Week 11 was one of the worst weeks on the injury front of the season, with Alex Smith suffering a season-ending broken leg, Marcus Mariota aggravating the elbow issue that has plagued him since Week 1 and Kerryon Johnson’s day ending early because of a sprained knee. We’ll discuss a few of those below, but we begin this week’s early look at the waiver wire in Baltimore, where there may have be a new back in command of the backfield.
Michael Beller: Well John, Alex Collins seemed ticketed for a big day early in the Ravens’ 24-21 win over the Bengals, running for a seven-yard touchdown on the team’s first possession. He got four carries the rest of the afternoon, though, getting benched in favor Gus Edwards, an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. Edwards ended up running all over the Bengals, totaling 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. We’ll likely get some clarity on the backfield situation in Baltimore early in the week, but do you see this as a true changing of the guard?
John Paulsen: I was pretty bullish on Collins coming out of Baltimore’s bye given the fantastic schedule he has coming down the stretch, but now I think Edwards will reap the rewards. Collins got the start and the first two carries (for two total yards), then Edwards came in on the same drive and rattled off two runs of five and six yards. As you said, Collins ultimately got the seven-yard touchdown on that drive.
Edwards eventually established himself on the second drive of the second quarter, where he had three carries for 21 yards, while Collins touched the ball once for five yards. By halftime the touch count was nine to six in Edwards’ favor, and then he out-touched Collins eight to one in the second half. Edwards turned those eight carries into 73 yards and a touchdown.
Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about a one-week blip like this, but Collins came into the bye struggling (3.67 YPC) while Edwards (4.27) was more respectable on 15 pre-bye carries. Considering Edwards got multiple touches on the first drive, I think they came out of the bye wanting to give him a chance and he made the most of it, while Collins continued to struggle against a barely-there rush defense.
Owners who have a need at running back should pick up Edwards and see if this pans out. I’d say he has a 50/50 shot of getting lead back touches in the short term with a great upcoming schedule. One word of warning: He only has one catch on the year, but did have 13 catches for 103 yards and a score in his final year at Rutgers.
The Ravens could give both a crack at running the ball early in games and then ride the hot hand, which would certainly make for a dicey fantasy situation moving forward.
Beller: We are in total agreement on this one, John. I worry about the two getting in one another’s way, preventing either one from being a reliable fantasy option, but, for now, Edwards is the one I want. The point you make about him getting all this work coming out of the bye is an important one. This looks like a personnel decision made during the only time of year where teams generally have enough time to make one along these lines, and Edwards took full advantage.
With that, let’s get to the rest of the Week 12 waiver wire. As always, all players have ownership rates of 40% or less on at least two of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: The Saints Are Looking Like the 2007 Patriots
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions
Kerryon Johnson left the Lions’ 20–19 win over the Panthers in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Early reports indicate that it’s a sprain and not an ACL tear, but it still could cost the rookie a game or two. That puts Blount firmly back on the fantasy radar. He’d be the primary back for the Lions if Johnson is forced to miss time. Blount hasn’t had much of a role outside of short yardage this season, running for 182 yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries. The Lions have a quick turnaround this week, hosting the Bears on Thanksgiving Day, which makes it likelier that Johnson will be out.
Josh Adams, Eagles
Adams was the Eagles’ best back again in Week 11, turning seven carries and six targets into 72 total yards and a touchdown in the 48–7 loss to the Saints. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, meanwhile, combined for 11 yards on five touches. Adams is the back to own here, but there’s still legitimate concern that he won’t get enough work to make him a trustworthy fantasy player. His increased role in the passing game—he quadrupled his season total in receptions by catching three passes—certainly bodes well, but might have had something to do with the fact that the game was over by halftime. At the same time, the blowout nature of the game may have kept his carries down, as well.
Theo Riddick, Lions
Riddick got seven targets on Sunday, catching five of them for 30 yards in the Lions’ 20–19 win over the Panthers. He’s the team’s primary receiver out of the slot with Golden Tate gone, and he could be in line for more work on the ground if Kerryon Johnson is forced to miss time because of his knee injury. Still, Riddick is primarily an asset in PPR leagues. LeGarrette Blount would likely secure a 2-to-1 carry share over Riddick with Johnson on the sidelines.
Elijah McGuire, Jets
McGuire has had a meaningful role in both games since being activated from the PUP list, totaling 60 rushing yards on 13 carries, and 64 receiving yards on six catches. In Week 10, the Jets’ last game, his 12 opportunities—carries plus targets—led the team, and chances are strong that Trenton Cannon, who got eight opportunities, won’t be as involved in future games that aren’t completely out of hand by halftime. McGuire will be on the flex radar in deeper formats for the rest of the season.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders
Doug Martin left the Raiders’ 23–21 win over the Cardinals with an ankle injury, and didn’t play at all in the second half. As a result, Washington saw his first significant playing time of the season, running for 39 yards on 12 carries. Jalen Richard got more work on the ground, too, and looked great in the process, totaling 61 yards on 11 carries. If Martin is out, Richard and Washington would split the backfield work, with the former carrying more fantasy value. He’s owned in more than 50% of leagues already, though, making Washington the more realistic waiver wire target. Should Martin be able to play, Washington would have no value. The veteran ran the ball well before suffering the ankle injury, picking up 52 yards on 10 carries.
The necessary handcuffs: Malcom Brown, Rams; Spencer Ware, Chiefs; Giovani Bernard, Bengals; Chase Edmonds, Cardinals; Jamaal Williams, Packers; Jaylen Samuels, Steelers
To be a true handcuff at this point of the season, a back must be behind a clear workhorse, be under our 40% ownership rate threshold, and stand to inherit the lion’s share of the touches should the starter go down. If you are invested in Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon or David Johnson, Aaron Jones or James Conner, you must go get their handcuffs while you still can.
Keke Coutee, Texans
Coutee led the Texans in receptions, targets and yards on Sunday, hauling in five of nine looks for 77 yards in the 23–21 win over Washington. This was Coutee’s first game with Demaryius Thomas as a teammate, with the latter putting up a goose egg on one target. That’s not going to be the case every week, but the fact that Coutee retains fantasy value even with Thomas in Houston was on full display in Week 11.
D.J. Moore, Panthers
Moore put up a monster game in the Panthers’ 20–19 loss to the Lions, catching seven of eight targets for 157 yards and a touchdown. The Lions have struggled to slow down opponents through the air of late, but that doesn’t make Moore’s performance any less impressive. The rookie out of Maryland has showed signs of breaking out this season, and this might finally be the game that pushes him over the top.
Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
Smith had his best game as a pro on Sunday, racking up 10 catcheds for 157 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ 48–7 thrashing of the Eagles. Smith did benefit from Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara totaling just five targets between them, but he deserves credit for taking full advantage of his increased workload. Teams will do what they can to take away Thomas and Kamara, and while that’s easier said than done—the two turned those five targets into five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns—that sort of gameplan will lead to more opportunities for Smith. He proved to Drew Brees and Sean Payton on Sunday that he can make defenses pay when that happens.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals
Kirk was productive again in Week 11, catching three of four targets for 77 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 23–21 loss to the Raiders. Kirk has had at least 77 yards in four of his last eight games, scoring three touchdowns in that span. He’ll eventually be a regular fantasy starter in his career, and while that point has yet to arrive, he has enough value to be on a roster in most competitive leagues, even with the bye-week portion of the schedule all but in the past.
Adam Humphries, Buccaneers
Humphries came to life in the second half of the Buccaneers’ 38–35 loss to the Giants once Jameis Winston took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick, finishing with three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Humphries had his best game of the season with Fitzpatrick under center, but he first started to take off this year, when Winston got his job back in Week 5. He’s a better bet with Winston than he is with Fitzpatrick, though it’s hard to believe in him as anything more than a WR4.
John Ross, Bengals
Ross salvaged his afternoon with an acrobatic touchdown catch in the Bengals 24–21 loss to the Ravens, finishing with two receptions for 27 yards. The silver lining, other than the trip to paydirt, was the seven targets he got from Andy Dalton. In two games without A.J. Green, Ross has 13 targets, pulling down four of them for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Green was initially given a two-game timetable to recover from his foot/toe injury, but that was seen at the time as an optimistic window. If he’s out again in Week 12, Ross would be on the flex radar.
Willie Snead, Ravens
If all you need out of a starter at receiver or flex is five catches for 50 yards, Snead is your man. He has hit those marks in six of 10 games this season, and came up one reception and one yard short in one more. The first sentence of this paragraph sounds a bit like a joke, but sometimes a player who can reliable turn in a 5-50 line is enough for a fantasy owner, depending on the rest of his or her roster. Snead gets plenty of opportunity, averaging 7.7 targets per game, and he had some success with Lamar Jackson in his first start, catching five of eight targets for 51 yards in the Ravens’ 24–21 win over the Bengals in Week 11.
Bruce Ellington, Lions
With Golden Tate gone and Marvin Jones injured, Ellington got his first run since September in the Lions’ 20–19 win over the Panthers on Sunday. He caught six of nine targets for 52 yards, finishing second on the team in receptions, yards and targets behind Kenny Golladay. He’ll only have value while Jones is out, but with the Lions on a short week this week, it’s entirely possible that Jones misses another game.
Anthony Miller, Bears
Miller got just three targets in the Bears’ 25–20 win over the Vikings but made them count, catching two for 25 yards and a touchdown. The Bears rode their defense to victory, getting just enough plays from the offense to keep the Vikings at bay all night. Miller has developed into a key weapon for Mitchell Trubisky, but is still better thought of as a depth receiver than a regular starter in most fantasy leagues.
Josh Reynolds, Rams
Reynolds is now the No. 3 receiver for the Rams with Cooper Kupp out for the season. He looked good on Monday night, catching six of eight targets for 80 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' thrilling 54-51 win over the Chiefs. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee could see more targets, as well, but Reynolds will step right into the role vacated by Kupp. Even if he isn’t as equipped to make that role what Kupp has, he’ll be on the fantasy radar in most leagues for the rest of the season.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ season-long quarterback saga took another turn in Week 11, with Jameis Winston this time playing the role of late-game near-savior. Winston replaced an ineffective Ryan Fitzpatrick with the Buccaneers trailing 24–7 halfway through the third quarter. Winston ended up completing 12 of his 16 pass attempts for 199 yards, 12.44 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and an interception, getting the Buccaneers within three points in what was ultimately a 38-35 loss. His pick can’t really be held against him, either, with the Buccaneers down by three with 23 seconds left, and forced to take a desperation shot deep down the field. Winston will likely take back over as the starter when the Buccaneers host the 49ers in Week 12. As bizarre as the revolving-door situation under center in Tampa has been this season, the position has produced six QB1 weeks.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Jackson made his first start memorable, running for 117 yards on 27 carries, helping the Ravens to a 24–21 win over the Bengals in Week 11. He wasn’t terrible through the air, either, completing 13 of 19 pass attempts for 150 yards and 7.89 YPA. He did throw a pick, but his legs more than made up for what he did not provide as a passer. Jackson isn’t someone you’ll want to lean on as a regular starter, but he’s certainly on the stream radar, and should be owned in all two-quarterback in superflex leagues. Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes are on bye in Week 12, while the Ravens host the Raiders. Jackson could fill in admirably as a spot starter for any fantasy owner who will be without Goff or Mahomes.
Jeff Heuerman, Broncos
Heuerman got five targets in the Broncos’ 23–22 win over the Chargers in Week 11, catching four of them for 20 yards. That didn’t move the needle much for fantasy owners, but he now has 16 targets in two games since the team traded Demaryius Thomas. He’s better cast as a streaming option, and can fill in for owners who will be without Travis Kelce in Week 12.
Jonnu Smith, Titans
Smith’s two-game touchdown streak snapped in the Titans’ 38–10 loss to the Colts, but he racked up six catches on eight targets for 44 yards. His fantasy stock would take a hit if Marcus Mariota is forced to miss time after aggravating his elbow injury in the loss, but Blaine Gabbert is competent enough to keep Smith on the stream radar most weeks.