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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Darius Slayton, Christian Kirk, Kareem Hunt

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement. The same goes for fantasy football; managing rosters effectively is key to winning that championship.

Throughout the season, players get hot and see an increased role while others struggle and fight to stay relevant. Experienced fantasy players know this happens every year. In this weekly column, we’ll showcase those who have taken important steps forward and those who have taken steps back.

These are the key risers and fallers heading into Week 11 of the NFL season.

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Week 11 Risers

O.J. Howard (TE, TB)

This could just be a one week blip, but O.J. Howard was a deliberate part of the offense last week. He was targeted seven times and hauled in four for 47 yards and a touchdown. One of his receptions was a feat of athletic brilliance. Howard is talented; he just hadn't been used much prior to last week and deal with injury. The Cardinals have been the cure for all tight ends so it is important to not overreact. However, given the state of the tight end position, Howard looks like a guy worth owning.

Darius Slayton (WR, NYG)

With Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram out, someone had to step up for the Giants. That man is revealed to be rookie Darius Slayton. The kid balled out against the cross-town rival Jets with 10 catches on 14 targets for 121 yards and two touchdowns. With the Giants entering their bye, it is possible that some fantasy owners write this off as a one week aberration. Slayton has talent and is the primary outside receiver as long as Shepard is out. The targets have to go somewhere. Slayton could be an every week WR3 down the stretch.

Christian Kirk (WR, ARI)

It is easy to scoff at the regression police yelling from the balconies about how Christian Kirk is going to start scoring touchdowns. Regression does not mean that Kirk is going to automatically start making up for missed touchdowns, but it sure looked that way last week. Kirk scored his first, second, and third touchdowns of the season against the Bucs' laughably bad pass defense. If not for a sprained ankle and some really bad matchups, Kirk would be an every week WR2. The 49ers are a bad spot in Week 11 and then they have a bye in Week 12, but after that, only the Steelers remain as a particularly imposing foe.

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)

I wavered on whether to include Tyreek Hill since he is universally regarded as an elite WR1, but I decided in favor of it because I don't think he is respected as the clear, undisputed second best wide receiver in fantasy football (behind the machine, Michael Thomas). Hill has the highest ceiling of any non quarterback in fantasy football. The thing is, he also has a floor nearly as high as Thomas'. Hill has scored at least 14 fantasy points in every game this season (excluding his injury shortened Week 1) and coming off a game where he saw an absurd 19 targets, by far the most any receiver has seen in a game this season, it is clear that the Chiefs' offense runs through Hill. With a defense that can't stop anyone, the Chiefs are going to be throwing the rest of the way. Hill will be a tremendous asset down the stretch.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

For someone that was legitimately droppable a few weeks ago, Joe Mixon has made quite the comeback. I don't think anyone ever doubted his talent, which has been on display every week despite league worst situations, but the production has been lacking. Somehow, Mixon saw 30 carries in a game the dolphins lost by 39 points. A re-commitment to Mixon by the Bengals will do wonders for his fantasy value going forward. Mixon has two legitimate smash spots over the final three weeks of the fantasy regular season against the Raiders and Jets. If you've made it this far with Mixon, he may actually help you make the playoffs.

Kareem Hunt (RB, CLE)

Nick Chubb is still clearly the lead back and the goal line back, but Kareem Hunt was heavily involved in his first game as a Brown. Hunt actually narrowly outscored Chubb in ppr and played 54% of the snaps, often sharing the field with Chubb. It is clear that Hunt is going to have RB3 value going forward so those who sat on him for 10 weeks or picked him up a couple weeks ago will be rewarded in some capacity.


Week 11 Fallers

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

Remember when Aaron Rodgers was back to being an every week QB1? I certainly don't because I never thought that. Rodgers threw eight touchdowns over two games and all of a sudden, it was 2016 again. Not so fast. Rodgers has fewer than 400 yards combined in his last two games and has thrown just one touchdown. Just two of the Packers' remaining six games in the fantasy season are favorable matchups for Rodgers. He remains what he has been all season - a matchup based option.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

To be clear, Cooper Kupp is not suddenly not a WR1 just because he decided to take a game off last week. Mike Evans also put up a goose egg this season and he's still rolling strong. Kupp will be fine, but it is disconcerting that a guy averaging nearly 11 targets a game suddenly only saw four targets, catching none. I did not think that was in Kupp's range of outcomes. This is a bad Rams team with serious regression from both Jared Goff as a passer and Sean McVay as a play caller. The Rams are doing things they did not do last year and it is obvious. Kupp should be fine going forward, but whenever you score zero points, your value drops a bit.

David Johnson (RB, ARI)

I'm going to say it. Should I say it? Yeah, I'm saying it. David Johnson is done. I've seen enough. Throw in the towel. Wave the white flag. It's fascinating how quickly things change in the NFL. He had the magical 2016 season and never came close to repeating. Johnson has looked noticeably slower all season, but he finally hit his nadir against the Bucs. Johnson actually looked like he was moving in slow motion and Kliff Kingsbury noticed. Johnson actually took a backseat to Kenyan Drake, playing just 43% of the snaps. As if his performance wasn't bad enough, he fumbled away his only reception. Cooper Kupp scored more fantasy points than Johnson last week. I have no idea how anyone can start him going forward, nor do I expect him to be the Cardinals' starting running back in 2020.

Jaylen Samuels (RB, PIT)

He was supposed to be a three down back with James Conner out. Instead, Jaylen Samuels played just 55% of the snaps, sharing time with Trey Edmunds and something called a Tony Brooks-James. Conner might be back this week and even if he isn't, it's clear that Samuels is nothing more than an RB3. Unless he is catching a dozen dump offs from Mason Rudolph, his fantasy value will be limited.

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