ITB Fantasy Football Corner: Gallman To The Rescue
Another week of football has come and gone as we prepare to embark on the season’s final leg.
For many, this means your fantasy playoff hopes solely hinge on your team’s performance for the next two weeks. Some owners will carefully calculate every lineup decision, while others will scan the waiver wire for handcuffs, favorable defensive matchups, and potential lottery tickets.
This edition includes an assortment of pertinent information, so let’s get to it!
*No sooner was last week’s column published that news spread of the Saints’ plans to start Taysom Hill – not Jameis Winston – at quarterback. Hill held up surprisingly well in his first start, completing 18-of-23 pass attempts for 233 yards and added 49 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The dual-threat added some juice to the Saints’ offense and is worth rostering as a speculative add. Now that there is extensive game tape on Hill as a passer, it will be interesting to see how teams play him.
Additionally, if your team is in dire need of a quarterback for the stretch run, consider adding Derek Carr or Daniel Jones. Both signal-callers have desirable upcoming schedules and figure to be playing competitive football through December.
*There probably isn’t much out there in terms of running backs at this stage, but the Patriots’ James White returns to fantasy relevance with Rex Burkhead being placed on season-ending injured reserve. White won’t shoulder much of the heavy-lifting – they have Damien Harris and Sony Michel for that – but he’ll provide a boost from a PPR standpoint.
* The Giants had a Week 11 bye, so it’s easy to forget that Wayne Gallman rushed for 53 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10. Devonta Freeman is on injured reserve, so Gallman will remain the lead back for the foreseeable future.
*Colts WR Michael Pittman has become the No. 1 receiving option for quarterback Philip Rivers in recent weeks. Over the past two games, the rookie has amassed ten receptions for 167 yards and a touchdown. Pittman has some very favorable matchups coming up.
*Packers WR Allen Lazard had a quiet return, recording two catches for 18 yards on four targets so that he may be sitting on your waiver wire. If he is, scoop him up and stash him for the playoffs, where matchups against the Lions and Carolina loom. Green Bay has been searching for a steady complement to Davante Adams, and Lazard could fulfill that role.
*If you play in 12-14 team leagues, Jets WR Denzel Mims should be on your radar. The second-round pick parlayed eight pass targets into three catches for 71 yards against the Chargers, but the team has made a concerted effort to increase his role each week. Amid a lost season, look for the Jets to prioritize playing their younger players.
*Earlier, I recommended adding Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. If you have the roster space, pair him with Nelson Agholor. While Agholor’s production remains volatile week to week, he’ll face two vulnerable secondaries over the next two weeks in the Falcons and Jets.
*Looking to unearth a tight end who can help with your postseason push? How about the Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz, who has 14 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown on 21 targets the past three games. The tight end position is a wasteland in general, so adding a player who generates the volume that Schultz has this late in the season is a plus.
Flex Plays I Like
Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson vs. Cowboys
Gibson nearly eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark against the Bengals, carrying the ball 16 times for 94 yards and a touchdown. Owners should feel confident starting Gibson, who has amassed double-digit carries in successive weeks, against a leaky Cowboys’ run defense. I believe Gibson will reach the century mark for the second time this season.
Browns RB Kareem Hunt vs. Jaguars
The Eagles made a concerted effort to bottle up Hunt last week – he managed to parlay 13 carries into a paltry 11 yards – but he’ll be in line for a nice rebound on Sunday. Even with the return of starter Nick Chubb, Hunt has remained heavily involved in the game plan. The Browns’ No. 2 option received the bulk of the goal line carries against Philadelphia. I like Hunt against a shoddy Jaguars defense.
Patriots RB Damien Harris vs. Cardinals
Last week, the Patriots offered a ringing endorsement in Harris when they listed Sony Michel as a healthy scratch. In Michel’s extended absence, the Patriots’ backfield turned into a two-person operation with Harris and Rex Burkhead. However, Burkhead suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Texans, so Michel will likely see his first action since Week 3. Though the threat of goal line carries loom, Harris has received double-digit carries the past five games and appears entrenched as the feature runner. He’s set to take on a Cardinals run defense who just surrendered 79 yards and a touchdown to Carlos Hyde
Ravens RB Gus Edwards vs. Steelers
With fellow running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, Edwards becomes the de facto starter for what was originally slated to be a Thanksgiving primetime matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The divisional clash, which has now been moved to Sunday, should consist of a ground-and-pound approach from both sides. Edwards belongs in lineups on volume alone.
Washington Football Team WR Terry McLaurin vs. Cowboys
Even with the ultra-conservative Alex Smith at the controls for Washington, McLaurin has been as consistent as they come. Over the past two weeks, the second-year receiver has accumulated 12 receptions for 179 yards on 16 pass targets. In the first meeting with Dallas, McLaurin yielded seven catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. I think he clears the 100-yard mark and finds the end zone on Thursday.
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Panthers
Adam Thielen’s status for Sunday is still up in the air due to COVID-19 protocols, which could present Jefferson’s increased looks in the passing game. Jefferson, who has garnered 15 targets over the past two weeks, has been virtually matchup-proof all season. Expect the good times to continue to roll this week at home against Carolina in a game that could turn into a shootout.
Texans WR Will Fuller vs. Lions
Fuller exceeded expectations a week ago, reeling in six receptions for 80 yards on eight targets against the Patriots. While Fuller surprisingly produced against a hard-nosed, veteran-laden Patriots’ secondary, the Notre Dame product is a must-play this week. Fuller should find the end zone against a faulty Lions’ secondary who struggles defending the deep ball.
Rams WR Robert Woods vs. 49ers
Woods continues to be among the safest plays in fantasy football. The versatile target-monster has an innate rapport with quarterback Jared Goff and has a knack for finding the openings in zone. Whether he is racking up yards on short-to-intermediate routes or as a runner, Woods is one of the few players you can feel comfortable starting, with the assurance that production is imminent. The veteran pass-catcher registered 12 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets against Tampa Bay, and I expect the momentum to carry over.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.comInsideTheBirds.com.