Other than Knowshon Moreno rushing for 97 yards Sunday, the Broncos look ready for the glue factory after their third loss in a row.
But we’re here to talk about running backs; for more on my overall Monday thoughts, read my Fantasy Wrap article at SBNation .
The rookie Moreno may have seen the tide shift in Sunday’s loss. Correll Buckhalter fumbled a ball early and never got another snap all day. This could mean Moreno’s value is officially on the rise.
Before I get into more of week 10, I have to take a moment to acknowledge Maurice Jones-Drew . His genius and selfless play on Sunday helped the Jaguars defeat the New York Jets . Unfortunately, for fantasy owners, it cost them a touchdown.
On the game’s final drive, MJD took a handoff and ran for the end zone, only to crush fantasy owners by taking a knee at the one-yard line, on purpose. This allowed the Jags to retain possession of the ball and run the clock out. Yet MJD came back today and apologized to his fantasy owners for costing them points.
You can read more on that in the above SB nation link. What a genuine character MJD is.
Week 10 turned out to be a week of role reversals at RB. I predicted a big day for the Saints' Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell , with Reggie Bush potentially getting into the action. Instead Bush was the feature back, with two scores: one by land and one by air.
DeAngelo Williams was slated for a big day, and he had nice yardage, but Jonathan Stewart pilfered both TDs. Ouch.
Likewise, I predicted a solid day for Oakland’s Justin Fargas , with Michael Bush poaching the touchdown, and instead Bush had the 100-yard rushing day with Fargas stealing the score. More interesting was the return of Darren McFadden , who was almost invisible behind Bush and Fargas.
Finally, the Bills' Marshawn Lynch was primed for a decent day, but it was backup Fred Jackson who scored...by throwing a TD pass to WR Lee Evans . Strange days indeed.
Last week our big stories were Jamaal Charles and Ladell Betts . So how did they fare this week? As predicted, Charles had a solid day against a weak Raiders rush defense, with 103 yards, a TD, and 5.7 YPC. That said, he played one of the league's two worst rush defenses. If your league is still open for trades, he might be a good sell high candidate.
As for Betts, as I thought, even against the Broncos' rush defense, his hard-nosed style earned him a solid performance with 114 yards and a score. The problem for Betts is Clinton Portis is likely to be back in week 11, and the Redskins will relegate Betts to backup status again. If you have him though, hang on to him. I suspect he’ll get more playing time moving forward, and another injury for Portis.
So what other surprises did Week 10 unveil? Starting RBs Michael Turner , Brian Westbrook , and Julius Jones all left their games with injuries. So what does this mean for fantasy owners?
Turner left his game after rushing for 114 yards with a high ankle sprain. He should be back in week 11. Don’t kill yourself chasing Jason Snelling . He was the starting back only because Jerious Norwood was injured as well. If Michael is going to miss extended time (and as of now that seems unlikely), then grab Snelling; otherwise, let someone else waste the waiver slot.
Westbrook is probably done for the season after his second concussion. Best case he’ll return late in the season, after fantasy playoffs are almost done. Unfortunately for Westbrook owners, LeSean McCoy is likely already on someone’s roster. Fullback Leonard Weaver has some upside though.
The most intriguing loss of the day is Jones, who has cracked ribs, some internal bleeding, and is likely out for several weeks. As poorly as he’s played all season, that could open the floodgates for Justin Forsett and, to a lesser degree, Louis Rankin .
Forsett had an excellent day against a solid Cardinals rush defense. He logged 149 total yards and a score after Jones left. Rankin is a nice sleeper play because of his fire and explosiveness. Jones may have started his last game for the Seahawks.
My pick for Start of the Week was the Titans’ Chris Johnson , who rushed for another two TDs and 132 yards but also added nine receptions and 100 receiving yards. He was simply a monster Sunday. He even recovered a fumble. Here’s last week’s Start/Sit for those keeping score.
My Sit of the Week was Detroit’s Kevin Smith . His final line: 12 carries for 55 yards. Not the worst of the day, but not worth playing him.
We’re finally past the Bye weeks, so no one is out this week. So let’s get on to...
Week 11 – RB Start of the Week – Cedric Benson, CIN
|This could just as easily be Maurice Jones-Drew , but I really like Benson’s chance to get 130 yards or better and possibly two scores against the struggling Oakland Raiders rush defense. The Cincy pass game should open up even more holes for Benson to break loose for some big yardage. Cedric had a relatively quiet week against the stingy Steelers defense, so expect him to make up for it this week.|
A Few More Fantasy Studs Who Should Rumble to the End Zone in Week 11
|Maurice Jones-Drew , JAX vs. BUF||MJD had a stellar week 10 performance and could actually blow that up this week. Don’t tell anyone, but he’s my real week 11 top performer. Look what Chris Johnson did to the Bills. MJD should be a monster this week, but he’d be too easy a pick for the top spot.|
|Adrian Peterson , MIN vs. SEA||Peterson had a huge day Sunday, but he also fumbled twice. Not good. This week he gets to feast on Seasquabs. He may not have a monster day, but he’ll almost undoubtedly score and put up close to 100 yards.|
|Rashard Mendenhall , PIT vs. KC||Mendenhall had a quiet week vs. the Bengals. He should get back to worthwhile fantasy production against the Chiefs' questionable run defense, which actually made the Raiders look decent.|
|Kevin Smith , DET vs. CLE||Smith hasn’t been very fantasy productive lately, but a matchup against the Browns' rush defense should get his fantasy numbers back in the green.|
|Beanie Wells , ARI vs. STL||As predicted, Wells is heating up and looking like a nice second half stud. Two TDs in week 10. In week 11 he faces the league’s fourth worst rush defense. Beanie’s gonna make ‘em look like weenies.|
|Pierre Thomas , NOS vs. TB||It’s always hard to know who to play in a backfield with three potential starting backs. I think Thomas will be the go-to guy this week, though the others (Bush and Bell) will certainly be involved against a weak rush defense.|
|Jamal Lewis , CLE vs. DET||Yes, I’m as surprised anyone that I’m calling his number this week, but the Lions are one of the few teams the old engine that can’t might actually could this week. He won’t burn the house down, but he should score in what may be his last productive NFL game.|
|Ricky Williams , MIA vs. CAR||It looks like Ronnie Brown is hurt worse than thought and will miss this week’s game against the Panthers. That opens the door for Williams to shine in a game where he can rack up nice yardage and at least one score.|
|Knowshon Moreno , DEN vs. SD||If Moreno is indeed the team’s starter now, he faces a nice soft Chargers rush defense. He should get about 85 yards and a score this week.|
|Chris Johnson , TEN vs. HOU||I don’t know that Johnson will have another two-TD week next Monday, but I do believe he’ll tie ex-Titans RB Eddie George with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game. He’ll score once for good measure.|
|Brandon Jacobs , NYG, vs. ATL||The G-men have had a week of rest, and Brandon Jacobs has begun to reclaim his role as the team’s go-to RB. Look for a solid day vs. the Falcons. As for his partner, Ahmad Bradshaw, I see him getting about 50-60 yards, but a score is unlikely.|
|Michael Turner , ATL vs. NYG||Assuming Turner plays, I think he’ll score vs. New York, but I’m not optimistic about a 100-yard rushing day, especially with Jason Snelling pilfering some of his carries. Update: ESPN is now saying Turner will NOT play in week 11. Snelling makes a decent play vs. NYG.|
Week 11 – RB Sit of the Week – Jamaal Charles, KCC
|You seriously have to feel for this guy. He replaces one of the game’s biggest assholes, on a team desperate for consistency in the running game, and now he has to face the league’s No. 1 rush defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers . I wouldn’t expect more than a few fantasy points from Charles this week. A TD would be a fluke, and 40-50 yards may be the max he gets.|
Week 11 – Sit ‘em and Forget ‘em
|Justin Forsett, SEA vs. MIN||Forsett will be the week’s big waiver wire grab, but he won’t likely be very productive against the league’s second toughest rush defense.|
|Marion Barber, DAL vs. WAS||For the second straight week, Barber faces a very stout rush defense. Between that and splitting carries three ways, I wouldn’t play him this week unless I had no other alternatives on my team.|
|Oakland Raiders RBs vs. CIN||Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Justin Fargas . Who will start? Who will produce? Are any of them even fantasy worthy at this point? Certainly not against the Bengals' stingy rush defense, which is ranked fifth in the league.|
|Clinton Portis , WAS vs. DAL||Portis should be back this week, but I wouldn’t play him against the Cowboys’ defense. If Ladell Betts gets the nod ahead of Sunday’s matchup, I’d take a risk with him.|
|Cadillac Williams , TB vs. NOS||Cadillac has been a sputtering engine so far this season for fantasy owners. The Saints' rush defense hasn’t been great lately, but I still think they’ll be able to limit the miles Williams puts on his tires this week. Expect 40 yards, and maybe a fluke TD, but no guarantees there.|
|Ryan Moats , HOU vs. TEN||Part of me almost put Slaton here too. Moats is a straight ahead runner—the kind the Titans have shut down all season. The RBs that give them trouble are pass catching backs, a la Slaton and Frank Gore . Moats doesn’t look like a prime start this week.|
|Laurence Maroney , NEP vs. NYJ||The last time these two teams met, the Jets stifled the entire Patriots team. I don’t expect them to have the same success this time against the pass game, but they should keep Maroney in check for the most part.|
|Thomas Jones , NYJ vs. NEP||This is not a great matchup for Jones. I expect low scoring for the Jets, meaning Jones is unlikely to score and will struggle to eclipse 50-60 yards|
|LeSean McCoy , PHI vs. CHI||McCoy is now the team’s starter, likely for the rest of the season, but short of a big play like he managed a couple of weeks ago, I expect a quiet game for the rookie.|
–The Coin Flip Kids for Week 11–
Frank Gore, SF vs. GB: This is an ugly matchup for Gore, but each week he seems to make things happen, so you have to start him. Heads.
Ryan Grant, GB vs. SF: On the other side of the field is Grant. He faces an easier rush defense, but he’s not the stud Gore is, so who knows how he’ll perform. Best guess 65 yards and maybe a score. Likely not though. Tails
LaDainian Tomlinson, SD vs. DEN: There was an L.T. sighting in Philly on Sunday. Fantasy owners jumped for joy. I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic with a matchup against a dangerous and desperate Broncos team this week. Tails
Steve Slaton, HOU vs. TEN: This is an ugly matchup for any RB, but Slaton’s pass catch ability makes him a marginal play. Tails
Steven Jackson, STL vs. ARI: I like Jackson’s chance for another 100-plus-yard day; I just don’t know if he’ll find the end zone this week. Heads
Matt Forte, CHI vs. PHI: Forte continues to look terrible in the run game, but he looks beautiful in the passing game. If L.T. can break out against the Eagles, could Forte do the same? I think he’ll score this week. Heads
Ray Rice, BAL vs. IND: This is not a good matchup for Rice. I don’t expect a big day, but Rice is the type of player who can make you eat your words. Heads
DeAngelo Williams, CAR vs. MIA: Williams has two things going against him this week: the sixth best rush defense and Jonathan Stewart. Still, you can’t sit a first round pick. Heads
Joseph Addai, IND vs. BAL: Addai’s been a pleasant surprise lately, but he’s facing a rush defense that only plays poorly against Cedric Benson. Tails
Marshawn Lynch, BUF vs. JAX: He has a decent matchup, but Lynch has been hit or miss since his return. Now that QB Trent Edwards is back, Fred Jackson is splitting carries again too...Tails