Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:
Austin Ekeler (RB) – Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers’ RB Kalen Ballage, listed as questionable for Sunday with calf and ankle injuries, is not expected to play vs. the Bills, per source. It will leave the Chargers with RBs Austin Ekeler, Troymaine Pope and Josh Kelley.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 29, 2020
#Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, just activated from Injured Reserve because of a serious hamstring injury, is set to play today, source said. He won’t be the bell cow just yet, but he’s slated to play. Meanwhile RB Kalen Ballage (ankle/calf) is a game-time decision.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2020
This is a tricky situation as you put the two reports together:
- Ekeler is not expected to take his normal, full workload
- With Ballage out, could Ekeler be forced to take on more opportunities than initially planned?
The Buffalo Bills are middle of the pack overall against opposing running backs, and the last time they took the field (Week 11) they allowed 156 rushing yards to Arizona running backs. With Joshua Kelley struggling (3.0 YPC) it’s fair to expect Ekeler to get 12-15 touches, at least, and that’s going to put him on the FLEX map.
Still, with the Bills struggling against opposing QB (fifth most points per week), would it be surprising to see this as the Justin Herbert show?
Verdict – Start ‘Em (low-end RB2/FLEX, but he’s not a must use)
Raheem Mostert (RB) – San Francisco 49ers
Also, as Kyle Shanahan said yesterday, the #49ers activated running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, and cornerback Richard Sherman from injured reserve. Each of those players will be eligible to return to action Sunday vs. the #LARams.https://t.co/A1V4nnjbN8— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) November 29, 2020
This is an extremely tricky situation, with it unclear if Mostert and Jeff Wilson will be active to join Jerrick McKinnon in the San Francisco backfield. There appears to be a good chance that all three are playing, and that’s going to make the opportunities nearly impossible to predict. Against a Los Angeles Rams’ defense that’s allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing running backs, only those desperate for a FLEX are going to want to roll the dice assuming Mostert does indeed play.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (unless you need a FLEX)
Giovanni Bernard (RB) – Cincinnati Bengals
#Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, dealing with a concussion and listed as questionable, is expected to play today vs. the #Giants, source said. Important with Joe Mixon on IR. … Meanwhile, #Giants S Xavier McKinney will make his debut today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2020
The Giants have not been strong against opposing RB, allowing the seventh most points per week. They have been far worse against backs who can catch the football:
- Rushing – 870 yards and 7 TD
- Receiving – 524 yards and 3 TD
That plays into Bernard’s skillset, especially with the need for a safety valve with Joe Burrows out for the rest of the season. Samaje Perine will likely mix in once again, but this is Bernard’s opportunity.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Calvin Ridley (WR) – Atlanta Falcons
#Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is not expected to play today vs. the #Raiders, source said. Jones was not able to practice on Friday after being limited earlier in the week. Meanwhile, TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) should be good to go.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2020
With Jones sidelined Ridley is going to dominate the targets from Matt Ryan. Over 8 games Jones has averaged 7.25 targets per game, so there are plenty of chances for Ridley to pickup. Just look at the production Ridley has had in the two games Jones missed earlier this season:
- 09/27/20 (vs. Chicago) – 5 catches (13 targets) for 110 yards
- 10/11/20 (vs. Carolina) – 8 catches (10 targets) for 136 yards
It’s a no-brainer that he’s a must start, but this pushes him to a Top 5 option. Russell Gage, who becomes a slightly more attractive option, is still not a trustworthy play.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Jerry Jeudy (WR) – Denver Broncos
#Broncos WR Kendall Hinton will play plenty at QB tomorrow, source said. 2020! He did play QB for a few years at Wake Forest.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 28, 2020
Talk about an absolute disaster, thanks to contact tracing Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles are all ineligible to play. That leaves the Broncos without a QB on the active roster, leaving Hinton and Royce Freeman as the most likely candidates to play the position. While Hinton did play QB in college, this is a disastrous situation with the Broncos likely trying to take a run heavy approach. With limited opportunities and the QB play likely questionable, at best, any pass catcher is going to be severely downgraded.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Keelan Cole (WR) – Jacksonville Jaguars
Both D.J. Chark and Chris Conley have been ruled out, leaving Cole and Laviska Shenault Jr. to lead the receiving corps. Cole would appear to have the best fantasy upside, as he’s second on the team in targets (54), receptions (36) and receiving yards (453) while being tied with Chark in TD (4). The matchup is a favorable one against the Cleveland Browns, though Mike Glennon being under center is a bit of a disadvantage. Considering him more of a desperation option as opposed to anything else.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Matt Breida (RB) – Miami Dolphins
With both Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin sidelined, the Dolphins are going to throw a mix of Brieda, Patrick Laird and DeAndre Washington against the Jets. It’s a missed opportunity for fantasy owners in what could’ve been a prime matchup (8th most points per week to opposing RB).
Breida could get a lot of the early down work, but there’s no guarantee that he gets the lion’s share of the opportunities. Unless you are desperate, this is a situation to avoid completely.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings: