Each week Bobby Smith previews the Flukes or Flames from the fantasy world! Follow Bobby on Twitter at @fosterfantasy
Week to week we know we have surprise fantasy producers, wild weeks from regulars and then our disappointments from all over the board. This column is to help you, the waiver-wire searching, deep stat diving, sometimes FAAB spending fantasy enthusiast know which players are worth picking up or stashing. I will give you a fluke and a flame for each position, unless there are a couple that either have major bust or boom capability. Flukes will be those who have put up big numbers and are either down or are trending down. Flames will be those who are lighting the fantasy world on fire or look to keep stacking up points for those who took a chance on them.
We saw a couple of QB’s go down later in the day on Sunday. Drew Brees’ rib cage injury is the more impactful injury on the fantasy radar. It could be a multi-week absence and place some questions on WRs and Alvin Kamara. Christian McCaffery is still on the out list and we are awaiting the call on the week-to-week status on Joe Mixon and Chris Carson. David Johnson will be out for at least two more weeks after being put on the IR with a concussion. Allen Lazard has been activated from the IR on the good news wire and Matthew Stafford and Drew Lock are looking to play Sunday even with the injuries. Lock is looking a little more questionable than Stafford at this time even though both state that they want to play.
It was another up and down week for us on the Flukes and Flames list. Some of the misses were due to weather and possibly the catch of the season to make my calls look bad. We will try to hit it out of the park this week and keep the fire going for the rest of the season. Let’s go! Onto Week 11’s Flukes and Flames!
Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Watson was one of the big names with their Week 10 ruined by the ghastly weather in Cleveland and now enters into a five game stretch that drops his projections down toward the 24-26 point range. His first two opponents in this stretch, the Patriots and Lions, are not as formidable as the last three, but both are good against the QB in fantasy and the Detroit game is a short week on Thanksgiving. The loss of David Johnson is also a bit of a hit to the team but Duke Johnson is a capable RB and should mitigate most of that effect on Watson’s game. Even with being one of the Top 7 QBs week to week and the projected QB5 for Week 11, the trend for Watson looks to be down for the next few weeks so team owners should put that into their game plans.
Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens
This may come as a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention to media outlets that have been down on Jackson’s gameplay this season. It has been an up and down season for Lamar and the Ravens for a number of reasons. But, thankfully for those that depend on his fantasy output, a few things play into his favor for the rest of the season. The schedule is a plus, especially after the next two weeks and even those two weeks are winnable games for the Ravens. A revenge game against a struggling Titans team this week is going to be a ship-righting game for one of the two teams. This time I believe it will be the Ravens that make the move up and solidify their playoff run with a victory and easy remaining schedule after the big game against Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving. When Ingram gets back into the fold and the offense gets back on track, it will be a great day for those with Jackson on their rosters. I see that day coming this week and a big push for those gunning for the fantasy playoffs with Jackson leading the charge at the QB position.
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers
After two weeks out due to injury, Jones has come back into his committee role with a couple of so-so games, both missing projections. Last week’s game was a good matchup so it was a bit more of a letdown than the SF game. But between the upcoming schedule becoming a bit of a problem in the next three weeks and the committee usage, his projections could be a bit on the high side. Of course, with Green Bay, you never know when someone will have a big day through the air or on the ground, but with 3 top defenses coming to town an egg is always possible as well.
D’Andre Swift – Detroit Lions
Even with being on a injury riddled team and a bad team at that, Swift has been able to hammer out some big weeks and a continuous rise from some RB-by-committee work and mediocrity to pound out a couple of really good weeks. Last week, his 16 touches from handoffs were buoyed by the continued targets out of the backfield, taking one to the house for his TD score. The increase of usage and capability in receiving out of the backfield makes him a increasingly better get if you got him off the wire or via trade earlier in the season. His projection of RB 10-12 looks to be a bit low with the matchup this week for him and the toughness of matchup of those projected ahead of him. The schedule further out also holds good news for team owners that have put faith in him. Houston and Green Bay in Weeks 12 and 14 are giving up the 2nd most and 4th most, respectively, to fantasy RBs. Chicago in Week 13 would be a tough matchup but no other team, even Tampa in Week 16, brings as big of a threat to his weekly points as long as his usage remains the same.
Any Tampa Bay WR
For the first time I am going to lump together a few WRs on a team. If I had to pick on one player in particular it would be Chris Godwin, but this could be taken for the whole corps. Tampa has been on a wild roller coaster ride in the last few weeks. Going from a blowout of Las Vegas, to a struggle win at NY, to a crushing blow from New Orleans back to the top of the hill in beating Carolina. Tampa has two tough matchups with the Rams and the Chiefs coming up before a bye week. The addition of Antonio Brown to the receiving corps has helped and hindered the team. More weapons can be a good thing but it can also be a drain on the overall output for individuals in fantasy. Between the two negatives working against them, it looks to be a crapshoot in Tampa for those looking for WR points for their teams.
Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings
After a couple of down weeks off the bye, Theilen posted a big week against the Bears in Week 10. The yards and receptions haven’t rebounded quite yet but the TDs and trustworthiness in the red zone came back in full effect. This is good news and with a positive turn in matchups, especially this week at home with the Cowboys, could make for a few more big weeks in the near future before things toughen up for the fantasy playoffs.
Rob Gronkowski – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This goes back to the same matter as the WRs but with one more caveat. He hasn’t had the volume in a couple of weeks and matchups don’t bode well for him. His saving grace is the usage in the red zone. He has become a TD or bust with his limited targets in the last two weeks. If the TDs fall away, so does the week for team owners.
Austin Hooper – Cleveland Browns
This miss last week was all due to weather. The wind and storms broke down any passing game for both teams and therefore all points were gone for good. Hooper still stands to be a big beneficiary of the Odell ACL injury. The matchups and increasing target share should lead to a big plus for team owners and barring any more weather calamities, it should all start this week.
Cleveland hasn’t been a great performer points wise all season long but the number of adds show that a lot are depending on them to play up to the projections this week. While 7 points isn’t a lot to aim for, even with the defunct Eagles offense coming to town, it can be a problem reaching that goal. Philadelphia is getting healthier, if that is possible, and capable of putting up some points if they play up to par. Combine that and the fact that this is the Browns that we are talking about, there is a large probability for a bust.
Beautiful matchup this week with a good run defense to stop Ezekiel Elliot and no major threat from the Cowboys QBs to attack majorly over the top. Follow that up with a favorable schedule until Week 14 and you have a good steaming pickup for at least three weeks to save moves if your league limits them.
Nick Folk – New England Patriots
Up and down team spells inconsistent output from many spots, especially the K spot. The schedule screams inconsistency and with better options on the wire, its not worth the chance to make this pickup in hoping for a larger point total.
Michael Badgley – Los Angeles Chargers
Big matchup this week verses the lowly Jets and as long as the Chargers are moving the ball and scoring, he has the possibility for double digits with a long FG or two. Remaining schedule is favorable even if the matchups aren’t slam dunks like this week.