I am no doctor, but it does not take one to know that football is an incredibly physical game that wears on even the most gifted athletes over the course of a season. Injuries and missed practice time are common occurrences in any year and will likely become even more prevalent now that the NFL has moved to an 18-week regular season. My point is that everyone is banged-up this time of year to varying degrees, so it is essential to monitor breaking news/ practice reports, handcuff your key contributors if the backup would take on a heavy workload in the starter’s absence, and use the end of your bench to stash “what if” players that are one injury or promotion away from becoming potential week-winners (or league-winners, in some cases). This week we will take a closer look at a mix of both short and long-term options that I believe can impact your playoff push.
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. If anyone featured below is at risk of not playing or is relegated to a bench role late in the week, I will do my best to keep you all updated on Twitter (@BrandonMillerFB). All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 11/10/21.
* Devonta Freeman (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
I want to first reiterate that just because a player is featured does not necessarily mean that they are my tip-top selection (see rankings below); there are other sub-65% rostered RBs like Devin Singletary and D’Ernest Johnson who I would prioritize if they are available and the starters are out, as expected. That said, I think it is time the long-time Falcons dual-threat Freeman gets his due for his recent production. The 29-year-old is no longer going to take over games, but his mix of rushing and receiving skills combined with a talented supporting cast lends itself to a safe floor for however long he is the starter (Latavius Murray likely to remain out this week and the Ravens have shown no signs of giving Ty’Son Williams a larger role). Freeman has found paydirt in each of the last three weeks (two on the ground, one receiving), is coming off his most carries and rushing yards of the season (13 for 79 yards in Week 9), and will now travel to his hometown Miami on Thursday to take on a Dolphins team that the Ravens should comfortably lead throughout, making him a high-end RB3/ Flex.
J.D. McKissic (RB, Washington Football Team)
PPR-leaguers are no stranger to the receiving specialist McKissic, who currently boasts the second-most targets (42) and receiving yards (332) on the Washington Football Team. This is a valuable skill to have when your team is playing catch-up most weeks as the WFT is expected to do against the Buccaneers in Week 10. Pair that with an ailing Antonio Gibson, whose performance has waned in recent weeks as he battles to overcome a stress-fractured shin, and you have a situation that could very well lead to increased opportunities for McKissic moving forward. Whether you roster Gibson or just need some rare RB depth for the stretch run, I feel McKissic can return RB3/ Flex value this week in Half and Full-PPR leagues.
RB Streamers (ranked): Devin Singletary (61% ESPN), D’Ernest Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Alex Collins (monitor Carson status), J.D. McKissic, AJ Dillon (priority handcuff), Jordan Howard, Tony Pollard (59% ESPN, priority handcuff), Nyheim Hines, Kenyan Drake, Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols, Boston Scott, Mark Ingram II (monitor Kamara status), Ty Johnson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Carlos Hyde (monitor James Robinson status), Eno Benjamin, Brandon Bolden, Kenneth Gainwell, Sony Michel, Alexander Mattison (priority handcuff), Le’Veon Bell, Ronald Jones II, D’Onta Foreman, Giovani Bernard, Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty, Derrick Gore, Jeff Wilson Jr, Jaret Patterson, Ty’Son Williams.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR, San Francisco 49ers)
A universally drafted player and popular breakout candidate in fantasy leagues heading into the 2021 season, Aiyuk reportedly fell out of favor with coach Kyle Shanahan early in the season and thus fell off fantasy rosters with less than 100 total receiving yards through the 49ers’ first six games. Aiyuk displayed his skills as a rookie last season with 748 receiving yards and five scores across 12 games played, so talent was never the real question. Now having apparently smoothed things over with the coaching staff, Aiyuk has seven-plus targets each of the last two weeks and will look to make it three in a row, albeit against a stingy Rams defense. It remains to be seen how the Niners’ passing game would evolve (or devolve) if Trey Lance were to take over behind center at some point, but for now, follow the prospect pedigree and targets with the mindset that Aiyuk’s lack of involvement is now a thing of the past.
* Rashod Bateman (WR, Baltimore Ravens)
This is not the typical Ravens offense we have grown accustomed to that wins with a heavy dose of runs and a stifling defense, even if they still lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (thanks, Lamar Jackson!). A bad run of injury misfortune at the RB position has morphed the Ravens into a team whose best personnel is now in the passing game with Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews, and first-round rookie Rashod Bateman. Since returning from a groin injury that kept him out for the first five contests of the season, Bateman has seen six-or-more targets in every game he has played in, peaking at eight just last week (five catches for 52 yards). While it remains to be seen how the target distribution shakes out with Sammy Watkins (thigh) returning to the field, I believe that this offense will be able to support three pass-catchers most weeks. I would take a shot on Bateman’s skills to win out and feel comfortable slotting him in on Thursday night as a fringe WR3/WR4.
WR Streamers (ranked): Hunter Renfrow (68% Yahoo, priority add), Christian Kirk, Rashod Bateman, Brandon Aiyuk, Van Jefferson, Corey Davis (65% Yahoo), Marquez Callaway, Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder, Tim Patrick, Russell Gage, Michael Gallup (check status), Donovan Peoples-Jones, Mecole Hardman, A.J. Green (COVID), Rondale Moore, Laviska Shenault Jr., Zach Pascal, Bryan Edwards, T.Y. Hilton, Jamal Agnew, Allen Lazard, Nelson Agholor, Deonte Harris, Randall Cobb, Robby Anderson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (check status), Kendrick Bourne, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tre’Quan Smith, K.J. Osborn, Quez Watkins, Sammy Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe, Gabriel Davis, Kenny Golladay (bye – stash), Darnell Mooney (bye – stash), Kadarius Toney (bye – stash).
* Dan Arnold (TE, Jacksonville Jaguars)
For as much as I have whined about how hard it is stream the TE position most weeks, there have been a number of players level-up from < 65% rostered streamers to weekly lineup mainstays this season. The next such player I could see realistically becoming a rest-of-season contributor is Dan Arnold, who sounds more like the friendly neighbor who cuts your grass while you are on vacation instead of an NFL tight end. Say what you will about the Jaguars, but Arnold has 60-plus receiving yards and seven-or-more targets in three of Jacksonville’s last four games, so he is a TE worth rostering regardless of the team he plays for. The scoring opportunities are not likely to improve much rest of season, but tight ends who consistently get targets and have the ability to run after the catch are a rarity on the waiver wire.
TE Streamers (ranked): Dan Arnold, Pat Freiermuth, Hunter Henry, Zach Ertz (69% ESPN), Tyler Conklin, Jared Cook, Logan Thomas, Mo Alie-Cox, Adam Trautman, David Njoku, Jonnu Smith, Donald Parham Jr., Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard, Ryan Griffin, Jack Doyle, Hayden Hurst, Tommy Sweeney, Albert Okwuegbunam, Tommy Tremble, Anthony Firkser, Dawson Knox (monitor status, priority TE stash), Foster Moreau, Gerald Everett, Ricky Seals-Jones, Geoff Swaim, Cameron Brate, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara.
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Jeremy McNichols (RB, Tennessee Titans): Although I believe McNichols is a solid player, this backfield is not expected to get much clarity while Derrick Henry is out since D’Onta Foreman has now entered the fold alongside Adrian Peterson. You are probably safe to cut him loose in all but deep leagues.
Boston Scott (RB, Philadelphia Eagles): I think I am done recommending Eagles RBs, at least for now. Between Scott, Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell, and the nearing return of Miles Sanders, this is likely to be a hot-hand situation that will be unpredictable most weeks. If you need the depth, I don’t feel he is a must-drop, but do not expect the consistency to be there.
DeVante Parker (WR, Miami Dolphins): Parker (shoulder, hamstring) was placed on IR late last week for a minimum of two more games and likely longer. The injury designation combined with Tua Tagovailoa‘s fractured finger makes Parker an easy drop candidate unless you have room in your IR slot.
Van Jefferson (WR, Los Angeles Rams): Jefferson had his third-straight game of six-plus targets with three catches on seven targets for 41 yards. The catch efficiency leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he is worth a roster spot as part of a high-powered Rams offense.
Pat Freiermuth (TE, Pittsburgh Steelers): Freirmuth continued to put his connection with Ben Roethlisberger on full display in Monday night’s primetime game, hauling in five-of-six targets for 43 yards and two scores. Although touchdowns are tough to predict week-to-week, it was great to see Freirmuth targeted so often in the red zone. Eric Ebron will likely return this week to take away some targets, but one would think that performances like this will assist Pittsburgh’s coaching staff in sticking with Freirmuth as their top option at the position.
Make sure to check out AJ Passman’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 10!
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)