The brothers Manning, Eli and Peyton, reminded fantasy leaguers that you can't always play the matchups and expect results.
Peyton went into Heinz Field, where the Steelers and their top-ranked pass defense awaited, and threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Before he came in and knocked down the Steel Curtain, no quarterback had thrown for multiple touchdown passes against Pittsburgh on its home field. Of course, Peyton did look a little shaky in the first half. In fact, his first touchdown pass came on a lucky play where Reggie Wayne hauled in a deflected pass that went for a 65-yard score.
Week 10 statistics:
But at the end of the day, Peyton earned 27 points on NFL.com and led a lot of fantasy teams to a win. While most owners don't have the sort of quarterback depth to sit a player of Manning's caliber (I had him ranked behind only the likes of Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Jay Cutler and Donovan McNabb), it was a lot easier to put Eli on the bench.
Despite the fact that he's the reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback, Eli is still inconsistent at times and can be prone to bad turnovers. Couple that with a game against the Eagles, who entered the week ranked eighth against the pass, and Peyton's little brother had to be seen as somewhat of a risk in fantasy circles.
Much to the chagrin of those who benched him, Eli went on to throw for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-31 win. He was only the second opposing quarterback to leave Lincoln Financial Field with a touchdown pass. The first was rookie standout Matt Ryan, who is playing like he too was born into the Manning family bloodline.
While Eli is still going to cause headaches at times, big brother Peyton has reminded us all that he's still one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks.
After a slow start that saw him throw three touchdowns and four interceptions in his first three games, Peyton has been on fire. He's thrown for multiple scores in five of his last six games and is on pace to throw for 4,000 yards for the ninth time in his career. I would expect his success should continue in Week 11 against the Texans. In his last five starts against this AFC South divisional opponent, Peyton has averaged close to 290 passing yards and thrown for an impressive 12 touchdowns.
The Manning brothers weren't the lone quarterbacks to make an impact this week. In fact, a number of signal-callers that weren't even considered in most fantasy drafts are making waves between the white lines. None is more of a shock than a Coastal Carolina product who was ranked third on the Chiefs depth chart earlier this season.
His name is Tyler Thigpen.
He threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns against the Chargers and has now scored more points on NFL.com than any other quarterback since Week 8. That includes Brees, Cutler, Philip Rivers and the Manning brothers. Thigpen also has a great matchup next on the schedule, facing a Saints defense that ranks 27th against the pass.
Fantasy owners also saw a high level of production from Kerry Collins, Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn and Ryan. And here's the kicker -- none of them were active in more than 54 percent of leagues. But in what has been the nuttiest fantasy season I can remember, the likes of Flacco, Ryan and Thigpen are fast becoming viable starters in all formats.
OK, let's move on to some of the best and worst performances of Week 10.
Jay Cutler, QB, Denver (35 points): Cutler sliced up the Browns Thursday night, throwing for 447 yards and three touchdowns. If you're lucky enough to have him on your fantasy team, be prepared for some serious fantasy points over the next few weeks. Cutler will throw the football a ton with a backfield in shambles and a defense that can't stop anyone. He also has very favorable matchups against the Falcons, Raiders, Jets and Chiefs down the stretch.
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Thomas Jones, RB, N.Y. Jets (32 points): Jones had a monster game against the battered St. Louis Rams, rushing for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the fact that he turned 30 over the summer (a dreaded age for some backs), Jones is still thriving for the Men in Green. He's currently on pace to finish the season with better than 1,300 rushing yards and 16 total touchdowns. Jones has become a must-start running back in most fantasy leagues.
Jets defense (30 points): Jones wasn't the lone member of the Jets that made an impact, as his defensive teammates combined to record 30 points on NFL.com. The unit recorded one touchdown, two sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. The Jets also held the Rams to three points and 200 yards of offense. Of course, it might be hard to duplicate that performance against the Patriots, but it was huge for countless owners in Week 10.
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Kansas City (30 points): As I mentioned earlier in this column, Thigpen continued to produce in Week 10 with a great performance against the Chargers. Now that he's put together three consecutive solid stat lines on the field, Thigpen will be one of the hottest names on the fantasy wire this week. He's still a free agent in close to 80 percent of NFL.com leagues, but that won't last very long.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota (28 points): Peterson had put up a good stat line heading into the latter stages of the fourth quarter against the Packers, but the line went from good to great after a 29-yard touchdown run that won the game for the Vikings. Peterson, who now ranks second in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com behind only Clinton Portis, became the first runner to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season.
Other notables:Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville (27 points); Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis (27 points); Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia (26 points).
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina (0 points): Smith's line (one reception, 9 yards, zero TDs) against the Raiders should serve notice to fantasy leaguers. Despite their record and the recent release of CB DeAngelo Hall, the Silver and Black still have one of the league's best cover corners in Nnamdi Asomugha. He blanketed Smith the entire day and left his fantasy owners feeling blue. Look for Smith to rebound in Week 11 against the Lions.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee (1 point): Johnson entered the week as one of the hottest running backs in the league, but a stout Bears run defense threw water on his fiery run. The rookie carried the ball 14 times, rushed for eight yards and was held out of the end zone for the first time since Week 5. Despite this stat line, it's hard to sit a back of Johnson's caliber down the stretch. Consider him a must-start against the Jaguars.
Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis (4 points): Between injuries and an inconsistent level of production, Addai has not been worth the first-round pick he warranted in drafts. He ranks 43rd among running backs in fantasy points on NFL.com, trailing the likes of Ray Rice, Jonathan Stewart and Justin Fargas. Despite his lack of success, Addai should still be active against the Texans. Their defense ranks 23rd against the run.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo (4 points): Much like Addai, Lynch has been a bit of a disappointment in recent weeks. After consecutive 15-point performances, Lynch has put up a combined 10 fantasy points in his last two games. He's also on pace to rush for 910 yards, 205 fewer than he had as a rookie in 13 games. Still, Lynch should be active in most formats this week against the Browns, who field one of the league's worst run defenses.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay (5 points): Rodgers is one of the highest-scoring quarterbacks in fantasy football, but he didn't resemble an elite starter against the Vikings. He was held to 142 passing yards and didn't score a single touchdown in the 28-27 loss, as the Purple People Eaters brought pressure throughout the contest. Rodgers should rebound in Week 11 against the Bears, who rank 30th in the NFL against the pass.
Other notables: Randy Moss, WR, New England (5 points); Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh (5 points); Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia (5 points).
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