I have one soon-to-be playoff-bound fantasy team that really isn't that good. This team started the year 2-3, but has managed to roll off five victories in the past six weeks. It just so happens that this team employs LaDainian Tomlinson, and the team's 5-1 run has everything to do with the fact that LT has found painted grass 19 times in that stretch, including four more times on Sunday. So, if you own fantasy's top back, I just want to say congratulations for your impending postseason berth. You'd have to be one very unlucky person, or a really bad fantasy owner, to not be headed for the postseason with this lightning bolt in tow. Now that I've paid homage to fantasy's most supreme deity, let's turn our attentions to the mere mortals, and the weekend that was:
Week 11 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days
By now you've surely heard the news that Donovan McNabb is out for the season with a torn ACL. After Tomlinson, McNabb was second-most frequent player found on the rosters of the top 500 public league teams in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football PLUS. Obviously, his loss is a major blow to those teams, and any other team for which he belonged. Veteran Jeff Garcia is likely to take over for McNabb and, while he's about as exciting as the CFL's Grey Cup (did anyone notice Sunday's North-of-the-border championship game?), he's a worthy pickup – I mean, the guy came in and threw 48 times in roughly three quarters! Head coach Andy Reid wouldn't know a conservative, run-centric game plan if it came up and slapped him on his walrus-'stache. The Eagles have attempted the fourth-most passes and have the fourth-fewest rushing attempts in the league. Garcia may not be hooking up with deep-threat Donte' Stallworth like McNabb was, but Brian Westbrook should remain squarely in the spotlight, and one would think L.J. Smith might see more work as Garcia is asked to play things a little more safe than McNabb in the passing game.
Drew Brees is the best bad-game fantasy quarterback in the league. His three picks on Sunday were offset by 510 passing yards and two touchdown tosses. In Week 8, he threw three picks and lost a fumble, but again he made up for it with 383 passing yards and three touchdowns. And the week before that, a two interception outing brought with it 275 passing yards and three touchdowns. A few weeks ago I turned down an offer of Brees and L.J. Smith for Donald Driver and Leon Washington, and I hate myself for it, especially after watching my guy, Brett Favre, go down with an arm injury in Week 11. The great thing about Brees is that he has the ability to utilize whatever talent he has around him. It's no coincidence that Reggie Bush leads running backs in receptions and Devery Henderson has topped 100 yards in two of the past three weeks, and Terrance Copper has averaged 90 receiving yards in the past two, during periods of Joe Horn and Marques Colston injuries. With Colston out possibly a week or two with an ankle injury, fear not for Brees. Instead, go grab Henderson and, heck, maybe even Copper.
Shaun Alexander returned from a broken foot injury on Sunday and he looked like a guy that has been sitting for the past six weeks. You may recall earlier in the year, I begrudged his tentative approach and apparent aversion to contact. Well, the hesitant, indecisive version of Alexander was back in Week 11. On a foot that is still slightly fractured, but apparently not painful, Alexander hemmed and hawed his way to 37 yards on 17 carries. In the first half on Sunday, he ran like an airplane in a holding pattern waiting for the flight tower to give him permission to land. He ran with more burst in the second half, but there was little to be inspired by. I think he's mostly just out of shape right now. And the blocking could have been better. You have to assume that with a game under his belt, and a full week of practice ahead of him, he should be improved come Monday night's meeting with Green Bay. Last season's MVP has opportunities ahead in the Packers, Arizona and a rematch with San Francisco in three of the next four weeks. He needs to get right in a hurry if he's to have any chance at all of compensating his fantasy owners for what was likely a top three pick on draft day.
For a rundown of the Week 11 injury news, including Colston's ankle injury, be sure to check out Christopher Harris' Damage Report.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QB – Joey Harrington, Mia
Turnovers come with the territory for the 98 percent available Harrington. But, if you need quarterback help, how can you ignore a guy that is averaging 42.5 pass attempts per game? Those attempts have produced an average of over 250 passing yards and 10 TDs (7 INTs) in six starts. Tell me why Mark Brunell, Brad Johnson, Aaron Brooks, Alex Smith and even Daunte Culpepper are more widely owned? A good reason escapes me. I'm not a Harrington fan, but you can't ignore the opportunity he's getting in Miami, and the opportunity he has in Week 12 at Detroit against his former team, a team that has been rather kind to quarterbacks this season.
RB – DeAngelo Williams, Car
Overhyped in the preseason, Williams could still be had in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into Week 11. The cat-quick rookie eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the first time on Sunday (20 carries, 114 yards) as incumbent starter DeShaun Foster nursed a hyper-extended elbow on the sidelines. Foster is expected to return next week, but he's far from an ironman. Not only that, but Foster has been better when splitting carries with Williams. So, it seems, Williams should at least see 8-10 carries in concert with Foster, but Foster's injury history is the real reason to buy in on Williams' upside at this point.
WR – Devery Henderson, NO
As mentioned above, Marques Colston is expected to be out at least a week, if not more, with an ankle sprain suffered on Sunday. Henderson caught nine passes for 169 yards in Week 11, and stands to benefit again in Week 12 against a struggling Atlanta pass defense should Colston not be able to play. Henderson was available in 66 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of this past Saturday. If he's unattainable in your league, consider teammate Terrance Copper, who has also been a recent beneficiary of extended playing time, action that he has parlayed into touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. Copper headed into this week available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Jamal Lewis, Bal, RB – Like the passing game, the running game is also clicking with Brian Billick calling plays. Lewis had three TDs on Sunday, and he's averaged 79 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns in the four games with Billick calling the shots.
Travis Henry, Ten, RB – He rushed 18 times for 143 yards in Week 11, and now has four 100-yard efforts in his past six games.
Vince Young, Ten, QB – He's starting to do the Michael Vick thing – make something in fantasy out of an ugly performance in reality. He's had 39-plus rushing yards in four of his past six games, including two rushing TDs, and he's thrown for a TD in four of his past five.
Joey Galloway, TB, WR – Things have started to normalize for Galloway, who had some notable stinker performances early on. In his past three games, he's averaged 83 receiving yards and has scored three touchdowns.
Reggie Bush, NO, RB – Bush is starting to make a little progress on the ground, averaging 50 rushing yards in his past two games, in addition to the 15 catches for 98 yards during that span.
Antonio Bryant, SF, WR – After back-to-back 100 yard games to open the season, Bryant has topped 44 receiving yards just once in the eight games since. In his past three games, he's averaged just 29 receiving yards and has combined for just six catches.
Jon Kitna, Det, QB – The engineer of Mike Martz's vaunted passing system has accounted for just two touchdown passes in his past three games. He now has one TD pass or less in five of his past six games.
Marc Bulger, StL, QB – Without OT Orlando Pace on Sunday, Bulger was sacked a season-high seven times. In his past two games, Bulger is averaging 178.5 passing yards and has failed to throw a TD pass (2 INTs).