The Late Week Hustle - Week 11

The Late Week Hustle

by @dwainmcfarland

Fantasy football is a fluid game.  Yeah, your waiver wires have already ran for the week and you are probably settling in on your lineups, but things change. 

You have new information at your disposal such as drops your league mates made, unexpected late week injuries, and other news.  That is why each week I will be bringing you an update on Thursday or Friday to help you digest new info and make the adjustments you need to win on Sunday or better equip your team for the long run. 

We are entering the heavy bye week period.  For some owners this spells doom, but for smart owners that are hustling it spells OPPORTUNITY.  If you are behind in the standings, now is the time to be aggressive.  Gain points and wins on your opponents who are depending on a few studs that will be on bye. If you are an owner in the lead, now is the time to crush those beneath you by padding your roster with more depth and blocking the weak from becoming strong.

In the content below you will see me refer to player utilization.  Player utilization refers to the underlying drivers that must be there for consistent fantasy performance. 

  • Team plays tell us about coaching philosophy.  Up tempo play callers give us more of what we want in fantasy - volume. 
  • Snap percentages provide us our first indicator of player involvement.  Not on the field, welp you know rest of that equation ...
  • Routes Ran per Drop Back help us understand who coaches want on the field when the ball is in the air.  This is a very telling, yet often overlooked data point.
  • Target percentages are a well known stat at this point, but can be misleading if out of context.  We don't want to pick up a player with 20% of the targets last week when he was only on the field for 50% of the snaps and only ran routes 40% of the team drop backs.

It is ALL about context and these indicators when used together can paint a very telling picture that will help you dominate your opponents by pivoting away from bad choices to find the true gems.  So, let's dive in and start out hustling your league mates.

Late Week Injuries & News

Below is a run down of most skill position injury news (or other news) we likely didn't have when league waiver wires ran.  This isn't meant to be an extensive list of injuries - more focused on the trickle down impact to team mates and their value.

RB Royce Freeman - Got in two full practices Thursday and Friday.  Will Play.

This downgrades Philip Lindsay to an RB3 / flex option rather than an RB2.  Devontae Booker can't be used at all now.  Freeman is flex if desperate play.

WR Marvin Jones Jr - Out (knee).

Lions' WR Kenny Golladay is in line for massive targets with Tate traded and Jones injured.  Tight end Michael Roberts is also out so Luke Willson and Theo Riddick are likely both in for expanded roles in the passing game.  Riddick is a solid flex option and Luke Willson can serve as a bye week filler at TE.

WR Torrey Smith - Out (knee).

The Panthers will continue to utilize D.J. Moore for more snaps with Smith out.  Moore has three consecutive games with a high route per drop back percentage and is worthy of WR3 / Flex consideration.

WR Jordy Nelson & WR Martavis Bryant - Out.

Look for Jared Cook, Brandon Lafell and Seth Roberts to all get more snaps, routes and targets this week.  Jared Cook should be in most line-ups considering how bad TE looks this season for fantasy owners.  LaFell and Roberts are desperation plays only.

WR Taywan Taylor  - Out (foot).

Expect to see Corey Davis to continue dominance of targets and get more slot work with Taylor out.  Davis is a rock-solid WR2 this week.

WR Chad Williams - Out.

Coming off of the bye last week it was Ricky Seals-Jones picking up extra targets (9) with Williams out.  Seals-Jones is a fine TE play this week and this news also locks Larry Fitzgerald in as a WR3 and makes Christian Kirk a flex option.

Keke Coutee - Limited all week with hamstring issue.  Game-time-decision.

In every game the Texans haven't had a viable third WR the secondary option has gotten massive target volume.  If Coutee can't go Demaryius Thomas moves into the WR2 conversation.

Waiver Wire - Looking Ahead

First of all, if you haven't read Jim Day's weekly waiver wire article please do so here.  Each week in this space I will focus on a couple of areas:

  • One or two under the radar waiver options I am being proactive on
  • Players on the mend I am being proactive about

I may or may not have recommendations every week for each category.  

One word of advice before we dive in on these - only you know your league.  If you are in a smaller league some of these guys may not be viable for you.  If you are in crazy deep leagues (like most of mine) many of these guys won't be available. He is averaging 10.8 yards per carry with 10.7 of those coming after contact

I will add context where I can on this where I can, but trust you to hold yourself accountable for making the right choices.

Under the Radar

Previously listed:  WR Taywan Taylor, QB Jameis Winston, TE Geoff Swaim, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Albert Wilson, WR David Moore, WR D.J. Moore, WR Courtland Sutton, WR DaeSean Hamilton, WR Brandon Powell, WR D.J. Chark, 

RB Spencer Ware - Makes a nice bench stash if someone dropped him (or drops him heading into next week's bye).  Andy Reid consistently produces fantasy gold at the RB position and this year is no different.  Ware has shown well in his limited exposure this year and if Kareem Hunt were to go down you instantly have an RB1 to insert into your playoff lineup.

RB Malcolm Brown - Similar to the logic as above, but a slight downgrade from Ware because we haven't seen Brown really show us what he can do yet.  However, this is a great offense and Brown would get the first shot to earn the job.  He would instantly be an RB2 or Flex option with upside to be worth more.

RB Rod Smith - Smith is another hand-cuff option if you are headed to the play-offs and are piecing together your RB2 position paired with strong WRs.  If Ezekiel Elliott goes down Smith is the clear handcuff to own.  I would prioritize him below Ware and slightly behind Brown due to the Cowboys offense providing less red zone opportunities and explosiveness.

On the Mend

Below are players that are progressing well and are likely to return to the field soon.  This is not meant to be an extensive list.

Previously listed:  WR Alshon Jeffery, TE Hayden Hurst, TE Greg Olsen, RB D'Onta Foreman, TE Jack Doyle, TE Ed Dickson, RB Elijah McGuire, WR Quincy Enunwa, RB Giovani Bernard

RB Rex Burkhead - Burkhead is eligible to return to play week 13.  This doesn't make him an instant starter for your fantasy squad, but Sony Michel has been very banged up and if he falters Burkhead would step into a bigger role that could win a fantasy championship for you.

RB D'Onta Foreman - Foreman has been listed here before, but things have come along slowly for him.  It does sound like he is near return though and could be a nice stash if you are in a deeper bench league.  Lamar Miller has been very average, so Foreman could challenge for good playing time when healthy.

Sneaky Cuts

If you are considering picking up any of the players mentioned above but are struggling with who to cut, there is a strategy I like to utilize when in this circumstance.  I call it floating. 

The idea is to cut a player you can likely reacquire next week (i.e. float) because your league mates won't notice them while you get a look at a player that will actually be on the field (and thus more likely to be a hot commodity next week if they go off).

There are a couple of tactics I like to deploy when floating:

Tactic 1:  Cut middling level players that are on a bye.

This week Kenny Stills, Chris Hogan, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and most Bills players are all options.

Tactic 2:  Cut middling level players out due to injury this week.

Options this week include Taywan Taylor, Jordy Nelson, and Chris Thompson.

Well that is it for week eleven.  Good luck to everyone this weekend, unless you by some random chance are playing me.  In that case, you don't stand a Fighting Chance!

If you want more information similar to what you found in this article you can every Tuesday on The Tuesday Night Hustle pod cast with myself and Brian Drake.  Listen live or on demand.

Additionally, you can follow me on twitter @dwainmcfarland

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