Now that the Great Twinkie Apocalypse has been averted, folks can get back to focusing on fantasy football. Hopefully you didn’t blow your entire FAAB budget on a $100 box of Ho Hos last week.
1. Marcel Reece: 19 carries, 103 yards; 4 receptions, 90 yards vs. New Orleans Saints
It might be another week or two before the Oakland backfield returns to normalcy, Marcel Reece has made it easier to forget Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, for now.
Funnily enough, the big back has been the most productive running back in Oakland’s backfield this season. Perhaps the zone-blocking scheme is better suited for Reece than Darren McFadden, and his expertise in the passing game seems unparalleled among his Raiders peers.
The sad news for his fantasy owners is that McFadden and Mike Goodson will eventually be back. (Well, we can’t bank on McFadden’s return this season—after all, he’d miss two games with a hang nail. But we assume he will return.)
2. Matt Schaub: 43/55, 527 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
What an incredible performance for Schaub, who becomes the first player in NFL history to record two games over 490 yards passing. He is now tied for second all-time with Warren Moon of another Houston franchise.
You never know what you’re going to get from Schaub. His outburst against the Jaguars put him slightly ahead of last year’s pace before his injury, and he is liable to throw up a stinker by the mere fact that Arian Foster will steal all the touchdown thunder.
3. LaRod Stephens-Howling: 22 carries, 127 yards, 1 touchdown; 2 receptions, 6 yards
One of the bigger head-scratchers of the day came from Stephens-Howling, who kept the Cardinals in the game against the Falcons along with his team’s defense. This wasn’t LSH’s first good game of the season, and presents somewhat of a dilemma for the Cardinals and fantasy owners regarding Beanie Wells.
Wells is on track for a Week 12 return, hoping to boost the Arizona offense in the process. But how effective will he be? The Police Plodder might be littered with Wells entries were it not for his brittle legs. Wells has had a handful of good performances but has been more bust than boom throughout his career.
At any rate, before you rush off to snag Wells if he is still available, remember Stephens-Howling. He has scored touchdowns in three of the past four weeks, the lone outlier coming against that tough San Francisco defense.
4. Justin Blackmon: 7 receptions, 236 yards, 1 touchdown at Houston Texans
In one fell swoop Justin Blackmon caught his fellow rookie receivers, nearly doubling his own season total in yardage in the process.
The disappointing Top-5 pick totaled just 26 catches for 250 yards and one touchdown heading into the road tilt against a tough Houston team. So should you run out and get him? It certainly looks like Chad Henne can push the ball downfield in a way Blaine Gabbert has never been comfortable doing, which could be a boon for Blackmon in particular.
Of course there is that little matter of Blackmon looking terrible for most of the rest of the season, unable to get separation and even looking disinterested at times. It would be foolhardy to think Blackmon will turn in another huge performance like this, but grabbing and stashing him does not seem like a bad idea.
5. Rob Gronkowski: 53 receptions, 748 yards, 10 touchdowns vs. Indianapolis Colts
You hear that? Those are the curses and tears of Patriots fans and Gronkowski fantasy owners.
The T-1000 was sent in for repair after breaking his arm on an extra point try in garbage time. Of all the inane ways to get injured in a game, this must rank in the top 10.
Here is a list of tight ends with whom you can replace Gronkowski in your lineup: ______________ .
Gronk’s production is irreplaceable unless you also happen to own Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez. Kudos if you do; your four-team league must be a hoot. In reality, guys like Dwayne Allen, Dustin Keller, Anthony Fasano and Ed Dickson are available.
This is one of the reasons we advocate carrying a serviceable backup except on highly limited benches or when the tight end position is a pure flex. If you are lucky, someone like Kyle Rudolph, Brent Celek or Jermaine Gresham is available.
6. Ronnie Hillman: 49 carries, 188 yards, 1 touchdown; 10 receptions, 62 yards / Lance Ball: 25 carries, 94 yards; 7 receptions, 61 yards, 1 touchdown
The magic anti-aging potion has run out on Willis McGahee, who has a torn MCL that will keep him out the remainder of the season. The 30-year-old had seen a career resurgence over the past year-and-a-half, though his numbers had been declining in recent weeks.
So whom do you pick up in the Denver backfield? On one side you have a rookie with high upside whose pass-blocking skills—or lack thereof—are the main reason he has not gotten more playing time to date. On the other side you have the career backup who has performed well in spurts.
The two will likely split duties, which makes Hillman the choice here. Unless Ball takes over as the lead back, the back with the higher upside is a better bet. Considering the Broncos had Hillman in for 10 more snaps than Ball, it’s a good bet he will be the more productive of the two.
Of course, Knowshon Moreno was just activated; he could be used to troll the fantasy football commnunity.
7. Matt Ryan: 28/46, 301 yards, 0 touchdowns, 5 interceptions vs. Arizona Cardinals
Depending on your scoring format, Ryan netted you anywhere between two and 10 fantasy points. At home. Against the Arizona Cardinals.
If there is anything to glean from this, it’s that the Cardinals defense is getting back to form. A strong defense was the catalyst behind a 7-2 finish last season and 4-0 start this year, but recent weeks saw the defense turn sour along with the rest of the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan will be just fine.
8. Chad Henne: 16/33, 354 yards, 4 touchdowns at Houston Texans
Does not compute.
The Robot not only stepped in for an injured Blaine Gabbert, he turned Justin Blackmon into Calvin Johnson and nearly beat the Texans on the road in the process.
It wasn’t just Blackmon who torched the Texans as Cecil Shorts III and Marcedes Lewis also had field days. Henne has performed so well as a pinch-hitter that the Jaguars have named him the starting quarterback for now. This does not bode well for Gabbert, who is rapidly accruing “bust” credits. Considering the recent quarterback injury bug, Henne might be a good pickup. (Typing that sentence made me ill.)
9. Bryce Brown: 32 carries, 141 yards; 1 reception, 8 yards
The Eagles have slowly ramped up Brown’s use this season. Now he might get a crack at the feature back role.
LeSean McCoy was knocked out of the game with what looked like a severe concussion against Washington well after he should have been yanked due to the blowout nature of the contest. Predicting a return from a concussion can be tricky, but it looks like a safe bet to say McCoy will be out at least this week. Considering the Eagles have little to play for at this point, it would not be surprising to see them hold McCoy out longer.
Brown has not lit the NFL on fire, but he has had some electric runs. If we knew more about McCoy’s injury he might be worth a big chunk of that FAAB, but he should make a good plug-in option for one or two weeks at least.
10. Jermichael Finley: 3 receptions, 66 yards, 1 touchdown at Detroit Lions
David Copperfield finally returned Finley to the Packers last week. The mercurial tight end logged his first touchdown since Week 1 of the season, miraculously catching the ball instead of dropping it as he raced down the seam.
Is he back, or was Copperfield just letting him out to play.
11. Julian Edelman: 5 receptions, 58 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 47 yards vs. Indianapolis Colts
Time expired on Deion Branch in New England last week as the 33-year-old was released. Julian Edelman, healthy once again, made quick work of Branch’s memory in the 2012 offense.
Aaron Hernandez looks like he will be back soon, but Gronkowski’s absence opens the door for Edelman to continue to contribute. He might be the week’s best waiver pickup.
12. Jalen Parmele: 24 carries, 80 yards; 3 receptions, 3 yards at Houston Texans
You know it’s late in the season when you sense a Jaguars theme. Parmele replaced the ineffective Rashad Jennings and racked up 80 yards, albeit at a 3.3 YPC clip. He is not the sexiest option out there, but it looks like he will have the conn in the Jacksonville backfield until Maurice Jones-Drew returns.
It is worth noting that Chad Henne is also known as the “Checkdown King,” potentially giving Parmele a PPR gem.
The “We Told You So” Files
Sunday saw an offensive explosion from the tight end position. Here are some of the best performances.
Nick Foles: 21/46, 204 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Back before a starting Nick Foles was a reality, we detailed his preseason exploits and warned against taking those numbers too seriously. He had a pretty good fantasy line last week after taking over for Vick, but two brutal turnovers cost Philadelphia any chance at a win and highlighted the risk involved in starting the mid-round rookie.
If Foles could not get things going against a middling Redskins defense, he will be trouble.
Chris Ivory: 8 carries, 37 yards at New Orleans Saints
We might not have directly told you so here on UtN, but our opinion on Ivory was found elsewhere on the Interwebs.
As detailed on Twitter and a blurb on Fantasy Pros, Ivory was a dangerous pickup for a couple of reasons. Darren Sproles almost played, which would have instantly killed Ivory’s value, but the other red flag came from Ivory himself—he carried the ball just seven times the previous week, averaging just 2.7 YPC outside his 56-yard rumble to the end zone.
Brian Quick: 1 reception, 9 yards vs. New York Jets
We mentioned Quick as a dynasty stash last week and nothing more. We hope you listened.
Arian Foster: 28 carries, 77 yards; 3 receptions, 15 yards vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Before last week, Foster was on pace for 392 carries. He is now on pace for 398. What’s worse is that foster had a lousy game in a juicy matchup against the Jaguars. Granted, Matt Schaub stole the show, but Foster is also down to 3.8 YPC on the season. If your dynasty league’s trade deadline hasn’t passed—or it doesn’t have one—and you have a good opportunity to sell, the red flags just keep getting bigger.
Danario Alexander: 7 receptions, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Chargers showed faith in Alexander, and he rewarded them with a monster game. We might finally be witnessing his potential being realized; if he can stay healthy for the first time in his career, Alexander could be the mid-season fantasy pickup of the year.
Laurent Robinson: Doughnut at Houston Texans
For all the offensive fireworks we saw in Houston, Robinson’s fuse was wet.