All our week 10 content

Week 10 Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waiver Wire Wonders

by Clayton Gray, Jeff Haseley, Jeff Pasquino, Jeff Tefertiller, and Maurile Tremblay, Exclusive to Footballguys.com


Quarterback

Upgrade

  1. QB Rex Grossman, CHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. QB Sage Rosenfels, HOU *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. QB Brady Quinn, CLE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. QB Tony Romo, DAL
  5. QB Jeff Garcia, TB
  6. QB Kurt Warner, ARI
  7. QB Tyler Thigpen, KC
  8. QB Drew Stanton, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  9. QB Daunte Culpepper, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. QB Joe Flacco, BAL
  11. QB Marc Bulger, STL
  12. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, CIN

Downgrade

  1. QB Derek Anderson, CLE
  2. QB Matt Schaub, HOU
  3. QB Dan Orlovsky, DET
  4. QB Kyle Orton, CHI
  5. QB Brad Johnson, DAL

Holding steady


Running Back

Upgrade

  1. RB Tim Hightower, ARI
  2. RB Ryan Torain, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. RB Jamaal Charles, KC *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. RB Matt Forte, CHI
  5. RB Cedric Benson, CIN
  6. RB Ray Rice, BAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. RB Chris Johnson, TEN
  8. RB Joseph Addai, IND
  9. RB Felix Jones, DAL
  10. RB Selvin Young, DEN
  11. RB Peyton Hillis, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  12. RB LaMont Jordan, NE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. RB Edgerrin James, ARI
  2. RB Michael Pittman, DEN
  3. RB Willis McGahee, BAL
  4. RB Kolby Smith, KC
  5. RB Dominic Rhodes, IND
  6. RB Fred Taylor, JAX
  7. RB Steven Jackson, STL
  8. RB LenDale White, TEN

Holding steady

  1. RB Michael Bennett, TB
  2. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE
  3. RB Marshawn Lynch, BUF
  4. RB Jerious Norwood, ATL


Wide Receiver

Upgrade

  1. WR Anquan Boldin, ARI
  2. WR Derrick Mason, BAL
  3. WR Greg Camarillo, MIA
  4. WR Bernard Berrian, MIN
  5. WR Antonio Bryant, TB
  6. WR Torry Holt, STL
  7. WR Donald Driver, GB
  8. WR Rashied Davis, CHI
  9. WR Sidney Rice, MIN
  10. WR Mark Bradley, KC *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  11. WR Shaun McDonald, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  12. WR Mike Walker, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. WR Matt Jones, JAX
  2. WR Donte Stallworth, CLE
  3. WR Brandon Marshall, DEN
  4. WR Plaxico Burress, NYG

Holding steady

  1. WR Anthony Gonzalez, IND
  2. WR Chad Johnson, CIN


Tight End

Upgrade

  1. TE Owen Daniels, HOU
  2. TE Brent Celek, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. TE Robert Royal, BUF

Downgrade

  1. TE Todd Heap, BAL
  2. TE L.J. Smith, PHI
  3. TE Zach Miller, OAK
  4. TE Jason Witten, DAL

Holding steady

  1. TE Greg Olsen, CHI


Kicker

Upgrade

  1. PK Rob Bironas, TEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. PK Dan Carpenter, MIA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. PK Garrett Hartley, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. PK Matt Prater, DEN

Holding steady


Team Defense

Upgrade

  1. TD Miami Dolphins, MIA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. TD Arizona Cardinals, ARI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. TD Tampa Bay Buccaneers, TB
  2. TD Tennessee Titans, TEN

Holding steady

  1. TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL


Quarterback

Upgrade

QB Marc Bulger, STL - Don't look now, but Marc Bulger is starting to put up some pretty good numbers again. He threw for two scores in Week 9 against Arizona after topping 300 yards the previous week, and now it appears that Torry Holt is back in the passing game. With both Holt and Avery available and a schedule that has no bad matchups for the rest of the year, Bulger is a great backup QB, injury replacement or a spot starter if you need one for your fantasy lineup.

QB Daunte Culpepper, DET - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - While it's very late in the season, there is a chance that Culpepper will see the field this year. Considering he was retired a couple of weeks ago, that small chance certainly qualifies him for an upgrade. Also, note that Dan Orlovsky will miss a few weeks with a sprained thumb. We aren't sure if Culpepper is ready to play right now, but there is certainly an opening there now.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, CIN - Slight upgrade here to the Bengals QB. It's looking like Fitzpatrick is starting to get comfortable with the Bengals offense. He may be the guy for the rest of the season if Carson Palmer is unable to return from an elbow/arm injury. Fitzpatrick had a good match up against the Jaguars this past week and he came through with a positive performance thanks to exploiting the short passing game with timely down field passes. What makes him a possible waiver wire claim and potential start in leagues with two QBs is his rushing ability. He averages just over 30 yards rushing per game and against Jacksonville he had 52 yards on three runs. If you are in desperate need of a QB, Fitzpatrick and his running tendencies is not a bad option. The Bengals travel to Houston next week in what would be considered a fairly good passing match up.

QB Joe Flacco, BAL - With the Ravens forced to rely on their rookie crew for offense in Week 9, both Flacco and Ray Rice stepped up and delivered. Flacco took what the defense gave him and found that the Browns decided to play the run on defense more than the pass, asking the Ravens to beat them through the air. Flacco answered that challenge with crisp passing to both Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton including two touchdowns. The young passer looks more comfortable in the Baltimore offense week after week, standing tall in the pocket and taking whatever the defense gives him. The numbers against Cleveland were solid for any NFL quarterback, and now Flacco gets to take on Houston next week before the schedule gets tougher with the Giants and the Eagles.

QB Jeff Garcia, TB - Garcia had another good game. This was his second 300-yard passing game in his last three contests. The veteran passer was very active in the pocket, moving around to buy time. The Chiefs do not have a strong pass rush and Garcia was easily able to elude the rushing defenders. For the game, he completed 31 of 43 passes for 339 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Buccaneers have a bye week next Sunday, but Garcia could be a good spot starter for the fantasy playoff run.

QB Rex Grossman, CHI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Rex Grossman was called up into duty in Week 9 after starter Kyle Orton left the game in the second quarter with a high ankle sprain. Grossman will be the starter for the next four weeks at a minimum. The schedule is not very good for those four contests (Tennessee, at Green Bay, at St. Louis, at Minnesota) but if you are in dire need of a starter, Grossman may be your best option.

QB Brady Quinn, CLE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - In a surprise move (since HC Romeo Crennel had said earlier today that a change would not happen), the Browns have benched Derek Anderson in favor of Brady Quinn.

QB Tony Romo, DAL - Romo is expected back after the Week 10 bye. The offense needs him back in the lineup. Brad Johnson could not help keep the defenses honest. Romo is an elite passer who will have to throw the ball a lot just to keep the Cowboys in games.

QB Sage Rosenfels, HOU - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Rosenfels entered the game to begin the second half. He replaced Matt Schaub, who limped around after taking a shot to his knee earlier in the game. In just two quarters, the veteran backup completed 21 of 29 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He provided the offense with a spark. Schaub has been diagnosed with a torn MCL and will miss at least four weeks.

QB Drew Stanton, DET - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Dan Orlovsky will miss a few week with a sprained thumb, so there is a good chance that Stanton will get the nod for Detroit.

QB Tyler Thigpen, KC - Thigpen is now entrenched as the starting quarterback with both Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard on injured reserve. He helped the Chiefs jump out to a 21-3 first half lead. For the game, Thigpen completed 14 of 25 passes for 164 yards and a first quarter scoring pass to Dwayne Bowe. He also added 22 yards on the ground. In addition, on a trick play in the "Wildcat" formation, Mark Bradley tossed a 37-yard touchdown to his quarterback. Thigpen was wide open, streaking down the right side of the field. This was Thigpen's second straight game without throwing an interception. He looks much more poised than the erratic, jumpy passer we saw earlier in the season.

QB Kurt Warner, ARI - Warner continues to impress week after week as the starter for Arizona, and he delivered big numbers yet again when he visited his former stomping grounds in St. Louis. Warner broke 300 yards for the fourth time this season and threw for two touchdowns for the seventh consecutive game. Since getting back his favorite target, Anquan Boldin, and now having a fresh ground attack with Tim Hightower, Warner looks poised to go to San Francisco next Monday and light up the night sky.

Downgrade

QB Derek Anderson, CLE - The Browns have benched Anderson in favor of Brady Quinn. It is highly unlikely that they'll rotate quarterbacks, so expect Quinn to keep the job as long as he's healthy.

QB Brad Johnson, DAL - Johnson was pulled from the Week 9 game against the Giants after continued poor play. His weak arm allowed opposing defenses to play close to the line of scrimmage to stop Marion Barber and the running game. Before being yanked, he completed five of eleven passes for 71 yards and two picks. Thankfully for the Cowboys, Tony Romo is expected back after the Week 10 bye.

QB Dan Orlovsky, DET - We wanted to upgrade Orlovsky after his fine Week 9 effort, but he suffered a sprained thumb on his throwing hand and will miss at least a few weeks.

QB Kyle Orton, CHI - Orton was playing well for the Bears in Week 9 until he was tackled on the sideline and forced to leave the game. He was writhing in pain after the tackle and had to be removed on a cart. The later diagnosis is a high ankle sprain, and he is likely now out for at least four weeks.

QB Matt Schaub, HOU - Schaub did not play in the second half of the game against the Vikings. He took a hit to his knee and limped throughout most of the second quarter. The Houston passer finished the game with 139 passing yards on 11 for 16 passing. Schaub also threw a pick. The team on Monday reported that Schaub suffered a torn MCL and will miss at least four weeks.

Holding steady


Running Back

Upgrade

RB Joseph Addai, IND - Addai had a rather underwhelming statistical performance in his return on Sunday night, but it didn't seem to be his fault since the offensive line gave him no holes to run through. After the Colts' OL looked decent last week against the Titans, they regressed against the Patriots, looking as bad as they have for the majority of this season. Nonetheless, Addai gets an upgrade because he got back on the field, showed no apparent effects of injury, and got more than 75% of the Colts' rushes.

RB Cedric Benson, CIN - Benson finally put together a nice game giving him his first 100-yard effort of the season. It's looking like he is getting more comfortable in the Bengals offense and could be used as a RB3 or flex option going forward when the matchup is right. Benson ran with power and quickness all game against Jacksonville. If that continues and if Cincinnati can move the ball well as a result, Benson could be a nice surprise in the second half of the season. If you're in a pinch to find a serviceable RB, Benson could possibly still be available on your waiver wire.

RB Jamaal Charles, KC - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Now that it is believed that Kolby Smith has a serious knee injury, Charles will now be the starting rusher in week 10 for the Chiefs. Larry Johnson will be serving his suspension, coming back in Week 11. The team will want to see what it has in the rookie from Texas. Against a strong Tampa Bay defense, Charles gained 106 rushing yards on 18 carries. Next week, he and the Chiefs face a Charger defense that has not been as stingy as in the past. Jamaal Charles has the speed to make the big play, but it was good to see him grind out consistent runs this week. Herm Edwards has stated that he does not believe Charles has the size to be a 20-carry a game running back. It was good to see the rookie get 18 carries.

RB Matt Forte, CHI - It looked very much like the bye week helped rookie Matt Forte to get fresher legs, as he ran with the same conviction, quickness and strength that made him a solid fantasy starter in September. Forte gashed the Lions for over 100 yards and dominated the touches for a Bears team that was forced to both come back from a deficit and struggle through with a backup quarterback. Forte looks to be ready for the second half but does face a tough matchup next week with Tennessee headed to Chicago in Week 10.

RB Tim Hightower, ARI - Tim Hightower got the start in Week 9 for the Cardinals against St. Louis, and the rookie stepped up and delivered. Hightower struggled early on his first drive as a starter, unable to punch it in on a goal line effort (and losing a touchdown on a challenge). He stepped up his efforts and ran hard, showing the speed to the hole and quick, one-cut running style and punishing finishes that have earned him comparisons on Marion Barber. While no one is ready to put him on that level, Hightower's effort in his debut as a starter makes the Monday Night matchup in San Francisco next week must-see television.

RB Peyton Hillis, DEN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The rookie fullback saw his first extensive action of the season, and it's hard to ignore the results. Hillis showed excellent hands and athleticism on Sunday, hauling in seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. While Hillis is unlikely to repeat that kind of performance, he is probably worth a roster spot (especially in PPR leagues) in case he remains a frequent target in the passing game. While the box score stats are probably a fluke, the reliable hands and surprising run-after-the-catch ability he demonstrated against the Dolphins could keep the opportunities coming for Hillis in future weeks.

RB Chris Johnson, TEN - Johnson had 22 carries to LenDale White's eight on Sunday, and continues to become a larger part of the offense. Johnson even scored from 3 yards out -- normally LenDale White territory -- although that was shortly after White's 54-yard run, so White may have been just catching a breather. Nonetheless, Johnson's continued effectiveness as he gains a larger share of the workload is encouraging, and merits an upgrade this week.

RB Felix Jones, DAL - Jones is expected back after the Week 10 bye. Jones was productive before injury and could add spark to the Cowboy offense.

RB LaMont Jordan, NE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Jordan has now missed four games with a calf injury, but he appears closer than Sammy Morris to returning to the lineup: Jordan, unlike Morris, did practice last week, albeit in limited form. When Jordan does return, he should see a decent amount of action, at least until Morris also returns.

RB Ray Rice, BAL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Willis McGahee was active in Week 9 but he never left the sideline, opening up the door for Ray Rice to show what he could do as an NFL starter for the first time since Week 1. Rice answered that challenge by posting his first 100-yard game in his young career, crushing that mark by over 50 yards. Rice looked fast and decisive, darting to the hole and gashing the suspect Cleveland defense. Rice is a great option next week against the Houston Texans.

RB Ryan Torain, DEN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Torain saw his first NFL action on Sunday, returning from an arm injury that kept him sidelined since August. Torain got only three carries against the Dolphins, but will likely see an increased role in coming weeks as he is eased into the offense. HC Mike Shanahan was very high on Torain during training camp, even comparing him to Terrell Davis. Also, Michael Pittman and Andre Hall were each placed on the injured reserve list. That makes Torain an excellent gamble on your fantasy roster as we see how the Denver running game plays out over the second half of the season.

RB Selvin Young, DEN - Despite not being fully healthy, Young gets the upgrade due to the departure of other Denver backs. Michael Pittman and Andre Hall have been placed on season-ending injured reserve. However, it would appear that Ryan Torain is a more viable option.

Downgrade

RB Steven Jackson, STL - Steven Jackson was able to start in Week 9 against Arizona, but it was clear by the number of touches and his effort level that he is not fully healthy. Jackson's fans could do nothing but boo him on a dropped pass in the end zone that was a guaranteed touchdown on one instance, and many of his rushes looked timid at best. He was replaced on several plays by Antonio Pittman, who would finish the game with twice the same number of touches. Jackson needs to get more work during the week in practice to expect a better performance against a good Jets rush defense in Week 10.

RB Edgerrin James, ARI - The Edge era is apparently over in Arizona. With rookie Tim Hightower getting the start in Week 9, James never left the sideline to face the St. Louis Rams. JJ Arrington got the work as the second back as James had zero touches for the game. His fantasy value is only as a handcuff now for Hightower.

RB Willis McGahee, BAL - McGahee was questionable entering Week 9 but was not on the inactive list, but he may as well have been and fantasy owners likely would have appreciated that gesture. McGahee never left the sideline and was a virtual "healthy scratch" against Cleveland. Look to see if he practices more this week before plugging him in against Houston in Week 10.

RB Michael Pittman, DEN - Pittman has been placed on the injured reserve list and will be lost for the remainder of the season.

RB Dominic Rhodes, IND - There was some question about whether, upon Addai's return, Addai and Rhodes would split carries as a committee or whether Addai would reassume the starting role and Rhodes would be strictly a backup. Based on how last night's workload was divided, it looks like the latter. Rhodes got only four carries and appears to have little fantasy value from here on out.

RB Kolby Smith, KC - Smith left the game with what was reported as a right knee sprain. He had been playing well before the injury. It is now known that the injury is season-ending. Smith had been a rugged rusher the last couple of weeks. Against the Buccaneers, Smith carried the ball 10 times for 46 yards and a short-yardage score.

RB Fred Taylor, JAX - The Jaguars offensive line is taking hit after hit with injuries. Half way through the season, it is taking its toll on the offense. Both Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are being affected by the line's inability to control the line of scrimmage. Jones-Drew is the primary RB and if he is struggling some, you can imagine how bad it is for Taylor. We recommend benching Taylor unless an injury to Jones-Drew opens up more opportunities.

RB LenDale White, TEN - Through he first four games of the season, Chris Johnson and LenDale White split their carries fairly evenly, Johnson getting just seven more carries than White. Over the last four games, Johnson has pulled way ahead, getting 41 more carries than White. Johnson even scored from inside the five on Sunday, although it's unfair to hold that against White since it came while White was on the sidelines just after his 54-yard run. Nonetheless, as White's touches continue to shrink, he will lose fantasy value down the stretch run of the season.

Holding steady

RB Michael Bennett, TB - Bennett saw extended action with the injury to Warrick Dunn. Graham carried most of the load, but Bennett still played. One concern going forward was a key carry in the first quarter, 3rd down and 1 deep in Kansas City territory, Bennett lost two yards. The Buccaneers were struggling to stay in the game at that point and needed the first down. He did not get another carry until less than six minutes left in the first half. Those were the only two carries on the game for the veteran running back. Little-used Clifton Smith played after Bennett's last rush attempt.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE - It is notoriously difficult to get reliable injury information about Patriots players, but for as long as Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan are out of the lineup, Green-Ellis remains a decent RB3/flex option. He has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games, and should continue to get the goal line carries over Kevin Faulk. Once Jordan and/or Morris return, however, Green-Ellis will likely see a major reduction in his workload.

RB Marshawn Lynch, BUF - Lynch didn't have a great game against the Jets and if it wasn't for a 42-yard catch and run in the first quarter, he would've finished with 26 total yards and no scores. This doesn't mean the sky is falling, but he is going to have to pick it up to get back into the Top 10. Lynch has not rushed for more than 70 yards since week three, but he also hasn't had less than three receptions in a game since week three either. He had TDs in two consecutive games heading into the Jets game. He still has plenty of value, but he was predicted to perform better than he currently is. Don't forget, Buffalo has a very favorable schedule down the stretch. Continue to start Lynch. He is due for a big game sooner or later. Lynch did go to the locker room a few minutes before the half with an apparent case of nausea. He returned in the second half - nothing to worry about.

RB Jerious Norwood, ATL - The Falcons are finding ways to include Norwood in the running game and he is not disappointing. He may have an occasional good game here and there that you wish you had him in your lineup for, but don't beat yourself up deciding on when to start him. His place on your roster is in the event Michael Turner misses a game with an injury. If that happens, Norwood's value soars. Players like Norwood and Minnesota's Chester Taylor are excellent roster spots, who will undoubtedly shine when and if they get their chance in the limelight.


Wide Receiver

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WR Bernard Berrian, MIN - Berrian scored a touchdown for the fourth straight game. He eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the third time in four games. He has had at least 78 receiving yards each game since week three. That is a strong steak considering the run-heavy Viking offense. Berrian is one player that is very happy to have Gus Frerotte under center. Against the Texans, he only caught two passes, but they went for 104 yards and a 49-yard scoring grab. On the first offensive play of the game, Frerotte hit the former Bear deep down the left side of the field for a 55-yard pass to the 11 yard line. He was targeted seven times on the day, with one intercepted for a touchdown. Berrian is quickly becoming a must start for fantasy owners.

WR Anquan Boldin, ARI - The only thing that has slowed down Boldin this season was his injury in the Jets game. Despite missing two games, Boldin leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and looks as strong as ever. Kurt Warner was flushed out of the pocket several times in Week 9 against the Rams and he found Boldin to improvise several gains. Boldin should be a fantasy WR1 the rest of the way and looks poised to show his talents against San Francisco next Monday night in a favorable matchup.

WR Mark Bradley, KC - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Bradley now has enjoyed a pair of good games since joining the Chiefs. His father, former Oklahoma option quarterback, Danny Bradley, should be pleased with his son's touchdown pass against Tampa Bay. The play was a thing of beauty. Jamaal Charles took the direct snap, ran to his left, tossed it to Bradley on a reverse, then the former Bear threw the ball deep to Tyler Thigpen. It was good for a 37-yard touchdown. He totaled 65 receiving yards on four passes, including a big 56-yard reception. He looks like the playmaker with potential many had hoped in Chicago. Thigpen is gaining confidence in the young receiver, targeting him eight times in the game.

WR Antonio Bryant, TB - Bryant had another big game. The addition of Galloway back in the lineup did not affect the production of the 27-year old. He was targeted 10 times against the young Chief defensive backs. He caught eight passes for 115 yards and a key score with 19 seconds remaining in the game to set up the two-conversion to tie the game. Bryant is the unquestioned WR1 for the Buccaneers and is a good fantasy receiver after the team returns from its Week 10 bye.

WR Greg Camarillo, MIA - Camarillo had his first 100-yard game of the season, hauling in 11 catches for 111 on Sunday against the Broncos. More importantly, Camarillo has now been targeted 34 times in the last three games. He is currently the primary weapon in the Dolphins' passing offense, and it looks like he'll hold onto that role for the rest of the season. Going forward, Camarillo appears to be a decent WR3/flex option in most fantasy leagues.

WR Rashied Davis, CHI - The Bears had issues passing the ball with their starter Kyle Orton forced from the game in the first half, but both he and Rex Grossman looked towards Davis for a combined eight targets that resulted in five catches, 64 yards and a short scoring pass from Grossman. Davis led all Bears in targets, catches and yards in Week 9 but does face a tougher matchup next week in Tennessee.

WR Donald Driver, GB - Driver had his best game of the season. He found himself wide open a number of times in the second half, and showed that he can still make plays when given the opportunity. Driver finished with seven catches on 11 targets for 136 yards and a touchdown. Greg Jennings is still the WR1 in Green Bay, of course, but Driver re-established himself Sunday as an offensive force who can hurt teams that pay too much attention to Jennings and not enough to Driver.

WR Torry Holt, STL - Torry Holt got back into the mix for the Rams, running routes with a little bit of extra emphasis, especially after getting tackled out of bounds for a personal foul (unnecessary roughness) from Arizona's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, whom Holt victimized on his touchdown reception later on that same possession. Look for Holt to get more action as Marc Bulger tries to keep both him and Donnie Avery active in the offense.

WR Derrick Mason, BAL - Mason had a huge day against Cleveland in Week 9, who decided that they would rather stack the line and stop the run game (which they also struggled to do) and force the Ravens to beat them through the air. Rookie QB Joe Flacco responded well to that challenge and hit Mason all day long in single coverage as Mason posted his best effort so far this year. Mason gets a nice matchup in Week 10 against Houston before facing the Giants and Eagles the following two weeks.

WR Shaun McDonald, DET - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - McDonald had nine targets for the Lions in Week 9, which is a large number of looks in any offense. Detroit did throw 47 times against the Bears, but nine targets are nine targets, and McDonald took six of them for 65 yards and a score against Chicago. Detroit faces Minnesota next week and could easily have 40+ pass attempts again, so if you need a receiver to cover a bye or an injury, McDonald might be a solid pickup.

WR Sidney Rice, MIN - Rice was finally back from the knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for several weeks. He caught his only pass target for an eight-yard touchdown. The Vikings face the Packers in Week 10 which could be a good matchup. With Gus Frerotte at quarterback, and the second-year pro now healthy, the Vikings now have two playmakers starting at receiver with Rice and Berrian.

WR Mike Walker, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Exit Matt Jones, enter Mike Walker. Don't be surprised to see Mike Walker take over the primary WR role for the Jaguars when Matt Jones serves his three-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. In Walker's last action, he had six catches for 107 yards and was just starting to get comfortable with the offense. Walker may likely still be available on your waiver wire and the Jaguars play at Detroit next week. An official league announcement of Matt Jones' suspension could come as early as Monday. If there is no announcement by Wednesday, it's fairly safe to say Jones will play yet another week, because usually the league makes these suspension announcements early in the week so as not to throw off any of the team's strategy and preparation for their upcoming game. Consider waiting another week to start Walker only if Jones' suspension doesn't come this week.

Downgrade

WR Plaxico Burress, NYG - Burress is having trouble making an impact this season. Since week three, he has only grabbed more than three balls in a game once ... and that was in week six against Cleveland. During this same span, Burress only has one game with at least 46 receiving yards. He has been in a major slump. In the last three games, Plaxico Burress has totaled a whopping 73 yards. Against the beat up Cowboy secondary in week nine, Burress was the target of a Manning pass just six times, catching just three for 34 yards. It is difficult to consider him a must start each week. The Eagles will be a stiff test this coming week.

WR Matt Jones, JAX - Jones was notified by the league two weeks ago that he has been suspended three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He appealed the suspension, which bought him some time, before he officially cannot practice with the team or play any games for three straight weeks. Usually the league announces suspensions in the beginning of the week so they don't interfere with a team's practice and strategy. An announcement of Jones impending suspension could come in a few days. If the suspension does occur this week, he will miss a favorable match up on the road at Detroit, plus two consecutive home games against division leader Tennessee and then Minnesota.

WR Brandon Marshall, DEN - Although Marshall had just two catches for 27 yards, he did have a 77-yard touchdown catch called back due to a questionable pass interference penalty that would have made his stat line look a lot better. His downgrade is not based just on last night's numbers: it is based on his general return to earth after his explosive start to the season created some unrealistic expectations. In his first three games of the season (after he missed week one due to a suspension), he totaled 398 receiving yards and hauled in a touchdown in each game. Since then, he has failed to go over 100 yards or score a touchdown in any of his next four games. Marshall is still an every-week starter as a fantasy WR, but is no longer the top player at his position.

WR Donte Stallworth, CLE - Donte Stallworth simply cannot stay healthy and is just not a reliable option for fantasy owners. He was inactive once again in Week 9 against Baltimore after playing only three games since his first injury.

Holding steady

WR Anthony Gonzalez, IND - Gonzalez had his best fantasy performance of the season on Sunday night, catching two touchdown receptions. He is still getting only about five targets per game, however (including his five targets Sunday night). It is hard to give him an upgrade when he is third among the Colts' WRs in targets, and his share of the targets has not been trending upward. His two TD catches helped any of his fantasy owners who started him last week, but we don't expect Gonzalez to have multiple-TD games regularly.

WR Chad Johnson, CIN - Johnson looked to have some good chemistry on short ranged passes with Ryan Fitzpatrick against Jacksonville. That could continue, but then again it may not. Until Fitzpatrick strings together a few good games, keep your expectations low for Johnson. Johnson is notorious for having a big game where he scores two TDs or more (like this week) and then disappears for a week or two. The burners are warming up for Johnson, but the stove is far from hot. Start him if you have to, but don't necessarily expect big things - not from this Bengals offense.


Tight End

Upgrade

TE Brent Celek, PHI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Eagles were once again without LJ Smith and had to turn to second-year tight end Brent Celek to start for them in Week 9 against the Seahawks, but they had to be happy with the outcome. Celek caught all six of his targets for 131 total yards as he slashed the Seattle defense with three 20+ yard gains. Philadelphia should take a hard look at Celek's performance and Smith's lackluster year and consider making the switch permanent. Even if Smith returns as the starter, Celek is likely to see more targets going forward and is worth a pickup if Smith is out again in Week 10 as the Eagles face the Giants on Sunday Night Football, since the Giants struggle in defending against tight ends.

TE Owen Daniels, HOU - Daniels had another huge game and caught 11 passes for 133 yards. He was Rosenfels' top target in the second half. Schaub targeted Daniels just four times in the first half. But, Rosenfels targeted his big tight end twice alone on the first drive of the third quarter. In just the second half, Sage Rosenfels targeted Daniels nine times. Keep an eye on the Schaub injury. If he misses much time, Owen Daniels could be the top fantasy tight end in the coming weeks.

TE Robert Royal, BUF - Slight upgrade to Robert Royal. Perhaps with the loss of WR Josh Reed to an Achilles injury, the Bills will lean more to TE Robert Royal in the passing game. That was the case in the loss to the Jets on Sunday. Royal led all Bills receivers with 70 yards on five catches, plus their #2 TE Derek Fine added four catches for 43 yards and a TD. It's obvious that QB Trent Edwards is looking more towards the TE and if that continues, Royal will be the main beneficiary. He has only scored one TD this season, but he has 13 catches in his last four games, including two games of 50 yards or more. He is someone to keep an eye on or possibly take a flier on if you're desperate at TE.

Downgrade

TE Todd Heap, BAL - Todd Heap has lost all fantasy value as the Ravens are treating him like a glorified offensive tackle. In fact, Heap is the tackle when the Ravens use their unbalanced line in their version of the Wildcat offense. He just does not go out for passes often enough to have much of any value at all.

TE Zach Miller, OAK - Zach Miller may be the only player worthy of fantasy consideration on Oakland right now, but after this week, you may want to shy away from starting any Raiders players, including Miller. Oakland finished the game with only three first downs, 77 total yards of offense, and a 1-for-9 on third down efficiency. That is the very definition of pathetic. The offense won't stay on the field long with those kinds of numbers. With Carolina coming to town next week, expect more of the same for the Raiders, especially without rookie sensation Darren McFadden who is sidelined with toe injuries on both feet.

TE L.J. Smith, PHI - L.J. Smith is struggling to stay healthy once again, and he was inactive in Week 9 for the Eagles -- Seahawks matchup. Backup TE Brent Celek played admirably in Smith's absence, so Smith may even get less work once he does return to health.

TE Jason Witten, DAL - Witten played in the game against the Giants but was held without a catch. The bye week comes at a good time. But, the injury is one that could linger. He was targeted three times, with two of those intercepted. Witten was not himself. He could not get open, and looked to shy from contact.

Holding steady

TE Greg Olsen, CHI - Olsen had just two catches for 10 yards in Week 9 against Detroit, but Olsen owners should remain positive. Olsen had five targets for the day and remains a main contributor to the Bears offensive plans. Next week Chicago faces a tough Titans defense, but Tennessee does yield good numbers to opposing tight ends.


Kicker

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PK Rob Bironas, TEN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Titans are bogging down a bit lately and having to settle for FGs rather than TDs. That's great news for Bironas. Over the last three weeks, he has booted nine FGs and seven PATs.

PK Dan Carpenter, MIA - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Carpenter has basically come from nowhere (along with the Dolphins offense). He has been almost perfect this season (missing only twice) and has kicked nine FGs and five PATs over the last three weeks.

PK Garrett Hartley, NO - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Saints released Taylor Mehlhaff and have turned to Hartley. He was 32 out of 35 on FGs over his last two years in college. Hopefully for the Saints, that accuracy will translate to the NFL game.

Downgrade

PK Matt Prater, DEN - The Denver offense has really stunk up the joint lately. After starting off on fire (almost 38 PPG in the first three weeks), they have failed to pass the 20-point mark since Week 3. Prater is being starved for kicking opportunities (only one FG and three PATs over the last two games.

Holding steady


Team Defense

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TD Arizona Cardinals, ARI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Arizona's defense has been surprisingly good this season, but they were excellent in Week 9 as they sacked the Rams' QB twice and forced three turnovers (one of which was returned for a TD). With San Francisco on tap for Week 10, the Cardinals could be huge again.

TD Miami Dolphins, MIA - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Dolphins have turned in a pair of excellent showings over the last two weeks against supposedly tough offenses (Buffalo and Denver). Over the last three weeks, Miami has forced eight turnovers and accumulated six sacks. Even better news for the Dolphins is their end-of-season schedule (Week 15 and Week 16) where they face the weak offenses of San Francisco and Kansas City.

Downgrade

TD Tampa Bay Buccaneers, TB - The Buccaneers haven't produced at a level that was expected. Over the last three weeks, they have only three forced turnovers and four sacks. They were particularly disappointing in Week 9 against the usually hapless Chiefs.

TD Tennessee Titans, TEN - Don't misunderstand - Tennessee's defense is excellent...on the NFL level. However, they lack play-making ability and simply aren't producing at a high fantasy level. Over the last three weeks, they have forced only four turnovers and have accumulated only seven sacks. While those aren't shoddy numbers, they simply aren't fantastic fantasy statistics.

Holding steady

TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL - One could argue that the Falcons merit an upgrade as they really performed Week 9 against the Raiders. However, they don't play the Raiders every week. They don't face another soft offense unti Week 17 against the Rams.


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