1. Matt Schaub, Texans
Schaub was the top recommendation here last week. As predicted, the return of Andre Johnson launched Schaub back to fantasy respectability. He posted 293 yards and two scores. In the three games Schaub has started with Andre Johnson in the lineup, he has averaged 248.3 passing yards and 1.7 TDs per game. If Schaub is still available on your waiver wire and you’re thin at QB, acqiring him should be a priorty. The Texans face the Browns next week, so there’s an excellent chance that he posts 250+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Cleveland ranks 31st in the NFL versus the pass.
Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Schaub a low-end #1 QB or an excellent backup.
2. Jason Campbell, Redskins
After throwing five touchdowns in two weeks, Campbell’s stock is on the rise. The Washington coaching staff has opened up the offense. Last week Campbell attempted a career-high 54 passes, connecting on 33. With Santana Moss re-emerging as an offensive weapon, Campbell has a good chance to continue his successful run. A matchup this week against the Buccaneers isn’t ideal; however, Campbell is a more-than-adequate backup QB to use as a spot starter or to keep on your bench for the stretch run.
Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Campbell looks like a future star and should be a fine backup for your playoff run.
3. Vinny Testaverde, Panthers
With the bye weeks behind us and no major QB injuries in Week 11, you shouldn’t need a one-week fill-in. However, if you do, Testaverde is worth a look. The old man was productive on Sunday against the Packers, piling up two touchdowns and nearly 260 yards. He’ll likely get the starting nod again this week against the Saints. If Steve Smith returns to action, look for Testaverde to post another decent stat line. New Orleans ranks 28th against the pass and has allowed the third-most passing scores in 2007.
Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Testaverde is a decent sleeper play this week against the Saints.
1. Ron Dayne, Texans
With Ahman Green ailing, Ron Dayne has solidified himself as Houston’s best rusher. He posted 122 yards and a touchdown back in Week 9. Coming off the bye week, he amassed a respectable 105 all-purpose yards. He looks like he’s found a home in Gary Kubiak’s offense. Look for Dayne to get the start again this week against the Browns. Cleveland ranks 28th in the NFL against the run, so Dayne is certainly worth a look as a starter.
Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dayne could be the starter in Houston for the remainder of 2007 and should be owned in all leagues.
2. Andre Hall, Broncos
Tony Kornheiser may have said it best: “Another Denver running back who you’ve never heard of comes in and scores a touchdown for the Broncos.” With starter Selvin Young on the sideline because of a knee injury, undrafted rookie Andre Hall entered the game and promptly took a handoff 62 yards to paydirt. Young re-entered the game after Hall suffered some sort of arm injury. It may take a couple days to sort out who’s healthy and who’s hurt, but at this point you have to play it safe if you’re a Young / Travis Henry owner.
Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hall is a must-have for any owner who is counting on production from the Denver backfield.
3. Michael Pittman, Buccaneers
Pittman probably isn’t going to take the starting job from Earnest Graham, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve your attention. In his first game back from an ankle sprain, Pittman posted 61 all-purpose yards. It’s not huge production, but not too shabby if you start three running backs or a flex player. Look for Pittman to flirt with 50-60 yards each game for the rest of the season. Give him added consideration in leagues that give points for receptions. Pittman is among the best pass-catching RBs in the NFL.
Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Pittman should be owned in deep leagues and is a borderline starter in PPR leagues.
4. Michael Bush, Raiders
The Raiders pulled Bush off the PUP list 20 days ago. From that point, the team had 21 days to decide whether to activate him or put him on IR. That means a decision will need to made by tomorrow. The word out of Oakland is that Bush will indeed be activated this week. It’s not surprising based on how disinterested the team has been in LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes. Al Davis and the coaching staff needs to see Bush in action to determine whether or not they need to address the RB position during the offseason. Bush had all the makings of a legitimate stud RB while in college, but broke his leg in Louisville’s season opener last year. He’s more than a year removed from surgery, so should be fully healed at this point.
Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a flier on Bush in anticipation of him making his Raider debut over the next few games.
5. Reuben Droughns, Giants
Brandon Jacobs just can’t seem to stay healthy. The bruising RB tweaked his hamstring in Sunday’s win over the Lions. He had to be helped off the field. Although Jacobs says he’s going to play this week, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him sit. With Derrick Ward still recovering from a groin injury, Reuben Droughns is in line to get the start. He’d go up against a staunch Vikings defense, so he’s only worth a start if you’re out of options.
Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Droughns could get the start this week but might not be the best play against the Vikings.
6. Ricky Williams, Dolphins
Why not? The NFL lifted Williams’ suspension last week and the Dolphins welcomed him back with open arms. Even though Jesse Chatman is performing well, don’t be shocked to see Williams begin stealing carries. Miami is desperate for offensive help and even more desperate for a win. Williams might be the guy to help them get it. About the only thing that’s working for the team is the offensive line. The Dolphins have amazingly averaged 4.6 yards per carry — second best in the entire NFL. Put a former all-pro RB behind that line and it could lead to some decent fantasy production.
Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is worth a look in deeper leagues.
7. Kyle Eckel and Heath Evans, Patriots
Injuries to the New England backfield keep piling up. The team doesn’t exactly seem too concerned though, do they? Sammy Morris is on the IR. Laurence Maroney is constantly nicked up. And now Kevin Faulk is coming off a concussion. As a result, the team is leaning on its fullbacks. Kyle Eckel and Heath Evans combined for 112 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Bills — most of it coming in the second half. I expect Maroney will get the start next week versus the Steelers. However, if the team builds up a big lead like they usually do, Eckel and Evans could again see extensive action. Both are risky plays, but in a year when healthy RBs are incredibly scarce, you might need to plug and play one or the other.
Availability: Owned in ~0% and 1% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Roll the dice with Eckel or Evans if you can’t find anything better on your waiver wire.
1. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks
Hackett has no business being on waiver wires at this point, yet he’s still available in about 64% of leagues. Hackett has scored in three straight games since returning from a high ankle sprain and has posted back-to-back 100-yard performances. At this point, he’s a great second wide receiver who’s performing like a #1. Grab him and be sure he’s in your active lineup this week against the Rams.
Availability: Owned in ~64 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hackett has been money since his return and is a quality WR2.
2. Brandon Stokley, Broncos
There’s not a lot of love out there for Stokley right now, but the guy keeps on delivering. He’s rewarded owners with good stats in four of his last five games, including last night’s 75-yard, one-touchdown effort. Denver’s top WR, Javon Walker, remains out indefinitely. Stokley is a great third WR until Walker returns — and will probably continue to be a decent option even when he is back.
Availability: Owned in ~49 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stokley is a solid WR3 in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems.
3. Santana Moss, Redskins
Moss posted easily his best performance of the season Sunday against the Cowboys. At the end of the day, he had nine receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. He was listed as questionable for the game, which makes the performance that much more surprising. Keep in mind, Moss is just a year and a half removed from a 1,483-yard season. He has the potential to elevate his game and carry a fantasy squad. With that being said, as impressive as Moss was against Dallas, I wouldn’t recommend counting on him as anything more than a third or fourth WR until he shows he can do it in back-to-back weeks.
Availability: Owned in ~65 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moss could be an absolute steal if he’s on your wire at this point.
4. Joe Jurevicius, Browns
Jurevicius is quietly having himself a nice fantasy season. He hauled in four receptions for 48 yards Sunday against the Ravens. He’s exceeded four receptions and 69 yards in three of his last four outings. Considering Cleveland’s upcoming schedule, which features games against the Texans, Cardinals, Jets, Bills and Bengals, Jurevicius could be a nice player to have on your squad indeed. With an injury to Kellen Winslow or Braylon Edwards, Jurevicius’ value would skyrocket.
Availability: Owned in ~37 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Based on a soft upcoming schedule, Jurevicius is a great pickup in all leagues.
5. Reggie Williams, Jaguars
Williams is such a tease. He posts 100 yards and a touchdown one week and comes back with a goose egg the following week. Can he be trusted? Not at this point. Should you leave him on your waiver wire? Maybe, but Williams is worth a look because David Garrard is back under center and the team has some decent matchups on the horizon (BUF and CAR). If you’re out of the playoff picture and you’re seeking a “boom or bust” player to stick in your lineup, Williams could be your man.
Availability: Owned in ~24 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams shouldn’t be started unless you’ve got nothing to lose, but he’s an adequate backup nonetheless.
6. Amani Toomer, Giants
Toomer isn’t sexy, but his matchup in Week 12 is. The Giants roll into Minnesota to face the NFL’s worst pass defense. With Plaxico Burress ailing, you could do a lot worse than Toomer, who has scored or exceeded 80 yards in three of his last four games against the Vikings. QB Eli Manning looked Toomer’s way six times in Week 11. He should be an even bigger part of the gameplan this week, particularly if Brandon Jacobs sits out.
Availability: Owned in ~54 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider starting Toomer this week if you’re hurting at WR.
7. Devard Darling, Ravens
Darling, not Mark Clayton, was Kyle Boller’s favorite deep target Sunday against the Browns. Boller looked Darling’s way nine times and the duo connected for four receptions and 107 yards and a touchdown. The fourth-year WR has been buried on the depth chart for most of the year. However, with an injury to Demetrius Williams (high ankle sprain), Darling is getting playing time. One thing about Boller is that he’s got a strong arm and isn’t afraid to use it. Darling could get more chances in the weeks ahead. Stick him on your bench if you play in a deep league or a dynasty league.
Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Darling is worth a look in deep leagues.
1. Owen Daniels, Texans
Daniels was a popular preseason sleeper, but has been inconsistent this year due to his own injuries as well as injuries at the QB position. Matt Schaub is back now and the Texans offense is finally clicking again. Schaub threw to Daniels five times Sunday against the Saints and Daniels caught all five for 74 yards. With Andre Johnson back in the lineup, Daniels should benefit from some softer coverages. Look for him to rank among the top 10 TEs for the remainder of the 2007 season. Keep your eye on him for 2008.
Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Texans have re-emerged as a source of fantasy points, and so has Daniels.
2. Chris Baker, Jets
The switch to QB Kellen Clemens is potentially huge for Chris Baker. Two of Baker’s three scores this season have come with Clemens under center, including the one-yard TD in Week 11. Because Laveranues Coles suffered a high ankle sprain, Baker could be a major part of the Jets offense going forward. He’s a sneaky play this week against a Cowboys defense that has ceded touchdowns and huge yardage to TEs in back-to-back weeks.
Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: With Coles likely out, Baker is a good play against the Cowboys.
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals picked off Carson Palmer four times and returned two for touchdowns (a third TD was called back because of a penalty). Arizona has been incredibly disruptive over the last couple games, forcing 10 turnovers and recoring five sacks. And look who’s coming to town. None other than the woeful San Francisco 49ers. If you haven’t been happy with your defense and the Cardinals are lurking on your waiver wire, there’s no reason not to pick them up this week.
Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Cardinals are worth a start this week against the 49ers.