It's a full slate of matchups for the first time in seemingly ages, with the bye weeks finally behind us. The NFL has graciously switched up the programming schedule to give us the much anticipated showdown between Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
All those stories, and some pickups for the week, lay ahead in Fantasy Football This Week .
- Giants TE Jeremy Shockey sat out Wednesday's practice with a bruised sternum sustained in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. After making a grab over the middle, Shockey took a big hit and was seen rubbing his chest and wincing in pain afterwards. Shockey is a strong play against a battered Philadelphia secondary, but be sure to follow up on his status on Sunday.
- Kelly Holcomb, sidelined during Sunday's game against Kansas City with a concussion, watched J.P. Losman run with the first team in Wednesday's practice. Unless his condition improves dramatically in the next 24-to-48 hours, Losman will be back under center against the Chargers. He's a strong play on paper, as San Diego allows nearly 250 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game.
- For the first time in several weeks, Thomas Jones's name does not appear on the Bears' injury report. He missed last week's game with his injured ribs and watched Adrian Peterson rumble to a 120-yard day. Jones will be back on the field this week against Carolina, but don't be surprised to see Peterson take some of the carries, possibly including runs around the goal-line.
- Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith was held out of Wednesday's workout with a hamstring injury, which means that the "Questionable" tag has been placed on him for this week against Tennessee. His injury, combined with Ernest Wilford's shoulder issues, thrusts Matt Jones front and center against the young Tennessee secondary. Jones has scored in three of his past four games and recorded his first 100-yard game last week.
- Fred Taylor is listed as "Doubtful" for that contest due to continuing problems with his ankle. Second-year back Greg Jones will have another opportunity to showcase his wares in the feature role. He turned in the first 100-yard game of his career last week against the Ravens, and has scored in three of Jacksonville's past four games.
- Tommy Maddox took the majority of snaps for the Steelers on Wednesday, but Ben Roethlisberger has crept back into the picture. Roethlisberger took a small number of snaps and told reporters after the workout that his knee feels better each day. Bill Cowher confirmed later in the day that Roethlisberger will start Week 12 on the bench against Baltimore, but will be available if necessary. His return as the starter for Week 12 is virtually assured.
- Titans receiver Drew Bennett is sporting a brace on his left hand, but he was able to make his first practice appearance in a month. Bennett caught passes from both Steve McNair and Billy Volek, and impressed Jeff Fisher with his ability to do so with his hand still wrapped, and just days after having the pins removed. He's listed as questionable for this week's tilt against the Jaguars, but will be on the field barring any setbacks.
- Gus Frerotte is hampered by a sprained right index finger and watched backup Sage Rosenfels take the bulk of snaps in Wednesday's workout. Frerotte was injured in Sunday's game when he slammed his hand on the helmet of a blitzing linebacker. He's listed as "Questionable" on the injury report and lists his chances of playing at 50/50. Miami's passing game ranks 28th in the league, but does face a defense susceptible to big plays in visiting Cleveland. Owners of Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael should have them in starting roles regardless of the QB.
- In addition to still recovering from his concussion of Week 9, L.J. Smith sprained his knee in Monday's loss to Dallas. His injury woes, combined with the very publicized loss of Donovan McNabb to injury, and a Week 11 date with the Giants, forces owners to look elsewhere this week.
- With lingering injuries to both his calf and ankle, Corey Dillon remains a question mark for Week 11 against New Orleans. On the heels of his 20-Touch day in Week 10, Heath Evans would shoulder the load again this week in Dillon's absence.
- Despite a huge day in Week 10 versus Arizona, Joey Harrington received no vote of confidence from Steve Mariucci – Mariucci hasn't named this week's starter against Dallas just yet, but indicated that Jeff Garcia will be on the field if able. Those who had reinserted Roy Williams into their lineups after his huge three-TD effort last week must now proceed with caution and temper their expectations.
- The Rams host former QB Kurt Warner and the Cardinals on Sunday, and Warner will welcome back third-year wideout Anquan Boldin to the mix. Boldin reports no problems with his knee and expects to be available for full practices on Thursday and Friday. It's a good spot for he and Warner (who has tossed back-to-back 300-yard games) against a Rams pass defense that allows 240 yards and nearly two TDs per game.
- As seen on Monday night, Julius Jones is still a ways off from fully recovering off that high ankle sprain. Even when he is, Bill Parcells will likely be splitting the workload with Marion Barber. And, speedy backup Tyson Thompson will remain in the mix as well. Tread cautiously with this trio right now.
- Terrell Owens, WR, Phi: With the arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday, there has been a groundswell of support for the embattled Eagles receiver. Owners are stashing him on their benches in the event that he makes a return to the field – in Philadelphia or elsewhere. Tomorrow's meetings will determine how high he ranks on the downside for next week's column.
- Anquan Boldin, WR, Ari: Boldin returns much sooner from his injury than originally anticipated. Owners jumped the gun and dropped him by the thousands, making the former Rookie of the Year a huge weapon on the wire. He returns this week in a very favorable matchup against the Rams secondary.
- Adrian Peterson, RB, Chi: Peterson has been a popular pickup in the wake of his big performance against the 49ers, combined with the loss of Cedric Benson to a sprained knee. However, Thomas Jones is back from his various injuries to take on the Panthers, leaving Peterson's role to be defined. Peterson is certainly worthy of a Bench slot, as Jones' health remains a concern.
- Willie Parker, RB, Pit: Parker is another back on the comeback trail from injury and is expected to return to the crowded Steelers backfield against the Ravens. With Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis healthy, it's difficult to place too high a value on his services or recommend him for a starting slot. However, any back that factors into that potent running game shouldn't be drifting on the wire.
- Chris Simms, QB, Tam: Owners are clamoring for Simms' services on the strength of his three-TD, zero-INT performance against a tough Redskins pass defense. Despite missing some wide open tosses that could have made the comeback a tad easier, he never threw the big pick and gave his team a chance to win. Those acquiring his services realize how brilliant Joey Galloway has been thus far, and must be banking on that dominance to continue. Simms and company next take on Atlanta, who have ceded a few big days via the air.
- Lee Evans, WR, Buf: Evans slides back onto the fantasy radar after catching two TD passes from J.P. Losman in last week's huge win over Kansas City. He figures to be a big part of the attack again this week, as San Diego's stout run defense will look to shut down Willis McGahee. That will force Losman to the air, where the Chargers allow 248 yards and nearly two TD passes per game.
- Baltimore Defense: Allowing the first 30-point output by the Jacksonville offense in seemingly forever has forced owners to take a long look at the Baltimore defense. Yes, six points came via the Kyle Boller INT, but it's the principle. They aren't forcing turnovers, and have been unable to limit big plays. With no help from the running game and continued struggles by the Anthony Wright/Kyle Boller tandem, the defense has logged many a weary mile on the field, and that's leading to a big second-half slide.
- Antonio Chatman, WR, GB: Chatman falls on the depth chart with the return of Robert Ferguson to action. The emergence of rookie Samkon Gado serves to limit the number of throws required of Brett Favre and establishes a more balanced offense. With Donald Driver and Bubba Franks averaging a combined 18-20 Looks per week, that won't leave much time for Chatman upon Ferguson's return. He might be good for one last hurrah against the Vikings porous pass defense, but he's not a strong play thereafter.
- Michael Bennett, RB, Min: Bennett had a shot to claim the starting role with his Week 10 start against the Giants. Instead of making a strong case, he gained a mere 19 yards on 16 carries and lost a fumble. That performance opens the door for Mewelde Moore to claim a bigger workload this week, particularly after his return TD and playing through pain.
- Reggie Brown, WR, Phi: Brown's value obviously takes a hit with the loss of Donovan McNabb. Fantasy owners at week's end are not convinced that Mike McMahon will be able to properly utilize the rookie deep threat. Brown has been kicked to the waiver wire, with the expectation that Andy Reid will rely more heavily on the running game with Brian Westbrook and Lamar Gordon. L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of McNabb's injury in the passing game.
- Jerramy Stevens, TE, Sea: Despite the continued dominance of the Seahawks' offense, Stevens has been less of a factor in recent weeks. He continues to see a handful of throws, but hasn't found the end zone since Week 5 against St. Louis. With Bobby Engram back from injury, Darrell Jackson only one week away from returning himself, and Joe Jurevicius still in the mix in the red zone, owners aren't banking on a big finish from this early season standout.
- Bryant Johnson, WR, Ari: Johnson will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, and will drop back into the third role upon his return with Anquan Boldin's return from his own injury. He'd taken well to the starting role, scoring his first TD of the year in Week 9 while hauling in six catches for 66 yards. Unfortunately, his injury slides him back off of the fantasy radar.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Matt Jones, WR, Jac
The athletic rookie has become a focal point of the Jaguars offense, and he's proven up to the task in the red zone. Jones has scored in three of the past four games, and with Ernest Wilford and Jimmy Smith hobbled by injury, the stage is set for another big effort against the Titans. Check to see if Jones is still out on the wire. This guy's just getting started.
DROP OF THE WEEK
Greg Lewis, WR, Phi
It's almost like piling on, I know. But, the injury to Donovan McNabb reduces the value of all Philly skill players, and perhaps none moreso than wideout Lewis. Reggie Brown has risen up the ranks as a bigger deep threat for Mike McMahon, and most of the action will continue to run through Brian Westbrook and L.J. Smith (when healthy). Lewis hasn't seen the end zone since Week 2, and hasn't topped 60 yards receiving since Week 3.
HOT AND COLD
Brandon Stokley, WR, Ind: Aside from a one-catch performance against the Texans, Stokley has been a bigger factor in the offense over the past five weeks. Stokley caught four or more passes in four of the past five games, and scored his first TD last week.
Tom Brady, QB, NE: Lost in the struggles of the Patriots defense and the piles of injuries has been the consistent play of Tom Brady. After nine games, he's already accumulated over 2,500 passing yards and has tossed 14 TD passes. Brady has thrown two straight multi-TD games in a row, with favorable matchups against New Orleans and Kansas City on tap.
Donald Driver, WR, GB: Driver has established himself as the chief target for Brett Favre in the injury plagued Green Bay attack. He's caught five or more passes in six straight weeks, and recorded double-digit receptions for his third 100-yard game of the year against the Falcons last week.
Jonathan Wells, RB, Hou: Domanick Davis remains limited at practice, meaning that Wells will continue to play a big role in the Houston attack. He's proven to be a factor in the receiving game out of the backfield for David Carr, registering eight catches for 62 yards in the past two weeks, and has scored in two straight games. He'll look to make it a third against the KC defense.
Greg Jones, RB, Jac: Fred Taylor will likely miss this week's game against Tennessee with continuing ankle issues. Jones filled in admirably against the Ravens, recording a 100-yard rushing game and hammering the ball into the end zone again. Expect another heavy workload for Jones again this week.
Marcus Robinson, WR, Min: Robinson scored in back-to-back weeks against Green Bay and Carolina, and appeared primed to become the Vikings' go-to receiver. Then, he all but disappeared. Robinson recorded a single catch in each of the Vikings' past two games for a total of 23 yards. With Nate Burleson getting healthier each week, Robinson's role continues to diminish.
Jimmy Smith, WR, Jac: The veteran Smith has found himself playing second fiddle to up-and-coming receivers on the Jaguars depth chart. First, Ernest Wilford rose up to turn in two consecutive huge days. Now, rookie Matt Jones has become the clear go-to guy in the red zone, leaving Smith as the odd man out. He's failed to top 60 receiving yards in five straight games, and hasn't seen the end zone since Week 4. Now nursing a hamstring injury, Smith may miss a great opportunity to get back on the map against the young Tennessee secondary.
Kevan Barlow, RB, SF: Barlow tallied 24 Touches in Sunday's defeat in the crazy winds of Soldier Field against the Bears. However, he also watched teammate Frank Gore run the ball 15 times for 60 yards. Gore has topped four yards per carry in all but two games this year, and has shown breakaway speed (72-yarder versus Washington). The 49ers will likely give their rookie an extended look as this rebuilding season wears on (zero touchdowns in over three games).
Eli Manning QB, NYG: After a torrid start, Manning has been limited to single TD passes in four of the past five games. Additionally, he's been noticeably erratic in the red zone and continues to struggle with throws sailing while on the move. He has a great chance to rebound against the injured Philly secondary at home.
Marcel Shipp, RB, Ari: He's still listed as the starter by Dennis Green, but rookie J.J. Arrington is starting to assert himself as the season progresses. Shipp carried the ball only four times last week for a whopping three yards against Detroit! He also lost a fumble in this contest, leading the door open for the rookie to take the top spot by force.
SWOOPING VULTURES: Goal-Line Backs
Each week, we'll review the players earning their living around the goal line.
- The Falcons welcomed T.J. Duckett back into the mix on Sunday against the Packers. He carried the ball four times for 31 yards, and added two catches for 27 yards in Sunday's loss to the Packers. After scoring touchdowns in four straight games to start the year, Duckett has been inactive twice and carried the ball only 11 times in his three other appearances.
- Jerome Bettis missed a week with a quad injury, but returned to his normal role in this week's victory over Cleveland. Duce Staley shouldered the load, but Bettis contributed nine carries for 28 yards and a score. The situation gets a little bit messier in the Pittsburgh backfield with the return of Willie Parker this week, but it's all about The Bus down around the painted grass.
- Mike Sellers found the end zone again in the controversial loss to the Buccaneers. This time, he actually ran the ball into the end zone. For the season, Sellers has scored six times in 11 Touches. Now, there's a vulture!
- Welcome back to the land of vultures, Mr. Mike Alstott. After a quiet first half to the season, Jon Gruden has gotten this fan favorite back into the vulture role in Tampa. In Sunday's dramatic win over Washington, he scored twice, and found himself in the middle of controversy with his two-point conversion run. With Michael Pittman and Carnell Williams still hurting, Alstott figures to see all short yardage work going forward.
SAFETY VALVES: Surveying the Tight Ends
The Tight End is often the young or struggling quarterback's best friend. Sometimes, he's so dominant that he can't be denied. Here are several players making noise at the position.
- Daniel Graham missed Sunday's game due to injury, paving the way for a huge game for second-year man Ben Watson. He showed tremendous athleticism and great hands in pulling down two TD receptions. He figures to be a big factor again this week against a susceptible New Orleans pass defense.
- Even though the Redskins went through a brief two-game offensive slump, Chris Cooley continues to provide benefits for fantasy owners. Cooley recorded 13 catches in the past two weeks and accumulated 151 yards.
- The Dolphins took to the air on Sunday against New England, and Gus Frerotte made a frequent target of Randy McMichael. He topped three catches for the first time since Week 2, and accumulated 81 receiving yards (though he did lose a fumble).
- Though he hasn't found the end zone in Michael Vick's rejuvenated passing attack, Alge Crumpler continues to be a consistent performer. He's tallied 11 catches for 105 yards over the past two weeks, and has not caught fewer than three passes in any game this season.
Y! Friends & Family League
Providing a glimpse into our managerial efforts:
Y! Sports Romig used big days by Michael Vick and Tiki Barber to record his third straight win and get back into the playoff picture. His late-season surge presents a challenge for first-place Y! Funston as Week 11 unfolds.