We’re hitting arguably the most crucial stretch of the season, when many fantasy gamers have to hold off competition while others scratch and claw into the playoffs. Sometimes that requires bold decisions because of injuries and bye weeks.
Week 11 teams off: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers
Ownership rates are in parentheses.
QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (69 percent)
With Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers sipping adult beverages on the beach this week, some fantasy owners have to turn to seedy sources for a little fantasy lovin’.
It’s 2016 … you will need to wear a mental prophylactic to avoid catching something nasty from Bortles generally diseased fantasy offerings. Terrible mental picture notwithstanding, Bortles has been a cornucopia of turnovers on his way to late-game rallies that generate fantasy points. We don’t care how we get there … as long as we get there … right?
Detroit is coming off a bye week but has more than friendly with quarterbacks a time or two in the last five weeks. The position has averaged 22.7 fantasy points since Week 4, which comes from averages of two offensive touchdowns per game. The Lions have picked off only one of every 57.7 attempts in that window.
RB Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (27 percent)
LeSean McCoy is effectively back to full speed, so Gillislee will need to make do with leftovers. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult against a run defense as easy to shred as the Bengals’.
Using data since Week 4 (excluding MNF since the Giants don’t run with any conviction), Gillislee’s opponent has surrendered seven touchdowns in four contests — two of which came through the air. Only the 49ers have coughed up more points in this time. Gillislee has a smidge of flex appeal for owners looking for scraps of their own.
Make it a fling
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (26 percent)
I recently wrote about Tannehill (and DeVante Parker) as being stash-worthy because of a savory schedule. The duo looked the part last week, which should have been alluring to gamers on the prowl for points.
Upcoming meetings with the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills fill out the schedule. Take your pick and play him with no strings attached.
TE Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (11 percent)
A knee injury has robbed Clay of most of his downfield ability, but he is inching closer to full strength. The Bills have a schedule that would make any tight end envious, starting with Week 11’s battle against the Bengals.
Clay will then mold defenses with his hands in meetings with the Jags, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins before Week 17. No team has a better PPR schedule entering Week 11. The only reason you shouldn’t desire to go the distance with Clay is fear over his season-long battle with leg injuries.
WR Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers (11 percent)
Funchess has scored twice in his last four appearances, and he has at least four targets in each of those contests. Taking a shot on him in a lineup is a huge risk in any format, but assuaging those concerns is one of the top remaining schedule for fantasy receivers … we’re at the part of the season where “flings” can easily end in fantasy marriage, after all. Dates with teams like New Orleans, Oakland, San Diego and Atlanta make him a playable choice in deep setups.
Put a ring on that thing
WR Jeremy Kerley, San Francisco 49ers (9 percent)
The 49ers had relied heavily on Kerley until Colin Kaepernick took over at quarterback several weeks ago. After vanishing for a month, the former Jet and Lion reemerged with a bang in Week 10.
San Francisco has a terrible defense that tends to put the offense into catch-up scenarios. Even better, the offense has the best statistical outlook for upcoming opponents through Week 16. This is a fine time to rip up those divorce papers and take him back as a flex or at least upside depth the rest of the way.
New England Patriots defensive team (83 percent)
Don’t be discouraged by lack of production recently and feel compelled to prematurely dump this D. The Pats boast the most favorable upcoming schedule and should be able to exploit some of these weak opponents the rest of the way. On the docket: SF, NYJ, LA, BAL, DEN, NYJ … every one of those matchups could be a double-digit effort from this group. Lock ’em in.
TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (52 percent)
A few weeks back, writing in this space, I informed gamers to roll with Jameis Winston and Brate in the short term. It is time to take this relationship to the next level. Brate continues to put out and is on a three-game scoring streak.
While Brate doesn’t have the best matchups upcoming, he has serviceable utility in several of them. The Bucs have limited weaponry and will continue to involve Brate on a weekly basis.
Grounds for divorce
RB Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (59 percent)
Jones fumbled his way into the doghouse and then missed some time because of injury before Jay Gruden made the rusher a healthy scratch this past weekend. Rookie Rob Kelley looked just fine as the starter, and Chris Thompson has the third-down role locked down. The Redskins face the second hardest schedule for running backs the rest of the fantasy season, which only further cements this termination of relations.