We're well into the stretch run of the 2012 fantasy football season, and depending on how your league is configured and how many teams make the playoffs there are likely only three or four regular season games remaining.
That makes every week's contests all the more important, and while some fantasy owners have the luxury of a starting lineup that sets itself, others are forced to dig deeper due to injuries and the last of the bye weeks.
It's that second group I'll address here with a trio of fantasy sleeper picks that, while not for the faint of heart, have a solid shot at putting up the sort of numbers in Week 11 that will keep you in the postseason hunt.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)
We could be witnessing the dawn of a new era in Philadelphia Eagles' football, and at the very least it appears we're watching the end of an old one, as the concussion that starting quarterback Michael Vick sustained last week against the Dallas Cowboys has opened the door for rookie Nick Foles to ascend to the starter's role.
As would be expected from a rookie seeing his first regular season action, it was a mixed bag last week for Foles. The former Arizona standout completed 22-of-32 passes for 219 yards with a touchdown and two turnovers. Head coach Andy Reid expects big things from Foles in his first NFL start according to ESPN.
"I've got confidence that Nick will do a nice job, if given that opportunity," Reid said Monday. "Listen, I get excited for every game, but if the kid has an opportunity to start, I'm excited to see him play."
Granted, starting a rookie signal-caller making his first NFL start is at best a risky proposition in fantasy football, but given all the injuries at quarterback last week, some fantasy owners may have little choice. Foles does at least have a favorable fantasy matchup with the Washington Redskins.
Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders (vs. NO)
With both starting running back Darren McFadden and reserve Mike Goodson sidelined by high ankle sprains last week the job of lead back in the Oakland Raiders backfield fell to fourth-year fullback Marcel Reece.
Reece and the Raiders were destroyed by the Baltimore Ravens 55-20, but the former Washington standout fared pretty well in his most extensive action of the season, topping 100 total yards on 20 touches
It doesn't appear that McFadden will be ready to return to face the New Orleans Saints and their 31st-ranked run defense Sunday, which should mean at least one more week of increased fantasy value for Reece, whose ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him especially appealing in fantasy leagues that award a point for receptions.
Donald Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIA)
It's been yet another year of frustration for football fans in Western New York, as once again the Buffalo Bills sit mired in last place after yet another defeat at the hands of the hated New England Patriots a week ago.
With that said, fantasy owners with a hole at wide receiver had to be relatively pleased with the six receptions, 74 yards and touchdown turned in by wideout Donald Jones in the loss. Head coach Chan Gailey has been pleased with Jones' growth as well according to Chris Brown of the team's website.
“Donald is starting to emerge as another weapon for us,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “So you get Stevie and Donald and Scott (Chandler) and we’re starting to develop some diversity where they can’t just look at one thing and stop one thing which is where we need to be.”
The third-year pro now has 16 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns over his past three games, and Jones should have every opportunity to continue that hot streak this week against a Miami Dolphins team surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points to the position this season.