you play in a league that doesn’t punish interceptions and you’re desperate for a bye week fill in, Skelton might be your man.
Vince Young, Eagles
With Michael Vick likely out with broken ribs, Young is likely in, given that he went in for a snap this week when Vick went down. Or maybe it will be Mike Kafka, who didn’t exactly play horribly earlier this season. As usual with Young, there are question marks such as whether he knows the offense. In his one snap this week, he had to be told to line up in the shotgun. The upside is there, there is talent on offense but Young seems like a scary proposition.
Michael Vick, Eagles
The Philadelphia Heat, errr Eagles, are officially in the tank and Vick’s outstanding 2010 season was a, errr, fluke? Maybe. He’s been completely average the past couple of weeks and has two broken ribs, DeSean Jackson might be ready to pull a diva act (continue pulling a diva act?), the team might be ready to tank it (has already tanked it?) and head coach Andy Reid is on the ropes in Philadelphia and may need six consecutive wins in order to land the Eagles in the playoffs and ensure his return in 2012. Note all the question marks? Vick’s just one of them.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Note to Matt Stafford: thanks for letting us know after the game that you were playing with a broken ring finger. Note to self: don’t believe Matt Stafford when he tells you that his horrible inaccuracy had nothing to do with his broken ring finger. Note to self: don’t start Stafford until he puts together a solid game. Stafford put up 20.6 fantasy points this week but needed 63 passes to get there. In a game that was even remotely close, he would have been a fantasy dud this week. I’m worried about the finger and Stafford owners should consider their options.
Steven Jackson, Rams
I took a whole pile of slack for suggesting in my Dave’s Take column that the man known as Sjax had a solid schedule over the second half of the season. The naysayers seemed to think I was off my rocker and that Jackson was ready to reitre to his rocker. Sure enough, three straight 100-yard games later we have our answer. Sorry for gloating but sometimes I can’t help myself.
Lance Ball, Broncos
Bam, down goes McGahee. Bam, down goes, Moreno. Bam, in comes Lance Ball? That’s right and if that’s a surprise, the 30 carries for 96 yards he put up this week against the Chiefs will also come as a surprise. Do I sound stoked? Okay, I’m not that stoked. Although Moreno is out for the year with a torn ACL, McGahee is apparently set to practice today and the Broncos surely can’t run it 55 times and throw it just eight games in another game this season, can they? They play Thursday so McGahee may not be 100% by then. That’s good. What’s not good is that they face the Jets and I expect their defense to show the league just how prehistoric the Broncos offense really is. One more for the good: McGahee just can’t seem to stay healthy this season. Ball is a decent option in larger leagues and not a bad one if you’re in dire straits at running back.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns
A week after looking like a lost puppy against the Texans (13 carries for 28 yards), Ogbonnaya was surprisingly solid this week against the Rams. He ran with some authority and made a couple of guys miss on his way to a 19 carry, 90-yard performance. He also chipped in a pair of catches for 19 yards to hit double-digit fantasy points. The Jaguars are on tap in Week 11 and if Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty are out yet again, Ogbonnaya rates as a low end RB2 or decent flex option.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots
He’s not getting the ball and he’s not doing much with it when he does get it. The Law Firm last scored in Week 5 against the Jets but in the four games since then, he has managed just 149 yards on 41 carries. Can I get my retainer back? Okay, bad pun but I’ve been guilty of worse. At this point, BJGE isn’t a guy you want in your starting line up, no matter the matchup.
LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
The issue with Blount isn’t so much his performance. It’s the situation. The Bucs defensive line is in shambles, the offense isn’t clicking and Blount doesn’t see the field when they are playing from behind due to his poor receiving skills and pass blocking abilities. With the Bucs playing from behind against the Texans and unable to stop the Houston rushing attack, Blount had just ten carries for 34 yards this week. Next up are the Packers so expect more of the same.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
Let’s see. Darrius Heyward-Bey is in the doghouse and Jacoby Ford’s going to be on the inactive list while the tight end position is persona non grata in Oakland’s offensive scheme. Looks like Moore should be in line for some major targets in the Raiders Week 11 road game against the Vikings, who have some major issues at cornerback – just lost Antoine Winfield and got scorched on Monday night by the Packers. No, Carson Palmer is not Aaron Rodgers but he doesn’t need to be for Moore to have a big game. Look no further than last week’s five-reception, 123-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Chargers.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Every so often you’re just plain wrong about something and thus far in 2011, I’ve been wrong about Brown. I figured Emmanuel Sanders was the anointed one to take over for Hines Ward. Wrong. I figured Brown’s targets would dry up. Wrong. I figured Brown wasn’t all that dynamic. Wrong. In fact, the only thing from preventing him from being a WR2 so far in 2011 is a lack of touchdowns. As it is, he is currently the 25th ranked fantasy wide receiver. Brown has been Ben Roethlisberger’s best friend over the past four weeks, catching 26 of his 41 targets for 364 yards and a touchdown. There’s nothing to suggest this should change going forward.
Vincent Brown, Chargers
With Malcom Floyd on the shelf with a hip injury, Brown looked solid on Thursday night against the Raiders, putting together his second strong performance in as many weeks. The rookie 3rd round pick caught five of nine targets for 97 yards and a touchdown and had another score reversed on replay. The previous week he caught four of six targets for 79 yards. With defenses focused on shutting down Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates and Floyd one of the most injury prone wide receivers in the league, Brown may emerge as a solid WR3 option over the next several weeks. With three of the Chargers next four games against opponents with pass defenses ranked 20th or lower, Brown is worth a look if Floyd remains out of the lineup.
Harry Douglas, Falcons
When Julio Jones went down this week, Douglas stepped up to have a career game against the Saints. The 2008 3rd round pick had career highs in targets, receptions and yards, finishing the game with eight receptions for 133 yards. The Falcons have been mum on the status of Jones’ hamstring injury but it certainly looks like he will miss Atlanta’s Week 11 home matchup against the Titans. If that’s the case, Douglas is worthy of a start.
Hines Ward, Steelers
Not only is Ward no longer starting in Pittsburgh, he’s not even seeing the field in three wide receiver sets, even though Emmanuel Sanders is hurt. Yeah, that’s right, he’s playing behind Jerricho Cotchery, the same Jerricho Cotchery who has six receptions for 83 yards and a score this season. Looks like the gig is up for Ward in Pittsburgh and the gig should be up for Ward’s inclusion on your fantasy roster, if it wasn’t already.
Roddy White, Falcons
For whatever reasons, the 2008-2010 magic is gone for White. This year, he’s been decidedly average, putting up just 8.3 fantasy points per game after averaging 11.7 over the previous three seasons. In fact, he’s on pace to finish 2011 with 1,001 yards and five touchdowns which would translate into his worst season since becoming a full time starter in 2007. Perhaps the knee and thigh injuries he’s experienced this season are holding him back more than he has let on. Regardless, he’s a far cry from his former self and nine games into the season, it’s safe to say he’s not the top three wide receiver most expected he would be.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Two receptions for 17 yards last week and now catching passes from Tyler Palko. Let’s just say that Bowe is very unlikely to finish 2011 as a top ten wide receiver given the current state of Kansas City’s offense.
Ed Dickson, Ravens
Dickson started out the season in strong fashion, catching five passes for 59 yards and a score in a Week 1 win over Pittsburgh. With Todd Heap in Arizona and Lee Evans on the shelf beginning in Week 2, the hope was that Dickson would emerge as a solid receiving option behind wide receiver Anquan Bolden and that performance only help fuel that hope. Let’s just say that never materialized, with Dickson failing to find the end zone over the following seven games or top 51 yards receiving. This week against the Seahawks, he was a bigger part of the game plan, catching ten of 14 targets for 79 yards and a pair of scores. Move Dickson up to solid TE2 for the balance of the season.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
With a touchdown in every game from Week 3 to Week 5, Olsen was shaping up as an expectedly solid TE1 early in 2011. However, the wheels have come off since then with just one trip to the end zone over his past four games. In addition, some of the chemistry he had with rookie quarterback Cam Newton has gone by the wayside, with the two connecting on just 14 of their past 31 targets, hardly an inspiring completion percentage for a tight end.