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Michael Crabtree, WR (SF)--After suffering a torn Achilles back in May, Michael Crabtree's return appears to be coming just in time for those in need of wide receiver depth. Crabtree has been practicing with the team since last Wednesday and is on track for a return by Week 13. Although that may still seem far away, if you want to get him on your roster now is the time to do it, because once his official return date is released there will be a mass rush to the waiver wire to acquire his services. If in fact he returns in Week 13, his schedule the rest of the way would be somewhat favorable, with matchups against the Rams, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Falcons and Cardinals to round out the regular season.
Mark Ingram, RB (NO)--Entering his Week 10 matchup against the Cowboys, Mark Ingram had only 21 carries on the season totaling four fantasy points on the season, but that all changed after a great performance on Sunday night. Ingram finished with 14 carries for 145 yards and a touchdowns in the Saints blowout win over the Cowboys. Much like the unpredictability in the Saints passing game week-to-week (outside of Jimmy Graham), the same issue is going to occur in the backfield as well, with both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles in the mix along with Ingram. While I don't think that we will see 36 carries from the Saints backfield again this season, 25 carries is within reason outside of blowout games similar to Week 10. With that said, Ingram should be in line for at least 10 of those carries moving forward, and could see a boost in snaps if one of the other injury-prone running backs was to go down over the next few weeks.
Tyler Eifert, TE (CIN)--Although Tyler Eifert has scored double-digit fantasy points only once this season, he is now a player that should be added after being targeted 10 times in Sunday's loss to the Ravens. His boost in playing time came at the expense of Jermaine Gresham, who was inactive due to a groin injury, and may continue to see added reps if Gresham is unable to suit up again in Week 11 before the Bengals go on their bye-week. While I don't think that Eifert will take over the job completely until next season, the fact that he was the second-most targeted player on the team Sunday indicates that Andy Dalton trusts him, and their chemistry will only get better over time. So if he can continue trending in the right direction, he will likely take snaps away from Gresham once be is back on the field.
Tavon Austin, WR (STL)--Just when his rookie season was appearing to be a wash, Tavon Austin bursts back onto the scene in Week 10 scoring three touchdowns in the Rams blowout victory over the Colts. Although he only recorded two catches on three targets, those two catches went for 57 yards and 81 yards, both of which resulted in touchdowns. In addition to his work in the passing game, Austin added a 98-yard punt return to add to his career day. It is tough to expect him to be able to contribute this much on such little targets on a weekly basis, but this game may be all he needed to get back on track for a strong finish. With Kellen Clemens under center it is hard to predict who is going to get the bulk of the targets in the Rams offense. However, after a performance like this makes me believe Austin may have earned a few extra looks moving forward.
Nate Burleson, WR (DET)--There was some hope that Nate Burleson would be able to suit up against the Bears in Week 10, but that was not the case after being a limited participant in practice last week. However, he appears to be very close to a return and should start gaining ownership over the next few days. Looking back at his production from earlier in the season, Burleson did not have a game with less than six receptions, including a six-catch 116-yard performance right before his car accident on Sept. 24. Kris Durham has done an excellent job filling in for Burleson over the last six games, but once Burleson is healthy to return, it will be his job to lose. As we have seen in the past, outside of Calvin Johnson, Burleson is Matthew Stafford's favorite target, and that should continue to be the case, making him a solid pickup in most fantasy formats, especially in PPR leagues.
John Carlson, TE (MIN)--The Vikings have lost Kyle Rudolph for 3-to-5 weeks after fracturing his foot, opening the door for another former Notre Dame tight end to make an impact in one of the league's worst passing offenses. In his debut as the starting tight end Carlson converted all seven of his targets into receptions,finishing the night with 98 yards and a touchdown. His Week 10 performance marked the first time since Dec. 20 of 2009 that he recorded seven or more catches, that coming in a season in which he finished with seven touchdowns for the Seahawks. Like Rudolph, Carlson is a big target in the red zone (6'5" 248 lbs) and should get plenty of targets moving forward, especially if Christian Ponder is under center, who is known for favoring his tight ends in the passing game.
Doug Baldwin, WR (SEA)--With a lot of news circulating around the return of Percy Harvin, there has been little love given to Doug Baldwin, who has stepped up nicely after the loss of Sidney Rice. Over the last two weeks, Baldwin has hauled in 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets, which leads the team over that timeframe. Obviously the return of Harvin and the presence of Golden Tate should not be overlooked, but Russell Wilson has clearly gained a liking for Baldwin as a reliable target in the intermediate passing game. Even if Harvin was to return this week, his role will likely be limited coming off of a major injury, so don't expect Baldwin's role to diminish to the point of irrelevancy. Until we see how the small amount of targets get distributed it is tough to gauge Baldwin's value moving forward, but he is worth the gamble, considering his fantasy value does not rely on whether or not he makes big plays downfield.
Brian Leonard/Bobby Rainey, RB (TB)--Not only did the Buccaneers lose Doug Martin for the remainder of the season, early reports indicate that they have also lost Mike James after he was carted off the field Monday night with a fractured ankle. Following James' departure, both Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey factored into the Buccaneers running game, making it anyone's guess who is going to be the team's next top running back. If you go by Monday's production, the edge would have to go to Rainey, who finished with eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown, compared to Leonard's 20 carries for 57 yards. However, the Buccaneers appear to be more committed to Leonard due to his pass-catching ability out of the backfield, or it could just be the fact that he is former player under Greg Schiano from his days at Rutgers (We all know Schiano is a homer when it comes to Rutgers players). Either way, both players are not going to have a lasting impact in terms of fantasy, so only make them a consideration if you are in desperate situation.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (TEN)--After losing his starting gig in Buffalo following the 2012 season, Fitzpatrick joined the Titans to backup Jake Locker, seeming like his career was just about washed up. Well, that is not the case anymore, after Locker was placed on IR following a Lisfranc injury in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. After Locker went down, Fitzpatrick filled in nicely, finishing 22-for-33 for 264 yards and two touchdowns, while also recording a rushing touchdown. The Titans upcoming schedule features some vulnerable defenses, which makes Fitzpatrick a nice pickup for those who may have lost either Aaron Rodgers or Jay Culter.
Dennis Johnson, RB (HOU)--With Arian Foster is out for the season, Dennis Johnson now becomes the primary backup in Houston, making a case to become fantasy relevant. Despite only four rushes for seven yards in his second game of the season, the fact that Ben Tate is playing through four cracked ribs. Tate plans to play through the pain for the remainder of the season, but his only one or two hits away from joining Foster permanently on the sidelines. With that said, his fantasy value lies in deep league formats, but those who own Tate may want to stash Johnson in case the injury to his ribs gets any worse.
Defensive Matchup Play of the Week
Arizona Cardinals Defense/Special Teams--After a Top 10 finish in Week 10, the Cardinals will now take on the Jaguars on Sunday, who currently have the worst total offense and scoring offense in the league. Since Week 4, the Cardinals have scored double-digit fantasy points in four of six games, and there is a very good chance this group reaches that total again in Week 11 behind their 13th ranked defense. What may be even more impressive is their ability to stop the run, ranking third in the league in run defense. This sounds like a recipe for success, so go out and grab this defensive group, who is owned in less than half of fantasy leagues throughout the top providers.
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Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for FantasyAlarm.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information. And, to make setting your Fantasy Football lineup easy, be sure to utilize FantasyAlarm.com’s new NFL Lineup Grids.