The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 11 2020
Bye weeks remind me of an awkward family trip that you know happens once a year. Say, to see your Aunt Helga. The one who knits you a sweater every year for Christmas that is ugly, pinches your cheeks constantly and still can't fathom that you are growing up. There is no sense complaining about the trip - it is a time for family bonding and rest, after all. But you don't want to be there. You had plans. And this always falls smack dab in the middle of things.
Week 10 was especially brutal for Fantasy Football owners because of the sheer number of starting options that were forced to miss time (New York Jets excluded, of course). The absence of Travis Kelce, Hayden Hurst and Dalton Schultz at tight end resulted in an ugly position getting even worse. Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Todd Gurley, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tyreek Hill, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup.
Week 10 was an ugly one, to be sure. Sloppy play and offensive coordinators making questionable calls resulted in some "who the hell is that guy" touchdowns. Did it open up the door for any waiver wire grabs? Let's examine.
Colts 34, Titans 17
First and foremost, my thoughts go out to Corey Davis and his family. I can't imagine attempting to take the field the day after a loved one passes, much less a brother. Davis led Tennessee in receiving with a 5/67 game on 6 targets. After yet another double-digit outing in PPR formats, I think we can officially declare Davis a weekly FLEX play in most leagues. A.J. Brown was non-existent, and his 1/21 evening put a damper on the week for his owners. Derrick Henry was the solitary "standout" for the Titans in this one, totaling 103 yards on the ground.
Philip Rivers needed a big game to get his season back on track, and he played well in this one. In his first game since Week 6 with 300-plus passing yards, Rivers found a new favorite target in Michael Pittman (7/101). Nyheim Hines was outstanding yet again - why he plays behind Jordan Wilkins occasionally is baffling. Hines finished with 17 touches for 115 total yards and two scores. At this point one has to wonder if he has supplanted Jonathan Taylor, or (at a minimum) earned himself more carries each week.
Waiver Wire Targets: In shallow leagues, consider adding Hines in case Indianapolis leadership finally wakes up and gives his consistent looks. His hands could place him as a weekly FLEX play at a minimum.
Buccaneers 46, Panthers 23
It has been said a multitude of times, but Tom Brady is incapable of playing poorly in consecutive games. Following an awful outing against New Orleans, Brady finished 28-of-39 passing for 341 yards and three touchdowns. An early Ronald Jones fumble placed him in the doghouse, but this week Bruce Arians gave him the opportunity to prove he deserved to be out there. Well, 192 rushing yards and a score later, I'd say that the risk paid off. Brady had his way with a weak Carolina secondary, resulting in double-digit Fantasy games by Cameron Brate, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Teddy Bridgewater suffered a "mild" MCL sprain in this one, and his status for Week 11 is currently in limbo. In the absence of Christian McCaffrey, Mike Davis was called upon for assistance - and he flopped royally against a tough Tampa Bay defense. With Carolina on bye in Week 12, McCaffrey may be held out for safety's sake yet again, giving Davis one more week of relevance. Following two consecutive disappointing showings, D.J. Moore managed to find paydirt in this one, catching four passes for 96 yards and a score. It is hard to endorse him as a start every week given his target share, but his upside is enormous if Carolina remembers he exists.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Browns 10, Texans 7
Houston's season is officially gone with the wind. Ba-dum-ching. Playing through 30-40 MPH sustained winds proved to be a tall task for both quarterbacks in this one. There isn't a ton to discuss here since the awful weather played such a critical role. Better days are ahead for Deshaun Watson to be sure, and his team will have to rely on him more than ever with David Johnson on the IR.
Baker Mayfield only attempted 20 passes, and most were short throws to his running backs or Rashard Higgins, who led the way with three grabs for 48 yards. Nick Chubb's return looks like a downgrade for Kareem Hunt initially, but Fantasy owners need to remember that Hunt's best games have come with Chubb on the field. In this game both backs had 19 rushing attempts and over 100 yards on the ground. Expect more of this moving forward - a strong running game with Mayfield using play-action to pick up his yards when needed.
Waiver Wire Targets: Flag Higgins in 14-team leagues or larger as someone to consider. He's earned a larger role with Beckham Jr. out this year.
Lions 30, Football Team 27
Truth be told, this contest shouldn't have been close, given the massive lead that Detroit almost blew. Matthew Stafford played exceptionally well against a tough defense and managed to get the Lions out to a 24-3 lead in the third quarter, mainly on the shoulders of Marvin Jones Jr. (8/96/1) and DeAndre Swift, who FINALLY earned a starting opportunity over Adrian Peterson. Swift handsomely rewarded Detroit, rushing for 81 yards on 16 carries, while catching five passes for 68 yards and a score. He will be a back-end RB1 for the remainder of the year.
Both Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic couldn't find any running room in this contest, which forced Alex Smith to attempt an absurd 55 passes. "Captain Checkdown" peppered McKissic with 15 targets, though he only caught seven passes. The ridiculous amount of short looks that he receives will make him a viable FLEX start in PPR formats. Realistically though, Washington's offense will mainly flow through Terry McLaurin (7/95) and Gibson. Gibson is capable of converting short runs inside the five for a score, but banking on those opportunities weekly is folly.
Waiver Wire Targets: Alex Smith takes on the horrific Cincinnati Bengals next week, and with Josh Allen and Daniel Jones on bye, he could be considered a streaming option.
Packers 24, Jaguars 20
Green Bay was supposed to mop the floor with Jacksonville in this one, but give credit where it is due - the Jaguars played them very, very tough. Jake Luton wasn't able to replicate the magic he showed from his first showing, and finished with less than 175 passing yards and an interception. His struggles led to D.J. Chark scoring less than 10 points yet again. The breakout star for Jacksonville in this one? Keelan Cole! Cole finished with a 5/47/1 receiving line, and chipped in a 91-yard punt return touchdown for good measure. Obviously that won't happen every week, but his contribution in the specials teams game is a nice floor. Cole is owned in less than 14 percent of ESPN leagues.
For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers continues to play at a very high level, and he has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but one game this year. Aaron Jones couldn't get anything going on the ground, but was luckily saved by his usage in the passing game. Devante Adams is a freak. Enough said. Marquez Valdes-Scantling produces when he's on everyone's bench, and goes off when started. He's one of the more frustrating players to own in Fantasy, and that will only get worse when Allen Lazard returns next week.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Giants 27, Eagles 17
For the first time in four years, I'm able to type this sentence - The Giants beat the Eagles. Finally. For the second game in a row Daniel Jones didn't commit a turnover, and New York's offensive line has finally started to gel. Wayne Gallman had a difficult time finding holes in a stout Philadelphia defense, but was able to jump into the end zone twice. With Devonta Freeman now on IR, this is Gallman's job for the foreseeable future. Darius Slayton (5/93) and Sterling Shepard (6/47) are weekly starts.
Carson Wentz is bad. Can we just get that out of the way? Yes, his offensive line has sustained a number of injuries. I get it. But he is playing like garbage, and I'm tired of seeing folks give him a free pass. In a game where Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffrey returned, Wentz couldn't claim that he had a lack of weapons, or was working with backups. Averaging a putrid 5.6 YPC, Wentz had the Giants defensive lineman in his face all afternoon, cutting down lanes. I took to Twitter asking why the Eagles refused to target Travis Fulgham, who had been ON FIRE in prior weeks, and was lined up constantly against one of the weakest cornerbacks in football - Isaac Yiadom. I was met with crickets. The play calling in Philly is awful, and so is the product on the field.
Waiver Wire Targets: The Giants defense has very, very quietly been a top-10 option. They are on bye in Week 11, but face a winnable game against Cincinnati in Week 12.
Raiders 37, Broncos 12
Well, if Carson Wentz is bad, I'm at a loss what to call Drew Lock. Lock was forced to throw the ball 47 times, but managed to complete just 23 passes for 257 yards. Lock has thrown 10 interceptions since Week 6, and Denver really needs to be questioning if they have their starter of the future or not. Personally, I love the talent of Jerry Jeudy (4/68), Tim Patrick (4/61), K.J. Hamler (4/50) and Noah Fant (3/18). I just can't envision this team really "breaking out" with Lock under center. The return of Melvin Gordon means both Philip Lindsay and himself are borderline-unstartable.
Las Vegas pounded Denver into submission on the ground in this one. And then kept going. With 41 carries for 203 yards and four scores on the ground between Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker, Derek Carr and the passing game was an afterthought. Better Fantasy days will be ahead for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow.
Waiver Wire Targets: Devontae Booker has seen increased usage each of the past three weeks, where he has averaged over 5.0 YPC and three scores. In deeper leagues consider adding him as a fill-in and Jacobs insurance.
Dolphins 29, Chargers 21
In a battle of rookie quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa proved that he is here to stay, while Justin Herbert finally looked mortal. With Justin Jackson on IR and Joshua Kelley only being given limited work, Kalen Ballage finished with 23 touches for over 100 all-purpose yards. His time in the sun is limited with Austin Ekeler set to return in Week 12, but could be picked up as a spot-start in Week 11 in a revenge game against the New York Jets. Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry found paydirt, and both represent top options at their positions. I received a ton of start/sit questions on Mike Williams - I advised to sit him this past week, and his inconsistent production proved true.
In a winning effort, Tagovailoa played much better than the numbers suggest. Yes, he only passed for 169 yards, and isn't a factor at all rushing the ball, but when it truly mattered and the team needed a conversion, he came through. Salvon Ahmed looks like a really find for Miami - he racked up 85 yards and a score on the ground and was the team's unquestioned feature back. Circumstances to Matt Breida (hamstring), Jordan Howard (useless) and Lynn Bowden (coach's decision) have given him a window to work with. With Tua under center, this will be a more run-focused offense in the near future, capping the upside of Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki. I'd significantly downgrade both players.
Waiver Wire Targets: As mentioned, Ahmed is one of the top-pickups this week. He won't add much in the passing game, but he runs exceptionally hard and will be a volume-based add.
Cardinals 32, Bills 30
This was one of the most entertaining games I've seen in quiet some time. Dubbed the "Hail Murray" game due to a last-second grab by DeAndre Hopkins to seal it for Arizona, this proved the old saying "It ain't over until the clock hits 0". Buffalo was able to severely limit Murray for most of the afternoon through the air, and the vast majority of his damage came via the run, totaling 61 yards and two scores. Kenyan Drake played well in his first game back, hitting the century mark on 16 carries. Tip of the cap to Arizona on a tough victory.
Although heartbroken after the loss, Buffalo is still 7-3, and is in first place in the AFC East. Josh Allen an absolute stud, and an even better human being. If you have a moment, please check out the work that he just sponsored with the Bills for Oishei Children's Hospital in memory of his late grandmother. Outstanding stuff. Similar to Pittsburgh, Buffalo has three incredibly talented receivers in Cole Beasley (11/109/1), Stefon Diggs (10/93/1) and John Brown (6/72). For the Bills to make a dent in the playoffs they will need to hope that their ground game starts to pick things up, as both Zach Moss and Devin Singletary have done little rushing the ball the past two weeks.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Rams 23, Seahawks 16
Note to self: Don't bench the Los Angeles defense against anyone. Wow. Aided by an overwhelming pass rush and smothering secondary, Russell Wilson appeared …. Average. Russ didn't cook in this one, folks. The water never even boiled. D.K. Metcalf was a non-factor with Jalen Ramsey covering him, and Wilson was forced to check the ball down continuously to his slew of running backs and Tyler Lockett. Further hampering the Seahawks was the absence of Chris Carson - this team has been completely different without him.
Jared Goff had a prime matchup and threw for 302 yards, but failed to register a touchdown. The Rams points came on three rushing scores, two from Malcolm Brown and one from Darrell Henderson Jr. Complicating things further? Cam Akers actually led the team in carries. Yet another backfield quagmire, folks. I panned Akers as a OROY candidate, but McVay's lack of confidence, injuries and Henderson playing exceptionally well cut that notion short. I want to endorse him as a buy-low candidate given the draft stock the Rams invested, but barring an injury or two happening, it is difficult to make a stand here. Both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp were likely projected for 12-16 points each in PPR formats entering the week, and neither reached those numbers - instead it was Josh Reynolds (8/94 on 10 targets) leading the way. Sigh.
Waiver Wire Targets: Reynolds is owned in less than 5 percent of ESPN leagues, and has now eclipsed 10 PPR points in three of his last four games. I'd add him in 12-team formats or larger and see where Los Angeles goes with his usage.
Saints 27, 49ers 13
It was assumed that the absence of Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert would put a serious damper on the San Francisco offense, but few could have predicted this level of ineptitude. COVID-19 and other injuries have ravaged the 49ers, allowing rookie Brandon Aiyuk to become their leading receiver, with Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Reed serving as backup options. Aiyuk was the lone standout for San Francisco, catching 7 passes for 75 yards. Jerick McKinnon continues to have "dead legs" or whatever random malady the team wishes to diagnose him with. We knew squaring off against New Orleans would be a tall task, but 18 rush attempts for 33 yards is simply putrid. Thankfully this team has a BYE next week, which should allow them to get Mostert back, and possibly Deebo Samuel as well.
Drew Brees took a nasty hit in this one, causing him to suffer multiple broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung. Early expectations are that he will miss multiple weeks. It is currently unclear if Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill would get the start at quarterback, and Sean Payton isn't releasing any information on that situation unless he absolutely has to. I'd expect Winston to get the start with Hill sprinkled in. League providers such as ESPN are adding the "QB" designation tag to Hill, and could possibly remove the "TE" one. Keep an eye on that if you were interested in using him in either capacity. This New Orleans offense runs through Alvin Kamara, and even when he is held in check in the running game, his prolific usage at receiver gives him a 15-point floor. Michael Thomas struggled again, catching just two passes for 27 yards. He will need to work with establishing a connection with both backups to thrive.
Waiver Wire Targets: Consider adding Taysom Hill as long as he retains the Tight End designation - in some formats it could present value in the form of a SUPERFLEX option, even in leagues where there isn't that option enabled.
Steelers 36, Bengals 10
This game wasn't particularly close, with the Steelers strong defensive line causing Joe Burrow to run for his life most of the game. Burrow put the blame upon himself afterwards like a leader, but anyone who watched the game knows he had zero opportunities to work with. Tee Higgins appears to be the new WR1 in Cincinnati, as he paced the team with 9 targets, catching 7 passes for 115 yards and a score. Tyler Boyd remains rock-steady as well. A.J. Green owners need to be in full-blown panic mode, as he caught none of the five passes attempted his way. Green is borderline unstartable. In the running game, the hope is that Joe Mixon will return this week, but we will have to monitor practice reports. Mixon missed every one this past week, and didn't even register a "limited' designation.
Big Ben had his best game of the season, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns. These gaudy numbers can be attributed to the Bengals awful secondary, the Steelers exceptionally talented wideout core finally being healthy, and the absence of a feasible run game. John Conner rushed 13 times for just 36 yards - he has been a major disappointment the last two outings in plus matchups. The fact that he is still getting the majority of work is a good sign, but how much "leash" he has over Anthony McFarland or Benny Snell remains to be seen. Assuming health, Diontae Johnson (6/116/1) is an upside WR2 any given week, with Juju Smith-Schuster (9/77) and Chase Claypool (4/56/2) warranting starts at FLEX.
Waiver Wire Targets: None
Patriots 23, Ravens 17
Weather played a key component in several games this week, perhaps none more so than this one. Initially predicted as a "light to steady rain", Foxboro was in the midst of a monsoon by the fourth quarter, causing both teams to ditch passing the ball in favor of the run. Lamar Jackson played better for Baltimore, but still struggled as a passer, completing just 24-of-34 attempts for 249 yards. Baltimore's backfield situation is an absolute mess, akin to the Rams. I want to buy in on J.K. Dobbins, but with the presence of Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram, I can't fathom anything changing soon. No back will see enough volume to endorse. In the receiving game, Mark Andrews led the way, catching 7 passes for 61 yards. Willie Snead managed to haul in both touchdown passes, but I'd need to be in a 14 or 16 team league to even consider adding him.
For New England, the major standout here was Damien Harris, who rushed the ball 22 times for 121 yards on the ground, effectively filling in as Sony Michel. At this point I don't envision Harris relinquishing the job. New England has finally found its identity, operating as a defensive-led team that runs the ball down your throat, and occasionally uses play-action with Jakobi Meyers as needed. Cam Newton's value depends on him finding goal-line attempts, as projecting him for passing volume isn't wise.
Waiver Wire Targets: Meyers was a major pickup prior to last week, but is still owned in less than 25 percent of ESPN leagues. He's a fringe PPR flex. Damien Harris is also owned in less than 44 percent of leagues, and based upon volume alone, he is worth a pickup.
Vikings 19, Bears 13
Congratulations, Kirk Cousins - you finally managed to win a primetime game. Cousins played great in this one, passing for nearly 300 yards and two scores to Adam Thielen. The lone blemish on his resume last night was an interception, but even that wasn't his fault. Cousins will remain a matchup-dependent streaming option, and will typically be found in the 11-16 territory in my rankings. Dalvin Cook struggled mightily against the stout Chicago defense, who held him barely above 3.0 YPA. He's fine after missing a few snaps with an errant pass that smacked him in the nether-regions. Justin Jefferson is the receiver that I want to own for the rest of 2020 in Minnesota. Thielen is still the bigger red zone threat, but Jefferson commands more targets and his YAC ability is insane.
Not much to discuss on the Chicago side, unfortunately. No David Montgomery on the field meant that the only Fantasy assets worth considering were Allen Robinson, and to a lesser extent Darnell Mooney. Robinson reeled in 6 catches for 43 yards, and that was in a game where Chicago trailed most of the evening. Nick Foles was terrible, and ultimately left the game with under a minute to go after being slammed to the turf. He was carted off, but early reports are optimistic that he missed a serious injury. Until Montgomery returns, outside of Robinson I want nothing to do with this team.
Waiver Wire Targets: None