Michael Vick is toast. Nick Foles could be on his way to becoming a God in Philadelphia (for at least one week). Steelers fans have to deal with Byron Leftwich in a crucial matchup with the Ravens. Ditto for the Bears with Jason Campbell against the 49ers.
Needless to say, this is an unforgiving NFL season, and it’s almost certainly the same with most fantasy football owners. I know I personally drafted well in numerous leagues, but have seen many big name guys on my roster (Greg Jennings, Aaron Hernandez and Maurice Jones-Drew) go down to injury, and superstars like Michael Vick and Calvin Johnson just come short of expectations.
But if you’re facing fantasy football elimination or an uphill battle, you should simply embrace it. After all, injuries happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. And while a guy like Megatron isn’t scoring much (just two touchdowns after ripping off 16 last year), at least find solace in the fact that he’s killing it in every other way a receiver can.
Make the adjustments. Pick up the right waiver wire guys, and kill it in week 11. If you’re not entirely sure how to do that just yet, perhaps this week’s Last Second Decisions column can assist you:
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (Head)
Vick is 100% out this week and Nick Foles will start against the Washington Redskins.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Shoulder/Ribs)
Big Ben is out for week 11 and possibly a lot longer. Hey, at least he’ll have a shot at being there for the birth of his child without getting crap from everyone about it.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (Head)
Cutler’s head is all jacked up, so he’s out against the 49ers. It’s probably for the best. Jason Campbell will start in his place and shake uncontrollably behind Chicago’s sketchy offensive line.
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers (Head)
Smith is actually on track to play. He’s no lock just yet, however, and isn’t a suggested play against the vaunted Bears D.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders (Ankle)
McFadden will miss another week and potentially up to four with a high ankle sprain. He’s been solid in a few games but overall has been a mega bust in 2012. Marcel Reese is still the Raiders’ back to use with Mike Goodson out, as well.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (Neck)
Mathews has a neck issue stemming from practice this week, and is not a lock to face the Broncos. Keep up on his status up until kickoff. Jackie Battle is a strong candidate for extended action if he doesn’t play.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints (Hand)
Sproles is on track to return this week, but apparently will “leave it to the doctors” to decide if he can actually play. He clearly comes with some risk, but could have a field day against Oakland if he does suit up.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Achilles)
Mendy is listed as probably and is expected to draw the start against the Ravens. It’s not a bad matchup (not like it used to be), and he should see most of the carries. Just know that he’ll be vulnerable to re-injury and/or a reduced workload in his first game back.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (Knee)
Megatron went off last week and is on the injury report as a precautionary measure. He’s fully expected to face the Packers in a huge game for both NFC North teams. Expect a solid day against a beatable Green Bay secondary that is missing Charles Woodson.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Ankle)
Nelson appears to be close to 100% and should face the Lions this week. The matchup isn’t bad, and with Greg Jennings still out, Nelson once again has WR1 potential.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (Ankle)
Jones is shaping up to be a true game-time call. The Falcons don’t really need to press it with him (since they’re 8-1), but he still has a chance at playing. Just monitor his status up until kickoff.
Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots (Ankle)
Welker is another one of those classic Patriots injury report reps. He’s in no danger of missing week 11 and should be a top-15 receiver against a shaky Colts defense.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (Foot)
Garcon might play. Yay! Throw a parade, hug your mom, and watch 16 Candles with the lights off. It’s great day to be alive. Then again, he might not play. So, there’s that. You really can’t trust this dude right now, so I’d refrain from using him if you have other decent options.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders (Hamstring)
DHB will be a game-time decision this week. He has a killer matchup against the Saints, so use him if he’s good to go.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots (Ankle)
Hern has been ruled out with his bum ankle still giving him trouble. Rob Gronkowski will be elite again, and Welker and Brandon Lloyd also could have big days with extra targets to go around.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans (Elbow)
Daniels is shaky for week 11 and is going to end up being a game-time call. Start him at your own risk this week against a soft Jaguars defense.
Danario Alexander is for real. Accept that. His main knock so far in his career has been his inability to stay health – not his inability to perform. The dude is a walking, breathing poor man’s Vincent Jackson, and Philip Rivers loves him. And Robert Meachem isn’t invited on their next date.
Darren Sproles returning could mess things up for the Saints. However, not as much as you might think. He’s a bit shaky in his first game back (if he plays), but Chris Ivory is still the lead runner, with Mark Ingram picking up the scraps. Pierre Thomas would see less third down work, and would probably see time over Ingram. It’s a crap-shoot either way you look at it, but Sproles is your man when he’s healthy, and I like Ivory, then Thomas, ahead of Ingram.
James Casey could see extended action if Owen Daniels is out. So, too, could Garrett Graham, but I’d prefer to use Casey, who can lineup at fullback, receiver and tight end and not miss a beat.
Jason Campbell, QB, Oakland Raiders vs. Byron Leftwich, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Both of these guys are average quarterbacks (at best), and both have awful matchups. However, someone in some deep league somewhere actually needs an answer to this one. I’m going with Leftwich, as I think the Ravens are a little shakier on defense with all the injuries they’ve had. Neither guy should really be started, but I haven’t liked what I’ve seen out of Campbell. I’d roll with Leftwich.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions
It’s a close call, but I won’t let Leshoure burn me again. Jones has the better matchup (vs Browns) on paper, but Leshoure scored three times two weeks ago and Felix can never stay healthy. It’s Leshoure by a hair.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Jones seems to score just about every week, but Jordy Nelson is due back and Randall Cobb is just as potent. The way the Packers spread the ball around, I’d much rather roll with Amendola, who is PPR gold and literally gets it done every time he finishes a game.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
Finley is going to go off sooner or later, and possibly even this week against the Lions. However, with a rookie QB under center, I think Celek operates as a safety blanket and could be looked at in the red-zone, too. I like both guys more than most this week, but prefer Celek.
That does it for this week’s Last Second Decisions column. If you need further advice, hit me up on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin (and follow me, too), and I’ll try to help out before the games.
I will NOT be available to reply to comments on this article this week, and possibly not for week 12, as well. I apologize for this, but I simply won’t be able to make it. Twitter appears to be my main means of being able to offer advice for the next two weeks.