What a weird week in the NFL. The 1-7 Falcons dominate the 7-1 Saints, Miami beats Indianapolis to put together a two-game winning streak and Tennessee manages to sneak by Kansas City even though Patrick Mahomes returned to the lineup and threw for 446 yards and 3 TDs.
For fantasy squads, there are only three regular season games left in most formats. The formula remains the same with how your record should dictate your approach to free agency. Remember that playoff potential only matters if you actually make the playoffs! Secure your berth and then look to add pieces to help you in weeks 14-17. Week 11 is the second last week of bye weeks which sees the Packers, Giants, Seahawks and Titans get the week off.
There were some hits and some misses in last week’s column. Joe Walker‘s usage plummeted by to 28% after the coaching staff asserted that he had been elevated to a starter. Haason Reddick got the lion’s share of the snaps over Walker and the stats that went with them against the Buccaneers. Walker got 1 assist to Reddick’s 7 total tackles and a PD. This might be a situation to avoid going forward. Both Brandon Copeland and James Burgess were serviceable in their effort against the Giants. Copeland played every snap and scored 7 total tackles. Burgess played every snap but one and scored 7 total tackles along with a half sack and a PD. The Jets signed former Falcon standout Paul Worrilow to shore up their ILB depth but he did not see any action on the weekend. Fred Warner was remarkable on Monday night with 7 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 PD and a forced fumble. Dre Greenlaw was instrumental as well with 8 total tackles and a critical interception in overtime.
Nick Kwiatkoski CHI LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB1 – LB2
If you watched the Lions/Bears game closely, you saw Danny Trevathan’s arm bend in a way that it wasn’t supposed to bend after a tackle attempt. Trevathan left the field and didn’t return. Nick Kwiatkoski assumed ILB snaps beside Roquan Smith and proceeded to log 10 total tackles, an interception and a sack on 78% usage. I’m no doctor and little details have been released but I would be very surprised if Trevathan plays next week. That landing looked ugly. You’ll have to watch the injury report for news about Trevathan’s availability but assuming that he’s out, the Bears have used Kwiatkoski exclusively in relief of either starting ILB when they have missed time. The Bears face the Rams in week 11.
Drue Tranquill LAC LB – 4-3 MLB Value: LB2 – LB3
It seems like every year I am talking about trying to get value in the Chargers LB corps because of the injury turnover and poor play. Who would have thought that a 36 year old LB with three ACL surgeries, Thomas Davis, would have been the most consistent of them all? However, besides Davis has been a question mark all season. Kyzir White, Uchenna Nwosu, Drue Tranquill and Denzel Perryman have all been given some run at the job. Perryman seems to have had the majority of the snaps prior to week 10 but a knee injury left him active but not playing. Drue Tranquill took 100% of the snaps and logged a team-leading 14 total tackles. While Perryman might be active again next week and take away the value from this pickup, it is worth mentioning that Tranquill is the only ILB outside of Davis that have played 100% of the snaps in a game this year. If the coaching staff runs with him, he is a big value play that has next to no ownership right now. Just know that he carries some risk. The Chiefs in week 11 represent some good value as they offered over 48 fantasy points to ILBs last week.
Josh Bynes BAL LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
Josh Bynes appeared very recently on the report but that was when Patrick Onwuasor was out. With Onwuasor returned from his ankle injury, I assumed that he would be a fulltime option for the Ravens and Bynes or LJ Fort would assume a 40-70% usage role. However, since then, the Ravens have deployed multiple five and six DB packages regularly with Bynes as the centerpiece. These were the LB usages against the Bengals in week 10; Bynes – 61%, Onwuasor – 29%, Fort – 21% and Board – 0%. Bynes turned that usage into 9 total tackles. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen moving forward without any direction given from the coaching staff but the usage seems to suggest that Bynes is the guy to play if this week is representative. The Texans in week 11 should prove to be a much stouter attack than the Bengals put forward in week 10.
Defensive Lineman Plays
Both Colts defensive ends were good for a stream play in their game against the Dolphins despite the Colts losing. Justin Houston logged 4 total tackles and a sack on 73% usage whereas Jabaal Sheard logged 3 total tackles and a sack on 71% usage. Quinnen Williams logged 64% of the snaps and scored a fumble recovery as his only stat. He played much more nose tackle than fantasy owners would like him to though, leading to the weaker statline.
Maxx Crosby / Clelin Ferrell OAK DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL1 – DL2
Both Crosby (3 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble on 91% usage) and Ferrell (8 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 PD on 73% usage) are coming off of huge games against the Chargers which should increase their asking price, unfortunately. However, they are also going into a very good matchup against the winless Bengals who are top 5 in sacks allowed in the NFL. I like the high usages for both of them and would consider both to have above-average playoff schedules as well. Have a peek at your waiver wire and consider a Raider DE if you have a hole to fill.
Chris Jones / Frank Clark KCC DT/DE – 4-3 NT/DE Value: DL1 – DL2
Chris Jones has been exceptional coming off of a groin injury that saw him miss three games between week 6 and 8. Since his return, he has logged 10 total tackles and 3 sacks on 73% average usage across two games. On top of those stellar numbers, he faces a Chargers team in week 11 that just came off of giving up five sacks to the Oakland Raiders. In a similar situation, Frank Clark is coming off a four solo tackles, 1 PD and 1 sack effort against the Titans on 81% usage. Clark missed weeks 8 and 9 with a groin injury and a pinched nerve that has bothered him all season. If Clark is active, I’m starting him in this matchup until the Chargers can fix the mess that they were on Thursday.
Defensive Back Plays
It was overall a pretty good week for defensive backs from last’s week report. Jaylen Watkins‘ 4 total tackles on 100% usage were a little underwhelming but no defensive back scored many tackles in that game. That said, that doesn’t mean that a DB didn’t score well. Erik Harris had a game to remember with 2 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 PDs, 115 interception return yards and a touchdown. He almost had a third in the end zone later in the game. Despite the low tackle numbers, Harris was a DB1 in almost every format. Taylor Rapp was very solid in tackle heavy and balanced formats with 9 total tackles on 100% usage. Marqui Christian received only 49% of the Rams’ defensive snaps and as a result, only logged 2 total tackles and a PD.
DJ Swearinger OAK S – 4-3 SS Value: DB3
With the loss of Karl Joseph to injured reserve with a foot injury, the Raiders immediately signed former Cardinal DJ Swearinger to a contract. The history on Swearinger is that he is a decent tackle, sometimes to his own detriment, and a below-average coverage safety. While that hasn’t translated to NFL success, it has meant that Swearinger is a decent tackle option for IDP players at defensive back. There is still a risk of Swearinger not being inserted into the starting lineup right away but with little NFL talent and experience between him and a starting role, I feel as though he will become an option for IDP lineups soon enough. Since being elevated to 100% usage, Joseph had posted 80 fantasy points over seven games. Given Joseph’s play, I don’t see how Swearinger can’t replicate those numbers.
Jalen Thompson ARI SS – 3-4 SS Value: DB3 – flex
It appears as though Jalen has won the battle of the Thompsons at strong safety over Deionte although the latter lost his 30-40% snap share due to a knee injury. Jalen Thompson benefited in week 10 against the Buccaneers with a 96% snap share and turned in 6 solo tackles in the effort. If Jalen gets the lion’s share of the snaps again, I’d play him in a DB3/flex role against the 49ers. San Francisco is offering close 29 fantasy points per game to opposing safeties over their last five weeks. Granted Budda Baker is likely to grab the majority of those points but a double-digit fantasy point effort is probably where he ends up, hence his DB3 recommendation.
Nik Needham MIA CB – 4-3 CB Value: DB3 – flex
If you are a gambler or you play in a corner required league, you might want to pay attention to this one. Nik Needham started getting snaps in week 6 and was elevated to 100% in week 9 and 10. In those two weeks of 100% usage, Needham has scored 15 total tackles, 3 PDs, a sack and an interception. Not bad for an undrafted free agent rookie. Full disclosure, Needham’s matchup in week 11 is a bad one. Buffalo hasn’t allowed many double-digit fantasy point performances by cornerbacks this year. But the Browns and Eagles are in weeks 12 and 13. Given his past two performances, Needham might be on the watch list. Snap him up if you have room.