Fantasy football Week 12 recap and top waiver wire picks

Congrats if you have been waiting on Julio Jones to have a breakout game that justified your use of a high draft pick on him. The wide receiver for the Falcons has been good all season, but he hasn’t had a performance that could win your week until Week 12. Jones caught 12 passes for 253 yards, including a 51-yard score from fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu. That makes three 250-plus yard games in Jones’ career. No other receiver in NFL history has more than one.

Sanu also had a good game as a result of the long touchdown pass. He added eight catches for 64 yards, though the single TD pass already gave him a double-digit performance in six-point TD fantasy leagues.

Keenan Allen also put up a huge game for owners who had possibly been regretting drafting him too high. For the most part, though, he hadn’t been overvalued during drafts this season due to his injury history. He caught 11 passes for 172 yards and a 42-yard touchdown in the win over the hapless Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball in for a fourth quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

On the other side of the ball, Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott continue to be big disappointments. Bryant has played below his asking price all year while Prescott has gone into a deep swoon over the last three games. In six-point touchdown leagues he’s scored 13, minus-2 and 3 points in that stretch.

Bryant had just three catches for 37 yards on Thursday. The touchdown-dependent wideout hasn’t scored since Week 7 against the 49ers. He has single-digit fantasy performances in non-ppr leagues in each of his last five games and has yet to gain over 100 yards in a single game this year.

The NFC East has fallen out of the hands of the Cowboys due in large part to the successes of the Eagles this season. Philadelphia is running away with the division title and it’s mostly because of Carson Wentz and his offensive weapons.

Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes the ball to Zach Ertz #86 against Christian Jones #52 of the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

If it’s not Zach Ertz hauling in passes from the second-year signal caller, it’s Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor, or one of many out of the backfield. Wentz and Ertz are the centerpieces of the offense, however. The quarterback proved it again with a ho-hum 227-yard, 3-TD performance. Wentz also rushed for 29 yards against the Bears.

Ertz caught 10 passes for 103 yards and a 17-yard touchdown. Both Jeffery and Agholor caught touchdowns as well on the day.

A big disappointment this week was Jay Ajayi. The Eagles’ running back situation is starting to look like that of New England, where you can’t predict who will be the most productive from week to week. This week it was LeGarrette Blount, who carried the ball 15 times for 97 yards. Ajayi had just six total touches for 33 yards.

A running back that hasn’t disappointed in many weeks is Alvin Kamara. He continues to impress and makes a case as the No. 1 running back in New Orleans. He outscored Mark Ingram this week against the Rams. Kamara’s versatility and high efficiency are huge values in fantasy leagues. He finished with 84 yards rushing, but he also added six catches for 101 yards and totaled two scores. Usually it’s safe to play both Saints running backs and come away with either RB1 or high-RB2 numbers. This week Ingram was hurt by a pass interference penalty that took away a touchdown for him as he totaled just 36 yards.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, top, jumps over Los Angeles Rams cornerback Kayvon Webster during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

One rookie who has struggled to gain solid footing is Joe Mixon. He finally broke out in Week 12 as he ran for 114 yards and scored. It was the first time he eclipsed 100 yards on the ground this season. He also caught three passes for 51 yards.

Another running back worth mentioning, not because of a huge week but because he is consistently putting up solid weeks, is Latavius Murray. After being relegated to single-digit carries when Dalvin Cook was the lead back in Minnesota, Murray sputtered out of the gate when he took on the featured role. In Week 7 he rushed for over 100 yards and scored to spark a nice run in which he’s scored in four of five games. Murray is currently on a three-game scoring streak and faces the Falcons next.

Murray’s quarterback, Case Keenum, is starting to look like more than a spot start candidate at the position. He threw for 282 yards and two scores while rushing for 20 yards and another touchdown. That performance made it four straight solid outings. He’s thrown nine touchdowns to three interceptions in that span.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum rushes for a 9-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Detroit. The Vikings won the game 30-23. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Sharing the field with Keenum on Thanksgiving was Marvin Jones of the Lions, who came through with six receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. It was a bit of a surprise performance against a tough Vikings defense.

Something that didn’t come as a surprise was the performance of Antonio Brown. The guy just performs week in and week out, elevating the play of Ben Roethlisberger in the process. Brown had 10 receptions for 169 yards and two scores. That helped Roethlisberger reach 351 yards to go with four TD passes.

Le’Veon Bell had a great game as well, rushing for 95 yards while catching 12 passes for 88 more.

Also playing Sunday night was Brett Hundley, who finally looked like an NFL quarterback. He threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns against a tough Steelers defense. Davante Adams was the beneficiary of most of Hundley’s throws. Adams caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Jamaal Williams also had a touchdown reception in the best game of his career. He gained 135 yards from scrimmage and scored twice.

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers runs upfield after a catch for a 54 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Among the biggest disappointments this week were Kareem Hunt, Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette. Danny Amendola, T.Y. Hilton, Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate had some of the worst performances for wideouts.

Along with Prescott, Marcus Mariota had one of the worst weeks for a quarterback against a bad Colts team.

Top waiver wire picks

Brett Hundley, QB, Packers: 245 yards, 3 TDs.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: 7 rec., 105 yards, TD. He had fallen off in previous weeks and was dropped by a lot of teams. His performance against the Panthers could be a sign of things to come.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: He still isn’t owned in many leagues, likely because last week could have been a fluke. But when you see that his success has been tied to the play of Blaine Gabbert, it might be smart to add him.

Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: 70 yards from scrimmage. He’s doing a little bit of everything and serves as a nice complement to Melvin Gordon. A must-have handcuff for Gordon owners.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: 4 rec., 40 yards, TD. If JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hamstring heals up sooner rather than later, you’ll have to temper your expectations of Bryant. He’s finally out of the doghouse and performing well.

Chargers defense/special teams: Their last two games have been spectacular and they get to face the Browns in Week 13.

Dontrell Inman, WR, Bears: 4 rec., 64 yards. He’s been somewhat productive in his three games with the Bears.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 11 recap and top waiver wire picks

There were some hard lessons learned in Week 11 as we get ever closer to the fantasy football playoffs. Hopefully it’s not too late and the lessons learned will help you qualify for the playoffs.

If Dak Prescott is on your team and you entered Sunday night with a small lead, you probably lost this week. Prescott scored negative points as he was responsible for four turnovers and failed to score a touchdown in any capacity.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 12 rankings.

Without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup, Prescott looks like a mediocre quarterback at best. You couldn’t really blame the running game Sunday night, though. Alfred Morris rushed 17 times for 91 yards. The biggest issue facing Prescott is the lack of adequate pass protection. With Smith missing from the left tackle spot for two straight games, the Cowboys have given up 13 sacks. It was clear that Prescott was off the mark due to concern with the pass rush Sunday night.

Prescott isn’t a typical gunslinger. He needs solid protection, a good play-action game and his receivers to get clearly open. Prescott’s receivers aren’t doing that for him right now. In fact, one of his picks was off a tipped pass by Terrance Williams.

Even if Smith returns to action on Thanksgiving, Prescott may struggle against the Chargers who have a strong pass rush and intercepted five passes Sunday. Fantasy owners should not view him as an automatic start anymore with back-to-back bad games.

Dez Bryant also hasn’t had a strong game in four straight weeks. He’s been a big disappointment this season and has to be considered a weak WR2 to strong flex option from here out.

Another tough lesson learned in Week 11 was that the Patriots pass defense isn’t as bad as their numbers indicate. Derek Carr looked like a decent play this week, but he managed just 237 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

The Patriots surrendered 350 yards passing per game in the first two weeks of the season. Since then, they’ve allowed 265 yards per game over that last eight games. They haven’t allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 237 yards in each of the last four weeks. You probably won’t want to start Matt Moore of Miami or whomever Buffalo throws out there to play quarterback against the Pats in the coming weeks.

One of the toughest truths to come to terms with in Week 11 is that there’s something wrong with the Chiefs offense. Alex Smith has struggled in three of the last five games, but I’m a lot more worried about Kareem Hunt.

After he started his career by gaining at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven straight games, Hunt hasn’t gained more than 77 yards in three in a row. Even more concerning, Hunt hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3.

You could say at least Tyreek Hill is playing well, but his consistency is seriously lacking. He was decent on Sunday, catching seven passes for 68 yards. Not knowing when he’ll pay off leaves owners in a pickle as the playoffs approach.

One wide receiver that’s a model of consistency this season is Adam Thielen. He’s the only receiver with at least five catches in every game this year. Thielen and the Vikings earned a big win over the upstart Rams Sunday. His 65-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter put the game away for Minnesota. Thielen finished with six catches, 123 yards and a TD. He’ll try to extend his three-game scoring streak going against the Lions in Detroit. They held him to five catches and 59 yards in Week 4.

The Lions had a strong defensive performance that week and there were some big ones in Week 11. The Ravens, Jaguars, Chargers and Eagles all had huge performances.

The Chargers had an amazing first half against the rookie quarterback for the Bills. Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions and got benched. The Chargers also scored twice to go with a forced fumble and a sack.

The Jags had five sacks, three forced fumble and a touchdown. The Ravens had six sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Defenses are an overlooked starting position and you’d do well to have a couple of options available in the final weeks of the regular season.

As you get ready for the final push, feel comfortable riding the usual suspects to big weeks. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Roethlisberger are safe bets to keep being productive. Brady threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns while Brees topped out at 385 yards and two scores. Roethlisberger had the best performance in Week 11, throwing four touchdown passes. He has just one tough matchup the rest of the season.

Carson Wentz had a nice week as well, but it will be interesting to see how he does in the next three weeks. He faces the Bears, Seahawks and Rams, all teams in the top-10 in points allowed to quarterbacks. You have to respect what he can do at this point, however.

As for running backs, the dynamic duo in New Orleans continues to be outstanding. Mark Ingram rushed just 11 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. That’s 12.2 yards per carry. Alvin Kamara caught six passes for 74 yards and had a great juggling touchdown reception. He gained 116 yards from scrimmage.

LeSean McCoy, Latavius Murray and Jordan Howard also had big weeks. McCoy rushed for 114 yards and had both a rushing and receiving touchdown. Murray was more effective than Jerick McKinnon this week, rushing for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Howard rushed for 125 yards and scored.

Two rookies impressed in Week 11 as well, but face two different roads to end the season. D’Onta Foreman had his best game as a Texan, rushing for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he may have torn his Achilles on his final carry of the day. Samaje Perine broke out for the first time this season as he rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown. He’ll be a big waiver wire addition this week, especially since Chris Thompson is out for the season with a broken leg.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that Antonio Brown had the best week for wideouts this week. He gained 144 yards and scored three times on Thursday night.

It probably would surprise you to hear that Keenan Allen had the next best week among receivers. It was his most productive week as he caught 12 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Another surprise came from Kenny Stills. It’s apparent that Moore likes the receiver. Stills finished with 180 yards and a touchdown.

Here are some waiver wire options to help you try to get to the postseason.

Top waiver wire picks

Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: 117 yards, TD.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Cardinals: 257 yards passing, 3 TDs, 2 INTs. He didn’t look bad against the Texans and could serve as another option for your team if you’re weak at quarterback.

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns: 6 rec., 80 yards. He returned to action and looks pretty good if you’re in desperate need for an outside option.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: 3 rec., 54 yards, 2TDs. The converted wide receiver seems to be a decent target for Gabbert.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 11

The Tennessee Titans travel to Pittsburgh as they take on the Steelers to kick off Week 11 of NFL action. We’re getting down to the playoff push in fantasy football and your start-sit decisions are critical.

In the opening game of the week you should be safe starting Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. I wouldn’t be afraid of giving Ben Roethlisberger the nod either. Leave Marcus Mariota on the bench, however. The only Titan I feel comfortable starting this week is DeMarco Murray. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 11.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 11 rankings.

START THESE GUYS

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The Patriots weren’t in as much trouble as we thought they were to start the season, but their pass defense is still the worst in the league in terms of yards allowed per game. Carr has had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots and has thrown for at least 300 yards in three straight games.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: I’ve talked about his expected regression a lot this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been solid. He’s just not putting up the great numbers from last season. This week he should do well against the Seahawks as they’re without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Ryan’s thrown at least two TDs in three straight games.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks to throw a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game, Sunday, November 12, 2017, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 27-7. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: If Tyron Smith returns to the field for the contest with the Eagles then Prescott should return to his QB1 status. If the Cowboys fall behind, as you may expect against the streaking Eagles, Prescott is likely to throw a lot. If he gets the protection he’s used to, he could be productive.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: With Devonta Freeman likely out as he recovers from a concussion, Coleman should be productive against the Seahawks on Monday night. He did well in relief against the Cowboys in Week 10, rushing for 83 yards and scoring a touchdown.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: Darkwa has 30 carries and 141 yards rushing over the last two weeks. If he can find the end zone this week, he could be a solid play. He faces the Chiefs run defense which has allowed 131 yards rushing per game and nine rushing touchdowns.

Orleans Darkwa #26 of the New York Giants stiff-arms Adrian Colbert #38 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I suggested him as a start last week and that turned out well as he rushed for 90 yards and scored against the Lions. This week he faces the Jaguars who are nearly as bad against the run as they are good against the pass. They give up 121 yards rushing per game. Game script should be in Crowell’s favor as you don’t expect the Jags to jump out to a big lead.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: The Vikings take on the Rams in an interesting matchup this week. I don’t expect either team to run away with the win, so both running games should stay relevant. The Rams allow 118 rushing yards per game, 24th in the league.

Eagles receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz all have an opportunity to shine against the Cowboys Sunday night. Dallas gives up 248 yards receiving per game and will be without defensive leader Sean Lee.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: He’s had a nice run over the last two weeks and gets to face the Browns this week. They’ve given up 19 touchdown passes which is tied for second worst in the league.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: The last time he faced a low-ranked pass defense he broke out for 11 catches and over 200 yards receiving. That was against the Chiefs in Week 7 and the Patriots give up more receiving yards per game.

SIT THESE GUYS

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: He should sit this week as he faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They give up just 182 yards passing per game and have surrendered just eight touchdown passes. Without a true No. 1 wideout, Mariota will likely struggle.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He’s currently in the concussion protocol, but even if he’s healthy enough to play, it’s not a good matchup as he faces the Bills defense. Buffalo has allowed just seven touchdowns through the air and has picked off 11 passes.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor had his worst game last week as he threw for just 56 yards. The performance was so bad the Bills have decided to give Nathan Peterman a shot. The Chargers give up 209 yards passing per game and are tied for second in the league with 29 sacks so neither Bills QB would be a solid play this week.

Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball as Alex Okafor #57 of the New Orleans Saints attempts to tackle him during the fourth quarter on November 12, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: Though Rob Kelley has been shut down, I don’t think Perine is an automatic start as he faces the Saints this week. They give up a good amount of rushing yards, but they’ve only given up five rushing touchdowns this season. Perine has had opportunities earlier in the season and didn’t do much with them.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: He’ll get the start again with Ezekiel Elliott still suspended, but he shouldn’t start for your fantasy team this week. The Eagles rushing defense gives up just 66 yards per game and has surrendered just four touchdowns on the ground.

Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins: Kenyan Drake is the running back to play if you’ve got to choose between the leftover running backs in Miami now that Jay Ajayi is gone. Williams rushed nine times for just 19 yards on Monday night and the Bucs only allow 110 yards rushing per game.

Mike Adams #29 of the Carolina Panthers tackles Damien Williams #26 of the Miami Dolphins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He’s had two disappointing games in a row and the Falcons give up 219 yards receiving per game. Doug Baldwin may be the only wide receiver you want to start for the Seahawks.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: A disappointment early on this season, he’s only been productive over the last two weeks due to scoring in each of those weeks. The volume is still lacking as he’s only had three catches in the last two games. The Vikings are a tough draw and Robert Woods seems to be the new No. 1 in Los Angeles.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: It’s probably next to impossible to sit him for those that drafted him early, but he’s been a quarter of the fantasy player he was with Aaron Rodgers. The Ravens are second-best in receiving yards allowed.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Week 11 rankings

After Monday night’s performance, fantasy football owners are probably disappointed Cam Newton is off next week. The Jets, Colts and 49ers are also off in Week 11. With that in mind, here are my early Week 11 fantasy football rankings.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 10 recap and top waiver wire picks.

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 10 recap and top waiver wire picks

Just two running backs rushed for more than 100 yards in Week 10. Lucky for the New Orleans Saints, both running backs are on their team.

In what has become one of the best addition-by-subtraction moves this season, the departure of Adrian Peterson has unleashed a dangerous backfield for the Saints. Mark Ingram rushed 21 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns for his most productive game of the year. Alvin Kamara rushed 12 times for 106 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching five passes for 32 yards. I suggested starting both in my start-sit column last Thursday because there’s enough opportunity to go around.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 11 rankings.

In a game in which the Saints nearly scored 50 points, it was somewhat puzzling that Drew Brees didn’t have a touchdown pass. The Saints were so successful rushing the ball that they didn’t need to put up points through the air. Even Brees rushed for a score while only throwing for 184 yards.

A good amount of Brees’ passing yards went to Michael Thomas, who isn’t getting the credit he deserves this season as a fantasy asset. He may not be an exciting, high-ceiling type of player, but he’ll give you a nice scoring minimum each week. Thomas hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since Week 4, but he crossed the century mark for the first time this season with 117 yards receiving Sunday.

Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints attempts to catch the ball as Leonard Johnson #24 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to defend him during the second quarter on November 12, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Robert Woods had the best week catching passes, hauling in eight balls for 171 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams. His biggest play came on a 94-yard connection with Jared Goff. It was Woods’ second straight week scoring two touchdowns. I suggested you pick him up last week and if you did then he paid off for you right away.

Goff was one of my starts of the week and he came through with 355 yards passing and three touchdowns. He has nine touchdown passes and just one interception over his last four games. Goff is nearly a must-start every week. His three worst games came against the Redskins, Seahawks and Jaguars.

Speaking of the Redskins, Kirk Cousins had a nice bounce-back performance as he faced the Vikings. He threw for 327 yards and a touchdown in addition to rushing for two more scores. Cousins has had a solid season in terms of fantasy production despite lacking a true No. 1 at the wideout position.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins throws the ball during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

A couple of quarterbacks that had some surprisingly productive days were Case Keenum and C.J. Beathard. Keenum put up 304 passing yards and tossed four touchdown passes for the Vikings. Beathard led the 49ers to their first win of the season as he threw for 288 yards and a touchdown pass.

Keenum’s success was due in large part to the play of Adam Thielen, who had eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. He’s the top receiver for the Vikings, even when Stephon Diggs is healthy in my opinion, and has been targeted at least eight times in every game since Week 3.

Another No. 1 receiver, who hasn’t been playing like one, is A.J. Green of the Bengals. The big-play receiver didn’t even finish last week’s game due to being kicked out for fighting in the first half. Green finally broke out of a three-week funk in Week 10 as he caught five passes for 115 yards and a 70-yard score.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green scores a touchdown on a 70-yard pass play against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

One receiver who has been thrust into a No. 1 role is Sterling Shepard. With both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season, Shepard will have to be Eli Manning’s top wide receiver target. The second-year player hasn’t disappointed for fantasy purposes. He caught 11 of his 13 targets for a career-high 142 yards receiving. I saw him as a top waiver wire target last week and he could end up being worth it with a great schedule coming up.

One final top-trending wideout I’ll mention is JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Steelers. I suggested picking up the rookie after his huge Week 8 performance even though he was off last week. If you waited out the Pittsburgh bye then you were rewarded with a great performance. Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Even the return of Martavis Bryant didn’t put a damper on the rookie’s three-game TD streak.

On the defensive front, the Falcons led the way by sacking Dak Prescott eight times, forcing two fumbles and allowing just seven points to a once potent Cowboys offense.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys is sacked by Adrian Clayborn #99 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Without Ezekiel Elliott and starting right tackle Tyron Smith, Prescott definitely struggled to get going. He rushed for a touchdown early but was disappointing after that. Of course, if Prescott struggles that means Dez Bryant wasn’t productive either.

Other disappointing performances were turned in by Tyrod Taylor, Adrian Peterson, Devonta Freeman and Jordy Nelson.

Taylor was a victim to an emerging Saints defense. Peterson couldn’t match his Week 9 performance on a short week in which he rushed 21 times for 29 yards. Freeman left his game early due to a blow to the head and Nelson still can’t get on the same page with Brett Hundley.

You don’t have much room for poor performances as you ready for a playoff push. Here are the top waiver wire targets heading into Week 11.

Top waiver wire picks

Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: 10 rushes, 42 yards, 5 rec., 77 yards, 2TDs. He’s a must-own handcuff for all Melvin Gordon owners.

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: 6 rec., 55 yards, TD. He’s still owned in less than 60 percent of leagues on some platforms. He has caught at least 72 yards or at least one TD in his last four games and has a favorable schedule coming up.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: 14 rushes, 70 yards. Darkwa is definitely the No. 1 running back for the Giants at this point. He passes the eye test and just needs a handful more touches in order to have real value.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots: 10 rushes, 36 yards, 3 rec., 27 yards, TD. He’s getting involved and could end up being a winning flex play as you hit the playoff push.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cardinals: 5 rec., 64 yards, TD. He’s scored in each of the last two weeks and has a favorable schedule coming up and through the fantasy playoffs.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 9

The Buffalo Bills take on the N.Y. Jets to kick off Week 9 of NFL action on Thursday. If the Bills come away with a win they’ll be tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor must have confused Halloween for Christmas when he learned his team traded for Kelvin Benjamin. The addition of the big target is an immediate upgrade at the position. The new Bill probably won’t play Thursday, but I still like Taylor to start. Of course you’ll start LeSean McCoy as well. On the other side of the ball, Matt Forte is an OK flex play. Here’s a look at who else you should start and sit in Week 9.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 9 rankings.

START THESE GUYS

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He didn’t throw a touchdown pass against the Steelers in Week 8, but he amassed 423 passing yards. Don’t worry about him too much. He’ll get the ball in the end zone against the Packers this weekend.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Before last week’s tough weather conditions, Cousins had four straight great fantasy games. He’s facing Seattle on the road this week, but you saw what a rookie did to them on Sunday. Now they could be without Earl Thomas who is nursing a hamstring.

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints: He was already being productive before Adrian Peterson was sent to Arizona, but he could be really special now. If Mark Ingram continues to have fumbling issues, it could get even better for Kamara. As of now, I think both Saints running backs are solid starts against the Buccaneers.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Cardinals: After Peterson had a huge first game with the Cardinals, everyone was on board with him being effective. Then he had a tough go against the Rams in London. Since then Arizona has had a week off and they are set to face the 49ers. Peterson should do well against a defense that struggles at limiting running backs.

Adrian Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball during the NFL match between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium on October 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: He’s had two games in a row of success catching passes out of the backfield. This week he should do damage on the ground against the Jaguars who aren’t good at stopping the run.

Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He has three touchdowns in his last two games and I’m thinking he can keep up the production against the Redskins. Josh Norman is likely to stick with Doug Baldwin, leaving Richardson with softer coverage.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints: The Bucs are the worst team at limiting wide receivers in fantasy scoring. Ginn is on a decent roll as of late, catching 13 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in the last three games.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: He doesn’t have the easiest matchup as he faces the Bills. They’ve only allowed six touchdown receptions, but they’ve given up the fourth most receiving yards. Kearse looks like a good flex play this week.

Atlanta Falcons’ Deion Jones (45) tackles New York Jets’ Jermaine Kearse (10) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: As bad as the Colts are, Doyle has been a bright spot for fantasy. He has 25 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. The Texans are in the bottom third at limiting tight ends.

SIT THESE GUYS

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: I’m seeing some people looking to him as a good start this week as he faces the Saints. There are a lot of concerns, however. First, he’s got an AC joint injury he’s dealing with in his throwing shoulder and second, the Saints defense is playing better of late.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Giants were on a bye in Week 8 so it’s probably a good idea to remind you here that Manning isn’t very good this season. He’s without his top two receivers, though he gets Sterling Shepard back. The Rams are a tough draw, however.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: He’s had a tough season so far and he’s got to face one of the best defensive backfields this week. The Jaguars are outstanding at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: Anderson’s been disappointing this season and he has a really tough matchup against the Eagles. It doesn’t help that his quarterback situation seems to be up in the air.

Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos is tackled by cornerback Kenneth Acker #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on October 30, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Miami running backs: Don’t get enticed by new opportunity for Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake. Neither could beat out Jay Ajayi, and he wasn’t doing well behind the Dolphins line either. This will most likely be a running-back-by-committee situation as well.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Speaking of Ajayi, wait a week before inserting him into your starting lineup. He’s new in town and he has to face the Broncos right away. LeGarrette Blount is still a factor as well. Ajayi is possibly a decent flex play, but temper your expectations if you have to start him.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: He was a decent start last week, but this week is a different story. DeVante Parker is likely to return for Miami, putting Stills further down the pecking order.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons: Sanu is coming off a good game, but he’s got a tougher matchup this week as he faces the Panthers. They’re in the top 10 of defenses at limiting wide receiver fantasy points.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: I’m thinking he’ll be the odd man out this week. Not that the other two main targets in Green Bay will have much better days. It’s a tough hand the Packers have been dealt with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback.

UPDATE: Previously a must-start player, Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice on Thursday and it’s a sad end to a promising start for the rookie. Here’s what was written before we learned of his injury: This is probably the last time he’ll be in this section. Not because he won’t be worthy of a start, but because he’s an auto-start from now until the end of the year. If he can do what he did to the Seahawks, he can do it against anyone. This week it’s going to be the Colts.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football’s winners and losers on Halloween

Halloween was a big day in the NFL with lots of fantasy football implications. You had last minute trades that went through, and one that didn’t. And you had a big suspension upheld. Kelvin Benjamin was sent to Buffalo, Jay Ajayi is now a member of the Eagles and Jimmy Garoppolo is now a 49er. Here’s a look at Tuesday’s winners and losers.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 9 rankings.

Winners

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: The quarterback has been a solid streaming option all season and now he may end up catapulting into QB1 status with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin as a receiving option. The Bills needed help at the wideout position and they got it.

Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to hand the ball off during the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders on October 29, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Being traded to the Eagles is probably the best thing that could have happened to the running back. He goes from a struggling offense to one that’s clicking, with a very good offensive line. I think he’ll have to be eased into the role as the lead back, with a tough matchup against the Broncos this week. But the sky is the limit for the newest Eagle.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: He gets Duane Brown from the Texans to help protect him. Wilson has been on fire recently and the added protection will just make him better.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: Funchess will be the new No. 1 wideout in Carolina. Whether or not he makes the most of it is a question, but the opportunity is good.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: He’ll finally get his shot to start in the NFL. He won’t be a QB1, but he enters the conversation as a streaming option after this week of acclimation.

Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers: Garcon is talented enough to give you decent production, but playing with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard hasn’t been good. Garoppolo joining the team gives Garcon hope to be a consistent WR2.

Losers

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys: It’s starting to look like Elliott will have to serve out his six-game suspension after all as his appeal opportunities are running out. He’s definitely out this week, and it looks like the suspension will stick this time.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles: It’s obvious that Blount’s value takes a serious hit with the addition of Ajayi. He can still be a goal line option, but Ajayi can serve that role as well.

LeGarrette Blount #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter during their game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 29, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: He loses his best passing target and he was already having a hot and cold season. He’s down to Funchess as his best target at the wideout position.

Browns: They thought they got a quarterback with a future in A.J. McCarron from the Bengals. Turned out they were late filing the paper work and weren’t granted the trade. Ouch. Some might argue that they were better off not having the trade go through since they were giving up high draft picks. Given their history, I’m now expecting McCarron to become a hall of famer, however.

Wendell Smallwood, RB, Eagles: He might be relegated to an irrelevant role with the addition of Ajayi. Any backfield that has three viable options is not ideal. When two of them have resumes like Blount and Ajayi, it’s even worse for backs like Smallwood.

Push

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: It’s somewhat a lateral move for Benjamin. He remains the top receiver with the team he’s with, but Taylor isn’t leaps and bounds better than Cam Newton.