In a season of record scoring, both in Fantasy Football and the NFL, Week 10 was a bit of an outlier. 12 teams scored 20 or fewer points last week, the highest total since Week 1. Only six quarterbacks passed for 300 yards, five fewer than in Week 9, and only half of those six had multiple passing touchdowns. Only seven players had 100 receiving yards -- down from an average of 12.9 per week coming in.
Partially, that was the result of teams like the Falcons and Chiefs being on bye, and partially it was the result of windy conditions in a few stadiums making passing a bit tougher to do. But it could be because injuries are starting to take their toll on offenses league wide. Many teams are down to the second or third guy on the depth chart at several positions, and at some point, it was going to have an impact. Maybe that's where we're at.
Which means navigating the news and knowing who to start could be tougher than ever down the stretch this season. Everyday for the Fantasy Football Today Newsletter, I keep track of all of the news you need to know about, and every Tuesday I answer our reader's biggest questions for the upcoming week, and it's no surprise that injury questions came up this week. The FFT team is here to provide answers to all of the big questions heading into Week 11:
I just lost Brees. Who should I pick up?
- Jamey Eisenberg: Jameis Winston would be the first quarterback to look for with the hope that he performs at a high level like Teddy Bridgewater did in place of Brees last year. If you can't get Winston, based on the guys who are likely available in most leagues, your best options are Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins and Joe Flacco. It's ugly, so hopefully Winston is your guy.
- Dave Richard: Welcome to the wonderful world of streaming quarterbacks! Grab a canoe and a paddle and let's go! Jameis Winston makes sense as your first option, if only because he carries the most upside of anyone you'll find on waivers. Plus his next three matchups aren't so bad -- Falcons, Broncos, Falcons. If you can't get him, or if his potential to melt down and throw 12 interceptions scares you, Philip Rivers or Kirk Cousins are widely available. But if you're gonna go with them, might as well ride with Winston.
- Heath Cummings: I'm going straight to Jameis Winston. Even though it isn't official, I expect Winston to replace Brees and be a borderline top-12 QB against the Falcons.
- Adam Aizer: Winston faces the Falcons twice in his next three games, plus the Broncos in between. I'd pick up Winston or Philip Rivers and get ready for an emotional rollercoaster on Sundays.
- Chris Towers: I think it probably has to be Winston, given the matchup against the Falcons -- and the potential rematch in Week 13. He could be a stud for the next few weeks. You could also consider Kirk Cousins (45% rostered), who gets the Cowboys in Week 11 or Alex Smith (13%) against the Bengals, but I think I would prefer Winston to either.
When is it too early to start mailing in the regular season and start preparing a playoff roster if I locked up a playoff spot?
- Jamey Eisenberg: I don't think you should ever mail it in because you'd like to lock up a first-round bye if possible. But you can start discarding players you are never going to use with the chance to find guys who could be successful in Week 14 and beyond, especially if there is a DST you're looking at for the Fantasy postseason.
- Dave Richard: Are you nuts? Mailing in the regular season?! The answer is N-E-V-E-R. If you're undefeated, you're going to keep trying to win so you stay undefeated. If you have one loss, you probably still need to rack up victories in order to clinch the top seed. Rare is the Fantasy league where someone has the top seed on lock with one or more regular-season weeks left. Beating your friends/family at Fantasy Football is fun. Why mail it in?
- Heath Cummings: That depends on if you can also earn a bye. Especially this season, cutting out the number of weeks you need to win to get to the championship game is very important. If I have a shot at a bye, I'm going hard after that. If not, I'm preparing for the playoffs now.
- Adam Aizer: I would try to secure a bye before mailing anything in, but if you know you're headed to the playoffs now is the time to trade for Christian McCaffrey or trade your No. 4 RB to a desperate team for a WR you could start in Weeks 14-16.
- Chris Towers: As long as you've locked in a playoff spot and don't have a bye week to play for, it's never too early. If you've only got pride to play for in the regular season and you're just biding your time until the playoffs, you should be looking for ways to build the best possible team come playoff time. My suggestion? Try to see if the person who has Christian McCaffrey or Michael Thomas is desperate and will move them for immediate help at a discount. You can try the same thing with the teams on waivers in Week 11, except that there isn't a ton to get excited about between the Bears, Giants, 49ers, and Bills. But see if the person who has Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs or Allen Robinson is in a must-win spot and will move them.
How should I approach handcuffs with the playoffs approaching?
- Jamey Eisenberg: You can start to handcuff your star running backs now if possible, but the top guys are likely on your team or not available already (Latavius Murray, Alexander Mattison, etc.). The ones who could be out there are Benny Snell and Devontae Booker, but it's slim pickings for available handcuffs at this point aside from making a trade.
- Dave Richard: Are they necessary? No, but you'd love to already have the guy behind your best guy on your roster. Not all handcuff running backs are created equally -- I doubt Devine Ozigbo will crush defense after defense like James Robinson has. But the ones with good talent and a large opportunity are worth holding on to. My faves? Latavius Murray, Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison (yes, still) and Benny Snell.
- Heath Cummings: I treat them the same way I have all year: I want to roster backups in great situations whether I have the starter in that situation or not.
- Adam Aizer: Get your handcuff, but only if you think he is a must-start if your starter gets hurt. You don't need to handcuff David Montgomery or D'Andre Swift, for example.
- Chris Towers: Generally speaking, I don't think making a priority of drafting your starter's backup is the best usage of resources in drafts. You have a finite amount of picks, so dedicating two roster spots for one backfield means you are guaranteed to only hit one one of those picks in a best-case scenario. However, once you get to the playoffs, you know what your lineup looks like most weeks, so it's less about having as many darts available to throw and more about making sure your starting lineup spots are as strong as possible. That makes it more important to add the truly valuable backups, though there aren't necessarily a ton of those, either.
Is Damien Harris an RB1 and weekly starter?
- Jamey Eisenberg: He is a starter in non-PPR leagues for Week 11 against Houston, but I'm not ready to anoint him as a weekly starter yet. Let's see what happens with this week, and Sony Michel's return could be a slight problem. But I like the setup for Harris in non-PPR leagues against the Texans in Week 11, and I just wish he was more involved in the passing game.
- Dave Richard: It's going to be a matchup-based thing. He is this week in non-PPR because the Texans defense is so bad. Did you know he's had 55% of the Patriots running back touch share in three of his past four? And 65% last week?! Finally, the Pats have found a lead guy. Enjoy the benefits of his labor.
- Heath Cummings: He definitely looks like a weekly starter. Without involvement in the passing game, I'm afraid RB1 may be out of reach in full PPR.
- Adam Aizer: Only in non-PPR leagues. Harris has been a great runner but he is completely uninvolved in the passing game and Cam Newton is a TD hog at the goal line.
- Chris Towers: Yes, he's a weekly starter, but he isn't an RB1 for Fantasy and may never be. We saw a perfect example of why in Week 10: 121 rushing yards and 12.1 PPR points. He's looked like a great runner, but he has a nonexistent role in the passing game and plays next to Cam Newton, limiting his touchdown opportunities. He's the definition of a TRAP back.
What do I do with Michael Thomas?
- Jamey Eisenberg: Start him every week unless your roster is stacked. I'm hopeful Jameis Winston will help Thomas get back on track, but I'm not giving up on him yet.
- Dave Richard: You're going to keep starting him. The good news is that Winston targeted Thomas on five of his 10 throws last week. The bad news is that three of them were off-target and a fourth should have been intercepted. Hopefully, Winston fires at Thomas enough to see the stud receiver fall into production. It just won't be as efficient as it was with Brees in 2019.
- Heath Cummings: He's playing the Falcons. You start him this week. We can come back to this next week if it doesn't work out.
- Adam Aizer: You start him and re-evaluate if he struggles against Atlanta. New Orleans barely threw the ball in Week 10 so it is hard to judge him based on last week alone. But it is now three bad games and no good games this season, so Thomas has some making up to do. I anticipate he'll get going this week
- Chris Towers: The first question to answer is: Do we have reason to believe Thomas' value has changed dramatically? There would be two factors that could lead to the answer being, "Yes," in my eyes: Either you think he's not healthy, or you think his situation has gotten much worse. It's entirely possible the former is true, though he played a pretty typical number of snaps and routes in Week 10, so I'm inclined to think he's healthy enough. The loss of Brees could make this a worse situation, obviously, but I'm inclined to think the opposite -- Winston is less likely to dump the ball off or find the "safe" play, and he'll take risks to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. I don't think Thomas will suddenly start running Mike Evans ' route tree, but Winston might take an extra chance or two at the big play, enough to make this a net-neutral move for Thomas' value. Hold him or trade for him.
Is Robby Anderson still a must-start WR?
- Jamey Eisenberg: He's a borderline starter in PPR, but it's hard to call him a must-start option in non-PPR leagues. I'd love to see D.J. Moore continue to outplay Anderson like we saw in Week 10, and we'll see what happens with Teddy Bridgewater (knee). But as of Tuesday, I still have Anderson ranked as a starter in PPR for Week 11 against Detroit.
- Dave Richard: It sure seems like Anderson is no longer a reliable deep-ball target for the Panthers. From Week 7 on, his yards before catch and receiving average have dipped, as has, ever so slightly, his catch rate. Worst of all, Anderson has seen just 10 deep targets in those past four games, catching two of them for 48 yards. He's also barely been a red-zone fixture, ranking 40th in targets inside the 20 with seven through nine games. He needs a steady dose of volume with a higher catch rate and a farther depth of target to become reliable again. A pretty good-looking matchup against the Lions should get him in the low-end No. 2 range in PPR, but he shouldn't be considered a must-start in other formats.
- Heath Cummings: Must-start is a weird term, but probably not. But I'm still ranking him in the top 20 this week and I still plan on starting him as a No. 2 option.
- Adam Aizer: I'd say he falls just short of that, but he is a probably-start as long as Teddy Bridgewater is healthy. Anderson is in the top five among WR in targets, catches and yards and yet has just one TD catch. Perhaps some positive regression is coming!
- Chris Towers: When it comes to whether you should dramatically change your opinion on a player, production is an important thing to look at, but it's even more important to look at where the production comes from, especially in small sample sizes. In Anderson's case, his emergence as a must-start WR was driven by his emergence as the No. 1 target for the Panthers offense, and his recent struggles (132 yards in his last three games) haven't coincided with a change in that usage. In fact, his 27 targets over the last three games are just one shy of his previous three-game high this season. Production can fluctuate, but as long as Anderson is earning this kind of work, he's a must-start option. Don't overreact to the natural, largely random fluctuations we see during the course of a season. He's still the No. 1 option here, though an injury to Bridgewater would certainly hurt his value, so watch that situation closely.
Is Travis Kelce the only must-start TE?
- Jamey Eisenberg: No, but he's one of just two no-brainer options at the position, along with Darren Waller. Aside from those two guys, everyone else has flaws, and Kelce is clearly the best player at his position in 2020.
- Dave Richard: Definitely not. Any tight end with upside for 60 yards and a touchdown is a must start, as is any tight end who could see six-plus targets. That keeps guys like Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Rob Gronkowski, Hayden Hurst and Hunter Henry firmly in the must-start category.
- Heath Cummings: Darren Waller definitely is, despite his up-and-down performance. But that's about it. Kelce and Waller are the only tight ends I have projected for more than 10 PPR points in Week 11.
- Adam Aizer: Darren Waller and T.J. Hockenson are also must-starts, and Rob Gronkowski and Mark Andrews are close behind.
- Chris Towers: Given that most leagues require at least one tight end for at least 10 teams, there has to be more than one must-start tight end, right? The simple math almost demands it. Well, Darren Waller hasn't averaged more than 8.0 yards per target in any game this season and hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 7; that's your No. 2 tight end in PPR scoring on both a per-game basis and overall. T.J. Hockenson is No. 3 in both with a season-high of 65 yards and only three games out of nine with more than six targets. Waller and Hockenson are part of a larger group that includes Mark Andrews, Hunter Henry, Noah Fant and probably a few others who are technically "must-start" tight ends, but they are pretty much all touchdown-or-bust guys. Kelce is the only exception at the position at this point.