- The fantasy football playoffs are inching closer, and it's more important than ever to set the perfect lineup.
There are just three weeks left in the typical fantasy regular season, but there’s still plenty of value available on the waiver wire. It may be November, but there are still players who can be had in most leagues who could be major factors in the stretch run, as well as the fantasy playoffs. Week 11’s shopping list begins with a couple of running backs who fit that bill.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens
The Ravens made Woodhead a priority this offseason, signing him on the first day of free agency back in March. They had him healthy for all of one possession before he suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on IR, with a designation to return. That return is just around the corner. Woodhead practiced last week for the first time since injuring his hamstring, and remains on pace to get back on the field in Week 11. When he does return, he’ll get right back into the role he was supposed to have all season. Javorius Allen has played decently as the Ravens primary pass-catching back, but he’s not nearly the weapon Woodhead is. Alex Collins has emerged on the ground, and his workload likely isn’t in any danger, but Woodhead will make Allen obsolete. Woodhead is obviously a major player in PPR formats, but there should be enough opportunity through the air and on the ground for him to be a factor in standard leagues, too. Woodhead can be the type of player who helps swing regular season and fantasy playoff championships, so long as he can stay on the field.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers
Aaron Jones was carted off the field in the Packers 23–16 win over the Bears in the first quarter with a knee injury. While the Packers have yet to offer much information on the severity, it’s a good bet that he’ll miss some time. Ty Montgomery took advantage of his opportunity, rushing for a touchdown shortly after Jones left the game, but he aggravated the rib injury he suffered earlier this season, and missed the entire second half. Williams shouldered the load the rest of the game, running for 67 yards on 20 carries. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but the rookie out of BYU is, for the time being, atop the Packers depth chart. If both Jones and Montgomery are out next week, Williams will get the start against the Ravens. So long as those two backs are on the shelf, Williams will be on the RB2 radar. He’s a clear add this week, sharing co-equal status with Woodhead as the two biggest priorities on the waiver wire.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
Are you a Melvin Gordon owner who has already secured, or who will likely earn, a playoff berth? Ekeler should be a high priority for you this week. Handcuffing your backs is one of the true sucker strategies early in the season because it limits your roster’s upside precisely when you need it most. Now that the playoffs are around the corner, though, handcuffing your key backs is critical. Ekeler had the best game of his young career in Week 10, running 10 times for 42 yards, catching five passes for 77 yards, and scoring two touchdowns. He had a costly fumble late in the fourth quarter, but he seems to have carved out a larger role in the offense for the final two months of the season. He’s not going to pass Gordon on the depth chart, but he could garner enough touches from week to week to be on the flex radar. And, if Gordon goes down, he’d step right into the starting role. Given the nagging injuries the third-year back out of Wisconsin has dealt with this season, that is enough of a possibility to make Ekeler a name to know in all fantasy leagues. If you own Gordon, you need to grab Ekeler.
Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings
Murray turned in another solid performance in a Vikings win, running for 68 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. In his last four games, he has 15, 18, 19 and 17 totes, leading the Vikings in every game. He doesn’t always turn that volume into strong fantasy numbers, but, at this point, his owners can bet on the volume being there. That makes him an RB2 threat every week, and likely gives him an RB3 or low-end flex ceiling. The Vikings host the Rams next week in what is surprisingly a huge game at the top of the NFC standings. As good as the Rams have been this season, teams have been able to run on them. They rank 30th against running backs in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA).
Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins
Kelley left the Redskins Week 10 loss to the Vikings with what the team described as a knee/ankle injury. He was in a walking boot after the game, and could be looking at an extended absence. Perine stepped into the breach on Sunday, racking up nine carries for 35 yards and one catch for 25 yards. As good as Chris Thompson has been for Washington this season, the team has shown no appetite for changing his role, despite multiple injuries to Kelley. It would be silly to expect the Redskins to change that course this time around. Should Kelley miss time, Perine would likely inherit his role, in full. Perine hasn’t been effective in his limited opportunities this season, but the volume guarantee would have him on the RB2/3 and flex radars as long as Kelley is out.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
Burkhead, one of the most popular deep sleepers in the fantasy football community this summer, finally appears to be making his move. He was heavily involved in the Patriots offense in their Week 10 thrashing of the Broncos, carrying the ball 10 times for 36 yards, catching three passes for 27 yards, and scoring the team’s first touchdown of the night. Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch, opening the door for Burkhead to have fantasy relevance the rest of the season. Dion Lewis and James White aren’t going anywhere—the former had 14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Broncos, while the latter caught three balls, including one that resulted in a touchdown—but there’s enough space in the offense for Burkhead to get on the flex radar. His influence could decrease when Chris Hogan returns from a sprained shoulder, but he’s worth grabbing of the waiver wire, even if he only has short-term fantasy value.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers
When is three catches on five targets for 42 yards a two-point conversion an encouraging stat line? When you’re the 2017 version of Bryant. This season has been a nightmare for the fourth-year receiver out of Clemson. He has been passed by rookie Juju Smith-Schuster in the pecking order in Pittsburgh’s offense, and reportedly requested a trade last month. Heading into play in Week 10, Bryant had 18 catches for 234 yards and one touchdown. So, yeah, 3-5-42 with a two-point conversion is a step forward for Bryant. What’s more, Bryant had his man beat deep for what could have been a long touchdown in the first quarter, but Ben Roethlisberger underthrew him, resulting in an interception. The fact that a target like that still exists for Bryant, though, is more reason to bet on him over the Steelers final seven games. From a fantasy point of view, he’s the one widely available receiver who has the upside to eventually command a starting spot in all formats. At this stage of the season, that’s the brand of player you want to target on the waiver wire. With byes all but in the rear-view mirror, startable depth is no longer important. You want to focus your resources on your starting lineup. In a perfect, albeit unlikely, future, Bryant is back in the good graces of fantasy owners.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans
Davis took another step forward in his second game back from a hamstring injury, leading the Titans with 10 targets. He caught just four of them for 48 yards, but the fact that he was so popular bodes quite well for the future. He also nearly scored the first touchdown of his career, but fumbled as he reached for the end zone, resulting in a touchback. Still, Davis is in a great spot to be a WR3 with a WR2 ceiling in both PPR and standard formats the rest of the season. After a Thursday night game with the Steelers this week, the Titans head into the division for games with the Colts and Texans. Those defenses rank 26th and 30th, respectively, in wide receiver aFPA.
Corey Coleman, WR, Browns
Coleman has been on IR since breaking a bone in his hand Week 2, but he’s expected to make his return to the field when the Browns host the Jaguars this week. Coleman is easily the most talented receiver on the Cleveland roster, and he should immediately be the top option in the passing game once he gets back on the field. Coleman has made the most out of that role in a low-value offense like Cleveland’s, totaling 39 receptions for 475 yards and four touchdowns in 11 career games (not including the game in which he broke his hand this season). That translates to 6.5 points per game in standard leagues, and 10.05 points per game in PPR formats. Those aren’t huge numbers, but consider the offense and the fact that Coleman was a rookie last season who suffered an injury after the second game of his career. All things considered, Coleman has performed as well as could be expected. He has the right pedigree as the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft. Among all the players in the Week 11 Waiver Wire column, he’s one of the few who can be a major difference maker every week the rest of the season.
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Bears
Inman made his Bears debut in Week 10, and it took him all of about two quarters to establish himself as the best healthy receiver on the team. He caught six of eight targets for 88 yards, all of which led the team. His 88-yard game, in fact, was the second-highest total by a Bears receiver this season. The Chargers may have given Inman away, but don’t let that fool you. In 2015 and 2016, he totaled 93 catches for 1,296 yards and seven touchdowns. His skill set may position him more as a complementary receiver, but Chicago’s personnel forces him to be the No. 1 target for Mitch Trubisky. That has him on the rest-of-season WR3 radar.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers
Goodwin has made a big play in both 49ers games since the team lost Pierre Garcon to a season-ending neck injury. In Week 10, that big play was an 83-yard touchdown. If you put a claim in for Goodwin, make sure you go in with eyes wide open. He has three receptions and 10 targets the last two weeks, so his share of the 49ers offense isn’t likely to be massive. If you’re in a deep league, though, he can provide necessary depth for the rest of the season.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars
Westbrook has been eligible to return from IR since Week 9, but the Jaguars have held off thus far. We’ve tripped a false alarm on him the last two weeks, but it looks like his wait is finally coming to an end. Westbrook is expected to be activated this week in advance of the Jaguars game with the Browns. He was set for a large role in the offense heading into the season before undergoing surprise surgery on a core muscle that landed him on IR. Remember, too, that he was slated for that role with a healthy Allen Robinson. Westbrook will be fighting an uphill battle because of all the time he has missed, but all he has to do to be the No. 2 receiver in Jacksonville is chase down Allen Hurns.
Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins
Doctson set career highs in catches (four), targets (seven), routes run (45) and snap rate (88.9%) in Week 10. He turned those four receptions into 30 yards, so he didn’t exactly deliver for his fantasy owners. Still, it’s easy to see that he’s trending in the right direction. He also would have had an easy touchdown had he not slipped and fallen while coming out of his break on a play in the fourth quarter. Doctson may be no more than the third or fourth option in the passing game from week to week, but Washington features such a pass-heavy offense that he’s a good bet to average six-plus targets the rest of the season.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
The Panthers have a bye in Week 11, making Week 10 likely the last game they played without Olsen. He’s on track to return from his foot injury when the Panthers host the Dolphins in Week 12. Assuming the foot injury is fully in his rear-view mirror, Olsen is a top-flight tight end who was widely viewed as a top-60 overall pick back in the summer. His potential payoff speaks for itself.