Despite sporting an ugly 5-11 record last season, the young Miami Dolphins showed that they would play all out for fiery head coach Brian Flores. The positive signs were there. So, this offseason Miami’s executives responded by adding a number of “name” players to their roster.
At the running back position, the Dolphins acquired veterans Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, and rookie all-around threat, Lynn Bowden Jr. Thus, the preseason fantasy chatter was mostly centered on Howard and Breida, with a bit of speculative interest in Bowden’s long-term potential.
Then the season started, and Myles Gaskin came out of nowhere to claim Miami’s top running back spot. He thoroughly outplayed Howard, while Breida struggled with unrelenting nagging injuries.
So here we are approaching Week 11 – the now-impressive Dolphins are 6-3 – and their guy in the backfield is…
Salvon Ahmed? Who???
Yup, in Week 9 Ahmed came out of left field to carry the ball 7 times for 38 yards, and he impressed with his quickness and freshness on his way to 5.4 yards per carry. After the game Rotoworld wrote, “Coming into the NFL as a pass-catching specialist, it's hard to see Ahmed becoming an every-down option for Miami.”
Yeah, well, they turned out to be wrong pretty quickly. Ahmed followed up in Week 10 with plenty of Flores’ trust, carrying the ball 21 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also added one reception out of the backfield. He’s now the guy to own in fantasy, as we keep a side eye on Gaskin’s injury status in the coming weeks.
The point is… it’s just that time of year. As the holidays rapidly approach, many gifts can be found in the form of “no name” players who emerge as late-season stat hogs. Teams will tank. Rookies and sophomores will be given more opportunities. Let’s take a look and see what’s under the fantasy Christmas tree…
Potential Pickups for Week 11
Jameis Winston, Saints: Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has rib fractures and a collapsed lung, so Jameis is clearly going to be the hot QB pickup in Superflex this week. Brees will be out “at least a few weeks,” so we can safely fire up Winston in both Superflex and 2 QB formats. Taking over for Brees on Sunday, Winston went just 6-of-10 for 63 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. My warning is this: Sean Payton wants to keep his gravy train rolling. He wants to keep racking up victories as the Saints look to remain white-hot; thus, this isn’t going to be open season for Winston. Payton will try to get Jameis to manage the game and limit turnovers the way Brees does under center. This isn’t going to be second-half Jameis from last season, falling behind on the scoreboard every game and throwing the ball 50+ times.
Taysom Hill, Saints: Here’s the long shot. If Winston struggles with turnovers, keep an eye on Hill. What if Payton decides to go to some wildcat, run-heavy attack with Hill leading the way under center? Crazier things have happened. Payton is always looking to innovate, and I doubt he’ll have patience with Jameis if he plays sloppy ball and makes careless mistakes (on brand).
Salvon Ahmed, Dolphins: We discussed him in the intro, but another note is that Jordan Howard just got waived. Ahmed looks very safe until Gaskin returns. Fire the youngster up for another couple weeks in Gaskin’s absence.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots: Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are going run-heavy, and it’s working as the Pats have rattled off a couple of timely victories in a row. Burkhead and Damien Harris are the most dynamic players in this low-octane offense; that’s just the reality of a murky situation. Burkhead’s usage varies based on gameplan and game script, but he’s worth a look nonetheless.
Nyheim Hines, Colts: Heeeeee’s baaaack! Nyheim was a Week 2 headliner on the waiver wire, and now he’s back in a major way as rookie Jonathan Taylor continues to disappoint. Personally, I think Hines is an underrated between-the-tackles rusher. We all know about his impressive ability on the outside as a pass-catcher, but he’s done strong work in the redzone and can also tote the rock as a traditional ball carrier. Head coach Frank Reich says he still has confidence in Taylor, but we have to pick up Hines no matter what he says.
La’Michal Perine, Jets: May have been floating under the radar because the lowly, winless Jets were on the bye. A week ago, beat reporter Rich Cimini indicated that Perine would be The Guy for New York coming out of the bye week. Lame duck head coach Adam Gase appears finally ready to hand the keys over to his rookie running back. The ageless wonder Frank Gore is expected to serve as Perine’s backup, and the latter is clearly worth a pickup.
Alex Collins, Seahawks: Despite decent fantasy production, I wasn’t impressed by what I saw out of rookie Deejay Dallas in live action. I think the veteran Collins is bouncier and more dynamic, and I think head coach Pete Carroll thinks the same. Obviously Collins’ long-term viability depends on Chris Carson’s constantly-questionable health, but at least we have good reason to believe that Collins has bypassed both Dallas and Travis Homer on Seattle’s backfield depth chart. Check the updates on this guy, though…
Carlos Hyde, Seahawks: Is “eying” a Week 11 return. I dunno what it is with these Seattle RBs, always battling week-to-week injuries with their status “up in the air”. Hyde could kill Collins’ potential value in a heartbeat.
Devontae Booker, Raiders: Having the best season of his off-the-radar NFL career. He looks confident within Jon Gruden’s rushing scheme, and if anything were to happen to Josh Jacobs, Booker looks like he could actually be a borderline RB1.
Michael Pittman Jr., Colts: Obviously he’s long gone in Dynasty formats, but going through all of my leagues, I still see him available in Redraft. The Colts need a legitimate WR1 to step forward for the veteran Philip Rivers, and Pittman is coming off an impressive 14-point fantasy game where his role expanded exponentially. The upside is obvious for the remainder of the season.
Jakeem Grant, Dolphins: This shifty gadget player has stepped up in the absence of fantasy bust Preston Williams. Tua Tagovailoa has taken a liking to Grant’s quickness and ability to separate in one-on-one scenarios, so the latter has now established himself on the fantasy radar.
Willie Snead, Ravens: I told you to keep an eye on him a couple weeks ago… he appears to have clearly passed Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in Lamar Jackson’s eyes. Snead had 13 fantasy points in Week 9, and 21 this past week against a normally-decent Patriots’ D.
K.J. Hamler, Broncos: Led the Denver Broncos in targets in Week 10, with 10. Drew Lock’s first instinct seems to be to check down, and the rookie Hamler clearly makes himself available in quick slants, underneath routes and crossing patterns.
Breshad Perriman, Jets: Same thing as Perine, really – people don’t always pay attention to players on byes. Perriman broke out in a major way two weeks ago with 2 touchdowns against New England’s oft-discussed secondary.
Josh Reynolds, Rams: I’ve really been talkin’ this guy up in recent weeks – he’s running neck and neck with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp these days. Both Sean McVay and Jared Goff have clearly developed more trust in Reynolds as a legitimate impact player within the Rams’ ever-evolving offense.
Week 11 DFS Plays
Safe: Lamar Jackson $7,300 vs. TEN
Sleeper: Joe Burrow $5,500 @ WAS
Perfect Storm: Justin Herbert $6,800 vs. NYJ
Summary: All three of these look really good… Lamar generally bounces back in a major way after poor performances…the field will open up for Burrow comparatively, after having to deal with the Steelers’ impossible D this past weekend… Herbert will aggressively attack in a play for a monster performance after struggling against the Dolphins’ rising D.
Safe: Dalvin Cook $9,000 vs. DAL
Sleeper: La’Michal Perine $4,400 @ LAC
Perfect Storm: D’Andre Swift $6,400 @ CAR
Summary: Swift is coming on in a major way, now. He looks like one of the best young backs in the game, and he should enjoy this matchup vs. the shaky Carolina D.
Safe: Terry McLaurin $6,900 vs. CIN
Sleeper: Michael Pittman Jr. $4,500 vs. GB
Perfect Storm: Diontae Johnson $5,900 @ JAX
Summary: Diontae is an all-around machine. When healthy, he’s starting to look like a young Antonio Brown in the Steelers’ black and gold…
Safe: Hunter Henry $4,600 vs. NYJ
Sleeper: Robert Tonyan $3,200 @ IND
Perfect Storm: Mike Gesicki $4,300 @ DEN
Summary: The Jets’ best player is probably CB1 Brian Poole, so he’ll be on Keenan Allen. Henry could be a monster once again in the redzone.
Best of luck to all!
John Frascella is a published sports author and fantasy football analyst with over two decades of experience. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football.