As the saying goes, patience is a virtue, but it’s often easier said than done when it comes to managing your fantasy football roster. As we enter Week 11 of the NFL regular season, some owners may be rewarded for their patience when it comes to certain players.
For example, Percy Harvin finally appears ready to make his long-awaited debut for the Seahawks, while the similarly talented rookie, Tavon Austin, finally posted the type of all-around game everyone expected when he was a popular fantasy pick entering this season. But remember, patience is a virtue, and will be required for those banking on an encore performance from Austin since St. Louis (and Dallas) are both on bye this week.
The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.
Teams on bye in Week 11: Dallas, St. Louis
Week 10 Recap: Nick Foles (right) followed up his seven-touchdown game with three more against Green Bay on Sunday. Foles now has 16 touchdown passes on the season with no interceptions. Next up is a Washington defense that is 27th in the league in yards allowed and 31st in points. Case Keenum has yet to win a game, but he’s also yet to throw an interception, as he put up 201 yards passing and three touchdowns against Arizona on the road. He did have a costly fumble on the Texans’ opening drive that was returned for a touchdown by the Cardinals in the 27-24 defeat.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker could be done for the season after suffering a foot injury on Sunday, which means the job is Fitzpatrick’s once more. The former Buffalo starter struggled in his previous two starts (2 total touchdowns, 4 INTs), but he was effective in leading the Titans’ comeback attempt against Jacksonville. In a little more than two quarters worth of action, Fitzpatrick threw for 264 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (2 pass, rush) against the Jaguars. The Titans play Indianapolis twice in the next three games, the first one coming this Thursday night, sandwiched by game in Oakland, so the schedule appears manageable for those willing to give the Harvard grad a shot.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler got the start against Detroit, but it was apparent he was not at 100 percent, especially in regards to his mobility. To make matters worse, he sustained an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter and was replaced by McCown with a little more than two minutes remaining and the Bears down by eight. The backup then proceeded to march the Bears 76 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown, giving his team a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion. The Lions stuffed running back Matt Forté on the conversion attempt, but it wouldn’t have even been possible if not for McCown’s orchestration of the two-minute drill. Cutler has already been ruled out this week with a high ankle sprain, so McCown will get the call against Baltimore. And considering he has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 538 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Week 10 Recap: Sunday night was the Mark Ingram everyone envisioned when he entered the 2011 draft after being a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama. Ingram ran over the Cowboys to the tune of 145 yards on just 14 carries (10.4 ypc) and a touchdown. It’s just one game, granted, but if Ingram can bring the effort he brought against Dallas every week, he will get his share of opportunities to tote the rock. Rashad Jennings put up more than 100 total yards against the Giants, including 88 on the ground on 20 carries (4.4 ypc). He didn’t score, but he should remain the Raiders’ starter with Darren McFadden hampered by a hamstring injury. Ben Tate had 56 yards rushing on just 15 carries, as the Texans abandoned the running game in the second half of their loss in Arizona. As long as Tate’s broken ribs don’t get any worse, he will be the starter with Arian Foster set to undergo season-ending back surgery.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
The Jets were on bye last week, but the last time Ivory was on the field, he gashed the Saints for 139 yards rushing on 18 carries (7.7 ypc). Ivory doesn’t have the workload all to himself, as Bilal Powell has had his moments as well, but there was a reason the Jets traded for Ivory prior to the start of this season. Slowed by injuries to start the season, he has posted 100-yard games in two of his last three outings and seems to be settling in with his new team and offense. It’s a bit of a risk, but between the two, I would consider Ivory the closest thing the Jets have to a No.1 back.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have Andre Ellington, who is considerably more explosive than Mendenhall, but the coaching staff seems leery of giving the rookie a bunch of touches. On Sunday against Houston, even though Ellington had more yards (73) than Mendenhall (51), the veteran got two more carries (13 to 11). If this pattern continues, it probably means that both Mendenhall and Ellington are probably nothing more than flex options, but at least it keeps the veteran on the fantasy radar.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
Vereen has played in a total of one game this season after injuring his wrist in Week 1 against Buffalo, but he is expected to return to action this Sunday following the Patriots’ bye. New England doesn’t lack for backfield options, but Vereen totaled 159 yards in his only game, so I am pretty sure the coaching staff will look to get him involved early. While my guess is that Stevan Ridley will remain the primary ball carrier, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Vereen basically make Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount irrelevant. It may take a game or two for things to shake out, but Ridley and Vereen are the only two Patriot backs I would focus on the rest of the way, barring another injury.
Week 10 Recap: Riley Cooper and Nick Foles continued their magic, as the duo combined for three connections for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the road win in Green Bay. Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks with eight targets, catching five of them for 76 yards, in the easy win over Atlanta. Mario Manningham made his season debut and led the 49ers in targets (six), receptions (three) and yards (30), as Colin Kaepernick finished with a paltry 91 yards passing in the 10-9 home loss to Carolina. Mike Brown had as many targets (four) and catches (two) as Cecil Shorts in Jacksonville’s win over Tennessee, as the Jaguars’ passing game focused primarily on screens and dump-offs to the running backs and tight ends. Lance Moore had just one catch for 14 yards in the Saints’ rout of Dallas on Sunday night, as Drew Brees spread his 34 completions out to nine different receivers.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
It would figure that just as soon as Austin breaks out and flashes the all-purpose talent that made him the Rams’ first-round pick he would go on bye. However, even if you have to wait another week, it may be worth going ahead and taking a plunge for a chance to add a multi-threat like Austin to your roster for the stretch run. Against Indianapolis on Sunday, Austin caught two passes, had one rushing attempt and returned five kicks. But those eight total touches produced 314 total yards and three touchdowns, all of which were 57 yards or longer. Austin had two TD receptions (57 and 81 yards) and also returned a punt 98 yards for a score. It appears the Rams’ patience with the rookie is paying off, and he may be ready to do the same for someone fantasy’s team in the second half of the season.
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
I was hesitant to include Cotchery in this space last week despite recording three touchdowns against New England. After finding the end zone a second straight week, I can’t ignore him any longer. Antonio Brown is Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target and I don’t see that changing, but Cotchery’s role in the passing game seems to be expanding, at the expense of fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Heath Miller. There’s no guarantee Cotchery will keep this up, but four touchdown catches in two games is worthy of a little recognition, don’t you think?
Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
Dobson has already been mentioned here before, but the rookie makes a second appearance based on his expanding role in the Patriots’ passing game. On bye last week, Dobson went into the break with plenty of momentum, posting nine catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He exploded for an 81-yard touchdown against the Steelers and is starting to develop into the productive vertical threat the Patriots had in mind when they drafted him in the second round of April’s draft. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and fellow wideout Danny Amendola will still serve as Tom Brady’s primary targets, but their presence also should help open the deeper routes for Dobson. At minimum, it appears that Dobson has moved past both fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman in the Pats’ pecking order.
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
Consider this a public service announcement. Harvin is expected to make his season debut for the Seahawks on Sunday at home against Minnesota. While it’s anyone’s guess as to how many snaps he will get or how effective he will be in his first game in over a year, there’s a reason Seattle traded for the Pro Bowl kick return specialist. Whether it’s on a punt or kickoff return, catching passes or getting the handoff, Harvin, when healthy, is a threat to take the ball all the way when it’s in his hands. Think a more experienced and polished Tavon Austin (see above) with a longer track record. It also just so happens that Harvin’s first game will come against his former team. Bottom line is even though it may take Harvin a game or two to get comfortable, time is quickly running out to add this potential difference-maker to your roster.
Week 10 Recap: Jared Cook had one catch for 17 yards in the Rams’ rout of Indianapolis, pretty much ending any momentum he had built up in recent weeks. The Rams are on bye this week and it may be time to say bye-bye to Cook’s chances of being a valuable fantasy contributor this season.
John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
Kyle Rudolph is expected to be out a month with a broken foot, so what does Carlson do in his first game as the starter? Lead the Vikings with seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown of course. Carlson has been an after-thought since joining the Vikings in 2012, taking a backseat to Rudolph, but this is a veteran tight end that posted back-to-back 50-catch seasons in 2008-09 with Seattle. There’s no guarantee Carlson can put up similar numbers each and every week, but with the starting job secure, he should at least enter the TE2 conversation.
Week 10 Recap: Miami managed just two sacks and an interception on Monday night against Tampa Bay, as the defense allowed 20 points to the previously winless Buccaneers in a disappointing 22-19 defeat.
New York Giants
After getting pushed around and offering very little resistance to start the season, the Giants’ defense has come back strong. The G-Men’s DST is averaging nearly 17 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over its last three games, holding each opponent to 213 yards of offense or less during that span. The Giants also have forced eight turnovers, collected nine sacks and given up just two offensive touchdowns in these three games. The Giants still have two games with Washington and a home date with Dallas on their schedule, and this Sunday will host a Green Bay team that will start third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien. Despite a horrendous start, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew may be rounding into form and could be poised for a strong second half.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.