[sc name=”Author Chris Moore”]
The theme for Week 11 has been all about change in opportunity.
Most of the names on this list have seen their situations change significantly from what they were in the early part of the season, whether because of an injury to someone else on their team’s depth chart, or by virtue of returning from their own nagging bumps and bruises.
This week’s target column takes a look at some of the biggest and/or most surprising target totals from Week 10 and looks ahead to what we can expect in Week 11 and beyond, as well as some breakout candidates for the stretch run of the 2017 NFL season.
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Rising Target Grabbers
Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG) 13 Targets
In just his second game as the clear #1 wide receiver in this Giants offense, Shepard posted an 11 catch, 142 yard game on a league high 13 targets. Nursing an injury of his own, it took a full five games for Shepard to get healthy, get through the Giants’ bye, and post the monster line we envisioned for him when Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall each suffered season ending ankle injuries in Week 5. If he can be just 75% as productive as OBJ was a year ago, that would prorate to about even with last year’s WR15, Rishard Matthews. This big game against the 49ers suggests he’s up to the task and can be considered a high end WR2 play going forward, with upside for more.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN) 11 Targets
After a relatively quick return from a high ankle sprain he suffered against the Giants in Week 6, Sanders didn’t quite look like himself in his initial return to the lineup at Philadelphia a week ago. This week, however, Sanders shredded the New England Patriots secondary for six catches and 137 yards, as he soundly whipped Malcolm Butler throughout the first half before getting quiet after intermission. With Brock Osweiler under center, Sanders looks like a solid bet to supplant Demaryius Thomas as the Broncos primary option going forward.
Marqise Lee (WR, JAX) 11 Targets
Still surprisingly available in 36% of Yahoo leagues, Marqise Lee figures to be the #1 WR for Blake Bortles and company for the foreseeable future, with Allen Hurns looking doubtful for Week 11’s matchup at Cleveland. With six catches for 55 yards and a TD, Week 10 marked the fourth consecutive game for Lee with at least 72 yards and/or a touchdown, and his third game in his last four with double-digit targets. With a very favorable schedule for the stretch-run, Marqise Lee has WR2 potential for the rest of the season.
Brandin Cooks (WR, NE) 11 Targets
Apart from a blowup game against the Houston Texans in Week 3 Cooks has been a fairly serious disappointment through the first half of the NFL season. Week 10 marked just the first time in 2017 that the presumptive #1 WR for the Patriots was targeted more than nine times, as he caught six balls for 74 yards. You’d still like to see more from Cooks given his draft capital, but with Hogan looking very iffy to suit up once again for Week 11’s contest with the Oakland Raiders, Cooks should once again have bankable volume, which should make him a strong WR2 play with upside, at least for this week.
Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS) 11 Targets
Prior to his blowup game against Dallas in Week 8, in which he caught 9 of 13 targets for 123 yards, Crowder had been on an extremely frustrating streak of 11 straight games with 52 or fewer receiving yards, and remains on a streak of 12 straight without finding the end zone. Still, with 4 catches for 76 yards, and two straight with double digit targets, Crowder has 199 receiving yards over his last two games played, for a Redskins team that is finally getting healthy on the offensive line. With as disappointing as free agent acquisition Terrelle Pryor and second-year draftee Josh Doctson have been for essentially the entire 2017 season, Crowder still seems like the best fantasy bet at WR for the Washington Redskins going forward, even if it is as a low-end, matchup dependent WR3 play. He gets a tough matchup against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints in Week 11, who are allowing the sixth fewest fantasy points to WRs in 2017.
Corey Davis (WR, TEN) 10 Targets
It was very encouraging to see Davis, in his second game back from the hamstring injury that has kept him out of most of the first half of the season, command double-digit targets for the second time in just four games played. It should speak to the commitment that the organization has to get him going as the primary weapon in the passing game despite the limited reps that he has with Marcus Mariota to this point. Davis still carries massive upside for the season’s stretch run. Although he only managed 4 catches for 48 yards and a lost fumble against the Bengals in Week 10, he fell victim to the dreaded eight point swing when one of his receptions that was originally ruled a touchdown was overturned to a lost fumble and a touchback. It’s also worth noting that Mariota missed him deep on a couple of other occasions in the contest, so he was on the verge of a monster game even in this disappointing performance.
Vernon Davis (TE, WAS) 11 Targets
With season highs in both targets (11) and catches (9), Davis tied for the lead in receiving for Kirk Cousins and the Redskins in Week 10 with 76 yards. Over the last two weeks, with Jordan Reed sidelined by a hamstring injury, Vernon Davis has been targeted 20 times for a total of 13 catches and 148 yards. Reed missed Redskins practice Wednesday with the hammy issue and is probably still in serious jeopardy of missing Washington’s Week 11 game at New Orleans. Vernon Davis has proven that he is a locked in mid-range TE1, at least when Reed can’t go, as he has now surpassed 58 yards receiving in six of his last seven games. Even if Reed does manage to suit up against the Saints, it shouldn’t push Davis entirely out of the streamer discussion at this point, as he has been a more reliable target than any of the Redskins wide receivers in 2017.
Potential Week 11 Breakouts
Bruce Ellington (WR, HOU)
Starting super deep, once again, Ellington is available in 99% of Yahoo leagues and has drawn eight targets in each of the Texans last two games with Tom Savage at the helm, catching four passes for 41 yards and a TD in a Week 10 loss to the Rams. With Will Fuller likely to miss Week 11’s matchup against Arizona, a defense allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing WRs, and Ellington drawing praise from head coach Bill O’Brien who said he “needs to get the ball more,” Ellington could be a bargain DFS play, and is available in the vast majority of season-long leagues.
Travis Benjamin (WR, LAC)
It’s extremely hard to trust a wide receiver who didn’t even register a single reception in his previous game, but allow me to give some context: He was facing the Jacksonville Jaguars defense allowing the fewest points to WRs in the NFL. In Benjamin’s previous two games he had seemed to supplant Tyrell Williams, as at least the #2 WR in the Chargers pecking order. Furthermore, after scoring two long TDs in Week 7, Benjamin actually drew a team high nine targets in a Week 8 loss to the Patriots, catching five passes for 64 yards and a TD. Only a questionable offensive pass interference call that negated another second-half score kept Benjamin from recording two straight games with two long touchdowns each. If there’s ever a situation to give a guy a mulligan, an absolutely brutal matchup against the Jags might have been the only explanation necessary for his dud in Week 10. Available in 82% of Yahoo leagues, Benjamin is a flex play with home run potential against the Bills in Week 11.
Samaje Perine (RB, WAS)
With Rob Kelley suffering ankle and knee injuries that ultimately sent him to the IR in a Week 10 loss to the Vikings, Samaje Perine entered what was still a competitive game in the first half and immediately broke off some impressive chunk runs behind a now-healthy Redskins offensive line. For the day, Perine ended up with nine carries for 35 yards and one catch for another 25. Perine didn’t headline any waiver articles, as he was mostly outshined by Jamaal Williams, and is still available in 81% of Yahoo leagues. Jay Gruden has repeatedly said that he does not want to expand Chris Thompson‘s workload any more than necessary. Granted, there is only so much Gruden can do to keep Thompson off the field under the circumstances, particularly with Perine being the only other Redskins ball-carrier that has been on the team for longer than 48 hours. Still, if the Redskins can keep it close at New Orleans, Perine is virtually assured of getting decent volume. Even in a negative game script, the situation shouldn’t be utterly hopeless as Washington is unlikely to be willing to expose Thompson to anything approaching 100% of the offensive snaps. Perine hasn’t shown particularly well to this point in the season, but there is reason to believe the Redskins offense is in a better place than it was for his earlier opportunities.
Bonus Add, Lost in the Bye Week Shuffle
Corey Clement (RB, PHI)
Clement scored three touchdowns on thirteen touches in Week 9, but he mostly skated through the waiver period ahead of his Week 10 bye, as a player who most probably figure to be an afterthought in a backfield led by new arrival Jay Ajayi and veteran bulldozer LeGarrette Blount. Still available in 91% of Yahoo leagues, Clement has volume concerns, but has flashed the kind of talent that’s worth holding on the end of your bench. Especially for PPR formats, Clement is likely the preferred third down/receiving back for the Eagles going forward, and he has demonstrated the upside to record massive box scores if he is called upon.