Another week, another top-notch running back falls due to injuries.
With Larry Johnson out several weeks, Shaun Alexander, Frank Gore, Ahman Green and Travis Henry at less than 100 percent and stars like Ronnie Brown, Deuce McAllister and Cadillac Williams done for the season, reliable runners have become scarce in the world of fantasy football. Now comes word that Adrian Peterson has a torn knee ligament that will sideline him at least one week, if not more.
Head coach Brad Childress said the tear is severe, rating it as a "2-plus tear" on a scale of one to three, with three as the worst.
"The PCL, ACL, meniscus, all the other structures are good in that knee," Childress said at his Monday press conference. "If it was a lineman they would be braced up and play, maybe. We'll reserve judgment on what's appropriate for that at the time. Everybody heals differently."
Peterson, who last week broke the single-game record for rushing yards in Week 9 with 296 yards against San Diego, had emerged as the top back in fantasy land. The rookie was on pace for well over 2,000 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. There was even talk that he has the tools to become one of the greatest back ever to grace an NFL gridiron. Now it appears he'll miss this week contest against Oakland.
Taylor, who rushed for over 1,200 yards for the Vikes last season, had been placed on the backburner due to Peterson's success. In fact, he was released in a number of fantasy formats, as he's a free agent in close to 40 percent of NFL.com leagues. Now those owners who have Peterson and didn't handcuff him with Taylor are in dire straits. If he is a free agent in your league, now is the time to add him or at least put in a waiver claim, as Taylor will face an Oakland defense in Week 11 that ranks 29th against the run.
Moving on to our positional review, Donovan McNabb led all quarterbacks with 35 points on 251 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Washington. McNabb has been anything but consistent, however, has 62 percent of his touchdown passes have come in two starts. He does have a good matchup next week against Miami, so McNabb is still a must-start in most formats. Ben Roethlisberger (33 points) continued his statistical dominance with three total touchdowns in a win over Cleveland. He has emerged into one of the most reliable and productive quarterbacks in fantasy football. Brett Favre (32 points), whose career dominance against Minnesota continued in Week 10, Tony Romo (31 points), and Jason Campbell (25 points) rounded out the top five at the position.
Marc Bulger (24 points) performed well in New Orleans and now has consecutive 300-yard performances under his belt. Upcoming starts against the likes of San Francisco, Atlanta and Cincinnati also bode well for his chances for further success. Kurt Warner (24 points) suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb in a win over Detroit, but he still had a nice stat line. The ailment shouldn't keep him out of action next week, when he faces a vulnerable Cincinnati defense. Derek Anderson (22 points) and Drew Brees (18 points) were inconsistent in their respective starts, but both still finish with nice numbers.
The biggest disappointment at the quarterback position was Philip Rivers (minus-2 points), who was awful in a win over Indianapolis. He's thrown no touchdown passes and three interceptions in his past two starts, and his quarterback rating in those games is a combined 40.0. Rivers also has more interceptions in nine games than he had all of last season. Steve McNair (minus-1 point) and J.P. Losman (4 points) were also bad against favorable opponents, and Carson Palmer (10 points) failed to throw a touchdown pass against a Baltimore defense that was without its two top cornerbacks, Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.
Then there was Peyton Manning (15 points), who threw a career-high six interceptions in a loss to San Diego. The consensus No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football drafts has fallen from that eliete level, as Tom Brady and Romo now lead the position. Manning has still been solid overall, but it's evident that the loss of Marvin Harrison (and sometimes Dallas Clark) hurts his value.
Brian Griese and Damon Huard were both injured in their respective contests, and each could be moved down the depth chart. As a result, Brodie Croyle and Rex Grossman will have added value in larger fantasy leagues, but neither should be leaned on in a prominent role.
The top running back of the week was Brian Westbrook, who scored 36 points on 183 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. He should record another monster stat line next week against Miami. Steven Jackson (21 points) passed and rushed for a touchdown in New Orleans. He saw 22 carries in the contest, which is a good sign that he's close to 100 percent from back and groin ailments. Ryan Grant (19 points) mastered what is a formidable Minnesota run defense, and Warrick Dunn (19 points) was solid in the absence of Jerious Norwood. Selvin Young (18 points), who started in the absence of Travis Henry, rushed for 109 yards and one score in a win over Kansas City. Maurice Jones-Drew (18 points) tied Young to round out the top five runners.
Marshawn Lynch (16 points) continued to make his presence known with 85 all-purpose yards and one touchdown in a win over Miami, but he left the contest late due to an injured ankle. Bill head coach Dick Jauron said that Lynch has some soreness, but there was no fracture. However, fantasy owners who have Lynch need to add Anthony Thomas as insurance for Week 11. Cedric Benson (15 points), LaDainian Tomlinson (15 points), Clinton Portis (15 points) and Jesse Chatman (14 points) also found degrees of success.
LenDale White (1 point), Marion Barber (3 points), Rudi Johnson (4 points), Peterson (5 points) and Joseph Addai (6 points) highlight a long list of backs that failed to meet statistical expectations. White hurt his knee in a loss to Jacksonville, but it doesn't seem to be a significant ailment. Barber continued to be an all or nothing back, and Johnson's lack of success continued in a win over Baltimore, as he rushed for 46 yards on 22 carries (2.1 YPC) and didn't find the end zone. He's now on pace to rush for his worst yardage total since 2002.
Priest Holmes (7 points) saw most of the carries for Kansas City in the absence of Larry Johnson, but whether or not he'll see 20-plus carries week in and week out remains to be seen. Reports out of New Orleans indicate that Reggie Bush sustained a mild concussion against St. Louis, so fantasy owners in deeper leagues should look to add Aaron Stecker as insurance. Kevin Jones (7 points) had the nuttiest stat line of the week: Four carries, minus-4 yards, one touchdown. He also caught eight passes for 36 yards, so he was solid in leagues that reward points for receptions. Jones did have some soreness in his surgically-repaired foot, but head coach Rod Marinelli said the soreness is not unusual.
For the second consecutive week, Terrell Owens led all wide receivers on NFL.com. He totaled six catches for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns in a win over the New York Giants. He now has 16 catches for 299 yards and three scores in his past two starts. James Thrash (20 points) who was owned in zero percent of NFl.com leagues, found success in the absence of Santana Moss. Reggie Wayne (20 points) was also solid in wet conditions against San Diego. Larry Fitzgerald (20 points) also made his presence felt with two touchdowns against Detroit, and Ruvell Martin (17 points), yes Ruvell Martin, rounded out the top five wideouts for the week.
Several other wide receivers, such as Hines Ward (16 points), Roy Williams (16 points), Justin Gage (15 points), and Bernard Berrian (14 points) also had solid weeks. While I wouldn't rush to add Gage, I would look to put in a claim for Berrian if he's available. The quartet of Torry Holt, Marques Colston, Isaac Bruce and Patrick Crayton all had 12 points. After a porous start to the season, Colston has scored a combined 41 fantasy points in his past three starts and is now a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
While there were some nice performances at the position, there were also some real disappointments in Week 10. Chad Johnson (7 points) has failed to score a touchdown in seven consecutive starts, and his teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (4 points), had his worst stat line of the season. The return of Chris Henry (9 points) could be part of the reason, as he hauled in four passes for 99 yards in a win over the Ravens. Other stars such as Donald Driver (6 points), Lee Evans (6 points), Steve Smith (4 points), Plaxico Burress (2 points) and Anquan Boldin (2 points) also left fantasy owners cold.
The player to be the most concerned about is Smith. Since Jake Delhomme went down with an injured elbow, Smith has averaged 6.5 fantasy points on NFL.com. What's more, he has a total of six points in his last three starts. Like I said last week, he's now little more than a borderline No. 2 or 3 fantasy wideout. Burress, who hasn't found the end zone in three consecutive starts, tweaked his bad ankle against Dallas. However, he doesn't believe he'll miss time due to the ailment.
The top tight end of the week was Jeremy Shockey (18 points), who had 12 catches for 129 yards and one touchdown against the Cowboys. Leonard Pope (15 points) came out of nowhere to score two touchdowns against Detroit, and Heath Miller (13 points) continued to be hot. In his past four starts, Miller has averaged a solid 10.3 fantasy points on NFL.com. The consistent and reliable Kellen Winslow (10 points) and Randy McMichael (10 points) completed the top five performances at the position.
Pope and McMichael, who are both available in most fantasy leagues, now warrant consideration in larger formats. The same holds true for Eric Johnson (9 points), who found the end zone in a loss to St. Louis. Alge Crumpler (9 points) returned from ankle and knee injuries and found the end zone against Carolina. He's a free agent in 50 percent of NFL.com leagues, so owners who need a tight end should look to add him. Donald Lee (8 points) and L.J. Smith (8 points) also posted nice totals and should be added in leagues with 12-plus teams.
The tight end position was not without its disappointments, as its top three point producers all failed to post solid stat lines. Jason Witten (1 point), Tony Gonzalez (2 points) and Antonio Gates (2 points) were all held in check, as was Todd Heap (3 points) and Chris Cooley (3 points). Heap, who caught four passes for 38 yards in a loss to Cincinnati, aggravated his troublesome hamstring and could be in danger of being limited or out in Week 11.
Shayne Graham (21 points) became the third kicker this season to kick at least seven field goals in a single game and led the position in Week 11. His conversation were all from short distance (34, 19, 22, 35, 35, 21, 33), but Graham was effective overall. Jeff Wilkins (15 points) was a nice sleeper in a shootout against the Saints, and Jason Elam (12 points) overcame an injured calf to kick two field goals in Kansas City. Jeff Reed (11 points) and the underrated Mason Crosby (10 points) rounded out the top five kickers.
The biggest disappointments came from Matt Stover (0 points), Adam Vinatieri (1 point), Olindo Mare (1 point) and David Akers (3 points). Preseason favorite Nate Kaeding (5 points) was also a non factor and now ranks 27th in points on NFL.com among kickers. That little factoid is the reason fantasy owners should never draft a kicker until one of the final two rounds.
The San Diego defense (28 points) shocked the world on Sunday night, as it scored two touchdowns and recorded six sacks against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Denver (26 points) scored one touchdown and held down an anemic Chiefs offense that was without Larry Johnson, and Chicago (24 points) dominated an Oakland team that looked dreadful on offense. Indianapolis (22 points) scored a defensive touchdown and intercepted Philip Rivers twice, and Cincinnati (22 points) came out of nowhere to find fantasy success against Baltimore. Arizona (20 points), Jacksonville (18 points) and Green Bay (17 points) also had solid weeks for owners.
The defenses that failed to produce in Week 10 included the N.Y. Giants (2 points), Tennessee (5 points), Baltimore (5 points) and Washington (6 points).
News & Notes
» According to the team's official web site, Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan announced that Travis Henry will meet with the NFL later this week to discuss his recent off-the-field issues. Shanahan said that if Henry did test positive for marijuana, he will no longer be with the team the rest of the season. That would be tremendous news for the value of Selvin Young, who would become the new top runner in the offense. Henry will also have an MRI this week to determine the extent of his problematic knee.
» DeShaun Foster aggravated a turf toe ailment in a loss to Atlanta, so his status for Week 11 could be in some doubt. Foster failed to meet expectations against the Falcons, a team he has crushed in his career, and this could be part of the reason. Should Foster be limited or out when the Panthers face Green Bay, DeAngelo Williams would see more work in his absence. The Memphis product is still available in close to 30 percent of NFL.com leagues, so it might be time to add him if he's a free agent.
» Despite the fact that he has looked washed up in two consecutive starts, Steve McNair is still expected to start for the Ravens in Week 11. The former co-MVP had no success even against an awful Cincinnati defense and was lifted in favor of Kyle Boller late in the contest. but head coach Brian Billick has decided to stick with McNair for some reason. Even against a vulnerable Cleveland defense, McNair has no real value in the world of fantasy football headed into this weekend.
» It's bad enough that Washington lost to Philadelphia in Week 10, but now comes word that FS Sean Taylor will miss a few weeks with a sprained knee. The Skins will now be without Taylor and CB Carlos Rogers, who is done for the season with a torn ACL and MCL suffered last month. Some so many injuries in the team's defensive backfield, fantasy owners who have Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten have to be thrilled. The Cowboys host the Redskins at Texas Stadium in Week 11.