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Week 11 Studs, Duds, and Thuds: Devonta Freeman, Charcandrick West, Jordan Reed Top Injury List

Fantasy football news and notes from Week 10 of the 2015 NFL season.

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The top performers of this week stood out in a large way, as did the necessity to handcuff our running backs, because Week 11 was generally light in scoring. That said, never judge a week of scoring until the Patriots play, right?

The fantasy forums and Twitter are feeling icky with an abundance of comments from daily fantasy players saying that they are shocked that they are cashing with scores under 110. Expect a lot to change with the Bills-Patriots game on Monday.

Where we are out of the money and have Monday night players going, overthinking pivot plays (contrarian plays) could be counter-productive. There are plenty of DFS players who just don't trust Bills players, can't afford Patriots studs, or pivoted from the highly owned Danny Amendola. Amendola's ownership rates are through the roof, but he is so cheap that where we own him and Rob Gronkowski, shifting those plays to Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay feels like an unnecessary hail mary that ignores the benefit of such a low scoring--that it does not take much to rebound, but that the better plays are more likely to pass us up where we pivot.

Brandon Lafell or Sammy Watkins for Amendola alone are reasonable pivots unless we are playing full PPR, but feels too fancy. LeGarrette Blount and LeSean McCoy are not owned enough to justify a change. The pivot of the week may be Tom Brady-Amendola for Tyrod Taylor-Gronkowski where Amendola is flexed. But--again--don't get too fancy in a low scoring week. Take advantage of the low scoring with low risk.

The stories of the week are the injuries. Almost three months into an NFL season where the injuries have already extraordinarily piled up, the inevitable breakdowns of players are beginning to pile on and ruin our teams where we are not prepared. It isn't all our faults in deeper leagues, but mid-November is when our bye week preparations dwindle and we absolutely need to transition our benches into insurance policies.

Stud of the Week: Thomas Rawls, Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch (abdominal) was a very, very late scratch and now may need surgery. Rawls (30/209/1; 3/46/1 in the pass game) stepped in and killed for the third time of four games in which he has had more than six carries. It was the terrible 49ers he faced, but the game log doesn't lie:

Week Opp Result Att Yds Y/A TD FPts
3 vs Bears W 26-0 16 104 6.5 0 10.4
4 vs Lions W 13-10 17 48 2.82 0 4.7
5 at Bengals L 24-27 23 169 7.35 1 22.9
11 vs 49ers W 29-13 30 209 6.97 1 37.5
Totals 3-1 86 530 6.16 2.00 75.5

This is a stud and the Seahawks are better with Rawls in the backfield than Lynch. They now possibly have the most polite way to move on from Lynch. Be ready for it.

Dud of the Week: That entire Lions-Raiders game

Congrats, Lions fans, your team is 3-7. Whoopie!

Unfortunately, Vegas made fantasy owners' mouths water with a 48.5 over-under and a 1.5-point spread for us to pounce on this game as fantasy gold, and it was real life poop.

Matthew Stafford threw for 282 yards and ran for a TD, but threw no TDs, depleting the value of Calvin Johnson (5/88/0), Golden Tate (8/73/0) in standard leagues. Targeting the Raiders safeties against TEs was thwarted by Eric Ebron not even getting a target from Stafford, despite playing 53% of the snaps.

The other side was even worse. Derek Carr (13/25, 169/0/0) also did not throw for a TD in his worst start of the season. That was as bad for Amari Cooper (1/4/0) and Michael Crabtree (6/50/0) as one would expect. Crabtree continues to lead over Cooper in targets (96:85), receptions (57:51) and TDs (5:4) on the season. Latavius Murray (13/28/1) had his fantasy day saved by his fourth TD of the season.

Total mess. As fun as the Raiders have been and as much potential as the Lions offense has, we were showed why these two teams are under .500--they cannot even beat up on each other. This is what mediocre and bad teams do. They show up and disappear at times you cannot accurately predict.

Tempted to throw this game away for both teams. Carr will sink in my rest of season rankings, but only as much as I was initially planning with Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees finishing off their byes in Week 11, but we have to wonder how much Crabtree and Cooper harm one another, and whether or not Murray is slowing down as his first bellcow season is progressing.

The Lions, on the other hand, have not had a big offensive game since October 18 against the Bears in an OT home win. That game is only week in which Stafford has thrown for more than 286 yards all season. Calvin has been sinking and his limited upside may solidify him outside of the top-12 for the rest of the season, as that Bears game is still his only game of more than 88 yards this season and has not seen the end zone since Week 7.

Thud of the Week: Devonta Freeman, Falcons

The list of injured RBs for the 2015-16 NFL season continues to rapidly expand and therefore increase the scarcity of RBs we can trust. Freeman was on pace to kill the Colts in Week 11 before leaving the game with a concussion. We can hope he recovers for a decent home matchup against the Vikings, but never hope against consussions.

After Rawls, Tevin Coleman needs to be the top waiver priority for fantasy owners this week. Coleman is exactly the type of between the tackles RB who can shine in what should be a slow game. Whenever a concussion is involved, a handcuff this strong should be owned in all leagues for the rest of the season.

Coleman is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry in 59 carries and only has one catch for ten yards. But, before getting hurt in Week 2, was heavily trusted with 29 carries for 112 yards and a TD. We should love the volume if Freeman misses time, but we should not be fooled to expect a timeshare, as Freeman's status should be binary.

Notable Thuds:

Charcandrick West, Chiefs (hamstring)

So, Spencer Ware, not Knile Davis, is the handcuff in Kansas City. After West left Sunday's juicy matchup against the Chargers, Ware ran for 96 yards and two TDs, including a 52-yard scamper. West snapped his three-game streak of over 100 yards and a TD with the early exit and killed about 40% of DFS lineups in the process.

We can hope West returns soon and can be effective because the Chiefs have a beautiful schedule remaining. Ware should also be prioritized on waivers after Rawls and Coleman.

Jordan Reed, Washington (MCL)

Reed tore his MCL in Sunday's game against the Panthers. The everlasting reason why he can never be the only TE on our squads and the need to carry a second TE alone with him weighs down a roster to where he can never really be a top-5 TE for a full season because having him means not having a handcuff or being gutted in tough bye weeks. Fool on me for elevating him. Great player, but this makes him fool's good.

Joe Flacco (ACL/MCL) and Justin Forsett (broken arm), Ravens

We can be done with the Ravens now. Javorius Allen ("Buck") will start the rest of the season in the Ravens backfield and should be a relevant RB2 with  Matt Schaub now the projected starting QB. Tragic season for this team that already lost Steve Smith, Sr. for the year.

Forsett was frustrating fantasy owners by not getting into the endzone, but was 10th in the league in rushing coming into Week 11 and a low-yardage passing option out of the backfield. Allen may not better than Forsett's pedestrian 4.2 yards per carry, but the volume should be higher than Forsett's 15 carries per game over Weeks 6 through 10. Expect north of 20 touches per game for Allen and volume matters.

Kamar Aiken (5/50/1) three-game streak of 60 yards or a TD will likely snap and the home run potential of Chris Givens now dissipates. Because Schaub is awful.

Allen Hurns (leg), Jaguars

Hurns (3/19/0) continues to play with multiple leg injuries. He is pushing surgery to the offseason and the increase of injuries have to lead us to fear degeneration. Thursday was not a fluke. Julius Thomas (5/28/1) saw eight targets to benefit most from this, but is still primarily a PPR play and only otherwise streamable. Bryan Walters is (2/35/0) still a PPR stash, as his flex upside increases to WR4 levels.

Hesitant to get too scared of Blake Bortles. Keeping him around the bottom of the top-10 because the schedule is nice, Allen Robinson is a stud, the other options are just good enough, and the volume is about as dependable as it gets.

Gamble against Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, and Vontae Davis for a while

Revis left Sunday's game with a head injury and has been used in a lot of zone coverage this season, sticking to one side of the field, anyway. Now, he may miss time or be exploitable. Not fearing Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham, Jr. the next two weeks.

Peterson seems to have sprained his ankle late in Sunday's game and did not return, despite the high leverage of the close affair. He was really excellent against A.J. Green, as expected. We don't have much to gain from this, as the Cardinals coming opponents--the 49ers or  Rams--don't have good fantasy options at WR, but fading the Cardinals DST is probably wise, despite their sack and total points allowed potential. Arizona is strong up front, but their coverage sacks will go down, making for what should be less turnover gambles.

Davis has struggled all season and it just gets worse as he cannot stay healthy. He had a couple of picks in the last three games to skew the data, but left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury which could set him back again. Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Allen Robinson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jarvis Landry should gobble Davis up through Week 16.


Target Washington when streaming DSTs

The data was skewed by New Orleans giving up 41 points to Washington in Week 10. The Panthers logged 16 on them in Week 11 for the fourth game in which Washington has surrendered double digit Yahoo! standard points to DSTs, the sixth of eight or more. Trent Williams left Sunday's game with a knee injury, which should be great for future pass rushes. We can safely buy into the Giants, Cowboys, and Bears DSTs over the coming weeks where we are desperate or need cheap DFS pivots.

The Eagles and Chargers are a mess

Mark Sanchez threw two TDs and a serviceable 261 yards, but gave fantasy points away from a Sanchizesque three INTs against an improving Buccaneers defense. Jordan Matthews (4/13/0) disappointed for it, Demarco Murray (13/64/0; 4/27/0 in the pass game) is now reportedly still complaining about touches, and the emergence of Zach Ertz is delayed with his concussion.

Sanchez is still maybe top-20 but too risky to start outside of 2QB leagues. Murray should bounce back, as he is still a strong PPR play and we may still have to hope in Matthews but treat him as a WR3. Sam Bradford has passed concussion protocol is practicing Monday and the staff may rush him back, so maybe Matthews is outside of the top-35.

All Eagles should probably be faded in DFS for at least a week, due to cost and inconsistency. That said, Brent Celek is tempting against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but we probably want Sanchez starting for that, as Bradford only targeted Celek and Ertz a total of 57 times in the Eagles first eight games.

It may also be about that time to give up the ghost on the Chargers. What was fantasy gold is now an ugly mess which has failed for the second straight week to capitalize on favorable matchups in the pass game. Stevie Johnson (7/54/0) is just a pig and Philip Rivers is his lipstick, Antonio Gates (1/6/0) is an injured decoy, and Ladarius Green (1/9/0) is still not healthy enough to step up. This is killing Rivers (19/30, 178/0/1) and Danny Woodhead (6/7/0; 1/9/0 in the pass game), as the two are dependent on downfield threat for the volume the two share with one another. And Melvin Gordon (15/37/0) has no blocking to run well.

Matt Forte expected to play Week 12

Not sure we should sell on Jeremy Langford with Forte's expected return in Week 12. Langford has 366 total yards and four TDs in his three starts, scoring in all of them, adding 13 catches in 19 targets. It is a short week for the Bears, who play Thanksgiving night against the Packers, so not much time to incorporate a timeshare so much as splitting the series.

Langford should still be viewed as an RB2, as his snap count should stay high with Jay Cutler getting sacked at the lowest rate of his Chicago tenure (4.4%), even if only as a passing downs back. The fear is what this does for Forte as an RB1; or worse, that they both become guys who don't get more than 12 touches and become TD-dependent.

Alshon Jeffery (shoulder/groin) missed Week 11 after a bad Week 10 and the short week cannot help him, but this can get Forte and/or Langford split out wide to manufacture their usage as receivers. Marquess Wilson (4/102/0) saw seven targets on Sunday, but bet your ass that Cutler would rather throw to Forte or Langford than Wilson or the TEs.

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