Bobby Rainey was the story of the day for Fantasy owners. And he could emerge as a difference maker down the stretch. But after his amazing performance against the Falcons, it's likely all downhill from here.
Rainey made his first start for the Buccaneers on Sunday against Atlanta, and he was awesome. He had 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 4 yards and a score. He finished with 34 Fantasy points in a standard league, and it was the best performance for a Tampa Bay running back this season.
He's the fourth-string running back for the Buccaneers with Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) out for the season. Brian Leonard was technically ahead of Rainey on the depth chart, but he played a complementary role against the Falcons with four carries for 16 yards and four catches for 21 yards. This was Rainey's day.
Martin's best game this season was 14 Fantasy points in Week 2 against New Orleans, and James had 21 points in Week 9 at Seattle. It makes you wonder just how good Martin could have been if he stayed healthy, but now the job belongs to Rainey, who is owned in just 62 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com.
Rainey, who scored in Week 10 against Miami in the game where James got hurt, doesn't have the easiest schedule coming up, which could be his downfall. He plays at Detroit in Week 12, at Carolina in Week 13, vs. Buffalo in Week 14, vs. San Francisco in Week 15, at St. Louis in Week 16 and at New Orleans in Week 17.
Take out the Saints game since most Fantasy leagues don't play in the final week, and the only somewhat favorable matchups are the Bills and Rams. What this means is you add Rainey now if still available or just keep him on your bench to see what develops. You don't have to start him every week just because he beat up a beatable Falcons defense.
The good news is a Tampa Bay running back has reached double digits in Fantasy points in three consecutive games against Seattle, Miami and Atlanta, but only the Seahawks have a formidable run defense. We'll see how Rainey does moving forward, and we're happy he's emerged as a potential starting option. But the upcoming schedule is daunting, and we're not sure Rainey will continue to succeed.
As for the other Buccaneers stars Sunday, Mike Glennon played well against the Falcons with 20 of 23 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns for 21 Fantasy points, and he connected with Vincent Jackson for 10 catches, 165 yards and a touchdown for 22 points. Glennon can be considered a sleeper against the Lions in Week 12, and Jackson remains a must-start receiver in all leagues.
The only disappointment for Tampa Bay was Timothy Wright, who had another down game with one catch for 13 yards on two targets. He now has two catches for 32 yards and three targets the past two games, and he's not worth starting most weeks until he starts to show more consistent production.
We hope Reed will be OK for Week 12 against San Francisco after he left Sunday's game at Philadelphia in the first half. He finished with just one catch for 12 yards on one target before getting hurt.
Sanders was hurt in the first half against the Lions and finished with one catch for 2 yards. If he's able to play in Week 12 at Cleveland then consider him a sleeper based on how No. 2 receivers have done against the Browns this season.
Brown had two catches for 23 yards on three targets against the Cardinals before getting hurt. Even if he plays in Week 12 at Houston he would have minimal Fantasy value, and Brown has been a disappointment since taking over for the suspended Justin Blackmon.
Bell was doing great against the Steelers before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. He had nine carries for 49 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 48 yards. Bell got an extended look because Reggie Bush lost a fumble early in the game. Keep an eye on Bell's status heading into Week 12 against Tampa Bay, and he could be considered a sleeper in deeper leagues if healthy.
Allen, as expected, struggled at Miami with three catches for 45 yards on six targets. Hopefully he will be OK in Week 12 at Kansas City, but it's a tough matchup even if he's 100 percent.
• Strange day for Houston quarterbacks: Case Keenum started Sunday's game against Oakland, but he was benched in the third quarter in favor of Matt Schaub. The reason given was a change in the game plan, and coach Gary Kubiak felt Schaub could handle it better. What?
Keenum wasn't playing great at that point at 13 of 24 passing for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but he had obviously played well the past three games in place of Schaub. The move didn't make much sense, and Schaub didn't outplay Keenum at 12 of 25 passing for 155 yards.
Schaub helped Houston get back in the game, but he failed to connect with Andre Johnson in the end zone on the Texans' final play, resulting in a shouting match with Johnson and Schaub. It was an ugly scene after an ugly loss for a struggling team.
We're not sure who's starting for the Texans in Week 12 against Jacksonville, but keep an eye on what develops. The starter will have some sleeper appeal for Fantasy owners, especially if the Texans do the right thing and go back to Keenum.
As for Ben Tate, he played well with 19 carries for 88 yards and four catches for 29 yards on six targets. He also failed to score on the final drive, but he's a must-start option against the Jaguars.
We also like Garrett Graham against Jacksonville, and he played well against Oakland with seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.
• Nick Foles shines, Riley Cooper struggles: Foles continued his stellar play for Fantasy owners against the Redskins. He was 17 of 26 passing for 298 yards, and he was great as a rusher with nine carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 21 Fantasy points, which was his third game in a row with 20-plus points.
His top target, however, finally cooled off as Riley Cooper struggled with just three catches for 37 yards on seven targets. It was his first game with fewer than eight Fantasy points with Foles starting.
Philadelphia has a bye in Week 12, but when they come back in Week 13 against Arizona you should continue to start Foles. And Cooper will remain a viable Fantasy option in all leagues since it's clear Foles trusts him. His seven targets led the Eagles.
• Andre Ellington disappoints: It doesn't appear like Ellington is going to materialize as the must-start Fantasy option we hope he can be. He struggled again in a great matchup at Jacksonville with just eight carries for 3 yards and two catches for 10 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall again had more work with 13 carries for 14 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 13 yards. Unless Mendenhall is out, as we saw in Week 8 against Atlanta when Ellington had 21 Fantasy points, you can't start Ellington with confidence.
The Cardinals did have a great performance from Carson Palmer and Michael Floyd. Palmer was 30 of 42 passing for 419 yards and two touchdowns, and Floyd had six catches for 193 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets, despite dealing with a shoulder injury coming into the game.
Palmer is a nice sleeper heading into Week 12 against the Colts, but keep in mind this was just his second game with 20-plus points this season. And Floyd is finally starting to look like the breakout player we predicted with his second touchdown in his past three games.
• Ray Rice finally shows up: Rice took advantage of a great matchup against the Bears with his best game of the season. He had 25 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 17 yards.
This was Rice's best game since Week 5 against the Dolphins and just his third game with double digits in Fantasy points this season. We hope it's a sign of things to come, but he has a tough matchup against the Jets in Week 12.
Rice is just a flex option against the Jets, but if he plays well in that game then we can consider him back and ready to close the season strong. Just be cautious because almost everyone has run on the Bears of late. I would actually try to sell high on Rice after this game if your trade deadline hasn't passed yet.
• Big rebound game for Big Ben: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took advantage of a great matchup against the Lions with 29 of 45 passing for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, who had seven catches for 147 yards. Jerricho Cotchery also scored his fifth touchdown in the past three games.
Roethlisberger bounced back after struggling against Buffalo in Week 9 with 12 Fantasy points, and hopefully he's about to get on a roll. He has another good matchup in Week 12 at Cleveland, and you should consider Roethlisberger a starting option in the majority of leagues.
As for Cotchery (51 percent ownership), his value could continue to rise with Sanders banged up. Brown is a must-start Fantasy option in all leagues.
Jennings had 22 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown and two catches for minus-2 yards at Houston. He now has at least nine Fantasy points in each of the past three games, and he should do well in Week 12 against Tennessee.
We'll find out when McFadden will return, but as long as he's out consider using Jennings as at least a flex option.
It was a good day for the Raiders with Matthew McGloin stepping in for the injured Terrelle Pryor (knee), and he was 18 of 32 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Rod Streater also had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, and Mychal Rivera had five catches for 54 yards and a score on six targets. Denarius Moore scored, but he had only two catches for 11 yards on six targets.
Streater and Rivera are still mediocre Fantasy options despite the big games, and McGloin also has a long way to go. Moore is a low-end Fantasy option at this point, but Jennings is the one to watch going forward.
• Waiver Wire preview: Here is a preview of the players we will highlight in Playing the Waiver Wire on Tuesday.
Running backs: Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals (64 percent), Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers (62 percent), Donald Brown, Colts (61 percent), Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (34 percent), Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns (34 percent), Toby Gerhart, Vikings (8 percent), Fozzy Whittaker, Browns (1 percent), Darrel Young, Redskins (1 percent), Antone Smith, Falcons (0 percent), Frank Summers, Bills (0 percent)
Wide receivers: Michael Floyd, Cardinals (62 percent), Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers (51 percent), Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (33 percent), Santonio Holmes, Jets (30 percent), Rod Streater, Raiders (11 percent), Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (9 percent), Marquise Goodwin, Bills (3 percent), Robert Meachem, Saints (2 percent), Ace Sanders, Jaguars (1 percent), Jarius Wright, Vikings (0 percent), T.J. Graham, Bills (0 percent), Aldrick Robinson, Redskins (0 percent)
Tight ends: Heath Miller, Steelers (63 percent), Rob Housler, Cardinals (41 percent), Delanie Walker, Titans (40 percent), Garrett Graham, Texans (36 percent), John Carlson, Vikings (24 percent), Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (21 percent), Zach Miller, Seahawks (18 percent), Jeff Cumberland, Jets (7 percent), Ladarius Green, Chargers (1 percent), Danny Noble, Jaguars (0 percent), Mychal Rivera, Raiders (0 percent)
• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: The Jets got blasted by the Bills on Sunday in a 37-14 loss, but Chris Ivory was still stellar. He had 15 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown and now has double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games. He doesn't have a great matchup in Week 12 at Baltimore, but it's clear when he gets enough work in a favorable matchup he can post solid production.
• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: I had high expectations for Percy Harvin in his return from preseason hip surgery, and he looked fresh despite little action against Minnesota. He had one catch for 17 yards on one target and returned a kickoff for 58 yards. Seattle is on a bye in Week 12, but we should see the best of Harvin to close the season starting in Week 13.