Every week during the NFL season, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver targets for fantasy owners. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and this year there’s a twist: we’re sharing our top nine targets at each position, in addition to our top nine overall.
There were several interesting backfield shifts on Sunday — and it’s unclear whether some of them were injury related.
Tevin Coleman took over in Atlanta for a concussed Devonta Freeman, and rookie Jamaal Williams grounded his way to a viable fantasy performance following injuries to Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery.
Yet the drunkest game of the weekend — the Chargers visiting Jacksonville — saw feature backs Melvin Gordon and Leonard Fournette, each presumably healthy after a week off, often on the sideline in nut-crunching time in favor of Austin Ekeler and T.J. Yeldon.
Sure enough, Ekeler fumbled late in the fourth quarter to help Jacksonville to a win, while Blake Bortles — who attempted 29 of his 51(!) passes in the second half of a one-possession game —tossed two picks to try and return the favor, which the Chargers politely declined.
Also in this week’s ‘9 route:’ last call for Tennessee first-round WR Corey Davis, Patriots’ Swiss army knife Rex Burkhead, plus a few quarterbacks who could find themselves on the fantasy radar in the near future.
9. Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater — We’re taking a longer-term view here, as Case Keenum isn’t getting benched in Week 11 vs. his former team, the Rams. Keenum threw four touchdowns and tallied 304 passing yards Sunday in his most productive fantasy outing to date (he also has a 3-TD, 369-yard outing vs. the Bucs on his resume). But Bridgewater will be ready as soon as Keenum slips — which he did, albeit temporarily, in the fourth quarter in Washington. The Vikings have never been able to offer this kind of support for Bridgewater, and fantasy playoffs offer Minnesota the Bengals at home and Green Bay on the road.
8. Washington RB Samaje Perine — Here we go again. Rob Kelley suffered a high ankle sprain and MCL injury, potentially ending his season and starting Perine’s quest to be the lead dog in 2018 Sooner than expected. Perine replaced Kelley vs. the Vikings and logged 9-35 rushing, plus a 25-yard catch — not exciting but the third time in the past four games in which they’ve both appeared that the rookie out-rushed Chris Thompson. Washington has tough sledding remaining — No. 30 in RB strength of schedule, per fantasypros — but its O-line healthy again.
7. Bears WR Dontrelle Inman — In his Bears debut, the ex-Charger hauled in 6-of-8 targets (both team highs) for 88 yards. He would’ve surpassed the century mark if not for a bad third-down drop in the final two minutes. But his immediate edge in what was (and still might be) the NFLs worst receiving corps was evident almost immediately. Inman should only improve as he gets more comfortable with Mitch Trubisky, who should have another opportunity to build on his career-high 297 passing yards with two left against Detroit (including Sunday) and the Browns, Niners and Eagles ahead.
6. Ravens RB Danny Woodhead — John Harbaugh played coy Monday regarding Woodhead’s chances of returning Sunday at Lambeau but the passing-game specialist remains on track. He’d get a Packers ‘D’ that inexplicably received a pass for the most part on having to contend with the Bears’ Tarik Cohen last week but has had issues over the past month with Theo Riddick, Alvin Kamara and Jerick McKinnon in the passing game.
5. Chargers RB Austin Ekeler — Simply put, the undrafted rookie, Ekeler (5.0 yards per carry, 9.4 yards per catch), has been a more explosive and efficient alternative to Gordon (3.8 and 7.1, respectively), the former first-rounder. Ekeler tallied two scores Sunday, doubling his previous season total, and at least prior to his late fumble, had earned the trust of Anthony Lynn to the point he was the primary runner in the Bolts’ four-minute offense. The Bills are a sad state of affairs defensively all of the sudden and arrive in L.A. this week, and the fantasy postseason slate sets up beautifully for the Bolts: vs. Washington, at Chiefs, at Jets. Gordon has an injury history, too, making Ekeler a must-add this week.
4. Packers RB Jamaal Williams — It wasn’t flashy, but Williams’ workman-like 74 yards on 21 carries were essential in the Packers putting away Chicago on Sunday. Mike McCarthy raved about the improved confidence of his fourth-round runner, who could again be the primary ball carrier at Lambeau Sunday vs. a Ravens run ‘D’ that’s improving but hardly impenetrable. Williams’ workload Sunday was the most by any Packers back this season; he entered the NFL with a reputation for getting stronger with a lather, unlike incumbents, Montgomery and Jones.
3. Patriots RB Rex Burkhead — That’s right, consecutive weeks in the ‘9 route’ with Woodhead and Burkhead going back to back. Rex led the Patriots backfield in snaps Monday night in Denver and seemingly has supplanted James White as their top receiving back. He scored on a short slant, Burkhead’s second touchdown with the Patriots, and added a blocked punt for good measure. With a season-high 13 touches on the same night Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch for the first time, he continued to prove that Rex’s appeal, at worst the rest of the way, is FLEX appeal… and potentially more with two left vs. breaking Buffalo and, Sunday, the LB-challenged Raiders.
2. Titans WR Corey Davis — 48 percent ownership for the fifth overall pick who attracted 10 targets in his second start after the long injury layoff and nearly scored his first touchdown. Davis’ toughest matchups, save for Patrick Peterson in Week 14, appear to be in the rear-view mirror and Davis’ monster fantasy outings are even closer than they might appear.
1. Vikings RB Latavius Murray — He played 30 snaps to Jerick McKinnon’s 31 in Washington and has two top-9 RB fantasy finishes in his past three games, including Sunday’s 17-68-1 rushing performance. Murray over his next two games draws the Rams — fantasy’s second-leakiest ‘D’ vs. RBs, albeit increasingly stout over the past month — and a Lions unit that just let the Browns rack up 201 rushing yards on Sunday. He may be better in fantasy than reality, which hardly explains why a back averaging 17 touches (2.8 in the red zone) over his past five games on a top-10 scoring offense is available on waivers in mid-November. He won’t be next week.
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