Alfred Blue stepped up as a star in his chance as a starter for the Texans, and Jonas Gray was a pleasant surprise in a big win for the Patriots. And, unfortunately, Kyle Rudolph disappeared in his return from hernia surgery.
But through all the good and bad games we had Sunday, the most interesting and concerning thing we saw in Week 11 happened in St. Louis. The Rams shocked the Broncos with a 22-7 upset, and Denver lost three key players due to injury in Julius Thomas (ankle), Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) and Montee Ball (groin).
Let's start with the injuries. Thomas injured his ankle in the first quarter and did not return. Early reports are he avoided a high-ankle sprain, which is positive, but his status for Week 12 against Miami will likely be questionable. If he's out then Jacob Tamme could be a valuable asset, and he's owned in just 1 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. Tamme had four catches for 31 yards on 10 targets against the Rams.
Sanders had five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown before he took a big hit from Rodney McLeod in the third quarter. He will go through the concussion protocol this week, and we hope he can return against the Dolphins. If he's out then maybe Wes Welker (70 percent ownership) could see an increased role. Welker had four catches for 28 yards on six targets against St. Louis.
As for Ball, he re-aggravated the groin injury that cost him the previous five games. He is headed for an MRI on Monday, and he will almost certainly miss Week 12 against Miami. Fantasy owners weren't planning on using Ball in the near term, but there was some hope he could get back to 100 percent prior to the Fantasy playoffs. Now, it's unknown when he'll play again.
The Broncos will lean on C.J. Anderson with Ronnie Hillman (foot) also out, and Hillman doesn't appear close to returning. Anderson played well against the Rams with nine carries for 29 yards and eight catches for 86 yards. He will remain a solid No. 2 running back against the Dolphins, and Juwan Thompson (16 percent) is also worth owning in deeper leagues in case Anderson was to get hurt.
This was easily Peyton Manning's worst Fantasy game of the season with just 17 points -- it was his first game under 24 points. He will rebound against the Dolphins, but we'll find out if he has his full complement of weapons if Thomas and Sanders can play.
Player on the rise
Josh McCown had a good Fantasy day in Week 10 against the Falcons with 23 points. He followed that up with another quality performance Sunday at Washington with 21 points. He was 15-of-23 passing for 288 yards and two touchdowns, both to Evans, who has been awesome of late. McCown goes to Chicago in Week 12 -- his former team -- and he should have the chance for another good game. I made the mistake last minute of switching out McCown as a sleeper in Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em and put him as a sit -- for Eli Manning. Bad job by me, and McCown is worth adding in all leagues this week with his matchup against the Bears.
Player on the decline
Robert Griffin III was a failure against the Buccaneers, and Fantasy owners should not feel comfortable starting him anytime soon. He is a drop candidate after his performance in Week 11 with 22-of-32 passing for 207 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and six carries for 41 yards. He finished with 14 Fantasy points, and he should struggle again in Week 14 at San Francisco. He lost left tackle Trent Williams (knee) in the game, and after the loss Jordan Reed was mentioned with a hamstring injury. Griffin had a great opportunity in Week 11, but he only had six targets to DeSean Jackson (four catches for 35 yards) and two for Pierre Garcon (one catch for 6 yards). I was extremely disappointed in how Griffin played, especially coming off a bye.
Quarterback injuries: None
Quarterback waivers: Andy Dalton (76 percent ownership), Ryan Tannehill (73 percent), Josh McCown (35 percent), Kyle Orton (35 percent), Drew Stanton (34 percent), Michael Vick (22 percent), Ryan Mallett (12 percent), Shaun Hill (4 percent)
Of note: There were several quarterbacks who owed us a good performance after some dud games in Week 10 or just bad play of late, and Jay Cutler (29 Fantasy points), Dalton (27 points), Russell Wilson (26 points) and Cam Newton (22 points) delivered. We hope Ben Roethlisberger follows suit Monday night. ... Of that group, Cutler remains a must-start option heading into Week 12 against Tampa Bay, but I'd be hesitant with Dalton (at HOU) and Wilson (vs. ARI) as starters in standard formats. Newton is on a bye next week. ... The Manning brothers combined for 24 Fantasy points with Peyton's 17 points and Eli's seven. Eli Manning was bad against the 49ers with 22-of-45 passing for 280 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. Like Peyton, this was Eli's worst game of the season. ... Matt Ryan has now gone six games in a row with less than 20 Fantasy points with his 16-point outing at Carolina. He has another good matchup in Week 12 against the Browns since he'll return home, and Cleveland just allowed two touchdowns to Mallett. You'll just have to consider who else you have to start -- maybe McCown? -- if you want to bench Ryan next week. ... Stanton (20 Fantasy points), Mallett (18 points) and Hill (14 points) all won as the new starting quarterbacks for their respective teams. Of this group, I like Mallett the best for Week 12 against Cincinnati, but Stanton is the best long-term playing for coach Bruce Arians. ... Some of the bigger disappointments Sunday were Drew Brees (16 Fantasy points vs. CIN), Philip Rivers (13 points vs. OAK) and Matthew Stafford (five points at ARI). I'm not ready to give up on these guys, but I would bench Rivers in Week 12 against the Rams, and he could be dealing with rib and knee injuries. ... Mark Sanchez finished with 17 Fantasy points at Green Bay, but it wasn't pretty with 26-of-44 passing for 346 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles. He'll rebound in Week 12 against the Titans at home, but he's not guaranteed to be a must-start quarterback as he continues to start for Nick Foles (collarbone). He'll have to play better for Fantasy owners to trust him.
Player on the rise
One of the few bright spots for the Redskins on Sunday was the play of Alfred Morris, who did well as the Start of the Week against Tampa Bay. He finished with 20 carries for 96 yards and two catches for 36 yards. He now has four games in a row with at least 18 carries, three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points and two games in a row with at least 92 rushing yards. Morris has yet to run for 100 yards in a game this season, but he's getting plenty of work and performing at a high level. He will remain a No. 2 running back even in a tough matchup at San Francisco in Week 12.
Player on the decline
No one is benching LeSean McCoy, especially with a Week 12 matchup against the Titans at home. But he had another mediocre game in Week 11 at Green Bay with 23 carries for 88 yards and one catch for 18 yards. He now has just two touchdowns on the season and one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in his past four outings. The good news is he continues to get plenty of work -- this was his third game in his past four with at least 21 carries -- but we're waiting for a dominant performance. We hope he can deliver down the stretch, starting with the game against the Titans next week.
Running back injuries: Montee Ball
(groin), Ahmad Bradshaw (leg)
Running back waivers: Tre Mason (67 percent ownership), Alfred Blue (61 percent), Knile Davis (59 percent), Bryce Brown (52 percent), Charles Sims (44 percent), Isaiah Crowell (39 percent), Theo Riddick (37 percent), Jonas Gray (33 percent), Roy Helu (22 percent), Juwan Thompson (16 percent), Latavius Murray (1 percent)
Of note: Blue stepped in for the injured Arian Foster (groin) and dominated the Browns with 36 carries for 156 yards. Foster is expected to return in Week 12 against the Bengals, but then again, he was expected to play against the Browns. Add Blue in all leagues if you failed to do so already in case Foster is out again. ... Jeremy Hill rebounded from a bad game in Week 11 against the Browns to trounce the Saints with 27 carries for 152 yards and one catch for 13 yards. If Giovani Bernard (hip) remains out against the Texans, then consider Hill a must-start Fantasy option again in Week 12. ... Mason had his second game of the season with double digits in Fantasy points with 29 carries for 113 yards against the Broncos. He now has at least 18 carries in three of his past five games. In those outings against Seattle in Week 7, San Francisco in Week 9 and then Sunday, the Rams gave Mason plenty of work when leading in the game. If you think the Rams can hold a lead at the Chargers in Week 12 then start him, but I like Mason as just a flex option. ... The Browns decided Crowell was going to be their best running back against the Texans, and he finished with 14 carries for 61 yards and two catches for 30 yards and a fumble. West had five carries for 12 yards, and Ben Tate had two carries for minus-9 yards. You have to assume Crowell is the best option in this backfield going into Week 12 at Atlanta, and hopefully we don't get fooled again with West or Tate getting the bulk of the work next week. ... Andre Ellington had a rough game with 19 carries for 42 yards and four catches for 24 yards against Detroit. I was nervous about Ellington with the tough matchup against the Lions and playing with Stanton, and he could struggle again in Week 12 at Seattle. His workload and ability to catch the ball make him attractive as at least a No. 2 running back, but this is now two games in a row with single digits in Fantasy points. We hope he will play well against the Seahawks, but don't be afraid to bench him if you have other options with better matchups. ... The Raiders finally decided to give Murray some work against the Chargers, and he responded with four carries for 47 yards and three catches for 16 yards. He led the Raiders in rushing yards, and we hope this is a sign of things to come. ... Ryan Mathews and Rashad Jennings returned from extended absences with injuries. Mathews had 16 carries for 70 yards and one catch for 5 yards against the Raiders, and Jennings had 18 carries for 59 yards and four catches for 8 yards against the 49ers. Mathews should be considered a No. 3 running back against the Rams in Week 12, and Jennings is a No. 2 option against the Cowboys next week. ... Gray stole the show Sunday night with a huge game against the Colts with 38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He's going to be a popular name off waivers Tuesday for obvious reasons, and the Patriots have found their leading rusher for the rest of the season.
Player on the rise
There isn't a better receiver in the NFL right now than Mike Evans. The rookie for Tampa Bay had seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns at Washington, and he now has 21 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns in his past three games. He has double digits in Fantasy points in five of his past six games, and he faces a shaky secondary in Week 12 at Chicago. We hope this type of production continues, and this rookie class of receivers has been impressive with Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Martavis Bryant and Evans, among others, doing amazing things on a weekly basis.
Player on the decline
Like McCoy, no one is benching Julio Jones in Week 12 against Cleveland, even with a tough matchup against Joe Haden. But Jones has been a mediocre Fantasy option this season and had another down game in Week 11 at Carolina with six catches for 59 yards. He has three touchdowns on the season and none since Week 3, and he has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in his past six outings. We hope going home will help his outlook, but the battle with Haden will be tough. Still, keep Jones active unless you have other options with better matchups, and hopefully he can close the season playing at a high level.
Wide receiver injuries: Emmanuel Sanders
(concussion), Greg Jennings (ribs), Jarius Wright (hamstring)
Wide receiver waivers: Malcom Floyd (66 percent), Andrew Hawkins (47 percent), Cecil Shorts (39 percent), Davante Adams (38 percent), Kenny Stills (31 percent), Allen Hurns (23 percent), Jarvis Landry (18 percent), Kenny Britt (12 percent), Marqise Lee (9 percent), Taylor Gabriel (4 percent), Chris Hogan (1 percent)
Of note: For the first time this season, the Bears got touchdowns in the same game from Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Jeffery had 11 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets, and Marshall had seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets. More of that please. ... It was good to see Michael Floyd score two touchdowns against the Lions, but hopefully it's not fools gold. He only had two catches in the game for 54 yards and just five targets, and he combined for four Fantasy points in his previous three outings. I hope he can build off this, but I'm still not sold he's all the way back. As for the other Arizona receivers, Larry Fitzgerald had two catches for 33 yards on four targets, and John Brown had five catches for 69 yards on nine targets. I would avoid all three guys if possible against the Seahawks, and Fitzgerald could be dealing with a knee injury. ... In the Texans' first start with Mallett at Cleveland, it was pretty much status quo for DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson like it was with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hopkins remained the big-play threat with four catches for 80 yards on eight targets, and Johnson had seven catches for 68 yards on nine targets. Hopkins was open in the end zone, but Mallett underthrew him for an interception. I still like Hopkins better moving forward. ... Benjamin was a beast against the Falcons. He had a season-high 13 targets for a season-high nine catches, and he finished with 109 yards and a touchdown. He remains a must-start option in all leagues after Carolina's bye in Week 12. ... The Eagles got blasted at Green Bay, but Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews both played well. Maclin had nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets, and Matthews had five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. Both should have the chance for another big outing in Week 12 against the Titans. Matthews now has 15 catches for 285 yards and four touchdowns in his past three games. ... Michael Crabtree had a good Fantasy day with 14 points at the Giants, but he still had just three catches. He finished with 85 yards, and hopefully this is a game he can build on. He has a great matchup in Week 12 against Washington at home.
Player on the rise
Coby Fleener played great against the Patriots on Sunday night with seven catches for 144 yards on seven targets. With Dwayne Allen (ankle) getting hurt in the first half, we saw Fleener take over as a go-to guy for Andrew Luck. He now has double digits in Fantasy points in consecutive games after he had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown at the Giants in Week 9, and he could be a featured option if Allen is out for an extended period of time. Fleener should have the chance for another good game against the Jaguars in Week 12, and he had four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville in Week 3.
Player on the decline
Vernon Davis should be cut in all leagues. He had one catch for 7 yards at the Giants on five targets and now has just six Fantasy points combined in his past five games. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1, and there doesn't appear to be a glimmer of hope coming. He has a good matchup against the Redskins in Week 12, but there's no reason to start him. Let someone else add him off waivers once you cut him in most standard leagues.
Tight end injuries: Julius Thomas
(ankle), Jordan Reed (hamstring), Dwayne Allen (ankle)
Tight end waivers: Coby Fleener (63 percent ownership), Charles Clay (63 percent) Kyle Rudolph (56 percent), Owen Daniels (53 percent), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (36 percent), Jermaine Gresham (11 percent), Garrett Graham (9 percent), Jacob Tamme (1 percent)
Of note: Rudolph was expected to return from hernia surgery and make an impact Sunday in a great matchup against the Bears. Instead, he had zero targets, and the Vikings got a touchdown from backup tight end Rhett Ellison. The best is yet to come for Rudolph, so don't give up on him yet. But he owes us all a big game in Week 12 against the Packers. ... Mychal Rivera struggled Sunday after three games with at least eight Fantasy points with just three catches for 40 yards on five targets against the Chargers. He should rebound in a better matchup against the Chiefs on Thursday night, but he'll be just a low-end starting option. ... Gresham still has minimal Fantasy value even after he had two touchdowns at New Orleans. He only had two catches for 13 yards on three targets in the game. ... Larry Donnell played well against the 49ers with three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown on six targets. He had the chance for another touchdown but wasn't able to pull the ball down in the end zone. He should be considered a must-start option in Week 12 against the Cowboys, and he had seven catches for 90 yards and two fumbles at Dallas in Week 7. ... There was a Zach Ertz sighting at Green Bay in Week 11. He had four catches for 55 yards on six targets, which was his best game since Week 6. While he did more than Brent Celek, who had one catch for 11 yards on three targets, I wouldn't be excited about Ertz moving forward just yet.