Here are 15 NFC-based deep thoughts from an intriguing Week 11—with none that reward Matt Ryan for becoming the first quarterback since 1967 (Bart Starr) to win an NFL game with five or more interceptions...and zero passing touchdowns.
1. Bucs tailback Doug Martin (161 total yards vs. Carolina) should be the most coveted trade commodity among NFC tailbacks...but only for a proverbial king's ransom. Simply put, there is no fair-market value for a guy averaging 209.5 total yards and 1.4 touchdowns in his last five games—short of a top-five quarterback, top-seven rusher and top-12 receiver.
2. I encourage all title-contending fantasy owners to sell Robert Griffin III (284 total yards, four TD passes) before this week's trade deadlines. Griffin is obviously a supreme talent, but without a true-blue No. 1 receiver on the roster, it's hard to envision the Redskins rookie dominating for three straight "playoff" Sundays in December (Weeks 14-16).
3. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (12 catches, 145 yards, one TD vs. Cleveland) has earned the right to be a top-15 pick from this point forward, amongst his positional brethren. And that's a scary declaration to make, considering Bryant has three outings of three or fewer catches in the last five weeks.
4. The same optimism rings true with Randall Cobb. His seven-week transformation from "afterthought" to late-game savior in the Packers offense has been nothing short of amazing. Since Greg Jennings went down with an injury in Week 4, Cobb (six TDs in his last four games) is a perfect 7-of-7 in reaching the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown.
5. Over the last 10 years, I cannot recall a less desirable weekly QB "lock" for 275 total yards than Cam Newton. Sure, he finished with 292 total yards and one touchdown against the Bucs, but the Panthers offense just looks slow and lethargic from every angle. Perhaps Carolina owner Jerry Richardson could install some FieldTurf at Bank of America Stadium before next September.
6. It's a good thing this is a fantasy column...and not a referendum on Rams head coach Jeff Fisher's mathematical acumen. Otherwise, we'd be busy invalidating any reason for attempting a two-point conversion when down 14 midway through the fourth quarter.
7. Speaking of the Rams, I'm not shocked that Steven Jackson (86 total yards on 15 touches) averaged 6.2 yards per rush against the porous-against-the-run Jets. But I am surprised he was nothing more than a decoy for the club's two scoring drives. Maybe S-Jax needed to average 7.5 yards per carry to earn his coaches' respect.
8. The fantasy pessimist in me is leery of Marques Colston (four catches, 69 yards vs. Oakland) catching five or fewer balls for a fourth consecutive week. But the fantasy optimist chooses to remember this: Before Colston erupted for 25 catches, 41 targets, 357 yards and five touchdowns for Weeks 4-7 (three-game span), he combined for six catches and 89 yards the previous two outings.
9. Panthers tailback Jonathan Stewart (73 total yards, one TD vs. Tampa Bay) had a productive outing on Sunday, but he's still nothing more than an RB4 in 12-team leagues. Especially now that we're done with bye weeks.
10. It was great to see Mark Ingram (68 total yards, one TD) flourish against the Raiders, but let's exercise some patience here. With Darren Sproles (hand) likely to return next week, it's hard to envision Ingram having a specialized role with the Saints' four-headed backfield. At this point, Ingram (back-to-back outings of 67 rushing yards) is only an RB5 in 12-team leagues.
11. I blame myself for thinking Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (four catches, 22 yards vs. Green Bay) had the physical capacity to take a giant leap forward this season. Won't happen again next year. I promise.
12. Many thanks to Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann for clarifying the following: Jeremy Maclin finishing with zero catches, zero yards and a minuscule three targets in the Eagles' blowout loss was not a misprint. Ugh!
Well, so much for believing that rookie QB Nick Foles (204 yards passing, zero TDs) had a juicy matchup (against the Redskins) in his first NFL start. And so much for thinking that Maclin would be in line for a monster outing against the NFL's worst passing defense (heading into Sunday).
In the immortal words of Phil Mickelson: Man, I'm such...an idiot.
13. The Cardinals would be wise to adopt the Buffalo model of success when Beanie Wells (toe) likely returns this week: Ride running backs Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling (133 total yards, one TD vs. Atlanta) at least 25 times per game...and then sprinkle in 12 receiving targets to Larry Fitzgerald.
Bottom line: In non-blowout situations, there's no reason for any Arizona QB (Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton) attempting 25-plus passes on a given Sunday. Not with that stout defense.
14. Falcons wideout Julio Jones (three catches, 33 yards) gets a relative free pass from his middling outing—but not because of an ankle injury that hindered his mid-week preparation.
For the season, a curious pattern of Jones dominating on the road (five-game averages of five catches, 75 yards, one TD)...and Roddy White (eight catches, 123 yards on Sunday) trumping his partner at home has developed with maddening consistency.
And for that, I've learned to accept this confounding reality...even though Jones and White are simply too good to bench at any time, regardless of venue.
15. I may be the biggest supporter of Matthew Stafford (266 yards passing, one TD vs. Green Bay) among the fantasy-guru circuit, but I'm not blind here. The Lions quarterback may have had his worst game of the decade Sunday...at the worst possible time.
Stafford's day was full of overthrows, undertosses, late passes, poorly timed connections, interceptions...and one touchdown pass (to Calvin Johnson) that should have been picked.
It pains me to say this...but Stafford is not an automatic starting consideration during the fantasy playoffs. Quite simply, there are no "gimme" matchups for Weeks 14 (Green Bay), 15 (Arizona) and 16 (Atlanta).
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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