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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Dalvin Cook made a successful return in Week 9 to bolster fantasy rosters that weathered his absence for over a month. Week 10 brought more successful returns, specifically at the running back position.
Leonard Fournette battled hamstring issues dating back to Week 1, and his extended absence was felt by a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars offense and fantasy teams that drafted him to be a cornerstone player. Week 10 saw Fournette handle a major workload without any setbacks and produce strong numbers as a runner and a receiver.
David Johnson had a different kind of return. For the first time this season, Johnson led the Arizona Cardinals in both rushing and receiving in what felt like a throwback to the player we saw dominate in 2016. Even though the Cardinals came up short against the Kansas City Chiefs, the use of Johnson was very encouraging for those banking on him to play at a top-10 level down the stretch.
The B.S. Meter breaks down 10 situations covering the most pressing issues in fantasy football heading into Week 11. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10, with 1 being completely true and 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
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1 of 10
Ron Schwane/Associated Press
The two games without Hue Jackson and Todd Haley have seen the Cleveland Browns backfield become one of the best in fantasy football. Of course, that’s a small sample size, but why would the team mess with a good thing?
Duke Johnson didn’t see a huge role in Week 10, but he managed to turn four targets into four receptions for 31 yards and a score in addition to three carries for 15 yards. In the last two weeks, he has 13 receptions for 109 yards and three touchdowns on 13 targets, which puts him at 44.2 fantasy points. By comparison, Jarvis Landry has been the next-best receiver with eight receptions for 72 yards and no touchdowns on 12 targets.
Meanwhile, the presence of Johnson hasn’t hurt Nick Chubb even a little bit. Chubb ran for 176 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown, on 20 carries and provided three receptions for 33 yards and a 13-yard touchdown on three targets in a win over the Atlanta Falcons. After posting 16 fantasy points in Week 9, he followed that up with 35.9 fantasy points in Week 10.
The two players combined for a whopping 96.1 fantasy points in the last two games. Chubb has been a must-start player ever since he took over for Carlos Hyde in Week 7. During that four-game span, he’s averaging 19.5 carries and 101.5 rushing yards per game.
Now that Johnson has become an important part of the passing game, there shouldn’t be a second thought about putting him in your starting lineup. The fun will continue after the bye, when these two get a crack at the terrible Cincinnati Bengals defense.
B.S. Meter on both Browns running backs being must-start players: 1/10
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images
On Sunday, Fournette returned to action for the first time since he was forced from Week 4 with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 1. The Jacksonville Jaguars struggled without Fournette, so his return was welcomed even with questions over how much he could contribute.
A full week of practice instilled some confidence in Fournette’s ability to handle a normal workload, which is what he did and then some in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Fournette carried 24 times for 53 yards and a touchdown, which would have been more than enough to signify he was ready to resume his role as the clear lead back in Jacksonville’s backfield.
The bonus of Fournette’s return was his active role as a receiver. Fournette converted five targets into five receptions for 56 yards and another touchdown. That came in the same game T.J. Yeldon had five receptions for 51 yards on six targets, so while Yeldon kept up his active role in the passing game, Fournette still handled a sizeable role as well.
In the 2017 regular season, Fournette carried 24 times in five games, but he never had five receptions in a game. While Fournette was a capable receiver last season, he was coming back after a long absence, so it would have been understandable if the Jaguars limited his targets.
By showing he could handle a massive workload and 52 percent of the snaps in his first game back, Fournette should be in for more of the same as long as he can stay healthy. The Jaguars certainly need him after falling to 3-6.
B.S. Meter on Fournette’s Week 10 production being a sign of things to come: 2/10
3 of 10
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In Week 10, the Buffalo Bills turned to Matt Barkley to be their fourth starting quarterback of the season. He signed with the team on Halloween, yet 11 days later he got the call on the road against the New York Jets. No one had any reason to feel better about this atrocious offense with a quarterback who had been with the team for less than two weeks.
Barkley didn’t have to do much because LeSean McCoy came out of nowhere to have his best game of the season. McCoy ran 26 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns and caught his only target for five yards. His rushing numbers were all season-highs and provided massive improvements over what we saw in three previous games.
Before the win over the Jets, McCoy’s last 24 carries went for 24 yards. For the season, McCoy has just two games with 20-plus carries and only three games with at least 15 carries. Coming into Week 10, McCoy topped 50 rushing yards just twice but had four games with less than 25 rushing yards. He’s been a little more consistent as a receiver, although he has just one game with more than 29 rushing yards and just three games with at least four receptions.
The point is McCoy’s performance in Week 10 isn’t a reflection of what he’s done this season. In fact, it’s an anomaly in what’s been a terrible year for him. In the first nine weeks of the season, McCoy averaged just 8.5 fantasy points per game. Ito Smith, Wendell Smallwood, Royce Freeman and Corey Clement are just a handful of players who were averaging more.
There’s likely a week or two before your trade deadline, so when you combine that McCoy is coming off his best game of the season and has name value, it would be a great time to move him while his value is still high. Even if you don’t trade McCoy, understand that what he did in Week 10 shouldn’t be considered the new norm.
B.S. Meter on selling high on McCoy after his best game: 3/10
4 of 10
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
Somehow, the Washington Redskins are sitting at 6-3 on top of the NFC East after an ugly victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They did so without Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson in addition to playing with a makeshift offensive line that’s been decimated by injuries. A 16-3 win over the Buccaneers still counts all the same, but it’s hard to be excited about the team’s passing attack.
Josh Doctson scored the lone touchdown in the fourth quarter. He posted four catches for 46 yards on four targets and a team-high 14.6 fantasy points. Yes, that was even more than Alex Smith and his 12.72 fantasy points accumulated from 178 passing yards, the touchdown throw to Doctson and 16 rushing yards. Maurice Harris had a respectable effort with five receptions for 52 yards on five targets.
Unfortunately, Jordan Reed had another forgettable afternoon, with four receptions for 51 yards on six targets. It was only the third time this season he had at least 50 receiving yards and the first time he hit that mark since Week 3. Reed has just three games with at least five receptions, and he hasn’t scored since Week 1. Amazingly, he leads the team in targets (59), receptions (37) and receiving yards (391).
Reed’s 80.1 fantasy points total is second only to Smith’s 133.2 in the Washington passing attack. Neither player has been even close to reliable for fantasy, which means there’s no way you can call any Redskin outside Adrian Peterson a regular starter. Harris’ potential and Doctson’s consecutive games with touchdowns are nice, but they should be far from locks to be in your lineup.
B.S. Meter on Redskins passing game not having a weekly starter: 4/10
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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
It might not be the formula for success in 2018, but we know the Seattle Seahawks want to run the ball and run the ball a lot. After 10 weeks, they rank first in rushing attempts per game (32) and first in rushing yards per game (152.2). It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to know Seattle is dead last with 27.4 pass attempts per game and 27th in passing yards per game.
Because Seattle is so predictable when it comes to the run/pass ratio, it’s easy to buy into its backfield. Chris Carson was sidelined by a nagging hip injury in Week 10, so Mike Davis looked like the lead back, especially since he handled that role when Carson was out for Week 4. Davis didn’t have a bad game, with 11 carries for 58 yards, but Rashaad Penny had 12 carries for 108 yards and a score.
Davis salvaged his day with four receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown on six targets, while Penny didn’t have a target. Davis was the No. 15 running back with 18 fantasy points, and Penny was just behind him at RB17 with 16.8 fantasy points. Penny was on the field for 39.7 percent of the snaps, his highest total since Week 1. Davis had 57.4 percent, which was his third-best number of the year.
Penny can be snatched off the waiver wire before Thursday’s game with the Green Bay Packers, although he may not be the best option depending on your team needs. That’s because head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Carson would be ready for Week 11, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. Of course, this hip injury has been around for more than a month, so grabbing Penny is still a good idea, although this could be a messy situation with all three active.
B.S. Meter on Penny being the top priority on the waiver wire: 5/10
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Devin Funchess may have faked out his fantasy owners over the first seven weeks of the season. During that time, he averaged 14.1 fantasy points per game, which put him firmly in the reliable WR3 tier with WR2 upside. In those six games, he had at least 50 yards five times with three touchdowns while averaging 7.8 targets per game. Outside of Christian McCaffrey, he looked like the most reliable receiver for the Carolina Panthers.
Since then, Funchess has just 10 receptions for 103 yards and no touchdowns on 13 targets. That three-game span resulted in just 6.8 fantasy points per game, which doesn’t even make Funchess a top-50 option. By comparison, D.J. Moore has 10 receptions for 126 yards on 13 targets and Curtis Samuel converted 11 targets into nine receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Funchess might have the target lead, but it hasn’t led to much fantasy production.
For the season, Funchess leads the wide receivers with 39 receptions, 477 yards and three touchdowns on 60 targets. That might make him the lead for the season, but right now it’s hard to call Funchess or any other Panther the clear top wide receiver. All of them are clearly behind McCaffrey and Greg Olsen in the pecking order.
B.S. Meter on Funchess still being the top wide receiver in Carolina: 6/10
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Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
You’re not supposed to worry when Tom Brady is in your lineup. The cries of frustration continue to get louder and may have come to a head when Brady had arguably his worst game of the season in a loss to the Tennessee Titans. Are we really at the point where Brady can’t be trusted?
After completing just 21 of 41 attempts for 254 yards without a touchdown, Brady now has just one touchdown pass in his last three games and five touchdown passes in his last five games. For the season, Brady is averaging just 17.6 fantasy points per game, so while he’s 12th in total fantasy points, he’s also one of just three quarterbacks to play 10 games in the first 10 weeks. His points-per-game average is 16th, which means Brady hasn’t been anywhere near what you’d expect from him.
You could blame the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but that would be ignoring great options like James White, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon doing more than enough to pick up the slack. The hope is that Gronkowski can return to action after the Week 11 bye, so that should help Brady, although his schedule is also something to consider.
In Week 12, he gets a favorable matchup with the New York Jets before hosting a tougher defense in the Minnesota Vikings. They take to the road for beatable matchups with the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers before a potential challenge against the Buffalo Bills at Foxboro in Week 16.
Brady may not rebound in a big way following the bye, but it would be foolish to count him out because the last month hasn’t been good. The Patriots have plenty to play for with home-field advantage still possible, so Brady has every reason to get back on track. Don’t be so quick to give up on him.
B.S. Meter on Brady’s struggles continuing down the stretch: 7/10
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Over the first four weeks of the season, Hilton was the No. 24 fantasy wide receiver with 62.4 points (15.6 fantasy points per game), so he was an OK WR2. Chest and hamstring injuries would keep him out for the next two games before he returned in Week 7. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to fight his way back into the WR2 tier.
Hilton scored twice in Week 7, but he did so with just four receptions for 25 yards on four targets. He followed that up with a single catch on five targets for 34 yards in a Week 8 win over the Oakland Raiders. Following the Week 9 bye, Hilton had a respectable three receptions for 77 yards on seven targets in a tough matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s averaging just 11.2 fantasy points per game in the last month, so he’s not even in the WR3 conversation.
In the first four weeks of the season, Hilton averaged 9.5 targets per game. Over the last three games, he’s averaging 5.3 targets. If you’re wondering where all those targets went, look no further than Andrew Luck‘s pass attempts. During those first four weeks, Luck averaged a massive 46.5 attempts per game, but that number has fallen all the way to 27.7 in his last three outings.
Marlon Mack’s return has given the Indianapolis Colts a reliable rushing attack, and as a result the team has been able to cut back how much it relies on the pass. Of course, matchups with the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars helped since the Colts controlled most of those games and came away with victories each time.
Other than Hilton, the Colts don’t have a wide receiver to rely on each week, but they do have Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle and Mack. That means Hilton is important but not necessarily featured every game. Indianapolis is clinging to life at 4-5 with games against divisional rivals and other playoff contenders coming up, so Hilton will be needed, although you’re better off treating him as a WR3 until he proves otherwise.
B.S. Meter on Hilton being a reliable WR2: 8/10
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Adrian Peterson deserves a lot of credit for being the fifth-best rusher in the league, with 672 yards on 155 carries (4.3 yards per carry) over the first 10 weeks of the season, especially since he entered the league 11 years ago and was only signed by the Washington Redskins in mid-August. Unfortunately, he’s been the lone bright spot of the Redskins offense, and that’s starting to dim.
In the last two games, Peterson has been limited to just 85 yards on 28 carries without a touchdown. Even though he has five games with at least 96 rushing yards, he has three games with 20 rushing yards or less. Those three games came in the team’s only losses of the season.
The Redskins were able to survive the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a 16-3 victory in Week 10, but it was the only time this season that Peterson failed to rush for at least 96 yards in a win. He got volume with 19 carries, yet he managed just 68 rushing yards and didn’t score. The biggest problem was an offensive line that has been crushed by injuries, which meant multiple changes for Week 10.
Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao are out for the season, and Trent Williams is out indefinitely after thumb surgery. Geron Christian, a rookie tackle, suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Buccaneers, so there’s even more concern for Peterson behind what will be a patchwork group for the rest of the season.
Peterson has been the only reliable fantasy option for the Redskins and really the only consistent part of their offense in reality. Opposing defenses will be prepared to stop Peterson, and with so many issues on the offensive line, he’ll need to create for himself far more often to be productive. We’ve probably seen the best Peterson has to offer this year, so you should lower expectations in such a rough situation.
B.S. Meter on Peterson rebounding from his recent slump: 9/10
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Ralph Freso/Associated Press
In a week where the Arizona Cardinals needed everything they could get from their offense to have any chance of beating the Kansas City Chiefs, they finally featured David Johnson as both a runner and a receiver in a throwback to his fantastic 2016 season. It wasn’t enough to beat the Chiefs, but Johnson’s performance should give his fantasy owners hope for the rest of 2018.
Johnson had his best rushing numbers of the year with 21 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown. It marked only the second time this season he had at least 20 carries and the second time he averaged more than four yards per attempt. His 98 yards topped his previous season-high of 71 set in Week 4, when he had 22 carries in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The most encouraging sign for Johnson was a busy role as a receiver. He led the Cardinals with seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald was tops with 10 targets and Ricky Seals-Jones was even with Johnson’s nine targets, but those two combined for 11 receptions and 101 yards.
Before Week 10, Johnson had just one game with five receptions and just two games with at least 40 receiving yards. Amazingly, he had only two games with at least five targets before his featured role against the Chiefs. Somehow, Johnson is fourth on the Cardinals with 43 targets behind Fitzgerald (65), Christian Kirk (50) and Seals-Jones (47). Fitzgerald is understandable, but there’s no justification for Johnson to be trailing the other two.
Of course, this looks like an improved situation for Johnson with Byron Leftwich now running the offense after Mike McCoy was relieved of his duties following Week 7. Other than the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12, Johnson has a favorable schedule the rest of the way and should remain in this featured role on the ground and through the air if the Cardinals want to be competitive down the stretch. It appears Johnson has finally turned the corner thanks to Leftwich.
B.S. Meter on Johnson’s Week 10 performance being a fluke: 10/10