Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Pity the Foles

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You’ve had a lot of fun, but you don’t have Michael Vick to kick around anymore.

Week 10 was tough on quarterbacks. A starting signal-caller went down in each of the last four games played. Of the felled four, Vick is the one least likely to return to the lineup the rest of the way. The Eagles will reportedly use the opportunity to “rest” Vick, returning to a more traditional pocket offense with rookie Nick Foles.

Should we pity the Foles? Matchups don’t get much better than Foles’ Week 11 bout versus a Redskins defense missing feared pass rusher Brian Orakpo and allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

The question is whether Foles will have time to throw. Eagles LT Demetress Bell and RG Dennis Kelly had two of the three lowest grades among all offensive players in the NFL during Week 10, according to Pro Football Focus. The Cowboys pass rush harassed Foles into a pick-six and a strip-sack touchdown in the end zone. All in all, Foles’ debut was a “mixed bag of positives and negatives.” His lone big play came on busted coverage, but he did handle the blitz to the tune of 7-of-9 for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Of the other three injury fill-ins, Colin Kaepernick offers the most fantasy upside in a Tebow-esque package of erratic passing mixed with dangerous running ability. The problem with Kaepernick is that the 49ers are optimistic Alex Smith will be cleared from his concussion by Monday night. Unlike Vick and Jay Cutler, Smith doesn’t have a history of concussions.

Cutler has an extra day to gain clearance for the Monday night game, but coach Lovie Smith was noncommittal on his status. Jason Campbell failed to move the offense in relief and would make for a poor fantasy play at a San Francisco defense that allows the 30th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.

Ben Roethlisberger reportedly suffered a “pretty significant” shoulder injury, one that could cost him “at least” a few weeks. Until we get an official update on the injury, it’s worth taking a look at Dr. Jene Bramel’s early take. Byron Leftwich’s increasingly elongated throwing motion passed for just 5.2 yards per on 14 attempts in relief Monday night. A poor fit for Todd Haley's quick-passing game, Leftwich is not going to be fantasy relevant outside of two-quarterback leagues.

Beyond the injuries, the best quarterbacks available in most leagues are Sam Bradford, Jake Locker, and a surging Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, the latter two are unavailable for Week 11 due to the bye. Bradford faces three of the 10 stingiest pass defenses over the next three weeks while Foles is prepping for a Redskins defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.
On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 11. Full write-ups of each player are below.

Nick Foles
Sam Bradford
Russell Wilson
Jake Locker
Colin Kaepernick
Byron Leftwich
Jason Campbell

Running Backs
Marcel Reece
Beanie Wells
Andre Brown
Mark Ingram/Chris Ivory
James Starks
Daniel Thomas
Ben Tate
Jacquizz Rodgers
Danny Woodhead

Wide Receivers
Danario Alexander
Cecil Shorts
Donnie Avery
Donald Jones
Golden Tate
Brandon LaFell
Pierre Garcon
Laurent Robinson
Emmanuel Sanders

Tight Ends
Brandon Myers
Kyle Rudolph
Dennis Pitta
Scott Chandler
Dwayne Allen

Team Defense


Nick Foles, Eagles - The third-round rookie is poised to start the first game by a University of Arizona quarterback since 1973. If we combine Foles’ stats from Week 10 with his preseason games, Foles is 62-of-95 (65.2 percent) for 772 yards (8.1 YPA) and a 7:3 TD-to-INT ratio. The Eagles still boast elite offensive weapons to support a low-end QB1, as evidenced by Michael Vick’s 10th-place ranking entering last week. It’s fair to question whether Foles will have time to find those weapons behind an injury-decimated offensive line. For Week 11 value alone, though, Foles is the quarterback to add against a Redskins defense surrendering the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Sam Bradford, Rams - Bradford is a different quarterback with safety blanket Danny Amendola in the lineup. Despite losing an 80-yard Amendola connection to an illegal formation penalty, Bradford still recorded 275 yards, a pair of scores, and 20+ fantasy points against a stout 49ers defense. He’s set to host a Jets defense that was burned for three passing scores at Seattle in Week 10. Although Bradford faces three of the 10 least generous fantasy defenses over the next three weeks, he has plus matchups versus the Bills, Vikings, and Bucs during the fantasy playoffs.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Russell Wilson, Seahawks - We’ve noted in previous weeks that Wilson has impressively shown steady improvement with each passing game. It can be argued that Wilson is in the midst of one of the best streaks in rookie QB history. Although Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have hogged the spotlight, Wilson boasts three of the four highest-rated performances by a rookie this season. Ninth in fantasy points over the past five weeks, Wilson is on pace to join Peyton Manning as the second QB in NFL history with 24+ touchdown passes as a rookie. Prospective owners should note that Wilson is entering his bye week, but he should be picked up as a high-end QB2 in 12-team leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Jake Locker, Titans - Locker was clearly rusty and erratic in his Week 10 return, but there was no more efficient scrambler in the league on Sunday. Locker will have a chance to get his timing back during the bye week, and coach Mike Munchak has vowed to find a way to get playmaker Kenny Britt more involved in the offense going forward. Locker is a QB2 with upside after the Week 11 bye.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers - Of all the quarterbacks injured in Week 10, Alex Smith has the best chance of returning this week. He doesn’t share the concussion histories of Michael Vick or Jay Cutler, and the 49ers are optimistic about his availability with an extra day to get ready for Monday night. Should Smith suffer a setback, Kaepernick would get the call. While Kaepernick offers the familiar Tim Tebow-style erratic passing/dangerous running package, he would be facing a Bears defense that allows the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Byron Leftwich, Steelers - Leftwich has earned a lifetime pass from me for the most memorable scene I’ve ever witnessed on a football field, but it’s quite possible his delivery has grown even more elongated. He averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, killing the fantasy values of Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, and Emmanuel Sanders. Leftwich hasn’t started a game in three years and faces a Ravens defense allowing the 24th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in two of the next three weeks. Keep expectations low for the entire Steelers offense until Big Ben returns, as Leftwich's skill-set couldn't be more ill-suited to Todd Haley's quick-passing attack.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Jason Campbell, Bears - According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Cutler has a history of head injuries dating back to his Vanderbilt days. He’s now sustained “nearly a half-dozen” concussions in his football career. Coach Lovie Smith has been noncommittal about his starter’s chances of playing Monday night. If the Bears exercise caution, Campbell will get the start in a brutal matchup at a San Francisco defense allowing the 30th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Watch List: Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, David Garrard

Tebow watch is on again after back-to-back implosions by Mark Sanchez. … Quinn declared himself fit to start in Week 11. … Kolb is throwing again and will return to the starting lineup once he’s healthy enough to play. … Taking advantage of the handful of QB injuries this week, the agent for Garrard has let it be known that his client is fully rehabbed from his knee surgery and ready to work out for teams.

Cut Bait: Michael Vick, Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill, Mark Sanchez, Matt Hasselbeck

The Eagles will reportedly “rest” Vick for the rest of the season. He can be dropped in 12-team leagues. … Cassel should be heading back to the bench in favor of Brady Quinn. … Gabbert regressed again in Week 10. … Tannehill is rated 29th among QBs and John Skelton is the only starter with fewer than the rookie’s five touchdown passes. … Sanchez could be pulled any week now.

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling

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