Week 11 is already here and the playoff picture in your fantasy league is becoming more clear. Every win down the stretch is absolutely crucial. Properly navigating bye weeks and zigging when others zag may prove to be enough to put you back into the playoff hunt or lock up a spot. Here are a handful of players available in the vast majority of leagues that can help you this week.
QB Kyle Allen, Carolina Panthers
Allen has been a better real life quarterback than a fantasy one, but he has the opportunity to close that gap against the Falcons this weekend. After essentially being named the Panthers’ starter for the rest of the season, Allen had 307 passing yards and a touchdown against the Packers in freezing conditions that included snow flurries in Green Bay. It’ll be sunny and in the low-50s at Bank of America Stadium when Allen has a chance to carve up a bottom-three fantasy defense. The Falcons may have kept Drew Brees out of the end zone last week, but that was an anomaly. Atlanta had allowed 19 passing touchdowns in the eight games prior. Fantasy QBs are averaging about 22.5 points per game against this defense. If Allen can avoid a multi-turnover game (he has six giveaways in three games since his bye), he could be in line to flirt with 20 points and QB1 territory.
RB Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders
After being a pretty serviceable bench option in PPR formats last year, Richard has been a complete afterthought in fantasy for most of this season. He’s starting to be useful again. After four straight games between Weeks 4-8 in which he averaged only 15.5 snaps per game, he has 24 and 22 snaps in each of the last two games, respectively. I’m not going to pretend that 22-24 snaps per game is anything to write home about, but it’s good to see Richard being used significantly more than DeAndre Washington again. The Raiders host the Bengals on Sunday. One of the many things Cincinnati struggles to do is cover running backs. Richard has averaged 9 PPR fantasy points per game over his last two, and should be able to get to double figures in such a favorable matchup.
RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
Despite their shortcomings last week I still want a piece of the 49ers’ backfield, especially against Arizona. There’s a very strong chance Matt Breida misses this game, which would thrust Mostert into the No. 2 role behind Tevin Coleman. Head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to get multiple backs involved and Mostert’s per-touch numbers this season are quite impressive. I expect San Francisco to have more success on the ground against this bottom-10 rush defense this time around, and Coleman won’t be the only one in on the fun.
WR Hunter Renfrow, Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr has been looking Renfrow’s way a little more often lately and his opponent this weekend is allowing 15.6 yards per catch to WRs this season. That’s a recipe for success for fantasy managers. There will be plenty of opportunity for Renforw to succeed against a defense that has been torched by pretty much every non-AFC North WR corps. In the last three games, Cincinnati has allowed 32 catches for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns to the WR position. The rookie WR is starting to heat up with 14 catches for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns over his last three weeks. This game has the fourth-highest total on the Sunday slate (48.5). So unless you expect Josh Jacobs to be the RB1 this week and Williams to have more than his customary three receptions, production has to come from somewhere else.
WR Demaryius Thomas, New York Jets
Thomas has played a significant role since the Jets returned from their early bye week and it’s time we all recognize and appreciate it. He’s averaging four catches on 6.5 targets per game since Week 5 and has nine targets in three of those games, including last week against the Giants. The Redskins are beatable on the outside, so Thomas should continue to be a reliable option for Sam Darnold this week in DC. He’s been a solid WR5 so far this season and should be more of a WR4 this week.
WR Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears
Attaching yourself to anyone in the Bears offense has some significant risk, but Gabriel is a sneaky play this week in deep leagues. The Rams (and Jalen Ramsey) will likely heavily focus on Allen Robinson, forcing Mitch Trubisky to look elsewhere for production. Gabriel has become a bigger part of Chicago’s offense over the last three weeks with 15 targets and 11 catches. He’s the WR42 in half-PPR leagues in that timeframe. The Rams are actually slightly below average when it comes to defending No. 2 WRs this season, so the matchup isn’t as daunting as it would appear on the surface. Assuming the Rams find their offense again after scoring all of 12 points in Pittsburgh last week, the Bears will need to throw a lot to keep up on Sunday Night Football.
TE Ryan Griffin, New York Jets
Chris Herndon being out for the season clears the way for Griffin to be Sam Darnold’s safety blanket of choice for Week 11 and the rest of the season. Those who were on the Herndon bandwagon should just shuffle right over. Griffin has shown some promise over the past handful of weeks. He had 3/28/1 against Dallas in Week 6. He had 4/66/2 two weeks later against the Jaguars. He had 6/50/0 against Miami the week after that, but should’ve had an even bigger day as he didn’t maintain his touchdown catch all the way to the ground and it was overturned on replay. Darnold is not afraid to target Griffin in the red zone and Washington ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to defending tight ends. You’re touchdown hunting when you get outside the top 7-8 TEs. Griffin has as good of a chance as anyone outside of the range to catch a TD.