There's nothing wrong with conventional wisdom. But being predictable is usually a pretty good way to get beat. Sometimes it's best to zig when people zag. Yin when people yang. Be unpredictable like an M. Night Shyamalan film (one of the good ones). That's where this column comes in. The tips below aren't for everyone and not all of them may be appropriate for your draft. But keep these handy when you want to throw your league-mates a curveball each week.
We've reached the portion of the fantasy football program where you're scrounging on the waiver wire for whatever help you can find -- even if it's only for a week. You've tried making trades and might even try again before the deadline hits. But what you really need is an unorthodox strategy. That's where we come in. In honor of Week 11, we bring you some Fantasy Stranger Things. Let's get wired.
Gridlock in Washington backfield
Tired -- Start RBs versus the Jets defense. It's the Jets. You can pick on them. They're just not a very good team. That's what we're looking for when it comes to finding players to start in fantasy football. It's especially relevant when an offense leans on one part of its offense. In this case, it's the Washington running game we're talking about. Ever since Bill Callahan took over as interim head coach. With the potential volume of touches for either Adrian Peterson or Derrius Guice (or both?), it's worth a roll of the dice. Also ... did we mention there are four quality running backs on a bye?
Wired -- The Jets front isn't a pushover. Frequently when it comes to fantasy production, I like to say that "they don't ask how, they ask how many." In this case, that's not quite true. The Jets are giving up plenty of fantasy points -- but it's through the air (is it irony that a team called the Jets can't stop an aerial attack?) yet not so much on the ground. Gang Green has the NFL's second-best rushing defense this season. It's not for lack of effort on the part of opponents. New York has faced an above league-average number of rush attempts this season and while they've allowed 10 rushing scores this year, the yards haven't really materialized with teams compiling 81.9 yards per game. We'll see if Callahan is daring enough to put the game in Dwayne Haskins' hands or if he'll insist on running his backs into a green brick wall this week. The latter approach might not prove too profitable.
Can Kyle cook?
Tired -- Start everyone against Atlanta's defense. Every year, we pick on a few fantasy scabs and attempt to bleed them dry of points. Gross, I know. But accurate, no? Anyway, the Falcons defense has been one of those soft spots all season long, leading smart fantasy managers to adjust their rosters week-to-week to take potshots at Dan Quinn's wounded birds. You don't allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and sixth-most points to receivers without being consistently ungood. Next in line is Kyle Allen -- the much-debated heir apparent to Cam Newton (though we'll have plenty of time to debate that later). On a week where Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Daniel Jones (oh yeah, and Ryan Tannehill) are on a bye, Allen is a popular streaming pick. Go wild, everyone. Why shouldn't the Falcons continue to be everyone's fantasy football homecoming?
Wired -- Beware the birds of prey. The football world sat staring agape at the Falcons' shocking win over the Saints in New Orleans last week. We were even more shocked that Drew Brees laid an enormous egg statistically against one of the league's worst defenses. But maybe the Falcons defense is starting to get its (expletive) together. Before Brees landed with a thud as QB20 in Week 10, they held Russell Wilson to fewer than 200 passing yards and a QB17 finish in Week 8. Granted, Atlanta lost that Battle of the Birds to the Seahawks, but that didn't salve the emotional wounds of any the fake football faithful starting Wilson. I don't think I'm breaking any news when I say both of those quarterbacks are a damn sight better than Allen. By the way, after dazzling with 24 points against the Cardinals in Week 3, Allen's mostly been in a daze since then, averaging just a hair over 10 fantasy points per game in his following six starts. I don't know if Charlotte is prone to mirages but this could turn out to be one.
Joe back in the Mixon
Tired -- The Bengals? Blah. They're 0-9, they've turned to an untested backup quarterback for help and their star receiver keeps hitting them with a virtual "I'm five minutes away" when asked when he'll return to action. By nearly every objective metric -- and probably some subjective ones as well -- the Bengals are one of the worst offensive outfits in the NFL. That especially applies to a run game that ranks 30th and has amassed just 633 yards. For context, there are 11 players that have more rushing yards individually. One of them is a quarterback. Okay, it's Lamar Jackson, but still. Joe Mixon has been among the biggest disappointments of the season. A player you likely drafted in the second round is currently the RB29 and hasn't posted a 20-point game yet this year. It was just a couple of weeks ago (the royal) we were suggesting Mixon was droppable. I understand your frustration. I'm here for you.
Wired -- Mix in Mixon occasionally. We can give up on the idea of Joe Mixon being an RB1 this season. That ship sailed, docked somewhere on the other side of the planet, was decommissioned and dismantled for scrap. But it doesn't mean that there can't be some parts salvaged to get you where you need to go. That comes in the form of making Mixon a matchup-based play for the rest of the year. Over the past couple of weeks, Cincinnati has leaned on Mixon a little more (thanks, Ryan Finley), giving him a career-high 30 carries last week against Baltimore. Combine that with a trio of decent matchups over the next six weeks (at OAK, at CLE, and at MIA) and Mixon could be a nice flex play down the stretch.
Silver and Black. Attack.
Tired -- Can you trust the Raiders defense? I get it. You've been burned by the Raiders defense. I've been burned by the Raiders defense. shudders with Nick Foles 7-TD flashbacks Even this year, Oakland's defense has been pretty unremarkable most weeks. That's what happens when you have allowed at least 21 points in all but one game. The Raiders rank 25th in total defense and 26th in pass defense. What had been a perceived strength -- their run defense -- was shredded last week by Melvin Gordon and the Chargers. How can you trust that in your lineup? You can't. That's how.
Wired -- Field and stream. Last week, I tried to convince you that the Steelers were the only defense you needed for the rest of the season. If you weren't able to grab them then you might be trying to fill that lineup void. I'm not going to tell you the Raiders are the only defense you'll need for the rest of the year. But they could be the defense you need for the next couple of weeks. Oakland's next two games are against the Bengals and Jets. If you're in the market to stream a defense, having the Autumn Wind at your back could push you to victory.