Week 11 is the last real big week of byes. All teams play week 12 and the only teams on week 13 byes are Cleveland and Tennessee. If you have spots to fill, you’ve found the place to find out who to pick up in a fantasy pinch. Tap into some of these spot plays or key pick-ups to either keep your team rolling, or gain momentum as the playoffs are approach.
The obvious choice: Joe Flacco, BAL
It’s a pretty weak “obvious choice,” I know. There’s a few reasons I chose Joe Flacco in this spot. First off, it’s a tough streaming week all together, but also because I expect this game to get up to and beyond 50 points scored. There’s still risk here, but that Cowboys secondary is banged up without Morris Claibourne and Barry Church. This Cowboys defense will really have to make sure to keep the ball in front of them because this Baltimore offense has size and speed out wide. Joe is only owned in 29% of ESPN leagues and 20% of NFL leagues.
Alex Smith, KC
Alex Smith is only ever a match-up based start. That’s the case this week. Playing a Tampa Bay offense that’s been putting up an average of 29 points per game over their last 3 contests, this game could provoke a couple scores out of Alex Smith if Tampa Bay can score as much as they have been. The Tampa Bay defense, on the other hand, is ranked 25th against the pass and is soft to opposing quarterbacks. Don’t expect any more than 20 from Alex Smith, but 15-20 out of him should make you very content. Smith’s ownership is similar to Flacco’s; 27% in ESPN leagues and 20% in NFL leagues.
Brock Osweiler, HOU
Oh, Brock. Please step up; will ya? I have trouble buying he’s as bad as everyone thinks he is. I’d also have trouble buying him for $72 million. But, I’m not in the Houston back office so here we are. Osweiler has a good arm, and good talent around him. I think he needs to realize that winning and losing games doesn’t have to be on his shoulders. He needs to let the talent around him do more while he does less; like a Wentz or Tannehill. He has a chance to perform well against an Oakland team who can put up points, but also can allow just as many. Let’s see how Brock can keep up. Don’t be surprised to see 3 scores from Osweiler this week. Based on how dreadful his season has been, he’s likely available in your league. But if you want the numbers, he’s owned in 9% of ESPN leagues and 6% of NFL leagues.
The stretch: Cody Kessler, CLE
I really hope I can have an “I told you so” moment next week for putting Cody Kessler here. Cleveland is playing one of the most explosive offenses in the league in Pittsburgh so we know Kessler will have to throw the ball and get into the end zone to keep up. This will be a true test of what Kessler has, and it’s against a team that’s lost to the likes of Carson Wentz and Ryan Tannehill. Kessler has huge upside this week if he can take care of the ball and I’m not lying when I say start him with confidence. Assuming he can play without interceptions like he has so far (6:1 td to int ratio) you could easily get ~25 out of Kessler.
The obvious choice: Dion Lewis, NE
Dion Lewis is still sub-50% owned. Maybe you all forgot he was capable of this and didn’t realize how much it meant that an organization like the Patriots stick with such a low investment guy through such a big injury. This guy will become an integral part of the Patriots game plan, I can assure you of that. What I’m getting at is add him; and start him if you’re desperate. This is a make-or-break move when it comes to winning your fantasy playoffs. To be more precise, he’s owned in 45% of ESPN leagues and only 29% of NFL leagues.
Kenneth Dixon, BAL
This could be another pick up for the future. As of right now, it’s still Terrance West’s backfield. But, things are certainly trending upwards for Kenneth Dixon. Dixon had more yards from scrimmage last week on significantly less opportunities. Dixon is also emerging as the 3rd down guy in this offense, and that could pay huge dividends in a game against Dallas which looks like it could get crazy. Dixon is worth a pick up based on how things went last week for this offense.
Christine Michael, GB
I know you all are gawking at me like “of course he is owned.” I know. He was the #1 guy in Seattle for the majority of this season. But, he was in fantasy limbo after being waived by the Seahawks. Now, we will see if “The Awakening” will happen in Green Bay. This is more of like a PSA; go check your wire and make room for him on your roster in any 10+ man league.
The stretch: Paul Perkins, NYG
I’m still aboard the bandwagon that Paul Perkins is going to take over that backfield at some point. He’s built like a guy you don’t want running into you for 4 quarters. Perkins can be a bruiser or he can out-finesse you. He’s too dynamic for the Giants to keep on the bench and Rashad Jennings is just too average to be a starting guy. Pick up Perkins as a stash, but I do foresee him getting closer to the 20-touch mark as the season progresses.
The obvious choice: Cameron Meredith, CHI
Bye bye, Alshon Jeffrey. How bad it must feel to take PED’s that haven’t enhanced your performance at all. You have solidified yourself as a WR2 now in my mind. But this piece is about Cameron Meredith, the new #1 in Chicago. As long as Jeffrey is out and the match-ups aren’t too lopsided, Meredith is a great flex play moving forward. Meredith won’t soak up all the targets Jeffrey was getting, but it ups his value to must-own status. Meredith is available in 60% of ESPN leagues and 91% of NFL leagues.
Eli Rogers, PIT
I had Rogers here last week and he delivered with a 10+ point performance. You’re welcome. I have him here yet again because the match up is too good to pass up. This Pittsburgh offense is going to have their way with the Browns defense, and Eli Rogers has huge upside. With Joe Haden likely shadowing Antonio Brown and a safety, or two, over the top, this could be a break out game for either Eli Rogers or Sammie Coates. My bets are on Eli Rogers, who has been healthier and more productive than Sammie Coates as of late.
Tyreek Hill, KC
This dude is fun to watch. Jeremy Maclin is coming off injury and definitely isn’t 100% yet. Also, Maclin isn’t really a dominant force in this offense to begin with. Andy Reid is a top-5 coach in the league and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He knows to get the ball in this rookie’s hands because he’s explosive. He’s also scored in nearly half of his games this season. Scoop this guy up if you can, and definitely do so if you’re in a PPR league. This will be an interesting game, but it does have the potential to get into a high-scoring contest; Tyreek Hill would be a big beneficiary of that.
The stretch: Robert Woods, BUF
This is a stretch because we saw a dominant performance from Robert Woods against the Seahawks. But, last week was their bye so we don’t know if he can keep his streak going. Sammy Watkins is still out, and someone has to step up. That person so far has been Woods. If you scope him out, he’s actually been target heavy for a majority of the season; making him a very valuable pick up in PPR leagues. Woods has the third-down guy, and he’s getting red zone looks as well. He’s shaping up to be Tyrod Taylor’s guy and he’s only owned in 25% of ESPN leagues and 2% of NFL leagues.
The obvious choice: Zach Miller, CHI
For the same reason Cameron Meredith is a must add in the WR slot, Zach Miller is a must add for TE. When in doubt, Jay Cutler just throws it up to Alshon. Now, he needs a new safety net and we all know that TE’s fill that role perfectly. I think Zach Miller will be the main man to gobble up those extra targets, but also, don’t be surprised if Chicago starts running more two TE looks and Logan Paulson finds the end zone. In fantasy leagues grab Miller if he’s available, but consider Paulson for daily league value.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU
I’m getting tired of writing about why you need to own this guy. Tight ends are a quarterbacks best friend, especially those that are struggling. Brock Osweiler is exactly that. I like to think he’s struggling rather than just being this awful. He may not have gone off last week, but the TE position in Houston caught both of his touchdown passes. Sorry DeAndre Hopkins owners. I like the odds that the touchdowns this week go to Fiedorowicz because he leads that TE group in snaps and last week was a fluke.
Cameron Brate, TB
Brate has been sneaky good this year. How sneaky, and how good? Well, he’s top-10 in points but owned in less than half of leagues. Shame on all of you. Jameis Winston is going to get pressured by KC this week and count on him to look Brate’s way often when in need. Brate has 5 touchdowns in 10 games this year so it is a flip of a coin whether he will score or not. I like his chances this week against KC. Remember how I said owned in under half of leagues? 45% in ESPN and 19% in NFL.
The stretch: Ladarius Green, PIT
Ladarius Green is a stretch because we don’t really know what role he will play in this offense when fully healthy. Last week was his first game back and he did encounter swelling in his knee after the game. That being said, he’s listed as “active” and whether or not he has a big week this week, you have to imagine it will happen at some point this season. They have needed another guy to step up consistently because of the ridiculous coverage’s teams are throwing towards Antonio Brown. I think Green is worth a stash, or a spot start here if necessary.
Defense / Special Teams:
The obvious choice: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff is going this week for the Rams. Yes, I do want Goff to throw for 500 yards, but it’s just not very likely. Whats more likely is the Dolphins give him fits, with Suh collapsing the pocket from the middle; the spot quarterbacks hate most. I think Goff throws a couple picks. This Miami defense hasn’t been playing terribly either; they did hold Pittsburgh to 15 points in week 6. I expect a good showing from the Dolphins this week and they’re a great streaming option if available to you.
Detroit Lions vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles has been as much of a disappointment this year as Brock Osweiler has. I really thought I was going to see a resurgence in the AFC South, but we haven’t been privileged with that just yet. This Lions defense is quietly doing work against bad opponents and Darius Slay shadowing Allen Robinson just spells trouble for Jacksonville. The Jags have no running game, so the Lions won’t need to stack the box, which will allow them to drop back and wait for Bortles to make his innevitable mistakes. Consider the Lions a viable streaming option this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
I’m a huge fan of Cody Kessler. Unfortunately, I’m also a realist. While I do think Kessler will throw his 3 touchdowns this game, I also think he will give the ball to the Steelers a couple times as well. Also, count on this Browns team doing something else dumb to give the ball back to the Steelers whether it be fumbles or sacks leading to 3-and-outs. I think there’s enough of a point foundation here to warrant a start from the Steelers, even if the Browns do manage to put up some points against them.
The stretch: Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills
This Bengals team is going up against a team coached by Rex Ryan. Thus, there’s a potential for disaster. I’ll warrant them as a stretch play because I think this defense is under-performing as a whole, but especially against the run. The run is what the Bills do. I expect Cinci to play the run hard this game and force Tyrod Taylor and co to beat them with his arm. I like Tyrod, but I also think he’s susceptible to playing very poorly against good defenses. The Bengals haven’t been good yet this year, but they have all the pieces to shine on defense any given Sunday.