Week 10 of 2012 will be remembered as the Week of the D/ST. The Broncos, Cowboys, Titans, Colts and Bucs all put up huge point totals that likely swung more than a few matchups, and the Steelers have yet to face the pathetic Chiefs. I for one am against the more unpredictable aspects of fantasy football (kickers in general, defensive TDs, the destination of Sanchez’s passes), as they tend to reward chance more than logic, but seeing your defense throw down 20 is enjoyable in its own way I guess.
For those of us who went up against these defensive “juggernauts,” we are understandably upset. Half of the aforementioned D/ST’s were likely on the waiver wire, and if your opponent started them, then you have my condolences. There was no way to predict that the porous Titans D would dominate Miami the way they did just one week after being embarrassed by Chicago. So if your opponent wants to start Oakland against the Saints next week and it actually pans out, more power to them, but in this space we try to use logic and some humor to put you in the best position to win.
Here are your top pickups for non-standard leagues in Week 11:
Two QB Leagues – Colin Kaepernick
I’m sure we will hear about nothing but QB concussions from the talking heads this week, enough that you wish they would just stick to talking about Life During Wartime. With Vick, Cutler and Alex Smith all leaving games with concussions, and the weekly Cassel Concussion Watch yet to come, some backup QBs will likely get a shot in the coming weeks. Of those, Kaepernick is in the best position from a fantasy perspective. He’s got a great defense and rushing attack, and he also provides value with his legs, similar to Tebow last year. If Smith does miss time, the Niners start with a less than ideal matchup with Chicago next week, but after that the schedule looks pretty nice for Kaepernick.
PPR Leagues – Jaguars Receivers?
Cecil Shorts, Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon have to be up there on the list of “Guys I Never Thought I Would Recommend” this season, but things have changed quickly. It appears that the Jags are going to wait until MJD returns from injury before they run the ball again, and even if it’s nauseating to watch the Gabbert/Henne dynamic duo throw the ball, it does present opportunities for their receivers. If Cecil Shorts is available I would grab him first, but his ownership numbers in PPR leagues are decently high. Blackmon is likely the most well-known of this trio, and he might be owned by a team that auto-drafted and made no pickups, but he has mostly disappointed thus far. Robinson is actually the value play here, as he has shockingly led the league in targets over the last two weeks. After parlaying a breakout of his own in Dallas last year into a huge contract with Jacksonville, one can only assume he had been counting his money for the first few weeks of 2012. But after missing a few games with injury, it looks like Robinson is rejuvenated and should be rostered in deeper PPR leagues.
Return Yardage Leagues – Travaris Cadet
Now more than ever, the New Orleans backfield is an unpredictable mess. When Sproles was healthy, he and Pierre Thomas handled most of the limited work offered to RBs in the Saints offense. But when Sproles went down, it’s as if Joe Vitt remembered that New Orleans has an insanely deep stable of backs. Mark Ingram had a season high in carries against Atlanta on Sunday, and Chris Ivory unleashed a series of violent runs that I haven’t seen since eating some bad Indian food in college. At this point, the only RB going under the radar in New Orleans is Cadet, whose role in the offense is still undefined. What is clear, however, is that Cadet has replaced Sproles in the return game. In case you haven’t heard, the Saints aren’t too skilled at stopping opposing offenses, giving them ample opportunities to return kicks. Even if he never expands on his 2 catch/16 yard performance in the traditional offense, Cadet’s value in the return game should stay consistent until Sproles returns.
IDP Leagues – Vontaze Burfict
I’m happy to be able to recommend a guy who has one of my favorite names in the league, like one of those names that Madden creates for rookies after Year 1 of a franchise. But Burfict has been more than just a name in his rookie year, racking up 62 total tackles and a sack, highlighted by his 15 tackle performance in Week 7 against Pittsburgh. As with most rookies, Burfict is learning as he goes, but he’s already playing every down for the Bengals, and his stats have started to reflect that. He doesn’t get many chances to rush the passer, but his pass coverage should continue to improve, which should lead to all-important deflections and few picks down the stretch.