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Week 11 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Mohamed Sanu among overlooked options

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Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 11 Flames in the comments section below.

Rivers to spill over banks against KC

Philip Rivers, LAC, QB (47 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $28)
Matchup: vs. KC (Mexico City)
Vegas Line/Total: KC -3.5, 53.5

The London Chargers. It doesn’t exactly have the catchiest ring to it and the odds of a permanent English residence seem long, but, in a hypothetical world, imagine the possibilities for a second. Bangers and mash. Boddington pours. Rivers traveling from San Diego to London on a Zeppelin, crunching tape in a state of the art film room.

It’s highly unlikely the future Tennessee Titans or, dare I say, Chicago Bears, QB will end his playing days inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but whimsical thoughts are always fun to ponder.

So is the veteran’s Week 11 upside.

Hindered by an opportunistic Oakland defense and the unpredictable nature of Thursday Night Football, Rivers greatly underwhelmed a week ago. He uncharacteristically sailed passes, made questionable decisions, mismanaged the clock late and propelled DB Erik Harris to a career night. For a passer entering the week averaging north of 290 yards per game with five multi-TD tallies to his name, his 13.3 fantasy points logged, against the league’s most charitable secondary no less, was deflating.

However, don’t be swayed by recency bias. Yes, its intoxicating properties can be quite influential, but Rivers is bound to bounce back against a Kansas City D with visible battle scars. This season, the Chiefs have allowed 7.2 pass yards per attempt, a 8.6 average depth of target, 245.6 pass yards per game, 1.6 pass TDs per contest and the 11th-most fantasy points to QBs. With Patrick Mahomes once again at the controls, Rivers, No. 2 in total air yards, fills the box score in a game that will have all of Fantasyland feeling desirous.

Fearless Forecast: 318 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 19.7 fantasy points

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Callahan to give Guice extended look?

Derrius Guice, Was, RB (5 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $15)
Matchup: vs. NYJ
Vegas Line/Total: Was -1, 38

Before the ACL displacement and subsequent infection complications, Guice was a highly sought after fantasy running back. His battering ram style, plus athleticism and expected unrestrained workloads arrowed to him becoming one of the virtual game’s most beloved young darlings. Of course, those thoughts were only fanciful, as his 2018 campaign derailed before it even began.

So far, the fresh start didn’t bear fruits. Guice totaled 38 yards on 13 touches in Philadelphia before exiting with an injury sustained to his non-surgically repaired knee. Now healthy and set to return to the lineup, one can only hope the unlucky rusher has rolled in a patch of four-leaf clovers.

The youth movement is well underway for Washington, necessarily so. With his club winless, GM Bruce Allen needs to develop and evaluate unrefined talent, Guice included. Adrian Peterson continues to run like a man unfortunately desperate to alleviate personal debt, but it’s sensible the former LSU Tiger gets fed early and often rest of season, starting this week.

If there’s a saving grace of the Jets defense, it’s execution in the trenches. According to Football Outsiders, it’s given up the fewest adjusted line yards, 3.2 yards per carry to RBs and ranks No. 1 in run-stuff percentage. Still, with the D riddled by injuries and given the incompetence of the Jets offense, rushers have steadily found the end zone against them. Bill Callahan had tiptoed around the touch distribution between Peterson and Guice, but knowing Washington’s lamentable state, it’s plausible the latter receives at least 12-14 touches on Sunday. Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, Chris Carson and Derrick Henry managers searching for a bye-week filler should give him a shot.

Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 47 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.8 fantasy points

Super-charged matchup for Ekeler in Mexico

Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB (59 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $20)
Matchup: vs. KC (Mexico City)
Vegas Line/Total: KC -3.5, 53.5

For those with an encyclopedic knowledge of the NFL, Ekeler’s sharp routes, tacky hands and upfield explosiveness conjures memories of under-appreciated pass-catching specialists of the past — Larry Centers, Richie Anderson, Charlie Garner and former ‘Bolt Darren Sproles. Similar to his predecessors, the matchup nightmare triggers defensive coordinator cold sweats. Whether operating on the wing, in the slot or motioning out of the backfield, he consistently beats defenders with burst and elusiveness. (21.8 missed tackle%). Oh, and he can polish off the latest Stephen King novel while doing one-armed pull ups. Multitasking at its finest.

Melvin Gordon knocked the dust off two weeks ago, reverting Ekeler to his traditional complementary role. Against the Packers and Raiders, the satellite rusher registered a 39.7 percent snap share, 22 touches, 141 total yards and a touchdown. He isn’t the must-start RB from September, but despite the workload reduction, he’s RB2 employable each week in challenging formats.

This week, Ekeler needs to be heavily weighed even for the shallow minded. His opponent, Kansas City, rolls out the red carpet to all RBs, but particularly those with laudable receiving skills. This year, the Chiefs have allowed 5.4 receptions, 57.1 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns to the position. In a game with a stratospheric total, he’s employable over Todd Gurley (vs. Chi), Mark Ingram (vs. Hou) and Ronald Jones (vs. NO).

Fearless Forecast: 6 carries, 27 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 44 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.6 fantasy points

Well-Rounded Sanu Brady’s shiny new toy

Mohamed Sanu, NE, WR (23 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at Phi
Vegas Line/Total: NE -3.5, 44.5

In any profession, sometimes a change of scenery can unlock one’s full potential. For jettisoned NFL players, whether it’s the psychological impact of a clean slate or simply the more nourishing environment, a different area code often elevates those relocated to new statistical heights.

See Sanu, Mohamed.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 27:  Mohamed Sanu Sr of the New England Patriots warms up before the game between the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Mohamed Sanu is set deliver steady WR2 numbers in Week 11 and beyond. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Going from the outhouse to the penthouse overnight before the trade deadline, the receiver quickly washed off Atlanta’s stench with a fresh start in New England. His versatility, a fundamental trait for followers of the Patriot’s Way, meshed instantly with Tom Brady. On 100 percent of the snaps in his Pats debut two Sundays ago in Baltimore, he snared 10 passes (on 14 targets) for 81 yards and a touchdown. Comfortable outside or in the slot, he’s a much-needed bishop on Bill Belichick’s chessboard. Additional volume games should be expected.

This week in Philadelphia, Sanu is firmly in the WR2 discussion. The Eagles, pelted by the pass, have conceded 7.5 pass yards per attempt, a 8.6 average depth of target and the fifth-most fantasy points wide receivers. Likely to square off most often with Ronald Darby, a corner who’s been dusted routinely giving up 1.72 yards per snap, Sanu is a good bet to race past 70 yards.

Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 73 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points

Spirited slot man Renfrow to raise buyer confidence

Hunter Renfrow, Oak, WR (5 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)
Matchup: vs. Cin
Vegas Line/Total: Oak -10, 49

An adventurer who once seized Californian lands alongside John C. Freemont during the Bear Flag Revolt, Renfrow is not your average baby-faced rookie. A sure-handed weapon (87.5 catch% last three) with smooth route-running skills, he plays with a veteran savvy. With defenses keying on Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams and Josh Jacobs, he’s developed into one of Derek Carr’s most trusted allies. WR14 since Week 8, he snared 14 receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns over that span. Knowing the Raiders’ shortcomings on defense and Carr’s increased reliance on Renfrow, he should log multiple WR3 or better performances rest of season.

This week’s matchup against the Bengals presents a golden opportunity.

Zac Taylor’s group are an aimless herd of cats on defense. Wrought with problems, they, along with Washington, Miami and both New York teams, have redefined “futile.” Josh Jacobs is sure to feast on their friendly front, but Renfrow should have ample opportunities to bear his teeth. His likely adversary in coverage, Tony McRae, has surrendered a 73.7 catch percentage and 120-plus passer rating this year. Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp and Dede Westbrook are just a few short-field PacMen who gobbled up yards against the Bengals. Dial up the Raider as a WR3 or FLEX in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.5 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started in Yahoo leagues)

Randall Cobb, Dal, WR (6 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)
Matchup: at Det
Vegas Line/Total: Dal -3, 51.5

Before a myriad of physical setbacks encumbered Cobb, he was one of the game’s slipperiest slot receivers. In an Aaron Rodgers-guided offense, he was the ideal underneath complement to field stretcher Jordy Nelson. His finest season as a pro, in 2014, he splashed pay dirt a dozen times climbing to WR6 in the final rankings. With only one top-40 finish since, his past accomplishments seem like an eternity ago, because it was. That year an exquisitely steak-carved Eddie Lacy was fantasy relevant.

Fantasy viable Cobb performances have rarely materialized. Week 1 against the Giants and Week 10 vs. Minnesota are his only top-45 efforts. His 8.4 yards per target is unattractive, but that’s the nature of his game — inflict small cuts.

This week, he has a reasonable chance to regain his early season form. His mano-y-mano matchup, Justin Coleman, is a favorable one. The Lions slot DB has surrendered 1.47 yards per snap along with a 66.2 catch percentage and 118.8 passer rating. Larry Fitzgerald, Nelson Agholor and Renfrow are slot-heavy options who each took advantage. Against a familiar foe (49-586-4 in 12 career games), Cobb and Dak Prescott boogie.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 53 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.3 fantasy points

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 04: Randall Cobb #18 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown that was overturned due to penalties in the first quarter of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 04, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Randall Cobb hasn't produced many fantasy relevant lines in recent years, but Week 11 could be the exception. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)

QB: Kyle Allen, Car (Car -5.5; $27) – Through turnovers, bitter temperatures and falling snow, Allen showed tremendous guts Sunday in Green Bay. With Cam Newton on injured reserve and likely moving to another destination in 2020, the rookie is Carolina’s quarterback of the present and future. He may not have the pedigree of a prototype franchise cornerstone, but his poise, arm strength and accuracy should not be undersold. As with any unpolished passer, he’ll make the occasional mistake. Still, the future is very bright for Allen in an offense surrounded by Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. This week against Atlanta he enters into the QB1 conversation. For streamers or Aaron Rodgers/Russell Wilson stopgap seekers, he’s a viable multi-TD candidate. The Falcons improbably grounded Drew Brees in ‘Nawlins a week ago, a likely aberration. On the year, they’ve surrendered 8.2 pass yards per attempt, 267.8 pass yards per game, a 19:2 TD:INT split and the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs. (FF: 264-2-0-8, 19.4 fpts)

RB: Kenyan Drake, Ari (SF -13.5; $14) – Last week in Tampa, Thanksgiving arrived early. And David Johnson played the role of cooked bird. On his five disastrous touches, the rusher fumbled, logged 10 total yards and generally resembled a player hurtling toward retirement. Postgame Kliff Kingsbury said he yanked the rusher due to performance, not injury. Drake, who out-touched DJ 16-6, looks like the featured back moving forward. He’s more spritely in every facet. So far in Arizona red, he’s tallied an impressive 4.32 yards after contact per attempt. This week, the rusher rematches with San Francisco, a team he axed on Halloween night to the tune of 162 combined yards and a score. No two games are ever the same, but the Niners have yielded 5.3 yards per carry and 145.7 total yards per game to RBs in their past three. (FF: 15-68-1-4-32-0, 18.0 fpts)

RB: Brian Hill, Atl (Car -5.5; $14) – With Sanu in New England, Austin Hooper shelved for some time and Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith also upended by the injury imp, the Falcons have come undone. If there’s any axiom to live by in fantasy, it’s “change springs new value.” In a lost season for an Atlanta franchise a few pundits picked to win the NFC South, many secondary options, Hill among them, will carry Arthur Blank’s club to the finish line. Without much competition for touches and equipped with three-down skills, the former third-stringer could be this year’s late-season unsung fantasy hero, a la Damien Williams 2018. Tampa and New Orleans are undesirable opponents in Weeks 12-13, but Carolina this Sunday is the antithesis. The Panthers have given up 5.1 yards per carry, 137.9 total yards per game, a league-high 17 total TDs and the third-most fantasy points to RBs. Yes, Atlanta has suffered from trench foot (No. 20 in run-blocking efficiency per PFF), but Hill’s projected high volume instantly vaults him inside the RB top-20. (FF: 16-72-1-3-16-0, 16.3 fpts)

WR: Dede Westbrook, Jax (Ind -3; $15) – Replacing Gardner Minshew with Nick Foles is akin to your overbearing father imploring you to shave your beard, quit smoking pot and find a damn job. The “Mania” is temporarily over, but for a Jacksonville team scratching and clawing for wins elevating milquetoast Foles back into the lineup was a necessity. Due to a limited sample size and weighing time missed, it’s nearly impossible to predict how impactful the QB will be in his first game back since early September. Still, based on his history, he owns a tendency to lean on short-field receivers. As a result, Westbrook, who was occasionally passed over by Minshew, could be in for an exciting finish. Colts slot corner, Kenny Moore, isn’t the friendliest DB in the league (80.3 passer rating allowed), but he has given up a 76.9 catch percentage. On track to return from neck/back ailments post-bye, Westbrook is a cat to fancy in Week 11. (FF: 6-76-1, 16.6 fpts)

TE: Eric Ebron, Ind (Ind -3; $14) – After airing his grievances behind closed doors leading up to Indy’s comical loss to Miami, Ebron was spoon fed by Brian Hoyer. Targeted a season-high 12 times, he grabbed five passes for 50 yards and was robbed of a touchdown by a thieving Steven Parker. Despite the botched opportunity, the volume is encouraging. Even if Jacoby Brissett remains in street clothes, the tight end is start-worthy in Week 11. His opponent, Jacksonville, has served up points to the position on a silver platter. Only the Bucs and Packers have yielded more TE touchdowns since Week 4. As expected, Ebron has sharply regressed from last year’s breakout, but this Sunday expect the squeaky wheel to receive another helping of grease. (FF: 5-48-1, 13.3 fpts)

DST: Minnesota Vikings (Min -10; $16) – The last time Minnesota tallied 10 or more points in a week, Week 1, greenery still dotted the landscape outside U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s been a minute. This Sunday, however, the Vikes should get back to their purple people eating ways. Denver, and its rickety offensive line, comes to town. The Broncos rank No. 17 in pass-blocking efficiency, but, as witnessed in the Kansas City game, it’s far from impenetrable. Brandon Allen is sure to succumb to pressure applied by Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin. As a collective, Minnesota is seventh in the league in total sacks. Though its secondary has underwhelmed and run stuffer Linval Joseph is out after knee surgery, it’s a unit destined to profit. (FF: 16 PA, 333 YDSA, 5 SCK, 2 TO, 11.0 fpts)

Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader record: 30-36

Brad’s record: 50-65 (Week 10 results: 4-9; W: Josh Allen, Ronald Jones, Taylor Gabriel, Baltimore DST; L: Emmanuel Sanders, Devin Singletary, Latavius Murray, Zach Pascal, Kenyan Drake, Mike Williams, Ryan Griffin, Kareem Hunt)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.

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