Welcome to this week's roundtable, where our fearless panel of fantasy pundits dive into a free-agent frenzy, dissect dynamic running back duos, and tell you which hot running backs and wide receivers will cool off and which ones on a cold streak will heat up.
With this in mind, let's examine what we think about these topics as we head into Week 11:
Free Agent Frenzy
Matt Waldman: The players listed below are free agents in a lot of formats, Pick two that you think will have the greatest fantasy impact—one short-term (1-2 weeks) and one long-term (more than two weeks).
- TE Jacob Hollister
- TE Jaeden Graham
- TE Luke Stocker
- TE Anthony Firkser
- TE Ben Braunecker
- TE Rhett Ellison
- WR Randall Cobb
- WR James Washington
- WR Kendrick Bourne
- WR Demaryius Thomas
- WR Rashard Higgins
- WR Olabisi Johnson
- WR Laquon Treadwell
- RB Brian Hill
- RB Kenjon Barner
- RB Dare Ogunbowale
- RB Darwin Thompson
- RB Kalen Ballage
- RB Myles Gaskin
- RB Patrick Laird
- RB Mike Davis
- QB Jeff Driskel
- QB Ryan Finley
- QB Brian Hoyer
- QB Chad Kelly
Who makes your list of notables?
Andy Hicks: I’m going to hate my short-term pick, but its Kalen Ballage for Miami. He is well on track to post the worst yards per rushing attempt of any running back with more than 70 carries in a season.
Two yards a carry just doesn’t cut it in the NFL, but he gets the Bills and Browns for the next two weeks and they are among the worst defenses against the run in the NFL. Whether he can lift his performance or whether the Dolphins give him at least 90 percent of the carries again remains to be seen, but until Mark Walton returns it seems Miami is going to trust him with the ball more than Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird or anyone else who puts on a uniform.
Looking longer-term, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab Demaryius Thomas the rest of the way. It is clear that Sam Darnold focuses primarily on Jamison Crowder, with Thomas close behind. With the Jets schedule opening-up and a nice schedule against the pass, Thomas could easily be a WR3 or better on the run home.
Daniel Simpkins: Short-term, I would choose Brian Hill. We’ve seen in his stints with both Cincinnati and Atlanta that given the opportunity, he can be productive. We know that Devonta Freeman’s injury is severe enough that he’ll miss the next two weeks minimum, so I feel good about penciling in Hill to generate points for fantasy general managers while he fills in for Freeman.
Long-term, I still have a feeling that Darwin Thompson could play a role in winning folks a fantasy championship. Neither Damien Williams nor LeSean McCoy seems to be able to hang on to the ball and Darrell Williams is limited in his application.
What has been missing for Thompson has been an opportunity. With McCoy being a healthy scratch for Sunday’s contest with the Titans and Thompson being active, he moved one step closer. I feel if he’s given the chance, he could run away with the job, literally.
Jason Wood: I'll be honest, I don't have great hopes for most of this list, at least in terms of contributors to help you for a fantasy playoff push...
Waldman: You say this every week with my lists, which leads me to believe you play in eight-team leagues other than our Footballguys Staff league.
Wood: Or, more likely, you play in too many 50-player roster setups, Wildman.
Waldman: True enough. Proceed.
Wood: As I was going to say before you tried to be witty, desperate times call for desperate measures. In the near term, Brian Hill is the answer. It took every domino in the Falcons depth chart to fall, but Hill made the most of his opportunity against the Saints.
And based on the coaches' commentary after the game, Hill is going to be the feature back, for now. With the season at a crossroads and Devonta Freeman hurt, Hill has an opportunity to re-shape his career trajectory in the next few games.
I'll agree with Daniel that Darwin Thompson is the most exciting name of the bunch, particularly with a long-term or dynasty lens. The Chiefs quietly benched LeSean McCoy this week and it wasn't injury-related.
While Damien Williams is the lead back right now, you have to like Thompson's chances at carving out a role with McCoy out of the picture. Thompson profiles as a better three-down fit for Andy Reid's offense than Williams, and a strong showing as the No. 2 in November and December could set the table for Thompson to be the No. 1 in 2020.
Jeff Haseley: Russell Wilson likes to utilize his tight ends. He elevated the game of Will Dissly earlier in the season, and he's doing the same for Jacob Hollister. Seattle tight ends have 22 receptions since Week 6 (Dissly injury) and Hollister has 17 of them, plus 3 touchdowns. I don't see Hollister's involvement going away anytime soon. He is definitely a free agent to target for the rest of the season, if available.
The foot injury to Devonta Freeman will keep him out for a few weeks, making Brian Hill the team's go-to running back. He may only have a few weeks of value, and there is a small chance that his value may only be Week 11 at Carolina. The Panthers run defense has been awful lately, which makes for a good matchup for Hill. Atlanta then plays Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and has its rematch with Carolina, however, Freeman may be back in the action by Week 13.
Sean Settle: The one player I would target in the short-term would be Brian Hill. We have seen a short stint in Cincinnati and how productive he can be. The Falcons offense has played from behind the majority of the season and any running back that can catch the ball has significant upside in a PPR format. Hill falls in the short side category because Devonta Freeman will be coming back and will regain his starting role. Hill will be one of the most added players this week and used in DFS across the board.
The long-term fantasy impact will be Randall Cobb. He showed he has plenty left in the tank against the Vikings and defenses are going to continue to focus their attention on Elliott, Cooper, and now Gallup. Cobb will see a lot of single coverage and linebackers in coverage for the rest of the season and should see a big jump in workload after his most recent game. Dallas saw the need to throw the ball more against the Vikings and that should benefit Cobb for the rest of the season.
Chad Parsons: I am buying Brian Hill in the short term. With Devonta Freeman likely to miss 1-2 games, there is little else on the Falcons depth chart to prevent Hill from seeing at least 15 carries and pushing 20 touches per game. Game script is a concern with Atlanta's struggling defense (their showing against New Orleans was definitely an outlier this season-to-date), but Qadree Ollison has made little headway towards a role and Kenjon Barner is a sub-sized and nomadic back thus far in his career. Hill is a plug-and-play RB2 for lineups.
For the longer term, Jacob Hollister has a quality profile for sustained production being attached to a strong quarterback and without a dominant WR1. Hollister has 24 targets over the past four games and 16 targets (12-99-2 stat line) over the past two games. The schedule also includes a choice matchup against Arizona in Week 16 for Hollister.
Mark Schofield: For the short term, I think Ryan Finley would be the player to watch. While his debut against the Baltimore Ravens was not, shall we say, memorable (or perhaps it was memorable for all the wrong reasons) the Bengals do need to take the next few weeks and figure out just what they have in the rookie out of N.C. State. He will have some favorable matchups the next few weeks, with Oakland, Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, and the Cleveland Browns, so there is an opportunity there.
It will likely end come mid-December when Bill Belichick and the Patriots come to town.
Long term, I'll suggest Rashard Higgins. Cleveland media has been clamoring for him to be used more and more in the Browns' offense, and catching a game-winner against the Bills last week might be the final bit of evidence the coaching staff needs to give him more opportunities. He and Baker Mayfield have great on-the-field chemistry, and we should see that develop even more down the stretch.