Something happened in Week 11 that nobody could have predicted: a Patriots running back basically nobody owns single-handedly beat the Colts while Tom Brady saved his fantasy week with garbage-time stats. When Brady threw two interceptions early on, the Patriots seemingly took the ball out of his hands and turned from a future Hall of Fame player to a former practice squad player in Jonas Gray.
So the question becomes: should I pick up Gray and plan on a plug-and-play RB off the waiver wire for free? Or is he more of a gray area (pun intended) in terms of fantasy value, similar to Tre Mason in St. Louis? Gray is the clear early-down back in New England, with Shane Vereen taking over as the passing-down back. What that means is if the Patriots are ahead, they will use more of Gray and less of Vereen. But if the game is close and Brady is in control of the offense, Gray's workload will dip down into the 12-15 range for carries. I'd trust him as more of a low-end RB2 or high-end flex option than as someone who you can count on to get you75 yards and maybe a touchdown most weeks.
Andy Dalton – Bengals: Dalton put up top-5 fantasy QB numbers this week as he tossed 3 touchdown passes and racked up 232 total yards (220 passing, 12 rushing) on the road. It was a nice bounce-back performance after last week, and one that will stop the trend of fantasy owners cutting him (ownership down 5.3 percent on NFL.com this week). Next week Dalton gets a Texans defense that gives up 21.0 fantasy points on average to QBs this season, the 13th-most in the NFL.
Jay Cutler – Bears: Cutler is another guy who desperately needed a strong performance this week after he laid an egg against the Packers in an embarrassing loss in Week 10. Despite the Vikings being strong against the pass so far this season, Cutler lit up the stat line by throwing for 330 yards and 3 TDs. He did toss another 2 INTs, but he was able to keep the ball off the ground this week and didn't add to his already high fumble total (5). Cutler is locked and loaded as a QB1 next week against the Bucs' disappointing defense.
Jonas Gray – Patriots: And the player that every fantasy website will be screaming for you to pick up this week is: Jonas Gray! Gray had an unsustainable 38 carries on Sunday, and finished with 199 yards rushing and 4 TDs. To put that into perspective, Gray accounted for 51 percent of the total Patriots touches in Week 11. While I do think Gray is worth owning in just about all formats, I also don't think he will pay off like this again ever in his career. Brady doesn't have many games where the team basically takes the ball away from him, and the Patriots are well known for frustrating fantasy owners with their use of the RB. If you started Gray this week, screen shot it to me because I want to see it!
Jeremy Hill – Bengals: The Bengals running back situation is set for years to come with Hill and Giovani Bernard in the backfield. This week Hill pounded his way to 152 yards on 27 carries, putting him in the top-5 for fantasy RBs. So far this year Hill is averaging 4.92 yards on his 113 carries, clearly showing that he has the ability to be a centerpiece for the Bengals rushing offense. Hill is owned in virtually every league out there, so if you want him you'll have to either trade for him or be ready to snatch him early next year.
Kenny Britt – Rams: It only took 11 weeks for the Rams No. 1 receiver (on the depth chart anyway) to show up and produce stats worthy of fantasy consideration. Britt took advantage of an off-game by the Broncos and posted 128 yards and a touchdown this week. Granted, it was on just 4 receptions. Britt is averaging just 4.7 targets per game this season, with a miserable 53.0 percent catch rate to show for it. At best he is a weak WR4 option for most formats.
Mike Evans – Buccaneers: Evans is one of the more underrated rookies this year in my opinion, with Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin dominating the talk by most. While Benjamin has 98 targets and Watkins has 84, Evans has 71 to his credit this season. And what I like most is that his catch rate is 65.0 percent, much higher than Benjamin's 53.0 percent or Watkins' 54.0 percent. This week Evans hauled in 7 of his 9 targets for 209 yards and 2 TDs. It's probably too late to snag Evans via a trade after this week's performance, but you should try anyway in the hopes his owner thinks he is selling high on him.
Jermaine Gresham – Bengals: Tight end production was down across the board this week in the NFL, but that wouldn't have mattered much for Gresham as he accounted for 2 touchdowns on Sunday. We all know that touchdowns are king in fantasy football, so the fact that he totaled 2 receptions and 13 yards didn't really matter. His 13.30 points on NFL.com ranked him #2 for fantasy TEs in Week 11, and that is no small thing with the talent at TE around the league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense: When Lovie Smith took over coaching duties in Tampa Bay, I think a lot of people pretty much assumed the defense would pick up the slack for a less than dominating offense (on paper anyway). But that simply hasn't been the case so far this season with the Bucs allowing the 3rd-most points this season at 265. But in truly frustrating fashion, the Bucs showed up and put up an impressive 6 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 recovered fumble and 1 defensive touchdown, and allowed just 7 points to the Redskins. As I mentioned earlier, the Bucs face the Bears next week and they have the talent on offense to put up points. I wouldn't trust them and you shouldn't either.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: Fantasy owners were hoping that Stafford would come around with Calvin Johnson back, and be that No. 1 QB they drafted him to be. Instead, Stafford pulled up lame in Week 11 as he managed just 183 passing yards, no touchdowns, and 1 INT against the Cardinals. The problem is things don't get any easier next week as the Lions stay on the road to take on a Patriots defense that held the Broncos to 21 points in Week 9, and the Colts to 20 points this week.
Philip Rivers – Chargers: Rivers has now put up back-to-back poor performances and fantasy owners are wondering if he peaked back in Week 6 when he lit up the Raiders for 313 yards and 3 TDs. This time around Rivers managed just 193 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders, a far less impressive effort than before. Antonio Gates spilled the beans after the game on Sunday that Rivers is dealing with a rib injury, but it hasn't appeared to really hamper Rivers' play on the field. I'd stick with him now that he has Ryan Mathews back as the Chargers have a good matchup next week against the Rams.
Montee Ball – Broncos: Ball managed to log just a single play in his first game back, failing to register a touch in the effort. Ball re-injured his groin on Sunday and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game. Word is that Ball will only miss 2-3 weeks with this latest groin injury, which puts him back around Week 14 or 15. But we've already seen that these types of injuries are tricky, and my guess is that Ball won't be a huge factor in the fantasy playoffs. If I can get Gray for Ball, I'll be making the swap on my team.
Ahmad Bradshaw – Colts: Bradshaw fractured his fibula on Sunday and was only able to log 11 total yards before exiting. Due to the type of injury and the timing of it, you can be almost sure that Bradshaw is headed for the injured reserve. Bradshaw proved he is the far superior RB in comparison to Trent Richardson, and he will be a fine mid-round redraft option next year.
Pierre Garcon – Redskins: Garcon's disappointing season continues as he managed a season-low 6 yards on 1 reception in Week 11, further proving my point that he is waiver wire material. DeSean Jackson is the big man on campus for the Redskins now, and even though Garcon has just three fewer targets than Jackson this season (67-64), Jackson has 355 more receiving yards (819-464) this year. Garcon also holds a 10.8 YPC average this season, which is not a number that most starting WRs would be especially proud of.
T.Y. Hilton – Colts: Hilton has been a WR1 that you could count on this season, but this week the Patriots had the perfect gameplan for shutting him down as they limited him to just 24 yards on 3 catches. He did see 7 targets on the day, but Andrew Luck couldn't get into a rhythm with his WRs and fantasy owners paid the price. This will probably be the low point to Hilton's season, so just be thankful it happened before the fantasy playoffs were under way.
Julius Thomas – Broncos: As if losing Ball wasn't enough for the Broncos with them already hurting for RB depth, they also lost TE Julius Thomas in the first quarter with an ankle injury. The good news is that the injury isn't a bad as initially feared, but word is he won't be available to go for Week 12 against the Dolphins.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: Surprisingly, the Eagles have the #1 fantasy defense so far this season. But this week, well that just wasn't the case as they gave up 41 points to the Packers on the road while getting just a single sack for defensive stats. The -3.00 points on NFL.com ranked dead last for fantasy defenses in Week 11, but with the Titans up next week they remain a plug-and-play fantasy defense.