Just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no NFL gameplan survives a reliance on Peyton Hillis.
New York didn't exactly ease Andre Brown back into the mix on Sunday. Instead, the Giants gave him all the work he could handle. Brown carried a whopping 30 times for 115 yards against Oakland, in his first regular season action of 2013. He punched in a 1-yard score in the third quarter to give his team a lead it never relinquished. All things considered, the veteran back had an excellent day in his return from the IR.
Hillis finished with only 21 rushing yards on five carries, and he was barely a rumor after losing a fumble in the first quarter. If you were still hoping for a Hillis revival ... well, no. Ain't happenin'. Brown is the only Giants back we need to consider at this point, now that David Wilson's season has officially ended.
If you owned Brown in any leagues last season, then you shouldn't need anyone to convince you of his usefulness. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry for New York last year (Wilson averaged 5.0), and he crossed the goal line eight times in just 10 games. Brown isn't the flashiest back in the player pool, no, but he's been plenty productive in short-field situations. And, more importantly, he's the last competent man standing for Big Blue.
Brown remains available in a majority of Yahoo leagues as of this writing, but he'll fly off the shelves this week. He has a pair of plus-matchups ahead in Weeks 12-13 (vs. Dal, at Was), so he can definitely assist your playoff push, assuming good health. And even if your fake team is loaded, try not to leave Andre unclaimed, a potential weapon for a rival.
• If you started either Andy Dalton or AJ Green this week (or both), NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR YOU GLOAT. Just take the points associated with this absurd Hail Mary touchdown and enjoy them quietly. That's just ... well, it's a gift. No idea what James Ihedigbo was thinking when he batted the ball up, where it's never supposed to go. Unreal. And that wasn't Green's only long gain off a tipped pass — here's the other, almost equally silly.
So just shut up, Green owners.
Baltimore still managed to escape with an OT victory, in perhaps the day's ugliest/oddest game. Ray Rice needed five quarters of football and 24 touches to gain 56 total yards. Rice's line continues to do him few favors, and the player himself might very well be playing hurt. He's tough to trust next week, despite a fantastic matchup with Chicago. Rice has been held below 40 rushing yards in six of his eight games this year, which is just sickening.
• Jay Cutler only took one official sack on Sunday, but he was walloped on many plays, hit repeatedly (and legally) after releasing throws. He appeared to aggravate his groin injury, though the team insisted he was dealing with an ankle issue. He also developed some sort of hideous growth on his non-throwing hand. Eventually, in the final two minutes, an immobile Cutler yielded to Josh McCown, who directed a 74-yard scoring drive. So Bears fans are now playing the "What if McCown had entered earlier?" game, ignoring the fact that Alshon Jeffery dropped an easy second-half touchdown pass from Cutler. (Alshon had another near-TD wiped out by replay review.)
In any case, the Bears dropped a tight game at home, leaving Detroit in control of the division at 6-3. Megatron did the usual Megatron things (6-83-2), while Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combined for 154 scrimmage yards.
• In case you were wondering: Nope, Nick Foles has not cooled off. Neither has Riley Cooper. Foles made a few throws of questionable quality on Sunday at Lambeau, yet they still turned into touchdowns. (For example, check out this near-pick that became a long TD. Ridiculous.) Philly put 27 points on the board against Green Bay, gaining 415 total net yards. Foles tossed three more touchdown passes (two of which were semi-miraculous), and Cooper snared a pair. The Eagles face a user-friendly Washington defense in Week 11, so there's no reason to expect a collapse. Believe in the bird.
Incredibly, Green Bay sustained yet another injury at quarterback, losing Seneca Wallace to an early groin malfunction. Wallace was replaced by former Wisconsin Badgers QB Scott Tolzien, who threw for 280 yards and one TD with two INTs. Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson each saw double-digit targets on Sunday, though the Packers' lone receiving TD went to tight end Brandon Bostick. Tolzien is expected to start in Week 11 against the Giants, so, um ... yikes. Things are not looking up for the Cheese People.
• You know who was a big orange disappointment on Sunday? Tyler Eifert, that's who. The Cincinnati rookie saw an abundance of targets with Jermaine Gresham sidelined (10), but he did very little with 'em, hauling in three balls for 55 yards. More than one drop on the day for the rook. Not good. You're free to kick him to the curb, except in dynasty. Sorry to have hyped him this week (and last week, and in the preseason. Sigh.)
• The Bills and Steelers didn't necessarily put on a clinic this week, but Le'Veon Bell gave us another useful day, gaining 96 yards on 25 touches, breaking the plane once. Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller were notable disappointments, Stevie Johnson was groin'd, and Big Ben wants you to know that he's perfectly happy in Pittsburgh.
• Here's the Ryan Fitzpatrick experience in a nutshell, you guys...
He gives, he takes. It's fun, in the same way that a poorly maintained carnival ride can be fun. We'll see lots of Fitz in the closing weeks, because Jake Locker's foot injury is reportedly a season-ender, a Lisfranc issue. Brutal news for the young QB, a Funston favorite.
Improbable though it may seem, Jacksonville earned a road win against the Titans on Sunday, as Maurice Jones-Drew gained 74 tough yards (often unsightly), breaking the plane once. Chris Johnson had an alarmingly bad day on the ground (12-30-0), despite facing a defense that ranked dead-last versus the run.
• Terrelle Pryor is really an odd fantasy asset — too talented a runner to dismiss, too poor a passer to safely start. He was certainly a Week 10 dud, even though he gave us yet another rushing score. Pryor is dinged at the moment...
#Raiders Terrelle Pryor said he has sprained MCL in knee & is "very sore. ... Just need rest a little, try to get back as fast as possible."
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) November 10, 2013
...which makes him untouchable next week, facing Houston. • Here's the complete list of quarterbacks who've faced the Falcons D this season and failed to deliver multiple touchdowns: (empty) That's right, every QB that's played Atlanta has delivered at least two TDs (rushing and/or passing). We're not talking about a murderer's row of passers, either — the list includes names like Bradford, Geno, Tannehill, Glennon and Palmer. Russell Wilson tossed a pair of TD passes in the dome on Sunday, to no one's surprise.
For planning purposes, here's the rest-of-season schedule for Atlanta: at TB, vs. NO, at Buf, at GB, vs. Was, at SF, vs. Car. Also, in case you were wondering, Roddy White did almost nothing of note in his return to action, catching one ball of four targets for 20 yards. Obviously he had a tricky matchup. He'll likely get Revis'd next week.
• Not cool, Chargers:
Peyton Manning: "I'm pretty sore. They kind of got me twice in that lower area...get an MRI tomorrow and will know more then." — Denver Broncos (@DenverBroncos) November 11, 2013
Peyton Manning limped away from Week 10, but not before throwing for another 330 yards and four TDs. It was not immediately clear if he tweaked an ankle, a knee, or both. But I do not like seeing "Peyton" and "MRI" so close together — no, I most certainly do not.
At least Manning is talking like he expects to face KC next week. The Chiefs have faced a remarkable number of backup QBs this year — Tuel, Campbell, Keenum, et al — so the Osweiler threat level was already elevated.
• Ryan Mathews gave his owners a respectable line despite a rough matchup with Denver's D, gaining 59 yards on 14 totes and scoring on a 1-yard plunge. Those numbers clearly aren't spectacular, but my forecast did not call for double-digit fantasy points. This figured to be a Woodhead day (and it was, to an extent. Danny made a house call on a 7-yard reception.)
• If we'd told you on Sunday morning that the Rams-Colts matchup would produce two of the top fantasy scorers of Week 10, you probably wouldn't have been too surprised. After all, everyone expected decent days from TY Hilton, Andrew Luck and Zac Stacy.
But if we'd told you on Sunday morning that Tavon Austin and the Rams defense were going to combine for over 60 standard-league fantasy points ... well, we obviously wouldn't have told you any such thing. That did not seem possible. And yet here we are. As of this writing, Austin and the St. Louis D are the leaders in the clubhouse. Tavon's elite speed and live-wire quickness were on full display, as he gained 314 all-purpose yards and scored three long touchdowns. The Rams defense generated five turnovers, including a Chris Long fumble-six, and they sacked Luck three times.
"I've been patient for eight weeks," said Austin in his postgame comments. Unfortunately, fantasy owners have not been equally patient. If you started him this week, it's probably because you haven't been maintaining your lineup. Kellen Clemens completed only nine passes on the day, but two became highlight scores for Austin, covering 138 yards. Crazy. No one should expect a repeat performance from Tavon, though he's clearly put himself back in the fantasy conversation.
"We just didn't do anything," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
No argument here. Adam Vinatieri literally didn't do anything, posting a goose-egg for his owners. That's really a quiet fantasy killer, when your kicker gets shut out.
• Defensive battles have a certain charm, sure, but they don't pay the fantasy bills. The Niners and Panthers combined for just 19 total points on Sunday, in a game that helped almost no one — well, unless you were facing Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton. Those two delivered just 260 passing yards, total. They combined to throw zero touchdown passes and two picks. Kaepernick was sacked six times, and he lost Vernon Davis to a concussion. Ugliness all around.
Related: Carolina and San Francisco can defend. These teams entered the week ranked third and sixth respectively in yards-allowed, second and fourth in points. They are to be feared.
• Well, who would have guessed that a 6-foot-3 receiver with all-time talent could be a decent red-zone weapon? The Texans have apparently just figured it out. Case Keenum connected with Andre Johnson for two more scores, both of 'em inside-the-10. Keenum also hit tight end Ryan Griffin for a TD, because tight ends are a menace to Arizona.
Houston couldn't quite pull out a win, however. The team spotted the Cards an early defensive TD, and Carson Palmer threw for a pair of touchdowns, finishing with 241 yards. Rashard Mendenhall continued his slow-motion car wreck of a season, gaining just 42 yards on 13 carries, losing a late fumble deep in his own territory. Mendy is a fantasy plague at this stage, yet his head coach just can't quit him...
Arians reiterated he still has trust in Mendenhall. Said he felt that Ellington's use in the game right about where it should be.
— Revenge of the Birds (@revengeofbirds) November 11, 2013
Andre Ellington gained 73 yards on his 13 touches. And that's "plenty," said Arians.
PRIORITY ADDS FOR WEEK 11
QB Carson Palmer, Ari (at Jac)
QB Case Keenum, Hou (vs. Oak)
QB Mike Glennon, TB (vs. Atl)
QB Alex Smith, KC (at Den)
RB Shonn Greene, Ten (vs. Ind)
RB Andre Brown, NYG (vs. GB)
RB Dennis Johnson, Hou (vs. Oak)
RB Kendall Hunter, SF (at NO)
RB Donald Brown, Ind (at Ten)
WR/TE Tim Wright, TB (vs. Atl)
WR Michael Crabtree, SF (at NO)
WR Riley Cooper, Phi (vs. Was)
WR Leonard Hankerson, Was (at Phi)
WR Tavon Austin, STL (bye)
WR Jermaine Kearse, Sea (vs. Min)
TE John Carlson, Min (at Sea)
DEF Detroit Lions (at Pit)