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Fantasy 411 – Week 11

Unbelievable Numbers?

Many fantasy owners were surprised to see Marques Colston eclipse 100 yards for the first time this season while hauling in a first half touchdown on Sunday night against Dallas. Not me … but not because I possess some keen fantasy insight that allows me to dominate every league I play in. That’s another story. I knew Colston would bust out as retribution towards me because I traded him away this week.

Yeah, I heard it from everyone in my league Monday morning, particularly after trading for Stevie Johnson, who failed to click with E.J. Manuel before leaving the game with an injury, but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t buy Colston’s performance as a sign of things to come. The Saints spread the ball around and decimated a hobbled Cowboys defense to the tune of 49 points. Jimmy Graham was limited on the day and saw his snap count slashed a week after finding the end zone twice, opening the door for Colston. Kenny Stills and Lance Moore who will continue to be in the mix and steal looks from Colston down the stretch. With upcoming games against Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina twice, Drew Brees figures to be under constant pressure to get the ball off. The bottom line for me is that while I expect another solid week or two from Colston somewhere down the stretch I would trade him away again this week if I had the chance.

Tavon Austin showed the joystick moves that made him a first round pick on a 98-yard punt return as St. Louis topped Indianapolis. Austin also found the end zone twice as a receiver on catches of 81 and 57 yards. Before you rush out and stick your flag in the ground on Austin, I caution you to look a little deeper in to the Rams’ wideout and his production.

Sure, Austin had two long touchdown catches, but that was his only two catches of the day on a meager three targets. To be fair, the Rams only attempted 16 passes, but then again that kind of supports my argument against adding Austin. Austin was only on the field for 15 offensive snaps and will have a hard time being relevant with such limited opportunities. The Rams success hinges on their running game and they seem to have found a capable duo in Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham. Austin’s success relies on his ability to make big plays, and while he is certainly capable of popping off the long play on occasion, his inconsistency will drive fantasy owners crazy. Let someone else make that dreaded decision each week.

They tell us that “numbers never lie.” I guess that’s true if you pick the right numbers. In the case of Trent Richardson, the only number that seems to matter is No. 1. One, as in the first-round draft pick that the Colts surrendered to Cleveland for Richardson. Richardson has been terrible since joining the Colts, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry since the trade.

In Week 10, neither Richardson nor Donald Brown could move the ball on the ground, combining for one yard on seven carries. Brown was effective in the passing game and has outperformed Richardson statistically since the trade, but Richardson continues to get more carries at nearly a 3-to-1 clip. Despite the heavy tilt in his favor in carries, Richardson has only managed 37 more rushing yards. The rhetoric out of Indianapolis is that the Colts need to get Richardson more involved, but as they prepare for a playoff run the Colts cannot ignore his overall ineffectiveness. I have never been real high on Brown, but his ability to catch the ball and 5.9 yards per carry average on the season suggest that the issue lies with Richardson, not an offensive scheme or line problem. If you have a roster spot to burn on a deep, speculative add, Brown would make a good target.

So much for the New York Giants’ plan to ease Andre Brown back in to the lineup after a broken leg. Brown ended up carrying the ball 30 times for 115 yards and a touchdown in his season debut. It only took Brown a few carries to remind us all that Peyton Hillis is no longer an effective NFL running back. With David Wilson done for the year, and Brandon Jacobs … well, old and slow, the Giants figure to find a lot of carries for the touchdown machine Brown. Before you go out and mortgage the farm to get Brown, you have to consider his health. He has a history of injuries and the broken leg was his second in as many seasons. Ideally, the Giants would be able to spell him to keep him off the trainer’s table, but with so few options and an ugly, but still undecided NFC East up for grabs, Brown will likely be asked to run until he can no more. Grab him off waivers if you can, but tread lightly knowing the wheels could come off at any time, literally.

After fighting through a couple of hamstring issues, Larry Fitzgerald looked ready to go after resting during Arizona’s bye week. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald owners, he seems to be playing like the New York Jets. On one week and off the next. Owners who expected the bye week to count as the off week were disappointed in Week 10. Carson Palmer tossed two touchdowns and racked up 241 passing yards, but only 23 of those went to Fitzgerald. The real issue with the Cardinals passing game is Palmer. He is wildly inconsistent as evidenced by his 12-to-15 touchdown to interception ratio and the Cardinals have had to adjust their offensive approach. Fitzgerald remains one of the games most gifted receivers, but the supporting cast will continue to drag him down.

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