Most fantasy football leagues have a 13-week regular season, followed by playoffs in Weeks 14-16. By this point, everyone already is eyeing the postseason with growing expectations.
The sad reality is that many of the teams flying high right now actually won’t make the playoffs. It’s the truth. I know this because I’ve been there (multiple times).
It’s a familiar story for some of you, I’m sure. You enter the final three weeks with a seemingly unassailable 6-4 record. But over the next three games, a series of calamities sends you on a nauseating 0-3 run, putting your once-mighty squad at 6-7 and very much out of the playoffs.
In this way, Week 11 begins what’s basically the playoffs to get to the playoffs. Even if your team looks safe, it’s probably not. This is one of the great things about fantasy, but it’s also terrifying.
One of the tendencies I found myself falling victim to on teams that have collapsed late in the season was setting my lineup and sticking to it. Tinkering can cost you, but having the courage to play the optimal matchups
can also achieve better results.
With that in mind, here are a few players who could have upside to their performances this week:
Derek Carr, quarterback — Sometimes, don’t overthink it. Carr is playing the Bengals, the NFL’s lone winless team. He’s also available in 55 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, and is a viable streaming option.
True, he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in any game this season, but the 28-year-old has only one interception in his last six games against 10 touchdown passes. He should have little trouble moving the ball against a struggling Cincinnati defense.
Devin Singletary, running back — After his initial Week 7 return from injury, Singletary has seen a majority of the snaps as the Bills’ lead running back. While his usage has been frustratingly unpredictable, the opportunities should come against Buffalo’s Week 11 opponent: the Dolphins.
Miami has allowed more than 100 rushing yards to opponents in seven of the team’s nine games this season. Given his playmaking ability, Singletary is a good bet to rack up points.
D.J. Moore, wide receiver — Granted, Moore is probably a fixture in your lineup already. Still, if you’re on the fence with him and another receiver, lean toward Moore this week. He’s averaged 8.8 target per game, tied with notables Tyreek Hill and Odell Beckham Jr.
Added to this, Moore is playing a Falcons defense that has been bad for large portions of the season. Atlanta hasn’t recorded a defensive takeaway since Week 5, and hasn’t made an interception since Week 2. Moore could be primed for a big week.
Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver — While much of the talk around receivers in the Patriots’ offense is about the level of trust they have with Tom Brady, it appears Sanu has found it almost instantly.
The 30-year-old drew 14 targets in just his second game with the Patriots following his trade from the Falcons. He turned that into a quality performance, making 10 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Against a weaker Eagles secondary, Sanu should be free to make a few more plays.
Jared Cook, tight end — In the first four weeks of the season, Cook did little with the targets thrown his way from Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. Touchdowns in Weeks 5 and 6 showed Cook’s upside, but an ankle injury ruled him out for multiple weeks.
Finally, Cook was heavily involved in Week 10 against the Falcons. He caught six of his 10 targets for 74 yards. This week, he has another positive matchup against a Buccaneers defense that is one of the worst in the league defending tight ends. Cook is far from a guarantee, but should be worth a lineup spot.
Ross Dwelley, tight end — This is the biggest roll of the dice out of the players listed here, but there are reasons for it. The first is obvious: George Kittle has been ruled out. In theory, this means that all of Kittle’s regular targets will have to be spread around. But when you remember that San Francisco is already short on dependable wide receivers, the possibility for Dwelley to be involved increases.
He was targeted seven times a week ago, and could see similar volume against the Cardinals this week. This is good news, as the Cardinals have been by far the worst team in the league defending tight ends. If you’re really desperate (or if you have Kittle and need a replacement), Dwelley is potentially the answer.