Last week, we covered how each defense fared on a weekly basis against
a particular offensive position group. This week, we'll shift the
focus on individual players and how they fared among their peers
on a weekly basis. Both articles should be quite helpful when it
comes to setting weekly lineups in season-long leagues as well as
For the sake of time and space (not to mention, my sanity), not
every player that has scored a point was included and/or appears
below. For example, 173 receivers have scored at one PPR fantasy
point this season. It didn't make sense to keep one player in
the mix just because he had one 10-point game and a 40th place
finish in the one week he was active. In other words, the ranks
below are not gospel. The best way to describe my qualifications
for which players were included on this list and which ones were
left off is simple: how relevant are they now as we approach Week
11. For example, I wanted to list only regular starters at quarterback.
At running back, consistent availability was key.
Notes: Each table is sorted from lowest
to highest in the "Avg" column. To avoid any potential
confusion, the smaller the number in each column, the more advantageous
that matchup was for the position group. "Hi" and "Lo"
are self-explanatory. Designations such as QB1 or RB2 are how
often a player fell into that particular group in a 12-team league.
As such, a "4" in the QB1 column indicates four top-12
finishes. A "2" in the RB2 column indicates two finishes
between 13 and 24. And so on and so forth …
Over the course of the offseason and throughout the regular season,
there has been much talk about the depth at quarterback. While
that's true, the "evidence" suggests there are only
seven true QB1s (based on average rank). Conversely, there have
13 regular starters at quarterback with an average rank better
than 17. In other words, the "middle class" isn’t
too far behind the "upper class; their floor is just a bit
lower. So there is depth at quarterback, in a matter of speaking.
- Maybe it's something and maybe it's nothing, but it's at least
worth noting Russell Wilson has finished as a QB2 in three of
the last four weeks. Fantasy owners probably aren't going to hold
last week's finish against him considering the opponent (49ers),
but mid-range QB2 territory wasn't the expectation against the
Ravens (Week 7) and Falcons (Week 8). Perhaps not so coincidentally,
Will Dissly was lost for the season early in Week 6.
- Most people already know Matthew Stafford is having a great
season, but I'll be the first to admit I didn't realize he had
four top-four and five top-six finishes. Yet another year in which
the Lions must rely on the passing game because the running game
can't hold up its end of the bargain, Stafford has benefited from
volume and matchups. Of his five games with at least three touchdown
passes, four have come against defenses that are among the worst
in the league. Marvin Jones scored four times in the one good
game against a legitimate pass defense (Vikings). Especially considering
Stafford will probably be playing through a back issue for a while,
it's hard to feel comfortable with him the rest of the season.
Also not helping matters, four of his final six fantasy matchups
are against Dallas, Chicago, Minnesota and Denver.
- The mere mention of Jameis Winston tends to elicit eye-rolls
and thoughts of "good Jameis" versus "bad Jameis,"
but his average rank of 9.7 over the last seven games - not to
mention his six QB1 finishes over that time - should allow fantasy
owners to view him as a solid back-end starter (four of his last
five finishes have been 10th, 11th or 12th). It goes without saying
a better quarterback - or at least one not as prone to making
mistakes as often - would probably be a high-end QB1 on this list,
but owners would do well to recognize he's performing more consistently
in fantasy than most people probably realize.
- Daniel Jones is exceeding the expectations most had for him,
especially for someone many didn't deem worthy of the No. 6 overall
pick and certainly not in an offense that was supposed to be built
around Saquon Barkley. But he's a rookie quarterback, and that
usually means there's going to be a fair amount of inconsistency.
That is reflected in his weekly ranks, finishing first or second
three times and 19th or lower in his other five games. He has
typically thrived when the matchup has been favorable (Bucs, Lions
and Jets), although poor finishes against the Redskins and Cardinals
would appear to make him more of a 50-50 proposition in those
- Fantasy owners of Aaron Rodgers probably had something better
than four QB1 finishes through 10 games when they drafted him
this summer. Outside of the two-game stretch in Weeks 7-8 in which
he accounted for nine touchdowns, Rodgers has nine total TDs in
the other eight weeks. The aforementioned two-week explosion has
Rodgers firmly entrenched as the overall QB5 for now, but the
emergence of the running game - particularly Aaron Jones - has
turned Rodgers into more of a matchup-based starter. Even the
return of Davante Adams two weeks ago has not helped; in fact,
he's averaging less than 200 yards passing and has thrown for
one score since Adams came back in Week 9.
By the very nature of the position, the number of players and
how often game flow dictates their usage, it's not surprising
only two regular running backs check in as RB1s (average rank
lower than 12). It also tells us what we already knew: Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey have been amazing.
- It's at least mildly interesting Ezekiel Elliott has finished
inside the top 12 running backs just three times in nine games.
His usage obviously provides him with a solid floor, but there
hasn't been much else about him that has been elite in 2019. There
will be opportunities for him to put together a spiked week or
two in the coming weeks against Detroit (Week 11), Buffalo (Week
13) and Chicago (Week 14), although the Cowboys could do themselves
- and Elliott - a huge favor by showing the ability to react to
what the defense is willing to give them as opposed to making
sure Zeke gets his 20 touches.
- At the end of the season, people will likely consider Alvin Kamara a bit of a bust. While that's good in terms of making him
a potential value in 2020, it's too bad because he's actually
been an RB1 in the two "normal" games he's had this
season (i.e. Drew Brees played all game and/or Kamara wasn't injured).
It's a testament to him and his complete game that he has actually
recorded three RB1 and three RB2 finishes despite spending most
of the season working in an offense designed to chew clock and
minimize possessions as opposed to what the Saints usually do
on offense: attack. While the remaining schedule isn't particularly
kind to the typical running back, the number of solid run defenses
should enhance Kamara's already high ceiling as a receiver. For
all the owners who were able to somehow survive the lean weeks
in which he was stuck in RB2 purgatory due to the handling of
Teddy Bridgewater, Kamara should be able to finish strong and
be the high-end asset he was drafted to be this summer.
- A number of people - myself included - made a couple of unwise
assumptions about Josh Jacobs this offseason. I thought he was
clearly the best back in this spring's draft, so talent wasn't
an issue. My problems with him were his early schedule, a young
defense that would need time to develop (forcing him into negative
game script) and the notion that Jalen Richard - coming off a
68-catch season and an efficient year as a runner - would not
be reduced to the role of spectator and limit the rookie's ceiling
in terms of his production in the passing game. The early schedule
concern proved to be valid - Jacobs finish no higher than RB21
in three of the first five games - and Jacobs' limited usage as
a receiver was mostly accurate as well - albeit due to a lack
of involvement of running backs in the passing game as a whole
- but the Raiders seemed to turn a corner against the Bears right
before their Week 6 bye and realized how much feeding Jacobs means
to their offense. Taking advantage of a host of solid matchups
- including that game in England has helped the cause, and Oakland's
remaining schedule is pretty favorable. If Jacobs proves he can
handle the workload - he wasn't asked to do it much at Alabama
- then he figures to be one of the key cogs on a number of fantasy
- Despite what many say, Todd Gurley has mostly lived up to his
draft position (late second round for most). The problem is so
many owners saw the upside that they believe he has been a disappointment.
And to some degree, I guess that has been true. However, it can
be difficult for some people to separate the disappointment in
the player's production from the reason(s) it is happening. Are
we seeing a slightly reduced version of the elite player from
a year or two ago? Sure, but that too was expected and I don't
think the falloff has been as dramatic as some would have you
believe (like 100 to 90 percent as opposed to 100 to 75). He's
occasionally been trusted to handle heavy workloads and actually
had most of his best games in the most difficult matchups. Week
10 should have been the litmus test in terms of ramping up his
second-half workload as the Rams started to make a push for a
playoff spot, primarily because the team was coming off a bye.
He did his part, averaging 6.1 YPC against one of the best defenses
in the league, but he was somehow mothballed (no touches) for
the entire fourth quarter in a game that neither team ever led
by more than seven points.
For as frustrating as his lack of rushing workload has been,
his receiving usage has been even worse. Eleven of his 28 targets
came in one game. And the usage of backs in the passing game in
Los Angeles hasn't even been a Gurley issue per se. Last season,
Rams' runners were targeted 97 times (70 catches). This season,
they are on pace for 66 targets and 36 catches. With Jared Goff
struggling as much as he is, wouldn't it make sense for the running
backs to see MORE usage - both as runners and receivers - and
not less? Why trade up for Darrell Henderson and not use him as
the change-of-pace, big-play complement he was drafted to be?
Why not target Gurley as a receiver more often if the knee is
still a concern? And if the offensive line is falling apart as
appears to be the case, Cooper Kupp cannot be the only answer.
(We saw what happened last week when a good defense consistently
bracketed him.) There are a lot of questions that need to be answered
in Los Angeles, and the answers can no longer be "it was
just kind of the rotation" or the like. The jet-sweep action
in this offense is gone, the outside zone runs have mostly disappeared
and the creativity that defined Sean McVay's offenses the first
two seasons is, you guessed it, non-existent. Each of those pieces
of the offense opened up the field for Gurley and, by extension,
gave Goff time to take shots down the field. It's one thing if
McVay & Co. want to be secretive about how they plan on deploying
their assets to gain an advantage, but it's beginning to feel
as though the Rams are spending more time trying to justify Goff's
new contract extension these days than winning football games.
To put Gurley's workload into some context and wrap up this rant,
he is averaging 14.9 touches. Aaron Jones is, by all accounts,
still a committee back losing about 12 touches per game to Jamaal Williams. Jones is averaging 17 touches. Even during his four-game
run prior from Week 6 to Week 9 and prior to the start of his
four-game suspension in Week 10, Miami found a way to give Mark
Walton 13.8 touches. If a team like the Dolphins can find 14 touches
for Walton, surely the Rams can find a few more for the second-highest
paid back in the league.
- It all started out so well for Marlon Mack. The biggest concern
for him entering the season was his durability, which is not been
an issue thus far. Matchups have not been particularly kind to
him lately and he was drafted to be an RB2 in most leagues, so
he hasn't exactly been a disappointment. With that said, his one
RB1 finish was in the opener and he's struggled to be even an
RB2 since the Week 6 bye. Workload has not been a problem - at
least 20 touches in five straight contests - but owners probably
expected something more than Gurley-like usage in the passing
game from a player HC Frank Reich said he expected to be a feature
back this season. There aren't enough healthy weapons in the passing
game at the moment to justify two total targets in the last three
weeks for a player like Mack. The return of T.Y. Hilton should
help everybody wearing the horseshoe, but matchups with the Texans,
Titans, Bucs and Saints do not paint a rosy picture for Mack enjoying
an explosive conclusion to the season.
- It's really not my nature to rain on parades, but regression
is coming for Aaron Jones. Remember the last two seasons when
Kamara was breaking fantasy football by averaging one touchdown
every 15-plus touches? Yeah, Jones is laughing at that inefficiency,
averaging one score every 12.1 touches in 2019. He has scored
on half of his 22 red zone carries. (Let me repeat that,
HE HAS SCORED ON 11 of 22 carries inside the 20!) He
only has 58 percent of his team's red zone carries and still has
two more rushing TDs inside the 20 than anyone else in the league.
It's also worth keeping in mind that while he has three games
with at least 150 total yards, he also has three with 39 or fewer.
None of this should make fantasy owners question whether he is
capable of being an RB1, but more to remind everyone he's probably
not ready to move into the same class as Christian McCaffrey or
For the most part, I'll repeat what I said above about running
backs. The number of players at this position makes it externally
difficult for more than a handful of players to be a consistent
top-12 performer every week. It's even more reason to marvel at
the year Michael Thomas is having. Tyreek Hill would probably
be right there with him had it not been for his Week 1 injury.
- A funny thing happened when Will Fuller went down early in
Week 7. Instead of Kenny Stills wreaking havoc as Deshaun Watson's
new favorite downfield toy, DeAndre Hopkins saw his involvement
spike and rediscovered the end zone. It's not as if Hopkins' targets
ever really dried up - seven or more in every game is about as
good as it gets for most receivers - but his volume has picked
up over the last four contests. Watson has also been able to trust
his protection lately more than in previous years, and that has
resulted in a slightly deeper average target for Hopkins in recent
weeks as a result. The Texans have also experienced a bit of a
fundamental change in their offense. Watson's first two seasons
saw Houston take regular deep shots with Fuller (when healthy)
in part because it didn't believe it had the offensive line to
put together extended drives on a regular basis. The Texans' line
isn't great now either, but they are at least competent. This
fact - along with throwing shorter and quicker passes - is generally
keeping Watson out of harm's way while also compensating for an
average workhorse running back.
- After four of five weeks as a top-six receiver, the sky must
be falling for Chris Godwin's fantasy owners with three straight
finishes in the WR2 or WR3 range, right? R-E-L-A-X. It was only
a matter of time before: a) Mike Evans started getting his numbers;
b) touchdown regression started working against Godwin and c)
his catch rate fell off from 79.6 percent - which is where it
was before the team went on its Week 7 bye. The only thing that's
really changed for Godwin is his touchdown pace has slowed (none
in the last four games). The good news for both him and Evans
is that the path is pretty clear for both players to finish strong
(especially if Marshon Lattimore has to sit this week). Only Indianapolis
(Week 14) represents much of a challenge in terms of defenses
who have fared well against receivers. And that matchup should
be a good one for Godwin since the Colts' heavy zone coverage
figures to work more in his favor than Evans going over the top
of the defense.
- Every season provides a little bit of wackiness, and this one
is no different. Long considered an injury-prone splash play in
fantasy, John Brown has become a high-floor receiver with a respectable
ceiling. A receiver who has posted six weekly finishes inside
the top 36 and consistently delivers double-digit fantasy-point
totals is what fantasy owners dream of finding in the late rounds.
The fact he has been so consistent with a mostly inaccurate quarterback
like Josh Allen speaks even more to the player he has become.
Unfortunately for him, the schedule does not figure to be kind
to him down the stretch. Potential shadow dates with Chris Harris
and Stephon Gilmore await, while Dallas, Baltimore and Pittsburgh
are no slouches when it comes to pass defense.
- In six full games with Sam Darnold as his quarterback, Jamison
Crowder has finished inside the top 12 three times and inside
the top 20 four times. The two exceptions? New England and Jacksonville.
The Patriots' game needs no explanation, while the Jaguars' effort
can probably be explained by the fact regular slot DB D.J. Hayden
has performed well this year and allowed a passer rating of 83.2
in his coverage. In Crowder's four good games with Darnold, he's
managed at least five catches and 81 yards each time.
- While the crime isn't as egregious as the one being perpetrated
by the Rams with Gurley, Stefon Diggs owners can't be overly pleased
with how this year is going either. Outside of a three-week stretch
in which he finished inside the top 12 each time, Diggs has had
only one other finish that would be considered even WR3 quality.
One monster game (7-167-3 in Week 6) is the main reason he is
the overall WR15 right now, and it's worth wondering when his
situation is actually going to get better. Even without Adam Thielen
around for the better part of the last month, Diggs hasn't seen
eight or more targets in any of those four contests.
As most veteran fantasy owners already know, the bar has been
set pretty low when it comes to tight ends in fantasy. One big
game makes a player a must-add, while a second big game shortly
thereafter usually puts him in the TE1 conversation. We've already
seen two instances of this from the Seahawks this season. Will Dissly quickly became a must-start with four straight finishes
inside the top seven before he was lost for the season. Now with
two very productive games on his resume, we may not be far away
from looking at Jacob Hollister the same way. Low-key
stat of the week: Dissly and Hollister have combined for six top-seven
finishes at tight end in 2019.
- This position took a hit it didn’t need last week when
Austin Hooper went down with an MCL sprain. Outside of perhaps
Darren Waller and Mark Andrews in September, no tight end gave
fantasy owners the same kind of weekly advantage at the position
- and certainly not for as long as Hooper did. Whether he is sidelined
for as long as four weeks (as is being reported) or as few as
two, it will be interesting to see how the Falcons redistribute
the 7.5 targets he attracted. With Hooper leaving a four-game
touchdown streak and six total TDs in his last seven games, does
Julio Jones break his scoreless streak during Hooper's absence?
How about Calvin Ridley? Does Russell Gage become more of a thing?
Or will hot Week 11 waiver-wire add Brian Hill get more touches?
- The Rams are such a mess at the moment that it is hard to discern
whether or not Gerald Everett's breakout is a function of him
taking a leap in his third year or a product of the pass-blocking
being so poor that Goff is making him one of his first reads regardless
of the actual progression. If we assume Everett's breakout is
more of more the latter than the former, we can probably expect
him to finish strong for fantasy purposes with upcoming games
against strong pass-rushing teams like the Bears, Ravens and Seahawks.
At any rate, Everett has been a top-six tight end in four of his
last six outings. The two games in which he fell short? The disastrous
performance against San Francisco in Week 6 and the game in London
against the Bengals where Kupp was pretty much the entire offense.
- Is Jared Cook back in the good graces of fantasy owners? After
four straight sub-TE2 performances from the Saints' free-agent
prize to begin the season, he has been a top-eight performer in
each of his last three games - two of which came with Bridgewater
as his quarterback. I'm not exactly sure we can count on him being
a consistent fantasy starter yet - Week 10 was only the second
time all season he has seen at least seven targets - but he's
at least established some kind of foothold in what should be a
dynamic offense the rest of the way.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.