Fri Nov 15 10:41am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Jackson should continue to roll
We are back to only four teams being on a bye for Week 11, leaving us with a few more options to choose from in DFS. While we generally have plenty of viable targets at most positions, tight end will be a little tricky to navigate with the dearth of quality candidates. Let’s dive into the slate and discuss some players to consider across the price scale, as well as a few to avoid.
Top-tier option: Lamar Jackson, BAL vs. HOU ($7,100): This should be a fun game between two of the better quarterbacks in the league. Jackson is coming off of a steamrolling of the Bengals in which he threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also chipped in 65 yards and a score on the ground. His ability to contribute in both areas leaves him with a high floor. To further strengthen his case, the Texans have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league.
Cheap target: Derek Carr, OAK vs. CIN ($5,800): The Raiders pulled off a big win over the Chargers last week, but Carr had a quiet showing with 218 passing yards and one touchdown. Before that, he had thrown for at least two scores in three straight games. He’s historically been more productive at home and has a great matchup against the Bengals, making him worth a look if you want to take a cheaper route at the quarterback spot.
Player to avoid: Carson Wentz, PHI vs. NE ($6,000): Wentz has seen his production nosedive this season, averaging only 228.9 passing yards per game. On top of that, he’s thrown exactly one touchdown pass in four of his last five games. He does have limited options at wide receiver, which will be the case again in Week 11 with DeSean Jackson (abdomen) out. Alshon Jeffery is also battling an ankle injury, which would really put Wentz behind the eight ball if he can’t play. Add in this matchup against the Patriots’ stout defense and it’s difficult to justify adding him to your entry.
Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. ATL ($8,600): I’m not sure how you can fade McCaffrey at this point. He once again dominated last week, posting 141 total yards and a touchdown against the Packers. He’s recorded at least one touchdown in all but one game this season and has posted three touchdowns in a game twice. That’s the type of production worth paying up for.
Cheap target: Brian Hill, ATL at CAR ($3,000): Expect Hill to be the cheap chalk play of the week. He’s likely going to be busy out of the backfield with Devonta Freeman (foot) expected to be sidelined. Not only that, Ito Smith (neck) is already on IR. Hill played well last week against the Saints, turning 20 carries into 61 yards and catching a 10-yard touchdown pass. With the Panthers allowing the fourth-most rushing yards per game, he could provide tremendous value.
Player to avoid: David Johnson, ARI at SF ($6,500): What a disaster last week was for Johnson. He couldn’t get anything going against the Bucs, rushing for two yards on five carries and catching his only target for eight yards. Even more disturbing is that he was only on the field for 42.9 percent of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake was on the field for 64.3 percent of them. With the 49ers having one of the best defenses in the league, it’s difficult to envision Johnson being successful in what will likely be another limited role.
Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO at TB ($8,300): This has the makings of a perfect-storm matchup. Thomas is already one of the most productive receivers in the league, posting 86 receptions for 1,027 yards and four touchdowns through nine games. Meanwhile, the Bucs have allowed the most passing yards per game. I rest my case.
Cheap target: D.J. Moore, CAR vs. ATL ($6,000): McCaffrey isn’t the only player on the Panthers worth targeting this week. Moore is coming off back-to-back 100 yard games and has now received at least 10 targets in a game five times. He has clearly developed a good relationship with Kyle Allen, who it set to start at quarterback for the rest of the season with Cam Newton (foot) on IR. The Falcons have allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game, so don’t sleep on Moore at this reasonable price.
Player to avoid: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI at SF ($6,100): Fitzgerald took advantage of a cushy matchup against the Bucs last week by catching all eight of his targets for 71 yards. He failed to record a touchdown, though, and hasn’t found his way into the end zone since Week 3. When these two teams met in Week 9, the 49ers held him to four catches for 38 yards. Moore has significantly more upside and is $100 cheaper, so rolling with Fitzgerald is probably not a wise choice.
Top-tier option: Travis Kelce, KC at LAC ($6,300): George Kittle (knee) and Austin Hooper (knee) are expected to be sidelined this week and Evan Engram is on a bye, so we are missing several of the top tight end options. If you want to play it safe at the position, Kelce is probably the way to go. He caught all seven of his targets last week for 75 yards and a touchdown in what was the return of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Even with Mahomes having to miss some time, Kelce has recorded at least 58 receiving yards in all but one game this season and has caught at least seven passes five times.
Cheap target: Jared Cook, NO at TB ($4,500): The Saints offense struggled Week 10, scoring just nine points against the Falcons. Outside of another strong performance from Thomas, Cook also provided value by catching six of 10 targets for 74 yards. Having Drew Brees back under center is key since he’s attempted at least 43 passes in all three of the full games that he has played. Teddy Bridgewater averaged only 33 pass attempts across his five starts. With how poorly the Bucs have defended the pass, Cooks has the potential for a big afternoon.
Player to avoid: T.J. Hockenson, DET vs. DAL ($4,400): The big question mark surrounding the Lions is the status of Matthew Stafford (back), who was sat out last week and didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. If he’s unable to return, Jeff Driskel will once again start at quarterback. Hockenson has only surpassed 50 receiving yards in a game two times this season, leaving him with very little upside, especially if he has to catch passes from Driskel.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney isn't close to signing with a team in free agency, according to a few sources. A growing thought around the league is that Clowney could wait a while to find his new team, perhaps into training camp this summer. He hasn't gotten offers anywhere close to what he wants, which is a multi-year deal in the $20 million a season range. Instead, the consensus is that the Seahawks' offer to re-sign him was in the $13-15 million per-year range. The pass-rusher had only three sacks in 2019 and has a long injury history, which makes things more problematic with the current restrictions on physicals due to the coronavirus. Clowney can be a difference-maker when healthy, but he's a wild card because of his injury history and lack of a double-digit sack season.
The Dallas Cowboys agreed to a three-year deal with a base value of $7.5 million with former Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein on Friday, according to sources. Zuerlein will reunite with special teams coach John Fassel. The signing is bad news for Kai Forbath. Greg the Leg had a down year in 2019 because of a foot injury, making 24 of his 33 field-goal attempts (72.7 percent). He made just five of his 11 tries from 40-49 yards but did make all 42 of his extra points. The 32-year-old has one of the strongest legs in the league and should be able to rebound if healthy in a great environment where he'll get to kick indoors for at least half of his games. Zuerlein has made 82 percent of his field-goal tries in his eight seasons in the league.
The Philadelphia Eagles exercised tight end Zach Ertz's option for the 2021 season on Thursday, according to a source. Ertz will count for $8 million in 2020 and $8.25 million in 2021, and extension talks with him and the team will likely pick up in the coming months. The 29-year-old has proven to be one of the most valuable pass-catching tight ends in the NFL since he was drafted in the second round in 2013. Ertz caught 88 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games in 2019, and he's made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. He's had 70-plus catches and at least 816 yards the last five seasons, culminating in 1,163 receiving yards and eight TDs in 2018. He's a high-end TE1, but the emergence of Dallas Goedert is starting to make him a little bit more risky.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Ameer Abdullah to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Abdullah, a second-round pick of the Lions in the 2015 draft, only had 23 rushing attempts for 115 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and no rushing scores in his first full season with the Vikings in 2019. He added 15 receptions on 21 targets for 88 yards and one touchdown. Behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Michael Boone on the running back depth chart, Abdullah is unlikely to move the needle in fantasy once again in 2020 unless Minnesota's running backs are hit hard by the injury bug.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team will look to bring in a "pass-catching back" in free agency and/or the draft to complement running back Ronald Jones II. Jones was brutal in his rookie season but stepped up in his sophomore campaign to run 172 times for 724 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 16 games (nine starts). He was splitting time with Peyton Barber, although he was the much better back for most of the season. He corralled 31 passes for 309 yards in the passing game, but his pass blocking still leaves a lot to be desired, and Tampa can't afford mistakes with Tom Brady under center in 2020. If Jones is sharing touches once again, especially through the air, it'll significantly lower his fantasy ceiling. Just because Brady is in town won't necessarily mean that Jones will break out. Don't overpay.
The Green Bay Packers are expected to re-sign running back/return man Tyler Ervin on an undisclosed one-year deal. Ervin was picked up off waivers midway through last season and gave the Packers a boost in the return game. The 26-year-old had 11 punt returns for 106 yards and also returned six kickoffs for 160 yards in four games in Green Bay in 2019. He did next to nothing on offense, though, carrying the ball just one time for 10 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards. He's strictly a special teams guy and is behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Dexter Williams on the running back depth chart.
The Baltimore Ravens announced on Thursday that they wouldn't be signing defensive tackle Michael Brockers after being unable to agree on the terms of a contract after his high ankle sprain from last season was flagged on a physical. Instead, he's getting a three-year, $31.5 million deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Rams, according to a source. It's a similar deal to what Baltimore had offered. The 29-year-old returns to the only team he's called home since being the 14th overall pick in 2012. He's not much to look at in fantasy in IDP leagues, but he'll return to strengthen the interior of LA's defensive line along with Aaron Donald.
The belief is that Denver Broncos recently signed running back Melvin Gordon III will be the team's bell-cow back in 2020. We have a long way to go before the start of the regular season and Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman will still get their touches in this crowded backfield, but Gordon could be the lead man in this backfield after coming over from the Chargers in free agency. On the surface, Denver's backfield looks like one to avoid in fantasy because of all the bodies in play, and Gordon's signing surely destroys Lindsay's fantasy upside as an RB2. The question now is how much upside will Gordon have and how large of a share will he command in his first season in Denver? He had a weak 3.8 yards per carry alongside Austin Ekeler in LA in 2019, and the Broncos could change up their plans if Gordon struggles out of the gates as the bell-cow.
Free-agent LB Elijah Lee (49ers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent LB Reggie Ragland (Chiefs) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Friday, March 27.
Free-agent RB Tyler Ervin (Packers) is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers Friday, March 27. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Free-agent DT Michael Brockers (Rams) spurned an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 27, and he agreed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams. The deal is worth up to $31.5 million. Brockers' high ankle sprain from late last year was flagged in his physical with the Ravens, and the two sides couldn't agree to contract alterations.
Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen picked up a first down on only 18 of his 79 catches in 2019. The resulting 22.8-percent first-down rate was the lowest in the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs managed 63 catches - the second-lowest mark of his career - and was charged with a drop on 6.4 percent of his 94 targets - a dramatic increase from two percent in 2018 - but he still finished with a career-high 1,130 receiving yards in 2019 with the Minnesota Vikings due in part to averaging 13.1 yards before the catch per reception. That figure was more than double his 5.6 yards before the catch per reception the previous season.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler hauled in 92 of his 108 targets last season. The resulting 85.2-percent catch rate led the league among all players with at least 50 receptions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shut down the possibility of free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown landing with the Bucs on Thursday. "Theres no room and probably not enough money. Its just not going to happen here. Its not a fit here," Arians said. New quarterback Tom Brady is close with Brown and reportedly wanted him to follow him to his new home in Tampa, but that won't be happening. For one, it's not even known if the NFL will have Brown back amid all of his off-field issues and ongoing investigations. It was mostly a pipe dream all along after Brady and Brown played in one game together for the Patriots in 2019. Having Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top two receivers is already a huge upgrade on what Brady was working with in Boston last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans picked up a first down on 54 of his 67 catches in 2019, while Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker did so on 58 of his 72 receptions. The resulting 80.6 percent first-down rate for both players led the league among players with at least 50 receptions.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce recorded 1,229 receiving yards in 2019, becoming only the fifth tight end in NFL history to top 1,000 yards four times in his career. However, he is the only one ever to do so in four consecutive seasons.
Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon is believed to be in line for a bell-cow role in 2020, according to James Palmer of NFL Network Thursday, March 26.
Fantasy Spin: While promising for Gordon's fantasy value in 2020, it's bad news for those with shares of either Phillip Lindsay or Royce Freeman. Gordon is likely to be low-end RB1 or high-end RB2, while fantasy managers will have to choose between the other two as an RB4/5 later in drafts.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) won't be signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to head coach Bruce Arians Thursday, March 26. 'There's no room and probably not enough money,' Arians said. 'It's just not going to happen here. It's not a fit here.'