Romo, Skelton come up big

BY foxsports • November 14, 2011

One of the biggest storylines in fantasyland entering Week 10 concerned Tom Brady and his showdown with the Jets. In a list of “either-or” choices, owners were trying to find any reason to sit old No. 12 for a newer, shinier model. They’re kicking themselves for trying to out-think the room after watching Brady eviscerate Rex Ryan’s prized defense.

Tom Brady completed 26-of-39 attempts for 329 yards with three touchdowns, his eighth multi-touchdown performance of the year. Brady eclipsed 3,000 passing yards for the season during this contest, his sixth 300-yard effort (second against these Jets).

Rob Gronkowski dominated the action once again, producing his second straight 100-yard game (third of the year). Gronkowski caught eight passes for 113 yards with two touchdowns, his fifth game with at least six receptions this season. He’s now scored eight touchdowns.

Deion Branch hasn’t been dominant, but he’s become a regular fixture in the red zone for Tom Brady. Branch scored for the fourth time in six games. He caught five passes for 58 yards in Sunday’s huge win over the Jets.

Mark Sanchez produced a solid fantasy day against the Patriots. It was an ugly game and a damning loss in terms of the divisional race, though the upcoming schedule should help the Jets bounce back in a hurry. However, Sanchez offered 306 passing yards with a passing touchdown, two interceptions and a rushing touchdown. He’s generated multiple touchdowns in seven of nine games.

Santonio Holmes matched his season-high mark with six receptions against the Patriots. His 93 receiving yards crushed his previous season-high mark of 70 established in Week 1. Holmes also gave us a YouTube moment when expressing his rage over a non-call in the secondary.

Plaxico Burress caught three passes for 39 yards, including his sixth touchdown reception of the season.

I’ll get to the Tebow talk in a moment. Fantasy owners finally had a chance to celebrate Chris Johnson. The Titans’ huge early lead allowed Johnson to run downhill for much of the second half. Johnson finished with 27 carries for a season-high 130 yards and scored for the second time this season. He added four receptions for 44 yards as the proverbial cherry on the top. The lovefest may be short-lived against the stout Atlanta run defense in Week 11.

Similarly, the Jaguars were able to run over the ever-sinking Colts team. Maurice Jones-Drew was used to grind out the clock and gave fantasy owners a huge bonus with his fourth quarter touchdown run. Jones-Drew carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards, adding three receptions for 23 yards. The fantasy favorite had produced two 100-yard games in his past three starts and scored in the other (Week 8). He has a fantastic matchup on tap in Week 11.

Drew Brees struggled early but, as always, the Saints made the appropriate halftime adjustments and things opened up. His 21-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham (seven receptions for 82 yards) was about as easy a throw as he’ll make this year. Brees’ bullet to the back of the end zone to Robert Meachem (two receptions for 69 yards) in the third quarter ranks among the most difficult that you’ll see. Brees finished the overtime win with 322 passing yards, two touchdowns and a clean jersey (zero sacks).

- I offer this note on Graham that came from my colleague at FOX Sports Radio, “Big” Ben Maller. Graham is averaging 87.3 receiving yards per game. If he continues this pace in the Saints’ final six games, he’ll establish a new yardage record for tight ends. Jackie Smith set the record in 1967 with St. Louis at 86.1 receiving yards per game.

Fantasy owners were nervous about Matt Ryan’s fortunes as the third quarter kickoff occurred in Atlanta. Ryan rebounded to post a QB1-worthy effort in the second half as he connected with Jason Snelling and Tony Gonzalez (six receptions for 71 yards). Ryan passed for 351 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. It was Ryan’s third 300-yard game and third multi-touchdown performance of the year.

Gonzalez’s touchdown reception was his sixth of the season, including romps in the painted grass in back-to-back games. He’s already matched his 2009 and 2010 touchdown output.

Harry Douglas emerged as a deep threat for Matt Ryan with Julio Jones on the sidelines. Douglas caught eight passes for 133 yards. He’s on the early waiver watch list this week with Tennessee on tap and Jones’ availability in question.

Fantasy owners started with Matt Schaub and did a ton of wishing and hoping that the Texans would produce a couple of big plays before Schaub turned into a handoff machine. They didn’t have to hold their collective breath for long, as Schaub connected with Jacoby Jones on an 80-yard touchdown (two receptions for 87 yards). Schaub later threw a short pass to Arian Foster and watched him sprint 78 yards for another touchdown. It was an efficient trip to Tampa. Schaub completed 11-of-15 attempts for 242 yards.

Do I need to expound on Foster’s brilliance? Foster carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, adding four receptions for 102 yards and the aforementioned 78-yard sprint to daylight. He’s averaged 163.6 total yards in his past seven starts with eight total touchdowns.

Flex him up! How many RBs do you like better than Ben Tate right now? Tate gave fantasy owners another strong effort in the blowout win over Tampa Bay. Tate carried the ball 13 times for 63 yards and scored for the second straight game. He’s logged 12 or more carries in three of the Texans’ past four games.

Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t dominant on the ground, but he took full advantage of the opportunities presented by Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing attack. Mendenhall rank for 44 yards and scored twice in the Steelers’ road win over the Bengals. Mendenhall added a single reception for 26 yards. Interestingly, Mendenhall has rushed for more than 70 yards in a game only once this season.

Damian Williams was on the board as a “Ninja” option in Week 10, and he delivered another strong performance for Matt Hasselbeck. Williams caught five passes for 107 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown reception. He’s caught four or more passes in four of the past five games with three touchdowns.

I nominate John Skelton for the Week 10 “Fantasy Man-Crush Award.” I don’t know what the statue looks like, but give Skelton a nod for finding Larry Fitzgerald repeatedly and leading the Cardinals to a huge win. Skelton passed for 315 yards with three touchdowns (one to Early Doucet) and two interceptions. He’ll face the dominant 49ers on the road in Week 11.

Fitzgerald finished Sunday’s win with seven receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. It was Fitzgerald’s fourth game this season with at least 98 receiving yards. He needs one touchdown to match last season’s output.

LeSean McCoy didn’t post pinball-like numbers against the Cardinals, but he continued his scoring barrage with another short touchdown run. McCoy carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards, adding three receptions for 12 yards. This was just the second time that McCoy has been limited to fewer than 107 total yards in 2011.

I had to get to it eventually. Tim Tebow didn’t complete a pass until the final four minutes of the third quarter, but his second and final completion was a 56-yard touchdown strike to Eric Decker. Tebow added nine carries for 43 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown run.

It’s not pretty. Don’t watch it. Just sit back and enjoy the continued fantasy success (except this week against the Jets).

The Broncos ran the ball and ran the ball and ran it again. It didn’t matter. The Chiefs were unable to stop Denver from moving the ball. Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno both left with injuries. Lance Ball took the reins and carried the ball 30 times for 96 yards.

Tony Romo had a big challenge on tap against the Bills without his top option, Miles Austin. It didn’t matter. Romo wound up and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant inside the first three minutes of the game. Before long, waiver wire hero Laurent Robinson was touching down for two touchdowns (three receptions for 73 yards overall). Romo didn’t have to do much after that and fantasy owners celebrated his 270-yard, three-touchdown performance. He completed 23 of his 26 attempts.

Dez Bryant led the Cowboys with six receptions for 74 yards, including his fifth touchdown of the year. He’s caught three or more passes in eight games this season while averaging 64.6 yards per contest.

DeMarco Murray continued his ascent in fantasyland with another huge home performance against the Bills. Murray amassed 135 rushing yards, including a touchdown romp, and caught six passes for 36 yards. Even if I pull Murray’s 91-yard touchdown sprint out of the stats (you remember that against the Rams), he’s averaged 6.9 yards per carry in his past four games (510 yards on 74 attempts).

David Nelson makes the list for the “Hallmark” moment that hit the highlight reels in which he gave his girlfriend, a Dallas cheerleader, the ball he caught for a touchdown. Nelson finished the game with four receptions for 32 yards. He hasn’t been dominant, but he’s been consistent. Nelson has caught four passes in four consecutive games and scored in back-to-back contests.

Chris Ogbonnaya represented a dangerous plug-in play for fantasy owners in Week 10. He rewarded owners who looked past his feeble Week 9 output with 90 rushing yards on 19 attempts (4.7 yards per carry). Ogbonnaya added two receptions for 19 yards. He’ll remain the lead back in Week 11 against the Jaguars.

Brandon Lloyd caught the only touchdown in a yawn-worthy game and finished with 38 receiving yards on four receptions for the Rams. Lloyd has averaged 5.3 receptions and 63.8 receiving yards in his past four games.

Reggie Bush did me proud with a huge fantasy day against the Redskins. He only rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries (3.4 yards per carry), but he scored twice in leading the Dolphins’ to their second straight win. He added four receptions for four yards. Bush has posted three strong outings in a row. Bush and the Dolphins have an advantageous schedule (for him, anyway) down the stretch.

Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 98 yards to reward trusting fantasy owners.

Rex Grossman was awful, but rookie Leonard Hankerson posted a strong day. Hankerson caught eight passes for 106 yards in the loss. He’s amassed 12 receptions in the past two weeks for 140 yards.

Marshawn Lynch continued his strong run in fantasyland against the usually stout Baltimore defense. Lynch carried the ball 32 times for 109 yards, adding 58 receiving yards on five receptions. He has scored in five of the past six games. The sixth was the Week 7 tilt against Cleveland when he was scratched late because of a back injury. Lynch was four fantastic matchups on tap as we approach the playoffs (St. Louis twice, Washington and Philadelphia).

The Ravens were awful in Seattle, but Ed Dickson was a bright spot in fantasyland. Dickson caught 10 passes for 79 yards with two touchdowns, one of which came from the left hand of Ray Rice. Dickson hadn’t scored since Week 1.

Eli Manning couldn’t lead the Giants back against the 49ers, but he came close. Manning completed 26-of-40 attempts for 311 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions. It was Manning’s seventh multi-touchdown effort in his past eight starts.

Mario Manningham was a game-time decision for the Giants, but he rewarded trusting owners with a six-reception, 77-yard effort, including his third touchdown of the year. Manningham has caught three or more passes in five consecutive games. He’s scored in three straight.

Fantasy owners took a huge gamble in starting Hakeem Nicks on Sunday and had to sweat it out. Nicks caught an early pass from Manning, but was quiet until he snagged a 32-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Nicks finished with two receptions for 41 yards.

Finally, there were a number of heroic efforts by defenses in Sunday’s slate of games. I have to give a nod to the Bears for their absolute decimation of the Lions in a game that got awfully chippy. Matthew Stafford and his coach may contend that an injured finger and the wind affected the Detroit offense. I would counter that Stafford was charitable with the ball and made a number of bad decisions (his takedown of D.J. Moore among them). The Bears generated six turnovers and multiple sacks, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. And, of course, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge Devin Hester’s 82-yard punt return for a touchdown that got the ball rolling.

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