With the last bye week upon us, it’s time to see who the best free agent picks for Week 11 of the NFL might be. This late in the year, you’re finding September knee-jerk cuts, October castoffs, 3rd string runners, and recently-activated practice squad fodder. Many of the options will be useless, while one or two could be invaluable.
A few of the players below are fliers on depth at this point. One or two could serve as key additions for your local league’s playoff stretch. Value still exists, but you’re going to have to keep turning over the bottom of your roster to find the valuable free agents. It’s a Chicago Bearscentric waiver wire post this week, but let’s start with the most promising Week 11 free agent pickup: Danny Amendola.
Danny Amendola – Patriots WR
With Julian Edelman out for 6-8 weeks, Danny Amendola is the free agent this week who could most-affect your starting lineup decisions in the final stretch. Amendola is an injury waiting to happen himself, but he has shown talent in the past and Tom Brady is looking for a new #1 wide receiver. Maybe Brandon LaFell gets the bulk of the targets until Edelman returns. It’s a good idea to add either one until we know for sure. Since LaFell is likely to be rostered right now, take a shot on Danny Amendola. He could post Edelman-like numbers in the last 3 weeks of the regular season and the fantasy playoffs.
Jay Cutler – Bears QB
Strange as it is, Jay Cutler has become a solid real world and fantasy quarterback again. He’s had a 5 touchdown passes and 603 yards passing the last two weeks, which also happened to be solid wins for the Bears. The only problem in Week 11 is the Denver Broncos appear on the schedule.
The Broncos Defense is one of the top units in the league, even if Peyton Manning has been replaced by Brock Osweiler.
Due to the Osweiler Effect, the Broncos might not seem as formidable on defense as you might think. The team is likely to be less consistent and high-scoring than you would expect, though that’s been the case with Manning, too. The unit might be on the field more, which could tire them out. Still, in a pinch, you could do worse than Jay Cutler right now.
Marcus Mariota – Titans QB
Marcus Mariota is a good multi-week option for teams facing major injury situations. Mariota and the Titans play the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Oakland Raiders once in that stretch.
QBs Playing the Saints Defense
This is no help in Week 11, because the Saints are on bye. When they return, remember this little fun fact: the aggregate of all QBs playing the Saints this year is roughly the same as Tom Brady’s MVP numbers this year. ESPN did a blind statistical comparison the other day and that’s the case.
Let me explain. Take all the quarterbacks who have played against the New Orleans Defense in 2015, including two rookies and Brandon Wheedan, and they have the stats as Tom Brady in the same number of games (actually, one less). Their touchdowns are the same. Their yardage is equal. Their quarterback rating is equal. Pretty much all you have to do is start quarterbacks against the Saints and you’re gold, which is why Rob Ryan was fired.
As you might expect, the same goes for wide receivers and tight ends playing against the Saints. Plug and play.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
Jay Ajayi led the Dolphins in yardage last week with 48 yards on 6 carries. It’s not much and Ajayi is still Lamar Miller’s backup, but he’s worth an add in deeper league. If you have Lamar Miller, it’s essential to back him up with Jay Ajayi, who has been on sleeper lists for two years (but always injured, until now).
Matt Jones, RB, Redskins
It’s time to add Matt Jones again, if he’s back on the free agent pile. You might think he’s going to put up a single good game every month and get your team crushed the rest of month, but this situation could be turning.
One, Kirk Cousins is starting to become a threat. Two, it is 6 weeks later than the last really huge game Matt Jones had. NFL defenses are starting to wear out, while Matt Jones is relatively fresh. He could be in a good position to rack up good numbers.
Don’t start him this week against the Carolina Panthers, unless you have to. Keep him for the games against The Giants and Cowboys after that.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens
Kamar Aiken saw 14 targets last week for the Ravens. He appears to be Joe Flacco’s favorite receiver since Steve Smith went on IR. If Aiken is still out there in your league, grab him as a #3 starter. While the Ravens are bad this year, they are bound to be passing to get back in games, so Aiken could be a high-volume receiver. Also, of Baltimore’s last 7 opponents, 6 are among the bottom-half of the league in giving up fantasy points.
Zach Miller, TE, Bears
He’s the 2nd-string tight end stil, but Zach Miller is coming off his two best games in four seasons. He made one of the best touchdown catches you’ll ever see in a comeback win over the San Diego Chargers.
Then the athletic Miller followed that up with a game which looked suspiciously like he was being featured. If you’re desperate for a 1-week starter with a little upside moving forward, add Zach Miller.
Justin Perillo, TE, Packers
Justin Perillo is also a 2nd-string tight end, so don’t get too excited about his prospects. If you play in a deep-deep league and need 1-week help and missout on Zack Miller, then add Perillo and hope for the best. This is a desperation move, but Perillo had 5 catches, 67 yards, and 1 touchdown in action last Sunday versus the Detroit Lions. All but one of those catches came in the 4th Quarter, when the game was on the line. Aaron Rodgers showed tremendous faith in the 2nd year player. Andrew Quarles returns in Week 12, so Perillo is useful only for one week–if that.
Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
Eric Ebron is on the waiver wire in some leagues. While he has had an up-and-down year in most formats, much of that has been due to injuries. Ebron’s numbers have been more consistent than a year ago, as Golden Tate’s numbers have become markedly less consistent. He received the second-most targets in Week 10, though he had two drops.
The main reason Eric Ebron is mentioned here is his dream opponent this week: the Oakland Raiders. It’s been documented here on several occasions how bad the Raiders are against tight ends. This is the team which launched Gary Burnidge’s renaissance.
The Chiefs Defense has put together a solid year, with 5 games in which they held opponents under 20 points. The Chiefs sent Peyton Manning to the bench last week. While much of that is based on injury and issues on the Broncos’ part, you should not ignore that the Chiefs D was on the field last week, too. Among the waiver wire junk, the Chiefs Defense is the best of the rest.
More Fantasy Football Free Agent Pickups to Consider
- Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns
- David Cobb, RB, Titans
- Chris Givens, WR, Ravens
- Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington
- Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers
That is all for now. Remember, when considering waiver wire picks this late in the season, always check beyond the Top 10 or Top 20 players at a position. Sometimes, players who got injured in Week 1 or Week 2 are sitting unclaimed on the board. While it’s too much to ask for Tony Romo to still be sitting on the waiver wire, you might find your odd David Cobb out there.