Fantasy Football Week 11: Fact or Fiction on Week 10's Top Superstars

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 12, 2012

Fantasy Football Week 11: Fact or Fiction on Week 10's Top Superstars

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    One of the many glorious aspects of fantasy football is that superstars can change on a week-by-week basis.

    While there were plenty of familiar fantasy staples who posted big numbers in Week 10, it's worth checking in on Sunday's more surprising performances and assessing those players for the next slate of NFL games.

    Here is a breakdown of some of the standouts from yet another exciting weekend in pro football—and which individuals out of this emerging group of players are viable options for Week 11.

RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    Week 10 numbers: 23 carries, 126 yards, 1 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    The headliner of the week in fantasy had to be Johnson, who is bouncing back from a sluggish start for the second season in a row.

    Against the No. 1 rush defense of the Miami Dolphins, the speedy Johnson displayed his quickness and unique cutback ability, frequently reversing his field to break big gains. That's precisely how he scored his 21-yard touchdown.

    The fact that his longest run was just over 20 shows the consistency that Johnson displayed facing a ferocious front seven.

    Fantasy owners may be jaded by Johnson, who no doubt caused millions around the nation to give up on him early in the year once again. But this looks like the CJ2K of 2009, as he has been on an absolute tear. Over the past five games, Johnson has averaged 130.4 yards per game and scored four touchdowns.

    That qualifies him as an absolute lock to be a No. 1 fantasy option for the remainder of the year, but the only problem is that you can't play him in Week 11. The Titans are on a bye, but that time off lends itself to an extra week to prepare for a horrific Jacksonville Jaguars defense.

WR Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers

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    Week 10 numbers: 7 receptions, 134 yards, 1 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    In an impressive display of balance and will, Alexander opened the scoring in the Chargers' Week 10 matchup at Tampa Bay with an 80-yard touchdown catch and run. After the Bucs' DB failed to swing him to the ground, Alexander braced himself upright and simply kept going all the way to pay dirt.

    The former St. Louis Ram was brought in by San Diego ahead of the 7-6 sloppy loss to the Cleveland Browns, but emerged as a favorite target of QB Philip Rivers on Sunday.

    But to anoint Alexander a dependable option on your fantasy roster just yet seems like a fictitious premise. With the volatile nature of the Chargers team in general, it's hard to say what will happen week to week.

    However, as encouraging as Alexander's performance is for being with the team for such a short amount of time, he has to at least be considered. WR Robert Meachem is still continuing to recover from a hamstring injury (h/t ESPN), but he has been very underwhelming for the Chargers all year even when healthy.

    Meachem had just one catch for eight yards against the Bucs. Although he will be targeted more once he's closer to 100 percent, Alexander may make a strong case to snag the starting job.

    Another AFC West showdown with Denver in Week 11 will be a revenge game, and Alexander should be a huge factor with the Chargers' season on the line.

QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    Week 10 numbers: 26-of-39, 275 yards, 2 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    It looks as though Bradford is finally playing like a captain. Like a No. 1 overall pick. Like the franchise savior he was meant to be in St. Louis.

    The numbers are a little higher due to Sunday's 24-24 overtime tie in San Francisco, but everything seemed to come together for Bradford in this one.

    Against one of the premier defenses in the league, Bradford benefited from having No. 1 receiver Danny Amendola back in the fold and also solid protection to put up a big day without turning the ball over. If not for a silly delay of game penalty prior to a would-be game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein, the Rams would have gotten a road victory over their NFC West nemesis.

    But whether that game was an aberration or a sign of things to come remains to be seen. The next few weeks don't offer the best matchups: home against the Jets, and a trip to Arizona before another game with San Francisco in the Edward Jones Dome.

    As positive of a sign as Bradford's performance was, hold the phone on plugging him into your fantasy lineup in Week 11 until he further proves himself.

RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots

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    Week 10 numbers: 22 carries, 98 yards, 1 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    Tom Brady and the passing game may get all the credit, but Ridley has quietly led the most balanced Patriots offensive attack in years. It's hard to believe that the 2011 third-round pick out of LSU ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing with 814 yards, but he does.

    Although not much of a receiving threat at all out of the backfield, Ridley is a tough, physical runner that gets the majority of the Pats' goal-line carries. His style is comparable to that of former New England RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

    Buffalo's defense is nothing special—and it certainly helps to have Brady and Co. to open up running lanes—but Ridley is definitely legit.

    Other than tough games at Baltimore and Seattle, which would be typical stay-away matchups as is, Ridley has produced wonderfully all year. Continue to bank on him as a factual, No. 1-caliber option until he proves otherwise.

    The leaky run defense of Indianapolis should lend itself to another productive Sunday for Ridley in Week 11.

WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    Week 10 numbers: 9 receptions, 135 yards, 0 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    Even though he's had to compete with sure-handed Eric Decker for catches from the laser rocket arm of Peyton Manning, Thomas has managed to lead the Broncos in receiving in 2012.

    The 2010 first-round pick is cruising to a career year after suffering some rookie lumps due to injury and playing in a run-heavy offense under the direction of QB Tim Tebow last season.

    Thomas averages an astounding 16.5 yards per catch, and easily has Decker beat in yardage 891 to 598. But Decker has the upper hand in touchdowns, notching seven scoring grabs to Thomas' four.

    While Decker was fighting through a thigh injury in Week 10's game versus the Panthers, Thomas stepped up big time and continued to make big plays against what's been a much improved Carolina secondary.

    Despite his lack of touchdowns, the Broncos will welcome the rival San Diego Chargers to Sports Authority Field in Week 11.

    Expect big things from Thomas—including his first trip to the end zone in three weeks.

WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Week 10 numbers: 6 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    Here are the targets Shorts has received in each game over the past month: 10, 12, 4 and 13.

    Even with the perpetual incompetence of quarterback play in Jacksonville, the second-year undrafted free agent out of Division III powerhouse Mount Union has had a breakout season to say the least. As long as he continues to get that many looks week in and week out, he should keep improving.

    But whether it's Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne under center in Jacksonville, it won't be pretty as defenses get more tape on the Jags' putrid offense.

    Shorts' 19.3 yards per catch leads the team, as he has outshone top-five pick Justin Blackmon and prized free-agent acquisition Laurent Robinson. The deep threat capability and explosiveness after the catch that Shorts brings to the table may ultimately save him.

    Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this weekend won't be particularly kind. The Jags have to travel to Houston to take on the Texans and their No. 1 pass defense.

    Any notion that Shorts will have a stellar outing under those circumstances would be rooted in fiction.

QB Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

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    Week 10 numbers: 11-of-17, 117 yards; 8 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD


    Fact or Fiction?

    Kaepernick's fantasy stock largely depends on the status of starting QB Alex Smith, who left Sunday's game with a concussion in the second quarter.

    Despite only seeing spot duty in the Wildcat formation—or the WildKaep, if you will—and minimal reps as a legitimate No. 1 quarterback, the second-year, second-round pick out of Nevada was very efficient throwing the football.

    No one can deny Kaepernick's arm talent and velocity, but his accuracy against a tough St. Louis Rams secondary was particularly stellar.

    If Smith can't go in Week 11, Kaepernick would be an extremely valuable fill-in as a spot starter. His aforementioned arm strength may make better use of Randy Moss' abilities. His phenomenal mobility is an obvious plus, too—not only in terms of gaining yards, but extending plays and breaking off big gains when coverage collapses to stop him from running.

    Since Chicago doesn't have much tape on him at all, it's possible that Kaepernick could give the vaunted Bears' defense headaches in Week 11's intriguing version of Monday Night Football.

    Despite the discouraging matchup on paper, Kaepernick should be strongly considered as an addition to your fantasy team due to his immense upside if you're strapped at quarterback.