Lions' Smith no longer a secret, 'Boys surging, more Week 11 notes
The Lions' Kevin Smith had a monster game, with over 200 yards and three TDs
The Cowboys' favorable schedule bodes well for Tony Romo and his offense
With over 120 yards and two TDs, Jordy Nelson is now the Pack's hottest receiver
Adrian Peterson's loss to an ankle injury hurts, but we might have found a new fantasy running back to go to in Kevin Smith. In street clothes just a few weeks ago, now Smith is in a Lions' uniform and his big game Sunday will get him in numerous fantasy lineups on Thanksgiving Day. Smith broke out in a barnburner against the Panthers with 140 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving and three touchdowns. That is the kind of production Jahvid Best owners have longed for while the former Lions starter has been dealing with post-concussion syndrome. The Lions and fantasy owners have to be wondering where Smith has been hiding. The secret is out now. Smith's problem will be a problem familiar to the Lions and five other teams this week: How do they bounce back in just a few days to play on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, Smith also gets the unbeaten defending champs that have a swarming run defense. That surely will present more of a challenge than the suspect Panthers run defense did. We will go into his viability for that one here, as we break down each game every week from a fantasy perspective in the Fantasy Football Fast Forward:
Rob Gronkowski has to be considered the No. 1 tight end in fantasy now. He has the benefit of a great QB like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, but he is even more of a focal point of his offense.
Wes Welker had his worst week of the season, but running in the slot against the Eagles should get him productive again. He remains too promising to sit in any given week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a solid outing and he should be able to get more busy games like this down the stretch. He is a must-start against the Eagles next week. Rookie Shane Vereen picked up some garbage-time numbers over rookie Stevan Ridley and receiving back Danny Woodhead, but Vereen is still too far down the depth chart to warrant picking up in most leagues.
Chad Ochocinco sunk right back into nothingness. Clearly, he isn't worth using in any leagues and hardly worth owning. He is still behind Gronkowski, Welker, Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez and the backs among the Pats' targets.
Tyler Palko wasn't any good, but he at least kept Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston moderately productive in garbage time. This was a favorable matchup, though. Next week against the Steelers will be a bad time to trust any Chiefs.
Thomas Jones got a larger share of the carries over Jackie Battle, and Dexter McCluster was also more involved, but all of these options look like bad plays against the Steelers. The Chiefs are clearly going to more of a running-first team under Palko, but they aren't going to be very good at it, unless it is a real favorable matchup.
DeSean Jackson rebounded with a solid game that could have been better if not for a boneheaded taunting penalty. Jackson should remain active in most leagues through thick and thin.
Riley Cooper seems to have something decent going with Vince Young, because they work on the scout team together. Cooper only started because Jeremy Maclin was out, but Cooper might be a sleeper if Young gets another start.
Young wasn't great, but he did enough to consider starting against the Pats if Michael Vick cannot go again. The Pats are a bottom-five team against QBs still.
Save for a pair of long passes, the Giants offense didn't muster much against the maligned Eagles defense. Eli Manning suffered a letdown against a team he usually performs well against. Jake Ballard dropped three passes and Hakeem Nicks one. Mario Manningham was the biggest disappointment, though, reeling in just one short pass. The Saints next week shouldn't be able to stop Manning and the passing game as well next Monday night.
Victor Cruz's performance makes him a must-start fantasy receiver and he might have even surpassed Nicks as Manning's go-to man. Cruz is just too productive to sit in any matchup.
The Giants running game is atrocious. Brandon Jacobs is not worth starting in most formats, particularly with the expected return of Ahmad Bradshaw and the likelihood rookie speedster Da'Rel Scott gets more carries.
There are reports Jay Cutler has a broken thumb that might even require season-ending surgery. That is real unfortunate, because Cutler has taken a significant step forward as a fantasy option with this performance. The Bears' replacement Chad Hanie, will make all of the Bears receivers worthless in fantasy crunch time.
Philip Rivers was better, but still not great. He did make Vincent Jackson a star and he did get Antonio Gates in the end zone. The pixie dust wore off for rookie Vincent Brown, though. Brown isn't a week-to-week fantasy option, especially with Malcom Floyd's health expected to improve.
Ryan Mathews was a bad play against the Bears defense, but he looks like a decent option against the Broncos, who are in the bottom half of fantasy against RBs.
Rookie Jake Locker might have created a QB controversy with the Titans, throwing two late TDs in relief to Nate Washington. Washington clearly is Locker's man, so if Locker starts, you might consider starting Washington, too.
Chris Johnson was awful again against an elite run defense, but the Titans schedule gets favorable against the Bucs, Bills and Saints. All those defenses are in the bottom half of fantasy against RBs. Stick with Johnson.
Matt Ryan has steadily improved, which has kept Tony Gonzalez productive. Roddy White was outstanding with Julio Jones out. White's performance is an example why you stick with a receiver star like White when healthy. He pays you back.
Jacquizz Rodgers quietly wasn't the one who spelled Michael Turner. Jason Snelling got seven carries. It makes owning Rodgers a lot less intriguing in those deeper leagues as a Turner handcuff. A healthy Snelling not only backs up Turner, but he will also get some goal-line touches.
Frank Gore proved healthy and productive, but it is noteworthy Anthony Dixon was more effective than rookie Kendall Hunter in relief. Dixon can be a goal-line threat, too. He might be a quiet handcuff option to take as the 49ers limit Gore's workload before the postseason.
Michael Crabtree rewarded his fantasy owner's patience, much like Vernon Davis has. Both figure to be solid fantasy options down the stretch, especially as the 49ers work on building their passing game for the postseason, too. Crabtree and Davis could both be very busy in the coming weeks. Kyle Williams caught a TD pass, but he isn't a great waiver-wire option. Braylon Edwards figures to get more throws in the coming weeks over Williams.
Beanie Wells was a bad play against the 49ers' elite run defense, but he will be a must-start against the suspect Rams rush defense next week.
After a surprising week against the Eagles, John Skelton found himself benched. None of the Cards QB options, even if Kevin Kolb is healthy enough to play, is worth considering in fantasy.
This was Sam Bradford's chance to prove something better than completely worthless. You can cut and ignore him now in standard fantasy leagues.
The Seahawks run defense is one of the more underrated ones in the NFL. They are a matchup to be worried about down the stretch for Redskins, Eagles and Rams (again). You might even consider the Seahawks D/ST a sleeper next week in fantasy.
Marshawn Lynch extended his scoring streak. He should remain active in this favorable upcoming schedule.
Kevin Smith is easily the must-have waiver-wire pickup of the week. You just shouldn't expect to use him against the Packers on a short Thanksgiving week. The Packers run defense is still tough, despite what the Bucs did to them this week. Smith goes for a surprising 201 total yards and three scores and should be picked up in all formats.
Matthew Stafford snapped out of his mini funk with five TDs and will be a must-start against the Packers secondary that is in the bottom five of fantasy against QBs. Stafford didn't even need to hit Calvin Johnson on one of those scores, using his tight ends, back and secondary outside receivers in Nate Burleson and Titus Young. Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson are the only sure things in fantasy week to week still, though.
Cam Newton, too, snapped a mini-funk, albeit with four interceptions. Newton has a dream matchup coming up against the Colts and should remain active in all leagues.
The Colts are one of the worst teams in fantasy against RBs, too, so a revived D'Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart might both be good plays next Sunday. Williams has returned to the primary rusher, while Stewart is the receiving and goal-line back (when Newton's not running it in).
Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey let us down in this one. The Panthers offense started out tight-end heavy and now we cannot trust either TE in fantasy during crunch time.
Tony Romo has re-emerged as one of the best QBs in fantasy because of a favorable schedule. Thanksgiving Day against the Dolphins is a dream matchup, even if the Dolphins have played better of late.
The Cowboys make everything easy on us in fantasy, using all of their primary weapons regularly. Jason Witten is back being a fantasy star, while Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant stay hot.
Even Demarco Murray remained the primary runner with Felix Jones healthy again. Murray and Jones are not great starters against an emerging Dolphins run defense and on a short week. You might want to find a starter fill-in for them, especially if they split more carries on Thanksgiving Day.
Rex Grossman isn't fantasy-worthy, but he has at least made Jabar Gaffney and maybe even Donte' Stallworth decent sleepers in deeper leagues. They are viable fill-ins next week against the Seahawks.
Roy Helu got the bulk of the carries and should remain the starter and the Redskins should focus more on the running game in future weeks. The Seahawks are decent against the run, but Helu should be a better starter next week than he was against the Cowboys.