It turns out you should maybe give touches to your stud second-round running back. As the Lions let Adrian Peterson brickwall while the passing game struggled, D’Andre Swift gathered dust in a change-of-pace role, a fate undoubtedly influenced by his drop of a walk-off touchdown in Week 1.
When a mysterious Week 6 Peterson MRI opened the door to more work against the Jaguars, Swift responded by turning 14 carries into 116 yards and two scores. Even that wasn’t enough to force coach Matt Patricia’s hand, with Swift handling a non-trivial but still inadequate 22 touches over the next two weeks.
Finally, Week 9 arrived with Swift going 13/64 on the ground on 3/33 through the air. That was the warmup for yesterday, where Swift tagged the Football Team’s solid defense for 16/81 as a rusher and 5/68/1 as a receiver. Peterson handled only four carries as the Lions held on for a critical win.
Averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 8.9 yards per catch in an offense that is anything but well oiled, we are seeing why Swift was attractive with the No. 35 overall pick. “Sudden” through the hole, Swift looks a gear faster than your average running back. Like Peterson in his prime, Swift is capable of both rugged running and blinding acceleration. He is a sophisticated runner at the first level of the defense.
A plus pass catcher, Swift has all the tools for long-term success. Thankfully, it is translating to immediate success in an offense that is finally giving him a chance. Already an every-week RB2, Swift is rapidly pushing for RB1 treatment in a dire fantasy year for the running back position.
Five Week 10 Storylines
Drew Brees suffers mysterious injury vs. 49ers. Not quite ribs, not quite back, Brees’ ailment is apparently an “accumulative thing.” “I can’t really describe it. It was preventing me from doing my job,” was Brees’ baffling post-game comment on the matter. Whatever it is, NFL Network reports the Saints are bracing for Brees to “miss some time to fully heal.” That means it will be Jameis Winston under center for Week 11 against the Falcons, a defense he threw five touchdowns and four interceptions against across a pair of 2019 matchups. Sean Payton runs a much tighter ship than Bruce Arians, but wild man Winston is going to be a higher-ceiling fantasy option than Brees. The Falcons enter Week 11 surrendering the most QB fantasy points. Winston is a rare late-season impact waiver wire addition at quarterback.
Russell Wilson buckles under the weight of having to do everything. Wilson is up to seven turnovers over his past two starts, an unbelievable stat for a quarterback who has long been one of the league’s least likely to give it away. His 10 interceptions on the season are already just one shy of his career worst mark. Wilson hasn’t played particularly well the past two weeks, especially against the Rams. He seemed to be feeling pressure that wasn’t there vs. an elite defense. The main problem remains his defense. It’s not stopping a soul, putting ever increasing pressure on its quarterback. Ken Norton Jr.’s unit finally made a stand in the second half Sunday, but it was after two quarters of letting Jared Goff complete whatever he wanted. Without defensive improvement, Wilson will have to continue to do too much in too many dangerous situations. At least give the man a lead to play with. For Week 11, he gets his primary competition for the No. 1 fantasy spot, Kyler Murray, on a short week.
Teddy Bridgewater injures his *other* knee vs. Bucs. Bridgewater took a low hit from Jason Pierre-Paul in the fourth quarter and did not return. Should it be considered good news that it wasn’t the knee Bridgewater shredded in a summer 2016 practice? It’s difficult to say. What is good news is that an MRI revealed no structural damage. Bridgewater is dealing with “soreness and swelling.” Increasingly banged up of late, it is probably more probable than possible that Bridgewater misses Week 11 against the Lions. That would leave either former XFL dual-threat P.J. Walker or Day 2 draft bust Will Grier to suit up. Walker provided a spark in Bridgewater’s brief Week 8 absence against the Falcons. If Walker gets the call, he will be on the streaming radar vs. Detroit’s awful defense.
Diontae Johnson has first 100-yard game as Steelers’ receiver corps rolls. Not only did Johnson have his first 100-yard day — in the first half, no less — he also caught his longest career pass, hauling in a 46-yard reception over his shoulder. Few teams have fiercer target competition, but Johnson somehow reaches 10 every time he manages to play a game to completion. Ben Roethlisberger loves his work in the short areas of the field, and he has the talent to do damage deep. The Steelers are looking like the rare team capable of supporting three top-24 wideouts in fantasy. Johnson can live off volume and big-play ability, JuJu Smith-Schuster can hoard targets and Chase Claypool can score just as quickly as touches are manufactured for him. The Jaguars are another A+ Week 11 matchup.
Salvon Ahmed wins the contest to lead Dolphins’ backfield. Matt Breida (hamstring) remained sidelined, but the Dolphins had finally seen enough of Jordan Howard, once again making him a healthy scratch even as they operated several men short in the backfield. They were rewarded with some hard-charging running from Ahmed. Ahmed was quick and decisive, sometimes too much so as Matt Waldman points out in one of his excellent breakdowns. Patience, young running back! As nice as it was to see a new face take control of the Dolphins’ backfield away from Howard, Myles Gaskin (knee) is eligible to return in Week 12, while we may see Breida as soon as Sunday against the Broncos. Ahmed is obviously worth a waiver wire gander. Just don’t count on him as a silver bullet solution to your RB2 woes.
Five More Week 10 Storylines
Damien Harris continues to take control of Patriots’ backfield. Supposedly questionable with a chest injury, Harris ran over the Ravens’ stout run defense in the rain, turning in his second 100-yard day on the ground in as many healthy appearances. Distancing himself from Sony Michel (quad) ahead of Michel’s likely activation from injured reserve, Harris is throwing a lifeline to a limited offense and providing RB2 hope for beleaguered fantasy players in an awful year for the running back position. Harris has a dream Week 11 matchup in a Texans Defense surrendering far and away the league’s most rushing yards and third most RB fantasy points.
Carson Wentz has his worst start yet. Wentz finally had Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor and even Alshon Jeffery all healthy at the same time. Good news, right? *zero touchdowns later* It was not good news, and seemed to interrupt the lone connection Wentz has had of late with second-year pro Travis Fulgham. Via NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank: “Wentz completed less than 60 percent of his passes for a fifth straight game, the first time an Eagles quarterback has done that in 14 years.” Simply not a good player this season, Wentz has yet to have a single three-score day through the air. He has as many passing touchdowns (12) as interceptions. Predictably, his wild horse playmaking on the ground proved to be a mirage. Wentz isn’t hitting big plays and he’s missing easy throws. If Wentz can make it through Week 11 against the Browns with his job, he will emerge with golden matchups in the Seahawks and Packers. That sounds more like a threat than a fantasy opportunity as I type it.
Antonio Gibson saves his best work for the second half. J.D. McKissic absorbed nine targets in the first 23 minutes of Washington’s narrow loss to the Lions. Shockingly, this was a timespan in which the Football Team fell behind big. Alex Smith finally realized the error of his ways after the break, targeting McKissic “just” four times to Gibson’s three. Gibson also cashed in a pair of goal-line carries for his sixth and seventh rushing touchdowns. McKissic has 29 targets over the past two weeks. He is also failing to threaten Gibson on early downs, keeping the rookie’s floor intact. We know Gibson and his receiving background can challenge McKissic in the air. If yesterday’s halftime adjustment is any indication, maybe Smith has finally gotten the memo. Gibson has a mouthwatering Week 11 matchup in the Bengals.
As the RoJo turns: Ronald Jones is good again. Need to get back on your coach’s good side? Score a 98-yard touchdown. It’s especially recommended if you lost a fumble earlier in the proceedings. When the dust settled, RoJo had 23 carries against the Panthers, as many as he had over his previous three games combined. Nothing is going according to plan in the Bucs’ backfield, but the only thing that has been going at all is Jones. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry to Leonard Fournette’s 4.1. Even if you remove Jones’ 98-yard tote, he is still averaging nearly a half yard more per carry. His legs are where the life is in the Bucs’ running back group. Arians needs to do what fantasy managers did a long time ago and give up the Fournette dream. Whoever gets the lead for Week 11 will have a tough matchup in the Rams.
Drew Lock continues to not show enough for Broncos. Although he was the QB8 and QB3 over the past two weeks, Lock had not necessarily done so in style. Sunday we saw the limits of “bad in real life, good in fantasy,” with Lock turning a good matchup into a four-interception disaster, one where he continued to fail to translate his signature skill — deep passing — into anything other than horrendous results. Simply awful under pressure, Lock is showing very little to suggest he will be GM John Elway’s first successful post-Peyton Manning gambit under center. As Lock showed in Weeks 8 and 9, you don’t have to be good to be good in fantasy, but it will be difficult for the disconnect to connect in his upcoming three-game slate of vs. MIA, vs. NO and @KC.
1. Who is going to tell Taysom Hill?
2. Has the Football Team ever considered not targeting J.D. McKissic 15 times?
3. Jim Harbaugh to the Lions, who says no? (Besides everyone.)
Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Jameis Winston (vs. ATL), Philip Rivers (vs. GB), Alex Smith (vs. CIN), Tua Tagovailoa (@DEN), Andy Dalton (@MIN), P.J. Walker (vs. DET)
RB: Salvon Ahmed, Nyheim Hines, Lamical Perine, Gus Edwards, Kalen Ballage, Rex Burkhead, Matt Breida, Cam Akers, Alex Collins
WR: Michael Pittman, Jakobi Meyers, Jalen Reagor, Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Tim Patrick, Darnell Mooney, Denzel Mims, KJ Hamler
TE: Logan Thomas, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Dalton Schultz, Mo Alie-Cox
DEF: Chargers (vs. NYJ), Browns (vs. PHI), Lions (@CAR), Bengals (@WFT), Rams (vs. TB), Falcons (@NO if Jameis Winston plays)
Stats of the Week
Three. How many games in a row James Conner has failed to reach 50 yards rushing. That includes golden matchups in the Cowboys and Bengals. The Steelers might have to try something different soon.
Tweet of the Week, from Arif Hasan: Love constantly trying to figure out how good the Patriots are.
The *Wins Game Once* Award: The Giants beating the Eagles then immediately signing their kicker to a contract extension.
The Something That Didn’t Actually Happen Award: Scores of people telling Dave Gettleman the Giants were the best 2-7 team they have ever seen.