Week 11: Player Upgrades
It won't be as fun to watch as an Aaron Rodgers led Packer offense, but Tolzien proved capable in mop-up duty -- throwing for 280 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Backup quarterbacks aren't glitzy, but Tolzien was named the starter on a pass-happy team with upcoming games against the Giants and Vikings. He's a short-term option, but should Rodgers hit a setback and Matt Flynn not take over, the schedule remains soft – in fact he has the sixth-easiest remaining schedule for quarterbacks per our very own Strength of Schedule page.
With Jay Cutler week-to-week with an ankle sprain, McCown is a sneaky pickup who could benefit from the incumbent's absence. In one start, McCown threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns and has 538 yards, four touchdowns and zero turnovers in three games. Should Cutler be out for an extended period of time, the Bears have soft matchups against the Vikings, Cowboys, Eagles and Packers; even with a tougher matchup against the Ravens this week, McCown is a decent option if the pickings are slim at the quarterback position.
The Saints' backfield is crowded, but Ingram's attitude and effort versus the Cowboys spoke volumes, as did his monster stat line. Ingram cast aside what has been a disappointing season and bullied the Dallas defense for 145 yards on 14 carries, adding a touchdown and 15 yards receiving. The Saints are a pass-first team, but from all reports they like Ingram despite his struggles -- and undoubtedly value the balance he can bring to the offense if he maintains his level of play from Sunday. It's tough to forecast how the Saints will use their backs each week, but it's clear Ingram will now be a factor from here on out.
The Giants gave Brown 30 carries in his first start coming off a broken ankle in the preseason and he responded with 115 yards and a touchdown. The Giants have the seventh-easiest remaining schedule for running backs and Brown has been impressive in a handful of career starts. In fact, Brown has amassed 361 yards, four touchdowns and zero fumbles in four career starts. The Giants are in desperate need of a reliable offensive presence and if Sunday was any indicator, they will lean heavily on him for the rest of the year.
It's a no-brainer putting Austin on this list after his three touchdown outburst against the Colts. The Rams' quarterback situation is far from ideal, but Austin's breakout performance merits a mention. He's a dynamic threat from anywhere on the field and after having several big touchdowns called back earlier this season, he hit the trifecta on Sunday. Some tough matchups loom large for Austin, but next week's home game against the Bears (minus Charles Tillman) bodes well.
Kyle Rudolph's absence paved the way for another Notre Dame tight end in Carlson this week as he caught all seven passes thrown his way for 98 yards and a touchdown. That's a total of 13 targets the past two weeks for Carlson; with Rudolph out four to six weeks, expect the former to remain a key cog in Minnesota's passing attack.