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From the Godfather: Week 11

Sat Nov 16 5:23pm ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
Contributing Writer

Week 11 has four teams on the bye: Tennessee, Seattle, Green Bay and the New York Giants

I’m not sure Miami can be considered the gimme still, having won two games while Cincinnati hasn’t won.  And Washington has only won a game.  The battle for the first pick in next year’s draft is slipping away from the Dolphins.

But let’s be clear, they still have the weakest talent in the league.  So yes, I like some Bills players this week and expect their defense to be a top play.  You can play Josh Allen, Devin Singletary, John Brown and Cole Beasley, and expect plus fantasy points from all.  And if you’re seeking a tight end, Dawson Knox could outpoint a lot of other tight ends this Sunday.  

Another gimme team this week should be the Raiders at home against the winless Bengals.  Cincy is bad on both sides of the ball, so the Raiders defense against the rookie quarterback could put up some points.  Josh Jacobs is a top running back play. Derek Carr is a quarterback streamer. And Darren Waller will be a top tight end play.  

The battle of good versus bad this week is San Francisco against Arizona.  The 49ers will rebound from last week’s first loss.  The Cardinals have played better the last few weeks, but they’ll be running into a buzz saw when they visit San Francisco.  Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be at his best with or without Emmanuel Sanders.  Deebo Samuel has become a reliable receiver and elusive runner after the catch, and a good play for fantasy managers this week.  It would be a bonus if George Kittle could return because Arizona’s defense makes most tight ends look like All Pros.

The other almost good versus bad is Carolina (almost good) against Atlanta (really bad).  I’m not sure how that game against New Orleans happened, but it wasn’t the real Atlanta team we’ve seen this year. I expect that team to be back against the Panthers.  Christian McCaffery is licking his chops. But in what is looking like a very one sided game, a smart approach might be not to overwork your best player.  Kyle Allen could have a big game throwing the ball, and both D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel can pass the century mark in receiving yards.  Plus, Greg Olsen will get his share and red-zone looks.  Not much to like on the Falcons side, but Brian Hill will see the ball a lot with Devonta Freeman out. The Panthers have allowed running backs 12 touchdowns the last four games, making Hill a great sleeper play.

There’s an interesting bad versus bad game this week with the Jets at Washington. I wouldn’t play anyone from either team. Tt could be ugly!

Quarterbacks: Other than those mentioned above, both Drew Brees and Jameis Winston could have big days in their shootout.  The experts predict a lot points being scored in this one, so both quarterbacks  are great plays.  And usually the losing team’s quarterback puts up the most points because they’re playing catch up, making Winston the better play.  A sleeper play could be Nick Foles returning to action for the Jaguars at Indianapolis. Foles' schedule the next four weeks is favorable, so if he’s available on your waivers, go get him.

Running Backs: Ezekiel Elliott and Josh Jacobs are going against two rushing defenses that can’t stop a cold.  Both will have 100-plus rushing days and should visit the end zone. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon gets a Chiefs rushing defense that made Derek Henry look all world last week.  The only thing that could slow him down is playing from behind.  A sleeper pick could be the Eagles back Miles Sanders going against New England.  With Jordan Howard banged up a bit, Sanders has the type game that could exploit the Patriots defense.

Wide Receivers:  Mike Thomas, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should reap the benefit of the shootout, making all good plays.  D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are a similar situation for the Panthers. Julian Edelman returns from the bye and will be unstoppable against the porous Eagles secondary.  A sleeper pick is Courtland Sutton, who could do well against the Vikings if they can find a quarterback to get him the ball. Ravens receiver Marquise Brown will have a big day against the Houston secondary because they don’t have anyone who can keep up with him. Look for Lamar Jackson to drop a couple bombs to him.

Tight Ends: This could be one of Eric Ebron’s two touchdown weeks, especially if Jack Doyle is limited against the Jags.  My sleeper pick is Houston’s Darren Fells at Baltimore.

Defense: Buffalo stays at top my list at Miami. And the Raiders will be good against the hapless Bengals.  But the top play is the Patriots, who have a history of extra good play after a bye and a loss.  I almost feel sorry for the Eagles.

Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to cwiegert@cdmsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.

Player Notes
JuJu Smith-Schuster Dec 12 4:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (foot) left practice early on Thursday and was listed as a limited participant. Smith-Schuster was expected to return in Week 15 against the Bills and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, so this represents a setback for the disappointing receiver. There's now no guarantee that he'll play this Sunday, and even if he does, he's more of a WR4 in a tough matchup against Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White. Smith-Schuster hasn't played since Nov. 14 against the Browns and will have limited upside the rest of the way with Devlin Hodges at quarterback. James Washington and Diontae Johnson will benefit if he misses another contest.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Dec 12 4:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald (concussion) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. He has a chance to play in Week 15 against the Bills on Sunday night, but he must first clear the league's concussion protocol. Even if McDonald is cleared on Friday to play on Sunday evening, fantasy owners should consider him a low-upside TE2. The veteran tight end hasn't gone over 40 yards in a game this season. If he's held out, Nick Vannett should do most of the pass-catching work at tight end for Pittsburgh.

From RotoBaller

Allen Hurns Dec 12 4:10pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle, knee) returned to a full practice on Thursday after being a spectator at Wednesday's session. It puts him on track to play in Week 15 in a sweet matchup against the Giants. It could become even sweeter if one or both of Devante Parker (concussion) and Albert Wilson (concussion) are unable to get cleared from the league's concussion protocol. Hurns has only 29 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but he could become Miami's No. 1 wideout if both Parker and Wilson are inactive this weekend. That'd put Hurns on the streaming map in DFS and deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Dec 12 4:00pm ET

The Baltimore Ravens could rest quarterback Lamar Jackson if they lock up the AFC's No. 1 seed by Week 17. If that's the case, Robert Griffin III would be expected to get the start in Week 17 against the Steelers, even if the season finale is important for the Steelers' chances of sealing a wild-card berth. This is why most fantasy leagues only go until Week 16. If your league goes all the way and you own Jackson, you might be without the league's most dynamic player in your fantasy title game. RG3 has been impressive in limited spurts, but he'd be a huge downgrade to Baltimore's entire offense if he starts, and the Ravens could also choose to rest starters other than Jackson.

From RotoBaller

Alshon Jeffery Dec 12 4:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot), who was officially placed on Injured Reserve on Thursday, is dealing with a Lisfranc injury that is expected to require surgery. He's facing many months of recovery ahead and could be in danger of not being ready for training camp next summer. Jeffery will turn 30 in February and he'll probably be avoided by most fantasy owners going into 2020 drafts after not playing in a full season since 2017. He had just 43 receptions for 490 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games for the Eagles this year. At best, Jeffery will be seen as a WR3 for fantasy owners going into next season.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Dec 12 3:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (hand) took snaps under center at practice on Wednesday, but his right hand was pretty swollen on Monday after he injured it in the Week 14 win over the Patriots. Mahomes has been getting more treatment on his hand since the swelling went down earlier this week, including strengthening it as Week 15 against the Broncos approaches. He admitted that it was a scary situation after Sunday, but there is no fracture in the hand, so Mahomes should be fine to play this Sunday. It's not idea if he's at less than 100 percent against a strong Denver secondary, but Mahomes remains a must-start in fantasy if he's playing.

From RotoBaller

John Ross Dec 12 3:10pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (foot) was at practice again on Thursday, and his foot injury is very minimal. He should be expected to play in Week 15 against the Patriots. A serious deep threat with his top-notch speed, Ross was on his way to a breakout season before he suffered a broken collarbone in Week 4. The 24-year-old had just two catches for 28 yards in his return from Injured Reserve last week against the Browns, and his matchup with the Patriots this weekend is less than ideal. Ross could get behind the defense for a big play or two, but much more likely that he's a fantasy bust for the second straight week.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Renfrow Dec 12 2:50pm ET

Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (ribs) is back at practice on Thursday. Renfrow has been out since Week 12 but has a shot at returning in Week 15 against the Jaguars. The 23-year-old first-year player has 36 receptions (53 targets) for 396 yards and two touchdowns on the year. Oakland just doesn't support anyone of much fantasy relevance in the passing game outside of tight end Darren Waller and receiver Tyrell Williams. You can ignore Renfrow in most leagues if he makes his return this weekend against Jacksonville.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Dec 12 2:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) called Thursday's practice a "win," but he will see how the rest of the week goes before he decides whether he'll play in Week 15 against the Chargers. Thielen is more optimistic about returning than he has been before. It's looking like he'll finally return for the first time since Nov. 3 when he re-injured his leg against the Chiefs. Most fantasy owners will immediately throw Thielen back into their lineups in the fantasy playoffs, but he'll be more of a WR3 if he returns, and he could be at risk of seeing limited snaps if the Vikings choose to ease him back into the fold. His return would be bad news for Olabisi Johnson and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

From RotoBaller

Nelson Agholor Dec 12 2:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee) wasn't seen at practice on Thursday for the second straight day. Unless Agholor gets in a limited practice on Friday, he'll be on his way to missing another game. It hurts even more with Alshon Jeffery on Injured Reserve for the final three games of the season. Even if Agholor were to suit up this Sunday against the Redskins, he'd be a low-upside WR4/flex for desperate fantasy owners. Philly could be using three-wide sets consisting of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward Jr. and Robert Davis this weekend. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will be heavily involved.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Dec 12 2:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (knee) doesn't have a timetable for a return next year after suffering a torn ACL last Sunday night against the Rams. Head coach Pete Carroll said that doctors will wait for inflammation to subside before undergoing surgery on Penny's knee. While he wouldn't say for sure that Penny won't be available for the start of next season, he didn't completely rule it out either. The Seahawks will rely on C.J. Prosise and Travis Homer as the backups to lead ball carrier Chris Carson for the rest of the 2019 season. Carson is a surefire RB1 with heavy volume expected in Week 15 against a suspect Carolina run defense. Penny remains a firm hold in dynasty/keeper leagues despite his devastating injury.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Howard Dec 12 2:20pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) returned to practice with the team on Thursday. He is currently questionable for Week 15 against the Redskins. If he's able to go this week, he could be a sneaky good start against a Redskins Defense allowing almost 135 rushing yards per game. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott have been shouldering the load while Howard has been out the past four games. If Howard returns, he'd likely be one of the team's primary rushers, with Sanders seeing more action in the passing game and Scott being relegated to single-digit touches. Keep an eye on Howard's status through the next few days.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Dec 12 1:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Raheem Mostert has earned his role as the lead ball carrier of late and that "he's given us no choice." Mostert has had double-digit carries each of the last two weeks against the Ravens and Saints and has also caught four passes, including one for a touchdown. Over the last three contests, Mostert has four total touchdowns (three on the ground) and was impressive with 146 ground yards against Baltimore on Dec. 1. He's taken over the backfield from Tevin Coleman and should be considered an RB2 on the rise for Week 15 in a great matchup against the Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 12 1:30pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) returned to practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. The Patriots were just giving Edelman a rest on Wednesday, as he's battled through nagging injuries for much of the season. He's clearly quarterback Tom Brady's favorite target -- eight straight games with double-digit targets -- and he'll be a no-brainer must-start in fantasy against a Bengals squad that the Patriots should be able to take advantage of through the air in Week 15. Edelman isn't in any danger of sitting out this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Dec 12 1:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) said "I'll be ready to go" for Week 15 against the Raiders. Henry has been rested early in the week recently as he navigates a nagging hamstring injury, but he should be fine for this Sunday and is a must-start in all fantasy lineups. The bruising 25-year-old back is once again carrying teams in the fantasy playoffs in 2019 with four straight 100-yard performances. We see no reason why that shouldn't continue against Oakland this weekend as long as Henry plays the entire game.

From RotoBaller

Younghoe Koo Dec 12 1:00pm ET

Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has certainly risen to the occasion since joining the team in November. He's hit 16 of his 18 field goal attempts on the year, with three made field goals in four of the five games he's played with the Falcons. This week, the Falcons face the 49ers and both teams should be able to put some points on the board. Expect Koo to get around three field goal attempts in the game with a few extra-point opportunities to boot, making him a solid starting kicker option once again this week.

From RotoBaller

Atlanta Falcons Dec 12 1:00pm ET

The Falcons Defense faces an extremely tough task in Week 15. They're up against a 49ers team that has put up 36-or-more points in three of the past four weeks. The only time they were held under that number was against the Ravens. Needless to say, the Falcons don't have quite as formidable of a defense as the Ravens. The Falcons will likely cede over 30 points in this game and they may struggle to come up with a turnover, let alone multiple turnovers, to save their day. They should be avoided in all formats.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) is returning to practice on Thursday. It gives him a chance to suit up on Monday night against the Saints. Hilton hasn't seen game action since Nov. 21 against the Texans, though, so he could have his snaps limited if he returns against New Orleans. That would obviously make him a pretty risky fantasy option, especially on a Colts team that is usually run-first. Making the decision even tougher for fantasy owners is that the game is on Monday. Zach Pascal is Indy's No. 1 receiver with Hilton out, so he'd be the plug-and-play option if you take your decision all the way to Monday.

From RotoBaller

Olamide Zaccheaus Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus made waves with his first NFL catch last week. It went for 93 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was his only catch of the game. There might be more opportunities for Zaccheaus going forward as Calvin Ridley (abdominal) is out for the season and Julio Jones (shoulder) is currently questionable for Week 15 as well. Zaccheaus was fourth on the team in offensive snaps amongst receivers in Week 14, behind Jones, Ridley and Russell Gage. If Jones sits this week, Zaccheaus could be a worthwhile dart throw in DFS or as a WR4 in deep leagues. If Jones plays, it's probably best to just keep Zaccheaus on your watch list or add him to your bench.

From RotoBaller

Russell Gage Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage should see his role increase going forward with Calvin Ridley (abdominal) out for the year. Gage has earned at least four targets in each of his past six games, with nine-plus targets in three games over that stretch. Julio Jones (shoulder) and Devonta Freeman (ankle) have been dealing with injuries this week and are both questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. If one or both of them sit, Gage's upside becomes even higher, making him a must-start in PPR and a more realistic non-PPR option as well. Regardless of Jones and Freeman, Gage is a great WR3 or flex play in PPR as he should have a great chance to catch about five passes for 60-plus yards.

From RotoBaller