2011 ranks: Factoring in remaining skeds

Editor's note: Eric Karabell is off this week. Tristan H. Cockcroft will be writing the Four Downs (Sunday night) and flex rankings (Thursday) KaraBlogs, KC Joyner will write the year-to-end ranks KaraBlog (Tuesday) and AJ Mass will write the "sneaky pickups" KaraBlog (Friday). Eric will return Sunday night (Nov. 20) with his Four Downs blog from Week 11.

The injury bug has been quite a bothersome creature for much of the 2011 NFL season, but this past weekend, it reached near plague status, with injuries to Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, Julio Jones, Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin. Those woes will have a significant impact on the rest-of-season rankings.

As Eric Karabell notes in his weekly 2011 rankings updates, these are not the Week 11 rankings; those will be posted on Wednesday and updated as the week progresses.

A note about these rankings: They're based in part on player grading systems I have developed that rank matchups for the rest of the season. Some of these will be referenced in the positional notes. These rankings also tend to grade healthy players much higher than currently injured ones. And finally, we are doing away with the "last week's rank" this week in the rankings tables because there's two rankers involved here.

Quick click by position, for easy reference:

Top 40 Quarterbacks | Top 60 Running Backs | Top 60 Wide Receivers

Top 30 Tight Ends | Top 32 Defense/Special Teams | Top 100 Overall

Top 40 Quarterbacks

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&#8226 Even though the Giants lost to the 49ers in Week 10, Eli Manning's stock rose in this week's rankings because he has the most favorable set of matchups of any quarterback from Weeks 11-17. That would be enough to justify a high rank, as Manning has at least 16 (standard) fantasy points in seven of his past eight starts. It should also be noted that many of the Giants' remaining games are against potentially high-powered offenses (games versus Philadelphia, New Orleans and Green Bay and two games versus Dallas), meaning the possibility of a shootout. Considering Big Blue has one of the best wide receiver/tight end corps in the NFL, odds are good that Manning will continue to post fantasy point totals in the 16 or higher range.

&#8226 Cam Newton's stock took a hit this week for a variety of reasons. Part of the drop stemmed from the 11 points he posted against Tennessee (easily his lowest total of the season), but the biggest reasons are his injury status and his schedule. Newton was a late-minute add to the injury report the day before that contest, something that might not be surprising given how often he was throwing vertical passes earlier this year.

The Panthers have also spent much of their time at home this year (six of their nine games), but they're now due to play five of their next seven games on the road, including the next three games. Add in a very tough cornerback schedule for Steve Smith (three "red-rated" cornerbacks, red being the toughest ranking from a fantasy perspective), and it means Newton should continue to fall off from his torrid early-season pace.

&#8226 Other risers on the quarterback chart include Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer.

Romo's upward move can be attributed to having the second-most favorable schedule for a quarterback. Add that to the possible returns of both Miles Austin and Felix Jones in upcoming weeks, and it could mean the Cowboys will have the most powerful offense in the NFL by the end of the season.

&#8226 Ryan's increase is partially related to the schedule -- he has the fourth-most favorable schedule -- but it's helped by the fact he can consistently score fantasy points with or without Julio Jones in the lineup (16, 14 and 20 points in the last three games Jones either missed or was out of a bulk of the contest).

&#8226 Palmer's jump occurred because the Raiders are embracing the vertical passing game (31 of his 76 attempts have traveled 11 or more yards through the air) and because his passing delivery looks as good as it did during his prime.

&#8226 Alex Smith also has very underrated value; he has scored at least 12 fantasy points in seven of his nine starts. Matt Leinart could also be a rest-of-season sleeper once Andre Johnson returns from his hamstring injury.

Top 60 Running Backs

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