Four Quarters: Didn't count on Smith
Nobody saw the Kevin Smith train coming, but the Detroit running back was huge in Fantasy Week 11. Our Michael Hurcomb breaks down the week that was in his Four Quarters.
Driving to work Sunday morning I imagined the possibilities another glorious day might have presented.
I was hoping boxer Manny Pacquiao finally got tired of all the jabs Floyd Mayweather's camp has directed at him and accepted Mayweather's challenge for arguably the fight of the decade.
I was hoping that something would spark the United States' diminishing economy and there would be a glimmer of hope for this country getting back to normalcy.
And for the love of all that is human, I mean it's been way too long since Kim Kardashian has cluttered my news feed with her monumental life decisions. It's not like I need to be reading about news that actually affects my everyday life.
But one thing I didn't account for Sunday was oft-injured running back Kevin Smith deciding have to career resurgence this late in the season.
"I think the NFL will be hard-pressed to find a better story than Kevin Smith today," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after Smith torched the Panthers for a career-high 140 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. "This is a guy who has a lot of talent but has been set back by injuries. The talent didn't go anywhere. He looks a little different in that No. 30, but I think we will keep that on him for a while."
It was a bit of an odd surfacing for Smith, who was signed prior to Week 10 and has spent the last weeks mostly working with the third-team offense. But kudos to the 1 percent of Fantasy owners in CBSSports.com leagues who gambled and started Smith -- Week 12's Fantasy running back leader with 38 points (standard formats).
Watching Smith on Sunday brought back flashbacks from his rookie season (2008) in Detroit, when he rushed for 976 yards and eight touchdowns. Unfortunately, Smith had trouble staying healthy the following years. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2009 and didn't recover his previous burst before ending up on season-ending injured reserve again in 2010 with a thumb injury.
Smith was unemployed this season until Detroit came a calling, largely in part to the uncertain situation facing Jahvid Best, who hasn't played since suffering his second concussion of the season Week 6.
Well, Smith might have just solved Detroit's rushing problem, and with another strong performance on Thanksgiving against the Packers, the Lions could finally feel comfortable putting Best on injured reserve.
All that is left for Fantasy owners this week is to decide whether or not to put a waiver claim in for Smith or Toby Gerhart, who is in line to see significant carries in Minnesota if Adrian Peterson (ankle) is sidelined.
First Quarter - Surprises of the Week
What has gotten into Matt Moore? The Dolphins quarterback has a pair of three-touchdown games in November, totaling six touchdowns and one interception this month ... Chris Ogbonnaya became just the third running back this year to rush for 100-plus yards against the Jaguars, joining Rashard Mendenhall and Arian Foster ... LeGarrette Blount also became just the third running back to rush for 100-plus yards against Green Bay, joining Willis McGahee and Adrian Peterson ... Cedric Benson became the first running back to have more than one rushing touchdown in a game against Baltimore ... No one envisioned three of the Packers' offensive touchdowns Week 11 coming from B.J. Raji, Tom Crabtree and John Kuhn ... Nate Washington had his first 100-yard and multi-touchdown game this season thanks to rookie quarterback Jake Locker ... It took Roddy White, who was an early round Fantasy pick, 10 games to produce his first 100-yard performance of the season ... Kellen Winslow had his first 100-yard game in more than two years and was the first tight end to eclipse 100 yards against Green Bay this season ... Vernon Davis is getting back to Fantasy respectability with a score in two straight games ... Charles Clay's first career touchdown thrust him into the mix as a top 5 Fantasy tight end for the week.
Second Quarter -- Duds of the Week
John Skelton's two-game hot streak came to a screeching halt Week 11 with a three-interception performance against the 49ers that got him benched in favor of Richard Bartel ... Ryan Fitzpatrick threw up another dud, this time against a Miami defense yielding 20.3 Fantasy points per week to quarterbacks -- seventh-highest in the NFL ... Mark Sanchez became the first quarterback to fail to throw a touchdown against Denver this season ... Eli Manning came into Week 11 with four touchdown passes in each of his last two games against the Eagles, who were yielding 19 Fantasy points per week to quarterbacks, which was eighth-highest in the NFL. Manning completed half of his passes, turned the ball over twice and threw one touchdown ... Maurice Morris was activated in 51 percent of leagues for a matchup against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. But as we highlighted in the lead, Kevin Smith stole the spotlight and likely Morris' job ... Greg Jennings didn't even account for one Fantasy point against the Bucs ... Vincent Brown was one of the most added Fantasy players last week after opening November with nine catches for 176 yards and one touchdown. He was activated in 23 percent of Fantasy leagues and delivered one catch for 8 yards against Chicago ... It's an even worse story for Denarius Moore, whose starting percentage skyrocketed from 6 to 85. He totaled one catch for 14 yards against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in Minnesota ... Brandon Marshall didn't record any Fantasy points against a Bills defense yielding 23.6 points per week to wide receivers, which was seventh-highest in the NFL.
Third Quarter -- Injury Report
During his big performance against the Chargers, Jay Cutler fractured the thumb on his throwing hand, which could keep him out the rest of the regular season. His injury might overshadow Adrian Peterson's ankle woes as the biggest injury news of the week ... Matt Hasselbeck suffered an elbow injury Sunday and watched rookie Jake Locker have success off the bench. However, Titans coach Mike Munchak squashed any speculation after the game by calling Hasselbeck his starter when healthy ... James Starks sustained a knee sprain against Tampa Bay ... Fred Jackson ended up with a calf injury against Miami, but X-rays came back negative ... Shonn Greene hurt his ribs early against Denver on Thursday, but he is hopeful of playing Week 12. He practiced on the side during the team's early session Monday ... Darrius Heyward-Bey had to be carted off the field after getting hit in the head against Minnesota, but thankfully had total movement in his limbs ... DeSean Jackson left the stadium in a walking boot Sunday, but has been diagnosed with a foot contusion ... Although he finished out the game Week 11 despite suffering a first-half elbow injury, it's worth keeping tabs on Jermichael Finley's status leading up to Week 12.
Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead
The Thanksgiving Day schedule has the makings of one of the best in history, so make sure to carve out some time on Turkey Day to watch Green Bay at Detroit, Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore ... Arizona at St. Louis will feature two teams struggling to find an identity on offense. Perhaps the Cardinals and Rams DSTs will both be sleeper Fantasy options for Week 12 ... Philadelphia's upset of the Giants and strong defensive performance in Week 11 means the Eagles are players again heading into a Week 12 showdown with the Patriots ... The Giants will be looking to end a two-game losing skid, but they will have to go on the road to New Orleans for a Monday night showdown. We could see a lot of yards and points in this game, so make sure to get your Giants and Saints players active Week 12.
Overtime -- Q & A
MH: I wouldn't. Smith is the third-highest scoring receiver (standard formats), and while he hasn't been great to start November, his remaining schedule is favorable. Left on the docket is Indianapolis, Tampa Bay (twice), Atlanta, Houston and New Orleans. Only the Texans rank in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to receivers.
As for Vick, I know the potential, but you also get the injury headache. I think you can get by with Palmer, who faces Chicago, Miami, Green Bay, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego the rest of the way. Only one team -- Detroit -- ranks in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
MH: Obviously the injury to Cutler changes Bennett's outlook for the remainder of the season. Bennett's November rise has been because of his familiarity with Cutler dating back to their days at Vanderbilt. But despite Cutler's absence, I'm still not down on Bennett. Remember, he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Hanie, who will replace the injured Cutler, in the NFC Championship game last year against Green Bay.
Looking at Bennett's remaining schedule, he will face the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings. Only one team -- Seattle -- is in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to receivers. I'm optimistic that Bennett could finish the season as a reliable No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver, despite the absence of Cutler.
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