With week 11 comes the return of the bye week, and there are some big names you will have to find replacements for this week. Not only that, but Matt Schaub went down for the season with a foot injury last weekend and that leaves owners scrambling to fill his role on their teams. With the fantasy playoffs taking shape, it is crucial for you to know who to grab off the waiver wire as a plug-and-play and who is someone to stash on the bench. Let's go through a few players to see who you should be targeting and who you will want to leave for someone else to deal with.
Lance Ball: Willis McGahee is all but out for tonight's game against the Jets, which means Ball will carry the ball all night long. The Broncos are going run-heavy on offense, so Ball should be worth playing as a low-end RB2.
Tyler Palko: Matt Cassel is out indefinitely and had hand surgery, so in comes Palko to try and finish out the Chiefs season on a high note. Palko was an undrafted free agent who is undersized and doesn't have a strong arm arm; the truth is he would be a third-stringer on most NFL teams. Let someone else play him.
Vince Young: If you own Vick, Young is a must-have player this week with Vick's broken ribs. Vick is a "tough nut" (as Andy Reid likes to say), and broken ribs are all about pain tolerance, but he risks further injury if he tries to play through the pain. I would pick up Young and view him as a low-end QB1 this week.
Kendall Hunter: And finally we get to Hunter, the backup to Frank Gore. Gore isn't really injured as much as the 49ers are playing it safe due to a huge divisional lead. That being said, Gore is most likely going to play this week, but his workload should be limited. With Gore dinged up, and the 49ers facing the Steelers and Seahawks in week's 15 and 16, I would just stay away from Gore and only use Hunter as a flex option.
Earl Bennett: Ok, so you all know my friend, Chicago Bear Chris right? Well, he blew up my phone last weekend texting me about Bennett and how great he looks. The truth is that the Bears are a run-first offense and Bennett lacks any kind of playmaking ability, so his recent rise on the fantasy radar is an aberration more than it is the truth. I think he has reached his ceiling for fantasy value.
Matt Leinart: Leinart has already shown he is an NFL bust, and he did it with Larry Fitzgerald at WR. So there is no reason to think this time will be any different with Andre Johnson out wide. Yes, the Texans have a running game with Arian Foster and Ben "Tater Tot" Tate, but Leinart didn't magically develop skills sitting on the bench all these years.
Byes: Texans, Colts, Saints, Steelers
Vince Young:The Iggles haven't ruled Vick out yet, but I think Young starts and Vick is the emergency backup against the Giants. The Giants are giving up the 12th-fewest points to QBs this season, but the Eagles offense hasn't really clicked yet, either. I see Young as a possible low-end QB1 with some upside if DeSean Jackson decides to prove his critics wrong this weekend.
Carson Palmer: Palmer has shown that the time off has done his body some good, and this weekend he gets the Vikings, who give up the 3rd-most fantasy points to QBs. Denarius Moore has shot up the fantasy rankings and Palmer is the reason for it, and with the Vikings' woeful secondary, there is no reason to think Palmer won't finish the weekend as a solid QB1.
Marshawn Lynch:Good things happen to fantasy players when the Rams defense is on the field, and that is who Lynch faces this weekend. Not only has Lynch posted back-to-back 100-plus yard games, but he has scored a TD in 5 of his last 6 games and the Rams give up over 21 PPG to RBs this season. I'm thinking Lynch is a RB2 with solid upside this week. I had Lynch as a sleeper in my preseason rankings, and it looks like he has finally awakened from his slumber.
Kendall Hunter: I think Gore plays this weekend, but I also think his role is extremely limited and Hunter carries the load. I would snatch Hunter for a playoff run in your league and plug him into an RB2 or flex slot. With a huge divisional lead, I'd look for Hunter to fill your RB slot into the fantasy playoffs.
Laurent Robinson: Robinson showed great rapport with Tony Romo last week and rewarded his owners by racking up 73 yards and two scores. This week he gets the Redskins who are allowing the 6th-fewest points to WRs, but I think Robinson has a good shot at 70-plus yards and a score this weekend. He is a solid WR2/3 and could nicely fill your flex spot if your starters are in place.
Denarius Moore: Moore was a training camp sensation that looked good heading into the season, but fizzled out in his first game of the season. He did bust out with 5 catches for 146 yards and a score in week 2, but regressed in the weeks that followed. He finally decided to show back up last week with 5 catches for 123 yards and 2 TDs, and one has to wonder if he will regress all over again. I am going to give him a play this week since the Vikings do give up fantasy points, but I am hedging my bet by saying there is a real chance of him being a bust after a breakout performance last week.
Fred Davis:The Redskins are so desperate to find something in the way of a passing game that they resigned WR Donte Stallworth this week. Fred Davis is the lone bright spot in the passing attack, and the Cowboys are allowing the 2nd-most points to TEs this season at 10 PPG. This is a rivalry game and the Redskins can always forget to play offense, but TE is an all-or-nothing position in fantasy football, and Davis is not a bad option this week.
New England Patriots defense: The Patriots defense is among the worst in the NFL, but the Chiefs offense is about to be the worst in the NFL. I will give the Patriots credit for at least having starting-caliber players on the defense, but the fact that Palko is starting at QB tells me that an offense that was already bad is about to go nuclear and completely melt down. I'd play the Patriots as a top 5 play this week and feel just fine about it.
Tyler Palko:I've received numerous emails asking if people should start Palko and the answer is unequivocally NO. As I said earlier, Palko isn't someone that has the skills to succeed at this level, and the only reason he is going to play for the Chiefs is their lack of anyone else to put under center. I'd cut bait with him right now and let some other owner lose his fantasy matchup because of Palko. Sometimes the best move you can do is to cut a player so someone else will pick him up and play him!
John Skelton: After last week's performance, people are thinking they may find waiver wire gold in the Skelton Mountains. Guess again. Skelton got off on maybe the most overrated defense in the NFL last week, but this week he faces the most physical and dominating defense, the 49ers. As much as I loathe Palko, it would be a close call if I had to pick from these two QBs this weekend.
Cedric Benson: For most of the year Benson has been entrenched in your RB2 slot, but this weekend you will want to bench him. The Ravens are giving up the 2nd-fewest points to RBs this season at 13.2 PPG, and Benson has scored just twice this season. Not to mention that his last 100-yard game came in week 4.
Shonn Greene: I am not a fan of Green this weekend despite LaDainian Tomlinson being ruled out. Sure, the Broncos offense is in complete disarray, but their defense has allowed just one rushing TD all season long. The Jets may want to be a ground and pound offense, but their running game just got one-dimensional and I think I will sit Greene for this one.
Stevie Johnson: The Bills came out of the gate with a burst and had fans around the NFL thinking they were contenders. I personally never put faith in them because the talent level on the Bills isn't high enough for them to do real damage in the AFC East. Over the last four weeks Johnson has averaged 3.7 catches and 49.7 YPG, down from the 5.6 receptions and 68.6 YPG he had over the first five games of the season. Johnson scored in four and his first six games, but has failed to score since the bye in week 7. Johnson's value is dropping like a rock and you should trade him if at all possible.
Steve Breaston: Breaston is in a lot of lineups as a WR3, but with the downgrade to Palko, I want no part of Breaston now or going forward. If I had him on my squad, I'd look to trade him as soon as possible and take just about whatever I could get for him before Palko completely kills his fantasy value.
Brandon Pettigrew: The Panthers are solid against the TE, ranking at 13th in fantasy points to TEs this season. Couple that with Matthew Stafford nursing a broken right (throwing) index finger and you have a recipe for failure for Pettigrew.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: This defensive unit is a fantasy rollercoaster for sure, and this week I think they are on the downswing as they face Eli Manning and the Giants. I am not a big fan of Manning, but I also have to recognize the elite level at which he plays from time-to-time. Add to that a solid running game and the lack of ability to stop anyone on defense for the Iggles, and you have a defense that is owned in just over 80 percent of fantasy leagues that should be sat down this week in 100 percent of formats.
Question of the week
Q:I was in first place and am now falling with losing my last two games. My running backs are killing me and I've got a bit of a sticky situation this week. I have DeMarco Murray, he's my main guy. Here are my other choices for running back: Cedric Benson, LeGarrette Blount, and Jackie Battle. I am considering some on the waiver wires as well. Chris Ogbonnaya and Daniel Thomas are available on the waiver wire. I have no idea what to do. Benson and Blount have terrible matchups. Battle hasn't been spectacular. (Randy from Hesperia, CA)
A: Lance Ball is a solid waiver wire guy this week at RB. Thomas is way behind Reggie Bush in the Dolphins gameplan, and Ogbonnaya looked good last weekend only because he played the league's worst run defense. The Jaguars are much better at stopping the run.
Battle isn't someone I would be excited about, but neither is Thomas. Benson matched his season low this weekend, but the Steelers are a very tough team to get going against. I'd cut Battle loose for Ball, but understand that he is a short-term pickup as of right now. Kendall Hunter is also someone to target with the 49ers out front of a weak division and Frank Gore needing to heal up for the playoffs.