We’re on to Week 11 of the fantasy football season, and the playoff race is in full swing. Each week represents a must-win for many fantasy owners, but with byes still in effect and injuries impacting every position across the league, there are still plenty of tough start ’em, sit ’em decisions to make. Many owners will be looking for sleepers and streamers to trust. Fortunately, there are plenty of strong matchups (and injuries) to exploit, like emerging RBs Kalen Ballage, La’Mical Perine, and Nyheim Hines and a trio of Saints — QB Jameis Winston, QB/TE Taysom Hill, and TE Jared Cook — all of whom are featured in our Week 11 sleeper picks.
Our sleepers last week were solid. At quarterback, Alex Smith logged a career-high in passing yards (390) and Tua Tagovailoa had another two-TD game. At receiver, Marquez Valdes-Scantling had another TD in Allen Lazard’s absence while Jalen Reagor had a respectable 47 yards on four catches for the Eagles. Jordan Reed finished the week as a top-10 play at TE, and Robert Tonyan was a top-20 scorer at the position. On defense, the Saints (vs. 49ers) and Packers (vs. Jaguars) both did well to force some turnovers and mistakes by backup quarterbacks.
The one area we had issues with was running back. Mark Ingram’s return rendered JK Dobbins ineffective, Phillip Lindsay struggled to do much of anything despite an easy matchup against the Raiders, and Duke Johnson got volume but only about 50 yards of offense. We’ll clean up that area this week and hopefully find some RBs who get into the end zone.
Week 11 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs
Nyheim Hines, Colts vs. Packers (Jacob Camenker). Hines emerged as the backfield leader for the Colts in their Thursday night matchup against the Titans and put forth a 115-yard, two-TD game. Hines is a dual-threat as a runner and a receiver, and the Packers have allowed the third-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to RBs so far this season (25.8). More notably, they have allowed the third-most receiving yards to the position (481) and are one of four teams to allow four receiving TDs to RBs. Hines is the Colts back who can best take advantage of this.
Kalen Ballage, Chargers vs. Jets (Vinnie Iyer). He should keep getting the high volume with a positive game script, helping finish off what Justin Herbert does all over the field in the passing game.
La’Mical Perine, Jets @ Chargers (Matt Lutovsky). Perine is supposed to finally get a crack at lead-back duties this week, and against the Chargers, who just had trouble containing Salvon Ahmed, that could mean big things. L.A. allows 4.7 yards per carry, and even if the Jets fall behind, Perine should get ample receiving chances in garbage time. He’s not a high-ceiling play, but he should pay off as a flex.
Week 11 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks
Jameis Winston, Saints vs. Falcons (Camenker). With Drew Brees (ribs) out for this week and beyond, Winston will be starting for the Saints. He has plenty of starting experience and led the NFL in passing yards last year. Of course, he threw 30 interceptions, too, but the point is that he can rack up yardage and TDs in favorable matchups. This would qualify as one. The Falcons have allowed a league-high 26.8 FPPG to QBs this year, and while their defense has been getting better of late, Winston can still be trusted as a high-end streamer and QB1 this week.
Cam Newton, Patriots at Texans (Iyer). The Texans cannot stop teams from running all over them and right through them. Newton will ride high along with his running backs.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings vs. Cowboys (Lutovsky). Cousins has been feasting in favorable matchups lately, throwing for 220 yards and three TDs against the Lions in Week 9, 343 yards and three TDs against the Falcons in Week 6, and 249 yards and two TDs against Seattle in Week 5. Even more promising is that he managed 292 yards and two TDs against the Bears’ vaunted pass defense in Week 10. The Cowboys allow over 20 FPPG to quarterbacks, so Cousins is in a high-floor, high-ceiling spot once again.
Week 11 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers
Curtis Samuel, Panthers vs. Lions (Camenker). Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) is likely going to miss another game. That could be big news for Samuel. The Panthers receiver has handled some touches as a runner and actually notched back-to-back rushing TDs in Weeks 7 and 8. The Lions have allowed a league-high 18 touchdowns to RBs, and while Samuel is primarily a wideout, he will get a chance to take advantage of the Lions’ poor run defense on a few between-the-tackles carries.
Emmanuel Sanders, Saints vs. Falcons (Iyer). He should be deployed a lot deeper with Winston’s big arm, and the Falcons tend to give home-run balls with their shaky secondary.
Jalen Reagor, Eagles @ Browns (Lutovsky). The Browns have allowed the fifth-most FPPG to WRs despite playing two games in wind storms. This secondary is the definition of burnable, and Reagor, who’s averaged 6.5 targets per game since returning from a thumb injury, is the type of big-play receiver who can expose it.
Week 11 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Logan Thomas, Washington vs. Bengals (Camenker). Thomas is averaging 5.8 targets per game, and in his past four games, he has averaged 3.5 catches and 49 yards with two TDs. The Bengals have allowed the second-most FPPG to TEs this year, so Thomas could be in for a good week in a great matchup.
Austin Hooper, Browns vs. Eagles (Iyer). He’s been hard to trust and he’s missed a couple of games, but the Eagles scream for Baker Mayfield to throw often to him on intermediate routes.
Taysom Hill and Jared Cook, Saints vs. Falcons (Lutovsky). Hill is only TE-eligible in ESPN leagues, but if you can slot him there, do it. He’s been running more lately in general, gaining 99 yards on 15 carries the past two weeks, and he figures to take more snaps at QB with Drew Brees (ribs) out. That could also lead to more passing opportunities, which gives him a high floor overall. Cook, who was shut out last week, is a worthwhile option against a Falcons defense allowing the most FPPG to TEs.
Week 11 Fantasy Sleepers: Defenses
Minnesota Vikings vs. Cowboys (Camenker). The Vikings just held the Bears to 13 points on Monday Night Football and appear to be making strides on defense during their three-game winning streak. The Cowboys have averaged just 10.3 points per game without Dak Prescott as a starter, so the Vikings will be a solid streamer play on defense.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jets (Iyer). Let’s hope the Chargers get Joey Bosa (concussion) back to create some chances for key sacks and interceptions vs. Joe Flacco.
Cleveland Browns vs. Eagles (Lutovsky). Philadelphia is first in sacks allowed and tied for third in turnovers allowed this year. Cleveland can get after the QB (tied for 10th in sacks) and has a nose for turnovers (tied for eighth). This one is a no-brainer.