Depending on your leagues playoff schedule, we are now down to the last two or three weeks of the fantasy football regular season. While the top teams in the league are starting to clinch playoff spots, the next tier of teams are battling it out for the final few playoff spots. But in this week’s intro, we are going to reiterate a message to the teams that are competing for the toilet bowl:
No matter where you sit in the standings, keep setting your lineups and adding players on the waiver wire until you physically can't. Even if a win or lose has no affect on your team’s future, several other teams are battling for playoff spots. Pulling off an upset win or two could completely shake up your team’s playoff bracket, so have fun and play the spoiler role.
Plus, most leagues have a consolation bracket, so go out and win that. Nobody wants to finish last (especially if your league has a punishment), so string together a few victories in the consolation bracket and finish in the middle of your league.
So to go get a Week 11 W, let’s hope into the preview:
Derek Carr vs Kansas City
Carr has played strong football over the last few weeks for the Raiders, but due to their success on the ground game, he hasn’t scored over 15.0 fantasy points in his last three games. Las Vegas will certainly try to run the ball against Kansas City, but will most likely have to air it out to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes. When Las Vegas upset Kansas City in Week 5, Carr tossed for over 340 yards and three scores. He should be able to hit some ‘home-run’ plays on Sunday.
Justin Herbert vs New York Jets
Herbert had perhaps his worst game as a pro last week against Miami, which still resulted in a pair of touchdown passes and 20-plus fantasy points. Herbert has now thrown multiple touchdowns in six straight games while eclipsing the 20-point mark in seven-of-eight games this season. He should have no issues continuing that success this week against the Jets defense which has allowed the fifth-most points to the QB position.
More Starts: Matt Ryan at New Orleans, Ben Roethlisberger at Jacksonville
Philip Rivers vs Green Bay
Rivers has put up strong fantasy production in three of his last four games, but gets a tough matchup against Green Bay this week. The Packers defense has been much more vulnerable against the run this year, allowing four rushing touchdowns compared to just three passing scores over the last three weeks. On the season, Green Bay has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Jared Goff at Tampa Bay
Goff has scored just over 10.0 fantasy points in back-to-back games now, while failing to reach 17.0 points in five of his last six games. He’s thrown just three touchdowns over LA’s last three games as the Rams have shifted into a run-based offense. Goff now has a date with a Tampa Bay defense allowing an average of just 16.0 points to opposing quarterbacks. We recommend leaving him on your bench for this Monday night matchup.
More Sits: Ryan Tannehill at Baltimore
Sleeper: Jameis Winston vs Atlanta
Welcome, Jameis. Winston is in line to get his first start of the season as Drew Brees (ribs) is sidelined. The Saints offense did not look great with Winston taking over under-center for the second half last week, but the gunslinger should be able to take advantage of the poor Falcons defense. Their defense has allowed an average of 325 passing yards this year and the 10th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the past four weeks. We’ll have to see what role Taysom Hill plays, but this game has shootout written all over it and that should mean well for last season’s fifth-best fantasy quarterback.
Mike Davis vs Lions
With Christian McCaffrey already ruled out for Sunday, Davis becomes a strong play against the Lions. The Detroit defense has allowed the most fantasy points to runners this season and over the last four weeks — allowing Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic to combine for three rushing scores and 11 receptions last week. While Davis struggled last week, he still led the Carolina backfield in snaps, while boasting a 31 percent touch share despite missing time with a minor thumb injury. That volume should continue this week, with higher production, with Teddy Bridgewater (knee) likely out.
D’Andre Swift at Carolina
In the opposing backfield of Davis lies Swift, who is coming off his first game as the featured back in the Lions backfield. The rookie responded in a big way, piling up 149 scrimmage yards and a score, leading to 25.9 fantasy points. If the Lions are smart, they’ll continue to feature Swift on offense. If they do, Swift should have a huge week against a Panthers defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
More Starts: Washington Running Backs vs Cincinnati, Duke Johnson vs New England
Melvin Gordon vs Miami
Gordon has seen more touches in recent weeks than Phillip Lindsay, but that certainly hasn't translated into production. Gordon hasn't reach 50 rushing yards in three straight games, combining for just 64 rushing yards on 18 carries the past two weeks with one catch. The Dolphins defense ranks 26th in YPC allowed this season while allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs over the past four weeks. Gordon is best left on benches this week.
Darrell Henderson Jr. at Tampa Bay
Even though the Rams have relied more on the run game lately, Henderson has seen less than 10 touches in each of LA’s last two games as he spilts snaps with Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown. He saved his fantasy day last week with a rushing score, but will struggle to find success Monday night against the Tampa Bay defense that has given up the fewest rushing yards to running backs this season. Malcolm Brown is the much better Ram back to insert into your lineups this week. Tampa Bay is vulnerable against running backs in the passing game and Brown has been the Rams third-down back all year (while also seeing most of the goal-line work).
More Sits: Kansas City Running Backs at Las Vegas, Joshua Kelley vs New York Jets
Sleeper: Kalen Ballage vs New York Jets
Ballage has exploded onto the scene for the Chargers, putting up a combined 186 scrimmage yards in his last two games. He should get one more start here for LA before Austin Ekeler returns from IR, is in a great spot against the Jets defense. New York has allowed 12 rushing TDs through nine games and roughly 27 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.
Justin Jefferson vs Dallas
Jefferson got back over the 100-yard marker the fourth time this season in Minnesota’s Week 10 victory over the Bears. He’s a shaky play due to the Vikings’ run-based offense, but the rookie is in a great position to succeed this week. Dallas’ defense has been dominated by wide receivers all year, allowing 21 passing touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Brandin Cooks vs New England
A Brandin Cooks revenge game... which is oddly a thing. According to PFF, Cooks has averaged eight targets, six catches and 104 receiving yards in his last four revenge games. Even against New England’s top secondary this week, Cooks’ 28% target share in Houston’s offense since Week 4 can't be avoided. With the Patriots most likely keying in on Will Fuller, Cooks should have room to work.
More Starts: Amari Cooper at Minnesota, Tee Higgins at Washington
D.J. Moore vs Lions
With Teddy Bridgewater (knee) most likely sidelined, Moore should be sidelined in fantasy this week. P.J. Walker will most likely favor his former Temple teammate, Robby Anderson, when dropping back to pass, which might not be often. The Detriot defense has been one of the worst in the run game while allowing just seven touchdown receptions to enemy wide receivers this year. Moore is a tough trust in Week 11.
DeVante Parker at Denver
No Dolphin pass catcher has been worth inserting into lineup since Tua Tagovailoa has taken over at quarterback. In fact, no receiver has more than nine receptions over the last three weeks combined. Parker has had the highest target share of Miami’s receivers, but has a tough matchup against a Broncos defense that ranks top-five in PFF coverage grade.
More Sits: T.Y. Hilton vs Green Bay, Jerry Jeudy vs Miami
Sleeper: Christian Kirk at Seattle
While DeAndre Hopkins is the sure-fire No. 1 option in Arizona’s passing attack, Kirk has been a more than reliable option this year. Before a slow game last week, Kirk had scored five touchdowns in his previous three games and now faces a historically bad Seahawks defense. Seattle has given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers, allowing almost 11 fantasy points per game more to the position than any other team.
Austin Hooper vs Philadelphia
Philly’s strong run defense could force Baker Mayfield to air it out more on Sunday, which should benefit Austin Hooper. The Eagles have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Hooper should have a strong chance to lead Cleveland in targets while also finding the end zone.
Hayden Hurst at New Orleans
Hurst has become much more reliable at the position of late, scoring double digit fantasy points in the Falcons last four games. Coming off a bye, Hurst faces a Saints defense that has improved against tight ends, but still surrender nearly 15 fantasy points per game to the position.
More Starts: Eric Ebron at Jacksonville, Kyle Rudolph vs Dallas
Noah Fant vs Miami
Hobbled by an ongoing ankle injury, Fant’s second year in the league has not gone as planned. The tight end has not reached the end zone or the 50-yard mark since Week 2, despite seeing five-plus targets in seven of his eight games. He does not appear in line to turn things around this week, as he faces a Dolphins defense that’s given up the fourth-fewest receiving yards in the league to tight ends.
Robert Tonyan at Indianapolis
Tonyan has taken a step back in the Green Bay offense as he’s watched Davante Adams and Marques-Valdes Scandling tear it up. Tonyan has not scored more than 6.3 fantasy points in four of his last five games and now also has to compete with Allen Lazard (core) for targets. His matchup against the Colts also works against him, as they have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points and no touchdowns to tight ends this year.
More Sits: Jonnu Smith at Baltimore, Trey Burton vs Green Bay
Sleeper: Gerald Everett at Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay’s biggest weakness on defense this season has been stopping tight ends. They have allowed six different players at the position to score against them. This week they play the Rams, who have used a strong amount of two- and three-tight-end-sets. The tight end to play this week is Everett, who has out-targeted Tyler Higbee 27 to 21 since Week 3, while also seeing more catches, yards and touchdowns in that span.
Patriots Play of the Week
The Patriots backfield has always been a fantasy nightmare, but Damien Harris might be an exception. The second-year back has averaged 98 rushing yards over his last three games, while his PFF grade of 89.6 is the third-highest for backs this season. Coming off a career-high 121-yard performance against Baltimore, there should be plenty of room on the ground this week against Houston. The Texans defense has given up 1,389 rushing yards to running backs this season — 260 more yards than any other team. The lone knock on Harris’ fantasy value has been his inability to score — as Rex Burkhead has been used around the goal-line — but Houston has surrendered the second-most rushing touchdowns (11) to running backs this year. A big game should be in store for Harris.
That is all for this week’s preview. If you have any additional questions regarding your lineup, specific players, or strategies going forward, leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines. As always, I’m rooting for you.