Week 11 Fantasy Headlines:
- Matt Schaub Racks Up 527 Passing Yards & 5 TD Passes
- AJ Compiles Career-High 14 Catches and 273 Receiving Yards
- Chad Henne & Justin Blackmon Both Compile Monster Outings
- Brady & Patriots Roll Over Colts; Gronkowski Injured
- “The Arm” Torches Philadelphia With 4 TD Passes
- Arian Foster’s Scoring Streak Snapped
- Matt Ryan Tosses Five Picks and No TDs But Falcons Still Win
- Another 130-Plus Total-Yard Game From Trent Richardson
- A.J. Green Scores In His Ninth Straight Game
GAME SUMMARIES & FANTASY COMMENTARY:
Minnesota Vikings (6-4), New York Giants (6-4), Seattle Seahawks (6-4) and Tennessee Titans (4-6).
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME:
Buffalo Bills 19
Miami Dolphins 14 (4-6)
Fantasy Focus – Bills:
Buffalo did not score an offensive touchdown. With Fred Jackson (concussion) inactive, electric C.J. Spiller (22-91-0 rushing and 3-39-0 receiving) carried the offense, amassing 130 total yards on a season-high 25 total touches. Unfortunately, the Bills frequently replaced Spiller in the red zone with the largely ineffective Tashard Choice (6-14-0 rushing and 1-0-0 receiving).
With the running game clicking and the much-maligned Buffalo defense playing well, the Bills elected to go conservative on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick (17/27 for 168-0-0 passing and 3-15-0 rushing) has not tossed a touchdown pass in two of his last three games played, and it was the fifth time this season that Fitzpatrick passed for less than 200 yards in a game. Steve Johnson (6-79-0 on nine targets) topped Buffalo in receiving, and he has caught six balls in two straight contests. Fitzpatrick tried to get the ball to Donald Jones (2-11-0 on five targets) twice in the end zone, but they didn’t hook up. The Bills triggerman also had a red-zone pass intended for Scott Chandler (2-30-0 on four targets) broken up.
The Buffalo defense allowed seven offense points and racked up three sacks, two interceptions and one recovered fumble. Leodis McKelvin scored on a 79-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Although the Bills are trying to get the ball into the hands of Jones more frequently, I wouldn’t trust him as anything more than a so-so WR4 right now. The Buffalo offense should reassert itself in Week 12 with a favorable road matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Focus – Dolphins:
Remember all the predictions about Reggie Bush (10-20-0 rushing and 2-15-0 receiving) coming out and playing like a man on a mission after he was benched in Week 10 for losing a fumble? For the second week in a row, Bush struggled against a surprisingly solid Buffalo defense, notching zero rushing yards in his first seven carries. Daniel Thomas (12-33-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) came close to notching a rushing touchdown, but he also didn’t find much running room. The second-year pro also has received more carries than Bush in three of the Dolphins’ last four games.
Ryan Tannehill (14/28 for 141-1-2 passing and 1-7-0 rushing) had a surprisingly terrible game against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. Davone Bess (6-50-1 on 11 targets) caught the erratic Tannehill’s only touchdown pass of the game, and it was Bess’ first visit to the end zone this season. Brian Hartline (4-49-0 on 11 targets) saw frequent double teams and lost a fumble. Anthony Fasano (1-8-0 on two targets) has caught just one pass in each of his last four games.
Marcus Thigpen scored on a 96-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
The sputtering Miami offense has scored just 10 offensive points in the last two weeks. Since the Dolphins’ next two games are against the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, a bounce-back showing from Tannehill and company seems unlikely. With the rumors persisting about Bush leaving Miami after the season, we could see the Dolphins starting using Lamar Miller more frequently down the stretch.
EARLY SUNDAY AFTERNOON GAMES:
Atlanta Falcons 23
Arizona Cardinals 19 (4-6)
Fantasy Focus – Falcons:
Atlanta turned the ball over six times. Matt Ryan (28/46 for 301-0-5 passing and 3-(-3)-0 rushing) played badly, tossing a career-worst five interceptions. He was sacked just once, but Ryan faced tremendous pressure from Arizona’s front seven all afternoon. In fairness, tipped passes did contribute to three of his picks. Ryan led the Falcons on a game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter – it was the Falcons’ only offensive touchdown of the game – which was capped off on a one-yard run by Michael Turner (15-46-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving). Jacquizz Rodgers (5-16-0 rushing and 5-35-0 receiving) and Jason Snelling (1-(-1)-1 rushing and 3-25-0 receiving) didn’t run any better than Turner did.
Ryan’s most trusted target, Roddy White (8-123-0 on 13 targets), was the only Falcons receiver to make an impact this week. Although White hasn’t scored since Week 6, he has amassed 110-plus receiving yards in three straight outings. Julio Jones (3-33-0 on seven targets) left the game in the third quarter after he aggravated his already tweaked ankle. Harry Douglas (5-48-0 on six targets) made a couple of clutch catches during the Falcons’ late-game touchdown drive, while Tony Gonzalez (3-33-0 on eight targets) came up just inches short of scoring late in the game.
On defense, Jonathan Babineaux scored on a 15-yard fumble return in the second quarter.
Although Turner probably will continue to receive goal-line carries, his recent struggles probably will open the door for Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers to receive more backfield touches. Jones status for Week 12 is already up in the air. Don’t worry about Ryan and the Falcons passing game. The team had a letdown following an emotional Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but Atlanta should bounce back next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suspect defense.
Fantasy Focus – Cardinals:
Although the defense forced six turnovers, the Arizona offense still couldn’t score enough points to win. The lone bright spot was LaRod Stephens-Howling (22-127-1 rushing and 2-6-0 receiving), who compiled a season-best rushing outing. He scored on a three-yard run in the first quarter. William Powell (4-10-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was a non-factor.
The passing attack was a disaster. John Skelton (2/7 for 6-0-0 passing) was benched because of poor play in the second quarter and replaced by rookie Ryan Lindley (9/20 for 64-0-0 passing with one lost fumble), who didn’t make anyone forget about Skelton. As you probably suspected, Arizona’s quarterback woes took a toll on the production of Larry Fitzgerald (1-11-0 on seven targets). In case you’re wondering, Fitzgerald played the entire game. Skelton was benched after he missed Fitzgerald on what would have been an easy touchdown pass. Early Doucet (5-28-0 on seven targets) received more playing time than expected, because rookie Michael Floyd (2-18-0 on four targets) was benched during the game for lining up incorrectly.
There is still no timetable for the return of Kevin Kolb (ribs), so the Cardinals will have to move forward with the Skelton/Lindley duo, which does little to sooth the nerves of Fitzgerald owners. Even if Arizona decides to start Lindley next week, Fitzgerald owners should continue to roll with the talented receiver in their starting lineups – as painful as that may be. The Cardinals will find a way to get the ball to Fitz. Chris “Beanie” Wells could return next week, which obviously would affect the fantasy value of Stephens-Howling. However, don’t expect LSH to disappear completely.
Tampa Bay Bucs 27
Carolina Panthers 21 (2-8) (OT)
Fantasy Focus – Bucs:
Although Josh Freeman (25/46 for 248-3-2 passing and 5-27-0 rushing) didn’t look sharp against an aggressive Panthers front seven and tossed a couple of bad interceptions (one was a pick-six), he rallied Tampa Bay to a victory in overtime, hitting Dallas Clark (season-best 7-58-1 on a season-high 11 targets) on a 15-yard game-winning touchdown pass about five minutes into the extra quarter. By the way, Freeman has tossed multiple touchdown passes in six straight contests, but his streak of games without an interception was snapped at four. Vincent Jackson (6-94-1 on 11 targets) led all Buccaneers pass-catchers in receiving yards while scoring for the second time in the last three weeks. He also scored on a two-point conversion. Mike Williams (3-29-0 on nine targets) failed to top 68 receiving yards in a game during his last five outings. Third-string tight end Nate Byham caught Freeman’s other touchdown pass.
Late in the fourth quarter, Doug Martin (24-138-0 rushing and 4-23-0 receiving) almost scored, but he lost a fumble at Carolina’s two-yard line. Although Martin hasn’t found the end zone during the last two weeks, he has averaged 25 total touches and 140 total yards per game during that stretch.
Clark has scored in two straight and could be emerging as a security blanket for Freeman. If you’re desperate at tight end, see if Clark is available in your league. D.J. Ware (1-2-0 rushing) quietly has supplanted LeGarrette Blount as Martin’s backup – at least for now. Blount did not tote the rock against the Panthers.
Fantasy Focus – Panthers:
Bigger passing numbers had been expected from Cam Newton (16/29 for 252-1-0 passing and 11-40-0 rushing) and his receivers against a soft Buccaneers secondary. On the bright side, he didn’t turn the ball over, but the second-year pro struggled with accuracy as usual. Brandon LaFell (5-93-1 on seven targets) hauled in Newton’s lone touchdown pass with close to six minutes left in the fourth quarter. This was the inconsistent LaFell’s first touchdown grab since Week 7. In the second quarter, Steve Smith (5-61-0 on seven targets) correctly had a touchdown reception overturned, because he pushed off. It looked like Greg Olsen (2-42-0 on six targets) was getting good separation most of the afternoon, but Newton couldn’t connect with him when it counted.
Jonathan Stewart (team-high 15-43-1 rushing and 1-30-0 receiving) started his fourth straight game and notched his first score since Week 2. Stewart hit pay dirt on a one-yard run in the second quarter. As usual, DeAngelo Williams (7-18-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was a non-factor.
On defense, Captain Munnerlyn returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown.
While Newton remains a risky fantasy play, he actually looks like a solid start next week against a sinking Philadelphia Eagles defense that yielded four touchdown passes to Robert Griffin III. On the other hand, Newton has tossed multiple touchdown passes in just two games so far this year.