Sneaky fantasy pickups entering Week 11
November, 16, 2012
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com
It gets tougher and tougher to truly be sneaky about fantasy football pickups in the latter half of November, but it bears repeating that owners should at least make sure there's a good reason why the players on your bench are there. Bye weeks end in a few days, so start parting with those extra players who don't have upside and aren't likely to matter. You don't need a second defense or kicker -- you never do -- but in many cases, a backup quarterback or fifth wide receiver is superfluous as well.
This is also a wise time to start handcuffing backup running backs to your squad in case injury or early playoff clinching removes the starter from the equation. In most cases, the names of the readily available are well-known. They were selected on draft day but later dumped due to lack of performance for other team needs. Houston Texans backup Ben Tate is a fine example. Once a must-own, he has done next to nothing in fantasy terms for two months, but that is largely irrelevant. He remains an insurance pickup if something goes awry with Arian Foster or if the Texans don't need to risk anything in Weeks 16 and 17 and sit the stud. It was nice when Tate was productive in tandem with Foster a season ago and was worth an occasional flex play, but his value as a pure handcuff remains. It's certainly not Justin Forsett next in line.
In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons are similar in terms of perhaps grabbing a top conference seed and adjusting the late-December lineup, but Michael Turner is no Foster. Foster is a fantasy monster. Turner was a fantasy disaster in Week 10. While I've generally been a Turner defender -- and of older players remaining relevant, which he is -- Turner the Burner was anything but against the New Orleans Saints. That was an ugly performance, especially near the goal line. To be fair, my Turner argument has been mainly about opportunity rather than ability, and that's proved accurate. He keeps getting the football, and might have another 20-point fantasy game in him at some point, but this is a big week for his backups and a wise time for fantasy owners to slyly move in and add them.