Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 10 Players Available on the Waiver Wire

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2011

Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 10 Players Available on the Waiver Wire

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    It's amazing how quickly things happen in the NFL.

    One minute, Matt Schaub is leading your team to victory and all is right in the world.

    The next minute you're discovering Schaub has a LisFranc injury and is done for the season.

    That quickly, the Texans—and your fantasy squad—take a major hit which needs to be addressed and quickly.

    As I say every week, the waiver wire gets picked over quickly and the easy gimmes are generally all gone. The upshot of losing a guy is that his replacement is probably sitting on the wire.

    The question becomes, is it worth grabbing him?

    Or maybe the real question is—can you afford not to?

    Let's take a look.



    Andrew Garda is a staff writer at Footballguys.com. Check them out for rankings, projections and player analyses. More than 50,000 pages of content every year to lead you to the championship.

Matt Leinart, QB, HOU

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    Since we were just talking about Matt Schaub, I figured we should lead off with his replacement.

    Bear with me here for a minute because on the surface you might think me nuts since Leinart has yet to show us he has the stuff to become a starting NFL quarterback.

    First of all, not much is going to be asked for him here. Surely, nowhere near as much as was asked of him in Arizona. He's going to spend a lot of time handing the ball to Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

    So the chances of a Leinart implosion because he has to throw every down as he did in the desert is minimal.

    Secondly, he's not going to be playing from behind the way he did in Arizona. Therefore, the defense cannot just sit back and defend the pass. Defenses may try to stack the line against Foster/Tate, but that only makes Leinart's job easier.

    This is not a situation where the quarterback will huck the ball 50-plus times. Schaub himself averaged 29 passes a game, and they won't ask more of Leinart. There will be less chances for mistakes and implosions.

    No, Leinart won't be able to be a fantasy stud, but let's be honest—Schaub wasn't one anyway. If you need a backup, Leinart will be available, and when Andre Johnson is back, could have some nice upside.

Taiwan Jones, RB, OAK

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    Jones is a long-term grab but very well could be a critical one for you if you have the room to stash him.

    We haven't seen a lot of the guy since preseason, but what we've seen has looked good. Jones runs powerfully, with good burst and speed and could get a lot of work as a change of pace back if Darren McFadden continues to be out.

    Michael Bush is a very good back and won't lie down and allow Jones to take his job. However, this does not preclude Jones from putting up solid fantasy points.

    He has the skills—if you are patient, he might soon have the opportunity.

Lance Ball/Jeremiah Johnson, RB, DEN

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    This weekend saw both Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno go down with injuries—Moreno for the season.

    Right now, reports are optimistic that McGahee will be healthy enough to play Thursday against the Jets. However, he has to practice first, and even then, his hamstring has to hold up, and we all know how that goes.

    Even if McGahee is good to go on Thursday, at least one of the two backs listed above will get a shot as Broncos head coach John Fox does love to run the ball, especially with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

    Lance Ball is a hard-hitting bowling ball of a running back, and he topped 90 yards this past weekend—on the downside, he took 30 carries to do it. Still, he is a hard runner who can get the tough yards and wear down a defense.

    Jeremiah Johnson is officially a journeyman as he has been on several teams since coming into the league. Promoted recently from the practice squad, Johnson is dangerously fast and a big play waiting to happen when the ball is in his hands. His problem is his health as he cannot stay on the field.

    Johnson is an easy add right now as few know who the heck he is. While he is behind Ball and McGahee, there is opportunity there, and if McGahee or Ball are hurt, Johnson could produce in a big way.

Joe McKnight, RB, NYJ

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    The good news for the Jets Monday was that LaDainian Tomlinson's MCL is sprained, not torn. However it's unlikely Tomlinson practices this week, and with a short week, it doesn't sound likely that he will suit up against Denver on Thursday.

    Joe McKnight has looked pretty good in limited action as well as kick return duties this year. It's a marked improvement over his 2010 which was marred by an inability to even be active.

    McKnight runs hard, has good speed and is dangerous in space. With Tomlinson down, he will at least get a chance to spell Shonn Greene and if Greene gets hurt or has any issues McKnight will get a full share of carries.

    After watching him earlier this season I think he can be a good back in the NFL.

    BONUS PICK:

    If Tomlinson is down this week, don't be shocked if former Louisville running back Bilal Powell is activated. I love what I saw of Powell when I broke down tape for draft analysis last winter, and I think he could be a very special back at the next level. I wouldn't be shocked if they gave him a shot this week.

John Skelton, QB, AZ

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    With Kevin Kolb still down and out (and not all that good when healthy), John Skelton continues to run the show in Arizona. While he hasn't been tremendous, he's playing solid ball, and overall, the offense looks better than it has most of the season. 

    Skelton has a very strong arm, and while he will go to Larry Fitzgerald as often as he can, he's not shy about checking down to his other receivers when things get tight in coverage.

    His mobility is also a big factor and has allowed him to buy time enough for his receivers to get open.

    It's entirely possible that Kolb will regain his job when his turf toe heals, but it's hard to say how long that might be.

    Meanwhile, Skelton is an intriguing option as a backup quarterback.

Kevin Smith, RB, DET

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    With Jahvid Best's head still ringing, the Lions have been desperate to find someone who can be a real threat to run the ball.

    It's a sign of just how desperate they are feeling that they brought in Smith, a guy they unceremoniously dumped earlier this year. Smith can get downhill quickly, make defenders miss and has shown good speed in the past. His biggest problem is that he cannot stay healthy.

    Even if Best comes back in the next few weeks, Smith could capture the No. 2 gig and be a productive complement to Best.

    Meanwhile, he has the potential to put up some points against Carolina this week and could even serve as an emergency flex play.

Steve Smith, WR, PHI

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    Jeremy Maclin is suffering from a separated shoulder as well as a sprained hamstring. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson continues to whine and pout about his contract so much so that he was benched this Sunday.

    There isn't a ton beyond those two players, and this is actually just the occasion Steve Smith was brought in for. Smith can be a great possession receiver, assuming he is over the injury which caused the Giants to let him go.

    He may be sitting there on your waiver wire because he hasn't done much of anything yet. Get there before anyone else and you can get at least a few weeks use out of him, and at this point, if Jackson keeps acting out, this could be a long-term fit for the Eagles and fantasy owners.

Tyler Palko, QB, KC

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    Matt Cassel is having hand surgery and will be out for the foreseeable future, replaced by Tyler Palko. Palko has a great matchup this week as he will see the worst pass defense in the league. With weapons like Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin to throw to, Palko has the weapons to succeed. The question is, can he utilize them.

    Palko is a bit short but is very accurate and can deliver the ball with authority.

    He's got the helm at least this week and likely more if what we're hearing about Cassel is true.

Vincent Brown, WR, SD

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    I've been a big fan of Brown's since the Senior Bowl, where I got to watch him run some great routes and show off great hands.

    Brown had an outstanding night against the Raiders, catching five balls for 97 yards and a touchdown. The former San Diego State Aztec showed tremendous ability and "my ball" mentality in going up for jump balls and coming down with the catch. It became clear early on that Brown was someone quarterback Philip Rivers trusted to make the catches he needed to.

    So reliable and dynamic was Brown that when veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson failed to go up and try to catch or knock away a Hail Mary, that Twitter responded with "Brown would have caught that."

    I may or may not have started it.

    Malcom Floyd is hurt, and Vincent Jackson looks detached at best, absolutely uninterested at worst. Brown is in a position to make a strong push in the second half of the season.

Vince Young, QB, PHI

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    If you have made it this far into the season with Michael Vick as your quarterback, but with no solid backup, you might be in for some trouble.

    Vick broke two ribs in the loss against Arizona but kept quiet and played through it. I am impressed to be sure, but that's a pretty silly choice. And I mean for both Vick's staying in the game and your choice to not have a competent backup.

    However, there's still time. Vince Young has been on many a waiver wire for months as he hasn't been playing and could be had cheap. With Vick out, Young will get the nod, and while I don't expect even a shadow of Vick, he could put up some OK numbers and facing the Giants, he's going to have to throw to keep up.

    Young is similar to Vick in many ways, so the offense won't have to go through a complete sea change, but with Maclin hurt and DeSean Jackson unhappy, it could be harder to get into a good rhythm as he has to throw to different faces.

    Young will have to really step his game up if the Eagles have any chance of making the playoffs.

    Andrew Garda is a staff writer at Footballguys.com. Check them out for rankings, projections and player analyses. More than 50,000 pages of content every year to lead you to the championship.