It’s an uncommonly good week on the wire, so let’s get busy patching those damaged lineups. Below, you’ll find a few priority pickups, all available in over 50 percent of leagues and approved for immediate use.
Quarterbacks to consider
If you wrote off Justin Fields for the remainder of the season after he was mauled by Myles Garrett and friends in his first pro start back in Week 3, it’s well past time to reevaluate. He’s showing the rest of the league — [ahem] Shanahan [ahem] — the undeniable value of allowing a hyper-talented rookie quarterback the opportunity to figure things out in actual live, meaningful games. Fields delivered 20-plus fantasy points in back-to-back weeks ahead of Chicago’s bye, displaying the rare traits that made him an early first-round prospect back in the spring.
Have a look at this throw…
Just a go-ahead fourth-quarter dart under pressure and on the road on Monday night — no big deal. And this ball may have been Fields’ best of the night against Pittsburgh…
Fields of course has not been a high-volume passer to this point, but, when he puts the ball in the air, he’s generally looking for splash plays. His average intended air-yards per target is 10.0, the second-highest in the league behind only Lamar Jackson. For fantasy purposes (and reality purposes), we like high-yield attempts. We also like quarterbacks who can pile up rushing yards, a clear strength for Fields. He’s given us 229 yards on the ground over his last four games, averaging 7.2 YPC.
Over the next two weeks, the Bears will face the Ravens and Lions, two of the NFL’s softest pass defenses. Baltimore ranks next-to-last in passing yards allowed per game (283.3) and Detroit gives up an outrageous 9.3 yards per attempt, easily the worst in the league. Fields is a strong play in the matchups ahead.
Recommended waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): $9
Not sure if you guys heard, but…
Carolina’s passing offense hit rock bottom in Week 9 when Sam Darnold completed just 16 of 33 throws against New England, tossing three interceptions with a pick-six included. It was ugly on the field and on the sideline. The team obviously and desperately needed a change at quarterback. Thus, in a move that should entertain and distract fans, the Panthers have reunited with Cam Newton, a former league MVP and the franchise’s all-time leading passer.
Newton wasted no time whatsoever making a fantasy splash, rushing for the Panthers’ first TD on Sunday and passing for their next. Cam finished with 14 rushing yards and he completed three of four pass attempts. If he can be a fantasy factor when he’s not actually starting, there’s little doubt he can help when he’s at the controls of the offense. The health of Newton’s surgically repaired shoulder remains a question, but he clearly hasn’t lost much as a runner — he rushed for 592 yards and a dozen touchdowns in 2020, in case you’d forgotten. Even if we’re not getting vintage Cam, he’s still a guy with an extremely fantasy-friendly game. If he’s behind center for the Panthers in the week ahead, he’ll be facing Washington, the league’s most generous pass D.
As Matt Harmon explained this week, Newton wasn’t a complete mess with the Patriots last season, but, um … only a partial mess. Newton is also stepping into a situation that cannot possibly be made worse. It won’t be long before he’s the guy who gets to throw passes to D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey, which is of course an enviable situation.
Other QBs of interest: Mac Jones (directed a thorough stomping of the Browns on Sunday and now heads to a friendly matchup at Atlanta), Tua Tagovailoa (he was forced into a return against Baltimore and functioned properly if not spectacularly; the Jets are up next, which we always like to see), Daniel Jones (he’s off bye and headed into a Monday night matchup with Tampa Bay’s vulnerable pass D; here’s hoping his receiving corps is healthy-ish).
Running backs on the wire
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots (32%)
Two weeks ago, Rhamondre Stevenson led the Patriots in both rushing and receiving, accounting for over 100 scrimmage yards against Carolina. On Sunday, the rookie solidified a role in New England’s backfield moving forward, erupting for 114 total yards and a pair of rushing scores. Please enjoy this well-blocked 5-yarder…
Stevenson routinely carried Cleveland tacklers for extra yardage, a trait we saw from him throughout the preseason. He also caught four balls against the Browns, giving him six receptions over his last two games.
Damien Harris was out of the mix on Sunday, still in the concussion protocol, which led to Stevenson’s huge workload. But we need to assume the rookie has forced his way into the Pats’ backfield rotation after Sunday’s feast. New England gets a Thursday night matchup with Atlanta this week, a defense that ranks bottom-third against the run and just allowed three rushing scores to Dallas.
D’Onta Foreman, Tennessee Titans (4%)
You might never read a more lukewarm pickup blurb than this one, because, if we’re being honest here, I often find D’Onta Foreman to be a rough watch. In his two weeks as a member of the Derrick Henry replacement committee, he’s carried 16 times for 59 yards (3.7 YPC), usually getting tackled by the first defender to arrive on the scene. He’s certainly not the most inventive runner you’ll ever watch. Foreman is a hard-charging big dude (235 pounds), but balance and elusiveness aren’t his strengths.
Here’s his best play (by far) this season for the Titans…
Great design, well-executed and blocked, and the ball-carrier was brought down by the first person to touch him. That’s what you’ll often get with Foreman — and, hey, it can work for fantasy purposes. We don’t award style points here. Sometimes a guy can have a nice statistical day simply by gaining what’s blocked. It can be agonizing to think of what Henry would be doing with Foreman’s touches, but that’s an unproductive exercise.
Foreman played 35 percent of the offensive snaps for Tennessee on Sunday and handled 13 touches. He hasn’t yet been credited by PFF with a missed tackle this season. Adrian Peterson seemed to be the preferred option near the goal-line against the Saints, which is understandable. No player involved in the Titans backfield rotation is unusually gifted by NFL standards. Like all committees in every field, Tennessee’s RBBC is a joyless, robotic group established to address a problem it can’t hope to fix. [Sigh].
Houston is up next, so Foreman gets a Revenge Game against his former employer. If you’re looking for 55-or-so yards from a flex spot, he can probably deliver. My official recommendation is that anyone who adds Foreman this week should immediately shop him.
Various other add-worthy RBs: Wayne Gallman Jr. (he out-carried Mike Davis on Sunday, 15-4, though some of the imbalance is no doubt related to the fact that Atlanta was obliterated by Dallas), Boston Scott (he gained 105 yards on 13 touches at Denver, splitting time with Jordan Howard; there’s no obvious reason those two shouldn’t be rostered equally), Eno Benjamin (he had a relatively quiet day as the Cardinals were mauled by Carolina, but he remains in line for a supporting role with Chase Edmonds sidelined), Jeff Wilson Jr. (he’s back, he’s healthy and he played a significant supporting role on Monday night).
Wide receivers and tight ends to prioritize
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (45%)
If we’re recommending Justin Fields (see above), then we can’t pass on his under-rostered top receiver. Mooney currently leads the Bears in targets (59), receptions (36) and receiving yards (450), and he’s done his best work in recent weeks. He’s drawn 28 targets over his last four games, snagging a pair of touchdown catches. The second-year receiver has 4.38-speed and it definitely translates to the field…
With a pair of user-friendly pass defenses on deck (Baltimore, then Detroit), Mooney belongs on someone’s roster in pretty much any 12-team league. He deserves a serious offer.
Dan Arnold, Jacksonville Jaguars (26%)
Sometimes, the full message can be delivered in a single tweet…
Dan Arnold has three straight games with at least 7 targets and 60 receiving yards, which, at tight end, basically makes him a demigod.
— Andy Behrens (@andybehrens) November 15, 2021
Arnold is a converted wide receiver who’s achieved a level of mastery at tight end, which is no small achievement. Volume isn’t an issue and he’s been remarkably consistent. He’s an easy top-10 player at the position moving forward.
Additional WRs to consider: Sterling Shepard (the Giants are coming off their much-needed bye and, hopefully, Shepard is getting close to returning; when healthy, he’s always a good bet for double-digit targets), Kadarius Toney (too explosive to leave on the wire), T.Y. Hilton (only caught one ball in his return from injury, but we obviously know better days are ahead), Marcus Johnson (he delivered 100 yards on five catches against the Saints and Julio Jones has hit IR), Robby Anderson (the vet hauled in four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown against Arizona, an absolute eruption for him within the context of his otherwise forgettable season), DeAndre Carter (he has back-to-back games with six targets for 50-plus yards and a TD).
TEs deserving attention: Tyler Conklin (volume has been consistent if not exceptional and he spiked twice on Sunday against the Chargers), Cole Kmet (he’s seen 20 targets over his last three games and the matchups ahead are appealing), Gerald Everett (his 8-target game feels like an anomaly, but we always need to note that sort of usage at this position), Evan Engram (he’s found the end zone in back-to-back games and he’s beyond his bye).
Defense deserving attention
San Francisco 49ers (46%)
The Niners may have their flaws defensively, but we shouldn’t necessarily expect them to be exploited by the Jaguars, their Week 11 opponent. Jacksonville has scored just 33 points over the past three weeks and Trevor Lawrence has tossed nine interceptions on the season. (It’s a rough week for streamable Ds, so here’s hoping the Niners are available to you.)