Projections for bye week in fantasy football


It’s already week 11 of ESPN fantasy football and the rankings are in. Photo courtesy of ESPN

Weston Corak

With the NFL season well underway, there have been some exciting games and strong players this year, especially in fantasy football. Here are the running back and wide receiver rankings for week 11 along with some analysis of each player. All of these rankings are for full PPR scoring.

Running backs

1. Saquon Barkley

As the number three overall running back in terms of total points, Barkley has exploded back onto the scene after an injury-riddled past few years. Coming off a season-high, the Giants have made it very clear that Barkley is the focal point of their offense. With an upcoming matchup against the Lions, Saquon is expected to continue his dominance as the Lions are in the bottom ten in terms of most points allowed to runningbacks. There’s a ton of opportunity in this game for Barkley as he should be starting very confidently.

2. Austin Ekeler

As running back one of the season, Ekeler has been a smash pick for fantasy managers. In what should be a great game against the Chiefs, Ekeler looks to improve on his performance last week, as he only was able to put up a little over 13 points. His unique skillset of pass-catching ability allows for strong games. With the possibility of a return from Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, the Chargers’ offense should vastly improve and be able to move the ball down the field better than they have been doing. This would also allow for more red zone opportunities for this team, which Ekeler strives in, as he’s scored ten touchdowns on the year so far. Ekler should be an amazing player in this matchup.

3. Derrick Henry

Henry has had a fantastic season up to this point. After the first two weeks, he has only gotten under 27 points twice which has boosted him up to fifth overall running back. Playing the Packers on Thursday night, Henry looks to improve his performance from last week against the 18th-best run defense in terms of fantasy points to the running back position. As the leading player in rushing attempts and second in rushing yards, Henry should be in line for a super big game.

4. Joe Mixon

Coming off of a sensational 55-point game before his bye week, Mixon was able to total five touchdowns. He is expected to cool off a bit against the Pittsburg defense who ranks tenth in points allowed to running backs, but his pass-catching ability and high number of rushing attempts should allow for another great game from Mixon.

5. Jonathan Taylor

Taylor has had a very rough season so far. As the running back 27 overall, the price paid to get him has not been worth it, as he was taken with the 1.01 in most drafts. But he was taken at this spot for a reason, as he finished as the running back one overall last year. Playing 60 out of 64 snaps last week and putting up just over 24 points, we saw a glimpse of what Taylor was like last year, and with Nyheim Hines being traded and a questionable Deon Jackson, Taylor is in line for another big performance against the Eagles; he should be started in lineups.

6. Christian McCaffrey

As the running back two overall, McCaffrey has had a phenomenal season up to this point. His usage went down last week as Elijah Mitchell fed into a lot of carries, which resulted in a split backfield. McCaffrey was still utilized heavily in the passing game, seeing six targets. With a good matchup against the Arizona defense, he should be started for managers. 

7. Josh Jacobs

The Raiders have had a rough season so far as they sit at 2-7. However, Jacobs has shined this season and has been a focal point of the Raiders’ offense, sitting at the running back six overall. This week they have a tough game against the Broncos’ defense, but Jacobs should be utilized heavily. Last week he saw a season-high eight targets. With important players in this offense like Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow being out, Jacobs should be used a lot again. He is a must-start fantasy running back.

8. Dalvin Cook

Cook has gotten back on track after a tough start to the season. In a great game last week, Cook saw only 14 rushing attempts but was able to get 119 yards and a touchdown with those rushes. This week against the tough Dallas defense, Cook should be started, but his expectations should be lowered a little bit past what they usually are. The superstar running back should still be able to have a solid week.

9. Nick Chubb

Chubb has been an amazing fantasy player this season, and he ranks the running back four overall. However, this week he has a very hard matchup at Buffalo, where they are expecting as much as six feet of snow. In games like this, teams tend to lean more on the run, but the weather may limit Chubb along with the other backs in this game. The circumstances are tricky, but Chubb is probably the best option on teams that have him.

10. Aaron Jones

Jones proved last week that he is the number one back on this team. He played 70% of the snaps and saw a season-high 24 carries. This week he plays the Tennessee defense, who ranks sixth against the running back position in fantasy. However, with his usage, Jones remains in the running back one conversation.

Honorable mentions: Rhamondre Stevenson vs. the New York Jets, Tony Pollard at Minnesota (must start if Ezekiel Elliot doesn’t play), and David Montgomery at Atlanta.

Wide receivers:

1. Justin Jefferson

The number three wide receiver has shown his amazing abilities over the season. Last week he was able to rack up 10 receptions for 193 yards and a touchdown against Buffalo. This week he plays against Dallas’s defense. However, Jefferson is looking like one of the best, if not the best receiver in the league and should be started no matter the matchup.

2. CeeDee Lamb

Last week Lamb’s target share dropped to 29% with his quarterback Dak Prescott. Nonetheless, this is still a massive number and has proved to get him points, as Lamb scored 38 points last week. Dallas tends to throw a lot which benefits Lamb. This should stay the same in their game this week against Minnesota.

3. Stefon Diggs

It’s hard to know what to expect from Buffalo’s game this week with a lot of snow coming in. But what we do know is that Diggs has been amazing this year, ranking as the wide receiver number two of the year. He is third in both targets and receiving yards this year which shows Buffalo has utilized him a lot. It’s a tough situation due to the weather, but if Diggs should be a starter.

4. Deandre Hopkins

Since coming back from suspension, Hopkins has shown why he is still one of the best receivers in the game. He’s averaging just under 22 points per game, as well as nine receptions, 99 yards, and half a touchdown per game this season. The Cardinals will face off against the tough 49ers defense this week, but managers shouldn’t be too worried as Hopkins was able to torch Jalen Ramsey and the Rams’ defense with 10 catches for 98 yards with his backup quarterback, Colt McCoy. If his starting quarterback Kyler Murray misses another game, Hopkins may be downgraded a little bit, but will still remain an elite option as a wide receiver.

5. A.J. Brown

Brown struggled last week, only hauling in 1 of his 4 targets, but this was due to injury. If he is able to play this week, he is a must-start player. He is currently the wide receiver nine of the season and has been a big part of the Eagles being 8-1. If Brown ends up playing this week, we expect him to continue his stellar season against the Colts. 

6. Davante Adams

Adams has been a great fantasy option this year despite his team’s woes. Right now, he sits at wide receiver 5 on the year coming fresh off of 36.6 and 27.6 games. But, he should be downgraded against the very good Denver defense who have the fewest passing yards against them on the year. Adams should still be able to put up good numbers despite the hard matchup.  

7. Amon-Ra St. Brown

After a super strong start to the season, St. Brown has dealt with some injuries and poor play which have limited his play. However, last week he was able to put up 10 catches for 119 yards in the absence of his recently traded tight end, T.J. Hockenson. His role grew without him and this should continue over the rest of the season. St. Brown is a solid wide receiver this week despite his tough matchup versus the Giants, who let up the seventh-fewest yards to receivers this year. 

8. Tee Higgins

Higgins has only been able to get 109 yards in both of his games without star receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Although this is disappointing, Higgins should be seen as a solid wide receiver. He should get better production and efficiency in the future as he plays the Steelers’ defense this week.

9. Deebo Samuel

Samuel has been disappointing this year, as he ranks as the wide receiver 29 of the year. Last week, Samuel was only able to put up 7.1 points in his debut with new 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey. However, Samuel has a good matchup against the Cardinals this week who have given up the third most receiving yards in the NFL. Samuel should have somewhat of a bounce-back game with this good matchup.  

10. Chris Olave

Last week, Olave had a season-low of seven fantasy points with his backup quarterback Andy Dalton. If his starter Jameis Winston is to return, Olave should do very well. This is because Winston loves to throw the ball downfield, and Olave strives in these situations. Monitor Winston’s health, but if he plays then Olave is a must-start.

Honorable mention: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams vs. Kansas City (top 10 if either are healthy), Michael Pittman vs. Philadelphia, and Terry McLaurin at Houston.

Overall, it seems to be a week of mixed outcomes; players either need to keep up the good work or improve in order to move up in the rankings.