The Saints shocked the NFL world by announcing Taysom Hill as their starting quarterback in Week 11, with Drew Brees heading to IR with rib injuries. The bigger surprise might have happened Sunday when Hill looked like a legitimate starting NFL quarterback in a 24-9 win over the Falcons.
Hill completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards, a 10.1 yards per attempt mark that the Saints will take every week. Of course, Hill did most of his damage in the running game, rushing for 51 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns, but that was expected. We knew he could do that, and it was what made him an intriguing Fantasy QB as a starter. That he was able to hold his own as a passer? Well, now that's what could make him an actual Fantasy difference maker.
OK, it was just the Falcons, who have been one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL this season. But still, Hill hadn't thrown more than two passes in a game that mattered since 2016, when he was a fifth-year senior at BYU, averaging a whopping 6.2 yards per attempt. This was certainly unexpected, but the Saints did a good job of putting Hill in situations to succeed -- and you knew they would.
Hill wasn't asked to drop back five steps, survey the field and pick the defense apart; it was mostly quick looks, with nine of his attempts not even traveling beyond the line of scrimmage and only 10 traveling more than 5 yards. The Saints scripted a lot of easy looks, mostly to Michael Thomas, who had his best game of the season with nine catches for 104 yards on 12 targets. However, Hill did complete all four of his passes that traveled at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage.
This game plan won't work against every team, and it was bad news for Alvin Kamara, who has held without a catch for the first time in his NFL career. Moving forward, the Saints will have to ask Hill to do more as a passer or the offense will stall out. This was a low degree of difficulty matchup, but it was still a pretty promising one for Fantasy -- Hill scored 26.42 Fantasy points Sunday.
With Brees out at least two more weeks (and possibly longer), Hill is going to remain the starter moving forward, and he probably needs to be rostered everywhere for Fantasy. He won't be the No. 1 waiver-wire target for Week 12, and he probably won't have tight end eligibility where he currently has it after this week, though he would be the No. 1 player at that position every week if he did. But the fact that he looked competent as a passer gives him the potential to be a real difference maker for Week 12 against the Broncos and especially Week 13 against this same Falcons defense.
Here's who else we'll be looking for on the wire based on Sunday's games, starting with Gus Edwards, who immediately becomes the top priority with news that J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram tested positive for COVID-19 and will likely miss Thursday's game against the Steelers. You can hear Dave Richard and I break down that news and what it means for Edwards on an emergency edition of the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Listen below and subscribe at Apple, Spotify, or anywhere else you get your podcasts:
Early Waiver Targets
Gus Edwards RB
BAL Baltimore • #35
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Edwards has 16 games with at least 10 carries in his NFL career, a nice even number. He has rushed for 1,212 yards and five touchdowns in those 16 games. In eight games with at least 15 carries, he's averaging 94.9 rushing yards per game with three touchdowns, good for 11.9 PPR points per game. The Steelers are a tough matchup, but the Ravens rushed for over 200 yards against them in their last meeting, and they've generally had some trouble slowing down Lamar Jackson, which should help create lanes for Edwards. Edwards is a must-start, borderline No. 1 RB in non-PPR as long as he starts, and he's a solid No. 2 for PPR. Edwards should be the top priority on waivers unless you are just set at RB and don't need a win this week.
PHI Philadelphia • #88
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The bottom seems to be falling out for Carson Wentz, who turned the ball over two more times -- and had at least two more picks dropped -- but at least he started to get Goedert involved. Goedert was second on the team in targets with six, and led the Eagles with 77 yards on five catches, plus a touchdown. Goedert had been outplayed by Richard Rodgers in his first two games back from IR -- and Rodgers caught another touchdown Sunday -- but had been playing a full-time snap share with a high rate of routes run, so it was only a matter of time before he got going. Goedert might be a top five tight end for the rest of the season, even with Zach Ertz working his way back from his own IR stint.
IND Indianapolis • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
It's more than a little frustrating that Pittman didn't have a single target in the second half, but that was mostly because the Colts moved away from the pass down the stretch. He led the Colts receivers in routes and snaps, and is clearly the No. 1 wide receiver here. That should be enough to make him at least a No. 3 Fantasy WR down the stretch.
James White RB
NE New England • #28
Age: 32 • Experience: 9 yrs.
White hasn't made the kind of impact this season he has in recent years, largely because he was stuck in a three-way split in the Patriots backfield, entering Week 11 with just two more targets than Rex Burkhead. However, with Burkhead leaving Sunday's game with what looked like it could be a pretty serious knee injury, White caught six of a team-high nine targets for 64 yards, his best receiving game since Week 6. He also had five carries, his most since Week 1, and that could be his role every week if Burkhead is out. It's possible the Patriots activate Sony Michel with Burkhead sidelined, but he's not much of a pass-catcher, so it shouldn't impact White much. White should be a viable PPR starter for as long as Burkhead is out.
Jordan Akins TE
CLE Cleveland • #84
Age: 31 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Injuries kept Akins off the field for four weeks and limited him to less than 40% of the Texans' snaps in Weeks 9 and 10, but he was ready for a bigger role in Week 11 and responded with a career-best game. Akins ran routes on 26 plays Sunday -- Pharaoh Brown and Darren Fells combined for just 22 -- and caught five of six targets for 83 yards, a career-high in receiving. Akins probably isn't going to be a must start tight end, but if Randall Cobb's injury keeps him out, he could be the primary option in the middle of the field with Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks stretching the field.
P.J. Walker QB
CLE Cleveland • #10
Age: 28 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Walker will get overshadowed by Hill, but he had a pretty interesting first NFL start. The former XFL star completed 24 of 34 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown, and nearly scored another but was stopped just short of the goal line on a run. He was also picked off twice, both times in the end zone, so he hurt his own chances of a bigger day. Still, Walker was more impressive than the box score, hitting on three deep passes, including a 17-yard touchdown to Curtis Samuel and a 52-yard gain for D.J. Moore. Walker may not get another start, but if he does get to play against the Vikings in Week 12, he would be an intriguing sleeper.
Russell Gage WR
TB Tampa Bay • #3
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Julio Jones has really struggled with injuries, and a flare-up of his hamstring kept him off the field for much of Sunday's game. Gage benefited, earning 12 of Matt Ryan's 37 targets, catching seven for 58 yards. The Falcons have struggled with Jones out of the lineup this season, so hopefully he can go. However, if not, maybe Gage can step up.
Damiere Byrd WR
HOU Houston • #14
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
I don't want to overreact to Byrd's big game, but we can't ignore it. Jakobi Meyers, who looked like the No.1 option in this passing game by a long shot, had just three targets Sunday, so it was Byrd who stepped up in a big way. He caught six of seven passes thrown his way for 132 yards and a touchdown, the first by a wide receiver from Cam Newton this season. Byrd had no targets in Week 10 so, like I said, you don't want to overreact, but this was also Byrd's fourth game with at least seven targets in his past nine, so there's some upside. Byrd is a boom-or-bust Fantasy wide receiver who you'll never feel great about starting, but in deeper leagues, he's worth a look.
Frank Gore RB
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #21
Age: 40 • Experience: 17 yrs.
There is nothing exciting about Frank Gore, except that he gets carries. Reports surfaced last week that Lamical Perine was going to be the feature back for the Jets down the stretch, and he did get some early work, scoring a touchdown. However, Perine was forced to leave with an ankle injury, leaving Gore as the lone back for the Jets. He rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown and added two catches for 10 yards. You won't get much more than that from him most weeks, but if Perine is out, Gore could be a useful starter in Week 12 against the Dolphins.