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Crystal Ball Week 11 2017
By Evan Tarracciano
Halfway through my Facebook LIVE chat yesterday afternoon, a follower approached me with a sit/start question, listing off several receivers to pick from. Though I usually don’t even begin to look at matchups until Wednesday afternoons (Tuesday evenings I have to run waivers in all of my leagues and prep for the show), I quickly pulled up a website to see the schedule. When it finally loaded, I had to pause for a moment as my eyes fixated at the top of the screen.
Wait a minute. Week 11? It can’t be. There is no way that it is already that late in the season. Yet, here we are. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas not far behind it, and owners are coming down the home stretch in the Fantasy Football season.
As I alluded to in earlier articles, at this point most teams should have a fairly good idea if they are in or out of the playoffs. “Fringe” teams are becoming less common, and owners are beginning to look forward to the future. So, what are some quick tips as things begin to conclude?
First, if you haven’t already handcuffed any top-tier starting running back with their backup, do so at this point. Earlier in the season I’m fine with emptying the reserves in favor of a dart throw or two, but locking in roles is incredibly beneficial. Here is a quick list of RB1s, and their immediate replacements, should they either suffer an injury, or be benched due to rest purposes.
Todd Gurley – Lance Dunbar (due to the injury suffered by Malcolm Brown)
Kareem Hunt – Charcandrick West
Le'Veon Bell – James Conner
Melvin Gordon – Branden Oliver (some will argue that Austin Ekeler would inherit more snaps, but I can’t see him getting more touches than Oliver)
LeSean McCoy – Mike Tolbert
Leonard Fournette – Chris Ivory
Lamar Miller – D’Onta Foreman
Jordan Howard – Benny Cunningham (NOT Tarik Cohen)
Carlos Hyde – Matt Breida
Second, keep a close eye on players who are returning from injury earlier this season off of the IR. I wrote about Danny Woodhead earlier, but Corey Coleman and Greg Olsen are also names to keep in mind. I doubt that Olsen is sitting out there on the waiver wire, but there is a chance in shallower formats that Woodhead or Coleman are available. Should that be the case, both are intriguing pickups. Assuming that the Baltimore Ravens activate Woodhead and immediately thrust him into the role that Buck Allen has been holding, he would be in the RB2 discussion in PPR formats. Coleman is more of a dart-throw, but the Cleveland Browns are going to be playing from behind often, and he is a deep threat that DeShone Kizer can look to. Kenny Golladay is also returning from a lengthy absence, and showed flashes of promise in his first game back against the Browns this past weekend.
Q:With Cam Newton on a bye this upcoming weekend, can you recommend someone at quarterback who might be available as a streaming option for me?
A: The first name to immediately come to mind is Eli Manning. Sure, I’m a New York Giants fan, but this suggestion comes from both the upcoming matchup at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, coupled with how Manning has played lately. This has been a season to forget in New York, and one of the most disappointing in Manning’s lengthy career. That said, he has been playing well of late, with a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over the last four games. In each of the past three contests he has exceeded the 35 attempts threshold, as now Sterling Shepard is back in the mix and healthy. The Chiefs rank 28th in the league against the pass, and allow over 250 yards per game on average. The Giants will likely be playing from behind all afternoon, and I can see plenty of garbage-time statistics put up by Manning.
Q:Is Teddy Bridgewater worth a stash? The Minnesota Vikings offense looks pretty good!
A:I spoke about this at length during my Facebook chat, but I don’t think that Bridgewater will be Fantasy-relevant in 2017. As I indicated earlier, I’d prefer to spend bench spots on WR/RB options, rather than a hope and a prayer QB. Bridgewater has flashed in 1-2 game spurts over his career, but doesn’t look downfield enough to warrant consideration. The Vikings have been on a roll with Case Keenum at the helm, who has kept both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen heavily involved in the offense. Even if (and it is an if) Bridgewater came back, he hasn’t played well enough over the course of his career to immediately assume him as a QB1. His career average YPG is 212, with a 28:21 TD:INT ratio. That puts him more in the QB2/Superflex discussion.
Q:Is it safe to cut Darren McFadden? I held onto him in case Ezekiel Elliott was ever suspended, and he hardly saw the field last week. Was this a one-week fluke, or is he droppable?
A:It is a bit puzzling that the Dallas Cowboys held onto McFadden this long, just to have him phased out by Alfred Morris and Rod Smith. Though active, he had just one carry in Week 10, which didn’t come until the fourth quarter. I would drop him in favor of other options with more upside.
Q:I’ve seen lots of other analysts recommend picking up Jamaal Williams from the Green Bay Packers – what are your thoughts on him moving forward?
A:Williams is sure to be one of the hottest names off of the waiver wire this week, as a result of both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery leaving last week’s game with injuries. In the case of Jones, it appears that he will be sidelined between 3-6 weeks with an MCL injury, while there is a small chance that Montgomery’s ribs heal enough for him to return in Week 11. Assuming that both miss action, Williams is a shoe-in for 20 total touches at a minimum, with an off-chance of getting a goal line score, assuming that Aaron Ripkowski doesn’t vulture it from him. If Montgomery were to end up playing, I could see the team opting for Williams to get some of the early down work, bringing in Montgomery for pass-catching duties or 3rd down work. Either way he is worth a flier, especially for owners who are struggling with bye-week issues.
Q:Is Rex Burkhead the real deal in New England?
A:I don’t want to just come out and say no, because dismissing what he has done over the past two weeks entirely would be foolish. However, I’ve been burned by the carousel of Patriots backs in the past (as have many Fantasy owners), so it is hard to plant the proverbial flag in Burkhead’s corner. Should the Patriots opt to deactivate Mike Gillislee once again, it would mean that Burkhead would compete for touches with Dion Lewis, James White and Brandon Bolden. Bolden is more or less a special teams afterthought, so he can be immediately tossed out of the equation. Lewis is more of a true running back than the rest, with White being the best pass-catching option of the bunch. Burkhead fits squarely in the middle of the rest. He is above-average at just about every skill you could ask a running back to have, but not truly “elite” at anything. He can run block, catch, break tackles and contribute on special teams. Is he worth a pickup? If you participate in a 14-team league or larger and need a FLEX, sure. In shallower formats I’ll remain skeptical of his long-term outlook. Fool me once.
Q:Josh Doctson will be a _____ in 12 team leagues the remainder of the season.
A:Upside FLEX. He’s getting more snaps and targets each week, but isn’t in the WR3 discussion for the moment. The Washington Redskins would do well to give him more opportunities, given the health concerns of Jordan Reed and ineptitude of Terrelle Pryor.
Q:Thoughts on the Buffalo Bills benching Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nathan Peterman?
A:It is pretty obvious that the Bills coaching staff has wanted to make this move for a while, given what they have said about Taylor in the past. Playing in the final year of his contract, the team did little to surround Taylor with any sort of talent, trading away both Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins to the Buffalo Bills. Kelvin Benjamin is a poor man’s consolation prize, but coach Sean McDermott said that their record should be better than 5-4 currently. Buffalo’s losses aren’t entirely on Taylor, as their defense is one of the more porous units in the league, and their offensive line hasn’t been nearly as good as advertised. LeSean McCoy will still be heavily featured here, and I feel that Charles Clay gets a nice bump up in value. Both Benjamin and Jordan Matthews are nothing more than Hail Mary FLEX options as long as Peterman is at the helm.
Q:Is it worth holding onto a defense on your bench if they have a better matchup down the stretch? Or should I roster something else instead?
A:As a rule, I stream DSTs. Therefore I never have more than one rostered at any point in time. If you find yourself in the enviable position of having an elite unit like the Jacksonville Jaguars or Los Angeles Rams and want to grab a different unit down the road, I’d be fine with that. As I mentioned earlier, its better to stash handcuffs at this point than multiple DSTs.
Q:Just for this upcoming week, could you rank the top RB pickups?
A:Jamaal Williams, Danny Woodhead, Rex Burkhead, Austin Eckler, Samaje Perine
If you are new to this column and would like to have your questions answered in the future, please make sure to give me a follow on Twitter (@Roto_Wizard) and submit all inquiries on Tuesday afternoons. In addition to providing answers here, I also host a weekly “Q&A” video chat over on the Football Diehards Facebook page, which you can find here: