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Quarterbacks

Blake Bortles JAC @ CLE | QB

Despite looking erratic quite often this season, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has quietly put up respectable numbers as a bottom-tier option for fantasy owners. He has double digit fantasy points in all but one game this season, including 16 + fantasy points in his last three contests (per standard scoring formats). With a matchup against the Browns porous defense this week, Bortles should continue his under the radar streak of productivity for fantasy owners. The Jaguars will most likely be without wide receiver Allen Hurns this weekend, while Marquise Lee is listed as questionable as he battles a lingering knee issue. Even though Lee is expected to play at less than one-hundred percent, I still love Bortles’ matchup this week. I fully expect the Browns to stack the box in efforts to slow down Leonard Fournette and the running game, which should provide Bortles more room to operate down the field. He’ll be a sneaky candidate for top-ten production in Week 11.

Jay Cutler MIA vs. TB | QB

While it’s safe to say Jay Cutler probably should have opted for the broadcast booth in 2017, he’s been able to string together productive performances in back-to-back games. Albeit, last week’s 213 yards and two passing touchdowns came in complete garbage time, as the Panthers thumped the Dolphins 45-21 on Monday Night. While it’s looking like Cutler and the ‘Fins are a team destined for much more garbage time this season, this week they actually have a solid chance to pickup a win at home against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs defense ranks 29th in the league against the pass as Cutler will have a prime opportunity to move the ball downfield. I like the chances that Head Coach Adam Gase tries to get Kenny Stills and Devante Parker involved in the vertical passing game with Cutler taking a couple shots downfield. While this offense has struggled immensely over the course of the season, they should be able to put together a respectful day in the passing game.

Running Backs

Tevin Coleman ATL @ SEA | RB

Before the season started, I wrote a column on some of the league’s top running back handcuffs in event of the starter missing time in the lineup. Tevin Coleman was an easy choice for a running back to put in that category. While Coleman has played second-fiddle to Devonta Freeman each of the past three seasons, he has proven to be one of the best backups in the league over the past two. This week, Coleman has a great chance to show the rest of the league what he’s capable of doing when presented with the chance to be an every-down back. Devonta Freeman left last week’s game after sustaining a concussion and doesn’t appear likely to suit-up for Monday Night’s tilt in Seattle, as he’s struggled to gain clearance from the league’s concussion protocol. The Seahawks boast a stout run-defense, ranking ninth against the run this season. However, after losing Richard Sherman to a torn achilles in last week’s win over game over the Cardinals, it’ll take much more of a group effort to corral Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons receivers this weekend. I think Coleman has a solid chance to find some running room against a Seattle defense I expect to show a various series of looks, including a bunch of sub-packages of the nickel and dime variety. With Freeman looking like he’ll be ruled out in advance of Monday Night, Coleman should be catapulted towards the top when it comes to low-risk / high-reward DFS plays.

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Jay Ajayi PHI @ DAL | RB

It’s no secret the Philadelphia Eagles have looked like the best team in football throughout the first 10 weeks to this year’s season. However, it’s a scary thought to think their running game has the ability to improve over the back-half of the regular season. After acquiring Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins ahead of the tread deadline, the former Boise State standout has only suited-up for the team in their Week 9 blowout over the Broncos. Absorbing the Philly offense on a short week, Ajayi made the most of his touches, as the fourth-year pro toted the rock eight times for 77 yards and a touchdown. Coming off the Week 10 bye, Ajayi will be more acclimated and comfortable within the confines of the Eagles’ offense for this week’s divisional slate with the rival Cowboys. Ajayi is a similar-styled runner as fellow bruiser LeGarrette Blount, but is quicker into his cuts and can get downfield in a hurry for a big-bodied back. The thought all along was that he would eventually supplant Blount as the featured back, but that sentiment could come to fruition as early as this week. If last week was any indication how much the Cowboys missed their pro-bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, the Cowboys could be in trouble again in Week 11. The team gave up a total of eight sacks, six of which to Adrian Clayborn, and will be without Smith for the second consecutive week. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense could certainly struggle with time in the pocket, thus having a difficult time to put up points. If the Eagles get out to an early lead, it could be a downfield dose of a runaway Ajayi train in the second half.

Wide Receivers

Bruce Ellington HOU vs. ARI | WR

With Texans wide receiver Will Fuller expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, the next man up will be Bruce Ellington. The former sixth-round pick has been a solid slot receiver and hauled in his first touchdown reception of the year in last week’s loss to the Rams. With shutdown corner Patrick Peterson expected to blanket DeAndre Hopkins all afternoon, look for quarterback Tom Savage to rely on Ellington to create separation if the Houston offense has any chance to move the ball with consistency. Fantasy owners should expect 7 + targets from the third-year receiver and former San Francisco 49er as Ellington will be on the flex radar for Week 11. He’s one of the deeper sleeper for this week in year-long and DFS leagues.

Tight Ends

Tyler Kroft CIN @ DEN | TE

While the Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to maintain consistency this season, they have already been all but eliminated from playoff contention sitting at 3-6. It’s fair to wonder if Marvin Lewis will return for a 16th season as Bengals Head Coach. That said, the Cincinnati offense never materialized the way it hoped as rookie receiver John Ross has struggled to stay on the field, while Tight End Tyler Eifert was shutdown with renewed complications in his surgically repaired back. However, third-year tight end Tyler Kroft has done his best to alleviate the absence of Eifert. The Rutgers product draws a matchup with a Denver Broncos defense that has struggled to duplicate the level of play that earned them the mantra of a “No Fly Zone” stemming from their secondary’s ability to shut down opposing passing attacks. While Denver’s defensive unit still ranks towards the top of the league in defensive metrics, they are no where near as effective as they have been over the past few years. After allowing 51 points two weeks ago against the Eagles, the Broncos followed-up that performance by allowing 41 points to the Patriots on Sunday Night. With Denver’s defense primed to focus all of their attention on bottling up A.J. Green, I think Kroft could quietly put together a solid game.

Defenses

San Diego Chargers SD vs. BUF | DEF

When the Buffalo Bills made the surprise announcement this week that they would start backup quarterback Nathan Peterman in place of Tyrod Taylor, fantasy owners quickly ran to the waiver wire to pickup the Chargers defense. Peterman is a rookie signal-caller out of Pittsburgh who got his feet wet in garbage time in last week’s blowout loss at the hands of the Saints. It’s anyone’s guess what kind of level he’ll play at this Sunday in Los Angeles, but the fact Buffalo’s 5-4 record has been mired by inconsistency by the offense doesn’t bode well for immediate success. The Chargers should be able to force a few turnovers and wreak havoc in the backfield when Peterman makes his first NFL start. The Chargers will be a great, cheap option in DFS for Week 11.

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Peyton Manning – DEN vs. GB

If there was ever a 6-0 start to a season that raised eyebrows, the 2015 Denver Broncos would fit the bill. Denver has ridden its defense to an Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboysunblemished record, an accomplishment that has been marred by the whimsical play of Peyton Manning. The arm strength of the future first-ballot Hall of Famer has been palpable with passes fluttering in the air that seemingly take forever to come down. Despite one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in football with speedster Emmanuel Sanders and behemoth Demaryius Thomas, the passing-game Gary Kubiak envisioned he was inheriting has been a mere mirage. Facing a stout Green Bay defense this week, it will be difficult to lean on Peyton Manning and the Denver pass-game.

Jay Cutler – CHI vs. MIN
Stringing together three consecutive impressive starts vs. mediocre pass defenses (Oak, KC, and DET), Jay Cutler and the Bears’ Jay Cutleroffense faces a tougher task this weekend with the Vikings coming to town. As we’ve yet to see Cutler’s turnover mantra come to fruition this season, I think this is a weekend you’ll begin to see an uptick in the Bears total number of turnovers (currently at eight). Despite coming off the bye with a healthy Alshon Jeffery, a date with the divisional-foe Vikings and their 11th ranked pass-defense poses a larger threat.

Colin Kaepernick  – SF @ STL
After posting 20 + fantasy points in weeks 6 and 7, the Seahawks stymied Kaepernick and the 49ers offense holding them to Colin Kaepernick81passing yards and 142 total yards. It doesn’t get much easier for Kaepernick and the middling 49ers offense as they travel to St. Louis to take on a ferocious Rams front-7 who stifled the Browns offense last week. Unable to rely on Carlos Hyde, who has been playing through a stress fracture in his foot, the Rams defense won’t have to stack the box in anticipation of a run-first offense, effectively closing the passing-lanes for the erratic Kaepernick. In what has been a tumultuous season in San Francisco, don’t expect this offense to get in-sync anytime soon.

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Matt Ryan – ATL vs. TBMatt-Ryan
After allowing the Redskins’ largest comeback in franchise history this past Sunday (24 points), it’s safe to say the days of Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks and company feel like a distant memory. This Buccaneers defense is flat-out atrocious and a visit to Atlanta with Matt Ryan and the 6-1 Falcons isn’t going to stop the bleeding. Playing on the road the previous two weeks and managing only four TDs in Ryan’s last four games, a stop back at the Georgia Dome is just what the doctor ordered. It speaks volumes that over that same four-game span Julio Jones hasn’t topped the 100 yard mark in receiving, which bodes well for the chances of an imminent explosion from this high-powered passing attack. I expect Matty Ice to throw for 250+ yards and multiple scores in what should be a route of the hapless Bucs.

Cam Newton – CAR vs. INDCam Newton
Coming off a season-worst performance against the Eagles on Sunday Night, Cam Newton and the Panthers look towards an impending matchup against the Colts to get things back on track on Monday night. Despite three Interceptions, Newton still managed to get 17 fantasy points in a lackluster effort. As a run-first oriented offense and Jonathan Stewart on the heels of a 125-yard performance vs. Philly, expect the Colts to try and stop the run-first. Combine that defensive game plan with a Colts secondary allowing 286 yards a game through the air and it’s a safe bet that Cam will improve on his 197 passing yards and one passing touchdown performance from last week.

 

Eli Manning – NYG @ NO
In what will be a homecoming of sorts for Louisiana natives Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle, Sunday has all of the fixings Eli Manningfor a successful reunion in the Bayou. After averaging 22 fantasy points in weeks 2 – 5, Eli scuffled in weeks 6 and 7 against divisional foes Philly and Dallas. This week Eli is primed to right the ship against a New Orleans secondary, which has allowed a whopping 276 passing yards per game. With the Giants running-back carousel still in limbo, and a Saints defense that has allowed at least 20 + points in all seven games this season, fantasy owners can expect fireworks from the Giants passing game this week.

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I was one of those people who completely wrote off anything and anyone to do with the Panthers offense in fantasy leagues for this season. Yet, after the first two weeks, I’m starting to sing a different tune with Cam Newton’s newest toy, Rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin. While a lot of NFL scouts were skeptical of the Panthers using a 1st-round pick on Benjamin, the 6’5 – 243 lb has certainly proved those individuals, myself Kelvin Benjamin Panthersincluded, wrong so far.

Benjamin is looking every bit as legit of a redzone target that he appears to be in stature, as Newton continues to look his way on fade patterns. The former Seminole has already been credited with a few highlight reel catches through the first two weeks and is locked in for double digit targets with the depleted Panthers WR corps complementing him.

Owned in just 45% of ESPN leagues, Benjamin is every bit worth rostering in 10 + team leagues.

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It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints backfield has been nothing more than a complementary-piece to the pass-happy offensive scheme that Sean Payton has implemented. The revolving door of cast characters has seen the likes of Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles all depart in the past handful of years, and while Pierre Thomas has been old reliable, there’s another back in the Saints backfield who possesses big-Khiry Robinson Saintsplay ability moving forward: Khiry Robinson.

After wildly-disappointing Mark Ingram finally appeared to grab the reins in the Saints backfield, he sustained a broken hand in the first half of last week’s game vs. the Browns. The injury is expected to shelf the former 1st-round pick for at least a month.  With Pierre Thomas seeing limited snaps solely on passing-downs, Robinson, the former UDFA out of West Texas A&M, has a chance to run away with the starting gig.

Robinson’s physical style of down-hill running has drawn comparisons to Chris Ivory and even flashed big-play potential across a few games for the Saints last season. With teams continuing to pump the brakes in the box, in attempts to slow Brees and his high-powered passing attack, look for Payton and the Saints to install a more balanced-attack with Robinson at the head of the table.

1. Baltimore Ravens – Combine TMZ releasing footage of Ray Rice hitting his wife with Roger Goodell desperately trying to reconstruct Ray Ricethe NFL’s suspension policy for domestic violence cases and I would say it’s a good bet Ray Rice’s case could be re-opened and he could be facing a longer suspension. On the heels of Bernard Pierce’s vastly underwhelming performance and Justin Forsett’s impressive one (11 rushes for 70 yards and a TD), this has all the makings for Forsett to be handed the reins in his former Head Coach’s offense. Forsett thrived in Gary Kubiak’s one-cut running scheme and could potentially vulture the lead back job, especially if Rice’s suspension is extended.
 2. Cleveland Browns – The fragile Ben Tate didn’t take long to live up to his name as he left with a knee injury in Week 1. Both of the rookies Terrance Westwere highly effective in relief of Tate, with Terrance West reaching the 100 yard mark and Isaiah Crowell adding 2 TDs. I would expect West to be the more sustainable option if Tate can’t go Week 2. If West continues to be effective with Tate banged up, he could force himself into the Browns’ plans either way.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doug Martin ain’t exactly Dougie Fresh, as he followed-up a disappointing and injury-riddled 2013 by leaving Doug MartinWeek 1 in 2014 with a lower leg injury. Bobby Rainey scored a TD in relief of Martin and will be the guy to grab in the Bucs’ backfield if the muscle hampster can’t get back on the wheel in Week 2.
The Bottomline (cuz Stone Cold said so): When considering who to pick up, you must ask yourself what you are looking for out of the waiver wire: a short term plug-and-play based on the matchups, OR, are you trying to hope your lottery-ticket pays dividends for the whole season. All 3 of these teams have solid matchups next week: Ravens vs. Steelers / Browns vs. Saints / Bucs vs. Rams. Keep an eye out for updated news on Rice’s situation as well as Tate’s / Martin’s injuries. Whoever figures to miss the most time will indicate which backup is the safest pickup to pluck from the wire.