NFL

NFL Fantasy Picks: Mitchell set for massive workload in Deebo's absence

By Sports Desk November 30, 2021

It's Week 13 in the NFL and the fantasy playoffs are on the horizon.

If you're near the bottom of your league's standings, it's probably game over, time to focus on Christmas shopping and plan for next year.

Yet if you're in the midst of a battle for a playoff spot or fighting to secure a top seed, it's never been more important to consistently nail your starting lineup selections.

Stats Perform is once again here with a helping hand, looking at four offensive players and a defense who deserve to be fantasy starters this week.

 

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

An otherwise explosive performance from Wentz, in which he threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was undermined by a pair of interceptions, though one of those picks came on a last-gasp Hail Mary attempt.

Turnovers could well be a problem again versus the lowly Texans, whose defense is fifth in the NFL with 20 takeaways, but that should not prohibit fantasy managers from slotting Wentz into their lineup against one of the league's worst teams.

The reverse fixture back in Week 6 saw Wentz average over 11 yards per attempt and, with his 20-5 touchdown to interception ratio the fourth-best in the league, the likely outcome is that the former second overall pick manages to avoid turnovers en route to a productive fantasy performance.

Running Back: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Mitchell is one half of a devastating two-headed monster leading the 49ers' running game, and he and ultra-versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel have gashed teams at will over the course of San Francisco's three-game winning streak.

The Niners are averaging 130.9 rush yards per game, the sixth-most in the NFL, and racked up 208 yards on the ground in their Week 12 win over the Minnesota Vikings, sixth-round rookie Mitchell contributing 133 of them in his fourth 100-yard performance of the season.

This week, that aforementioned monster will be minus Samuel due to a groin injury, meaning potentially greater workloads for Mitchell and fellow tailback Jeff Wilson Jr. against a Seahawks team dead last in average time of possession. All signs point to San Francisco controlling the clock against a slumping Seattle outfit and setting up Mitchell to continue his outstanding first year in the league.

Wide Receiver: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Giants

The Dolphins are surging, winning four in a row, and so is their first-round pick, whose performances over the last two weeks have made his status as the sixth overall selection look less dubious.

Having caught eight passes for 65 yards against the New York Jets in Week 11, Waddle exploded for nine catches, 137 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins thrashed the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.

Waddle has been targeted at least eight times in five of his last six games and, even against a Giants defense that has been largely stingy of late, that share of the workload makes the speedster an intriguing play, especially in points per reception leagues.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Gronkowski appears to have shaken off the injury problems that have plagued his 2021 season and has 13 catches for 194 yards over the last two weeks.

Antonio Brown could finally return from an ankle problem to eat into Gronkowski's targets but, against a Falcons team that has conceded 40 points in each of the last two matchups with the Bucs, he should still thrive when targeted by Tom Brady to an extent that makes him an obvious starter in fantasy football.

Defense: Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears

It still isn't clear whether quarterback Kyler Murray will return for the Cardinals after missing the last three games with an ankle injury, but the NFC's top seed should be able to lean on their defense to secure victory in Chicago even if Murray cannot go.

The Cardinals rank eighth in yards per play allowed with 5.27 and get to go against a Bears offense that has allowed the most sacks (37) in the NFL and could only manage 16 points against the Detroit Lions in a miserable Thanksgiving game.

Regardless of whether it is Andy Dalton or Justin Fields at quarterback for the Bears, the Cardinals' defense will be a strong fantasy play.

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    Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone lavished praise on his side for their fighting performance after netting two stoppage-time goals to win 3-2 over Valencia on Saturday.

    Simeone's side appeared destined for a third consecutive defeat in all competitions after Yunus Musah and Hugo Duro had put the visitors two goals up at the interval.

    Matheus Cunha reduced the deficit in the 64th minute, before added-time strikes from Angel Correa and Mario Hermoso secured a remarkable victory.

    “At half time I spoke to the players, I told them what I felt and I have transmitted in recent years, 'if we have to lose we lose with pride'," Simeone told reporters.

    “The team left their soul out there, they left their lives on the pitch. There are nights that remain with you and this one is going to stay with us."

    He added: "It was a fantastic second half. We were ourselves. Watching that second half, I felt: this is us."

    Atleti had collected just four points from the previous 18 available in LaLiga, with the win boosting their lagging top-four aspirations.

    Simeone was almost reduced to tears on the touchline after Hermoso's winner as the Spanish champions firmed up fourth spot, three points clear of fifth-placed Real Sociedad.

    "What did I feel? That it's marvellous, this place I'm in," Simeone said. "Whenever it feels like it might be going, I want to hold on even tighter. In the first half, my heart hurt."

    The result saw Atletico become just the second LaLiga team in the 21st century to come from behind to win a game with two goals in added time, after Betis did so – also against Valencia - in December 2011.

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    The Bengals, who claimed their first playoffs win in 31 years last weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders, will take on either the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs on the road. Saturday's victory was Cincinnati's first-ever postseason road win and qualifies the franchise for the AFC Championship Game for the third time.

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    Rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase was key for the Bengals too, making 109 yards from five receptions while Tee Higgins had seven receptions for 96 yards. Joe Mixon rushed Cincinnati's only touchdown after a slick cutback to open up a 16-6 third-quarter lead.

    Titans running back Derrick Henry, on his return from a foot injury, scored the only touchdown of the first half in trademark style, finishing with 20 carries for 62 yards for the game.

    AJ Brown made some major plays with five receptions for 142 yards for the Titans but none were bigger than his TD from Tannehill's long pass late in the third quarter which forced a tie game.

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    Thomas Henry had put Venezia in front against the run of play with an excellent header, before Nicolo Barella ensured Inter went into the break level.

    The reigning champions looked like they would drop points at home in Serie A for only the third time since October 2020, but Edin Dzeko sealed an important win in the 90th minute.

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    "The team believed to the end. The lads did so well considering we were coming off the Atalanta game and extra time in the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa," he told DAZN.

    "If we analyse the goal, we should've done better and been more attentive before Henry's header. We need to get back to being ferocious in these situations.

    "The team could've lost its head after that goal, but we kept going and turned it around in the end.

    "We won the Supercoppa, we progressed in the Champions League and Coppa Italia – all these are important signs and now we enjoy this victory too.

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    Inzaghi also bemoaned the state of the San Siro pitch, saying it could harm his side's title tilt.

    "The biggest problem both Inter and Milan face is the state of San Siro, as the turf is becoming unplayable for both of us," he added.

    "We could've done better, but honestly the turf is awful. We need to take action – it has never been this bad before."

    Dzeko had gone four Serie A games without scoring before his crucial winner, which came from his seventh attempt on goal, and he appeared to praise Inzaghi for not substituting him. 

    "When you score at the last minute it's normal to cheer with anger," the striker said. "We certainly missed my goals but the important thing is that the team wins. It was nice to score in the 90th minute."

    "Inzaghi understands football; he has played football and he knows that I can solve the match even in the last minute.

    "There are no easy ones in Serie A. Today we saw it and perhaps it was one of the more difficult ones for us this year. 

    "We suffer from time to time, but the important thing is to win and take home the three points. They defended well and there were few spaces, but to find the goal you need patience."

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