Week 11 features the last bye weeks of the regular season. For reference, the teams would have those bye weeks are Carolina, Indianapolis, New York (Jets) and San Francisco. Odds are that most leagues are beyond the trade deadline so stay glued to waiver wire ticker. Teams that are desperate for wins might need to drop a quality player to maximize points for this week. If you are set for bye weeks or can afford to shorten your bench, try to pounce on those players if they are made available. In addition, if you are among those teams that are lucky enough to be in the 8, 9 or 10 wins range, you should start looking ahead to the playoff schedule. Players with weaker schedules in the fantasy playoff weeks of 14, 15 and 16 become much more valuable in this time of year. While not an exact science, players in the same tier can easily be distinguished by playoff schedule this time of year.
Reuben Foster scored well in his second game after suffering a rib injury. He logged 10 total tackles in the 49ers’ first win of the season against the Giants and didn’t come off of the field. He and Brock Coyle (91% usage) are the only linebackers of value for the 49ers currently. In that same game, Jonathan Casillas returned from injury to post 6 total tackles on 95% usage. Calvin Munson‘s day of 6 total tackles could have been better but he was only used on 56% of snaps as Kelvin Sheppard factored into the game moreso in week 10. Sheppard logged 6 total tackles on 43% usage. Curtis Grant‘s usage was marginalized by the returns of Sheppard and Casillas but he did manage a solo tackle and fumble recovery on 11% usage. Casillas would be the only linebacker I trust going forward until BJ Goodson returns. Sneaky play Denzel Perryman wasted no time making an impact for owners who were able to get him in their lineups. Perryman scored a team-high 9 total tackles (8 solo) on only 55% usage against the Jaguars in their week 10 game that featured overtime. What I don’t like about the Chargers IDPs right now is that four LBs (Perryman, Brown, Toomer and Emmanuel) were all used between 40% and 63%. That doesn’t translate to good opportunity in the long run. Jarrad Davis posted a pedestrian 4 total tackles and a pass defensed against the Browns on 100% usage. Finally, Ramon Humber posted a quality outing against the run-heavy Saints in week 10 with 10 total tackles and a forced fumble.
Anthony Hitchens DAL LB – 4-3 WLB/MLB Value: LB2 – LB3
Sean Lee was only able to manage 8 snaps in week 10 against the Falcons in week 10. As a result, Anthony Hitchens’ usage skyrocketed to 95% and he responded with 10 total tackles. Both of those totals led the defense. Hitchens’ scoring has been weaker with Lee in the lineup at 3.3 solo tackles and 1.7 assists per game whereas games with Lee out of the lineup, he’s scored an average of 4 solo tackles and 4 assists per game. Those numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone. In addition to the averages, the matchup is a quality one as Philadelphia and their 3rd ranked rushing offense visit Dallas in week 11. Hitchens isn’t universally available but odds are that you can find him in most leagues.
Nick Kwiatkoski/Christian Jones CHI LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB1 – LB3
Nick Kwiatkoski actually returned from his pectoral injury prior to Chicago’s bye week but played only 1 snap. With Danny Trevathan out with a calf strain, Kwiatkoski returned to a larger share of the snaps in the Bears loss to Green Bay in week 10. Kwiatkoski scored 10 total tackles (9 solo) and a sack and Jones scored 8 solo tackles. Here’s the interesting part of those statlines though. Would you believe that Jones played 100% of the snaps and Kwiatkoski logged 55%? The opportunity really lies with Christian Jones’ usage going to 100% versus Kwiatkoski’s return to relevance with Trevathan’s injury. Jones is available in plenty of leagues whereas Kwiatkoski is only owned in dynasties. Chicago plays Detroit and Philadelphia is their next two games. As long as Trevathan remains out, opportunity is there for some injury replacement production.
Sneaky play of the week – Manti Te’o NOS LB
Prior to New Orleans’ week 10 game against the Bills, AJ Klein led the Saints defenders in snaps and tackles. While he retained his lead in tackles, he lost his lead in snaps by being limited to 9 snaps due to an ankle injury. Former Charger Manti Te’o saw his usage increase to 83%, which led Saint linebackers in the game. That increased usage translated to a team-high 6 total tackles. It remains to be seen whether Klein will miss significant time but based on week 10, Te’o figures to be the linebacker to benefit most if there is. The Redskins and Rams are the Saints’ opponents in week 11 and 12 respectively. Both represent decent matchups for opposing linebackers.
Sneaky play of the week – Derrick Burgess CLE LB
News dropped on Monday that Jamie Collins suffered an MCL injury and was unlikely to play again this season. That opens the door for Derrick Burgess to draw back into meaningful snaps. Burgess played 75% of the Browns’ defensive snaps in weeks 3 to 5 where Collins didn’t play. In those games, he logged 12 solo tackles, 5 assists, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Those aren’t world-beater stats but in week 11, pickings are slim. The Jaguars and Bengals are the next two opponents for the Browns who are still in search of their first win.
Defensive linemen plays
Avery Moss‘s usage dropped down to 59% with the return of Olivier Vernon. Moss was still able to pick up 2 total tackles against the 49ers but owners likely didn’t get him in their lineup after news that Vernon was coming back hit. Leonard Williams rewarded owners with 4 total tackles and a sack against the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers on 70% usage. Muhammad Wilkerson was used at 82% but it did not translate to the scoresheet as he only managed 1 solo tackle. Finally, the sneaky play of the week was solid for owners who were able to get him in their lineup. Stephon Tuitt returned to the lineup for the Steelers and logged 3 solo tackles and a sack against the Colts on 81% usage.
Adrian Clayborn ATL DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL1 – DL3
Admittedly, this is a very polarizing choice for me. On one hand, Adrian Clayborn put up one of the most dominant displays of pass rushing I’ve ever seen personally in week 10. His line was 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against the Cowboys. Only three men have ever logged that many sacks in a single game before; Fred Dean, Osi Umenyiora and Derrick Thomas (once with 6 and once with an NFL record 7). That’s pretty good company. Given the fact that Clayborn’s own percentage is very low given that performance, I’d be roasted on various forms of media if he wasn’t on here. However, on the other hand, Adrian Clayborn’s statline prior to this game was 8 solo tackles, 2 assists and 2 sacks. His last sack was in week 3 before his monster game despite 54% usage over those games. Do the Cowboys simply miss Tyron Smith so badly that they give up 6 sacks to Clayborn and 8 sacks total? Maybe I’m leaning towards yes here. That said, nobody falls into 6 sacks without talent. So in conclusion, bid on Clayborn because you have to but don’t break the bank for him. He’s not going to score 6 sacks every game. Clayborn and the Falcons visit the Seahawks in week 11 and I can guarantee that Duane Brown, even with an injured ankle, will pose a much more difficult test that Dallas put up for him in week 10.
Frostee Rucker ARI DE – 3-4 DE Value: DL2 – DL3
I don’t particularly love Frostee Rucker alone aside from his awesome name. That said, I do love his matchup this week. Since Indianapolis is on bye in week 11, the Texans have the dubious distinction of the most sacked team in the NFL at 3.4 sacks given up per game and with Arizona visiting in week 11, the Cardinals has a pass rush to target this week. Rucker’s usage of 59% for the season and 65% in week 10 is the highest usage of any defensive lineman on the Cardinals this season. It’s a big gamble as Rucker’s tackle numbers aren’t enough to give you a decent floor but if you are playing the percentages, I’d give him a look.
Sneaky play of the week – Cornelius Washington DET DE
Ezekiel Ansah missed week 10 against the Browns with a back injury. There’s a decent chance that he misses week 11 against the Bears as well with the same ailment. Washington played 59% of the snaps and logged 4 total tackles and 2 sacks. He figures to get the lion’s (pun intended) share of the work in Ansah’s absence. The Bears have given up 3.75 sacks per game over their last four game including 5 sacks given up against the Packers in week 10. Give Washington a look for a decent floor defensive end with sack upside.
Defensive back plays
Adrian Phillips saw his usage go down to 50% with the return of Denzel Perryman and unfortunately he failed to log any stats against the Jaguars. Both Bills safeties had big games against the Saints in terms of tackle totals with Micah Hyde scoring 8 total tackles (7 solo) on 91% usage and Jordan Poyer scoring 10 total tackles (7 solo) on 94% usage. Orlando Scandrick scored decently well with 4 solo tackles and a pass defensed but I did expect more. That said, I didn’t bank on Dallas being the team that needed to throw themselves back into the game. A Washington safety was a complete stud in the Minnesota vs Washington game but it wasn’t DeAngelo Hall. DJ Swearinger scored 5 total tackles and 2 interceptions against the Vikings to Hall’s 3 total tackles. DeAngelo Hall was limited to 21 snaps due to reported bone bruise on his knee.
TJ McDonald MIA S – 4-3 FS Value: DB2
It was an interesting subplot to Monday night football as to how much Miami would play TJ McDonald after missing 8 games due to a suspension resulting from a DUI arrest. We got our answer as McDonald led the Dolphins in total tackles with 9 (7 solo) and added an interception. Safety play from Miami has historically been strong with Reshad Jones but the odd free safety has factored into fantasy relevance in the odd game. McDonald is more of a strong safety type playing in a free safety role in my opinion which could lead to more tackles. The Buccaneers in week 11 aren’t the best matchup unless Ryan Fitzpatrick plays a mistake-prone game. However, the Patriots in week 12 most definitely are a great matchup. McDonald’s break out performance probably sees him get picked up this week regardless of matchup though.
Budda Baker/Antoine Bethea ARI S – 3-4 FS/SS Value: DB2 – DB3
Owners that have banked on Tyvon Branch all year will need to find a new source of tackles as Arizona’s leading tackler will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in week 10 against the Seahawks. Emerging from that game was a major uptick of snaps for 2017 second pick Budda Baker who turned 70% usage into 9 total tackles and a pass defensed. Stalwart strong safety Antoine Bethea also stepped up with 5 solo tackles and a sack. Bethea is likely owned already in many leagues given his history but Baker very likely is unowned in all but dynasty leagues. The Texans in week 11 isn’t a great matchup but the Jaguars and Rams in week 12 and 13 are. Add accordingly.
DJ Swearinger/DeShazor Everett WAS S – 3-4 SS/FS Value: DB2 – DB3
DJ Swearinger’s exploits against the Vikings in week 10 were already documented. While you can’t predict two interceptions in a game, you can predict opportunity. With the New Orleans Saints hosting the Washington Redskins in week 11, the opportunity is as good as it’s going to get for opposing safeties. In week 10, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde combined to score 18 total tackles. As far as free safety goes, this one is a deeper dig. With DeAngelo Hall potentially out with a bone bruise, Deshazor Everett was the player to replace him and could a player with an ownership percentage of virtually zero to score in the top 24-36 in week 11.
Sneaky play of the week – Travis Carrie OAK CB
The New England Patriots visit the Oakland Raiders in week 11 and boast the number rated passing offense. The Patriots are also 4th in the NFL in passing attempts at 38.4 attempts per game and 1st in the NFL in completions per game at 26 per game. Against top 5 passing attacks this year, Travis Carrie is averaging 6.5 tackles per game and 1 pass defensed. This is a strict statistics play that I’m hoping yields some fruit. Give Carrie a look as your DB3 and especially in CB-required leagues.