Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 11

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.

First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.

Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!

My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, as well as top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.

So let's take a look at this past week!

Player Positional Ranking Half-PPR Points
Jameis Winston 8th 20.3
Gus Edwards 49th 1.7
Kyle Rudolph 2nd 17.4
Baltimore Ravens D/ST 2nd 24.0

Jameis Winston turned in a serviceable start for fantasy owners with help from 40 rushing yards to cancel out the two interceptions he threw. Unfortunately Gus Edwards didn't get the opportunity I would have expected in a blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, both Kyle Rudolph and the Baltimore D/ST scored a pair of touchdowns to finish near the top of their respective positions.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

ESPN Ownership: 46%

With such high expectations for Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns heading into the 2019 season, most of this year has been a major disappointment. Outside of Nick Chubb, the Browns haven't offered much in the way of useful fantasy production.

Before we get to the schedule, let's look on the bright side. In the past two weeks, Mayfield has avoided throwing a single interception. Albeit a low bar, this is encouraging to see, especially against the stout defenses of the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills. Furthermore, over the past four weeks, Mayfield's completion rate has risen to 64.2 percent, up from 55.9 percent through the first five games of the season.

Though he has two of the best pass-catching weapons in the league in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Mayfield has a 6.8 percent drop rate, which is the second highest mark in the league, so it's not all on him. If only his receivers could hold onto the ball, Mayfield might be having a much better season as he's averaging 6.3 yards after catch per completion, the third best mark of all quarterbacks.

Though things likely won't go well in the Week 11 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night as Pittsburgh has allowed only 10.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, don't let that scare you from starting Mayfield in Week 12. On average, the Miami Dolphins, the Browns' Week 12 opponent, are allowing 3.44 points per game more to quarterbacks than what those quarterbacks average on the season. That's nearly a one-touchdown bump that you can expect from Mayfield when streaming him against the Dolphins in a couple weeks.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

ESPN Ownership: 13%

Diontae Johnson hasn't been a superstar in the context of the entire NFL, but he's been a key contributor to the Pittsburgh offense. Second on the team in targets, Johnson has proven to be a reliable outlet for Mason Rudolph. While many expected James Washington, Rudolph's former college teammate, to fill into this role, Johnson has stepped up.

In each of the games that Mason Rudolph has started, Johnson has recorded at least six targets in all but one. This includes the Week 4 game against the Cincinnati Bengals in which Johnson scored a touchdown and recorded his second-highest yardage total of the season. Additionally, since Johnson got his first start in Week 3, the statistical difference between him and JuJu Smith-Schuster has been minimal, with Johnson even leading in a couple of categories.

The Steelers will get to face off against the Bengals once again in Week 12, giving Johnson another opportunity to shine. In the final week with byes, we'll be missing some of the top receivers in Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, and up-and-comer Christian Kirk. If you're a team with one of these players, look Johnson's way.

Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets

ESPN Ownership: 1%

Unfortunately we won't get to see a breakout season from Chris Herndon as his year will end with a trip to injured reserve after playing only one game this year. However, in Herndon's absence, Ryan Griffin has shown flashes of being an outlet that quarterback Sam Darnold can rely on, especially in recent weeks. Since Week 8, Griffin is the TE12 in points per game, which includes two games with at least four receptions and 50 receiving yards. But what's to say this will continue down the stretch?

So far this season, Darnold has an 8.0 average depth of target and an average of 5.0 air yards per pass completion. Why is that relevant? Because it signals that Darnold isn't throwing the ball deep much to the likes of Robby Anderson. Maybe it's the playcalling, maybe it's the ghosts, but Darnold hasn't been throwing it down the field.

In Week 12, the New York Jets will host the Oakland Raiders, who offer opposing tight ends the third-best matchup for fantasy football scoring. The Raiders have proven over the past several weeks that their offense can put up points, so the Jets may be in a play-from-behind game script, forcing Darnold to throw the ball even more.

Denver Broncos, D/ST

ESPN Ownership: 18%

Defensively, the Denver Broncos aren't close to what they were in years past. They're far from an elite unit, but they have been productive in a couple of key areas this year. Even though the Broncos' defense doesn't lead in any of the trendy metrics, they do stand out when looking at traditional stats. They are currently fourth in total yards allowed per game and seventh in points allowed per game.

Once a force to be reckoned with and a stud unit for fantasy, the Denver D/ST is no longer a matchup-proof asset, but they'll get to face the Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills. Though Allen can and will be difficult to sack because of his running ability, the Bills have averaged just over one giveaway per game this season. Marry that with the fact that Buffalo is bottom 10 in total yards per game and points per game, and you've got yourself a great streaming option.

If the Broncos can take advantage of an erratic Allen, they could have a good fantasy day in Week 12.