Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 11

Week 10 led to a lot of QB injuries and poor performances that probably didn't sink your fantasy team. (Getty)

FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

We all know what football is in 2012-2013. There's an increased concern for player safety and specifically concussions. Rules have been put into place, tests have to be administered, and the public consciousness is growing week by week.

The NFL will take credit for this, throwing around how much money they are spending on concussion research, that awareness is high, hell, even in Madden if a player is injured with a concussion he is automatically out for the rest of the game.

While these are all factors in how we are watching this violent sport, and while player safety is the dark cloud on the horizon of the sport of football, the reason all of these procedures are put into place is that while football is the most popular sport in the United States, that also makes it the most lucrative.

There have been plenty of great pieces about how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has preached player safety out of one side of his mouth, all the while looking to extend the season and schedule, make Thursday through Monday football a reality and keep the NFL money train rolling. Among all of the articles you can find written by a Jason Whitlock or Bill Simmons, the quintessential moment of this money vs. football mess is the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. In this one story, you get everything from the true violence in football, to the overblown reaction of the NFL, to skirting the facts and Goodell relying on his title as commissioner to serve as a power play to push his agenda.

Well, there's no one that will agree paying players to injure another player is acceptable, there are real questions of what does it really matter, or if the NFL can just fine and suspend players without adequate evidence. The question of does it matter will probably always be up for debate, but the legal system has found that no, you can't just suspend players and serve personal vendettas because you feel like it. There has to be proof. As a result of the fallout of Goodell's hasty actions, his reputation has taken a hit, and his respectability among the players he lords over is at an all-time low. It's something that needs to be addressed moving forward if Goodell is to remain commissioner and a lesson to be learned that the public as well as football players themselves are no dummies. There's unlimited resources available to learn, read up, and formulate an opinion. People won't just fall blindly in line with the NFL because they love the sport or they hear the NFL is funding a lot of brain damage research. Time to focus on improving the reputation of the game, not just making more money from it.

For all the rules and protection the NFL gives its players, especially quarterbacks, that didn't save a lot of them in Week 10. Four starters went down, three to concussions. In order of fantasy relevance, they would be Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, and Alex Smith.

The good news, fantasy wise, is that all of the quarterbacks listed are nowhere near elite fantasy players. Roethlisberger is the 13th ranked QB and Vick is 15th. Roethlisberger has been solid, but he's always been a million times more important as a real player than fantasy. As for Vick, well, we know his tale. He hasn't been an explosive fantasy player in 2 years now. His injuries are always a concern, and outside of that 2010 season, he's always been a below average fantasy player minus his rushing numbers, which have been non-existent for those same 2 years. Cutler and Smith are back-up level at best, so odds are your team isn't hurting too badly.

There are some potential fliers to take for each of these players. While Roethlisberger's injury seems to be the most serious, Byron Leftwich carries no fantasy value. But let's take a look at some two back-ups that could bring us some value through the remainder of the season.

Nick Foles has a legitimate shot at the starting job in Philadelphia. (usatoday.com)

Nick Foles, QB - PHI ( 5% owned) @WAS

What makes Foles the top QB to add this week is simple. Above all other back-ups, he has the best chance to keep the job. Michael Vick is out with what coach Andy Reid declared a severe concussion. Vick is already ruled out for Sunday's match-up in Washington, and more likely than not, will not play Monday night the following week versus Carolina. Those are two pretty nice match-ups for the 6'6 6'4 Arizona grad. He's got some offensive weapons around him, but it'll be tough for Foles to avoid getting cracked after every snap as the Eagles have been operating with only one original starting lineman from Week 1. On top of that two of the absolute worst tackles to ever put on an NFL jersey in Demetress Bell and King Dunlap will be blocking for him.

Foles did well in the preseason and despite lacking arm strength has shown an ability to make quick decisions. For his limited time playing on Sunday, he also showed an Eli Manning like propensity to throw into coverage to draw penalties. Not good for fantasy points, but might help him move the ball with more efficiency than Vick was.

Colin Kaepernick, QB - SF (1%) CHI

If I was picking up a QB for one start and one start only, I might side with Kaepernick. Even though he's facing the Bears, Kaepernick has shown a competency playing quarterback, but his most valuable asset is his speed. The Niners have used him in limited packages to showcase his stuff, and while he is passing at a 61.3% completion percentage, he's already run for 3 TDs averaging 7.6 YPC. This won't be a high scoring game with Kaeprenick against the Bears D and Jason Campbell against the Niners D, but there are points to be had.

Jaquizz Rodgers, RB - ATL (37%) ARI

Are the Falcons a fraud of a team? We've seen it with them before. Great regular season team that when the playoffs start and defense and the run game take center stage, the Falcons fade away. Regardless of what success they have in the upcoming playoffs, they are going. It's clear Michael Turner is not viewed as a contributor on offense, and while T.J. Duckett isn't walking through that door, the Falcons need to establish some kind of run game. Rodgers hasn't been carrying the load, but he has been the Falcons most productive RB out of the backfield both rushing and receiving. Unless the Falcons want to repeat errors of postseasons past, they'll need to see what Rodgers can give them. He's an add an hold for the rest of the season.

Ben Tate, RB - HOU (39%) JAX

Houston is in nowhere near the trouble Atlanta is regarding their run game. Houston does look like they'll run away with their division, and that means resting guys like Arian Foster during those final couple of weeks of the season. And if you're Houston and you have Ben Tate, why wouldn't you? Tate has been nursing a hamstring injury the last couple of weeks, but should be back soon. I'd look for his run load to increase in the interim, with the potential to be the top back on the depth chart come Week 16 as Foster rests.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Danario Alexander, WR - SD (5%) @DEN

He had a big game for San Diego and at 6'5 fits the bill for tall Philip Rivers targets, but a lot of Alexander's stats came on an 80 yard TD catch, and he was taking time from the injured Robert Meachem. With Meachem expected back, marginal production can be expected from Alexander moving forward.

THE 1%

Riley Cooper, WR - PHI (0%) @WAS

One of the injuries not covered earlier on was that to Jason Avant, the Eagles sure handed slot receiver. Due to the depth among the Eagles WR core has left Cooper primarily as a special teams ace and 4th WR. Cooper hauled in his 1st TD pass of the season on a rare fade route thrown to him by Vick. If Avant is out, Cooper is a guy Foles has had a lot of reps with and their 2nd string chemistry could pay WR3 dividends.

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