By Rob Carter
BU News Service
The NFL will be missing two of its top fantasy options this weekend after disappointing news about Rob Gronkowski and Alshon Jeffery came out on Monday. Jeffery has been suspended for four games for using a banned substance, and Gronk is out with a punctured lung. Don’t you worry though, BU News Service has you covered with our waiver wire recommendations for the week.
Here are our favorite players that are still widely available (owned in under 65% of ESPN public leagues) for those owners that need some extra depth this week.
Players On Bye: Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Philip Rivers, Trevor Siemian
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills (61% owned)
Despite losing his top receiving threat, Sammy Watkins, earlier in the year, Tyrod Taylor has been impressively consistent this season. Since the second week of the season, Taylor hasn’t finished with fewer than 15 fantasy points in a game. Coming off a bye week and facing a struggling Cincinnati defense that has given up the sixth most points to opposing quarterbacks, Taylor is a very safe start this week.
2) Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco (12% owned)
Colin Kaepernick put up his second straight 20-point performance last Sunday against a tough Arizona Cardinals defense. Based on his finish to last season, it’s easy to forget that Kaepernick was once thought to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Based on a lack of receiving threats and a porous offensive line, owners should expect Kaepernick to the level of play that carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012, but given his ability to use his legs to extend plays and generate rushing yards he should be a solid starter for the rest of the season. Kaepernick should have success against what has been a lackluster Patriots defense this weekend.
3) Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (31% owned)
Our having to recommend Joe Flacco here is indicative of how poor the quarterback waiver wire options are this week (on that note, Blake Bortles is 66% owned and the best option if available). Flacco has had an up and down season so far and the matchup against Dallas is an average one, but Flacco has a variety of talented targets and has never been shy about taking some chances with deep passes. With the same 10-point floor as the other options available, Flacco at least offers three-touchdown upside.
Players On Bye: Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa, Travis Benjamin, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
Suspended: Alshon Jeffery
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Kenny Britt, WR, LA Rams (57% owned)
The Rams have figured out that, without a better offensive line, they can’t win games by just handing the ball to Todd Gurley every play. The major benefactor of this realization has been Kenny Britt, who has gotten at least six targets in every game this season but one. Britt has 337 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns over his last four games and his hot streak should continue. Britt and the Rams face a plodding Miami secondary this week that Britt should have good success against.
2) Eli Rogers, WR, Pittsburg Steelers (10% owned)
With injuries to Markus Wheaton and Darius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers has carved out a role for himself in one of the NFL’s most potent offenses. Serving as the team’s primary slot receiver Rogers has strung together solid performances in back to back games, getting either 100 yards or a touchdown in both. Rogers should put up another solid outing against a Cleveland defense that should be allocating all of its resources to slowing down Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell.
3) Cameron Meredith, WR, Chicago Bears (33% owned)
While Jay Cutler was out with an injured thumb, Cameron Meredith became Brian Hoyer’s favorite target. He thrived in the role, but came crashing back down to earth when Cutler returned and zeroed back in on Alshon Jeffery. With Jeffery suspended for the next four games though, someone will need to pick up the slack in the passing game. While Meredith and Cutler have shown very little chemistry to date, he’s really the Bears’ only option, as Eddie Royal simply isn’t big enough to fill Jeffery’s role in this offense. Meredith should only trail tight end Zach Miller in targets against the Giants on Sunday.
Players On Bye: Devontae Booker, Devonta Freeman, Matt Forte, Melvin Gordon
Who to pick up for this week:
1) James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers (29% owned)
After weeks of trying to figure out the Green Bay running back situation on our podcast When Pigskins Fly, it’s nice to finally have a known quantity in the Packers backfield. While not the bruiser that Eddie Lacy is, Starks is a perfectly capable runner between the tackles and electric in the open field. While the Packers offense isn’t the juggernaut it once was, the threat of Aaron Rodgers in the passing game should still open up big running lanes, which Starks can take advantage on. He’s an every week starter rest of season.
2) Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins (48% owned)
Matt Jones’s ball security issues opened the door for Rob Kelley who took advantage Sunday getting more than 20 carries for the second week in a row and turning those into 97 yards from scrimmage. Making the feat more impressive is that Kelley did so against a stout Minnesota Vikings defensive line. He’ll have a much easier time this week against a Green Bay squad that has gotten torched lately giving up either multiple touchdowns or 100 yards to the past three running backs they’ve faced.
3) Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (56% owned)
Chris Ivory disappointed last week, but is due for a rebound this week against a struggling Detroit Lions defense. While he splits his touches with T.J. Yeldon, Ivory still handles all the goal line work for the Jaguars and there should be plenty of scoring opportunities this weekend.
Players On Bye: Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates, and Virgil Green
Important Injuries: Rob Gronkowski
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (58% owned)
Julius Thomas went from fantasy darling to touchdown dependent streamer when he left Peyton Manning’s high-powered offense for the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars. If there was ever a team to stream against though, it’s the Detroit Lions. The Lions are giving up more than one touchdown to tight ends per game this season. Expect this streak to continue this week as the Lions simply don’t have the proper personnel to defend someone with Thomas’s size and quickness.
2) Lance Kendricks, TE, Los Angeles Rams (18% owned)
Lance Kendricks only had two targets which he turned into one catch for zero yards on Sunday. Despite that, Kendricks still has the seventh most targets among tight ends in the past four weeks. Kendricks could see even more usage this week, now that Jared Goeff has been named the starting quarterback for the Rams. Rookie quarterbacks historically lean heavily on short, safe passes to tight ends in the passing game, which could mean great things for Kendricks going forward.
3) Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (52% owned)
Cameron Brate’s role continued to grow in the Buccaneers’ passing game last week, scoring for the third week in a row and setting a new season high in yardage with 84 yards from scrimmage. Brate has earned the trust of quarterback Jameis Winston, who has increased the amount he has targeted the tight end each week for the past three weeks. Brate has a tall order next week against a stingy Kansas City defense, but, after securing all seven of his targets last week, fantasy owners should feel confident starting Brate anyway.
1) Bills, DST, Buffalo (50% owned)
The Bills go into week 11 averaging 3.3 sacks per tilt, the highest average sack total in the league. Coming off a bye week, it’s safe to expect the Ryan brothers have a creative slate of blitz packages prepared to keep that average up. The Bengals offense is a legitimate scoring threat, which could limit the Bills scoring, but picking up the Bills this week could save owners from having to stream DSTs for the rest of the season.
2) Titans, DST, Tennessee (16% owned)
The Titans problems defensively have somewhat hidden what has been an impressive pass rush this season. Averaging 2.8 sacks per game, the Titans are tied for the fifth highest sack rate in the league. Tennessee should be able to maintain their average this week as they take on the Colts this weekend. Indianapolis has struggled to protect Andrew Luck all season, which should make the Titans a solid start this week.
3) Steelers, DST, Pittsburgh (34% owned)
The Steelers have managed to dramatically improve their defense since last season, but are still a middle of the road option most weeks. The Steelers get to take on the Cleveland Browns this weekend though, vaulting them to a top tier option for week 11. Moving on to Cody Kessler at quarterback has done little to improve the Browns offense, which is still giving up the ninth most fantasy points to opposing defenses.