Fantasy Football Week 12: Fact or Fiction on Week 11's Top Superstars

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

Fantasy Football Week 12: Fact or Fiction on Week 11's Top Superstars

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    A successful fantasy football player knows how to separate the fluke games from the upcoming trends.

    There were a number of outstanding performances in Week 11 from some surprising players. A few of these were already household names that were struggling, while others seemingly came out of nowhere.

    The key is to put these games into context.

    Here is a breakdown of all of the players who had big days, with analysis of what that means for the rest of the fantasy season.

QB Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

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    Week 10 Numbers

    43-of-55, 527 passing yards, 5 TD, 2 INT; 37 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    Matt Schaub was quietly putting together a solid season, but there is nothing quiet about 527 passing yards and five touchdowns. 

    Every one of those yards were necessary, as the Houston Texans needed overtime to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. Of course, that alone made this game an anomaly for the quarterback.

    With the Texans' solid run game behind Arian Foster, the team has not needed to throw the ball too much to win. In fact, his 55 attempts were 18 more than his previous season high.

    He also had not thrown for more than 300 yards in a game all year.

    In games where his team does not need to score 43 points to escape with a win, his numbers will be below average for a fantasy quarterback.

    You can start him if the matchup is right, but there are still many better options on a weekly basis. 

WR Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Week 10 Numbers

    7 receptions, 236 yards, 1 TD; 29 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    So this is the player that Jacksonville Jaguars selected with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft. 

    After getting a few catches here and there throughout the first half of the season, Justin Blackmon almost doubled his career total with 236 receiving yards.

    He showed great chemistry with backup quarterback Chad Henne (who is still not fantasy relevant after a big day), as well as the speed and strength that was expected when he was drafted.

    The good news is that the potential for additional big games is there. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the team has to throw the ball a lot to keep up with a defense that allows almost 29 points per game.

    There are also some great matchups to end the season, with four games against teams ranked No. 26 or lower against the pass.

    Pick him up if he is available, but keep him on your bench until the quarterback situation becomes clearer. 

RB Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders

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    Week 10 Numbers

    19 carries, 103 rushing yards; 4 receptions, 90 receiving yards; 19 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    Not every player takes advantage of an opportunity when the starter goes down, but Marcel Reece did. With almost 200 total yards from scrimmage, the fullback showed he has the talent to handle the workload of a full-time running back.

    Unfortunately, the job will still go to Darren McFadden when the starter returns from a high-ankle sprain.

    In addition, this big game came against a defense ranked No. 31 against the pass and No. 32 against the run. 

    Reece should be a useful fantasy player while he remains the lead back, but temper expectations going forward. 

WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

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    Week 10 Numbers

    6 receptions, 100 yards, 2 TD; 22 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    T.Y. Hilton has put together a few quality games this year. This was actually the third time this year in which he totaled over 16 fantasy points.

    Of course, in each circumstance, he was facing one of the bottom six teams in the NFL against the pass.

    This week's opponent, the New England Patriots, have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers entering the game.

    Besides these big performances, Hilton has not topped three points in any week this year.

    He might be a decent matchup play in a desperate circumstance, but he is too risky of an option to insert in your lineup on a weekly basis. 

QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Week 10 Numbers

    18-of-29, 230 passing yards, 2 TD; 3 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD; 24 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    Heading into the week, Andy Dalton was the No. 12 fantasy quarterback in the NFL. He was ahead of Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Eli Manning—all players that were likely taken much higher in the draft.

    This means that this week was no fluke, but instead a continuation of a trend that has been going on all season.

    Dalton has scored 20 points in five games this year, and he only failed to reach double digits twice.

    With a plethora of talented receivers at his disposal, these numbers are certain to continue.

    He should be an interesting trade target this week for those trying to make a late push to the playoffs.

WR Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers

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    Week 10 Numbers

    7 receptions, 96 yards, 2 TD; 21 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    One big game might be a fluke. Two big games is something that cannot be ignored.

    Danario Alexander finished Week 10 with 134 receiving yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass. Philip Rivers must have been paying attention, because he continued to throw to the young receiver against a solid defense in Week 11.

    Free agent Robert Meachem has largely disappointed this season, and it's left an opening for someone else to step up in his place. Alexander has taken that opportunity in the last three weeks and has earned a spot.

    He led the team with 11 targets on Sunday, which was five more than anyone else on the roster.

    Alexander has always had the talent to be a big-time receiver, but he's finally putting it all together and getting his opportunity.

    The receiver should be a top priority on the waiver wires this week.

    Here is a full breakdown of Danario Alexander for the upcoming week and the rest of the season. 

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals

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    Week 10 Numbers

    22 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD; 18 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    In five starts at running back for the Arizona Cardinals, LaRod Stephens-Howling had two great games (20 and 18 fantasy points), one solid game (11 points) and two terrible games (two and three points).

    This has the potential to irritate fantasy owners, especially when his window for opportunity is so small.

    Beanie Wells is eligible to come off injured reserve after this week and will likely start once he is activated. 

    Stephen-Howling will likely still have some use on the offense and will likely get a handful of carries each game, but it will not be enough to trust him in your lineup.

WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

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    Week 10 Numbers

    14 receptions, 273 yards, 1 TD; 33 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    It is almost like the Texans finally realized that Andre Johnson is really good.

    The star receiver, who averaged 1,453 receiving yards and over eight touchdowns per year between 2008-2010, has been largely invisible this season.

    Houston attempted to establish the run more often this year. Considering the 9-1 record, this strategy has been working.

    However, Johnson is finally starting to get more involved in the offense. He has received double-digit targets in each of the past five games and topped 75 receiving yards in four of those contests.

    Maybe the coaching staff was just saving him for the closing stretch?

    Either way, he has turned a corner on this season and should remain in your starting lineup until further notice.

WR Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

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    Week 10 Numbers

    5 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 1 TD; 1 carry, 47 rushing yards; 1 return touchdown; 21 fantasy points

    Fact or Fiction?

    Julian Edelman has not done much this season. In fact, these were his first fantasy points since Week 3.

    However, his role might increase in the coming weeks now that Rob Gronkowski is out for four to six weeks with a broken forearm (via ESPN).

    Edelman can stretch the field with his speed, and he can also run great routes and catch balls over the middle. 

    There is plenty of production to go around with Tom Brady and this high-powered offense, so there is a chance that the receiver gets in on the action in the coming weeks.

    Hold off on giving him a start, but he is a good add this week due to his upside. 

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