Below are notes covering each of the NFL’s 32 teams from a fantasy perspective. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for Week 11. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Throughout this piece, I’ll be referencing “OTD.” OTD stands for opportunity-adjusted touchdowns. It is a statistic that weighs every carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s scoring opportunity. For example, if a player has an OTD of 3.0, it means that a league-average player who saw the same number of carries/targets in the same area of the field would have scored three touchdowns.
In two full games with Drew Stanton filling in for Carson Palmer at quarterback, Larry Fitzgerald has caught 15 of 23 targets for 183 yards and no touchdowns. Fitzgerald was the No. 4 scoring fantasy wide receiver during the seven weeks Palmer played and sits 11th with Stanton in the lineup. At the very minimum, Stanton is getting Fitzgerald the ball enough that he remains in the WR2 mix. Of course, Stanton is questionable to play in Week 11, which means Blaine Gabbert may get the start. In five games as the 49ers’ starter last year, Gabbert directed a massive 30 percent of his throws (8.8 per game) at slot man Jeremy Kerley. Kerley was fantasy’s No. 25 scoring wide receiver during the span. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, happens to be Arizona’s slot receiver and is much better at football than Kerley. Fitzgerald should be in lineups regardless of the quarterback.
Austin Hooper caught all six of his targets for 49 yards and one touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday. Though Hooper has been relatively quiet since his 128-yard effort in Week 1, the second-year tight end has now handled six-plus targets during five of his past six games. Including the Week 7 dud (one catch, 6 yards), Hooper sits eighth among tight ends in fantasy points during the six weeks. Hooper has been on the field for 81 percent of the Falcons’ offensive plays this season and is finally seeing consistent targets. He’s a fringe TE1.
Baltimore has had a third wide receiver on the field for 60 percent of its pass plays this season. That’s the league’s third-lowest mark. The Ravens have had two or more tight ends on the field for a league-high 39 percent of pass plays. That obviously doesn’t bode well for 2015 first-round bust Breshad Perriman. Even with Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin missing time with injuries, Perriman was on the field for only 65 percent of the team’s pass plays and handled 3.3 targets per game during the eight games he was active prior to Baltimore’s Week 10 bye. Incredibly, Perriman has caught only seven of 26 targets for 54 yards on the year. His horrific 27 percent catch rate is worst among the 130 players with 10-plus targets this season. Perriman is worth holding only in dynasty leagues.
Kelvin Benjamin made his Bills debut on Sunday, playing 38 of the team’s 45 offensive snaps in a 47-10 loss to the Saints. Benjamin was on the field for all but four pass plays and paced the team in targets (six), receptions (three) and receiving yards (42). This game made it pretty evident that Benjamin is immediately stepping in as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Buffalo is struggling in recent weeks and now averaging 1.9 offensive touchdowns per game (20th in the league). Benjamin will also have his hands full against Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams in Los Angeles this week. Moving forward, Benjamin is best-viewed as a flex.
Christian McCaffrey put up 50 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight touches against the Dolphins on Monday night. The rookie back now ranks sixth in the NFL in receptions (first among running backs by 11 over James White) and sits ninth at the position in fantasy points. McCaffrey hasn’t been particularly involved as a rusher (69 carries, 206 yards), but his heavy workload in the passing game supplies him with a high floor. McCaffrey has scored five touchdowns since Week 5 and should obviously be locked into lineups in all formats.
Dontrelle Inman made his Bears debut on Sunday. The ex-Charger played 54 of 57 possible snaps and was targeted eight times. Inman turned the heavy usage into six catches for 88 yards and posted his first top-100 fantasy week of the season. Though he was buried on the Chargers’ depth chart this season, Inman posted 810 yards on 58 catches and was a top-50 fantasy wide receiver in 2016. Inman’s role is large enough that he’s worth adding in 12-team leagues, but he’s no more than a fringe flex option against Darius Slay and the Lions this week.
John Ross was active, but was limited to five snaps and failed to catch his lone target against the Titans on Sunday. Ross has now played 15 snaps in three games this season, registering a total of one carry and two targets. The 40-yard dash champ and ninth-overall pick in April’s draft is inexplicably uninvolved in the Bengals’ offense that ranks 22nd in touchdowns and dead last in field goal attempts this season. Ross is worth holding only as a high-ceiling end-of-bench player in the event that he’s promoted into a large role later this season.
David Njoku was limited to one catch for 3 yards on Sunday, but the rookie tight end was targeted six times in the game. After failing to eclipse four targets in a single game during his first five outings, Njoku has seen at least five targets in four straight games. The boost in usage is great news, but the problem is that it hasn’t turned into many catches. Njoku has caught seven of 23 targets for 80 yards and no touchdowns during the span. Njoku actually ranks 26th in the entire NFL in OTD (4.1), which explains his three touchdowns, but as long as the Browns’ quarterback situation is a mess, the rookie is no more than a touchdown-dependent TE2.
We must speculate no more. With Ezekiel Elliott actually suspended on Sunday, we got our first look at the Cowboys’ backfield sans the star back. Alfred Morris was the starter, as expected, but was limited to 11 carries for 53 yards and no targets on 20 snaps. With Dallas playing from behind throughout the afternoon, Rod Smith paced the unit with 37 snaps. He was held to 14 yards on three carries and caught four of six targets for 15 yards. Darren McFadden surprisingly played only one snap, carrying the ball once for a 2-yard loss. Especially with Philadelphia’s tough defense up next on the slate, this is a backfield to avoid, if possible. Morris is getting the bulk of the carries, but minimal passing-game work. The opposite can be said for Smith. Neither is anything more than a desperation flex in Week 11.
Emmanuel Sanders caught six of 10 targets for 137 yards against New England on Sunday night. It was Sanders’ first full game since he went down with an injury in Week 6. During the five games Sanders has played in full this season, he has totaled 26 catches for 327 yards and two touchdowns on 44 targets. He’s averaging 8.8 targets per game and sits 13th among wide receivers in fantasy points during the span. Sanders has finished each of the past three seasons as a top-21 fantasy receivers and, now back to full health, is back in the WR2 mix every week.
The Lions have had a third wide receiver on the field for 83 percent of their pass plays this season. That the league’s sixth-highest mark and bodes extremely well for Kenny Golladay. The rookie receiver returned from a five-game absence and caught two of three targets for 64 yards on 10 snaps on Sunday. The 10 snaps is an obvious problem, but he’s a good bet to move past TJ Jones on the depth chart and back into the No. 3 job in short order. A full go during Weeks 1-3. Golladay caught seven of 14 targets for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot-4 receiver has a massive ceiling and the Lions’ wide receiver-friendly scheme will allow him plenty of opportunities to run routes. He’s worth a bench spot.
Both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery left Sunday’s game with an injury. That opened the door for fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams to rack up 20 carries for 67 yards and a 7-yard catch on 35 snaps in relief. If Jones and Montgomery are both out this week against Baltimore, Williams will be the Packers’ lead back, with seventh-round pick Devante Mays and fullback Aaron Ripkowski mixing in. Williams hasn’t been particularly impressive this season (3.3 YPC on 31 carries) and will face a tough Ravens’ defense this week, but he shouldn’t have much trouble pushing for 15-plus touches. That’s enough to put him in the RB2 mix.
In two full games with Tom Savage starting in place of injured Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins has 13 catches for 197 yards and one touchdown on 30 targets. Though the efficiency is pretty terrible, the heavy volume has allowed Hopkins the fifth-most fantasy points among wide receivers during the span. Hopkins is fantasy’s top-scoring wide receiver by 20 points over Antonio Brown this season and remains a must-start regardless of the team’s weak quarterback situation. That said, Hopkins is very much a bust candidate with shadow coverage via Patrick Peterson on tap this week. Avoid him in DFS cash games.
Defense/Special Teams units have totaled an NFL-high 124 fantasy points (12.4 per game) against the Colts this season. The Colts have surrendered seven top-eight fantasy weeks, four of which have come during its past four games. The Colts are averaging only 17.9 points per game (eighth-lowest), but the main culprit has been sacks. Indianapolis quarterbacks have been sacked 39 times, which is seven more than any other team. The Colts are on a bye this week, but follow with games against the Titans, Jaguars, Bills, Broncos, Ravens and Texans. Consider those D/ST units when Indianapolis is on the slate.
Leonard Fournette returned after a two-game absence in Week 10. The rookie racked up a healthy 19 touches in the game, but was held to 46 yards and no touchdowns by a tough Chargers defense. Fournette was on the field for 43 snaps and was targeted on four of 21 pass routes. Fournette and T.J. Yeldon were active at the same time for the first time and Yeldon handled three carries and eight targets on 30 snaps. Chris Ivory and Corey Grant combined to play seven offensive snaps. Fournette has been active for seven games this season and sits fifth among running backs in fantasy points during those weeks. Even with Yeldon helping out on passing downs, Fournette remains a solid RB1 play.
The Chiefs have had a third wide receiver on the field for 58 percent of their pass plays this season. That’s the league’s second-lowest mark, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that Kansas City has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in the category each of the past three seasons. Since Chris Conley went down with a torn Achilles in Week 5, Demarcus Robinson (208 snaps) and Tyreek Hill (175) have been the Chiefs’ top-two wide receivers. De’Anthony Thomas (88), Albert Wilson (46 in two games), Marcus Kemp (eight) and Jehu Chesson (four) have played a minimal role and aren’t close to fantasy relevance.
Undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler registered 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 touches against the Jaguars on Sunday. Ekeler paced the Chargers in both rushing and receiving. After playing seven percent of the team’s snaps during his first six games, Ekeler has been on the field for more than 30 percent of the plays in three straight games. Though that’s not enough for standalone fantasy value, Ekeler’s increased role has meant less work for struggling Melvin Gordon. Gordon’s carry share has dropped from 75 percent to 63 percent and his targets from 18 percent to 12 percent. Gordon was fantasy’s No. 4 scoring running back from Weeks 1-6, but sits 16th during the three weeks Ekeler has played a larger role. Considering Gordon is averaging 3.8 YPC and 5.2 YPT, compared to a 5.0 YPC and 8.1 YPT for Ekeler, don’t be surprised if Ekeler’s role increases. Gordon is still a back-end RB1 for the time being.
The worst team to start your defense/special teams unit against? As literally no one would’ve guessed two months ago, it’s the juggernaut that is Sean McVay’s Rams. D/ST units facing Los Angeles have totaled seven points this season, which is tied with the Patriots for fewest in the league. That includes five games with negative points. D/STs used against the Rams are averaging a 20.9 weekly finish and have posted one finish better than 14th. Four of the next five games for the Rams will be against fellow NFC contenders in Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Seattle. All four of those defenses have played well this season and, granted the Rams’ schedule has been relatively light thus far, but you may want to think twice before firing those D/ST units up against the red-hot Rams’ offense.
The Dolphins have had a third wide receiver on the field on 86 percent of their pass plays this season. That’s the league’s third-highest mark and explains how Kenny Stills has been able to be on the field for 93 percent of the team’s snaps and 97 percent of the pass plays this season. Jarvis Landry has been on the field for 96 percent of the snaps and DeVante Parker sits at 91 percent during the weeks he’s been active and healthy. Even in a Miami offense that is dead last in the NFL in touchdowns, all three receivers have produced as top-40 fantasy options this season. Landry and Parker should be locked into weekly lineups and Stills is in the flex mix.
One of the league’s most-improbable breakout players of the past decade, Adam Thielen was tremendous again on Sunday. The 27-year-old wideout caught eight of 12 targets for 166 yards and one touchdown against a Redskins defense that has been soft against slot receivers, but very good against wideouts overall this season. Thielen is now the No. 3 scoring fantasy wide receiver this season after posting the eighth-most points during the 11 games he played at least two-thirds of the snaps last season. Needless to say, Thielen is legit. He’s handling a massive 28 percent target share (9.3 per game) and has been elite fantasy asset despite only scoring two touchdowns. Even in a tougher matchup against the Rams this week, Thielen is a WR1.
This was a bit hard to fathom considering his hot start to the season, but Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch against Denver on Sunday night. Gillislee entered the game averaging 12.3 carries per game, but had yet to be targeted. New England has called run on 72 percent of his snaps this season, which has led to 98 attempts on 146 plays (a 67 percent rate). It’s possible Gillislee will be active in future weeks, but he’s not a fantasy option. After scoring four touchdowns on 33 carries during Weeks 1-2, Gillislee has no touchdowns on 65 tries. He should be on waivers.
The Saints’ defense continues to roll, holding the Bills to only three points prior to a garbage time touchdown during Sunday’s 47-10 shellacking in Buffalo. During its current seven-game win streak, New Orleans has held six opponents to 17 or fewer points. Though the unit is clearly much-improved from past years, it’s important to note the team’s schedule during the span: Carolina, Miami, Detroit, Green Bay (sans Aaron Rodgers), Chicago, Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Life doesn’t get much easier for a defense. In its more challenging games, New Orleans allowed 29 points to Minnesota in Week 1, 36 points to New England in Week 2 and 38 points to Detroit in Week 5. The Saints’ defensive line has been terrific and rookie Marshon Lattimore has been nothing short of a superstar, but there are still voids here, specifically at linebacker and safety. There’s room for cautious optimism, but we’ll learn a lot about this unit during this week’s meeting with the Redskins, which is followed by a trip to Los Angeles to play the surging Rams.
Orleans Darkwa has handled at least half of the Giants’ carries in four consecutive games. During that span, he has posted 60 carries for 293 yards (4.9 YPC) and eight catches for 52 yards on eight targets. Despite failing to score a touchdown in New York’s ineffective offense, Darkwa sits 14th among running backs in fantasy points during the four weeks. Darkwa is now averaging 4.6 YPC on 152 career carries, which is the best mark by a Giants’ tailback since the Ben McAdoo era began in 2014. Running backs not named Darkwa have averaged 3.7 YPC on 1,206 carries during the span. Darkwa has clearly earned the team’s lead back job and, although he plays a minimal passing-down role, he’s still seeing enough carries to warrant flex consideration.
Robby Anderson scored his fifth touchdown of the season on Sunday and is suddenly up to 16th among wide receivers in fantasy points this season. Because the Jets are one of four teams set for a bye this week, Anderson does have a game up on most receivers, but his production has certainly been enough that he has joined the WR3 mix. Anderson has been on the field for 87 percent of the Jet’s pass plays and is handling 21 percent of the targets (6.3 per game). Anderson’s 3.3 OTD suggests he’s a bit over his head in the touchdown department, but his 10 end zone targets rank him in a tie for fifth in the entire NFL. Anderson will be a flex option against Carolina when the Jets next play in Week 12.
The Raiders have had a third wide receiver on the field for an NFL-high 89 percent of their pass plays this season. Believe it or not, slot man Seth Roberts has actually played six more snaps and run 16 more routes than Michael Crabtree this season. No. 4 WR Cordarrelle Patterson has also been busy, seeing the field on 43 percent of the team’s pass plays. Roberts (28 targets) and Patterson (10 carries, 17 targets) are well behind both Crabtree (56 targets) and Amari Cooper (73 targets) in terms of touches, but Roberts’ heavy usage is enough to keep him on the radar as a desperation flex in the deepest of leagues.
The Eagles have had a third wide receiver on the field on 64 percent of their snaps when passing this season. That’s the league’s fifth-lowest mark and helps explain why Torrey Smith has completely disappeared from fantasy relevance. Smith was running as the team’s No. 2 receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery during Weeks 1-3, but Nelson Agholor has run ahead of Smith in six consecutive games. Smith has a total of 17 receiving yards during his past four games and has eclipsed 30 yards in only two games this season. Smith remains well off the fantasy radar.
The Steelers have one of the NFL’s best records at 7-2, so it may surprise you that they rank 20th in the NFL in offensive touchdowns per game at 1.9. The Steelers have scored exactly two offensive touchdowns during seven of their nine games. Though the lack of scoring is a concern, keep in mind that Pittsburgh has played six of its first nine games on the road (where Ben Roethlisberger has struggled each of the past three years). On top of that, the Steelers’ home opponents have been Minnesota, Jacksonville and Cincinnati, all of which have been good defensively this year. Pittsburgh is a good bet to get back in track against Tennessee and Green Bay at Heinz Field over the next two weeks.
Garrett Celek caught four of six targets for 67 yards and one touchdown against the Giants on Sunday. The key word there? Giants. New York is allowing a league-high 19.2 fantasy points per game to the tight end position, which was why Celek landed on many sleeper lists last week. Celek played a significant role in the passing game only because starter George Kittle was out with a leg injury. The 49ers are on a bye this week and Kittle very well could return in Week 12. Especially with Seattle on tap following the week off, Celek isn’t even worth adding in leagues that start two tight ends.
Jimmy Graham caught six of nine targets for 27 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Arizona in Week 10. The veteran tight end is averaging only 5.6 yards per target this season, but his six touchdowns have powered him to the fifth-most fantasy points at the position. Though Graham’s underwhelming yardage total is a concern, his scoring production is legit. Graham sports a 7.1 OTD, which is tops among all non-running backs and fourth-overall in the entire NFL. In fact, it suggests he could have even more than the six touchdowns he has already scored. Graham has registered 13 end zone targets, which trails only Dez Bryant for most in the NFL. Graham remains a strong TE1 play.
After he out-snapped Doug Martin 22-to-17 in Week 9, Peyton Barber was expected to resume a significant offensive role in Week 10. He did not. Barber was only on the field for seven plays, carried the ball twice and wasn’t targeted. Martin (33 snaps, 20 carries, one target), Charles Sims (20 snaps, three carries, four targets) and even Jacquizz Rodgers (six snaps, three carries, zero targets) were more involved. Martin is averaging a terrible 3.3 YPC on 93 carries this season, so it’s possible Barber’s role increases later this season, but he doesn’t need to be rostered for the time being.
The Titans have had a third wide receiver on the field for an NFL-low 58 percent of their pass plays this season. Though the absence of Corey Davis might seem like a factor here, consider that the team’s mark has actually been lower (54 percent) during two games since Davis’ return to the lineup. During Weeks 9-10, Rishard Matthews (74 routes run on 82 pass plays) and Davis (73) have been the team’s clear top-two receivers, with Eric Decker (40 routes) playing a reduced role. Davis’ massive upside and heavy usage puts him in the WR3 mix moving forward. Matthews is a flex flier and Decker is an end-of-bench player at best.
Maurice Harris produced what very well may go down as the 2017 catch of the year on Sunday, but the second-year wide receiver should not be added on waivers this week. Harris went undrafted last season and was signed off the practice squad last week as depth with Brian Quick (concussion) out. He was on the field for 39 of the team’s 73 offensive snaps, handling only three targets on 23 pass routes. Josh Doctson (68 snaps) and Jamison Crowder (58) both ran well ahead of him and Ryan Grant (nine) likely would’ve as well if not for an early-game injury. Harris did play more snaps than Terrelle Pryor Sr. (27), but with so many mouths to feed in this offense, Harris is a poor bet to play anything more than a situational role.