We were reminded on Monday night how much an injury to your quarterback can derail your fantasy title aspirations. Monday night may have been Ben Roethlisberger's last game of the regular season, and those that have enjoyed his production in Todd Haley's system will be forced to grab a backup or a third-string QB. Chances are that most owners don't just have Roethlisberger on their roster, and they have another low-end QB1 or high-end QB2 to go with him. Owners in two-QB leagues that have Big Ben (like myself) might be in a real sticky wicket.
Since quarterbacks score the most points, owners absolutely have to go for broke to get a QB. Many are forced to sacrifice depth at running back or wide receiver. It's paramount to look at the schedule, and if you feel like you have an inside track, be prepared to make moves on the waiver wire. Otherwise, send some offers to the cellar dwellers for one of their backups. Prepare for the worst.
Worst yet, three QBs suffered concussions in a matter of hours this past week. Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler were all diagnosed with the ailment, and Vick has already been ruled out. Every week we focus on RBs more than anything else, but this week there will likely be a waiver-wire frenzy for QBs due to all of these injuries.
It's Week 11, so schedule can trump some other factors. We'll take a look at each player's upcoming games this week as well as some analysis and trends on their play.
Carson Palmer (NO, @CIN, CLE, DEN, KC, @CAR) - Palmer's schedule sets up pretty nicely, and weather shouldn't be much of a factor besides next week at Cincinnati. Palmer is shockingly ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards and he has ranked second in yardage in each of the last two weeks. That's due largely to Darren McFadden going down, so McFadden coming back might lead to less gaudy yardage totals.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA, @IND, JAX, STL, SEA, @MIA) - Fitz's schedule is very nice with the exception of Week 15 vs. Seattle. Of course, the downside is there's a potential slew of bad weather games since four of his next five games are at home. The Bills are also without Fred Jackson this week (maybe longer), so they won't really have the luxury of giving C.J. Spiller 30 carries.
Jake Locker (BYE, @JAX, HOU, @IND, NYJ, @GB) - That's a bad schedule for a guy that's armed with some dangerous down-the-field weapons. The Titans got their offense going Sunday against Miami, and I'm inclined to think Locker can get real hot soon. You could make a case that he is top QB pickup in fantasy football, but the bye this week drops his perceived value.
Nick Foles (@WAS, CAR, @DAL, @TB, CIN, WAS) - Michael Vick has been ruled out for Sunday at Washington, and Foles will start. Washington's defense has struggled to get off the field this season, and they have two of the weakest safeties in the league.
Colin Kaepernick (CHI, @NO, @STL, @NE, @SEA) - He's one of the better rushing QBs in the league, with three rushing touchdowns this season. That's more scores than Wes Welker, Steven Jackson, Calvin Johnson (!!!!), Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jason Witten, Hakeem Nicks and Ryan Mathews. Crazy. Kaepernick might put up some laughable numbers and that schedule from Week 12 to 14 is really sweet, should Smith need to miss several games (which is sounding unlikely).
Tim Tebow (@STL, NE, ARI, @JAX, @TEN, SD) - TEBOW!
Kevin Kolb (@ATL, STL, @NYJ, @SEA, DET, CHI) - Desperate times might call for desperate measures for some owners.
Andre Brown (BYE, GB, @WAS, NO, @ATL, @BAL) - Ahmad Bradshaw is undergoing a battery of tests and there is some concern that he may miss time. Brown has been a stud as an understudy with seven touchdowns, and everyone knows about the 100-yard game he put up against the Panthers on Thursday Night Football back in September. He is a must-own until some clarity comes to this situation.
Jacquizz Rodgers (ARI, @TB, NO, @CAR, NY, @DET) - I was force-feeding Quizz as a pickup earlier this year, and it became apparent why that was the case in Week 10: Michael Turner sucks. M.T. lived up to his initials by coming up empty to the tune of 13 carries for 15 yards against the New Orleans Saints. Yeah, that's against a defense that's on pace to give up more yards than any team in the history of pro football. Get him out of there, Mr. Smith.
Beanie Wells (@ATL, STL, @NYJ, @SEA, DET, CHI) - He could be back for Week 12. This is your weekly reminder and chances are he's already being stashed.
Chris Ivory (@OAK, SF, @ATL, @NYG, TB, @DAL) - Pierre Thomas led the team in snaps last week, and the pass-first offense might be tough for an inexperienced guy like Ivory to pick up. However, he has some serious burst and knows how to hit the hole and get downhill. He gets Oakland this week, so those in a bye-week pickle could certainly look his way.
Tashard Choice (MIA, @IND, JAX, STL, SEA, @MIA) - He's a handcuff to the handcuff, now.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (NO, @ CIN, CLE, DEN, KC, @ CAR) - I was a little surprised to see that DHB was owned in only 57 percent of ESPN leagues. He is coming off a very nice outing in Week 10 with five catches, 82 yards and a touchdown. Your team would have to be pretty stacked at wide receiver not to play him against the horrific defense of the Saints. Plus, as mentioned above, most of his schedule is hot fire.
Danario Alexander (@DEN, BAL, CIN, @PIT, CAR, @NYJ) - Alexander led the Chargers in yards, tied for the lead in touchdowns and targets, and was second in receptions to Malcom Floyd last week. I've been buying since it was announced last Thursday that he would be the starter, and he's a nice fit for the SD offense. Sure, there's a very good chance that he might get hurt, but there's a lot of upside here.
Cecil Shorts (@HOU, TEN, @BUF, NYJ, @MIA, NE) - Shorts has seen double-digit targets in three of the last four weeks. Is this because MJD has been out of the lineup? Well, yeah. Of course it is. Regardless, Shorts is lapping the field as Jacksonville's WR1, and he runs a wide variety of routes for their stagnant offense. What's more, the Jags' defense has struggled, which has forced Blaine Gabbert to unleash the fury on teams.
Josh Gordon (@DAL, PIT, @OAK, KC, WAS, @DEN) - Gordon is coming off a bye, and things might open up for him. Week 11 against Dallas could actually be a solid matchup. Morris Claiborne will likely be on Greg Little, and Gordon should be able to beat Brandon Carr for at least one deep ball. His numbers have been trending downward lately, but that run of @OAK, KC and WAS sure is tasty.
Donnie Avery (@NE, BUF, @DET, TEN, @HOU, @KC) - All the talk of T.Y. Hilton was put to bed quickly once Avery was announced as active for Thursday night. Avery caught four balls for 65 yards on six targets. While those aren't eye-popping numbers, Andrew Luck threw the ball a season-low 26 times, which is well below his average of 40.2 attempts per game. Luck is locked in as a pass-happy QB and Reggie Wayne isn't going to catch all of those passes. Avery could be a solid WR3 with a nice schedule that is mostly indoors.
Sidney Rice and Golden Tate (BYE, @MIA, @CHI, ARI, @BUF, SF) - Russell Wilson is for real and he is doing an exceptional job getting the ball down the field to his receivers. Wilson had a 9.9 YPA and a 131.0 passer rating in last week's win over the Jets. That was Wilson's third game in his last five in which he has put up a passer rating of 127 or more, and he ranks 10th on the season in passing touchdowns with 15. He has also thrown for seven TDs in his last three games. I'd rather own Rice over Tate for the red-zone targets.
Donald Jones (MIA, @IND, JAX, STL, SEA, @MIA) - Another wonderful schedule with weather out of the equation. Jones had a big outing on Sunday with six catches on a team-high 10 targets for 74 yards and a TD. This was his second game in a row with six catches, and he scored his fourth touchdown on the season. Besides that Week 15 game against Seattle, it's tough to find a better schedule for a team's Z receiver.
Alshon Jeffery (@SF, MIN, SEA, @MIN, GB, @ARI) - Why don't teams just triple Brandon Marshall? Marshall has seen 13.8 targets per game in his last five games and he ranks in the top three for the four categories that matter among fantasy WRs (TDs, yards, targets and receptions).The Texans ran more bracket coverage on Marshall, so maybe the blueprint is out. Obviously, Jeffery is only a proactive scoop in 16-team leagues or deeper.
Laurent Robinson (@HOU, TEN, @BUF, NYJ, @MIA, NE) - Hey! Laurent "Silent T" Robinson actually wasn't silent on Thursday. Yeah, I don't really care either just yet, but he has a nice schedule.
Harry Douglas (ARI, @TB, NO, @CAR, NY, @DET) - Keep an eye out for Julio Jones' leg injury. It's extremely unlikely that Julio misses time, but Douglas could be a nice WR3 with Roddy White getting doubles all day.
Mohamed Sanu (@KC, OAK, @SD, DAL, @PHI, @PIT) - Nice schedule and coming off a solid game.
Demaris Johnson (@WAS, CAR, @DAL, @TB, CIN, WAS) - Keep an eye on Jeremy Maclin.
Greg Olsen (TB, @PHI, @KC, ATL, @SD, OAK) - I imagine he is owned in most leagues, and he should stay that way. The Panthers are having a tough time protecting Cam Newton, which has limited him from getting the ball to his wide receivers.