A month before the season began it looked like Philadelphia Eagles receiver Riley Cooper’s career was quickly hitting the skids.
After Cooper was caught on video using a racial slur, he faced intense scrutiny from the media and his teammates. Many speculated Cooper was only kept on the team because of a season-ending injury suffered by receiver Jeremy Maclin.
As proven many times before in sports scandals, Cooper’s performance on the field has given Philadelphia and fantasy owners cause to forget. In the last two weeks, he has grabbed eight balls for 241 yards and five touchdowns, tying his touchdown total from the previous three seasons combined.
The 5-5 Eagles are now knotted atop the NFC East with Dallas, and Cooper’s production has played a big role.
Cooper and DeSean Jackson have become on-fire quarterback Nick Foles's top targets (both receivers have been targeted an equal 11 times the last two games), and owners who held on to Cooper throughout the season have earned some bragging rights.
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Cooper is a must start with Dallas’s Dez Bryant and Rams breakout star receiver Tavon Austin sitting out for the bye week, and the same goes for the below players.
Week 11 Byes: Dallas and St. Louis
Brian Leonhard or Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Mike James lost for the season, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano reportedly said Leonard and Rainey will rush by committee. Owners can handcuff them if they are lucky enough to snag both players. But that’s only out of desperation.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
Injuries have decimated the Giants running game, but Brown came back with an incredible performance and the Giants are on a three-game winning streak despite a very poor performance against Oakland. Next up is the Packers 13th ranked rush defense, so Brown is best as a second or third option.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
He has a very small sample size, but Ellington has picked up 388 yards on 54 carries. That’s 7.2 yards per carry going up against Jacksonville’s last place rushing defense allowing 153 yards a game.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
The biggest game of the week could be Smith’s breakout out game. Denver will focus most of their attention on running back Jamaal Charles since he leads the Chiefs in every offensive category except for passing. Denver’s 30th in pass defense and has plenty of injuries in the secondary, which could lead to a stellar game from Smith. In a two quarterback league he’s a must start.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
Quarterbacks have recorded an average of 20-plus points against Oakland, and Keenum’s thrown seven touchdowns with no interceptions since he took over in Week Seven. The Texans haven’t snapped their losing streak, but with Keenum they have lost each of his three starts by a field goal or less. Arian Foster’s injury and Ben Tate playing with broken ribs also puts all the pressure on Keenum to perform.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
He took four sacks and still put up 200 yards and a touchdown against Buffalo’s punishing pass rush. Roethlisberger’s next assignment is Detroit, a team that’s 29th in the league with only 15 sacks this season.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
Cooper has crept up to second on the Eagles in passing yards, third in catches, and tied for first in touchdowns. The Redskins game will be a tough matchup since they’ve forced three interceptions in their last two games, but Cooper would be a valuable addition in any PPR league.
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been extra careful with Harvin, but he’s supposed to debut on Sunday. As NFL.com points out, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse combined for 257 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10, so Harvin may only be used in certain situations so as not to expose him too often. However, it's best to pick him up now for next week and beyond.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Just like Smith, Bowe could have a monster game against Denver’s secondary. He’s also going to start despite an arrest for speeding and possession of marijuana. Despite that troubling story, Bowe is second on the team in catches and tied for touchdowns with two.
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
An ankle injury held him back until Week 10, but Housler can make a huge impact against a Jaguars club that’s given up the fifth most points to tight ends this season.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
His overall numbers are less than thrilling, but Seattle will face a Minnesota team that’s allowing opponents to score a touchdown on 57.8 percent of their trips to the end zone. Two of Miller’s three touchdowns this season have come in the red zone.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have spread the ball to lots of receivers this season, with five of their top six pass catchers totaling 30 or more receptions. But the rookie Eifert has supplanted injured Jermaine Grisham. Cleveland’s secondary already limited the Bengals passing game earlier this season, so use Eifert in a flex spot in an emergency situation.