Another week, another four teams on bye, plus a fresh batch of injuries. Per the usual, we’re here to help you prioritize the top fantasy pickups ahead of waiver deadlines. All players listed below are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues; all are approved for immediate use. If you have roster needs, we have options…
Running backs on the wire
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (41% rostered)
It’s entirely possible — and even understandable — if your reaction to Hines’ two-touchdown performance back in opening week was to roll your eyes and place no waiver claims. But here we are in mid-November and he’s just produced the third multi-touchdown game of his season. It might just be time to take him seriously as a fantasy factor.
Hines led all Colts running backs in snaps (39), touches (17) and total yards (115) on Thursday night, making a pair of house calls in the team’s win over Tennessee. He also caught five passes, the third time this year he’s reached or exceeded that total. Thursday happened to be Hines’ birthday, which is delightful. He plainly out-played both Jordan Wilkins and rookie Jonathan Taylor, who’s now averaging just 3.8 YPC.
Check the stretch for the goal-line on this TD reception…
Hines is on pace for 59 catches this season, so he should really be rostered in pretty much every full-PPR setup. Indy’s backfield is very much a hot-hand situation, and Hines definitely had it in Week 10. His upcoming matchups are all good-to-great: Green Bay, Tennessee, at Houston, at Vegas, Houston. Add as needed.
Recommended offer, assuming $100 budget: $18
Kalen Ballage, Los Angeles Chargers (19%)
Ballage isn’t exactly the game’s flashiest runner, but you can’t argue with the recent workloads. He’s handled 40 touches over the past two weeks, converting 18 carries and five catches into 102 scrimmage yards on Sunday at Miami. Joshua Kelley, meanwhile, carried just seven times for 21 scoreless yards. Justin Jackson was placed on IR with a knee issue and we don’t yet have an ETA on Austin Ekeler (although he’s clearly made progress), so Ballage belongs in your fantasy plans. He has a second straight Revenge Game on deck, as the Chargers host the Jets in Week 11.
Salvon Ahmed, Miami Dolphins (6%)
Myles Gaskin is currently on IR, sidelined by a knee injury until at least Week 12, and Matt Breida was unable to play through a hamstring issue on Sunday. Jordan Howard has made everything look hard this year, averaging a dreadful 1.2 YPC. (Howard was actually released on Monday, ending an unsuccessful half-season in Miami.) Thus, unheralded rookie Salvon Ahmed took charge of Miami’s backfield in the win over the Chargers. He began his afternoon with an easy walk-in touchdown…
…en route to 90 total yards on 22 touches. The week before, he’d carried seven times for 38 yards at Arizona (5.4 YPC), earning a longer look.
Ahmed was actually a collegiate teammate of Gaskin’s at Washington, where he rushed for 1,020 yards last season in his first year atop the Huskies’ backfield hierarchy. He went undrafted after bombing at the combine, running a disappointing 4.62 40-yard dash. He was signed by the Niners originally, but waived in August, allowing the Dolphins to add him from the discard pile.
Miami’s backfield will be complicated if Breida is able to return next week for the trip to Denver. Ahmed will presumably retain a role, however, regardless of Breida’s status. Vegas just ran all over Denver’s defense, rushing for 203 yards and four TDs, so it’s clearly an appealing matchup.
Additional RBs of interest: Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown (the rookie had 10 carries on Sunday, the vet scored two touchdowns and this backfield is back to being a three-headed mess), La’Mical Perine (the expectation is he’ll see plenty of touches down the stretch, for whatever that’s worth, as the Jets determine his future role), Wayne Gallman Jr. (TDs in four straight and Freeman is still dinged, but the Giants are headed into a bye), Tony Pollard (he’s coming off nine carries for 57 yards before a Week 10 bye, seeing just enough work to remain interesting).
Quarterbacks to add
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (2%)
To be clear, this pickup is a bit of a YOLO fantasy add. Winston wasn’t exactly weapons-grade accurate in his two quarters against the Niners, completing six of 10 throws, missing an open Michael Thomas on what should have been a short touchdown. It definitely could have been better. But there’s a decent chance Winston will receive multiple starts after Drew Brees suffered multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung on Sunday. (Yikes. It’s a car crash on every play in the NFL.)
Next week, Winston will face an extremely user-friendly Atlanta pass defense, a unit allowing 8.3 yards per attempt and 310.3 passing yards per game. He would no doubt cede a bunch of snaps and dropbacks to Taysom Hill, which is guaranteed to annoy anyone who starts him. But, again, you can’t really argue with the matchup, and Winston is presumably (but not yet officially) the guy who gets to throw to Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook. He of course led the NFL in passing yards last year (and also INTs) and he enhanced his eyeballs in the offseason. There’s a decent chance we’ll see a different version of the Saints’ passing attack in the weeks ahead. Brees was at the bottom of the league in intended air yards per target (5.8) this year, whereas Jameis was near the top last season (10.5).
Add Winston wherever you need QB help.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (45%)
After three straight wins and back-to-back multi-touchdown performances, Dolphins fans have to be feeling OK about the early days of the Tua era. He’s tossed a few near-interceptions, but hasn’t yet thrown a pick as a pro. He showcased his rushing ability a week ago and our only complaint about his passing is that we haven’t seen enough of it. Tua doesn’t have a stay-away matchup ahead, as the Broncos, Jets and Bengals are up next. If you have a short-term streaming need, he can help.
Various other assorted QBs to consider: Kirk Cousins (you can’t expect volume, but that shouldn’t matter with the Cowboys defense on deck), Alex Smith (he’s coming off back-to-back 300-yard games and the Football Team hosts the Bengals next week), Andy Dalton (off the COVID list and facing Minnesota this week).
Wide receivers and tight ends deserving attention
Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles (26%)
Let the record show that Reagor led all Eagles in targets in Sunday’s terrible loss, catching four balls for 47 yards on seven chances. That gives him 13 targets and seven catches over his last two games. Turns out the return of Alshon Jeffery (18 snaps, one target, zero catches) did not negatively impact any Philadelphia receiver. Reagor was a first-round pick, you might recall, gifted with excellent speed and silly leaping ability (42-inch vertical) and the team drafted him expecting immediate results. If he’s gonna continue seeing 6-7 targets per game, big plays should follow. He’ll see the Browns, Seahawks and Packers in the weeks ahead, so a breakout is likely happening soon.
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts (10%)
While we’re discussing rookie receivers who’ve seen a spike in usage over the past two weeks, please note that Pittman is coming off a 7-catch, 101-yard performance in which he showcased big-play ability…
Pittman has drawn 15 targets over his last two games, snagging 11 for 157 yards. He’s also had one rush attempt that popped for 21 yards. Pittman played over 80 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in Weeks 9-10, so he appears to have established himself as an every-down, all-situation player. He has size (6-foot-4) and deceptive speed, and he’s apparently earned the trust of Philip Rivers. Consider him a playable flex against the Packers next week.
Other WR options: Tim Patrick (he was ejected from the loss to Vegas, but still produced 61 yards on six targets in a partial game), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (he’s feasted with Lazard sidelined, establishing himself as a big-play specialist in a high-yield offense), Sammy Watkins (here’s a low-cost way to grab a share of an unstoppable passing game), Jakobi Meyers (one week after a 12-catch performance, Meyers threw a gorgeous touchdown pass on Sunday night), Keelan Cole (coming off another big game, but a rough matchup with Pittsburgh lies ahead), Jakeem Grant (he’s seen 10 targets over his last two games, plus he hauled in a TD pass against L.A.), Breshad Perriman (coming off a multi-touchdown performance and gets at least one more week of Flacco), Denzel Mims (yet another late-arriving rookie with interesting upside, coming off an 8-target, 62-yard game).
Tight ends to consider: Dalton Schultz (he saw seven targets from Garret Gilbert in Week 9 before the bye, preserving his modest fantasy appeal), Logan Thomas (he’s drawn six targets in consecutive games and he’s about to face a Cincinnati defense that’s among the league’s most generous to opposing tight ends), Jordan Reed (headed into his bye, so he can’t help this week, but he’s coming off a 5-catch effort).
Los Angeles Chargers (42%)
This is not intended as a full endorsement of the Chargers defense, which is clearly a flawed group. But they host the league’s most inept offense next Sunday, as the winless Jets — last in the NFL in scoring (13.4 PPG) and total yards (266.0 YPG) — travel to L.A. Streaming opportunities don’t get much better.