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All our week 12 content

Week 12 Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waiver Wire Wonders

by Matt Waldman, exclusive to Footballguys.com


The player movement in the Waiver Wire Report and the Upgrades-Downgrades Reports are based on analysis from the weekend's games and the previous week's Top 250 Forward Report by David Dodds and Bob Henry. This is a one-size-fits-all report so there are several players recommended to add, drop, or hold that may not fit your league's format. To learn the difference between the Waiver Wire Report and the Upgrades-Downgrades Report and the methodology behind them, read this article.

Quarterback

Upgrade

  1. QB Chad Henne, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. QB Colin Kaepernick, SF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. QB Brandon Weeden, CLE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. QB Matt Schaub, HOU *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  5. QB Michael Vick, PHI

Downgrade

  1. QB Nick Foles, PHI
  2. QB John Skelton, ARI
  3. QB Jason Campbell, CHI
  4. QB Sam Bradford, STL
  5. QB Alex Smith, SF
  6. QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA
  7. QB Blaine Gabbert, JAX
  8. QB Matt Ryan, ATL

Holding steady

  1. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF
  2. QB Joe Flacco, BAL
  3. QB Byron Leftwich, PIT
  4. QB Ryan Lindley, ARI
  5. QB Jake Locker, TEN
  6. QB Philip Rivers, SD
  7. QB Russell Wilson, SEA


Running Back

Upgrade

  1. RB Jalen Parmele, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. RB Chris Wells, ARI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. RB Mark Ingram, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  5. RB Shane Vereen, NE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. RB Bryce Brown, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. RB Jonathan Dwyer, PIT
  8. RB Bilal Powell, NYJ *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  9. RB Marcel Reece, OAK *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. RB Cedric Benson, GB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  11. RB Felix Jones, DAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  12. RB Vick Ballard, IND
  13. RB Delone Carter, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  14. RB Cedric Peerman, CIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  15. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN

Downgrade

  1. RB Taiwan Jones, OAK
  2. RB Daniel Thomas, MIA
  3. RB Pierre Thomas, NO
  4. RB Willis McGahee, DEN
  5. RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR
  6. RB Alex Green, GB
  7. RB Darren McFadden, OAK
  8. RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
  9. RB Alfred Morris, WAS
  10. RB Peyton Hillis, KC
  11. RB Stevan Ridley, NE
  12. RB Ronnie Brown, SD
  13. RB Matt Forte, CHI
  14. RB Ryan Mathews, SD
  15. RB Ray Rice, BAL
  16. RB Travaris Cadet, NO
  17. RB Mike Goodson, OAK
  18. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI
  19. RB Phillip Tanner, DAL

Holding steady

  1. RB Joique Bell, DET
  2. RB LeGarrette Blount, TB
  3. RB Donald Brown, IND
  4. RB Lance Dunbar, DAL
  5. RB Arian Foster, HOU
  6. RB Montario Hardesty, CLE
  7. RB Jamie Harper, TEN
  8. RB Chris Ivory, NO
  9. RB Lamar Miller, MIA
  10. RB Isaiah Pead, STL
  11. RB Bernard Pierce, BAL
  12. RB Daryl Richardson, STL
  13. RB Evan Royster, WAS
  14. RB Michael Smith, TB
  15. RB James Starks, GB
  16. RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARI
  17. RB Robert Turbin, SEA
  18. RB Johnny White, GB
  19. RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR
  20. RB David Wilson, NYG
  21. RB Danny Woodhead, NE


Wide Receiver

Upgrade

  1. WR Danario Alexander, SD *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. WR Michael Crabtree, SF
  3. WR Julian Edelman, NE
  4. WR Justin Blackmon, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  5. WR Juron Criner, OAK *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. WR LaVon Brazill, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. WR Harry Douglas, ATL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  8. WR Andre Johnson, HOU
  9. WR Cecil Shorts, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. WR T.Y. Hilton, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  11. WR Marvin Jones, CIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  12. WR Austin Pettis, STL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  13. WR Riley Cooper, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  14. WR Aldrick Robinson, WAS *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  15. WR Mario Manningham, SF
  16. WR Greg Salas, NE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI
  2. WR Julio Jones, ATL
  3. WR Dwayne Bowe, KC
  4. WR Brian Hartline, MIA
  5. WR Josh Morgan, WAS
  6. WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
  7. WR Donald Jones, BUF
  8. WR Brandon Lloyd, NE
  9. WR Rod Streater, OAK
  10. WR Michael Floyd, ARI
  11. WR Titus Young, DET
  12. WR Miles Austin, DAL
  13. WR Ryan Broyles, DET
  14. WR Andrew Hawkins, CIN
  15. WR DeSean Jackson, PHI
  16. WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI
  17. WR Andre Roberts, ARI
  18. WR Mike Williams, TB

Holding steady

  1. WR Davone Bess, MIA
  2. WR Brandon Gibson, STL
  3. WR Chris Givens, STL
  4. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK
  5. WR Stephen Hill, NYJ
  6. WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ
  7. WR Brandon LaFell, CAR
  8. WR Greg Little, CLE
  9. WR Brandon Marshall, CHI
  10. WR Denarius Moore, OAK
  11. WR Santana Moss, WAS
  12. WR Jordy Nelson, GB
  13. WR Laurent Robinson, JAX
  14. WR Emmanuel Sanders, PIT
  15. WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN
  16. WR Chaz Schilens, NYJ
  17. WR Brandon Stokley, DEN
  18. WR Golden Tate, SEA
  19. WR Kyle Williams, SF


Tight End

Upgrade

  1. TE Garrett Graham, HOU *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. TE Visanthe Shiancoe, NE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. TE Ben Watson, CLE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. TE Tony Moeaki, KC *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  5. TE Dallas Clark, TB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. TE Dwayne Allen, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. TE Vernon Davis, SF
  8. TE Marcedes Lewis, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  9. TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN
  11. TE Brandon Myers, OAK *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. TE Rob Gronkowski, NE
  2. TE Heath Miller, PIT
  3. TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET
  4. TE Dennis Pitta, BAL

Holding steady

  1. TE Scott Chandler, BUF
  2. TE Jermichael Finley, GB
  3. TE Antonio Gates, SD
  4. TE Ladarius Green, SD
  5. TE Dustin Keller, NYJ
  6. TE Zach Miller, SEA
  7. TE Logan Paulsen, WAS


Kicker

Upgrade

  1. PK Blair Walsh, MIN
  2. PK Matt Prater, DEN
  3. PK Garrett Hartley, NO

Downgrade

  1. PK Justin Tucker, BAL

Holding steady

  1. PK Jay Feely, ARI


Team Defense

Upgrade

  1. TD Seattle Seahawks, SEA
  2. TD San Francisco 49ers, SF

Downgrade

  1. TD Chicago Bears, CHI

Holding steady


Quarterback

Upgrade

QB Chad Henne, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Blaine Gabbert suffered another boo-boo that took him out of the game. The ouch-ee that got Sunshine this weekend was a bruised throwing elbow and Mike Mularkey refused to kiss it and make the second-year quarterback feel better. The veteran Henne stepped in and made this a ball game, hitting Justin Blackmon on two deep passes. One was a deep cross that Blackmon took 63 yards and then a seam route between defenders where Blackmon bounced off a hit and got a mini-convoy of blocks up the left flat to slow roll his way to the end zone for an 81-yard score. He also found Cecil Shorts on a hook that the second-year wide out took for a 67-yard touchdown. Henne still had his share of tipped passes, throws behind receivers, and general miscommunications one should expect from a backup not used to getting reps with starters, but his 354 yards and 4 touchdowns on the big plays he did hit were enough to make fantasy owners consider hi against the Titans, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots if he somehow earns the nod over Gabbert. Keep an eye on this situation.

QB Colin Kaepernick, SF - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The second-year passer from Nevada looked like the model for what a year of development away from the starting lineup should be for a quarterback. Nice comeback for a first down off play action from a 21 personnel set to Manningham. Kaepernick consistently changed plays at the line of scrimmage to find more optimal plays. This isn't as difficult as it may appear in this contest, considering that the Bears tend to do little to disguise its defense. Still, for a player drawing his first start it was a great sign. What was more impressive was how he handled the Bears' terrific defense after the snap. Kaepernick did a strong job of driving the Bears down the field with first-down play action passes, hitting Vernon Davis early and often, including his first touchdown pass. He was accurate deep with deep corner routes to Davis and Kyle Williams. He also improvised well on his second touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick did little as a runner, but his 18-of-23 for 243 yards for 2 scores without a turnover was a credit to how good he was against this Bears defense that thrives on turnovers. Alex Smith may return with his job intact, but Kaepernick made a statement in this game that he has a future as a starter in this league sooner than later. He's worth adding for the playoffs as a productive reserve. He could draw starts if the 49ers earn home field advantage in December. He's also worth adding in case Smith struggles or the 49ers like enough of what they saw to make a switch. Jim Harbaugh did say that he tends to go with the hot-hand, but claimed both quarterbacks have a hot hand. Stay tuned.

QB Matt Schaub, HOU - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - In a most unexpected contest where the Jaguars turned the game into a shootout, Schaub went 43-of-55 for 527 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, throwing for the second-highest yardage total in history. Schaub's primary targets were Andre Johnson and backup tight end Garrett Graham. Schaub was accurate on just about every type of pass, hitting his receivers on short play action passes, screens, and deep posts. The Texans schedule includes the Lions, Titans, Patriots, and Colts, which gives Schaub a good series of matchups. He has thrown for at least 250 yards and 2 touchdowns in three of the past four contests, and that one subpar contest was in a soggy evening in Chicago where neither team's passing game was any good. Schaub makes a nice committee quarterback for those struggling to find a starter with upside.

QB Michael Vick, PHI - Vick earns an upgrade because Nick Foles did a poor enough job that the whispers of the veteran getting shut down for the season are now murmurs that he might be ready next week. Vick remains a QB2 with QB1 upside, but he's worth consideration if you need depth.

QB Brandon Weeden, CLE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Weeden satisfied incredibly desperate fantasy owners this weekend with a 20-of-35, 210-yard, 2-touchdown performance against a good Cowboys defense. He found Ben Watson twice in the end zone and probably should have had a third score on a fourth-down pass to Jordan Cameron that he threw out of bounds late in the game that could have given the Browns an earlier lead. The play call in this situation was just a poor choice and the execution didn't give Cameron a chance to make the play inbounds. Otherwise, Weeden continues to flash a strong arm, good accuracy, and an aggressiveness that helps his team compete. The Browns face Steelers, Raiders, Chiefs, and Redskins next. If you can find a more suitable quarterback for Week 12 but add Weeden for the next three weeks, he could make a reasonable start for a strong team lacking a quarterback after league trade deadlines have passed.

Downgrade

QB Sam Bradford, STL - Bradford is worth 150-200 yards and a score, which isn't enough to consider using him now that the bye weeks have ended.

QB Jason Campbell, CHI - Campbell was sacked five times in this contest and hurried numerous times. The Bears receivers could not get open and when they did, Campbell neither had the time nor the decisiveness to zip the ball into tight spaces to make the play. He was also intercepted twice, including a comeback route intended for Devin Hester that Terrell Brown jumped. Jay Cutler should be back next week and not a moment too soon.

QB Nick Foles, PHI - The Eagles benched Michael Vick due to a concussion last week and Foles drew the start. There was talk about shutting Vick down for the rest of the year, but after Foles demonstrated the same problems against the Redskins that he had at the University of Arizona, expect Vick to be back next week. With a good schedule down the stretch that includes the Redskins rematch, the Panthers, Buccaneers, and Bengals, Foles probably lost his chance to continue starting. Drop him.

QB Blaine Gabbert, JAX - Gabbert suffered an elbow injury, giving away to Chad Henne, who ripped the Texans defense for 354 yards and 4 touchdowns. Granted Henne didn't look great, but his receivers made the most of their opportunities after the catch. I'd be surprised if the Jaguars bench Gabbert based on this game unless the elbow injury doesn't heal. Gabbert is only mentioned here for those in start-two, QB leagues.

QB Matt Ryan, ATL - Ryan earns a downgrade after throwing a career-high, five interceptions against the Cardinals, three of them in the first quarter. The Falcons quarterback had his share of tipped passes that resulted in a share of his miscues, but it would be disingenuous to say this was the primary reason Ryan had a bad day. The Cardinals were effective blitzing Ryan up the middle and forcing the Falcons quarterback to make ill-advised throws into the middle of the field, rushing to get rid of the football. There were also two plays where Ryan misjudged coverage and made throws that were slightly behind his receivers that resulted in two of the interceptions. One of them was a bootleg that Ryan will look at the film and cringe when he sees the decision. The Falcons quarterback overcame these mistakes for have his third consecutive 300-yard game, but it was his second week out of three where he was held without a touchdown. Ryan is a slight downgrade because of the past three weeks of somewhat volatile production for a top-tier fantasy passer and the fact that Julio Jones couldn't finish the game due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Saints. The Falcons get the Buccaneers, Saints, and Panthers next, which is a nice schedule for Ryan's fantasy owners so the downgrade is only minor at this point.

QB John Skelton, ARI - The Cardinals intercepted Matt Ryan five times, three times in the first quarter alone and Skelton could not punch the ball in despite his defense setting him up in the red zone all three times. Thanks to LaRod Stephens-Howling, the Cardinals offense did manage one touchdown. However, Skelton was so wide of Larry Fitzgerald on a perfectly executed post corner in the end zone, the Cardinals opted two switch to rookie Ryan Lindley for the rest of the game. Skelton has the weapons to make this passing offense productive, but don't count on it happening for your fantasy needs.

QB Alex Smith, SF - Smith didn't play and convention would suggest the he'll remain the starter despite a strong performance from Colin Kaepernick. However, the second-year quarterback played great football against a top-tier defense and this could put Smith on a shorter leash. Kaepernick gives the 49ers greater mobility and a more dangerous deep passing game at the quarterback position than Smith. Smith may be the present, but Kaepernick is the future, and probably the not-too-distant future.

QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA - The Dolphins rookie is 37-of-67 for 358 yards with 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions during the past two weeks. Tannehill isn't changing plays at the line of scrimmage as much as he did earlier in the season and the Dolphins offense doesn't seem to be adding new wrinkles. Defenses are getting to play them straight-up and this vanilla offense is suffering. Tannehill gets the Seahawks, Patriots, and 49ers during the next three weeks. The bye weeks are over, and so is his viability as a fantasy starter.

Holding steady

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF - As mentioned for the past three weeks, Fitzpatrick gets the Colts, Jaguars, and Rams, and this makes him a worthwhile option for fantasy owners who might have gone all-in with Michael Vick or had to make trades and take chances on committee-type starters who haven't worked out. Buffalo is too inconsistent to count on Fitzpatrick for more than a speculative play with a decent schedule.

QB Joe Flacco, BAL - Flacco was considered droppable two weeks ago after failing to exceed a 250-yard game since Week 5. The Ravens starter then hit Torrey Smith for two touchdowns to Torrey Smith en route to a 341-yard, 3-score afternoon, including a 47-yard bomb up the right flat early in the third quarter to keep the lead above 17 points for the rest of the contest. This week against the Steelers, he returned to earth with a 20-of-32, 164-yard day that included 2 sacks and losing his tight end Dennis Pitta to a concussion in the first quarter. The Chargers, Steelers and Redskins are a decent schedule because two of the three are vulnerable to the pass. Flacco is a hit-or-miss type of committee starter who hits big when he's on.

QB Byron Leftwich, PIT - Leftwich scored on the most improbable of plays, a 31-yard scramble up the right sideline that had the loping grace of a drunken giraffe that lucked out when the hyena by the name of Bernard Pollard misjudged his kill shot at boundary. It was one of the funniest plays of the week for non-Ravens fans. It was also his best play of the day in a 201-yard, 1-interception, non-offensive slugfest against the Ravens. Leftwich continued to display in this game why he's a backup. When he had time in the pocket, he was able to fire the ball down field with excellent accuracy, finding Emmanuel Sanders on a pair of long plays where he hit the receiver in stride. Leftwich also demonstrated that, in his own gangly way, he was nimble in the pocket to make inventive check downs under pressure. However, Leftwich and his willingness to hang in the pocket and make these throws, got hurt early in the game and played with an injury that forced him to double over with each succeeding pass. By games' end, I was starting to wonder if he was trying to reprise his days at Marshall where his linemen had to carry him from play to play in one contest. Leftwich's arm strength diminished as the game progressed and by the end of the fourth quarter, he had a chance to hit a receiver down the middle of the field behind the secondary on a play where he rolled right, but he short-armed it by 10 yards due to this injury that seemed to be somewhere under his throwing arm. Ben Roethlisberger's prognosis for next week is unknown, but if Leftwich is scheduled to start against the Browns, he's not worth adding unless in a large league that starts two quarterbacks and you're desperate.

QB Ryan Lindley, ARI - John Skelton got benched after earning three consecutive drives that began deep in Falcons territory due to interceptions and came away with 13 points -- none of them touchdown passes. Skelton missed Larry Fitzgerald on a wide-open post corner during one of those drives and it was enough for the Cardinals to insert the rookie Lindley. The former San Diego State prospect has a strong arm and ability to make some high-difficulty throws. However, he's still learning how to play in tight spaces of the pocket and make pro-quality reads of defenses. This week, Lindley had to work with multiple receivers he hasn't practiced with enough to have a rapport on the nature of their breaks on timing routes, and where they like to have the ball placed. This showed with passes that were just off the mark to Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts deep and Michael Floyd in the intermediate range along the perimeter. Monitor whether the Skelton benching is long-term. Lindley could improve fast enough to consider as a desperation start due to his receiving weapons, but at this point he's a player only worth monitoring in most leagues. Dynasty owners should consider him because he has the most passing talent of the three quarterbacks on the roster and if the Cardinals don't derail his development just to make a point with Skelton then he could start in another year or two.

QB Jake Locker, TEN - The Jaguars, Texans, Colts, Jets, and Packers are the schedule after the Week 11 Bye. This is a decent enough schedule to consider Locker if desperate for a committee starter that could provide reasonably good production (low-end QB1 production) more weeks than not down the stretch.

QB Philip Rivers, SD - Danario Alexander has given San Diego a fighting chance to produce through the air on a weekly basis, because of his deep speed, skill after the catch on short passes, and most of all, his hands. He isn't the drive-ender that Robert Meachem is. Rivers was 29-of-37 for 337 yards for 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions last week. This week, he was 24-of-40 for 258 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. If you're in a shallow league and a team dropped Rivers, the Chargers quarterback is worth a look because the schedule includes two decent matchups among the Bengals, Steelers, Panthers, and Jets. There are several better options than Rivers, but in deeper leagues, he might be a reasonable speculative play.

QB Russell Wilson, SEA - Wilson is 53-of-78 for 608 yards and 7 touchdowns during the past three weeks prior to the bye, including last week's 2-touchdown effort against the Jets. This was his fourth multiple-touchdown outing as a passer in five weeks. Wilson continues to look good as a scrambler, finding receivers down field after avoiding pressure that most quarterbacks could not. His 31-yard score to Sidney Rice was a great pass on the line up the right seam that was placed perfectly over the receiver's inside shoulder despite tight coverage from the defensive back. Although Wilson continues to produce well, he did take four sacks and lost the ball on one of those that led to a runback for a touchdown in the first quarter. Every week, Sidney Rice is looking healthier and Golden Tate is playing with more confidence. The Dolphins, Bears, Cardinals, and Bills are next. He's probably the best of the mid-to-low end QB2s and worth an addition to replace that second committee passer who has underwhelmed for your squad.


Running Back

Upgrade

RB Vick Ballard, IND - Ballard ran with burst and power early in this contest and finished with 75 yards on 16 carries. He may have slowed to a crawl in a blowout against the Patriots, but that's a given when a team piles 50 on you and you're more the 3 touchdowns behind. He's clearly the lead back at this point and the Bills, Lions, and Titans present a nice three-week schedule for those seeking an RB2 or strong flex play. The only negative with the Colts running game is that it is a minor, three-headed monster. Donald Brown sees his share of looks as the speed threat and Delone Carter is performing well at the goal line in recent weeks.

RB Cedric Benson, GB - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Benson could be back by Week 14 and this Packers running game isn't functioning at the same level without the veteran. He could be a nice playoff stash, especially for most championship weeks where Green Bay faces Tennessee.

RB Bryce Brown, PHI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - If LeSean McCoy's concussion forces him to miss a week or two, Brown has the talent to produce as a fantasy starter, especially if Michael Vick can return next weekend as some are speculating. The Panthers, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Redskins are not an easy schedule against the run when looking at that four-week period as a whole. However, if McCoy only misses a week, Brown's matchup with the Panthers would make him prime material as a one-week sub. If the Eagles shut down McCoy for the final two weeks of the season and give Brown more chances against the Bengals and a rematch with the Redskins, fantasy owners should climb aboard the bandwagon. Only Trent Richardson was a more heralded back coming out of high school and Brown earned comparisons to Bo Jackson by some of his Eagles teammates. Hyperbole yes, but Brown has the athleticism, hands, running skill to develop into a top-15 fantasy starter sooner if given the opportunity.

RB Delone Carter, IND - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Carter is a strong runner with some acceleration and excellent balance. He needs to work harder at pass protection and ball security. He has made enough strides to continue to see increased reps while Donald Brown has missed time. Carter still saw two carries, gaining 20 on one and scoring a touchdown on a nice second effort run to left end with the other. Carter remains a promising player and one to consider in larger leagues as a handcuff to Ballard and/or Brown.

RB Jonathan Dwyer, PIT - Dwyer's 12 carries for 55 yards against the Ravens was a better effort than the box scored suggests. He consistently found the room after breaking tackles or avoiding a defender at the line of scrimmage and finished strong in the second level. Rashard Mendenhall may regain the starting role after returning from his Achilles' injury in limited time this week, but Dwyer was the best running back on the field this weekend. Don't be surprised if Dwyer continues to earn significant touches and flex-production for fantasy owners for at least the next week or two against the Browns and then a rematch with the Ravens.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN - The Bengals were able to stick with the run and Green-Ellis gained 101 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs in a route in Kansas City. Green-Ellis also earned 4 yards per carry for the first time since Week 1. Don't rejoice, because reserve Cedric Peerman had 75 yards on 8 carries and often looked better on runs up the middle so it's not necessarily a reflection of the Bengals figuring out its ground game as much as the caliber of its opposition. With the Raiders, Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles next, Green-Ellis has a chance to continue producing as a strong flex-play, but also keep an eye on Peerman, who has the No.2 job locked down and continues to perform well in limited time.

RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Willis McGahee saw fewer touches than Ronnie Hillman this week against the Chargers, because a knee injury that will require an MRI. McGahee does not believe the injury is serious, but until we learn how much time is missed, if any, Hillman is an upgrade against a Chiefs defense that gave up 176 yards to Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Cedric Peerman this weekend. Hillman likely split enough time with Lance Ball to limit his ceiling to that of a low-end RB1. There is also reason to be excited about Hillman if McGahee returns next week because he still has the promise to be a solid addition for those with the luxury to hold a player for the fantasy playoffs. Hillman is a prospect who might see starter looks while they rest the veteran. He'll continue to earn late-game looks when the Broncos earn a commanding lead. With the Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Raiders next, it could happen a couple of times down the stretch. Also be cognizant of the Broncos' three-game lead in the division and the possibility that Denver can rest its starters during the final weeks of the season, which might also mean more work for Hillman.

RB Mark Ingram, NO - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Ingram's 16-carry, 62-yard outing was a nice display of yards after contact against the Falcons last week. This weekend he had 12 carries for 67 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown up the left flat against the Raiders. Combine those totals and you have an RB1 fantasy afternoon. However, Coach Joe Vitt has mandated the Saints offense run the ball more often and this did help the Saints passing game. Even if Darren Sproles returns next week, Ingram and Chris Ivory have earned more touches than Pierre Thomas during the past three weeks. Consider Ingram the hot hand with the opportunity to get hotter against the likes of the Falcons and Giants after a tough matchup with the 49ers. He's becoming a solid flex-play.

RB Felix Jones, DAL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Jones has 19 carries for 153 yards and 10 catches for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns during the past three weeks. Starter DeMarco Murray's return may be imminent, but no guarantee if he can stay healthy due to the nature of foot injuries and running backs. This means Jones remains a reasonable flex and remains a nice option to keep on your roster because the Redskins, Eagles, Bengals, Steelers, and Saints is a nice schedule for any running game.

RB Jalen Parmele, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Parmele ran hard against the Texans, amassing 80 yards on 24 carries, including a 28-yarder late in the game. The Jaguars seem to be moving on from Rashad Jennings, who saw 3 carries for -1 yard. The Titans, Bills, and Jets are next, and this is a good enough schedule to consider Parmele if Maurice Jones-Drew cannot return. Considering that Jones-Drew doesn't have a specific date, consider Parmele a better option than Brown or Jones for the long-term unless additional news breaks that lengthens McCoy and Murray's timetables to return.

RB Cedric Peerman, CIN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Peerman is a forgotten talent in the Bengals backfield and his best chance of earning consistent carries will only come if Green-Ellis gets hurt. At the same time, his 8 touches for 75 yards included some nice runs up the middle on successful drives. His 32-yard gain to begin his day was an attempt on a fake punt. Peerman has more speed than Green-Ellis, and if given a chance to get into a rhythm he could surprise. He's worth an addition to very deep rosters or large leagues with the Raiders, Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles next. Don't rely on anything more than desperation flex-production.

RB Bilal Powell, NYJ - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Powell left last week's game in the second half due to a concussion. This weekend he scored twice on red zone touches on plays up the middle of the Rams defense. He has only been a third-down option in this offense and rarely earns the same quality of touches as Shonn Greene. If Powell's two fourth-quarter touchdowns are a sign of things to come, he could see an increase in carries. Don't count on it. But if you didn't drop him last week, you might as well hang onto him against the Patriots and Cardinals to see if he shows more signs of life. If so, the Jaguars, Titans, and Chargers are a nice schedule for any Jets runner.

RB Marcel Reece, OAK - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Neither Darren McFadden nor Mike Goodson were able to play this weekend and it's unlikely they'll be ready next week. With Taiwan Jones hurting his ankle this weekend, Reece got a feature back workload, carrying the ball 19 times for 103 yards and adding another 90 yards as a receiver on 4 catches. He and Carson Palmer are this offense. Reece led all Raiders receivers three weeks ago with 95 yards on 8 receptions, including a 13-yard pass up the right sideline to the end zone in the late fourth quarter. Last weekend he had 104 total yards on 20 touches with a near, 50-50 split in rushing and receiving yardage. Oakland faces the Bengals, Browns, and Broncos next, and it makes Reece a strong RB2 with RB1 upside due to the nature of this offense. If McFadden or Goodson return during this span of games, Reece still has a strong shot to provide low-end RB2 or strong, flex production.

RB Shane Vereen, NE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Vereen had minimal opportunities the past three weeks but this weekend he had 11 carries for 40 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown run against the Colts. He continues to look quick and demonstrates strong pad level when finishing runs. He also out-produced Stevan Ridley. Vereen might be a nice preemptive addition with the Jets and Dolphins ahead and Brandon Bolden suspended for a performance enhancing substance violation. He's a solid desperation bye-week start that should earn you some points in the red zone and possibly a lot more if Ridley were to get hurt or underperforms again. Keep in mind that the loss of Rob Gronkowski for 4-6 weeks with a broken forearm will also hurt the running game from power sets, which is Ridley's forte.

RB Chris Wells, ARI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Wells, like Benson, is on track to return and he'll be the most talented of the healthy options on the Cardinals depth chart. The fact that the Cardinals' receiving corps is developing at a nice rate could also help the running game. Truth be told, that's about as optimistic as I can get about the situation for Wells because Arizona schedule isn't favorable for fantasy running backs.

Downgrade

RB Ronnie Brown, SD - After just earning 5 touches this weekend for 24 hours against the Buccaneers he followed up with a 6-touch 15-yard effort against the Broncos. He's safety to drop now that the bye weeks are over and Ryan Mathews is healthy.

RB Travaris Cadet, NO - Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas have earned the Saints workload. Cadet is returning kicks and earning spot-time as a space player on a limited basis. He's not worth keeping in re-draft leagues.

RB Matt Forte, CHI - Forte has a combined 37 carries for 102 yards in the past two games against the big-name, defensive units. Forte will see the Seahawks and Vikings (twice) in the next three weeks. Expect starter production ahead against the Vikings in contrast to his 21-carry, 63-yard evening, but the Bears offensive line has failed against stronger defensive units and the Seahawks qualify.

RB Mike Goodson, OAK - Monitor Goodson's health. He's talented enough to produce as strong RB2 and the Raiders are losing runners at a record pace. If you need room for healthy bodies, drop him until there's good news about his health.

RB Alex Green, GB - With Cedric Benson ditching his walking boot and working towards a Week 14 return, Green's fantasy playoff future might be relegated to the bench.

RB Peyton Hillis, KC - Hillis is healthy enough to split carries with Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs have a nice late-season stretch run that includes the Panthers, Browns, Raiders, and Colts. If you can deal with the Broncos next, Hillis might be worth an addition as a desperation flex with upside as a handcuff to Charles in larger leagues. However in most formats, he's droppable.

RB Taiwan Jones, OAK - Jones hurt his ankle and Marcel Reece is holding it down well enough that the second-year back from Eastern Washington wasn't much of an option anyhow.

RB Ryan Mathews, SD - Mathews has been consistent, scoring no less than seven fantasy points during the past eight weeks that he's played, but he's only scored one touchdown this year and he has yet to reach the 100-yard mark, despite two weeks with over 20 carries. He's a consistent, low-end RB2, but with a struggling offensive line, passing game, and a schedule that includes the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers during the next three weeks, expect more of the same from Mathews.

RB LeSean McCoy, PHI - McCoy had a concussion this weekend against the Redskins. He was more lucid than Mike Vick when the quarterback suffered his last week, which is a good sign. However, McCoy's progress should be monitored this week. His 112 total yards was good work despite the fact that they were playing with a struggling rookie quarterback. He's a downgrade this week because of the chance that he doesn't return next week or that Vick remains on the bench against the Panthers.

RB Darren McFadden, OAK - McFadden did some running in practice on Friday, but that running was restricted to the sideline with trainers. That doesn't sound like a player who will be ready for Week 12. Reece is performing better than McFadden has in recent weeks, with the Chiefs game as the notable exception. Reece is a better receiver, too. It might be worth trading McFadden and let someone else hope they get a playoff bargain if it will fortify your squad down the stretch.

RB Willis McGahee, DEN - Willis McGahee saw fewer touches than Ronnie Hillman this week against the Chargers, because a knee injury that will require an MRI. McGahee does not believe the injury is serious, but until we learn how much time is missed, if any, Hillman is an upgrade against a Chiefs defense that gave up 176 yards to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Cedric Peerman this weekend. Even if the injury isn't serious, the Broncos may opt go give McGahee a rest against the Chiefs even if it is a divisional game. Stay tuned.

RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT - There was an assumption from any that Mendenhall would start against the Ravens this weekend and assume the role of lead back. While Mendenhall earned some carries and looked healthy, Jonathan Dwyer was the most productive back on the field and looked good enough creating yardage that wasn't initially available that it's worth questioning how much of an upgrade Mendenhall should have been heading into this weekend. Downgrade expectations for Mendenhall for the next couple of weeks due to Dwyer's play and the possibility of the Steelers wanting to take it slow with Mendenhall's Achilles injury. He's a gamble as a flex-play, but has RB1 upside.

RB Alfred Morris, WAS - Morris hasn't had a 100-yard game since Week 7 and his yards per carry average dipped below 4 this weekend against the Eagles. He also hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5. However, he's still the primary ball carrier not named Robert Griffin and he benefits immensely from his quarterback's big-play ability. Morris is probably a safer RB2 than RB1. With the Cowboys, Giants, and Ravens ahead, downgrade him to RB2 status and hope for some red zone action that pays off.

RB Ray Rice, BAL - Rice hasn't averaged four yards per carry since Week 7 and his production has steadily decreased the past three weeks. The offensive line play has allowed defenders into the backfield more consistently than in previous weeks, which is one reason. The other is the Steelers top-ranked defense. A third reason is the disjointed play calling of the Ravens that has eschewed the ground game in recent weeks. Rice still had 93 total yards and 5 receptions against the Steelers, so he's still a solid RB1. Downgrading him more than a couple of spots is overkill, but with the Chargers, Steelers, and Redskins ahead a downgrade is necessary.

RB Stevan Ridley, NE - The downgrade is only partially a result of Ridley's 2.2-yards-per-carry outing against the Colts. Ridley scored a touchdown and still produced as a fantasy starter. The real concern for his drop in value is the loss of Rob Gronkowski for 4-6 weeks due to a broken forearm. This will hurt the Patriots running blocking and Ridley has a lot of success on plays that allow him to work behind the elite tight end. With Shane Vereen a more natural passing down back with better speed to the outside, there's a possibility we could see some adjustments down the line that impact Ridley's workload. This is just speculation so continue to start Ridley as a solid RB2 in a good offense, but it is worth acquiring Vereen or fantasy depth on another team that could help you if Ridley's opportunities decline at the time when you need him the most.

RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR - Stewart tweaked an ankle during the Buccaneers game and missed some time before returning. Because Stewart has a history of foot and ankle problems and ankle injuries often swell more after the game, it's best to anticipate complications this week and prepare for him to either miss time or be limited against the Eagles next week. If you don't buy that argument, then accept that he hasn't seen yards per carry average of four yards in three of the past four contests and he's had double-digit attempts in three of those four games. Monitor his progress but until Marty Schottenheimer and his submersible tank pirates this Carolina ship, don't count on much more than flex production.

RB Phillip Tanner, DAL - Felix Jones is the ultimate underachiever and a history of fragility and inconsistency. Tanner could become a viable player if Demarco Murray isn't ready to return soon. With the nature of Murray's injury and Jones' health history, keep Tanner in mind. Just understand that this Cowboys line is banged up and you're hoping for a long run every week to earn a Dallas runner starter points. Lance Dunbar has overtaken Tanner on the depth chart so don't expect anything from Tanner unless more injuries strike.

RB Daniel Thomas, MIA - He's the handcuff to Reggie Bush, but not doing much when he's on the field. Lamar Miller has flashed more in limited time this year than Thomas has for two years in limited time. He's worth considering for mid-to-late December matchups with the Bills and Jaguars if you own Reggie Bush.

RB Pierre Thomas, NO - Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory are getting warm and it's somewhat at the expense of Thomas's chances. Thomas still gets a consistent 4-6 touches, but the production coming from these looks isn't fantasy-worthy. He hasn't earned a double-digit fantasy outing since Week 2 in non-PPR leagues and that was his only game of this type thus far in 2012. Thomas is a borderline desperation flex-play as long as Ingram and Ivory remain in the picture. Based on Joe Vitt's comments about the desire for more of a ground attack, count on it.

Holding steady

RB Joique Bell, DET - Bell saw limited touches in a close contest with the Packers. If this continues against the Texans, it might warrant a downgrade for the flex-option.

RB LeGarrette Blount, TB - Blount had borderline first-round talent at Oregon, but he had a high school player's attitude early in his career. If he can keep his job as the No.2 back he's a Doug Martin injury away from earning the starting job and offering fantasy RB2 production.

RB Donald Brown, IND - Brown had 17 yards on 4 carries and another 6 on 2 receptions. The Bills, Lions, and Titans are an easier schedule ahead, but Vick Ballard is making the most of his opportunities as the lead back and Delone Carter is beginning to show the talent that made him a good prospect in his own right. Brown isn't a great runner, but he's an effective flex-player with some big-play upside when he finds a lane that he can bounce outside or a screen pass that he can take up the flat. Brown has flex-appeal in larger leagues.

RB Lance Dunbar, DAL - Dunbar is a short, shifty back with good quickness and creativity. He is beginning to see more favor as the No.2 back to Felix Jones. If Demarco Murray and Jones were to miss time, Dunbar would probably split opportunities with Phillip Tanner. Both of these reserves have the talent to produce as solid flex-options if called upon as a committee for the Cowboys.

RB Arian Foster, HOU - Foster had a very uncharacteristic outing against he Jaguars, earning 2.8 yards per carry on 28 touches for 77 yards. He still managed nine fantasy points and it was just his first outing were he was held to less than 15 fantasy points all year. It was Foster's second game in a row average less than four yards per carry, but until that becomes a trend cut the runner some slack and enjoy the fact that you still have a workhorse earning more than 20 carries per game in all but two contests this year. The Lions, Titans, Patriots, and Colts constitute a good fantasy schedule for Foster to remain a top-tier fantasy runner.

RB Montario Hardesty, CLE - Hardesty is a talented runner stuck behind the most talented rookie runner in the league. Hardesty's knees make him a very risky addition, but he's still worth mentioning in some leagues as Richardson's handcuff.

RB Jamie Harper, TEN - His goal line looks make him worth a shot as a deep league addition. He also appears to be the primary backup to Chris Johnson behind a Titans line that is improving its play. If you own Johnson, Harper is worth an addition as his handcuff.

RB Chris Ivory, NO - Ivory runs like Adrian Peterson in the sense that he's big, physical, fast, and has moves to make defenders miss. More than anything, he runs with an aggressive nature. When putting together all of these facets of his game, Ivory has runs that look like something from the back whose home is where the Mississippi starts and not where it ends. Mark Ingram is playing better as he earns more opportunities and remains above Ivory on the depth chart. Even with Darren Sproles possibly returning next week , Joe Vitt has made it clear that he wants to run the ball more. I think Ivory was out-playing Ingram until the Raiders game when Ingram got early looks and started hot. In terms of what I've seen on the field, I'll be surprised if Ivory returns to the bench when Sproles is ready. In terms of what I've seen in the NFL, you better be prepared that it might happen.

RB Lamar Miller, MIA - If the Dolphins decide to limit Reggie Bush and see what they have with Miller, the rookie has the athleticism and natural skills as a runner to deliver against the likes of the Jaguars and Bills during weeks 15 and 16.

RB Isaiah Pead, STL - The rookie is an explosive runner with good receiving skills. He is agile and considered a potential starter within the next 2-3 seasons. If the Rams trade Steven Jackson prior to the league deadline, Pead could earn committee or change of pace looks to Daryl Richardson as the No.2 runner in St. Louis.

RB Bernard Pierce, BAL - Pierce saw enough carries two weeks ago to score on a run he bounced to the left side for 12-yard gain untouched. He's Ray Rice's handcuff and if the Ravens can make the playoffs, Pierce might see more time down the stretch if Baltimore opts to rest Rice. Pierce is a powerful back with better speed than many realize.

RB Daryl Richardson, STL - The Cardinals, a rematch with the 49ers, and the Bills isn't a good schedule for fantasy opportunities, but Richardson continues to run hard as well as make plays after the catch. However, Steven Jackson is getting hot while Richardson is seeing half the touches and this week had half the output (26 yards) of what we've been seeing in prior weeks. He did have 18 yards as a receiver, but he's more of a desperation flex-play and injury substitute combo. Like Danny Woodhead he has become a steady option despite minimal upside as long Steven Jackson remains in the lineup.

RB Evan Royster, WAS - Receiving skills make Royster an option if Morris misses time or his performance declines.

RB Michael Smith, TB - Smith has enough talent to develop into the No.2 option in Tampa. He was Robert Turbin's teammate at Utah State and many considered him a smarter runner. He's a smaller, explosive back than Turbin but he runs hard with excellent pad level. He's worth a handcuff to Doug Martin if Blount gets hurt or underwhelms.

RB James Starks, GB - Starks did his usual thing the past two starts: averaging less than four yards per carry, but had a promising run or two in the process. The Packers don't have a run-favorable, fantasy schedule ahead and Cedric Benson has removed his walking boot with hopes of playing by Week 14. Consider Starks a low-end flex-play in the coming weeks against the Giants and, if Benson isn't ready, the Vikings.

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARI - Chris Wells is slated to return soon, but Stephens-Howling made the most of his chances this weekend, rushing for 127 yards and a score on 22 carries. About 70 percent of his totals came on two runs, both plays off right tackle that he bounced to the edge and made a move to reach the flat. His elusiveness is well-documented and he did a great job putting this on display in a game that the Cardinals should have won handily if it had a productive, experienced quarterback on the roster. The Rams, Jets, and Seahawks aren't a great schedule for the running game. With Wells returning, consider this game Stephens-Howling's season-best. If he starts next week, he'll be a solid flex-play with RB2 upside. Otherwise, he's a desperation flex paired with Wells.

RB Robert Turbin, SEA - The rookie running back for the Seahawks continues to play well. He has worked at his craft and taken to the coaching that he has needed to develop into a decisive, physical runner. The physical skill to plow through defenders and hit a hole swiftly has always been there, but the maturity to do it has not. If Marshawn Lynch were to miss time, Turbin has enough skill to earn no worse than RB2-caliber production behind a good, young offensive line and a run-based offense that complements a stingy defense that will help keep the run game a viable part of the game plan. Turbin is a perfect luxury stash for fantasy owners with the room to add a player poised to produce if called upon.

RB Johnny White, GB - White is a hard runner with good receiving skills. If he gets a shot to play, he might surprise. However, he'll need to learn pass protection in Green Bay, which could take some time.

RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR - Williams is still a worthwhile handcuff with desperation flex appeal, but it's sad to see a player with this talent reduced to this workload and production. Pay attention to Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury that forced him to miss time during this weekend's game. If the swelling forces Stewart to miss time, Williams could make a reasonable flex-play with big-play upside as an injury sub.

RB David Wilson, NYG - Wilson continues to perform well on kick returns, but he hasn't seen touches as a running back for the past two weeks. Although Coach Tom Coughlin says that Wilson is making progress towards regaining the team's trust, Andre Brown is the change-of-pace option. Wilson remains a patience play for fantasy owners and he could work his way into a part-time role and eventually a lead back during the fantasy playoffs when teams rest its starters. If you have the luxury to add Wilson now, do it. If you're seeking an immediate help to your running back corps, Andre Brown is the better option. Brown might remain the better option the way that he's playing.

RB Danny Woodhead, NE - Woodhead remains the quintessential desperation bye-week player. His opportunities come in the red zone and he's a fine runner and receiver in the spread. He's the Patriots' answer to Pierre Thomas but lacking the size and rugged style. Woodhead's upside is lacking due to a low carry count as a cog in the Patriots' offensive machine. However, he can provide 6 to 16 fantasy points depending on the frequency he's used. This weekend he wasn't used at all after a Week 10 output where he he had between one-to-four points more than that top-end projection, depending on the league. As I mentioned three weeks ago, I think Woodhead's value will remain the same while Vereen's has more potential to increase due to his big-play ability and physical dimensions. However, if I'm seeking a safe 40-70 yards from a bye-week option, Woodhead is probably the best of the options in this tier. Keep an eye on how this changes with Rob Gronkowski out for 4-6 weeks and Julian Edelman returning from a hand injury.


Wide Receiver

Upgrade

WR Danario Alexander, SD - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Alexander remains among the most talented receivers on this weeks' waiver wire, as he has for the past two weeks. However he's among the most fragile. If he can stay healthy he's an upgrade in talent and consistency to major free agent acquisition Robert Meachem who has to do physics calculations to successfully catch the football. I'm beginning to think that Meachem will discover the equation for successful time travel before he pieces together a good fantasy season. Alexander is worth a boom-bust addition if you have the luxury because he's big, fast, catches the ball consistently, and is closer to Vincent Jackson than anything the Chargers front offense could assemble this offseason. His three catches for 61 yards against the Chiefs was a nice indication of what's to come if the Chargers continue to have the sense to use him and admit its massive mistake taking Meachem. Last weekend, Alexander had 136 yards on 5 catches, including a short slant in the first quarter that the big receiver turned into an 80-yard score when he spun through a hit and wrap about 10 to 15 yards down field and did a fantastic job maintaining his balance so he could outrun the defense the rest of the way. This weekend, Alexander had 7 catches for 96 yards, including a leaping, 21-yard catch on a flat route where he extended the ball with one hand over the goal line for the late score. When healthy, Alexander can actually do justice to a Vincent Jackson impression. His 11 targets this weekend was nearly twice as many as the next two skill players on the Chargers roster. Keep rolling with Alexander until the wheels get damaged.

WR Justin Blackmon, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - With Cecil Shorts and Laurent Robinson getting on track, Blackmon seemed to be the No.3 or No.4 option in the Jaguars passing game. Last week I said Blackmon was currently a dime-a-dozen, bye-week, injury sub that you can find in abundance on most waiver wires. Once Chad Henne entered the game against the Texans this week, that all changed. Blackmon had a career-high 7 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown, including an 81-yard play where he leaped over one defender and caught the ball just short of another over top, bounced off a hit and took the ball up the left flat for the score. Blackmon's strength and hands were evident all game long, but so was his lack of speed. Despite the long plays, he needed a lot of help from blockers and missed tackles to generate this yardage. He's essentially a bigger, stronger Michael Crabtree. Blackmon might be worth a look if Blaine Gabbert misses next week's game against the Titans. Otherwise, expect this week's game a career high that might be three times higher than his best production for the rest of the year. Still, Blackmon is worth consideration of a priority roster spot in case his rapport with Henne continues or this is the beginning of a breakout.

WR LaVon Brazill, IND - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Brazill made two big plays in this contest and got open for a third long target that was delivered under pressure and less than a foot over thrown. The Colts rookie continues to flash speed and open field skill. He's no better than a No.4 option in this passing game, but he's consistently seeing time on the field so don't discount him.

WR Riley Cooper, PHI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Cooper's height, hands, build-up speed, and skill to adjust to the football makes him a viable desperation waiver wire option if Jason Avant misses more time. His eight targets was tied for the team lead this weekend and his 5 catches for 61 yards were only behind LeSean McCoy's 6-catch, 67-yard total. The Eagles face the Panthers, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Bengals, and Redskins in the coming weeks, which is a favorable schedule.

WR Michael Crabtree, SF - The 49ers receiver only had three catches for 31 yards and a score, but the quality of his play was so good he earns an upgrade. The other reason is that he may earn a new quarterback with better natural skills as a down field passer and scrambler. Crabtree gained 19 on an audible versus an all-out blitz, broke a tackle over the middle, and spun off another hit to get the first down. He also made a nice adjustment to work open to the left boundary for the touchdown on a scramble drill in conjunction with Colin Kaepernick. Crabtree looks strong, agile, confident, and making smart plays. If Kaepernick earns the job, Crabtree could see more opportunities.

WR Juron Criner, OAK - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Criner saw as many targets (3) as Rod Streater last weekend, catching 2 for 26 yards. This weekend he had 6 targets, 23 yards, and a 3-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a corner fade where he made a great adjustment to catch the ball over his head in tight coverage and stay inbounds. He's a player that the Raiders want to get on the field and it's happening in fits and starts. He's probably worth adding in larger leagues because his 6 targets were second only to Brandon Myers. The Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Chiefs, and Panthers constitute a favorable schedule for Criner to continue to thrive in limited time or expand his role.

WR Harry Douglas, ATL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Julio Jones was clearly limited by a high ankle sprain against the Cardinals and missed much of the second half. Douglas lacks great deep speed, but he's quick and has good hands. He could benefit in Jones' absence if the receiver has to miss another week or remains limited against the Buccaneers subpar pass defense. He'll likely be the No.3 option in the Falcons passing attack, but with big-play upside in the intermediate and deep play-action game.

WR Julian Edelman, NE - Edelman scored on a 68-yard punt return, a short pass, and added a 47-yard end-around up the right flat to the mix. He had 105 total fantasy yards in non-return yardage leagues. With Rob Gronkowski suffering a broken forearm that could cost Brady's best target 4-6 weeks, Edelman could pick up the slack as Aaron Hernandez tries to work back to health. Certainly Visanthe Shiancoe could also be a factor at tight end, but the Patriots have also wanted to use Edelman more in the offense for weeks and injury has been the one limiting factor for Edelman getting a bigger shot. The Jets, Dolphins, Texans, and 49ers, aren't a great schedule, but Edelman is the type of weapon that makes a good gamble as a flex-play with WR2 upside if the offense opts to spread the field more due to the absence of Gronkowski as a blocker and receiver.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Hilton is considered a young player on the rise, but he's hit-or-miss, bye-week option with flex-play potential. Hilton had six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins that could have been 142 yards and 2 scores if not for a drop. This weekend he had a sliding catch in the back of the end zone against the Patriots and then a 47-yard score up the right flat on a streak to surpass 100 yards. With the Bills and Lions next, Hilton has a good chance to continue solid flex production with big-play upside. However, Avery will make Hilton a bigger boom-bust option.

WR Andre Johnson, HOU - Since Johnson's one-reception, 15-yard game against the Jets in Week 5, he has four games with at least 8 catches and 75 yards and two 100-yard gains in the past three weeks. The Bears game in wet weather was a four-catch, 35-yard effort, but that should be overlooked in lieu of his 8-catch, 118-yard day against the Bills in Week 9 and his 14-catch, 273-yard, 1-touchdown performance this weekend against the Jaguars. He caught a deep post behind a defender earlier in the game and then won the contest in over time on a smash screen up the right flat. Johnson not only has been producing, but the Texans face the pass-friendly Lions, Titans, Patriots, and Colts in the next four weeks. Because the ground game is still a huge factor for the Texans, Johnson may still be best regarded as a strong WR2, capable of elite production. Either way, he earns a hefty upgrade.

WR Marvin Jones, CIN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Jones tore his MCL on a kickoff four weeks ago. Jones is scheduled to practice his week. If he can play, he has a decent matchup with the Raiders and Chargers to surprise. Jones is probably my favorite technician among the receivers in this 2012 NFL Draft class. He could offer some flex production at a low price. If he's truly at full health, he has the talent to earn the No.2 job.

WR Mario Manningham, SF - He had a first down on a comeback on the first play of the game then then lost Tim Jennings to get outside on a quick slant for a 37-yard gain on his next target. If Kaepernick gets to start, Manningham will see his stock rise steadily down the stretch. If there's a chance of this happening, it might be wise to add Manningham as a swing for the fence during the playoffs.

WR Austin Pettis, STL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Pettis had a nice catch on a deep seam route where he had to extend for the football over his head for a 36-yard gain. He was third on the team in targets with 6 and he is developing into a viable red zone threat. Stylistically speaking, his physical skill and hands make him a Marques Colston-Mohamed Sanu slot threat. He's just not nearly as polished as Colston or as dynamic as Sanu. Don't count on much against the Cardinals and 49ers during the next two weeks, but the Bills, Vikings, and Buccaneers make him a reasonable desperation-flex during the playoffs.

WR Aldrick Robinson, WAS - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Robinson caught a long touchdown on a deep cross where the Eagles cornerback thought he had safety help and passed Robinson off to open space. Despite this being the story of the Eagles secondary this year, Robinson is very similar to Emmanuel Sanders in style, his former teammate at SMU. Keep an eye on Robinson because Pierre Garcon doesn't look healthy enough to be on the field.

WR Greg Salas, NE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Salas was placed on the Patriots active roster and Deion Branch was released. With Rob Gronkowski expected to miss 4-6 weeks, Salas might earn a role in the passing game. Even so, it's unlikely to be an extensive role. However, he's worth monitoring just in case because he has experience in Josh McDaniels' offense and he played well enough in the Rams training camp this summer to make St. Louis' decision to keep Jeff Fisher's draft picks more difficult.

WR Cecil Shorts, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Shorts makes plays down field and with the return of Laurent Robinson to the Jaguars lineup, this offense could begin to make life easier for Blaine Gabbert. Shorts and Gabbert are developing strong down field rapport and he has 18 catches for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns during the past 14 quarters. His 67-yard score up the left flat was an intermediate hook that he took the rest of the way after making a nice inside out move on the defender in space to get free. He is worth adding as a flex-play with upside, especially when you consider he was the one constant at receiver regardless of the quarterback throwing him the ball.

Downgrade

WR Miles Austin, DAL - Austin had 58 yards on 6 catches against the Browns, who did a pretty good job of covering the Cowboys receivers at times this weekend. Austin hasn't had a double-digit fantasy performance since Week 8 and only two in the past six weeks. He's clearly the second option to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten has also seen more targets in the past month. Austin's value is more akin to a WR3 for fantasy owners. He should have a chance to produce like a WR2 against the Redskins, Eagles, and Bengals in the coming weeks, so don't give up on him.

WR Dwayne Bowe, KC - Bowe injured his neck in the Chiefs loss to the Bengals and while he may be able to play next week, he also lost his quarterback Matt Cassel to the bench. Brady Quinn and Bowe lack the same chemistry and while it's still worth having Bowe as a high-end WR3, Quinn hasn't proven he can throw the ball down field with the same level of efficiency of Cassel. Bowe hasn't had a double-digit fantasy outing since Week 4 against the Chargers. Denver, Carolina, and Cleveland is a tough schedule when Quinn is the quarterback.

WR Ryan Broyles, DET - Broyles is still more of a flex play for the Lions offense, splitting opportunities for targets with tight end Tony Scheffler. This means he's not much of a fantasy option. He has 3 catches for 41 yards during the past two weeks and just 9 catches for 93 yards the past three. Sadly, his 35 yards against the Packers was second to Calvin Johnson this weekend. Consider Broyles a worthwhile investment as a boom-bust option with starter upside down the stretch. The long-term upside is as big as any of the players listed above him this week. However, he's probably the greatest boom-bust option as a rookie just a year removed from an ACL tear. It makes him droppable.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - Fitzgerald was open twice for big plays against the Falcons, but both John Skelton and Ryan Lindley missed him. The first was a great, post-corner route in the end zone that Skelton threw wide of target and likely prompted the quarterback's benching. The second was a deep streak that Lindley placed just a yard past Fitzgerald. If Lindley starts next week, Fitzgerald and the rest of the receiving corps gets a downgrade across the board. Lindley may improve, but it will take some weeks of reps and adjustment to the pro game for Fitzgerald to return to consistent WR2 form. If Skelton is given his job back, then fantasy owners are in the same spot they were before.

WR Michael Floyd, ARI - Floyd continues to see more time in the Cardinals offense, but if Ryan Lindley continues to start it will depress the rookie's value this year. He and Lindley were not quite on the same page this week due to lack of practice reps. Floyd got open on a hook that Lindley placed to an area where Floyd wasn't breaking and it was just a small enough discrepancy to realize it had to do with lack of rapport. Drop Floyd if you need someone to step up now. Otherwise, keep him in deep leagues and hope Skelton gets it together.

WR Brian Hartline, MIA - Hartline has five games with less than 10 fantasy points since his 253-yard outburst against the Cardinals in Week 4. The Dolphins offense has failed to make the adjustments most pro offenses make versus defenses as the season progresses and the scheme seems vanilla and straightforward, which is hurting production. Hartline still has the talent to produce as a solid WR2 in a better offense and more weapons around him in the passing game, but that's not the reality of the situation. Downgrade Hartline to a WR3 versus the likes of the Seahawks, improving Patriots with AquibTalib joining the team, and the 49ers.

WR Andrew Hawkins, CIN - Hawkins missed this weekend's game due to a knee injury he suffered during practice. With Marvin Jones likely to practice this week and Mohamed Sanu performing well, Hawkins is worth remembering but not necessarily owning.

WR DeSean Jackson, PHI - If Nick Foles keeps the starting job Jackson earn an even bigger downgrade. This weekend he saw 9 targets and caught only 2 for 5 yards. He had 8 catches for 162 yards and a score in the two weeks prior to Foles' start, so if Mike Vick returns Jackson will remain a fantasy starter. If not, all bets are off. He still earns the downgrade because it's not confirmed that Vick will be ready next week.

WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI - Jeffery looked good early in the game, but injured his knee and missed the second half. Monitor the injury, but missing a half of football is never a good sign. Downgrade Jeffery unless the news indicates they sat him for precautionary reasons.

WR Donald Jones, BUF - Jones had 16 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns during the past three weeks leading to a Miami game where he had 2 catches for 11 yards. With the Colts, Jaguars, and Rams next, Jones is a desperation flex-play in larger leagues, but that's all. He's generally the No.3 or No.4 option most weeks for his own team.

WR Julio Jones, ATL - Jones could not finish the Cardinals game after suffering an ankle injury last week against the Saints. With the Buccaneers, Saints, and Panthers ahead, all of which are pivotal divisional games, Jones may try to force himself to play. This could diminish his value. Jones might also do the wise thing and sit out a game or two, which would have the same impact for fantasy owners. Either way, it's probably best to downgrade Jones as a mid-range WR2 if he starts next week and possibly more if he continues to look more like a struggling decoy than a viable threat.

WR Brandon Lloyd, NE - Lloyd lacks the same burst he had prior to a knee injury that has plagued him much of the season. He's had just three double-digit fantasy outings this year and he and Tom Brady continue to be just a few feet away from hooking up for long plays each week. Lloyd is better as a flex play, even with Rob Gronkowski out for 4-6 weeks.

WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI - Maclin was blanked despite three targets from Nick Foles this week. There are murmurs that Mike Vick will return, which will salvage his value as a WR3 because the Eagles draw the Panthers, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Bengals next and Tampa Bay and Cincinnati could be worth waiting for. He still earns the downgrade because it's not confirmed that Vick will be ready next week.

WR Josh Morgan, WAS - Morgan might be the No.1 receiver in Washington, but his 3 catches for 25 yards is not worth having on a roster -- especially when a good week is 6 catches for less than 50 yards. Morgan is an inconsistent fantasy receiver due to opportunities and skill set. He drops his share of passes and has issues getting open against quality cornerbacks.

WR Andre Roberts, ARI - If Lindley starts next week, Roberts and the rest of the receiving corps gets a downgrade across the board. Lindley may improve, but it will take some weeks of reps and adjustment to the pro game for Roberts to return to consistent WR2 form. If Skelton is given his job back, then fantasy owners are in the same spot they were before.

WR Rod Streater, OAK - Streater's continued spate of drops combined with Juron Criner's continued emergence makes the rookie droppable for fantasy owners.

WR Mike Williams, TB - Williams has 5 catches for 93 yards during the past two weeks. With the Falcons, Broncos, and Eagles next, he has a chance to get back on track but don't count on anything more than WR3 production. He's better as a flex-play.

WR Titus Young, DET - Young is proving an inconsistent fantasy option with high upside, but swings that could make fantasy owners seasick. He's droppable if you can find a better option.

Holding steady

WR Davone Bess, MIA - Bess has 36 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown during the last 7 weeks and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill appears to be developing a stronger rapport with the veteran. Bess scored on a two-yard pass late in the Bills game to cut Buffalo's lead to 5 in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game and led Dolphins receivers with 6 catches for 50 yard and 11 targets. The problem with the Dolphins offense is its predictability. The team doesn't seem to be making adjustments to its game plan and opposing defenses are benefiting from the vanilla schemes. Bess should continue to have stable flex-production if not solid WR3 numbers against the Seahawks, Patriots, and 49ers, but his ceiling is very low.

WR Brandon Gibson, STL - The former Washington State star remains a reliable component of the passing game and as long as the Rams can generate production from a big-play threat like Chris Givens it helps Gibson remain a good possession receiver. He scored twice in this game on a one-yard throw in the first quarter and a two-yard gain in the fourth. Gibson is one of these fantasy players that may not be an exciting addition, but he's worth a one-week addition if in need of a short-term spare due to injury.

WR Chris Givens, STL - After getting benched last week for violating team rules, he was limited to 4 catches for 19 yards. Givens hasn't had a big play since Week 8, which ended a run of five weeks of big plays. Givens has earned enough looks to produce as a boom-bust, big-play option and remains a low-bid bargain as a desperation flex-play.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK - Heyward-Bey has 14 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown during the past three weeks. The Raiders are in dire need of consistent receiving options and Heyward-Bey is not one of those players by classical definition, but he'll do in this situation. He's a reasonably good flex-play with the Bengals and Browns next.

WR Stephen Hill, NYJ - The rookie continues to flash skills that should help him develop into a player the way fellow alum Demaryius Thomas grew into a quality fantasy starter. It won't be this year that Hill reaches that potential, but he will be a big-play upside investment along the lines of Chris Givens -- just in an offense that is slightly worse than the Rams, but arguably a more difficult schedule. His upside makes him reasonably strong fantasy duct-tape, at least next week versus the Patriots and then beginning Week 14 against the Jaguars, Titans, and Chargers.

WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ - The second-year receiver from TCU, who used to be Andy Dalton's favorite target, remains Mark Sanchez's most reliable option. Kerley has 13 catches for 143 yards during the past three weeks, which is little more than low-end flex production. The Patriots have upgraded its secondary with Aqib Talib, which doesn't make Kerley as good of an option next week. He's still worth a desperation play and hanging onto as depth for the playoff schedule of the Jaguars, Titans, and Chargers.

WR Brandon LaFell, CAR - LaFell has 12 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown during the past four weeks despite missing Week 9 with a head injury. He still has flex appeal in larger leagues. The Eagles defense lacks discipline and smarts, which could spell good things for LaFell next week. With the Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers, and Raiders next, he's a solid keeper for a roster that might need a flex-play down the stretch.

WR Greg Little, CLE - Little's upside and second chances to contribute in the starting lineup remains good enough that he warrants a look as a flex-play or desperation WR3. Little and Josh Gordon are splitting the majority of the Browns targets in recent weeks. He's a risky bid, because his development remains erratic but he is still worth solid consideration because if the light comes on completely rather than flickers, he has starter talent.

WR Brandon Marshall, CHI - The 49ers sacked Jason Campbell 5 times and pressured him repeatedly. Marshall was limited to 21 yards on 2 catches tonight. He did make a nice leaping grab over a defender in tight coverage for a touchdown in the third quarter, but you can see how Jay Cutler's willingness to throw the ball in tight windows is something that comes with rapport and confidence in one's arm and accuracy. Campbell lacks that rapport and passing skill. Cutler should be back, and therefore so should Marshall in the weeks ahead.

WR Denarius Moore, OAK - Moore was held to one catch for nine yards against the Saints, but he did really well the prior three weeks with 13 catches, 252 yards, and 2 scores. The Raiders face the Bengals, Browns, Broncos, and Chiefs in the coming weeks. Count on Moore to provide WR2 production despite a rough outing this weekend.

WR Santana Moss, WAS - Moss is a smart receiver in an option-style offense capable of 3-5 catches per week. Consider the veteran fantasy duct-tape at best. His one catch was a play where he got behind the Eagle secondary and made a leaping grab between defenders for a 61-yard touchdown. It was his only target of the day. He's a reasonable gamble because he works his way open better than any receiver on the Redskins' current roster.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB - Nelson missed last week with an ankle injury after playing on a gimpy hamstring two weeks prior. He only saw five targets, but caught three for 45 yards. Consider this weekend warm-up for what's to come because prior to injury Nelson was coming off consecutive 120-yard games with a total of 4 touchdowns. The Packers get the Giants, Vikings, and a rematch with the Lions over the next three weeks. He is a strong WR2 or low-end WR1 depending on the nature of your league.

WR Laurent Robinson, JAX - Robinson has 15 catches for 118 yards before the Texans game. With the Titans and Bills ahead, he has a good shot to produce as a low-end possession, flex. He did a nice job on back-shoulder throws with Blaine Gabbert under center two weeks ago. His 15 targets led the team in that contest, but he only saw 2 targets this weekend and was held without a catch. The Jaguars pecking order beyond Cecil Shorts is unpredictable due to the receivers and the health situation at quarterback.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, PIT - Sanders had a couple of nice catches, including a deep cross for a 37-yard gain that accounted for nearly half of his three grabs for 82 yards with Byron Leftwich at the helm. Sanders is probably a reasonably good start regardless of which quarterback is playing for Pittsburgh. The Browns, Ravens, and Chargers are next and Sanders has the speed, skill after the catch, and hands to produce as a strong flex-play or low-end WR3 until Antonio Brown returns. Even then, he might still offer some flex-appeal even if Leftwich misses time.

WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN - Sanu has 6 catches for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns during the past two weeks. With Marvin Jones still working to return from a torn MCL, Sanu may continue to earn more opportunities but Jones is scheduled to practice this week. He's only worth a bye-week desperation call in deep leagues, but each week he's earning red zone looks, which is a good sign.

WR Chaz Schilens, NYJ - Schilens caught a touchdown on the right corner of the end zone on a fade this weekend. He's a reliable receiver and decent route runner, but playing for a team that lacks these two adjectives in much of its offense. Schilens shouldn't be counted on for more than desperation-flex production in large leagues. However there is some upside because he is has scored twice during the past three weeks. Just don't get excited about him doing much more than making plays on short and intermediate routes.

WR Brandon Stokley, DEN - When Manning and Stokley connect it's often in the red zone. Stokley scored on a 31-yard play this weekend on a busted coverage behind the secondary. His four catches for 55 yards led the Broncos receivers. With the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Raiders, Ravens, and Browns ahead, Stokley remains a good gamble as a desperation flex-play.

WR Golden Tate, SEA - Tate's recent performance might be evidence that he's no longer an up-and-down performer. Tate followed up his 64-yard, 7-catch outing against the Lions with a two-touchdown effort against the Viking and now, he caught and threw a touchdown against the Jets last weekend despite only earning two targets. Tate's touchdown was a terrific grab over his coverage for a 38-yard score in the first quarter. He's a physical player who plays with abandon when the ball is in the air or if he has to vault into the air to earn extra yardage as a ball carrier. Tate's quarterback Russell Wilson is playing better football as the season progresses. Keep him in mind as a flex-play with Brandon Gibson or Davone Bess' floor, but a higher ceiling due to his vertical skill. The Dolphins, Bears, Cardinals, and Bills make him an up-and-down option, but still worth consideration.

WR Kyle Williams, SF - Most of his 60 yards came on a 57-yard deep corner route to get inside the five during the first half. It was a perfect throw from Colin Kaepernick. Williams remains a third or fourth option, at best.


Tight End

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TE Dwayne Allen, IND - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Colts schedule of the Bills, Lions, and rematch with the Titans makes Allen a reasonable week-to-week flex-option for fantasy owners in larger leagues. He's still a hit-or-miss player, but I think he's one of the smarter gambles of this lot of tight ends beyond the top 12. His 14 catches for 175 yards continue to earn him recognition in the media among analysts for his strong play. Keep him in mind because he's the most talented tight end of the 2012 draft class.

TE Dallas Clark, TB - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Clark remains a low-end desperation play in deep leagues because the Buccaneers are playing well, the running game is clicking, and Clark had 6 catches, 65 yards, and a touchdown during the past three weeks leading up to his weekend's 7-catch, 58-yard, 1-touchdown effort against the Panthers. His out-and-up in over time was the game winner for the Buccaneers and Josh Freeman rode Clark late in the game. The Falcons and Broncos are ahead so expect a mixed back of results until the Eagles, Saints, and Rams contests during the fantasy playoffs. He's a good bet for those in need of a replacement to Rob Gronkowski.

TE Vernon Davis, SF - He began the game with a 23-yard gain on a play action corner route against an eight-man front and did a nice job to slip free of the safety during his release. Then he caught the ball a flat route later in the first quarter. He later scored on a flat route and then made a big play for 20 yards on an intermediate cross thrown over his shoulder. If Kaepernick continues to start, Davis will continue to earn upgrades because Davis will finally have a quarterback capable of finding him down field.

TE Garrett Graham, HOU - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Graham has 18 catches for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns during the past five weeks, including his 8-catch, 82-yard, 2-score weekend against the Jaguars. Graham is nearly as talented as Daniels and sees the field enough for 1-2 receptions per game. He scored last weekend against the Bills and is worth a desperation play if Rob Gronkowski owners in deep leagues run out of reasonable starters to consider because the Texans offense uses its two-tight ends almost as well as the Patriots.

TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN - Gresham's play has been steady the past three weeks, earning no less than 6.9 points in non-PPR leagues and earning 6 receptions for two of the past three games. Expect similar production down the stretch because Gresham is beginning to assert himself as the physical player he should have been since he entered the league.

TE Marcedes Lewis, JAX - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Lewis scored twice, catching three passes for 40 yards with Chad Henne under center. If Henne starts next week against the Titans, Lewis is worth adding. Just be warned that he may submerge back into the swamp beneath the Jaguars' stadium.

TE Tony Moeaki, KC - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - For the past two weeks, Moeaki has had respectable totals, earning 7 catches for 141 yards for an impressive, but likely unsustainable 20 yards per catch. The Chiefs tight end is looking healthier after his rookie year ACL tear and the quarterbacks have discovered that he's getting open against zone coverage. Moeaki is worth adding due o a schedule that includes the Broncos, Panthers, Browns, Raiders, and Colts. He's an volatile option due to poor quarterback play, but if Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin's injuries keep them off the field for a while, Moeaki could be the best veteran receiver that the Chiefs have.

TE Brandon Myers, OAK - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Myers has 31 catches for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns during the past 5 weeks. He had his second one-yard in as many games. With a good-to-very-good schedule ahead, Myers is a reasonable committee tight end for a Raiders team lacking consistent options in the passing game. Think of him as a poor man's version of Kevin Boss when Boss was with the Giants some years ago.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Vikings said publicly that they wanted to get Rudolph more involved and last week they succeeded doing so, targeting the tight end 9 times for 7 catches, 64 yards, and touchdown on a flat route where he broke one tackle and turned up the left sideline for over half of the 20 yards gained on the play. Adrian Peterson is running so well that Rudolph should continue to earn nice looks against safeties or linebackers on play action passes. The schedule of the Bears (twice), Packers, and Rams isn't great, but still makes him a viable option after the Week 11 bye if he's still available.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe, NE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Shiancoe isn't that many years removed from being a low-end TE1 in his own right. He split time with Kyle Rudolph last year in Minnesota and had 36 catches for 409 yards and 3 touchdowns. He drops his share of passes despite the fact that he has offered productivity as seam stretcher and red zone threat over the years. Consider Shiancoe a boom-bust option that is worth preemptive consideration as a significant upgrade if Aaron Hernandez doesn't return next week. Keep in mind that Julian Edelman's return could also have influence on how the offense adjusts its game plan. While Shiancoe could approximate Gronkowski, that approximation could be TE1-worthy or low-end TE2. Stay tuned.

TE Ben Watson, CLE - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Watson had two touchdowns in the red zone against the Cowboys and he's always worth a monitor because he's a good athlete and has solid history as an occasional option due to his red zone prowess. The Browns get the Raiders, Chiefs, and Redskins in Weeks 13-15 so keep him in mind if in need.

Downgrade

TE Rob Gronkowski, NE - The Patriots starter had a fantastic, two-touchdown game, but broke his forearm on the second score in the fourth quarter. He is scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks, which could make him droppable if the timeframe is confirmed as the longer range just mentioned. Otherwise, he's a player you're holding out hope will return in four weeks and play well.

TE Heath Miller, PIT - It stands to reason that if Byron Leftwich is half the fantasy quarterback that Ben Roethlisberger is, then Heath Miller should see a fraction of his production. I'm half-kidding about the calculation, but Miller did earn just two catches for 22 yards after averaging twice these totals for the three weeks prior. If Roethlisberger doesn't return in a week or two, Miller could drop out of the fantasy starter tier.

TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET - Pettigrew is a low-end TE1 in terms of ability and possibly even better when he and Matt Stafford are clicking. However, Stafford 's accuracy has suffered. Despite seven targets, Pettigrew caught just four passes for 22 yards. He hasn't seen northwards of 40 yards receiving in 4 of 5 games and he only has 1 touchdown during that span.

TE Dennis Pitta, BAL - Pitta suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the Steelers game and did not return. Monitor his prognosis to return in Week 12 before starting. He earns a slight downgrade due to the struggles of the Ravens offense, which seems out of synch with its play calling.

Holding steady

TE Scott Chandler, BUF - Chandler and the Bills have a good enough schedule moving forward that he's worth a bump back to high-end TE2 status with TE1 upside. He had eight targets, five catches, 65 yards, and a score on short post last weekend before coming down to earth against the Bills with two catches for 30 yards. With the Colts, Jaguars, and Rams next, he could help a team in need of tight end during a stretch run to make the playoffs. The running game is healthy enough to keep safeties and linebackers honest, and it only helps Chandler's routes break open a little easier.

TE Jermichael Finley, GB - I say drop him in shallow leagues and I'd advocate a similar move in many medium and large leagues. I understand keeping Finley if you believe his struggles are due to a shoulder injury. However, I believe Finley has proven that he has lapses in concentration, doesn't play to his potential, and then uses his agent to criticize his quarterback. If you can get someone to give some value in a trade, do it. I just doubt you will in a re-draft league. His touchdown off a fake screen was a nice catch and run for a 40-yard gain. He finished with 3 catches for 66 yards. If you believe this is a start of a trend add him. Otherwise, this production will be repeated sometime next year.

TE Antonio Gates, SD - Gates had two catches for 17 yards against the Broncos and the Chargers gave rookie Ladarius Green a chance to see time. Don't worry about Green, he's not ready to assume a larger role at Gates's expense. Perhaps Eddie Royal and his injured hamstring or Robert Meachem, but Gates should have bigger days ahead, thanks to the work of Danario Alexander. Hold steady on Gates until there's news to indicate otherwise.

TE Ladarius Green, SD - Green had three targets, three catches, and 25 yards in a loss to the Broncos. He's essentially a tall, slow wide receiver learning to play the tight end position as he adjust to the strength and speed of the NFL game. Green has the potential to develop into a decent starter in another year or two, but he has a lot to learn at the line of scrimmage to succeed Antonio Gates. With Robert Meachem failing, Eddie Royal injuring a hamstring, and Vincent Brown not ready to return from his foot injury, Green got a shot at playing time. Considering it just that until more news indicates otherwise.

TE Dustin Keller, NYJ - Keller has been Mark Sanchez's favorite option and has the most rapport with the quarterback among the carousel of receivers passing through the Big Apple in recent years. He only had two catches for 16 yards this weekend, but with the Patriots, Cardinals, Jaguars, and Titans ahead, he has a decent schedule to consider if in need of a starter. He's a talented and inconsistent option and there's no reason to think that he can't provide low-end TE1 fantasy production for the Jets' weapon-depleted offense.

TE Zach Miller, SEA - Miller is earning a consistent amount of looks in the short game during recent weeks and looks good making catches in the flat or the sideline. He's not a down field option, but he is strong, fluid, and reliable for 3-5 catches and 20-40 yards with the potential for a touchdown.

TE Logan Paulsen, WAS - Paulsen has 14 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown during the past 4 week, including a touchdown against the Eagles this week. The Cowboys and Giants defenses are a mixed bag of matchups, but Paulsen and Griffin have a rapport in this quick-passing offense that should limit Paulsen's down side.


Kicker

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PK Garrett Hartley, NO - The New Orleans offense is having greater success running the ball the past three weeks and not so coincidentally, Hartley has seen his extra point opportunities go from two in Week 8 to four in Weeks 9 and 10 and five in Week 11. With a favorable schedule and more offensive balance, Hartley could become a viable fantasy starter.

PK Matt Prater, DEN - The Broncos have a great schedule, a strong passing offense, and a kicker with a strong leg. Prater is 5-of-7 on field goals (19, 30, 23, 53, and 27) and 7-of-7 on extra point attempts during the past two weeks. He's worth a low-end start if you don't have a kicker in the top 10.

PK Blair Walsh, MIN - Walsh was the No.4 fantasy kicker heading into Week 11, but wasn't earning a ton of respect because the Minnesota passing offense seemed to be falling apart at the seams. Even with Percy Harvin out last weekend, Walsh had four field goals (48, 23, 23, and 33). With the Bears (twice), and the Packers after the Week 11 bye, the Vikings have a rough schedule. However, they also have the best football player in the league running the football like he's actually Wolverine of the X-Men. Upgrade Walsh and count on him as a starter.

Downgrade

PK Justin Tucker, BAL - Tucker missed his second field goal this year but worse yet is the Ravens offense that is grinding to a crawl both on the ground and through the air. One of phase of this game has to be working for Tucker to earn more opportunities. With the Chargers, Steelers, and Redskins next, don't count on Tucker for starter production if the offense doesn't improve.

Holding steady

PK Jay Feely, ARI - Feely had four field goals, thanks to five, Matt Ryan interceptions that put Arizona in field goal range and the offense failing to punch the ball one but once. If Ryan Lindley remains the quarterback, don't expect Feely to earn this many opportunities unless there's massive improvement and the defense continues to force this many turnovers. Both scenarios are unlikely. Hold steady.


Team Defense

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TD San Francisco 49ers, SF - The Northern California Aldon Smith sacked Jason Campbell 4.5 times while his teammate Justin Smith added a half sack en route to a 32-7 victory. The 49ers hit Campbell multiple times, intercepted him twice, and forced a safety late. If Colin Kaepernick gets another start and plays this well again, the 49ers defense could become even more dangerous.

TD Seattle Seahawks, SEA - If your leagues score generously for sacks and turnovers, the Seahawks are among the top five defenses in fantasy football. If not, Seattle is just below top-12 status and face the Dolphins, Bears, Cardinals, Bills, and 49ers next, which are all teams that aren't prolific point-scorers. If available, take a chance on this unit.

Downgrade

TD Chicago Bears, CHI - The Bears didn't force a turnover in this game and gave up 30 points to the 49ers offense in a blowout. The 49ers dominated the Bears in all phases of the game, but the Bears should have an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Vikings (twice) and Seahawks. Both teams ahead have strong ground games, but neither have the offensive line that the 49ers do. However, there is a chance these two run games can gash the Bears. Give the Bears just a slight downgrade, but they still remain the best fantasy defense available.

Holding steady