It's getting down to the wire for the fantasy football playoffs as we head into Week 11. Not only are the Jaguars, Dolphins, Seahawks, and Buccaneers on a bye, but we have some big names injured like Cooper Kupp, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert. That limits the pool of players managers have available and forces a start that may be risky due to matchups.
Here are five players who face tough defenses and should be played at your own risk. As always, these are player fades, not players you must sit. If you do find yourself in a position where you have to put any of these players in your lineup, fill your other starters with high-upside and safe-floor options.
AJ Dillon - RB Green Bay Packers
Fading AJ Dillon may seem obvious as quite a few managers have already dropped him in favor of high-upside players from the waiver wire. However, continuous start/sit questions about Dillon show that many are holding on to him as an insurance policy or as a flex option.
The loss of Davante Adams completely changed the dynamic of the Packers' offense and provided the opportunity for Dillon to see a majority of the ground game while Aaron Jones would get work through the air. The stunted growth of the young rookies made that idea a pipe dream and all defenses had to do was stop the run game and Green Bay would fail.
The emergence of Christian Watson in Week 10 breathed some new life into Green Bay's offense. Even after dropping early passes from Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback continued to pepper Watson with targets. Rodgers was determined to make a connection with the rookie whether he liked it or not. As we know, that turned into 107 yards and three touchdowns in their win over the Dallas Cowboys.
A healthy passing game will generally open up the run game, so there is a possibility that Dillon has a spark left for the season. However, this week is brutal for the running back against Tennessee.
The Titans not only have Derrick Henry to command the run game on offense, but their defense is staunch against the run as well. They have allowed only one rushing and one receiving touchdown to running backs so far this season. Their 17.1 attempts per game is the fewest allowed in the league and that has translated into 66.6 yards per game, the second-fewest allowed.
Both Dillon and Jones have an uphill battle in Week 11. Between the two, Jones is by far the more explosive running back with the most opportunity. Dillon could be considered a safe (but low) floor option on a good week, but this is not one of them. If you are hanging onto Dillon, treat him as an emergency use only who will see big numbers if something happens to Jones.
Mack Hollins - WR Las Vegas Raiders
There are so many things broken in Las Vegas. Not only is the coaching and management a nightmare, but there are several players who are literally broken. Darren Waller is on injured reserve with a hamstring issue and Hunter Renfrow joined him with a hamstring and oblique injury. Naturally, one would think this would mean an uptick for the remaining players like Mack Hollins.
As of this article date, the Raiders' depth chart is as follows: Adams (LWR), Hollins (RWR), Keelan Cole, and DJ Turner (SWRs) at wide receiver. Foster Moreau, Jesper Horsted, and Jacob Hollister round out the TE room.
In a good matchup with all of the injuries, Hollins could be a useful flex option. He has given managers a handful of serviceable games and even scored 25.96 points in Week 3 against the Titans. However, this week, the Raiders face the number two defense against wide receivers in the Denver Broncos.
Their defense has allowed just three touchdowns on 1013 yards to the position all season, which is the fewest in the league. Hollins is a Hail Mary start that could see some targets out of necessity, but this is a terrible matchup across the board for Vegas.
Jahan Dotson - WR Washington Commanders
While the Broncos are second-best against wide receivers, the Houston Texans are just below them at third. Game script can contribute to these numbers. Having a terrible defense against the run limits the necessity to rely on pass-catchers by opposing offenses.
Of course, there is far more to offenses than just the run game and Jahan Dotson had some explosive games before his injury in Week 4. There is one big problem that Dotson must overcome before he can be a starter again. Carson Wentz is no longer at the helm and Taylor Heinicke is making waves as the starting quarterback. Dotson has only played one with game Heinicke and caught a single target for 14 yards just short of the goal line. Not only does the rookie lack chemistry with the new quarterback, but he is also coming off an injury that kept him sidelined for several weeks.
Washington has plenty of firepower in their backfield among Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson, and J.D. McKissic to get the job done if the Commanders take an early lead. Plus, Heinicke only has eyes for Terry McLaurin leaving Dotson as the WR3 behind him and Curtis Samuel.
Alec Pierce - WR Indianapolis Colts
As much as people may or may not have criticized Jim Irsay for hiring Jeff Saturday, the result on the field was a solid win. The switcharoo at quarterback from Sam Ehlinger to Matt Ryan was a doozy, but it paid off in the end.
After a promising start for Alec Pierce, the rookie has been steadily overtaken by Parris Campbell who is finally starting to show some fantasy life after being very quiet in his young career. Ryan clearly likes to target both Campbell and Michael Pittman when left to his own devices. (Saturday made it clear that he let the players be themselves in their Week 10 matchup against the Raiders.) Both Campbell and Pittman had nine targets and seven receptions, but Campbell turned that into 76 yards compared to Pittman's 53.
Pierce saw just two targets and didn't catch either one of them.
Pierce has to contend with an anemic target share as well as the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 who are the fifth-best against wide receivers over the last four weeks. If anyone is going to see the volume it will be either Campbell or Pittman and not Pierce.
Kareem Hunt - RB Cleveland Browns
Fading Kareem Hunt feels wrong given what we know he is capable of doing in years past. But, that has yet to translate into significant fantasy points so far this season. His best game was in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers where he rushed 11 times for 46 yards and a touchdown and added 24 yards in the air on four receptions. He reached double-digit fantasy points only once since then with 13.2 in half-PPR against the Chargers' terrible run defense.
Hunt used to be considered a relatively safe-floor flex option, but that has even become risky with Nick Chubb leading the charge on the ground and negative game scripts. This week, the Browns face the Buffalo Bills who are coming off of a tough loss to the Vikings and are looking to right a two-game losing streak.
The Bills can be exploited on the ground. Just ask Dalvin Cook. However, this game could easily turn into a runaway in favor of Buffalo limiting Hunt's opportunity and any potential upside.