I realize that I’m going to sound like a magician from the 90’s saying this, but for the rest of the season, I will ask that you “suspend your disbelief” and immerse yourself in the power of streaming options that you may have never heard of before or never thought would be fantasy-relevant coming into the year (much credit to the talented Mina Kimes for inspiring this weird introduction). What happened on your league’s draft day and what happened in past seasons might as well be ancient history now that we are in the home stretch. When it comes to setting your lineup, it’s crucial to focus on the present and shed any bias you may have against players you didn’t expect to be productive. These are the players that can win you weeks, patch up holes in your roster, and in a best-case scenario, help you win a championship. This is typically the time of year when teams out of playoff contention may start to check out, so make sure to keep the laser focus that got you here so you don’t risk missing out on these potential difference-makers at RB/WR/TE.
* All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 11/18/20.
Kalen Ballage (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)
Whether it’s fair or not, Ballage has largely been a punchline in recent seasons with Adam Gase as his coach (on the Dolphins and Jets). Now, with a fresh start on a new team and a healthy dose of weekly touches, it’s Ballage who has been getting the last laugh. Over the past two weeks as the Chargers’ lead back, he’s seen a combined 33 carries for 137 rushing yards (4.2 yards per carry), one score, and seven catches for 49 receiving yards. While fantasy managers anxiously await the return of Austin Ekeler (likely out a minimum of one or two more weeks), Ballage figures to continue seeing a hefty workload and gets the winless Jets in Week 11. Volume is king when it comes to streamers and I think Ballage has a good chance to turn in low-RB2/ Flex numbers this week against their downtrodden opponent.
Salvon Ahmed (RB, Miami Dolphins)
With all due respect to Ahmed, he is one of those names I alluded to in the introduction that I hadn’t heard of until two weeks ago. In the absence of Myles Gaskin (IR) and Matt Breida (hamstring), Ahmed has risen to relevance, highlighted by his impressive Week 10 where he registered 21 carries for 85 yards and score while chipping in one catch for five yards. Even if Breida returns to the lineup this week, I see Ahmed shouldering the majority of Miami’s backfield workload given Breida’s questionable durability. Despite a strong start to the season against opposing RBs, the Broncos defense was gashed by the Raiders rushing attack last week, and this profiles as a game that the Dolphins will lead throughout. Ahmed is likely a short-term option that may disappear once Gaskin is back, but for now, you have to follow the healthy RB who’s getting touches and take the results while they’re available. I see him as a Flex option for Week 11.
Other names to consider (in order): Giovani Bernard (top streamer if available and Mixon is out), La’Mical Perine (increasing role), Damien Harris (54%-rostered ESPN), Zack Moss (bye, stash), Wayne Gallman (bye, stash), Cam Akers (increasing role), Phillip Lindsay, Nyheim Hines, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead, Joshua Kelley, Matt Breida (monitor injury status), Latavius Murray (high-end handcuff), Alexander Mattison (high-end handcuff), Jamaal Williams (high-end handcuff), James White.
Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
After my Colts WR/TE recommendations flopped in Week 5, I swore not to discuss any Indianapolis pass-catchers for the foreseeable future given their ineptitude in the passing game at the time. It now appears the time has come for me to get back on board in the form of Michael Pittman Jr. This is by no means a sudden endorsement of the Colts’ air attack, but a belief in Pittman’s talent and role as the go-to receiving threat moving forward when they do need to pass. The hulking, 6’4” rookie out of USC has seen seven-plus targets each of the past two weeks and is coming off a stellar Week 10 performance where he caught seven of eight targets for 101 yards and a score, plus one carry for 21 yards. If you haven’t watched the Colts this season (honestly, I don’t blame you unless you’re the “defense wins championships!” type), they tend to use an “offense by committee” approach where they spread the ball around to a variety of players and ride the hot hand with their RBs. That said, I think it would be a mistake for Pittman not to see increased usage considering what he’s shown since returning from injury. As someone who has watched every Colts game this year and witnessed all the times when their offense is stuck in neutral, I feel that Pittman is by far and away their best receiving threat and a WR3/ Flex rest of season.
Curtis Samuel (WR, Carolina Panthers)
Coming off his first “down” game in four weeks, Samuel profiles as a consummate “check if available” streaming option in case he’s available or was recently dropped in your league (currently 67%-rostered ESPN, 49% Yahoo). The hot-and-cold Tampa Bay defense was able to hold Samuel to three catches (five targets) for eight yards and three carries for four yards, but I’m counting on his big-play ability and mixed usage in the Panthers’ rushing attack to result in a bounce-back performance against the Lions in Week 11. Prior to last week’s dud, Samuel scored in three-straight games (two through the air and two on the ground), highlighting his ability to provide useful fantasy weeks despite placing fourth in targets this season behind Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Mike Davis. Regardless of how the game unfolds on Sunday, I expect Samuel to be involved until the final whistle since he typically gets a handful of carries each week, especially with Christian McCaffrey inactive. Samuel is a solid WR3/ Flex this week with TD-upside in this favorable matchup.
Other names to consider (in order): Jakobi Meyers, Emmanuel Sanders, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, Jalen Reagor, David Moore, Sterling Shepard (bye, stash), John Brown (bye, stash), Darius Slayton (bye, stash), Cole Beasley (bye, stash), Deebo Samuel (bye, stash), A.J. Green, Nelson Agholor, Danny Amendola, Rashard Higgins, Michael Gallup, Laviska Shenault Jr, Henry Ruggs III, Randall Cobb.
Taysom Hill (QB/TE, New Orleans Saints)
Allow me to level with you here; unless the TE featured in this article manages to find the end zone, there’s a decent chance you’re in for a very mediocre performance comprised of a few catches and 30-50ish receiving yards. It’s not pretty, but such is the nature of most “TD-or-bust” streaming-tier TEs. Meaningful factors to consider include targets (most importantly, red-zone targets), team context (how much does their team pass and where does the TE fall in the receiving pecking order?), and athletic ability (if target volume is similar, I lean toward players with downfield targets and big-play potential). If you’re rotating TEs every week and fed up with playing the “TD-or-bust” game, you might as well have some fun and go outside the box with Taysom Hill. I recognize that Hill is not TE-eligible on all platforms (see names below for alternative options if he isn’t), but if he is, his unconventional usage could very well lead to some quirky-but-completely-valid fantasy points. Whenever Hill enters the game, he represents a Wildcat-style threat to pass, run, or catch on any given play. Although the Saints haven’t “officially” named a QB replacement for Drew Brees (hint: it’s Jameis Winston), I feel there’s a good chance that Hill’s usage will increase while Brees is inactive, particularly in the red zone role he’s seen on several occasions this year. Sure, there is a risk that his usage remains the same and he continues to only see a handful of snaps on gadget plays, but if things break right, TE-starved teams across your league will be kicking themselves for not considering the versatile Hill. Fantasy football at its core is meant to be a fun competition among friends, so have some fun this week while your opponent curses you for being a savvy fantasy manager.
Other names to consider (in order): Dallas Goedert, Jimmy Graham, Austin Hooper, Mike Gesicki, Logan Thomas, Jared Cook, Dalton Schultz, Robert Tonyan, Trey Burton, Zach Ertz (stash).
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Duke Johnson (RB, Houston Texans): We haven’t seen Duke Johnson operate as a lead back on many occasions throughout his career, and the past couple of weeks of middling results have likely shown why. With David Johnson moving to IR, we’ll see Duke maintain his lead role for at least two more weeks, but expectations should be tempered. He finished with 14 carries for 54 scoreless yards in Week 10 (a below-average but not terrible 3.9 yards-per-carry), though his rushing abilities have never been his most bankable talent. The more disappointing aspect of his Week 10 stat line was his zero receptions. Duke remains a Flex with RB2 upside if he sees more work in the passing game.
Latavius Murray (RB, New Orleans Saints): Although Murray was more of an honorable mention last week instead of a streamer suggestion, he once again showed his abilities as a super-handcuff with nine carries for 57 yards (6.3 yards-per-carry). Murray would be a no-brainer RB1 if Kamara were to be inactive and has low-Flex value in the current backfield setup, so make sure he’s rostered in your league.
John Brown (WR, Buffalo Bills): Brown posted a respectable six catches on eight targets for 72 yards against his former team, though his day ended on a downer after suffering a fourth-quarter ankle injury. As somewhat of a silver lining, Brown was seen walking on the sidelines after the injury and will have the Bills’ Week 11 bye to rest, so fantasy managers will want to monitor injury reports in the coming days to get a feel for the severity of the ankle ailment.
Jakobi Meyers (WR, New England Patriots): I expected Meyers to have a decent fantasy performance despite the tough matchup against the Ravens, though I couldn’t have predicted that his first-career NFL touchdown would come in the form of a TD pass to Rex Burkhead. The weather was nasty and the matchup was poor, yet Meyers found a way to pull through with five catches on seven targets for 59 yards in addition to the aforementioned TD pass. He was literally the only Patriots WR to receive targets in this game and I think he will continue to see regular involvement in this offense even when Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry are in the lineup. I consider him to be a Flex/WR3 moving forward, with a boosted floor in PPR leagues.
Dallas Goedert (TE, Philadelphia Eagles): Goedert exited the Eagles’ Week 10 contest early on to be checked out in the injury tent, forcing him to miss a chunk of the action and limiting his overall ceiling. It was an awful week for TEs across the board, so the fact that Goedert was ultimately able to return and register four catches (six targets) for 33 yards provided some consolation for fantasy managers. In this TE wasteland, I would still value Goedert as a mid-to-low TE1 rest of the season.
Good luck in Week 11!
(Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire)