Week 11 fantasy football leading scorers, surprises and Week 12 waiver wire options

The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-11 on the season after a 24-9 loss to the Steelers. During a postgame interview, Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas was asked about the front office letting good linemen sign with other teams — a not-so-subtle way of noting how Browns quarterbacks’ lives are at risk. His response was "you’ve got to lie in the bed that you’ve made."

The question is warranted after rookie quarterback Cody Kessler was forced to enter the NFL’s concussion protocol for the second time this season. The front office may lie in a bed they made, but their quarterbacks are planted six feet under on a weekly basis.

As we head into Week 12, bye weeks still linger and impact players still find ways to get injured. So, knowing the unsung heroes of the fantasy leader board is a must:

For the sake of mixing things up, I left Colin Kaepernick off the Week 11 roster, but he actually deserves a third consecutive nod. The 49ers quarterback scored 25.5 fantasy football points against the Patriots and improved his weekly average to 24.6 in five starts. With his Week 11 production, he’s knocking on QB-1 status aka QB1-12 based on average fantasy points per game.

Without his 11-yard rushing touchdown against the Buccaneers, Alex Smith’s 24 fantasy points dip to 18 and his weekly position ranking drops from QB-7 to QB-16 in terms of points scored. With no Jeremy Maclin, Smith targeted Travis Kelce nine times for 108 yards to lead the Chiefs.

Mark Ingram left Thursday night’s game against the Panthers with a concussion. So, for the second time this season, Tim Hightower became the Saints’ lead back. He’s averaged 4.0 yards per rush over the last four games and racked up 106 receiving yards over the past three. Ingram could pass the concussion protocol within the 10-day window before the Saints’ next game, but Hightower should be a bench back the rest of the season regardless.

DeVante Parker could be in the midst of the quietest “Hello, NFL” moment due to the Dolphins style of offense. Over the past two games, the wide receiver has caught 13 passes on 18 targets for 182 yards with a touchdown. Parker is averaging 18.6 fantasy points during the two-game surge.

Yes, the targets and receiving yards per game may act as a clue, but Rishard Matthews (Player B) and Mike Evans (Player A) have produced at a consistent clip over the past month.

In case you forgot, Matthews posted five games with 75-plus receiving yards for the Dolphins last season. He only played in 11. So,he has proved to be a NFL team WR-1 as recently as 2015.

Whether he can continue to carve up secondaries will depend on DeMarco Murray’s touches-per-game and if Marcus Mariota continues to chuck the rock. The Titans also have a bye in Week 13.

Over his last five games, Marcus Mariota has averaged 280 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Matthews has enjoyed many fruits of that labor, but so has rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe. Remember him?

Sharpe averaged 9.9 fantasy points per game through the first three weeks of the regular season, but was muted the next five games — mainly due to DeMarco Murray’s heavy workload — to the tune of 3.9 fantasy points per game — in PPR! However, with the Titans’ offense somewhat redefined in recent weeks, Sharpe is averaging better than 14 fantasy points per game over the past three weeks. He’s available in almost every fantasy league on FOXSports.com if you’re looking to add depth to your bench.

Running back injury roundup

LeSean McCoy, Bills (thumb): He dislocated his thumb in Week 11, was forced from the game, and the training staff couldn’t pop it back in. Now it’s reported he’ll need surgery. This opens the door for Mike Gillislee for the second time this season. He finished with 72 yards on 14 carries (5.1 YPR) against the Bengals in Week 11. Gill is averaging 7.49 fantasy points per game on the season (PPR) with four touchdowns in his past six games. He’s available in 80 percent of fantasy leagues on FOXSports.com.

C.J. Prosise, Seahawks (scapula): The Seahawks were so confident in Prosise and Thomas Rawls that they waived Christine Michael last week. Now, they’ll need to sign another running back because the rookie running back is going to miss several weeks. Coach Pete Carroll said “he’ll be out for a while.”

Ryan Mathews (MCL) / Darren Sproles (rib), Eagles: Two heads of the Eagles’ three-headed backfield were forced from their Week 11 contest against the Seahawks. Mathews – who had dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career – was seen limping after the game. Sproles was averaging 13.7 fantasy points per game (PPR) over his previous three games heading into Week 11. So, rookie Wendall Smallwood is the last man standing – for now. He finished with 17 touches for 79 yards against the Seahawks. Smallwood rushed 13 times for 70 yards against the Falcons last week. If Mathews and Sproles are out, expect 15 to 20 touches for Smallwood against the Packers next week.

T.J. Yeldon (ankle): Yeldon being forced from the Jaguars’ Week 11 contest due to an ankle injury created one of the weirder fantasy stat lines. Chris Ivory led the Jaguars in receiving. He finished with six receptions for 75 yards, which helped mask the funk of 17 carries for 39 yards (2.3 YPR) with a lost fumble. His previous career-high for receiving yards in a game was 52. So, while owners shouldn’t expect Ivory to win them a PPR matchup in Week 12, it’s fascinating to know he can catch and run should Bortles need the checkdown option with Yeldon (potentially) sidelined.

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