--NOW OR NEVER: There’s only a few weeks of regular season action left in 2012 fantasy football. For some now is the time for drastic measures. If you are sitting at the top of your league’s standings you don’t want to mess too much with your nucleus, but some final tweaking and adding insurance to your roster is not a bad idea. However, if you are a bubble team you may need to something more. Taking a chance on high-risk, high-reward scenarios may be your only chance for success. Bottom line, the further you are from the top at this point of the season the more chances you need to be taking.
TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
(Looking at some trends that indicate good things for this week and beyond)
--QB Josh Freeman (TB): When the Bucs hit their bye in Week 5 Freeman had five TD passes, four interceptions and zero 300-yard games. In the five games since he’s thrown for multiple TD’s in every game, averaged 293.4 yards per game and been picked off just once. His remaining schedule lacks a lock down defense and includes matchups with the Panthers, Saints and two with the Falcons, all of which could be shootouts. Freeman enters Week 11 as the 12th ranked fantasy quarterback in total points. If he keeps this pace up there’s no doubt he’ll finish a top 10 fantasy quarterback by year’s end, especially given all the injuries.
--QB Peyton Manning (DEN): Denver has been friendly thus far to Manning. In four games played in the Mile High City, the Broncos’ signal caller has tallied 1,226 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions playing in front of the home crowd. The Chargers, who are paying a visit this week, have been stringy to quarterbacks most of the year as they’ve allowed the fifth fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks. However, Manning broke 300 yards and threw for three TD’s against them in San Diego earlier this year and appears to be poised for another big day.
--RB Daniel Thomas (MIA): With Reggie Bush struggling, Thomas has seen his role increasingly grow with the Dolphins’ offense. Thomas possesses a 2:1 advantage in snaps over the last three games and seeing an increase in his targets out of the backfield. In the past two games alone he’s caught seven passes, making him a viable PPR lineup option. Now this week he faces a Buffalo defense that has watched running backs hit the end zone 16 times in nine games this season. Bush remains the superior fantasy option, but Thomas is a low-end RB2 versus the Bills in Week 11.
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (OAK): DHB has come alive of late, becoming a deep threat for quarterback Carson Palmer. He has been targeted 24 times over the past four games and has reached 74 yards and/or squad in each of those outings, including a five-catch, 82-yard performance last week. Owners could look for him for flex help this week if he is able to go versus a New Orleans secondary that allows 31.8 fantasy points per game to the position.
--Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs): Pittsburgh will be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this week and likely much longer. Doctors have advised him not to play until his rib is completely healed which could be as long as six weeks. Roethlisberger has a history of playing through injuries, but unlike some of his ankle and leg injuries of the past this injury appears to be a bit more debilitating. Byron Leftwich is in line to start for the Steelers with Charlie Batch serving as his backup in Roethlisberger’s absence.
--Alex Smith (concussion): San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith has passed his concussion tests and has been cleared for non-contact drills. He should return to the practice field on Thursday and barring setbacks should be able to start in Monday night’s game versus the Bears. With one TD pass or less in five of his last seven contests Smith shouldn’t be counted on as fantasy option in this tough matchup even if he plays.
--Jay Cutler (concussion): Although head coach Lovie Smith indicated that quarterback Jay Cutler is “getting better” the Bears are not optimistic that they will have Cutler available for Monday night’s game with the 49ers. Cutler has a long history of concussion issues dating back to his playing days at Vanderbilt which raises additional concern. Former Redskins and Raiders’ signal caller Jason Campbell will get the nod if Cutler can’t go.
--Darren McFadden (ankle): Though the team has still not clearly defined a time frame for injured running back Darren McFadden, FOXSports.com’s Jay Glazer tweeted Wednesday that the team originally viewed the ankle injury as a 2-4 week issue. It is unlikely that McFadden will play in Week 11 and it appears as if Week 12 is far from a lock either. Marcel Reece will continue to serve as the team’s primary running back in DMC’s absence. Owners should continue to stash McFadden away in hopes of him providing a playoff spark against what is a very favorable slate of games.
--Greg Jennings (groin, abdomen): The Packers have already ruled Jennings out for Week 11, but the head coach Mike McCarthy did offer some reason for hope for his fantasy owners on Wednesday. He is "a lost closer than any of us thought he'd be at this time," McCarthy said during his weekly press conference. Jennings has been limited to just three games in 2012 due to injuries. Look for James Jones and Randall Cobb to continue to see increased workloads with Jennings sidelined.
Injuries to Watch: Wes Welker (ankle), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Antonio Brown (ankle), Pierre Garcon (foot), Darren Sproles (hand)
FRIENDLY SCHEDULES AHEAD
(Here’s a quick glance at teams with the top 5 most favorable matchups in fantasy for Weeks 14-16)
--QB: Rams, Texans, Eagles, Bucs, and Baltimore
--RB: Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Broncos, Chiefs
--WR: Eagles, Chiefs, Saints, Ravens, Rams
--TE: Ravens, Browns, Eagels, Jaguars, Packers