This week’s waiver wire isn’t filled with established veterans, and it likely won't be a battle for Josh Gordon, who is already owned in most leagues, but it does have plenty of young players who are finally getting their shot.
Will this week's most popular acquisitions be stars? That’s doubtful. But replacing struggling duds and short-term injuries may make the difference between making the playoffs and quietly seething in the season's final weeks. The last two teams take their byes this week — Panthers and Steelers — and then the league returns to a full slate.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Drew Stanton, Josh McCown, Jonas Gray, Isaiah Crowell, Bryce Brown, Davante Adams, Kenny Stills, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Coby Fleener, Cairo Santos, Blair Walsh and Packers defense.
Entering Week 11, favorites against the spread were over .500 after going 10-3 the previous week. The swing back in favor of the underdogs came this week, and we didn’t have to wait too long for one of the biggest upsets of the season.
The Rams unpredictably shut down the Broncos, holding them to seven points and 397 yards in a 22-7 win. Peyton Manning threw for 389 yards, but he needed 54 pass attempts to get there. He had one touchdown against two interceptions, scoring just 16.46 points in standard-scoring leagues, his worst fantasy performance this year. The Rams pressured Manning into his interceptions, and sacked him twice, keeping him uncomfortable in the pocket. Manning, of course, will be fine. The story may not be the same for a few of his weapons.
Determining when a player's perceived value is higher than his actual value is one of the keys to winning fantasy leagues. Right now, owners should take advantage of these overrated players and sell high to bolster lineups for the playoffs. Some are seemingly elite talents who are about to take a step back, while others are more modest talents who cannot be trusted in starting lineups.
But one thing's for sure — all will underperform in the second half of the season.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It allows us to see everything so clearly, making everything we should have done in the past seem obvious. It works in all facets of reality, and it is equally as effective in the fantasy world. If only we knew that Calvin Johnson would suffer an ankle injury or that DeMarco Murray would launch an assault on the record books, we could have adjusted our draft boards accordingly. Alas, we will always have to rely on foresight when filling our fantasy rosters.
At the same time, hindsight does not give us a window into everything we need to know. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance, even within the same season. The history of fantasy is littered with players who lit up scoreboards in the first half of the year, only to fall off dramatically in the second half. It takes a combination of hindsight and foresight to accurately predict what will happen the rest of the season once we are midstream.
With that, allow me to present the SI.com First Round Redraft. The following is meant to reflect what the first round would be if you were starting a league from scratch right now. What players have done to this point of the season is important, but equally as important is what they will do for the rest of the year. The goal is to combine hindsight and foresight into an all-seeing eye that grants us the sort of fantasy omniscience heretofore only dreamed of by the most brazen of fantasy owners.
If Aaron Rodgers could play every game against the Bears, he’d probably already have all of Peyton Manning’s records by now. Rodgers threw six touchdowns in the first half of Green Bay’s Sunday night’s 55-14 shellacking of their division rival. He probably would have set the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a game, if not for the good sense of the Packers’ coaching staff to get him out of the game halfway through the third quarter. In two games against the Bears this year, Rodgers threw for 617 yards, 11.22 yards per attempt, and 10 touchdowns against zero interceptions. He did grab one record on Sunday with a 73-yard scoring strike to Jordy Nelson – it was his 16th career touchdown pass of 70 or more yards, a number no other quarterback has reached in NFL history.
The Week 9 Byepocalypse was felt across the fantasy community, especially at the wide receiver position. With nine regular starting fantasy receivers taking a seat last week, guys like Allen Hurns, Odell Beckham Jr., Taylor Gabriel, Corey Washington and Jarvis Landry were among the top-24 scorers at the position last week. Receivers aren’t quite as affected this week, but another Byepocaplypse is upon us.
Teams with a bye in Week 10 include New England, Indianapolis, San Diego, Minnesota, Houston and Washington. That means three of the top-five scoring quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers) are out. All six of those teams contribute a regular starting running back to the fantasy community, including top-10 scorers Arian Foster, Ahmad Bradshaw and Alfred Morris.
Finally, three of fantasy’s top-seven tight ends — Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas — are out, as is a fourth, Jordan Reed, who generally starts for his owner.
Who will be the surprise starters at quarterback, running back and tight end this week? Find out in the Week 10 edition of Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em.
The following recommendations are based on 12-team leagues that start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one RB/WR flex, one tight end and one defense. Starters include the top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends and defenses and top-24 running backs and receivers. The remaining backs and receivers are considered for the flex position, with the best 12 players making it as starters.
This week for the first time all season, fantasy owners will be forced to juggle six teams coming off of byes and six teams going on byes. That makes for another active waiver wire, as owners pick up players with great matchups to replace their stars resting on bye weeks. In Week 9, owners of players such as Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones, may have smartly started one-week mercenaries with good matchups like Brian Hoyer, Denard Robinson and Jarvis Landry.
Unfortunately, many of the good fantasy matchups this week (whoever plays the Jaguars, Raiders and Jets) consist of teams loaded with fantasy stars. So finding an unowned gem in those matchups might prove difficult.
With that said, there are a ton of quarterbacks available this week for those looking to replace Andrew Luck, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers. The three owners of those players will be battling for the fantasy services of Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton or Derek Carr. More importantly, owners of Arian Foster (groin) will have to cross their fingers in hopes Alfred Blue is passed over by owners needing players for Week 10, since Houston is on a bye this week.