TOYOTA TUNDRA – PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brad Evans looks at nine intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.
Strong Buy (12-team leagues) Fantasy game not all skin and bones in recent weeks
Tyler Thigpen (QB) Kansas City Chiefs
Chan Gailey's newly installed spread offense has elevated Thigpen's production from sub-standard to spectacular. Over the past three weeks, the Coastal Carolina product has averaged 236.7 passing yards, 22.7 rushing yards and two touchdowns per game. More importantly, he hasn't thrown an interception in four straight contests. This week, the Chiefs' three-to-four wide receiver sets should inflict significant damage on a New Orleans secondary minus Mike McKenzie, who will be sidelined the rest of the season with a broken kneecap. Due to Mark Bradley's emergence as a rock solid second wideout and with Larry Johnson slated to start, Thigpen owners could relish another 250-yard, 2-3 TD effort in Week 11.
Moderate Buy (12-team leagues) Healthy Hassy faces wingless Cards D in first game since Week 5
Matt Hasselbeck (QB) Seattle Seahawks
Derailed by back and knee injuries, the once dependable QB1 is expected to return to the Hawks starting lineup after five weeks of back rest. It's difficult to surmise just how much rust has accumulated on the 33-year-old's arm after such a long layoff, but his matchup against Arizona is undoubtedly favorable. Since Week 7, the Cards have surrendered 243 passing yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game to signal callers, equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed. Koren Robinson's emergence combined with Bobby Engram's dependability suggests Hassy could be very effective, especially in front of a friendly audience. Anticipate roughly 210-240 passing yards and 1-2 scores from the maligned veteran this week. Categorize him as a fringe starter in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Solid Buy (all leagues) Seventh-round draft choice could impersonate Nick Goings in possible featured role
Peyton Hillis (RB) Denver Broncos
Devastating injuries to Mike Shanahan's stable of running backs has three unknowns – Hillis, P.J. Pope and Alex Haynes – vying for playing time. Expect Hillis to break from the pack this week in Atlanta. The former Arkansas fullback, who blocked for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in college, is a gritty, hard-nosed kid who is confident he can make an indelible impact as a starting tailback. Although he only pawed the pigskin eight times last week (24 yards), his impressive two-yard carry on a critical late-game 4th-and-1 showed his strength. Hillis' receiving versatility also gives the Broncos' offense another dimension. The Falcons have tightened the screws against the run in recent weeks. Since Week 7, they've conceded just 127.3 total yards per game to backs. But Jay Cutler's ability to stretch defenses thin should open up sizable holes for the rookie to power through. Label him an upside Flex play in all 12-team leagues.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues) The Holistic One is an alternative medicine for owner's with crippled backfields
Ricky Williams (RB) Miami Dolphins
Ronnie Brown's continued inconsistencies have kept the 31-year-old Williams active as the Fins' secondary runner. Tony Sparano remarked two weeks ago he wanted to increase Williams' touches to keep Brown fresh and defenses guessing. Last week's 14 touches could be a sign of things to come. This week, Miami hosts the repulsive Raiders. Even with 10-15 carries, Ricky could be very useful at the Flex. Oakland has surrendered 4.9 yards per carry, seven scores and 206.4 total yards per game to backs since Week 7, equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed.
Moderate Buy (12-team leagues) Steven Jackson's potential absence in Week 11 means Pittman could net third start
Antonio Pittman (RB) St. Louis Rams
The former Buckeye may post nutty numbers this week in San Francisco. With Steven Jackson possibly pacing the sidelines in street clothes, Pittman and Kenneth Darby could work in a probable 70-30 timeshare. Last week, in the massacre at the Meadowlands, Pittman tallied a respectable 66 total yards on 15 touches. Yes, the Rams offensive line is very pliable, but the 49ers have performed terribly against the run. Since Week 7, they've yielded six touchdowns and 148 total yards per game to backs, equal to the eighth-most fantasy points surrendered. Even with hopeless Marc Bulger behind center, Pittman should be regarded as an upside Flex option in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues) Unheralded Chief's fantasy dance has recently rained down plenty of points
Mark Bradley (WR) Kansas City Chiefs
Much like his alma mater, Oklahoma, the former Sooner is booming. The Chiefs' innovative spread attack has catapulted Bradley's targets and, thus, his fantasy value. Since the system was instituted Week 8, the 26-year-old has crossed the chalk twice and averaged 9.3 targets, six receptions and 62.7 yards per game. This week, facing a New Orleans secondary without premiere cover corner Mike McKenzie, the smooth underneath receiver should again post appreciable WR3 totals. The Saints have allowed the most 20-yard pass plays in the NFL this year. It's time to start taking Bradley seriously.
Moderate Buy (12-team leagues)Minute Rice could steam this week in Tampa
Sidney Rice (WR) Minnesota Vikings
Handicapped by a strained PCL since Week 2, Rice has been a monumental disappointment for much of the season. However, he's snagged a touchdown pass in consecutive weeks, breathing new life into his fantasy prospects. Rice is still not quite 100 percent but has improved dramatically over the past two weeks. This week in Tampa, he will likely prove serviceable again. The Buccaneers have done a sensational job shackling No. 2 wideouts this season, which means targets intended for Bobby Wade could shift to Rice. His yardage totals will be unspectacular, but his towering 6-foot-4 height means he'll likely rack his third score in as many games.
Solid Buy (all leagues) Wiry home-run hitter's value rocketing skyward alongside Matt Ryan's maturity
Michael Jenkins (WR) Atlanta Falcons
Mike Mularkey's increased confidence in Matt Ryan has vaulted Jenkins' value. Over the past three weeks, the Atlanta No. 2 has averaged 61 yards and scored twice. Roddy White is clearly the Big Chill's weapon of choice, but with more teams rotating safties to White's side of the field, Jenkins has benefited greatly from man-on-man coverage. Expect a similar scenario to unfold this week against Denver. With or without Champ Bailey, No. 2 receivers have pummeled the Broncos this year. According to Football Outsiders, their 45.5 DVOA ranks third to last in the NFL. Due to Jenkins' lengthy 6-foot-4 frame, he should repeatedly embarrass Karl Paymah downfield.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues) Suddenly rejuvenated Robinson a superb deep-league WR3 versus Arizona
Koren Robinson (WR) Seattle Seahawks
Re-accustomed to Mike Holmgren's West Coast offense, Robinson has quietly thrived over the past three weeks. During that span, the former 1,000-yard receiver has scored twice and averaged 4.3 receptions and 58 yards per game. Those efforts were compiled in conjunction with Seneca Wallace so it's hard to say if the veteran will have a similar chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck. Still, with Deion Branch's availability uncertain and Bobby Engram more of a possession target, Robinson is Seattle's most explosive receiver. He should attract a handful of downfield targets against Arizona. Over the past four weeks, the Cards have yielded seven touchdowns and four 80-yard games to receivers, equal to the third-most fantasy points allowed.
Solid Buy (all leagues) Week 10 DEF Plug n' Play
San Francisco 49ers Defense/Special Teams Without Steven Jackson, the Rams are essentially the Oakland Raiders of the NFC. Jim Haslett's bunch has appeared careless, clueless and confused in their past two despicable showings (vs. Ari and at NYJ). In those forgettable games they averaged a mere 215.5 total yards, yielded four sacks and committed eight turnovers. Outside Patrick Willis the Niners are a feeble defensive adversary. They've compiled just four fantasy points per game, the eighth-worst output in fantasy. But Mike Singletary's gristly attitude should energize a young defensive unit, especially given the favorable matchup. Employ San Francisco this week and you could strike it rich.