Week 11 Flames: Ekeler, McKissic versatile rushers with measurable upside
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.
Blake Bortles, Jax, QB (14 percent started, $28 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Cle (Game over/under: 38)
Bortles, excluding a garbage-time influenced 2015, has largely had a listless NFL career. Last year, he strung together numerous multi-TD games, but constant misfires and a paltry 6.2 yards per attempt pushed him outside the position’s top-12 in fantasy points per game. This past offseason with his supposed “franchise” quarterback teetering on irrelevancy, Shad Khan shook up the organization and hired Tom Coughlin to recalibrate. And recalibrate the former Giants coach did. Exorbitant investments on defense and the acquisition of Leonard Fournette via the NFL draft have transformed the Jags from doormat to legit Super Bowl contender. Bortles, no longer highly relied upon, has transformed into a traditional game manager. His surface numbers have suffered, but his YPA uptick (2016: 6.2; 2017: 6.8) and strong supporting cast have made him occasionally useful in deeper leagues. He has only one multi-TD effort this year, but this is a week to place trust in Bortles’ hands. His opponent, Cleveland, is a lopsided defense. Opposite of how it’s performed in the trenches, the Browns are rather generous through the air. On the year, they’ve surrendered 7.6 yards per attempt, a 68.5 completion percentage, 273.1 pass yards per game and 2.1 touchdowns per game. Jason McCourty (53.4 passer rating allowed) remedied little in his return last Sunday in Detroit. Total it up and, for once, Bortles won’t be a JAG for fantasy purposes.
Fearless Forecast: 264 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 turnover, 22 rushing yards, 19.8 fantasy points
Marshawn Lynch, Oak, RB (44 percent started, $18 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NE in Mexico City (Over/Under: 51)
Anejo is the Cadillac class of tequila. Unlike the high fructose-infused version you despised in college, it’s refined, smooth and aged in oak barrels anywhere from 12-36 months. Any Don Julio who sips it is rewarded with a delicious flavor spectrum. Lynch has also fermented over time. Virtually unemployable the first eight weeks of the season due to his shortcomings and an under-performing Raiders offensive line (No. 28 in run-blocking efficiency), the Beast unleashed two weeks ago in Miami. Exhibiting vintage form, he bowled his way through arm tackles (4.28 YAC/att) and charged into the end zone for a pair of touchdowns. Now fresh off the bye and likely to shoulder more work moving forward (11.6 touches per game), Lynch travels to Mexico City fully prepared to run through New England. After Kareem Hunt silenced Patriot muskets in Week 1, Bill Belichick’s run defense has gained a fair level respectability. Over that stretch, it ranks No. 9 in fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs giving up 90.8 rushing yards per game and just two ground scores. However, its 4.51 yards per carry yielded since Week 2 proves it’s far from inelastic. If Oakland’s line tosses the Pats’ Dont’a Hightower-less front around, Lynch should steamroll his way to a quality afternoon.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 68 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 reception, 6 receiving yards, 13.9 fantasy points
Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB (3 percent started, $13 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Buf (Over/Under: 43.5)
In what was possibly the wildest and wackiest game of the season, Ekeler emerged as an unsung hero for approximately the six people who employed his services. On only 23 snaps, he completely outplayed Melvin Gordon, the most inefficient runner in terms of run success rate per Sharp Football. Against the Jags, the pride of Western State (Go other Mountaineers?!) compiled 119 total yards and two TDs on 15 touches, totaling six evaded tackles. His fumble lost at a critical juncture in the game proved costly, but he hit the hole quicker and exhibited plus burst compared to the incumbent. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound weeble wooble is quick-footed and highly versatile, the organization’s newest Danny Woodhead. It’s possible his role will continue to grow given Gordon’s persistent struggles. If gifted another double-digit load, he could come close to replicating his Week 10 success. The Chargers host a Bills run defense with visible wounds. Since trading Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville, Buffalo has come unraveled. Over its past five games, it’s conceded the most fantasy points to RBs, allowing 4.76 yards per carry, 166.8 total yards per game and nine total touchdowns to the position. DeAndre Washington and Alvin Kamara also sliced and diced the Bills as receivers in the short field. Glancing at the evidence and Ekeler possesses much FLEX appeal.
Fearless Forecast: 6 carries, 28 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.9 fantasy points
John Brown, Ari, WR (5 percent started, $16 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Hou (Over/Under: 43.5)
Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith … Blaine Gabbert. When it comes to biggest NFL quarterback busts, inevitably the former top-10 overall pick is scribbled down. His putridity is well documented. In his career, the 28 year old (Yes, he’s not even 30) has completed a horrendous 56.0 percent of his attempts, notched a 6.0 yards per attempt and tallied a 38:62 TD:TO split. Funny bad. But in his previous stint in San Francisco (6.7 ypa, 60.6 cmp% in 15 games) and displayed this past preseason, Gabbert isn’t nearly as laughable as advertised. In fact, he’s a slight upgrade over Drew Stanton. If Stanton sits this week due to a sprained knee, look for the journeyman and Brown to hook up on an explosive pass play or three. Houston’s front remains somewhat formidable, but its secondary is an assembly line of awful, cranking out points to the opposition in bulk. Since Week 3, the Texans have surrendered 16.8 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns and the most fantasy points to WRs. Investigating further, Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph have given up a combined 110.8 passer rating and 67.5 catch percentage to their assignments. Trusting a WR tied to Gabbert is exemplary of dancing with the Devil, but the matchup is just too enticing to ignore. Take the plunge at WR3 in deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points
Corey Davis, TEN, WR (21 percent started, $11 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Pit (Over/Under: 43.5)
Months ago when crunching college film on Davis a consistent reaction occurred – the tingles. His precise footwork, full-bloom route tree, physicality, reliable hands and separation skills immediately conjured memories of great possession receivers. Without question, the youngster will eventually develop into a fantasy beast and make routine trips to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. He owns all the necessary ingredients. Now that he’s knocked off the dust accumulated during his multi-game absence due to injury, he’s fully prepared to assist owners in securing the gridiron gold. This is the week, I feel, the statistical torrent begins for the rookie. Since returning to the field, he’s registered a welcomed 19.4 percent targets share. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker continue to be Marcus Mariota’s main flavors, but confidence in Davis is high. With the Steelers down Joe Haden, it seems likely the greenhorn waltzes most often with promoted backup Coty Sensabaugh, a game-changing development. On 27 snaps this season, the DB has given up a 158.3 passer rating to his assignments. Yes, the Steelers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs this season, but given Haden’s absence, Davis and his copious volume Titan UP!
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.3 fantasy points
WEEK 11 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
J.D. McKissic, Sea, RB (3 percent started, $10 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Atl (Over/Under: 44)
Small, slippery and pugnacious, McKissic is the improperly described “Pollywog” from “Stranger Things.” Lethal in limited doses, the undrafted product from Arkansas State has averaged 6.4 yards per touch, though only in sporadic action. His 1.9 yards after contact per attempt leaves much to be desired, but fantasy is a game of opportunity and with snowflake fragile C.J. Prosise once again shelved (ankle) and Thomas Rawls terribly ineffective, the plucky McKissic could earn an expanded role this week against Atlanta. The Falcons, who must believe the short field is a swamp stocked with flesh-eating gators, simply refuse to defend the flat. Last week against Dallas, Dak Prescott recorded numerous uninhibited rollouts. Russell Wilson, equally if not more opportunistic, will likely work freely in a similar capacity. When pressed into such situations look for him to target McKissic underneath on impromptu dump-offs, plays the Falcons typically allow. On the year, RBs have tallied 6.4 receptions and 47.6 receiving yards per game via the air against the Dirty Birds. FLEX him, PPR faithful.
Fearless Forecast: 5 carries, 19 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 35 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.4 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 11 FLAMES
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
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?
Eli, Jamaal Williams, Rod Smith, Stills, Martavis, Kroft, Bengals
— Blake Andrew (@Balakay) November 14, 2017
Fan Week 10 results: 2-4 (Season: 26-39)
My Week 10 results: 4-8 (Season: 44-68; W: Isaiah Crowell, Rex Burkhead, Jared Goff, Marqise Lee; L: Josh McCown, Orleans Darkwa, Devontae Booker, Paul Richardson, Cooper Kupp, Mohamed Sanu, Bears D/ST)
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”