So here we are, a few weeks out from the start of the fantasy playoffs. With few, if any, significant injuries occurring this week now is a good time to take a look at your roster(s) and start focusing on what is going to help you in the playoffs (if you’re going to be in) or in the future (if you’re in a dynasty league and it appears you’ll miss the playoffs). Only 4 teams are on bye this week, but with those teams being Atlanta, San Diego, Denver and to a lesser extent, the Jets, many significant fantasy contributors will be out of action this week.
Assuming you’re going to make the playoffs, this is the time to start adding high value handcuffs. That 6th or 7th wide receiver on your roster that wouldn’t crack your starting lineup with even two or more injuries is just eating up valuable space on your roster. You should be looking to fortify your team for the playoff push, in case of a real-life injury or suspension. On the other hand, if you’re going to miss the playoffs, now is a great time to target low owned guys that you think might see a surge in production next season. They’ll be much cheaper to acquire now as opposed to the off-season once their coaches start talking them up.
QB: Bryce Petty, New York Jets (<1% owned in ESPN leagues)
Despite a pretty meh debut, the Jets coaching staff has yet to commit to a starter going forward, so Petty still has a shot to be a starter for the rest of the season. With 2016 a lost season, it would be logical to use Petty going forward and see what they have for the future. He’s essentially unowned and should be cheap to acquire. It’s usually hard to find starting QBs this late in the season- especially in 2 QB leagues.
WR: Dwayne Harris & Roger Lewis, New York Giants (0% & 0%)
The Giants have a relatively healthy Victor Cruz back this season and rookie Sterling Shepard has looked good when given the opportunity to showcase his skills. But when you think back to last year when Odell Beckham Jr. missed time, Harris was the recipient of more playing time. And Roger Lewis shouldn’t be overlooked either, a highly rated prospect who went undrafted only because of off the field concerns, Lewis has a ton of talent also. Should anything happen to any of the Giants top 3 WRs, expect both of these guys to pick up the slack and perform well.
WR: Eddie Royal & Cam Meredith, Chicago Bears (14% & 20%)
In case you haven’t heard, Alshon Jeffrey is suspended for the next 4 games. With Kevin White already out, expect these two to get all of the work in Chicago going forward. The only downside is that they have smokin’ Jay Cutler at QB who has looked hooooooooorible.
WR: Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons (2%)
Gabriel has climbed up the Falcons depth chart and has solidified himself as the #3 WR in this high-powered offense. Julio Jones is obviously a target vacuum, and Mo Sanu has gotten quite a few looks himself, but should anything happen to either of them, expect to see a huge uptick in snaps and targets for Gabriel.
WR: Eli Rogers, Pittsburgh Steelers (21%)
Markus Wheaton is injured and also not good. Sammie Coates can’t catch, perhaps due to his two broken fingers. That leaves us with Rogers, who has looked really good when healthy this season. He appears to have Big Ben’s trust and that is a good thing in this offense.
WR: Chester Rogers, Indianapolis Colts (0%)
With Donte Moncrief and healthy Rogers is the odd man out, but should anything happen to T.Y. Hilton or Moncrief expect Rogers to see the bulk of the work as he has been playing more than Philip Dorsett anyway.
WR: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (10%)
Each week, I keep saying PICK HIM UP, with only 10% ownership, clearly nobody is listening and each week he keeps out playing everybody at wide receiver on the Chiefs, including Jeremy Maclin. I’ve gone over this ad nauseam in weeks past, he is an absolute must add in all formats.
RB: Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys (15%)
He is the single most important handcuff in all of fantasy with the fantasy playoffs looming. Should Ezekiel Elliot get injured – or maybe even be suspended – you’d have a league winning back waiting in the wings if you pick him up. If you have Zeke, he is a must add, and if you don’t have Zeke, he is somebody to grab just so the Zeke owner can’t get him.
RB: Andre Ellington & Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals (2% & 0%)
Should anything happen to David Johnson, expect to see Ellington & Taylor pick up the slack. Purely speculative with little to no value on their own, but a must own if you’re a Johnson owner.
RB: Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers (3%)
A healthy scratch each week that Jonathan Stewart is available, he’s another back with no value at all unless something happens to Stewart. Fortunately for you (and bad for him) Stewart is not the model of good health. Artis-Payne would be a fine RB2 going into the playoffs.
RB: James Starks, Green Bay Packers, (30%)
Different from the other backs on this list, Starks is a starter. Fresh off of an injury, he returned to take over the RB1 spot in Green Bay. He has produced when given the RB1 job here in the past and looks to be a decent play for the remainder of the season with Eddie Lacy out an undetermined amount of time.
RB: Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (2%)
In years past, when Arian Foster missed time with injury, Blue was given the bulk of the work as the Texan’s lead back under Coach O’Brien. With Lamar Miller getting a career high workload in his first season as a Texan, who knows how his body will respond. Blue is an absolute must add for the Miller owners and a great speculative stash and see play for non Miller owners.
RB: Benny Cunningham, Los Angeles Rams (1%)
Yuck. I’m not very proud of this. Todd Gurley hasn’t been able to do anything with this team, so it’d be a little silly to think Cunningham could do better even if he was given the chance. Gurley has been banged up most of the year and should he suffer a setback, Cunningham would be the guy to take over.
RB: Damien Williams & Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (4% & 1%)
Jay Ajayi is the breakout star at RB in the NFL this season (excluding rookie Ezekiel Elliot of course) but he had injury concerns coming into the NFL and has already been a little banged up over his short career. Should anything happen to him, look for the Dolphins to rely on the above duo to pick up the slack. I’d lean Drake in PPR, Williams in standard.
RB: DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (36%)
Over the last 2 seasons, nobody has proven themselves to be the highest caliber backup player like Williams has. If Le’Veon Bell gets hurt or suspended, Williams has a legit shot at being the RB1 in fantasy each week.
I’m not going to lie to you, the waiver wire this week is not good. Not good at all. You may be better served keeping your FAAB this week. If you have priority waivers I’d suggest using it on a defense or kicker to stream. Every league is different so just to be sure you might want to check your waiver wires to see if by some small miracle the following guys are available:
WR: Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons
Gabriel has cracked at least 14 fantasy points each of the last three weeks. He also has back to back weeks with 5 targets. Five targets isn’t really anything to write home about I know, but when you have game breaking speed like Gabriel it only takes one play to make your presence felt. Against the Eagles on Sunday Gabriel only had one reception but that reception just happened to be a 76 yard touchdown. Against the Bucs in week 9 Gabriel carried the ball twice including a score. Its obvious the Falcons realize they have a weapon in Gabriel and they will look to manufacture touches for him.
RB: Ka’Deem Carey, Chicago Bears
Jordan Howard may or may have not injured his ankle and/or Achilles on Sunday against the Bucs. According to Head Coach John Fox Howard definitely was injured, according to Howard well not so much. Howard was quoted as saying “Nah, I ain’t suffer nothing”, double negative aside Howard seemed adamant that he was not injured. Howard was limited to 2 second half carries, which might have been due to the Bears being down big in the second half. Carey’s path to starting may be blocked by Jeremy Langford, assuming Langford can perform better than he did when he was the starter to begin this season. But Langford is owned in every league I play in and I assume the same of your leagues. Either way, as a hedge I’d go ahead and pick up Carey. Carey has played well in the limited opportunities he’s received in the past and I expect him to be able to provide low-end flex production if thrust into a starting role.
RB: Fitzgerald Toussaint, Pittsburgh Steelers
As the only other active running back on the Steelers roster Toussaint has an easier path to a starting role than most handcuffs at this point in the season.
WR: Josh Bellamy, Chicago Bears
News hit Monday evening that Alshon Jeffery will miss the next four weeks due to a PED suspension. Cameron Meredith and Eddie Royal are most likely not available in a majority of leagues, so why not. His closet comp on PlayerProfiler.com is Quinton Patton, who has had four startingish worthy games this season, so there’s that.
WR: Quinton Patton, San Francisco 49er’s
Speaking of Quinton Patton, he’s had back to back weeks with 9 targets scoring 16.60 and 8.20 the last two weeks. With the 49er’s defense a flaming trash heap San Francisco should have to put up points to keep pace and Patton seen an uptick in targets since Colin Kaepernick has taken over as the starting QB.
TE: Will Tye, New York Giants
Coming into the 2016 many of us thought we discovered a gem out of Stony Brook College in one Will Tye. Tye had a magnificent second half in 2015 averaging 14.68 fantasy points per game over the last seven games played. Unfortunately that production did not carry over to 2016. Except against the Vikings in week 4 The has had a mostly forgettable season. At least he did until the Giants returned from their bye week. In the two games preceding the bus he’s been targeted 15 times and posted a season high 12.80 fantasy points this past weekend. Tye showed last year he can be a TE1, hopefully the Giants remembered that and will keep him involved going forward.
RBs: C.J. Prosise, RB, Seahawks: 31% Owned/ Thomas Rawls, RB Seahawks: 47% Owned
It baffles me that Prosise is available in almost 70% of leagues, BAFFLES!! With news of CMike being released, Prosise is now your lead back in SEA and needs to be your #1 pickup this week. Prosise was impressive vs NE and finished with 153 total yards on 24 touches. Being a receiving back is also a plus for you PPR leaguers as he had 7 receptions for 87 yds.
Rawls should be back for Week 11, at what capacity though is unknown. I believe Prosise is the RB to own in PPR leagues in Seattle’s pass first offense. Rawls could be a golden ticket for standard leagues with most if not all of the Seahawks goal line work. Either way, if Prosise or Rawls is available in your league, 1st, get more owners, 2nd, grab them immediately.
RB: Rob Kelley, Redskins: 45% Owned
With Matt Jones fumbling his way to a healthy scratch in Week 10, Kelley started as the early down RB vs a run stopping Vikings defense. Kelley showed Minn. what some of us saw in the preseason, as he ran for 97 yards on 22 carries. Oh, and no fumbles(looking at you Matt Jones). Now, keep your expectations tempered as the Skins have a terrible fantasy playoff schedule vs GB, LA and AZ. But, you won’t find many starting RBs on the wire this late in the season, snag him.
RB: James Starks, Packers: 29% Owned
As a Packers fan I just don’t see the love for Starks. I’d much rather have Starks and Montgomery as a tandem in the backfield, but that wasn’t the case in week 10. Starks played on 71% of the backfield snaps, Montgomery just 26%. No bueno for Ty.
I can see an RBBC coming quicker than you can say RELAX, but you can do worse than picking up a capable back in a good offense that could/will be playing from behind.
RB: Jeremy Langford, Bears: 33% Owned
This is purely a speculative add. Jordan Howard may or may not be injured so it’s anyone’s guess at this point. However, if you own Howard, handcuffing him with Langford is not a terrible idea. When Howard left the game in Week 10, it was Langford (12 snaps, 6 touches) not Carey (7 snaps, 3 touches) who saw most of the action.
Langford was the starting RB earlier in the season and if Howard can’t go in Week 11, I do see an RB split between Langford and Carey but Langford will come out with more snaps and touches.
WR: Cameron Meredith, Bears 20% Owned/ Eddie Royal: 14% Owned
Here we go again! With the news that Alshon Jeffery is to be suspended for 4 games, Meredith becomes the de-facto #1 in Chicago. He hasn’t set the world on fire since Cutler’s been at the helm (weeks 7,8,10 – his TOTAL line is 3/86/1). Yes, that is over 3 games. But, someone has to catch the ball, right?
You can also look towards his WR partner, Eddie Royal. Royal has been banged up a lot this season but all except for Week 10, in the weeks he did play, he was at least serviceable in PPR leagues. If you need a WR 3 for the next few weeks, look to Royal.
WR: Eli Rogers, Steelers: 20% Owned
Rogers is my favorite pickup this week and I’ve even traded for him in a few leagues for the playoff stretch. With Sammie Coates having an injured hand, Darrius Heyward-Bey already declared OUT this week and Wheaton also on the mend, Rogers has stepped into the role opposite of Antonio Brown. And that ain’t a bad thang.
In Week 9, Rogers had a 6/103 line and in Week 10 a 4/42/1 line. There are a lot of talented players on the Steelers, but Rogers is becoming a safe WR3/FLEX play in PPR leagues. Add him this week.
WR: Sammy Watkins, Bills: 30% Owned
Watkins is eligible to return in Week 12, however, he isn’t practicing yet. I don’t believe he will be back until week 13 but if you have the bench room, a hope and a prayer, snatch up Watkins for your fantasy playoffs. His upcoming schedule is juicy with CIN, JAX, OAK, PITT, CLE and MIA.
WR: Tyreek Hill, Chiefs: 10% Owned
Jeremy Maclin has done very little this season and now is dealing with an injury. Enter, Tyreek Hill. Hill played the #1 role in week 10 with a 10/89 line on 13 targets. He unfortunately didn’t score a TD but in PPR leagues those 10 receptions are gold!! We’ve seen flashes of his speed and connection with Alex Smith this season and if Maclin continues to be out, Hill should see a huge uptick in targets.
Good luck in week 11. Hopefully you’ve already locked up a playoff spot or will be looking to do so this weekend. As always, a sincere thank you for reading and hit us up on twitter @DFF_Shane @dibari22 @DFF_KJ, if you have any questions or just want to talk dynasty football.