- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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We're at roughly the midpoint of the NFL season and the highest-scoring New York Giants running back this season has scored 29 fantasy points. That's in eight games! You know, the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson and the St. Louis Rams' Zac Stacy scored 29 standard fantasy points in Week 9 alone! But don't fret, fantasy owners and Big Blue fans, because here comes fantasy stud Andre Brown to save the day, the season, unemployment, world hunger, all problems in one shot. Yes, everyone loves Brown, the 26-year-old wide body from NC State with all of 75 career rushing attempts for five NFL franchises, the guy people have been asking about for more than a month. Let's unilaterally start him in Week 10!
The Week 10 rankings are posted and suffice to say, there didn't appear to be any proclamations of immediate Brown love from us, but I placed him 29th at running back, in line with others. We just don't know whether Brown, yet to play in an NFL game this season due to breaking his leg in the final preseason game back in August -- why was he playing at all? -- will see 18 rushing attempts or three. In fact, as of this writing, he still hasn't been activated off the injured reserve list at all. It's always a risk. The fact Brown ended up in potential flex range at all is attributable to the mess around him, frankly. I mean, c'mon, 29 fantasy points in eight weeks? That's the Brandon Jacobs total. The entire Giants corps at this sad position, once a sign of their ample offensive strength, has scored 89 fantasy points, with retreads Peyton Hillis and Jacobs providing the lone individual double-digit fantasy outings, with Hillis' 13 points in Week 7 and Jacobs netting 22 the week prior. Thanks a lot, David Wilson.
I'm on board with Brown making an impact for this team both this week and beyond, and remain surprised he's owned in a mere 21 percent of ESPN standard formats. Colleague Christopher Harris wrote about Brown in his free-agent pickups column this week, and I concur with his assessment. Brown should be a factor right away, and potentially more in future weeks. If you're feeling greedy and want to use Brown over one of the many disappointments out there, like the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice, the Indianapolis Colts' Trent Richardson or the San Diego Chargers' Ryan Mathews, I won't argue. Rice has 13 fantasy points the past three games combined. Richardson last topped five fantasy points in Week 4. Mathews, everyone seems to forget, provided consecutive 100-yard rushing games before his Week 9 stinker. Could Brown outscore all of them? Sure, he definitely could. Make the best decisions for your team, and dream bigger if you desire.
Quarterback: You'll see Green Bay Packers starter Seneca Wallace -- wow, it's been Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and one game from Matt Flynn for like 50 years there -- didn't fare so well in the rankings, but if you're in a pinch, I doubt he plays miserably at home. I trust a few of his weapons, too. ... I did not rank the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler. I doubt he's ready to play. If he does, he'd go 14th for me, right before the great Nick Foles. I do think capable fill-in Josh McCown is a top-20 option. ... Trust Matt Ryan against Seattle? Well, every week crazy things do happen. And the Seahawks didn't exactly control rookie Mike Glennon in Week 9. But wouldn't you prefer to trust Glennon against Miami? Glennon has four consecutive games of 15 or more fantasy points. Does your QB? ... The Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel is scheduled to return, but I'm not ready to trust him.
Running back: The fantasy MVP at the midpoint gallantly returns from his bye week to run over the San Diego Chargers! Welcome back, Knowshon Moreno, top-10 pick! ... Three of us ranked the Bills' C.J. Spiller one spot over his quality teammate Fred Jackson. If that doesn't show the closeness of the decision should you own both players, I'm not sure what does. ... None of us ranked the Buccaneers' Doug Martin. The Buccaneers, in their infinite winless wisdom, continue to say Martin could play this Monday night. I've got rookie Mike James, who destroyed the Seahawks for 166 total yards last game, at No. 18. If Martin is deemed healthy enough to play, and I doubt we know this before the weekend, it would alter the rank. ... I feel like I ranked the Arizona Cardinals' Andre Ellington a bit too well. Is he really a top-20 guy? Colleague Harris doesn't think so. I do believe Rashard Mendenhall is the BenJarvus Green-Ellis of this situation. ... By the way, if Mike James can run on Seattle, why can't Steven Jackson? He didn't look so bad in Week 9. ... Don't discard Ryan Mathews from one game. He's not consistent, but still, don't simply ignore the good performances. ... For deeper picks, I seem to like Mike Tolbert, Mark Ingram and sleeper Denard Robinson more than others.
Wide receiver: Check out the rankings on the Pittsburgh Steelers' Antonio Brown. I thought ranking him sixth would look odd, but colleague Tristan Cockcroft had him second. So I asked Tristan why: "He's seventh in targets per game among full-timers (9.88), has 39 in the past four weeks (sixth most) and is playing a Bills defense that by my grades is by far the best for that specific position -- teams' WRs combined average 10 FPTS more against the Bills than against a league-average defense. I always say play the matchups at WR; this is my bold pick of Week 10." Sounds good to me! ... Cockcroft also felt really good about Jordy Nelson, placing him fifth. Hey, Seneca Wallace does have NFL experience, and periods of success. Now I'm thinking I've ranked Nelson too poorly at 13th. ... So, rumor is the great Roddy White might play this week! Awesome! Back to the top 10! Or 42nd. I'm not trusting him, but Harry Douglas stays in my top 20. ... With no Justin Blackmon to take targets away, the Jacksonville Jaguars' Cecil Shorts makes my top 20. Shorts was already seeing double-digit targets each week. It should go up. ... The New Orleans Saints' Marques Colston is no lock to play, but I'm assuming he will and ranked him 30th. It has to get better than what we've seen.