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Running Back Radar
ARIZONA CARDINALS RED HOT
1st Chair: J.J. Arrington
2nd Chair: Marcel Shipp
Skinny: It's finally happened! OK, so Dennis Green won't confirm it, but I'm declaring Arrington the top tailback for the Cardinals' final six games. He scored for the second straight game and carried the ball a season-high 11 times in Sunday's win. Though the passing game is in full swing behind Kurt Warner, the Arizona running game is meaningful for fantasy owners for the first stretch of the year.
DALLAS COWBOYS HOT
1st Chair: Julius Jones
2nd Chair: Marion Barber
Skinny: Jones carried the ball more frequently on Sunday (21 for 92 yards), but watched Barber scamper into the end zone twice. Jones looked better in his second action since his high ankle sprain and figures to re-establish himself as the starter and primary ballcarrier for the remainder of the schedule. However, don't be surprised to see this split of duties carried forward for another week, as the Cowboys will need all hands involved to battle Denver on Thursday. Those precious goal line carries make Barber a must play in the No. 2 slot this week.
BALTIMORE RAVENS HOT
1st Chair: Jamal Lewis
2nd Chair: Chester Taylor
Skinny: Can we officially declare this a race now? After another terrible 2.2 yards per carry performance with a lost fumble, Brian Billick turned away from Jamal Lewis and called Chester Taylor's number a season-high 19 times against Pittsburgh. Taylor accounted for 85 yards of total offense (four receptions) and figures to see an expanded workload going forward.
MIAMI DOLPHINS WARM
1st Chair: Ronnie Brown
2nd Chair: Ricky Williams
Skinny: This battle is close to being declared a draw, as Nick Saban clearly favors a heavy, but split, workload. Williams edged Brown in carries by one, but averaged more than 1.5 more yards per carry than his rookie backfield mate this past Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Kevan Barlow
2nd Chair: Frank Gore, Maurice Hicks
Skinny: Barlow remains the starter in San Francisco, but will be watched carefully after sustaining his second concussion of the season this past week. Gore (if healthy) and Hicks figure to be further involved in the offense going forward, as both have shown tremendous playmaking ability in limited auditions for Mike Nolan.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Mewelde Moore
2nd Chair: Michael Bennett
Skinny: L.L. Cool J sang "Don't Call It A Comeback!," but a resurgence seems too staid a term to describe the rise of the Vikings to respectability behind Brad Johnson. After missing Week 10 (at least from a RB perspective) and watching Michael Bennett struggle to 19 yards on 16 yards, Mewelde Moore dominated the Packers in his shot at the top spot. He rushed for 122 yards on 22 carries (5.5 average) and solidified his place as the starter. Bennett carried the ball five times for a meager 10 yards in the win.
DENVER BRONCOS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Mike Anderson
2nd Chair: Tatum Bell
Skinny: The Denver backfield remains on the radar due to reports that Bell practiced on Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's Thanksgiving Day battle with the Cowboys. Though Anderson remains a rock-steady fantasy starter at 20 or more carries per game, Bell's breakaway speed keeps him in the 10-15 Touch range and causes Anderson owners some concern.
Video games. That would be the first thought that came to mind when looking at some of the stat lines and box scores from this weekend's games.

Huge days from a slew of QBs, including the brothers Manning, Drew Brees, Byron Leftwich, and comeback kid Kurt Warner highlight the action. The Buccaneers rolled to a win in style, with "Cadillac" Williams finding his stride, and the top-ranked Bears defense tamed the Panthers' potent offense in Chicago.

With one eye marveling at a veritable fantasy smorgasbord, with points coming from any and all directions, and one eye focused intently on the playoff run, let's get The Skinny on Week 11.

WEEK 11 UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • Do we glorify the offenses, or take some shots at defensive lapses? However you decide to break it down, the Colts-Bengals showdown offered fantasy owners a bevy of big-time performers. Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer, and so on, and so forth. Left out of the party was Marvin Harrison. Despite the 92 combined points put up in this one, the veteran receiver was primarily a spectator, catching five balls for 42 yards. It ended a personal four-game scoring streak.
  • Who says you can't go home again? On Sunday, Kurt Warner recaptured the magic in his right arm, if only for a day. He welcomed back third-year wideout Anquan Boldin, who delivered a 100-yard game to match that of teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Warner out-dueled the tandem of Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin in what proved to be only the second-biggest shooutout of the week.
  • Carnell "Cadillac" Williams took advantage of the porous Atlanta run defense and posted his first 100-yard game since Week 3. His first run of the day went for 30 yards, and let fans and fantasy owners feel somewhat better about the health of his ankle. Of course, that warm, fuzzy feeling figures to be short-lived as the stout Chicago run defense comes to Tampa this week.
Drew Brees and Byron Leftwich get the gold stars on their papers this week for their brilliant performances against Buffalo and Tennessee, respectively. If Brees were to don a "Philip Who?" shirt right now, it would be hard to blame him. He's thrown TD passes in nine of 10 games, and recorded his sixth multi-TD effort of the year in dropping four on the Bills. And, Antonio Gates was responsible for only one of them! To put his performance in perspective, the Bills pass defense had allowed only six touchdowns in nine games before No. 9 welcomed them to town.

And, in a tough week for the Raiders (I think we've all seen the Randy Moss clips by now), they pulled out a 16-13 win over Washington in Norv Turner's return to D.C. In that game, Jerry Porter reminded us of his playmaking ability with a great catch on a 49-yard TD strike from Kerry Collins. For Porter, it marked the fourth time in four games (two in Week 8) that he's found the end zone, and gave him his second 100-yard day of the year. During that four-game stretch, Porter has averaged over five catches and 90 yards per contest.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • J.J. Arrington, RB, Ari: Arrington received his biggest workload of the year in Sunday's win over St. Louis. He carried the ball 11 times for 45 yards, added 23 yards via the air, and scored for the second straight game. With a healthy Anquan Boldin back to complement Larry Fitzgerald and spread out the passing game, things should begin to open up for the rookie back. The next two opponents for the Cardinals, Jacksonville and San Francisco, allow better than 110 yards per game to opposing running backs.
  • Jamie Martin, QB, STL: Martin steps into the starting role for St. Louis again, as Marc Bulger recovers from a shoulder injury and concussion. He's in a great spot this week against the atrocious Houston defense. Trent Green tossed three TDs against them in Week 11, and with a healthy receiving corps of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Kevin Curtis, there's no reason Martin can't hang the same type of numbers on them. He threw for 161 yards and a score in less than a half in relief of Bulger last week.
  • Maurice Hicks, RB, SF: Hicks certainly knew how to make an entrance, galloping for 50 yards on his first carry of the season last Sunday against Seattle. He finished the day with 83 yards on 11 carries with a TD. With both Frank Gore and starter Kevan Barlow ailing, Hicks could see significant time against the Titans (106 yards per game).

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Michael Vick, QB, Atl: Vick barked out at the media about his ability as a drop-back passer, and then proceeded to toss up big fantasy numbers in back-to-back weeks. He threw for 306 yards on a season-high 38 attempts in the Week 11 loss to Tampa Bay. With two losses to show for his stint as a "classic" QB, one has to wonder how much of the T.J. Duckett and Warrick Dunn combination we'll see on Thanksgiving against Detroit. I suspect that we'll watch Michael Vick return to his scrambling self and that Jim Mora Jr. will pound the running game, meaning that the Falcons will be in a better position to win, but that Vick's status will slide. But, for the week that was, it was tremendous effort on Sunday.

Domanick Davis, RB, Hou: Davis returned from his two-game absence with a knee injury to roll up 110 yards of offense and a touchdown for the Texans on Sunday night. With the continued struggles of David Carr to find consistency in the passing game, Davis will be counted on to shoulder a heavy workload on Sunday against St. Louis (27th-ranked at 128.5 yards per game). He will be held out of practice early this week as a precautionary measure, but team officials have given no indication that he'll be limited come game-day.

Chris Brown, RB, Ten: Brown continues to turn in big efforts for Jeff Fisher's Titans. In Week 11, he scored two touchdowns and contributed 119 combined yards in the narrow defeat. He's scored six touchdowns in his past five games played, turning in four games with more than 100 yards of offense during that stretch.

Trent Green, QB, KC: Green provided a perfect complement to Larry Johnson's huge game against the Texans, completing 19-of-29 pass attempts for 220 yards and three scores. Green and the Chiefs are in another great spot for an aerial assault this week, as the Patriots have allowed multiple TD passes in eight of their 10 games.

Donte' Stallworth, WR, NO: Stallworth battled through a shoulder injury to victimize the Patriots' pass defense for six catches, 76 yards, and two scores. Teammate Joe Horn hasn't seen the end zone since Week 2, and has been forced to watch his teammate dance five times in the past five weeks. Week 12 brings a difficult matchup against a Jets defense that has allowed only seven scoring strikes all year.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Jac: We always knew he had a big arm, and were just waiting for the time that he became a "must start" fantasy QB. That time has come. Leftwich tossed for a season-high 258 yards and three scores against the Titans in Week 11. Since the bye week (Week 7), Leftwich has accounted for nine touchdowns while turning the ball over only twice. This week, he gets to pick apart an Arizona defense that allowed 385 passing yards to Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin of the Rams a week ago.

Bobby Engram, WR, Sea: Engram isn't going to light up the scoreboard. In fact, he hasn't found the end zone this season. However, he is an integral part of the Seahawks' attack and a frequent target of Matt Hasselbeck's throws. He's caught six passes in two straight games and will be a big factor this week, as the Giants work to contain (notice I didn't say stop) Shaun Alexander. Those who are rewarded explicitly for receptions should check the waiver wire.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ari: Boldin certainly made an impact in his first game back from what was believed to be a serious knee injury. Those who jettisoned him to the waiver wire are kicking themselves, as he returned to the field with a vengeance in the 38-28 shootout win at St. Louis. Boldin caught eight balls for 105 yards and a touchdown, scoring for the fourth time in his past five games on the field, and obviously, his return boosts Larry Fitzgerald even higher.

Heath Evans, RB, NE: Evans filled in admirably as the starter for New England for the second straight week, rolling up 95 yards of offense and aiding in the 24-17 win over New Orleans. With continuing injury concerns for Corey Dillon and Patrick Pass, Evans is a popular waiver wire pickup this week, particularly with Kansas City on the slate.

Koren Robinson, WR, Min: Nate Burleson was a late scratch in Monday's win over Green Bay, pushing Robinson into receiving duties in addition to his work on special teams. He responded by catching three balls for 51 yards, and notched his second straight game with a reception of at least 35 yards.

Willis McGahee, RB, Buf: McGahee hasn't scored in four straight games, and was bottled up for a miserable 39 yards against the Chargers. He's been held under 70 yards rushing in three of his past four contests and has been virtually non-existent in the passing game. The Panthers, boasting the fourth-ranked run defense (85 yards per game) and fresh off of a disappointing loss to the Bears, pose the next big test for McGahee.

Samkon Gado, RB, GB: He captured our attention and a starting roster spot with a monster effort in Week 10 against the Falcons, then he failed horribly on the national stage against the Vikings. He averaged a feeble 0.7 yards per carry on 10 attempts, and drew the ire of Mike Sherman with his third fumble in two games. Gado didn't touch the ball again after the fumble, and Favre went exclusively to the air.

Jake Plummer, QB, Den: Plummer's streak of seven games without a turnover came to an end on Sunday when he lost a fumble against the Jets. With 58 points scored by Denver in the past two weeks, you'd think that he surely had put up at least decent fantasy numbers. And, that would be wrong. Since his brilliant four-TD day against the Eagles, Plummer has gone above 200 yards in both games, but has tossed only one TD pass. The Cowboys allow under 190 passing yards per game and only one TD pass on average, so owners should look elsewhere for the holiday.

Brandon Jones, WR, Ten: After missing two games with injury, Jones returned to a more limited role in Week 11. The return of Drew Bennett to the fold (five catches this week) and the TE combo of Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe greatly reduces the number of balls thrown in his direction. Jones snagged just one ball for 21 yards in the loss to Jacksonville. A truer test of his role for the remainder of the season will come this week when San Francisco comes to town.

Brian Finneran, WR, Atl: Given Michael Vick's recent foray into pure passing, the veteran Finneran figured to become a bigger factor in the Falcons' offense. Instead, he's watched rookie Roddy White and second-year man Michael Jenkins hauling in the passes with a big payout. In the past two weeks, Finneran caught seven balls for 90 yards, but became an also-ran in the red zone. Two losses in those games likely pushes the running game back to the forefront against Detroit.

Laveranues Coles, WR, NYJ: In the past two games, the Jets have scored a total of three points. And, while there is some hope for Curtis Martin and the ground game this week, it figures to be another tough day in the passing game against the third-ranked Saints pass defense (170 yards per game). Expect Coles to be shut out of the end zone again (he has just two TDs on the year).

Fred Taylor, RB, Jac: Taylor hit the field for Sunday's game against Tennessee. He was fired up and ready to go … and then hit the sidelines with a horrid stat line of six carries for -8 yards. Taylor's exit was forced by an injured quad, and it's unlikely that he's ready to roll against Arizona this week. Jacksonville will need the veteran for the playoff push, so look for Greg Jones and Alvin Pearman to handle handoffs from Byron Leftwich.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Car: The schedule has been unkind to the Carolina passing game of late, and Delhomme has failed to rise above it. Though the Panthers went 2-1 versus the Buccaneers, Jets, and Bears, Delhomme managed only two TD passes during that stretch. He threw two picks in Sunday's loss to the Bears and was sacked a season-high eight times. It doesn't get much easier this week, as the Panthers travel to Buffalo to face the sixth-ranked Bills pass defense (176 yards and one TD per game).

Jamal Lewis, RB, Bal: I don't know that Lewis can go any lower in terms of his output, but given the number of injuries crippling owners' RB situations, one or two might have been casting an eye in Lewis' direction. He carried the ball 13 times for a miserable 28 yards on Sunday against the Steelers. And, he lost another fumble. This season of misery for Lewis continues, and his hopes for a huge contract this offseason are all but shot. Welcome to prime time, Chester Taylor.

Water Cooler Ruler
Kurt Warner saved his best performance for his triumphant return to St. Louis. He tossed for 285 yards and three scores (his first three-TD game since Week 17 of 2001) and completed 69.2 percent of his throws. Since returning from injury to assume the top spot, Warner has thrown five TDs against three picks (all against Seattle), while racking up 978 passing yards. Jacksonville offers a tough test next, but three of the final five games (SF, Hou, and Phi) offer favorable spots for the veteran QB.

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