(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)
Suddenly, Jay Ajayi finds himself very fantasy relevant. The Eagles signed him this week, and with Jordan Howard banged up, we might suddenly find Ajayi mattering down the fantasy stretch.
Obviously, even in deeper fantasy leagues, Ajayi wasn’t a popular stash. People handcuffing Reggie Bonnafon, or Tony Pollard, or Rashaad Penny, might now be scrambling to pick Ajayi up for the late-season push.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Handcuffing is a lottery ticket, with plenty of upside, but also the obvious downside of a player who is a nonfactor. That’s why you need to be willing to pivot. For example, Bonnafon. He has spent most of the season as the obvious handcuff to Christian McCaffrey, with no other running back of note on the roster. Suddenly, though, the Panthers have Mike Davis. We don’t know for sure, but you’d have to assume that if McCaffrey goes down now, at best Bonnafon is part of a committee, and more likely is that Davis is suddenly the Carolina backup you want. Stashing Bonnafon has become likely pointless.
Handcuffing has massive potential upside. But with that upside comes uncertainty, and you have to have a willingness to pivot. (And maybe pick up Ajayi or Davis if they’re available.)
On to the Week 11 advice.
Season-long league advice
These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players worth dropping at this point in the season. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.
For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.
6. Leonard Fournette, JAC @ IND (RB5) — Expect the heavy volume to continue for Fournette with the Jags returning from bye.
7. Melvin Gordon, LAC vs KC (RB6) — We've seen the scales tip in Gordon's favor in the Chargers backfield. He's back to RB1 status.
8. Tyreek Hill, KC @ LAC (WR2) — Hill was a monster last week. Expect more of the same against the Chargers.
9. Julio Jones, ATL @ CAR (WR3) — It hasn't been the flashiest season, but Jones enters the week with 53 catches and an average of 14.9 yards per reception.
START Brian Hill in medium-sized leagues: Last week, after Devonta Freeman left the game with an injury, Hill received 21 of the team’s 22 touches out of the backfield. With Freeman now out for some time, Hill is locked into a bell cow workload and a high-end RB2 expectation this week.
START Randall Cobb in deep leagues: Cobb is fresh off back-to-back eight-target games and his biggest score (22.6 fantasy points) of the season. In a perfect matchup, he’s a fine desperation-flex-play. With Amari Cooper drawing top shadow cornerback Darius Slay, Cobb should feast against a Detroit defense that is giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers.
SIT Carson Wentz in shallow leagues: Wentz averages 13.1 fantasy points per game since Week 7, and now draws a New England defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to just 9.5 fantasy points per game. He’s an easy fade.
SIT Larry Fitzgerald in medium-sized leagues: In a best possible matchup, Fitzgerald had his best performance since Week 3, totaling 15.1 fantasy points. However, he has close to a worst possible matchup this week – San Francisco is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers.
SLEEPER: Kyle Allen: Even after a shockingly successful Week 10 against the Saints, the Falcons have PFF’s third-worst PFF pass-coverage grade (43.4) and the worst passer rating against (113.2) in the league. Allen, meanwhile, just had a career-best 307 passing yards in the team’s narrow loss to the much-better Packers.
BUST: DeAndre Hopkins: Since joining the Ravens, Marcus Peters has put up a 90.4 PFF coverage grade (best among qualifying corners) and a 27.0 passer rating in coverage (second-best). The Ravens as a team allowed 23.3 points per game before Peters was around, and 16.3 since (despite facing the Seahawks, Patriots, and, yes, Bengals).
BEST: Jared Cook: The Buccaneers have been garbage against the tight end position (a second-most 18.2 PPR points per game allowed), and Cook came back from an extended injury absence last week to set season-highs in targets (9), receptions (6), and yards (74).
WORST: Jared Goff: The Rams had an excellent offensive line in 2018, putting up an 81.8 PFF pass-blocking grade that was seventh-best. That grade has fallen to 54.0 (third-worst this year), with the 27.8-point drop in grade easily the biggest in the league.
ADD Derek Carr in shallow leagues: A friendly upcoming schedule puts Carr in play as a streamer option over the next several weeks.
ADD Derrius Guice in medium-sized leagues: We aren't quite sure how much Washington will use Guice, but he's likely to see plenty of work down the stretch.
ADD Andy Isabella in deep leagues: Isabella is seeing his reps increase with a season-high 26 snaps played in Week 10.
Philip Rivers: With no rushing value at all (since Week 3 he has negative-3 combined rushing yards), Rivers needs big passing numbers to be fantasy-relevant, and he hasn’t offered them much this year. Week 1 was his only game of the season with more than 2 passing scores, and he’s gone without any touchdowns three times this year.
Anthony Miller: Remember when Miller was a sneaky breakout candidate before the year? Remember when he came on strong in Weeks 5-8, with 12 receptions for 183 yards? In two weeks since then, he has 1 reception for 7 yards total.
Carolina Panthers: Carolina is unowned in almost half of all leagues, but they’ve played much better than that might imply. Carolina ranks first in sacks per game (2.3), third in turnovers forced per game (1.7), third in opposing passer rating (78.1), and fifth in fantasy points per game (9.8).
Jacoby Brissett: After seeing enough of the Brian Hoyer Project ®, fantasy owners and Colts fans alike can’t wait to see their starter return to the field. Brissett has been very solid this year with a respectable 0.51 fantasy points per dropback, a mark that is good enough to tie for the ninth-most in the league among qualified quarterbacks.
Sammy Watkins: In Week 1, Watkins scored 46.8 fantasy points on a 20.1 expectation, resulting in the second-biggest differential of the season (+26.7). Since then, however, he’s fallen short of his expectation by 23.2 fantasy points (fourth-worst among wide receivers), and with a negative differential in all six of his full games.
Dalvin Cook UNDER 42.5 receiving yards: Cook has gone over this line in each of his last three games, but has been under this line six times this season. Our numbers like the under, with Cook coming in at 38.5 receiving yards.
Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.
CHALK: Josh Jacobs: Jacobs has been very impressive in his rookie season and his expectations should be as high as ever this week against the Bengals. Leading into this week, he is coming off two straight good fantasy performances with 19.1 and 27 fantasy points. The game projects to be a great gamescript for Jacobs, as the Raiders are 10.5-point favorites.
Jets vs. Redskins: The Jets swiss-cheese secondary is clueless to defending outside wide receivers – 92 receptions (second most), 10 touchdowns (second), and a 110.7 passer rating (third). Why not take a shot on Terry McLaurin (83% wide snap rate), priced at an affordable $5,600 with PFF Fantasy’s 13th-ranked WR/CB matchup?
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: Banking on Allen in back-to-back weeks sure feels like risky business even as I write this. Still, the matchup is a hard one to overlook given his price this weekend. We have the Dolphins graded 28th or worse in coverage, pass rush, and run defense, which means Allen has an opportunity through the air and on the ground.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos: Sutton is averaging 12-plus points per game on both platforms this season and has only failed to reach double-digit points once in nine games this season. He is currently on pace for 78 receptions, 1,230 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The first thing you want out of a running back is playing time. Fournette is second in snaps among running backs, at 516. The second thing you want is a dominating workload. Fournette has gotten 88.8% of the Jaguars’ backfield touches this year, second in the league.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: Since Adam Thielen got hurt early in Week 7, Rudolph has been the No. 4 fantasy tight end, averaging 13.5 PPR points per game. He was essentially not a part of this offense prior to that, but as long as Thielen is banged up and/or out, Rudolph’s a must-start in fantasy.
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens: The Texans are using castoffs from the woeful Oakland (Gareon Conley) and Tampa Bay (Vernon Hargreaves) secondaries as key members of their own. That alone should be enough to show that this is a pass-funnel defense that might discourage as much running. Add in that Ingram has seen his workload fall off as the season has gone on (40.8 offensive snaps per game in Weeks 1-5, 27.8 in Weeks 6-10), and he’s an easy fade this week.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: It would be difficult to argue that Marcus Peters hasn’t been the league’s cornerback since joining the Ravens, with the best qualifying grade (90.4) and a 27.0 passer rating allowed in coverage. The team’s defense has been lights out overall as well, dropping their points allowed per game down by 7.0 points with Peters (from 23.3 to 16.3).