Fantasy football Risers/Sliders: Foles' rise may be short-lived
Nick Foles may see return to earth in facing the Bengals' solid defense in Week 15
David Wilson was seventh player to have 300 yards and 3 TDs in the same game
Kris Durham could emerge as valuable receiver for the Lions' depleted WR corps
The last thing most owners want is a wacky week in the fantasy playoffs, but that's what we got with the Seahawks and Giants both going over 50 points, RGIII's injury, Kirk Cousins' heroics, A.J. Green's drops and whatever that was that John Skelton was doing. Here's whose recent trends were interrupted in one way or another.
Nick Foles, Eagles -- Nothing cures a struggling quarterback more than the Buccaneers' weak pass defense. The rookie's 381 yards Sunday were the most for a first-year Eagles passer since Scott Tinsley threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns as a replacement quarterback during Week 4 of the 1987 players' strike. Before you think about using Foles in the fantasy playoffs, realize that the Bengals are tough on opposing quarterbacks and Foles has a short week to prepare for them.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins -- The nation's capital can join together for a collective exhale following reports that the MRI on Robert Griffin III's injured right knee showed no major damage, but that may not be of any solace to RGIII owners who are left in a lurch by the prospects that their star may not be able to suit up for them next Sunday. Enter Cousins, who displayed his knack for heroism by completing the game-tying drive on which Griffin was injured with an 11-yard touchdown strike to Pierre Garcon and converting a two-point run to send the battle of Maryland into overtime. It's not an ideal situation, but Griffin owners with nowhere to turn should their main man not play in Cleveland must make Cousins their waiver priority in this week's pickups.
Andy Dalton, Bengals -- There are no style points in fantasy football, so even though many of Dalton's woes on Sunday against Dallas can be attributed to the shortcomings of his teammates, the fact of the matter is that his 206 yards, one touchdown and one interception simply came up short in a big spot. The good news for Dalton is that A.J. Green isn't someone who'll drop two crucial passes regularly like he did in the third quarter of a one-point loss to an emotionally charged Dallas team. Odd are, Dalton will want to make amends this week against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Chad Henne, Jaguars -- A few weeks ago Henne looked to be someone who could string together a few quality fantasy performances. But playing without a concussed Cecil Shorts, one of the league's hottest receivers, was too much for Henne and the Jags passing attack to overcome, even at home against the Jets. If you hadn't purged Henne from your roster before, there's no time to waste in doing so now.
David Wilson, Giants -- From the opening kickoff he took 52 yards, it was apparent that the rookie from Virginia Tech was going to have a good game. What Wilson ended up with was a day of historic significance, gaining 327 all-purpose yards while scoring three touchdowns, two in the course of the first 100-yard rushing day of this career and the other on a 97-yard kickoff return. Wilson had the second-most all-purpose yards in a three-touchdown game since the AFL-NFL merger, just behind a 361-yard game from another rookie, Adrian Peterson. Wilson's effort marked the seventh time a player had 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the same game. Prior honorees in this exclusive club include Adrian Peterson (twice), Priest Holmes, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jermaine Lewis and Steve Smith. Look for more of an even split between Wilson and the oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw going forward.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- The last Broncos back to get more than the 36 touches Moreno received last Thursday against the Raiders was Reuben Droughns, who had 39 also versus the Raiders in 2004. Moreno won't be splitting the workload with Ronnie Hillman anytime soon. He is Denver's lead back and will continue to be for as long as his formerly fragile physique can handle the pounding. In Week 15 Moreno faces a Ravens defense that gave up 122 yards to Alfred Morris Sunday.
Bernard Pierce, Ravens -- Pierce got some extra run (eight rushes for 53 yards) against the Redskins with Ray Rice suffering a hip injury. While Rice was able to play through the pain and is not expected to miss any time, the possibility exists the hip acts up throughout the week and could cause him to be limited against the Broncos. Denver isn't a great matchup for the rookie, but Rice owners might want to be extra cautious and take a look at Pierce on this week's wire in case the news somehow changes for the worse.
Robert Turbin, Seahawks -- The rookie had wonderful numbers (20 carries for 108 yards) against the Cardinals, but it's hard to take any certain judgments from a 58-0 mismatch reminiscent of a Madden game against your seven-year-old brother. Marshawn Lynch had already scored thrice on the day, and Turbin, while quite talented in his own right, was only used in such volume to kill the clock in a game that got out of hand (mainly out of John Skelton's hand).
Fred Jackson, Bills -- Jackson's injury-plagued season came to a screeching halt when he suffered another knee injury Sunday, this one at the hands of two Rams defenders and an oddly planted foot in the fourth-quarter of a tough home loss. With his many maladies and the timeshare with the superior C.J. Spiller hanging over them all year, Jackson owners were in a quandary every week as to whether to play him or not. Now they know, and those who have Spiller and are still alive in the fantasy playoffs can sport a grin, although with Seattle on the horizon, not as wide as they might have hoped.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals -- Running backs believe that establishing a rhythm is an important part of their craft, but for Wells and the rest of the Cardinals, their quarterback play has been so putrid of late that there's really been no chance for anyone to succeed. You can take a chance using Wells at home this week against an average Lions run defense, but it's a risky proposition.
Marcel Reece, Raiders -- It was great while it lasted, but Darren McFadden proved to everyone that he was healthy enough to shoulder the load that Reece was previously asked to handle in the absence of Oakland's fragile franchise player. Reece remains the team leader in receiving yards out of the backfield and third in catches, and while he'll remain one of Carson Palmer's go-to guys, he's no longer someone to rely upon to have a major fantasy impact.
Brandon Gibson, Rams -- There have been promising signs coming from the Rams receivers all season, and Gibson's six-catch, 100-yard outing, including the game-winning touchdown in Buffalo, was a great sign. Held without a catch the previous two games, the fourth-year man hit triple digits for the first time in 52 career games, so the chance of him repeating this showing next week against the tougher Vikings secondary is unlikely.
Kris Durham, Lions -- Reunited with his University of Georgia quarterback and roommate, Matthew Stafford, the 6-foot-6 receiver made his 2012 NFL debut at Lambeau Field on Sunday just days after being promoted from the practice squad. Not only did the former Seahawk play, Durham started on the outside to fill the void created by the season-ending knee injury to Ryan Broyles and the absence of Titus Young. Durham managed four catches for 54 yards, including a spectacular one-handed grab. However, he looked lost at times and a bad route prompted Stafford to be picked off by Sam Shields. Detroit has thrown the ball an average of 45.5 times per game -- 10.2 percent more than any other team -- and with Stafford's targets dwindling, look for Durham to have a strong finish to the season while auditioning for a role either in Detroit or elsewhere next season.
Joe Morgan, Saints -- Just like baseball's Hall of Famer of the same name, the Saints receiver is a home run hitter. And although he doesn't catch many balls, those he does usually go for big gains, as they did against the Giants on Sunday evening. Morgan caught two Drew Brees passes for 62 and 44 yards and has now been on the receiving end of four of Brees' five longest passes of the season (Sunday's ranked 2nd and 5th, respectively). With playoff hopes gone in the Big Easy, look for Morgan to get more opportunities to stretch the field in the final few weeks.
Miles Austin, Cowboys -- It wasn't that long ago that I was in an argument about whether or not Dez Bryant or Miles Austin was the better of the Cowboys' fantasy wideouts (I was on Dez's side). There's nothing to debate after the past five games. While Bryant has become one of fantasy's most valuable pass-catchers, hauling in 33 balls for 525 yards and seven scores during that span, Austin has fallen off the table, managing just 14 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. We're not advocating ditching Austin as his potential to score a lot of points remains, but he no longer should be considered an automatic start, especially against the stingy Steelers.
Tony Scheffler, Lions -- Playing the role of a slot receiver, Scheffler was targeted early and often by Matthew Stafford on Sunday night. Scheffler caught three balls for 20 yards and a touchdown. Although he plays second-fiddle to Brandon Pettigrew, the Packers game marked the second time in four games that Stafford threw Scheffler's way at least 10 times. With the dearth of receivers on the injury-ravaged Lions right now, it's not a reach to consider starting him as a flex option this week against Arizona.
Anthony McCoy, Seahawks -- Here's a beauty for those who follow fantasy games that helped absolutely no one. Zach Miller's backup managed 133 yards on 13 catches in 12 games prior to Sunday but turned in a team season-high 103 yards on just three grabs in Seattle's epic rout of Arizona. If this were the regular season there likely would be a waiver wire run on McCoy by those who don't know any better, but as we're in the playoffs we'll assume that surviving owners are savvy enough to see this game for what it is. But keep an eye on how the Seahawks proceed in the offseason at tight end as the athletic McCoy, a Pete Carroll product from USC, could be a nice sleeper pick at the end of next year's drafts.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings -- There aren't many more frustrating players in the league than Rudolph, who is as apt to have zero catches as he is to score a touchdown. In fact, over the last seven weeks that's exactly been the case as he scored touchdowns in three games while being completely shut out on eight total targets in three of the other four. And there's little rhyme or reason in the matchups to predict the outcome. If you use him, hope that Rudolph the red-hot shows up.