QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
The Titans offense is coming around, and it’s due to Mariota’s health. He suffered nerve damage in his elbow and couldn’t feel his fingers. He tried to play through it but didn’t play well. After a bye week, Mariota had 240 passing yards, two touchdowns and rushed for 32 yards on ten carries with a touchdown against the Cowboys in Week 9. In Week 10 against the Patriots, Mariota had 228 yards, two touchdowns, and 21 rushing yards. Mariota adds a high floor with his rushing and gets a favorable matchup in Week 11 against the Colts.
RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks want to run the football a lot, and they will use multiple running backs. With Chris Carson out with an injury in Week 10, Mike Davis and Penny both got touches. Davis played 39 snaps and Penny a season-high 27 snaps. Davis had 11 carries for 58 yards and caught four passes for 21 yards with a touchdown, while Penny had 12 carries for 108 yards with a touchdown and didn’t get a target. The Seahawks play the Packers Thursday night, and if Carson sits, Penny is in play with six teams on bye this week.
RB Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers
Reports indicate Le’Veon Bell won’t report on Tuesday and will sit out the season. James Conner was in concussion protocol, and Samuels would be the handcuff. Conner has an extra few days with the Steelers playing last Thursday. Samuels played 17 snaps last week against the Panthers and had five carries for seven yards and caught three passes for 22 yards with a touchdown on four targets. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to get handcuffs for your top backs if possible.
WR Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp is out for the season with a torn ACL and Reynolds will play more snaps. The Rams usually run a lot of three-wide receiver sets. Kupp has seen 20 percent of the target share, opening up a lot of targets in a high-powered offense. When Kupp missed two games, Reynolds played 84 percent of the snaps in Week 7 and 88 percent in Week 8. In Week 7, he had one catch for 19 yards and caught three passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns on five targets the next week.
WR John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
It wasn’t clear who would be the receiver behind Tyler Boyd with A.J. Green out due to injury. Boyd played 41 of 43 snaps, and Ross was next with 36. The Bengals offense struggled without Green, and the defense was on the field for a long time against the Saints. Ross had six targets and caught two passes for 39 yards with a touchdown. The Bengals defense has been terrible, and they will be playing from behind and throwing often.
TE Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans
Smith hasn’t taken advantage with Delanie Walker out for the season. Smith has been quiet and not even close to being a starter. Smith isn’t getting heavy volume, but he’s starting to get more involved in the offense, and Marcus Mariota appears to be healthy finally. Mariota has been looking for Smith in the red zone, and he has scored in two consecutive games. Smith had two catches for 33 yards with a touchdown last week and caught three passes for 45 yards with a touchdown in Week 10. Smith gets the Colts in Week 11, and they have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in two of the last three games.
TE Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos
Heuerman came into Week 9 with 12 red zone targets but didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 8. With Demaryius Thomas gone, Courtland Sutton was expected to see the biggest increase in targets. Sutton had five targets, and Heuerman had the biggest boost in the first game without Thomas. Heuerman saw 11 targets, catching ten for 83 yards and a touchdown in Week 9 against the Texans.