Rankings were updated Friday evening. See you Sunday at 11 on the Fix.
Week 11 marks the possible return of many familiar faces in fantasy football. Players like Tony Romo and Larry Johnson have missed a month or more and return to a drastically altered league. Let's take a look at the outlooks for many of this week's returning stars before getting to the rankings.QB Notes:
Tony Romo: Romo could get some MVP consideration after the world saw just how bad the Cowboys look without him. He has a new weapon to throw to (Roy Williams), but having enough weapons wasn't a problem before: he was a top-three quarterback. Terrell Owens, who we can confirm played during the last month, is suddenly useful again.
Romo's schedule is a bigger concern than his pinkie. He gets the excellent Redskins secondary this week, then the Steelers, Giants, and Ravens in the fantasy playoffs. I think Romo is good enough to start every week regardless. The Cowboys will be very aggressive.
Matt Hasselbeck: Remember him? The one-time steady QB1 was a disaster before hurting his back, but that was when he was throwing to Keary Colbert and the brothers McMullen. Hasselbeck is a nice pickup for QB-needy owners now that Bobby Engram and Deion Branch should be around. Engram is relevant again and Hasselbeck is a top-15 options this week against Arizona. He could be useful in Week 15 against the Rams if you are making playoff plans.
Larry Johnson: L.J.'s six-week absence may have saved his season. Forced to very away from their run-heavy system, Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey transformed the Chiefs into a frisky spread attack, with Tyler Thigpen doing his best Graham Harrell impression. The Chiefs score now! That can't be a bad thing for Johnson.
Integrating L.J. back into the mix may be awkward at first, and he may see fewer touches than before his suspensions. Jamaal Charles will stay active on passing downs. But the touches Johnson gets should be more effective overall, making him a passable RB2 this week against New Orleans. A lot of plus matchups remain on the docket.
Reggie Bush, Saints: Bush is the least certain player on this list to return, but he was able to take some snaps at practice Wednesday. The Saints are healthier at the skill positions than when Bush left, so I wouldn't expect him to have such a dominant role in their offensive moving forward. The Saints also figure to ease him back into the lineup if he plays against the Chiefs.
I wouldn't expect Bush to immediately re-start the PPR insanity of earlier this season, but I'd expect enough production to confidently start Bush every week in any format. Deuce McAllister, already hemorrhaging snaps, is about to become a lot less interesting.
Steven Jackson, Rams: Jackson has seven carries in the last three weeks, but he returned to a limited practice Wednesday. If he plays against the 49ers, you can't bench him. San Francisco's rush defense is a lot worse than they showed Monday night.
Carnell Williams, Bucs: It's a great story that he's back, but he's only going to be useful this season in fantasy if your league gives points for corny car puns.
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Week 11 Quarterbacks
Jacksonville's line isn't playing well enough for David Garrard to succeed against the Titans. Garrard is a matchup play, and this is a bad one. … Ranking Tyler Thigpen so high was surreal, but the kid impresses more every week. He makes good decisions, is looking off defenders, and has good mobility. He's also catching the Saints at the right time, when they are scrambling to find available cornerbacks. … Peyton Manning's offensive line did a good job overall against the blitzing Steelers. That bodes very well as the Colts enter the soft part of their schedule. … The Bills offensive line can be pushed around and Trent Edwards isn't reacting well to all the pressure. But the Browns don't push anyone around, so this should be a decent bounceback game for Edwards.
I'm heading to the Patriots game Thursday night. Rain is expected throughout the evening. That probably won't help the passing games, but occasionally a slippery field helps the offense. The wind is more important. This will be a good test for Matt Cassel's development. He looks better every week and the offensive line is protecting him well. The Jets are second in the league in sacks and will dare Cassel to throw it deep. Expect the usual: solid QB2 numbers, nothing special. … The Packers line was manhandled against Minnesota, but one game doesn't erase Aaron Rodgers' great season. Expect a solid effort against a Bears defense that is far better defending the run than the pass. … The Bills have struggled defending the short passing game for a month, so this sets up for another solid game from Brady Quinn. … Matt Ryan will put up good numbers against the Broncos. The only slight concern, and it's a minor one, is that the Falcons won't throw the ball more than 25 times. Ryan has shown he can produce with limited opportunities, though. His issue was supposed to be accuracy, but Ryan has mostly been accurate on a variety of routes. He's also showing the ability to pass on the run.
Jay Cutler may throw 40 passes-per-game the rest of the way with the way their defense and running game look. Ryan Clady vs. John Abraham will be the matchup of the week on the line. … It's been a down season for Ben Roethlisberger, but this matchup sets up very well. Look for the Steelers to uncork some big plays on San Diego. … The Steelers pass defense still scares me. Bench Philip Rivers if possible. … The Panthers will be out to put last week's Delhomme disaster behind them. Look for them to put Delhomme in good situations early to answer any questions and get his confidence back. … Don't use Kyle Orton if he returns. The Packers secondary is too good. … Jason Campbell may get a Friday afternoon bump if Clinton Portis looks unlikely to play. The Redskins offense could get aggressive for once.