The top news from this past weekend surrounded the New England Patriots and the incredible duo of Tom Brady and Randy Moss, who continued to make mincemeat of the opposition.
Brady scored 44 fantasy points on 373 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Buffalo. He is now on pace to finish the season with 64 total touchdowns. He's also on pace to break Peyton Manning's single-season record for touchdown passes in Week 14. Moss (36 points) had 10 catches for 128 yards and scored four touchdowns, all in the first half, as he continued his own assault on the record books. With his four scores, Moss has 16 on the season and is on pace for close to 26 touchdowns. That would shatter Jerry Rice's single-season record of 22 touchdowns, set in 1987.
If you own Brady or Moss, there's a good chance you've already punched your ticket to the fantasy postseason.
The other tale of the weekend was the lack of production from Peyton Manning. He was the consensus No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football headed into this season, but with 11 weeks in the books, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Anderson and Brett Favre all have more fantasy points on NFL.com than the Super Bowl MVP.
Manning threw for 163 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in a 13-10 win over Kansas City. It was the first time he had been held without a touchdown pass since December 2006. In his last two starts, he has a combined 19 fantasy points. That's fewer points than Rex Grossman, Vinny Testaverde and Joey Harrington! He's still a must-start quarterback, however, and his fortunes will change when he gets Tony Ugoh and Marvin Harrison back in the offense.
It also won't hurt to face Atlanta, which hosts Manning and the Colts this Thursday night on the NFL Network.
Moving on to our positional review, Brady's 44 points led all quarterbacks (and players) on NFL.com. Tony Romo (33 points) was also an absolute stud, as he threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Washington. If not for Brady, Romo would be the best player in fantasy football. Brett Favre (26 points) continued to be one of the best draft values in fantasy football, as he totaled 218 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Carolina. His success should continue in Detroit on Thanksgiving. The underrated Matt Hasselbeck (23 points) and Matt Schaub (23 points) rounded out the five best performances at the position.
Hasselbeck threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-23 win over the Bears, and he now has thrown for at least two scores in each of his past five starts and in six of his past seven. Schaub threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-10 win over New Orleans. With Andre Johnson back from an injured knee, Schaub will be fantasy relevant the rest of the season. Jason Campbell (22 points) and Kurt Warner (20 points) were also productive options, and David Garrard (19 points) was also solid in his return from an injured ankle.
The Jacksonville quarterback is still a free agent in close to 50 percent of NFL.com leagues, so I'd look to add him now. Jeff Garcia (18 points), Vinny Testaverde (17 points), Eli Manning (17 points) and Carson Palmer (17 points) also found modest success for fantasy footballers.
The biggest disappointment at the quarterback position aside from Manning was Roethlisberger, who scored nine points in a shocking loss to the New York Jets. The nine points were his worst total of the season, but he'll rebound against Miami on Monday Night Football. Donovan McNabb (minus-1 point) was also a dud, but he missed most of the contest against Miami with an injured ankle. X-rays were negative, but McNabb's status for Week 12 is in serious question. A.J. Feeley would start against New England if McNabb is inactive. Drew Brees (13 points) and Marc Bulger (12 points) failed to meet expectations against favorable opponents, but both remain viable fantasy starters across the board.
Rookie John Beck showed some flashes of potential in his first NFL start, but he still has little value in seasonal formats. The same holds true for Brodie Croyle, who outscored Peyton Manning but still had an unimpressive 10 points on NFL.com. One quarterback who does warrant consideration is Kellen Clemens, who was a fumble at the goal line from scoring two touchdowns against the Steelers.
The top running back of the week was Chester Taylor, who scored 35 points on 202 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. With the status of Adrian Peterson in question for Week 12, Taylor could make another start for fantasy owners. Consider him a nice No. 2 runner at the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. LaDainian Tomlinson (21 points) hasn't been the same back who ran roughshod over the league last season, but he has found the end zone in each of his past three starts. Tomlinson, who has scored a combined seven touchdowns in his past five contests, should remain active in Week 12 despite a matchup against Baltimore.
Willis McGahee (18 points), who is in the midst of his best statistical season, Jamal Lewis (18 points), Earnest Graham (16 points) and Joseph Addai (16 points) complete the top five backs. Lewis is on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards for the fifth time in his career, and his matchups in the fantasy postseason are unreal. In Weeks 14 to 16, he faces the N.Y. Jets, Buffalo and Cincinnati. None of those three teams ranks higher than 20th against the run. If you can still make trades in your league, I'd make an offer for Lewis now. Graham rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown in a win over Atlanta and has a combined 510 all-purpose yards and two scores in his last four starts. It's clear that he'll retain the top spot on the Tampa Bay depth chart even with Michael Pittman back in the mix, so Graham is now a viable No. 2 fantasy runner in most formats.
Maurice Morris (15 points), who has been far more productive than Shaun Alexander since he has been the starter, Cedric Benson (14 points), Brian Westbrook (14 points) and Brandon Jacobs (13 points) also performed well. Jacobs was injured against Detroit, and there's a chance he could miss Week 12. With Derrick Ward also injured, fantasy owners should look to add Reuben Droughns as insurance.
Priest Holmes (5 points) looked destined to rush for 100 yards against the Colts, but he lost work to rookie Kolby Smith in the second half and finished with a mediocre stat line. If Larry Johnson is out several more weeks, fantasy owners should look for a backfield committee to emerge in Kansas City. Marshawn Lynch was out in Week 11, and reports indicate he'll miss Week 12 with a high ankle sprain. Anthony Thomas will continue to start in his absence, but he's a bad option this week against Jacksonville. Ahman Green was also out, so it's time to add Ron Dayne off the waiver wire. Green's knee issues could last the rest of the season.
For the third consecutive week, Terrell Owens (41 points) led all wide receivers on NFL.com. The talented T.O. scored four touchdowns in a win over the Redskins and now has eight scores in his past three starts. He has also averaged close to 30 fantasy points in that time. Moss was second at the position with 36 points, but then there was a drastic fall in production. D.J. Hackett, who has developed into a solid No. 2 fantasy wideout in recent weeks, was third with 19 points. Drew Carter (19 points) saw his numbers rise with Steve Smith out of action, but he could be a one-week wonder if Smith returns in Week 12. Andre Johnson (18 points) and Santana Moss (18 points) round out the top five at the position.
The return of Johnson will be a godsend for fantasy owners. He has 20 catches for 382 yards and four touchdowns in his three starts. Projected over a full 16-game season, the former Miami standout would produce an incredible 2,037 yards and 21 touchdowns. Moss broke out against Dallas, and he's a free agent in close to 40 percent of NFL.com leagues.
There were some other nice performances at the position, as Devard Darling (18 points), Larry Fitzgerald (15 points), Chris Henry (14 points) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (14 points) all produced. However, there were also some real disappointments in Week 11. Chad Johnson (6 points) was an unstoppable force in his first six starts, but his past four have been far short of brilliant. 'Ocho Cinco' recorded 86 yards in a loss to the Cardinals, but he lost a fumble and finished with another weak stat line. It's hard to reserve a wideout of his caliber, but Johnson has killed owners in recent weeks. Deion Branch (3 points) returned from an injured foot, but he posted a mere 31 yards and didn't find the end zone.
The player to be the most concerned about is Plaxico Burress, who had another bad stat line and is less than 100 percent due to a sore ankle. Even against a porous Detroit pass defense, the veteran still mustered only four catches for 47 yards. It's difficult to reserve such a talented and athletic wideout, but it seems clear that Burress is less than 100 percent. Hines Ward (4 points), Lee Evans (4 points) and Laveranues Coles (5 points) also failed to post solid numbers. Evans has never done well against the Patriots, so that was no shock. Coles caught one pass in his return from a concussion but suffered what could be a high ankle sprain and is likely out against Dallas on Thanksgiving.
The top tight end of the week was Donald Lee (16 points), who scored two touchdowns in a win over the Panthers. He has emerged into a nice No. 1 fantasy tight end this season and should be active against Detroit. Chris Cooley (14 points) continued his career domination of the Cowboys, Alex Smith (11 points) found the end zone against Atlanta and Antonio Gates (11 points) totaled 54 yards and a score in a loss to the Jaguars. Benjamin Watson (10 points) rounded out the top five among tight ends for Week 11.
Overall, the position was dominated by players who have little value. Chris Baker (9 points), Visanthe Shiancoe (9 points), Joel Dreessen (7 points), John Madsen (7 points), Marcedes Lewis (6 points) and Christian Fauria (6 points) all had decent numbers but done have much fantasy relevance.
The tight end position was not without its disappointments, as Dallas Clark (1 point), Eric Johnson (1 point), Alge Crumpler (2 points) and Heath Miller (3 points) all failed to produce. Tony Gonzalez (4 points) and Jeremy Shockey (4 points) were also mediocre at best, as was L.J. Smith (4 points). Todd Heap missed another week with an injured hamstring, and his status for Week 12 is uncertain. Quinn Sypniewski started and caught five passes in his absence.
Sebastian "Sea Bass" Janikowski led all kickers with an impressive 21 points, as he made five field goals in a loss to Minnesota. It was only the second time in his past seven games that Janikowski has scored double-digit points on NFL.com, so don't rush to add him. Phil Dawson (17 points), who is one of the more underrated kickers in fantasy football, finished second at the position. Mike Nugent, Robbie Gould, Matt Stover, Shaun Suisham, Josh Brown and Kris Brown all scored 13 points and complete the top performances.
The biggest disappointments came from Nicholas Folk (4 points), David Akers (5 points), Nate Kaeding (5 points) and Neil Rackers (5 points), all of whom failed to meet their expectations. Folk and Akers still warrant prominent roles on fantasy football teams, but Kaeding and Rackers have been inconsistent and are now waiver-wire fodder.
Tampa Bay (26 points) led all defensive units on NFL.com, as it recorded four sacks, two interceptions and one touchdown in a win over the Falcons. Arizona (25 points) was also solid due in large part to the presence of CB Antrel Rolle, who scored two touchdowns and would have had a third had it not been for a penalty. The Cardinals face San Francisco in Week 12, so add it now if you need a defense. New England (24 points), Cleveland (20 points) and Green Bay (18 points) rounded out the top defensive performers.
The defenses that failed to produce in Week 11 included San Diego (2 points), Chicago (4 points), Dallas (7 points) and Jacksonville (8 points). The Bears have now fallen to 16th among defenses on NFL.com, while Baltimore is not much better at 14th. In fact, undrafted units like the Buccaneers, Cardinals and Tennessee have more points than the Bears and Ravens, which were considered the elite units in fantasy football. That's the reason owners should wait until the final two rounds to draft a defense.
News & Notes
» Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk were both injured in Sunday night's win over Buffalo, and their status for Week 12 is uncertain. Faulk seems to be more of a question mark due to a head injury, but Maroney's injured foot didn't seem too serious. In fact, reports indicated he might have been able to return but was held out in a blowout. Be sure to check NFL.com throughout the week for updates, but there's an outside chance that Heath Evans or even Kyle Eckel could see more work against Philadelphia in Week 12.
» Packers running back Ryan Grant suffered a sprained ankle in a win over Carolina, but head coach Mike McCarthy said the sprain is mild and called Grant day to day. With a short week ahead, however, fantasy football owners who have Grant should look to add rookie Brandon Jackson as insurance. Vernand Morency would also warrant consideration if Grant is unavailable, but he'd still be more of a third-down option in the offense. DeShawn Wynn is out for the season, so the Packers could be short if Grant can't play in Detroit.
» Despite rumors that JaMarcus Russell would start against Kansas City in Week 12, Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin is expected to keep Daunte Culpepper under center for now. However, it wouldn't be a shock to see the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft under center soon, as neither Culpepper nor Josh McCown have found much success. Russell does have a big arm, immense potential and is far more valuable in keeper leagues, but don't expect him to make much noise for fantasy footballers in seasonal formats.
» T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught eight passes for 87 yards and scored his 11th touchdown of the season in a loss to Arizona, but he injured his hip in the contest and missed some time as a result. He is optimistic that he'll be active in Week 12, but fantasy owners still need to keep tabs on his status throughout the week. If the ailment is more serious or he suffers a setback, Chad Johnson and Chris Henry would start against Tennessee with either Glenn Holt or Antonio Chatman moved into the slot position.