The Bears season has been over for a while (2-7 record), with injuries and all-around poor play. As amazing as it sounds, things actually got worse for them on Monday when their No. 1 WR, Alshon Jeffery, was hit with a four-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy. The suspension means he is out until Week 15, which means fantasy owners can cut him in all redraft formats.
As if Jeffery's loss isn't enough for fantasy owners to absorb, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski suffered a punctured lung against the Seahawks on Sunday. Word is he may only miss one game, which is the silver lining to his injury. But it also means his owners will need to scramble to the waiver wire and get themselves a fill-in for Week 11. With most waiver wires being a wasteland of unwanted players, the best options would be guys like Cameron Brate, Jesse James, or Eric Ebron.
Marcus Mariota – Titans: Flash back to Thursday: You're reading the weekly Start 'em/Sit 'em article and you see Marcus Mariota as my #1 Start 'em QB. Did you take my advice, or blow me off because Mariota is far from a QB1? Hopefully you took my advice as he was a central cog in the Titans shocking the Packers, 47-25. Mariota finished with 295 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions in Week 10, and was fantasy football's #3 ranked QB this week.
The Titans are a running team, but the Packers pass defense is a burnable one, for sure. I have concerns about his WR corps, featuring Tajae Sharpe, Rishard Matthews, and Kendall Wright. But with Mariota sporting a 21:8 TD:INT ratio, and averaging 248.2 YPG passing, it's hard to argue with the results. The Titans take on an even worse Colts secondary in Week 11, so keep him locked and loaded in your QB1 spot for another week!
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: Russell Wilson started off the season horribly, failing to reach 300 yards passing until Week 4, then failing to find the endzone in Weeks 6, 7, & 8. After 8 weeks of the season, Wilson had just a single 300-yard game, 5 TDs, and 1 INT to his credit. Fantasy owners were losing faith, and dropping Wilson in leagues around the world. That would prove to be a mistake.
In Week 9 Wilson turned the corner, pounding the Bills for 282 yards passing and 2 TDs. He carried that momentum over to Week 10, when the Seahawks and Patriots would give fans a possible preview of the Super Bowl. Wilson proved he is a 2nd-half [of the season] QB as he threw for 348 yards, 3 TDs, and no INTs on Sunday night.
Wilson looks to finally be healthy, and ready to lead fantasy owners into the final stretch of the fantasy season. He'll be a QB1 next week against the Eagles, but one more in the 7-10 range for me.
Ezekiel Elliot – Cowboys: I normally don't like putting elite players on this list, but Elliot was so amazing that even I had to give the Cowboys RB some love this week! Elliot looked like a man possessed against the Steelers, running the ball 21 times for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns, and hauling in 2 passes for 95 yards and another touchdown. His 2nd rushing TD came in the final seconds on a run that EVERYONE in the world knew was going to be a run play to kill time on the clock. Rather than settle for a measly field goal, Zeke took the ball 32 yards for a touchdown.
Elliot is the offensive Rookie of the Year, that is a given. Fantasy owners who were lucky enough to get him with their first pick know exactly how Jerry Jones feels after he took Elliot with the 4th overall pick in this year's draft. Elliot is an every-week locked and loaded RB1, regardless of the matchup.
Ryan Mathews – Eagles: Mathews hasn't been worth owning after Week 2, with a combined rushing total of 178 yards over six games from Week 3 – 9. However, that all changed this week when the waiver wire RB ran through the turnstiles dressed as Falcons defensive linemen for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also chipped in 2 catches for 30 yards, just to pad the fantasy stats, I'm sure.
The Eagles RB situation is a muddy one, with Mathews, Darrin Sproles, and even Wendell Smallwood splitting touches. Mathews looked like the lead back this week, but that could change as the Eagles look like a team that will ride whatever RB fits the offensive scheme best that week. Regardless who is No. 1 on the depth chart, it's going to be hard to recommend anyone next week as they take on the Seahawks, in Seattle.
Stefon Diggs – Vikings: Diggs is having himself quite a nice 3-game run, piling up 42 targets, 34 receptions, 320 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Week 10 accounted for 15 of the targets, 13 receptions, and 164 of the receiving yards. The Vikings were drawing up play after play for Diggs, and he was lucky enough to avoid facing Josh Norman for most of the game.
Diggs is locked into a feature role with Sam Braford slinging the ball around like a guy who has been in Minnesota for 5 years already. The Cardinals are next up on the schedule for the Vikings, making Diggs a solid WR2 for Week 11.
Allen Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson is hitting his stride in fantasy football, and just in the nick of time for his owners as we are in the final stretch of the season before the fantasy playoffs. A-Rob was able to draw 13 targets against the Texans' tough pass D, turning those targets into 9 catches, 109 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, and a 2-point conversion.
Over the past two games Robinson is looking like the WR1 we drafted him to be. He has back-to-back touchdown performances, with 75-plus yards receiving in each game. Next week he'll draw a Lions secondary that has given up a total of 130 receptions (9th-most), 1,562 receiving yards (15th), and 9 touchdowns (15th) to WRs so far this season.
Delanie Walker – Titans: Walker had himself a huge game on Sunday, reeling in 9 of 11 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. It's not usual for a TE not named Rob Gronkowski to see 10-plus targets, and it's even more unusual for a TE to put up 100-plus yards and a touchdown. When you can get that out of your fantasy TE, take it and run like a bandit!
Walker has huge upside now that Mariota is finding his stride within the Titans offense. With Gronkowski likely out for Week 11, Walker slides into the elite level of TEs. He's a must-own player in DFS leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense: The Bucs showed fantasy owners that streaming whatever defense the Bears face is a good option, holding them to 10 points while racking up 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 recovered fumbles, a safety, and a defensive touchdown. Those stats will be hard for any defense to reproduce, but the Bears starting lineup is right down there with the Browns in terms of playmaking talent.
Chances are you missed the boat on the Bucs defense this week, as did I. They are in the 15-17 range for fantasy defenses this season, so a game like this is what is termed as "catching lightning in a bottle."
- The Bears play the Giants in Week 11, and the Browns take on the Steelers. Both defenses should be targeted off the waiver wire if available.
Tom Brady – Patriots: On the other side of that Seahawks-Patriots battle we have Tom Brady, and he didn't fare nearly as well as his counterpart, Russell Wilson. Brady managed to throw for 316 yards, but failed to reach the endzone while throwing his first interception of the year. It wasn't that Brady was bad, but the goose-egg for touchdowns was a nail in his coffin for the fantasy losers list.
Next week the Patriots take on the 49ers, and my bet is he will be without Gronkowski. He has plenty of other weapons at WR to throw to, and Martellus Bennett is just a notch below Gronk as far as TE talent goes. Brady is an every-week fantasy starter in any format, so his owners will have to just chalk this one up as an off week.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Speaking of every-week fantasy starters, Matt Ryan is on top of that list this year. In his 9th NFL season, Ryan is having the best year of his career thus far, racking up 3,247 passing yards (324.7 YPG), 24 TDs, and just 5 INTs. Ryan is fantasy football's #1-ranked QB through 10 weeks of the season, but he let Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers catch up just a little this week after he finished with 267 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT against the Eagles.
The Eagles are good at pressuring the QB (25.0 sacks), and forcing bad throws that they can turn into good interceptions (9). Ryan looked good for the most part, but the Falcons were just outplayed by a good defense this week. The Falcons have a bye in Week 11, which will give him time to regroup and be ready for a tough matchup with the Cardinals in Week 12.
Jonathan Stewart – Panthers: Stewart had a tough matchup against the Chiefs defense that is ranked 15th against fantasy RBs this season. Stewart is one of those RBs who is becoming touchdown-dependent, with no 100-yard rushing games this season and a non-factor in the passing game. This week he managed just 39 yards on 13 carries, numbers that are becoming all too common for him this season.
Stewart faces a Saints defense next week that is generously giving up 24.0 PPG allowed to RBs, 4th-most in the NFL. He is not much more than a boom-or-bust RB2, that will only boom if he is able to find the endzone.
Kapri Bibbs – Broncos: I tried to warn people not to buy too much into the big-box website hype about Bibbs after he finished Week 9 with one good play that resulted in a 69-yard touchdown catch. The problem is, people still think those websites are the leaders in sports knowledge, and they simply aren't!
Bibbs finished Week 10 with 7 carries for 22 yards, numbers that sound about right for a career practice squad guy who is only on the active roster because of several injuries. You will NOT catch lightning in a bottle with Bibbs, and all I can do is shake my head and say "I told you so."
Mike Evans – Buccaneers: Evans is the NFL's most targeted player this season (108), which naturally makes him a big-time fantasy asset because targets lead to receptions, yards, and touchdowns. It also helps his value that the Bucs have virtually nobody else at WR that can make plays. This week, however, was a struggle for Evans as he hauled in 4 of 5 targets for 66 yards.
Evans has become someone you can count on for a touchdown or two most weeks, but this was not one of those weeks. Next week he draws the Chiefs and Marcus Peters, who is tied for the league lead with 5 interceptions. Be aware, and beware.
Alshon Jeffery – Bears: Jeffery was a bust in Week 10, drawing a respectable 9 targets, but managing to snag just 4 of them for 47 empty yards. As if that wasn't bad enough, he was hit with a P.E.D. suspension on Monday. Even if Jeffery weren't suspended, the play of Jay Cutler was killing his fantasy value going forward.
With Jeffery out, the Bears are the new Browns in terms of defenses to target against them. The Bears are down to Eddie Royal and Cameron Meredith as their No. 1 & 2 WRs, and Cutler only has the starting job at QB because the Bears have nobody else to throw in there. The Bears' only hope now is the Browns figure out how to win a few, and play themselves out of the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Rob Gronkowski – Patriots: Gronk is an every-week fantasy beast at a position that is in short supply of consistent producers. He's been on a tear since Tom Brady returned in Week 5, averaging 118.3 YPG receiving, and scoring in 3 of the 4 games before the Week 9 bye. This week he faced the Seahawks and their Legion of Boom secondary, and was held to 3 catches for 56 empty yards.
Worse than the lack of fantasy numbers for this week, Gronkowski was injured and will likely miss Week 11 because of it. Hopefully he can return for Week 12 at full strength, but his owners will want to grab someone off the waiver wire on Wednesday when it opens.
Minnesota Vikings defense: The Vikings defense has been one of the better fantasy defenses this season, ranking in the top 3 depending on your scoring set-up. This week they took on the Redskins, an offense that is neither a pushover, nor an offense that scares you. Despite how well the Vikings have played this season, they came up lame this week as they allowed 26 points while managing just a single sack and a recovered fumble.
Next week the Vikings take on the Cardinals, and a stud young RB in David Johnson. Carson Palmer is standing in the light at the end of the career tunnel, and Larry Fitzgerald is dealing with a knee injury that is surely going to list him as questionable for Week 11. Fitz is expected to play, but will be at less than 100 percent. The Vikings fantasy defense is worth a play in Week 11 as a low-end Def1.