Fantasy Football: Aaron Rodgers Headlines 'Early Guide to Week 11 Success'
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The following countdown serves as a roundabout primer for NFL Week 11, a time when fantasy leagues are starting to develop division champions and subsequent playoff contenders for the stretch run.
This piece should be yet another supplement to the countless positional rankings and strategy-oriented posts that run daily on The Fantasy Blog.
Enjoy the show!
Stars Primed for Week 11 Greatness
1. RB Arian Foster, Texans
Skinny: Foster (964 total yards, 12 TDs) has scored at least one touchdown in 13 straight games, and 19 of 20 overall. And within those 20 games comes a superb three-pack against the Jaguars, with per-outing averages of 120 total yards and one touchdown.
On the surface, it seems like the easiest thing in the world to earmark Foster—the No. 1 overall asset during the preseason—for Week 11 dominance.
But the man is on pace for 1,700 total yards and 20 touchdowns; and yet, the fantasy world is still waiting for that signature performance of the season, something in the realm of 180 yards and two touchdowns.
2. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Skinny: Rodgers (2,383 yards passing, 25 TDs) has two major trends in his favor this week:
In four career games after a bye week, the Packers QB boasts averages of 305 yards passing and 2.75 touchdowns. And in six full outings against the Lions, Rodgers has averaged 288 yards passing and 2.7 TDs.
Oh, and if it helps, Rodgers accounted for 22 of his 25 touchdown passes for Weeks 4-9—the most prolific numbers of any quarterback during that six-week span.
3. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Skinny: In standard-scoring leagues, Thomas (54 catches, 899 yards, four TDs) currently ranks as the No. 4 wideout. But that barely tells the story of his rise to fantasy glory:
**Thomas has crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one TD eight times.
**He has four games of double-digit targets.
**Thomas already has six outings of 100 yards receiving.
**Amid Peyton Manning's seven-game streak of 300 yards passing and/or three TD passes, Thomas boasts averages of 101.6 yards and 0.29 TDs.
Prominent Waiver-Wire Pickups
1. QB Nick Foles, Eagles
Skinny: The Philly rookie couldn't have picked a better time for his NFL starting debut. Assuming Michael Vick misses the game with a concussion, Foles would get a shot at the Redskins, the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense.
He would also get a chance to build upon his relationships with Eagles pass-catchers Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and tight end Brent Celek.
There's a bonus aspect to this: Foles' battlefield promotion may be longer than a week or two, or whenever Vick gets clearance for action. With the Eagles mired at 3-6 and head coach Andy Reid feeling the pressure to make a change at quarterback, this Sunday may mark the informal beginning of the Nick Foles era.
2. WR Danario Alexander, Chargers
Skinny: I may have been a big Alexander supporter, upside-wise, during his Rams days, but I'm still leery of starting him in deeper leagues. My reasoning: Last Sunday marked only Alexander's second 100-yard outing in three NFL seasons; and in that span, he has never posted back-to-back games of 70-plus yards.
That said, Alexander has the physical tools to be a rock-solid No. 2 or No. 3 receiver with the Chargers—especially in a vertical passing offense constructed by Norv Turner.
He just needs time to develop. He also needs a patient coaching staff that allows raw talents to grow from their mistakes, without bench reprisal.
3. WR Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
Skinny: Remember Robinson, the Jaguars' high-priced offseason signing who was also a top-40 wideout in August? Well, in his last two weeks, he has flown under the fantasy radar with 15 catches, 118 yards and 24 targets.
Of equal importance, his re-emergence comes at a time when fantasy GMs are racking their brains, trying to make sense of Jacksonville's ever-changing pecking order at receiver. Who's No. 1? Robinson, Cecil Shorts or rookie Justin Blackmon?
Of the trio, Robinson is the only one with a spurt of 11 touchdowns in 10 games. He accomplished that with Tony Romo and the Cowboys last year.
1. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Skinny: The preliminary reports have Roethlisberger with a sprained right shoulder, an injury that may hinder his chances of starting against the rival Ravens on Sunday night.
If Big Ben is a no-go, Byron Leftwich would presumably get the starting nod.
2. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
Skinny: It's rare to hear a head coach say his starting quarterback has a "pretty significant concussion," especially when Andy Reid is that Minister Of Information.
But that's where we stand with the embattled Vick, who is likely to miss this week's divisional clash with the Redskins.
3. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Skinny: Sticking with the "concussion" theme, Fred Jackson has already been deemed out for Bills-Dolphins on Thursday night.
For Jackson owners, his head injury comes just days after F-Jax pounded the Patriots for 115 total yards and two touchdowns.
For C.J. Spiller owners, it's now a free-and-clear path for 25-plus touches and 140 yards against Miami.
Surefire Fringe Starters for Week 11
1. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Skinny: Of his last five games, Steven Jackson has collected 76 total yards and/or one touchdown four times. Modest numbers, for sure, but it's certainly an improvement from Jackson's baffling September blues, when he failed to hit 100 total yards or score a touchdown for the month.
Strangely, Jackson had his best game of the season last week (127 total yards, one TD vs. San Francisco) against the stingiest opponent on the Rams' slate. And of equal importance, he resembled a factory-new locomotive when scoring a "downhill" touchdown on Sunday.
Can he carry over that positive mojo to the Jets, the NFL's 30th-ranked rush defense? In the immortal words of Kool-Aid Man, Oh, yeeeeeaaah!
2. WR Steve Johnson, Bills
Skinny: Johnson (six catches, season-high 86 yards vs. New England) didn't score a touchdown or log double-digit targets against the Patriots. But that may have been the first game, all season, where the opposition was powerless to control him for sustained stretches.
For Week 11, I love Johnson's prospects against a star-free Dolphins secondary, although it's fair to point out the following: In his last three games against Miami, Johnson has only 13 catches for 167 yards and one touchdown.
3. TE Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Skinny: Pettigrew has been a fantasy disappointment this season, collecting only 42 receptions and two touchdowns in nine games.
But with the Lions' three-game homestand (Packers, Texans, Colts) finally upon us, the athletic tight end has a golden chance to finish the fantasy regular season on a high note.
In three games at Ford Field, Pettigrew claims respectable averages of 6.3 catches, 9.3 targets and 73 yards. Most fantasy owners would be OK with that production over the next 19 days...provided he can find the end zone once or twice.
Stealth Starts in Points-Per-Reception Leagues
1. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Skinny: The Raiders wideout, who posted 60 targets and three touchdowns in his final six games last year, has apparently recaptured his mojo from the 2011 campaign. In his last four outings, Heyward-Bey has collected 74 yards and/or one touchdown.
Of equal importance, DHB draws a Sunday meeting with the Saints—the NFL's worst defense. In Oakland's pass-first, pass-second system (at least when Darren McFadden sits), Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and tight end Brandon Myers are healthy locks for 20 catches, 250 yards and two TDs against New Orleans.
And that's a conservative estimate. This could easily be another 50-pass week for Carson Palmer, fantasy's No. 1 quarterback since Week 6.
2. WR Donnie Avery, Colts
Skinny: For the season, Donnie Avery is a perfect 9-for-9 in drawing six-plus targets. That's an impressive stat for a journeyman wideout who doesn't get the pub of teammates Reggie Wayne or rookie T.Y. Hilton.
In his last two games, Avery has nine catches, 14 targets and 173 yards. That's a nice foundation of success for a low-key, medium-upside asset in a pass-friendly offense. Especially with the Patriots on the Week 11 docket.
Mark it down: Avery will catch six balls and draw double-digit targets on Sunday.
3. WR Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Skinny: Kerley has averaged nine targets in his last five games, suggesting he's ready for a bigger stage in PPR circles. Of course, that status is contingent on Mark Sanchez remaining the Jets' starting quarterback.
With all due respect to Tim Tebow (uh, not really)...Kerley would have little chance at eight catches, double-digit targets or 100 yards in a Tebow-centric game.