-In case you needed a reminder, here it is – never start a running back against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not even the studliest of the studs. Chris Johnson, Michael Turner, Ray Rice and Peyton Hillis all took a crack, and none came away with more than 42 rushing yards against the league’s best unit. Darren McFadden fared much worse. The Raiders tried their mightiest to get him involved – one of every three plays was a handoff in the first half – but after watching DMC run for all of eight yards on seven carries, Oakland said eff it, and just started chucking the ball. McFadden finished with 10 carries and 14 yards, both season-lows. He’ll bounce back against Miami, no worries there, but if you own Fred Jackson, don’t ignore this reminder.
Other Week 11 Indigestions…
-It looks like Brandon Marshall might miss multiple weeks after pulling his hammy in the second quarter against the Bears. It double-sucks if you’re an owner because he was finally putting together a decent game, registering three catches for 41 yards in the first quarter and a half. Brian Hartline replaced him on the outside, and had a strong outing, something that’s becoming a common occurrence for the forgotten wideout. He had three catches for 42 yards after Marshall went down, and finished with five for 71 on six targets. After being benched for poor play early in the year, Hartline’s strung together six straight solid outings in which he’s averaging 67 yards a game. Most impressively, he’s hauled in 28 of the 34 passes thrown his way during that span. If you’re looking for someone to get flexy with, Hartline may be your huckleberry.
In other flex option news: Brandon Gibson has secretly become Sam Bradford‘s secret weapon. He came up with five catches on 10 targets for 42 yards against the Falcons, including a leaping 13-yard touchdown grab after burning Dunta Robinson. He’s averaging six catches and 60 yards over the last three games, and Steve Spagnuolo has shown no signs of reeling Bradford in – he’s topped 40 attempts in four of the last seven games.
–Cedric Benson loves him some cake. Against the Bills league-worst run-stopping D, he posted 124 yards and a score on 25 attempts. He’s now topped the 81-yard barrier twice this season, with the other successful day coming against Tampa Bay … the fourth-worst run defense in the league. Benson accumulated 268 yards in those two games, accounting for 35-percent of his total rushing yards this season. The rest of the time, as I’m sure you’re aware, he’s been a crappy fantasy dance partner, averaging eight points a game and reeking of frustration and spoiled meat. With the Jets and Steelers two of the next three opponents, now is the perfect time to convince an opposing owner to cut-in.
-With Vince Young redefining the term Vinsanity, and Kerry Collins still recovering from a calf injury sustained while walking, retired amateur porn star Rusty Smith was thrust into action. He performed about as expected, completing three of nine passes with a pick. He did show an eagerness to unleash it deep, completing a 52-yarder to Nate Washington and kinda-sorta throwing a 36-yard touchdown to Randy Moss, so his presence shouldn’t completely suck the value out of the Titans pass-catchers – especially this week against the Texans.
-Turns out the toes were to blame for Jahvid Best‘s recent suckiness, which reached a new low this week. Best was at his worst against the Cowboys, carrying it three times for two yards while catching four passes for 15. He was constantly in-and-out of the game, and had to get his toes re-taped several times. It’s obvious to the naked eye his explosiveness is gone, and even a clothed eye can tell he’s barely able to make a cut. Even still, the Lions seem intent on playing him this Thursday. Don’t make the same mistake.
On a Desperate Owners side note: In case you missed it, Kevin Smith was IRed a week ago, which is why Maurice Morris‘ resurrected corpse was used so frequently. He actually wasn’t as stiff as you’d think, grinding out 31 yards on 10 rushes, and catching four balls for 40 yards. Morris recorded a 100-yard rushing game as recently as Week 15 of last year, and he’s always known how to make himself useful in the passing game. 15 touches could equal decent Flex value against the penetrable Pats defense.
-I don’t know whether to be worried that Larry Fitzgerald and Derek Anderson can’t seem to connect until the end of blowout losses, or if I should be happy and assume every Cardinals game will feature the sloppy-armed Anderson slinging late passes against disinterested defenders. This week Fitzy finished with a very handy 15 fantasy points thanks to six catches, 90 yards and a touchdown, but three grabs and 47 of those yards came on the final drive of what was a 31-6 blowout. The touchdown was a three-yarder, and happened as time expired and KC backups nonchalantly tried to defend. The late production has become a staple since Anderson took over – in the last four games Fitzgerald has 15 receptions, 212 yards, and one score in quarters 1-3, and 11 receptions, 148 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth. I guess if you’re invested you just avoid watching Cardinals games until the end, and pray that Max Hall doesn’t reappear under center.
–Marcus Pollard, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates … Jimmy Graham? I think maybe so. The former power forward replaced the ailing Jeremy Shockey and caught five passes for 72 yards against the Seahawks. David Thomas had the same annoying presence he always does, commanding six targets, but Graham was still second on the team with eight looks. In the past two games he’s racked up eight grabs, 121 yards and a touchdown, flashing excellent hands and the speed/athleticism combo to make a big impact downfield. Shockey’s 50-50 to play on Thursday, but if he sits, Graham’s a slam-dunk top 12 TE option.