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Fantasy owners loved the Jets in Week 10. Five of their players, including the defense, were so popular that they were active in at least 60 percent of ESPN leagues this week. It's hard to convince six of 10 fantasy owners to do most things, but they knew the Jets were going to score on the Rams. And score they did.
The problem is, the scoring didn't exactly come from the usual suspects. You know how during baseball season you'll see on the "SportsCenter" scroll at the bottom of the screen that a team -- say the Yankees, for example -- scored 18 runs, but the two Yankees you had active -- say Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui -- were a combined 1-for-9 with no runs or RBIs? That was this Jets game. They scored 47 points, but Brett Favre managed only 10 fantasy points as he continued to sputter, and the starting wide receivers combined for a lame two points, split evenly.
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We thank Thomas Jones, then, for having the best day of anyone so far in Week 10, as he rambled for 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He was active in 84 percent of leagues, so most of his owners were able to partake in the fun. It actually seemed like piling on for the final score, with a perfectly eager Leon Washington waiting for his chance, but Jones got most of the attention. Maybe it's payback for his brutal 2007 season in which he scored just two total TDs. Those who played Washington as a flex received six points. Favre disappointed, and wide receivers Laveranues Coles (who led ESPN's projections at his position for Week 10) and Jerricho Cotchery did next to nothing.
Meanwhile, check out those other Jets, other than Jones. Overlooked kicker Jay Feely, who began the week tied for 26th in fantasy points at his position, scored 20 of his 21 fantasy points before halftime, easily the top game for a kicker for the week. In fact, Feely had the best scoring game for any kicker all season, and that was just in the first half! Feely is owned in 11.2 percent of ESPN leagues, and was active this week in only a fifth of those. Tight end Dustin Keller, who looked so promising in the preseason but didn't do much through two months, was started in 8.3 percent of leagues. He scored and topped 100 yards. The Jets' defense was a popular pick this week, as nearly everyone who owned this defense (64 percent) had it active (60.4).
Of course, fantasy titles aren't generally won by defenses, kickers, reserve tight ends and 30-something running backs. While it's great Jones continued his nice run -- he entered the week having averaged 17 fantasy points per game over his past four -- fantasy owners should remain cautious in expecting more big games. Road tilts in Foxborough and Nashville are pending the next fortnight, and let's just say those defenses don't resemble the sad unit the Rams have become. So much for that franchise turning things around.
Jones is a good story, but chances are fantasy owners aren't talking about him today; they're talking about how their quarterback's (or wide receiver's) team scored 47 points but it didn't translate to fantasy goodness for all. My concern was that Jones and Washington would run so well, there would be no need for Favre to throw. That was only part of the story.
Don't expect the 2007 Favre to come back this season. This was the first time since Week 1 he did not throw an interception, and while fantasy owners have been picking and choosing from his wide receivers, neither showed up in what became a gimme game. This appears to be a trend.
I went out on a rather large limb this week in praising Tyler Thigpen, even ranking him in my top 10 for quarterbacks, ahead of both Mannings. Thigpen needed a late score to get there, but the emerging Kansas City Chiefs quarterback ended up with more than 20 points for the third consecutive week, accruing 24 points in the loss to the Chargers. Thigpen continues to produce; nobody has more fantasy points than he does over the past three weeks, and only Jay Cutler had a better Week 10. By the way, the Chiefs' matchups in December (at Denver, home against San Diego and Miami, then finishing at Cincinnati) are just as tasty.
I'm not a doctor, so I can't say how hurt Willie Parker is. On Sunday morning, there were reports Parker might be done for the season with a torn labrum, a story he has denied. Whatever the case, I acted in a few leagues in which Mewelde Moore remained unowned and quickly picked him up. Fantasy owners shouldn't wait for the aftermath and allow a popular free agent's fantasy home to be decided on waiver position. Moore ended up with more than 100 total yards and two touchdowns against the Colts, and while Parker might not be done, he certainly has become brittle. Keep Moore around, even if Parker does dress for Week 11, as he's earning our trust.
So much for three men and a split rushing load in Baltimore. All week I was preaching caution with rookie Ray Rice, because nobody knew how the carries would be split among him, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. Don't give me too much credit; I wouldn't have activated any of them. Instead of promised balance, McClain received four carries, Rice seven and McGahee 25. That's balance? McGahee capitalized with his best game of the season: 112 yards, two touchdowns and 23 fantasy points. I think it's relatively safe to say when healthy, and not the emergency back, McGahee is the starter. However, the Ravens still have to play the Steelers and the entire NFC East. It might not matter how many carries he gets in those games.
|This Week In Fantasy Football History|
By Neil Tardy
If you own Drew Brees and Lance Moore, you're thankful the Saints kept trying to score down while 21 points in the final minute. The successful Hail Mary as time ran out pushed Drew Brees over 400 yards and gave Moore nine of his 13 fantasy points. Michael Turner scored for the first time since Week 5, and delivered his fifth double-digit fantasy outing in nine games. Backup Jerious Norwood, by the way, has four double-digit fantasy games, including Sunday's 15-point effort. I wouldn't expect Chris Johnson to be held to eight yards on 14 carries again, even with the Jaguars as the next opponent. What LenDale White did, with 10 carries for 14 yards, could continue in normal matchups, though. Impressive game for Matt Forte, with 126 total yards and a score. He's solidified himself as a safe fantasy play. Has anyone been all or nothing like Maurice Jones-Drew? Those 27 fantasy points were his season high, and the second time he reached 26 or more. Love those Lions! Maybe Daunte Culpepper didn't have a chance in such a short week, but does it matter? How much can the Lions score against the Panthers in Week 11? Don't get too enamored with what Ricky Williams did; nearly half his yards came on the 51-yard touchdown run. With such an easy schedule, however, Williams could be a decent flex option the rest of the way. Ronnie Brown remains preferred. Was that a Julius Jones sighting? He ran for 88 yards, after not topping 61 yards since Week 3. He still hasn't scored since then. I'm just surprised how little Maurice Morris was used. Aaron Rodgers will bounce back from his lowest-scoring fantasy game of the season. I'm glad I didn't trade Frank Gore for him in one league, opting to go with Thigpen instead. Ryan Grant looked impressive as he doubled his season touchdown total. I just don't think we can expect a touchdown per week. How fluky was Todd Heap's outing against the Texans? He scored 17 fantasy points Sunday. Heading into that game, he had nine points for the entire season. While Steve Slaton got shut down for the first time, former Eagle Ryan Moats ran for 34 yards. Don't pick him up. Slaton will be fine. Not that he's taking the job from Heath Miller, but Matt Spaeth had 53 yards, a total Miller topped just once this season. Marvin Harrison caught three passes and dropped just as many. Maybe the Colts should give Anthony Gonzalez a bit more love. Bernard Berrian owners should not forget him just because he didn't catch a pass. He had scored in four consecutive games. Kenneth Darby was supposed to start against the Jets, until Antonio Pittman suddenly got healthy, but Darby ran better and could be in line to start Week 11 if Steven Jackson can't go. Not much of a game for Brian Westbrook, who normally torches the Giants, but he does have the Bengals up next. Be wary of making Westbrook a guaranteed start against other NFC East teams, as he's averaging fewer than 40 rushing yards against the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins this season.
Kerry Collins, QB, Titans
He entered play with three touchdown passes, then had a season-best game by adding two more scores and 289 passing yards at Chicago. Collins, with 20 fantasy points for the past month, had 19 on Sunday, against a Bears team that routinely placed eight or nine defenders in the box to stop Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Collins was started in 5.8 percent of leagues.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
Meanwhile, the QB/RB tables were turned by the Panthers in Oakland. DeAngelo Williams ran for 140 yards and a score, but Delhomme had one of the worst outings of his career, throwing four interceptions and posting a minus-two for fantasy. Delhomme completed just 7 of 27 passes for 72 yards. Even with the Lions up next, will you want to activate him?
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: He continues to disprove the notion that you can't rely on a rookie quarterback. Against the Saints, Ryan delivered his fifth straight game with double-digit fantasy points. Plus, he's been intercepted in only three games all season. Trust him.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: The game was a joke, and Smith padded the stats late in the blowout loss, but he received 23 carries, and Rudi Johnson only two. The schedule is crazy difficult and a winless season is possible, but at least Smith looks flex-worthy as he gets most of the touches.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: Sammy Morris owners remember waiting for his return a year ago as well. Green-Ellis topped 100 yards and scored for the fourth straight week, which could/should render Morris a backup when/if he suits up again.
Mark Bradley, WR, Chiefs: Not only do I think Tyler Thigpen is legit, but Bradley has been better than Dwayne Bowe for the past month. Bradley has three straight double-digit fantasy games after catching nine passes for 81 yards and a score against the Chargers. He should be a very popular free-agent pickup this week.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Here's a bigger name for you, but one who began the week ranked 124th in wide receiver points, and was active in less than 70 percent of leagues. Colston caught 140 yards' worth of passes and should be an obvious play from here on out.
Trent Edwards, QB, Bills: A month ago he seemed a safe play, but he didn't reach double digits the past three weeks in AFC East battles, and he still has to meet each of those teams again in December. Edwards has become the least desirable fantasy quarterback in the division.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: His fantasy value would have been better off had he missed the game. Instead, against a terrible run defense, Stewart averaged three yards per carry, his third game with two or fewer fantasy points in his past four outings, as DeAngelo Williams tightens his grip on the starting job.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: With Larry Johnson's return looming, Charles was running out of time to make an impression and follow up his 100-yard Week 9 game. Instead, he ran for eight yards, hurt his ankle and returned to watch Dantrell Savage have the bigger day.
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams: With five fantasy points the past two weeks, his fantasy momentum has passed, and it's not like Torry Holt has zoomed ahead of him. Marc Bulger was brutal against the Jets, and whether he keeps the starting job or not, his wide receivers are paying the price.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: I keep seeing his name ranked well, and his owners clearly believe, as he was active in 41.9 percent of leagues. However, two fantasy points against the Colts later, his underwhelming campaign continues. Even in good matchups, it's tough to get excited.
JaMarcus Russell was listed as the No. 3 quarterback with a sore knee, although he probably wouldn't have had any more success than Andrew Walter did. His teammate Darren McFadden was inactive with turf toes on both feet. Javon Walker also left the game early. What a mess in Oakland.
Among those who catch the ball, Derrick Mason of the Ravens suffered a dislocated shoulder against the Texans, though he returned to the game later. He might not miss his Week 11 game. Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, already banged up, left the Falcons game early with a sprained ankle.
There are no more bye weeks, so you can't use that excuse for losing a matchup by 50 points. Also, you dealt with a Thursday game in Week 10, so no excuses for late lineups the rest of the season. This week's Thursday game features the Jets and Patriots. There aren't many relevant trends here, as each team has a new quarterback this season. Thomas Jones averaged 30.5 yards in two games against New England in 2007, and everything Randy Moss did to the Jets a season ago is, as we've seen all this year, irrelevant.
Peyton Manning and Sage Rosenfels had similar statistical games when the Colts and Texans met in Week 5, though Rosenfels blew the game with late turnovers. Manning has 31 touchdowns and five interceptions in his career against the Texans, and should continue to add on 20-point games. Steve Slaton, who ran for 93 yards and two TDs against Indy, should bounce back after a tough Sunday.
The Sunday night game again features NFC East teams, as Tony Romo is scheduled to return from his pinkie injury to face the Redskins. Romo passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting, a 26-24 Redskins win in Week 4, but it's notable how Marion Barber struggled that day (26 yards). Clinton Portis and Santana Moss had huge-yardage games against the Cowboys.
Something has to give as the league's top rushing team (Giants) faces the top team against the run (Ravens) in New Jersey. The Ravens shut down productive Houston rookie Steve Slaton on Sunday, but Brandon Jacobs is a bit more seasoned. Don't expect either the Ravens or Giants to pile on the points the way they did in Week 10.