Early Position Ranks, Week 11


Oh, hey, look. We're ordering off a full menu again. The byes are over. Everyone is rankable. No need to talk yourself into adding second-string Rams and Panthers .

You'll find the rough draft of my Week 11 ranks below, in vivid color. Please remember: This is merely a first take, a back-of-the-envelope ranking. There will be tweaks before the final version. All ranks are subject to change without notice, per the user agreement.

The Thursday night game is a match-up of the highest quality this week. Chicago at Miami. No shortage of legends here. Shula/Ditka, Marino/Fuller, Duper/Gault, Nathan/Payton, Reveiz/Butler.

Can't wait.

Let's kick it to the fellas in the booth for a preview:

Great stuff, guys. Thanks. Top-shelf analysis, awesome blazers. Joe nailed it with Duper and Clayton. Those two could be dangerous. If Marino gets time to throw, look out. He may just outperform his rank…


1. Drew Brees(notes) vs. SEA
2. Philip Rivers(notes) vs. DEN
3. Aaron Rodgers(notes) at MIN
4. Peyton Manning(notes) at NE
5. Michael Vick(notes) vs. NYG
6. Shaun Hill(notes) at DAL
7. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) vs. OAK
8. Mark Sanchez(notes) vs. HOU
9. Jon Kitna(notes) vs. DET
10. Matt Ryan(notes) at STL
11. Eli Manning(notes) at PHI
12. Tom Brady(notes) vs. IND
13. Kyle Orton(notes) at SD
14. Carson Palmer(notes) vs. BUF
15. David Garrard(notes) vs. CLE
16. Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) at CIN
17. Vince Young(notes) vs. WAS
18. Joe Flacco(notes) at CAR
19. Sam Bradford(notes) vs. ATL
20. Matt Schaub(notes) at NYJ
21. Matt Cassel(notes) vs. ARI
22. Josh Freeman(notes) at SF
23. Jay Cutler(notes) at MIA
24. Colt McCoy(notes) at JAC
25. Troy Smith(notes) vs. TB

First of all, you might notice that Brett Favre(notes) and Donovan McNabb(notes) are unranked. That's not an accident. Those two are victims of the numbers game in a non-bye week. Favre is facing an elite defense that's had two weeks to prepare; the Packers intercepted him three times in the earlier meeting. He's injured, and so is his receiving corps. Look elsewhere — but not to McNabb. The fantasy ceiling is simply too low. Donovan finally had his first multi-TD game last week, but of course it happened in an embarrassing loss. He's only had one game this season in which he's thrown more touchdowns than INTs.


That's easily the highest I've ever been on Mark Sanchez (No. 8), but he's been a high-volume passer in recent weeks (due to game circumstances, obviously) and he's facing the NFL's most user-friendly secondary. Houston's defense has allowed 301.3 passing yards per game, a completion percentage of 68.6, and a league-high 22 TD passes. … Kerry Collins(notes) (calf) is expected to miss "several weeks" according to his head coach, so Vince Young is your undisputed Titans QB. The match-up versus Washington is absolutely fantastic — you might have noticed that the 'Skins have some trouble covering the deep ball, and they've had issues with mobile quarterbacks.

If you're looking for propaganda on Shaun Hill and Jon Kitna, here you go. (Link to video. Sweater vest! Don't hate). The Lions passing attack ranks seventh in the NFL right now in terms of yards-per-game (266.7), and it's first in attempts (43.4). As long as Megatron is healthy, Hill is a strong start. He's a high-volume passer with outstanding weapons. … It would give me great pleasure to rank Tyler Thigpen(notes) in the top-25 this week, because I'm a believer long-term. But Chicago's defense has allowed just six passing touchdowns this season (tied for the fewest in the league) and they've collected 14 interceptions (tied for second-most). If Thigpen survives to quarterback another week, he'll sneak into the ranks. Like the mobility, like the fearlessness. And we all have fond memories of '08.


1. Chris Johnson vs. WAS
2. Frank Gore(notes) vs. TB
3. Adrian Peterson vs. GB
4. Ray Rice(notes) at CAR
5. Peyton Hillis(notes) at JAC
6. Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) vs. CLE
7. Michael Turner(notes) at STL
8. Arian Foster(notes) at NYJ
9. Jamaal Charles(notes) vs. ARI
10. Rashard Mendenhall(notes) vs. OAK
11. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) at PHI
12. Steven Jackson vs. ATL
13. Darren McFadden(notes) at PIT
14. Cedric Benson(notes) vs. BUF
15. BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) vs. IND
16. Fred Jackson(notes) at CIN
17. LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) vs. HOU
18. LeGarrette Blount(notes) at SF
19. LeSean McCoy(notes) vs. NYG
20. Felix Jones(notes) vs. DET
21. Mike Tolbert(notes) vs. DEN
22. Shonn Greene(notes) vs. HOU
23. Willis McGahee(notes) at CAR
24. Knowshon Moreno(notes) at SD
25. Thomas Jones(notes) vs. ARI
26. Brandon Jackson(notes) at MIN
27. Keiland Williams(notes) at TEN
28. Jahvid Best(notes) at DAL
29. Matt Forte(notes) at MIA
30. Joseph Addai(notes) at NE
31. Ronnie Brown(notes) vs. CHI
32. Beanie Wells(notes) at KC
33. Reggie Bush(notes) vs. SEA
34. Jason Snelling(notes) at STL
35. Ricky Williams(notes) vs. CHI
36. Justin Forsett(notes) at NO
37. Brandon Jacobs(notes) at PHI
38. Marshawn Lynch(notes) at NO
39. Mike Goodson(notes) vs. BAL
40. Donald Brown(notes) at NE


Adrian Peterson missed a team meeting on Monday, after receiving another speeding ticket (from the unforgiving Eden Prairie highway patrol). No word on possible discipline, but don't be shocked if Brad Childress does something ridiculous here. … Yeah, that's a fairly bullish rank on Willis McGahee, considering last week's workload and production (four touches, four yards). But he's facing a Carolina defense that's allowed 131.6 rushing yards per game, and he has an excellent shot at garbage-time workload.

Ryan Mathews(notes) (ankle) didn't practice on Monday, and the San Diego Union-Tribune calls him "the most questionable" of all the injured Chargers. Thus, he's unranked above. … There's a chance that all the damaged pieces of the Saints' once-great backfield committee could return to practice this week — Pierre Thomas(notes), Reggie Bush, Chuck Muncie, Dalton Hilliard, Ray Zellars. Everyone. For now, only Reggie is ranked. The mid-week practice reports will be key. Thomas seems unlikely to be a factor, and there's no obvious reason for optimism there. As much as I'm delighted by the concept that Julius Jones(notes) could be fired up for a revenge game against his former employer, um … no. I can't bring myself to rank him. Just can't do it.

My rank on Joseph Addai — or really any rank on Addai — is just wishful thinking. As of this writing, we don't know his status, but the initial hope was that he could return for the Pats match-up. … Keiland Williams is a tricky player to judge, because garbage-time basically began late in the first quarter of the Monday night mauling. But we have to respect a three-touchdown game. Ryan Torain(notes) (hamstring) and Clinton Portis(notes) (groin) are apparently getting close, yet they're still damaged goods. Williams has clearly played his way into a significant role.

DeAngelo Williams(notes) (foot) was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, ending his season, and Jonathan Stewart(notes) (concussion) clearly isn't a lock to play in Week 11. Thus, Mike Goodson is ranked. The Panthers aren't going to put up a big number against Baltimore, so I can't be too aggressive on Woodson, not this week.


1. Calvin Johnson(notes) at DAL
2. Roddy White(notes) at STL
3. Terrell Owens(notes) vs. BUF
4. Hakeem Nicks(notes) at PHI
5. Reggie Wayne(notes) at NE
6. Dez Bryant(notes) vs. DET
7. Dwayne Bowe(notes) vs. ARI
8. Anquan Boldin(notes) at CAR
9. DeSean Jackson(notes) vs. NYG
10. Jeremy Maclin(notes) vs. NYG
11. Brandon Lloyd(notes) at SD
12. Mario Manningham(notes) at PHI
13. Mike Williams (TB) at SF
14. Miles Austin(notes) vs. DET
15. Marques Colston(notes) vs. SEA
16. Andre Johnson(notes) at NYJ
17. Greg Jennings(notes) at MIN
18. Steve Johnson(notes) at CIN
19. Larry Fitzgerald(notes) at KC
20. Santonio Holmes(notes) vs. HOU
21. Randy Moss(notes) vs. WAS
22. Braylon Edwards(notes) vs. HOU
23. Mike Wallace(notes) vs. OAK
24. Hines Ward(notes) vs. OAK
25. Malcom Floyd(notes) vs. DEN
26. Chad Ochocinco(notes) vs. BUF
27. Michael Crabtree(notes) vs. TB
28. Brandon Marshall(notes) vs. CHI
29. Percy Harvin(notes) vs. GB
30. Johnny Knox(notes) at MIA
31. Wes Welker(notes) vs. IND
32. Santana Moss(notes) at TEN
33. Lance Moore(notes) vs. SEA
34. Mike Sims-Walker(notes) vs. CLE
35. Pierre Garcon(notes) at NE
36. James Jones(notes) at MIN
37. Lee Evans(notes) at CIN
38. Nate Washington(notes) vs. WAS
39. Danny Amendola(notes) vs. ATL
40. Davone Bess(notes) vs. CHI
41. Nate Burleson(notes) at DAL
42. Mike Williams (SEA) at NO
43. Jacoby Ford(notes) at PIT
44. Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) at JAC
45. Jabar Gaffney(notes) at SD
46. Mike Thomas(notes) vs. CLE
47. Kevin Walter(notes) at NYJ
48. Steve Smith (CAR) vs. BAL
49. Robert Meachem(notes) vs. SEA
50. Deion Branch(notes) vs. IND


No, you're not benching Dez Bryant again, perhaps not for the next decade. We will no longer accept start/sit questions that involve him. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. Drag Dez into an active roster spot and just leave him alone. … Austin Collie(notes) (concussion) is not yet ranked, but he certainly could be cleared to return this week. If it happens, he's a fantasy starter. He'd belong in the 18-22 range above, and the monstrously disappointing Pierre Garcon would fall further.

Malcom Floyd (hamstring) has returned to practice for the Chargers, so he returns to the wide receiver ranks. Vincent Jackson(notes) is not yet eligible to return, and we can't be confident about Legedu Naanee(notes)'s status, so Patrick Crayton(notes) and/or Seyi Ajirotutu(notes) could still find their way onto the board. … Donald Driver(notes) was excused from Monday's practice for unspecified personal reasons, and we may not have a meaningful update on his quad injury until later in the week. James Jones would clearly be a strong start if Driver isn't ready. … Hines Ward reportedly passed his post-concussion tests, so he'll likely return to action this week against Oakland. It would be a mild surprise if Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) (ankle) were able to play in Week 11, so don't fret if you've invested in the Pittsburgh passing game. … Louis Murphy(notes) should return for Oakland this week, and you might recall that he single-handedly destroyed the Steelers last year, late in the season. Rookie Jacoby Ford was phenomenal two weeks ago against Kansas City (six catches, 148 yards), making a series of degree-of-difficulty plays. He's a burner, definitely worth a speculative add.


1. Vernon Davis(notes) vs. TB
2. Dustin Keller(notes) vs. HOU
3. Todd Heap(notes) at CAR
4. Jacob Tamme(notes) at NE
5. Tony Gonzalez(notes) at STL
6. Jason Witten(notes) vs. DET
7. Benjamin Watson(notes) at JAC
8. Brandon Pettigrew(notes) at DAL
9. Kellen Winslow(notes) at SF
10. Jermaine Gresham(notes) vs. BUF
11. Greg Olsen(notes) at MIA
12. Kevin Boss(notes) at PHI
13. Chris Cooley(notes) at TEN
14. Marcedes Lewis(notes) vs. CLE
15. Antonio Gates(notes) vs. DEN

This position is a mess, and ranking it is just a nuisance. Antonio Gates (plantar fascia) is still far from healthy, and not yet practicing. His recent comments don't exactly inspire confidence:

"It's a tear. It's not a tough-man, grind-it-out thing. I tore it," Gates said. "It's got to heal. That's a big part of me running and cutting."


"For what I do, my feet and my legs are my two big assets," said Gates, who has 40 catches for 663 yards and nine touchdowns. "I'd prefer not to hurt the team. That's the decision I'm going to have to make and the coaches are going to have to decide. Am I actually beneficial at this percentage? I don't know. Who's to say?"

This could be the rare case where you want to handcuff a tight end, at least for a week. The Chargers don't play until Monday night (vs. DEN) and Randy McMichael(notes) proved useful in Week 9, catching a pair of TD passes.


1. Green Bay Packers at MIN
2. New Orleans Saints vs. SEA
3. Baltimore Ravens at CAR
4. Tennessee Titans vs. WAS
5. Kansas City Chiefs vs. ARI
6. Chicago Bears at MIA
7. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. OAK
8. Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
9. Miami Dolphins vs. CHI
10. New York Jets vs. HOU
11. San Francisco 49ers vs. TB
12. Cincinnati Bengals vs. BUF
13. Dallas Cowboys vs. DET
14. Atlanta Falcons at STL
15. Buffalo Bills vs. CIN


Photos via US Presswire

What to Read Next