Fantasy Football Recap and Takeaways: Week 11
Week 11 also saw the weather wreak havoc on some cold-climate outdoor games. Those Kansas City stacks didn’t exactly work out according to plan. Let’s look around the NFL for notable results and takeaways before the Falcons battle the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
Pittsburgh Steelers 40, Tennessee Titans 17
- Ben Roethlisberger enjoyed his season’s best fantasy outing in Pittsburgh’s fourth home game. He fended off Father Time on Thursday night, going 30-of-45 for 299 yards and four touchdowns, three to Antonio Brown. (The other score to Jesse James was only necessary after the officials reversed a Le’Veon Bell touchdown.) The home-road splits haven’t varied like they usually do, but fire up Big Ben again as a low-end starter with the Steelers hosting a beatable Packers defense. After bouncing back from a 47-yard slumber to exceed 1,000 yards, there’s no doubt Brown still owns the wide receiver throne.
- Marcus Mariota‘s disappointing third season continued when he forfeited a career-high four interceptions. He now has 10 picks in nine games, matching his rookie tally as a personal worst. Twenty-eight quarterbacks have more passing touchdowns than his eight, but consider upcoming cupcake matchups against the Colts and Texans (and a Week 14 tilt against the 49ers) before cutting bait.
- Playing through wrist and ankle injuries on a shortened week, Delanie Walker caught six of nine targets for the second straight game. Although he extended his touchdown drought, the tight end stockpiled a season-high 92 yards. Rishard Matthews also recorded his highest tally of the season, clearing 100 yards for the first time at 113. Despite their limited ceilings, Walker and Matthews have locked down 55.0 and 62.6 yards per game, respectively, with 6.8 and 7.2 targets. Both are steady starters at their respective positions while Corey Davis struggles with a 45.7 (16-of-35) catch rate.
Houston Texans 31, Arizona Cardinals 21
- In a surprisingly well-quarterbacked game, Blaine Gabbert and Tom Savage each completed 22 passes for 257 and 230 yards, respectively. Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins have felt the wrath of poor passing in prior years, but they each found the end zone and led his squad in receiving yards. Hopkins regained the NFL’s target lead from Brown, and Fitzgerald has now compiled double-digit targets from three different quarterbacks. While Savage and Gabbert should remain untouched in nearly all fantasy formats, at least they’re looking competent enough to not derail the star receivers.
- Two far-less decorated pass-catchers also made a mark in Sunday’s matchup. In place of Will Fuller, Bruce Ellington caught six of seven targets for 63 yards. With 24 targets in his last three games, he’s an intriguing deep-league depth add, but Hopkins – who still led Houston with nine targets – should receive more looks when not covered by Patrick Peterson. Ricky Seals-Jones had not recorded a single catch before scoring two touchdowns from Gabbert. Last week, Jermaine Gresham crossed the pylon with Drew Stanton, but leave both Cardinals tight ends on the waiver wire regardless of which quarterback starts against the Jaguars in Week 12.
- D’Onta Foreman returned to the limelight with 80 yards and the first and second touchdowns of his career. His breakout, unfortunately, ended with what appears to be a torn Achilles, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Lamar Miller, who chimed in for 83 yards and a score on 26 touches, is now ensured heavy usage down the stretch. He could be a December fantasy hero with matchups against the Titans, 49ers, and Jaguars.
Baltimore Ravens 23, Green Bay Packers 0
- Playing in his first game since Week 1, Danny Woodhead caught five passes for 21 yards and took his only carry two yards. He played in just 13 snaps, per Pro Football Focus’s Nathan Jahnke, but ran 12 routes. Alex Collins not only retained his role as Baltimore’s featured runner but scored his first touchdown of 2017 on a season-high 20 carries and four receptions. The increased workload is encouraging. The season-low 2.5 yards per rush? Not as much. Houston presents a better matchup for Woodhead if given more playing time, but Collins wields flex appeal since a dangerous defense could yield another profitable game script.
- The Ravens now have three shutouts, the most since their 2000 defensive juggernaut led them to a championship. The Texans make another vulnerable foe, and they get the Browns and Colts in Weeks 15 and 16. Anyone who streams an alternative in Weeks 13 and 14 against the Lions and Steelers should still find room to keep the elite unit (or simply trust them against a tougher opponent) for those mouth-watering matchups.
- With Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery sidelined, Jamaal Williams played 60 of 68 snaps for Green Bay. He capitalized with 95 yards (57 rushing, 38 receiving) on 22 touches despite playing from behind. The rookie also didn’t produce a run longer than eight yards, so his ceiling is extremely limited in a struggling offense. He would lose his low-end RB No. 2 or flex status if Montgomery returns to foist his backfield monopoly.
- Davante Adams investors have not missed Aaron Rodgers much. He now has 269 yards over Green Bay’s last three games after clearing 100 (126) for the first time since January’s NFC Wild Card Round win. But Jordy Nelson once again faltered, catching two of six targets for 24 yards. A stud with Rodgers feeding him the rock, Nelson has yet to exceed 35 yards in any of Brett Hundley‘s four starts. The decision to bench him is now easy. Whether or not to drop him is the only worthwhile debate.
Jacksonville Jaguars 19, Cleveland Browns 7
- Six of DeShone Kizer‘s 16 completions went to Corey Coleman, who also led Cleveland in receiving yards (80) and targets (11) during his first action since Week 2. That gives the second-year wideout a 23.1 percent target share (24-of-104) through three games against Jacksonville, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, who entered Sunday boasting the NFL’s top-three passing defenses. Cleveland’s schedule remains tough, but December presents two neutral (Chargers, Bears) and one favorable (Packers) matchup for its top receiver. Coleman could gain starting appeal following a difficult Week 12 tilt at Cincinnati.
- Fantasy gamers also had their eyes on Dede Westbrook, who didn’t quite hit his 200-yard prediction. He instead reeled in three of six targets for 35 yards in his NFL debut while coughing up one of five Jacksonville fumbles. Marqise Lee remained Blake Bortles‘s preferred receiver with nine targets, giving him 48 in the last five games. Westbrook is a wait-and-see stash for those with a bench spot to spare. December games against the Colts, Texans, and 49ers could certainly create big-play opportunities.
- Questionable to play with a re-aggravated ankle injury, Leonard Fournette suited up. Jacksonville reverted to its run-heavy approach, leaning on the rookie for 28 carries and 111 rushing yards against a Browns defense that had relinquished an NFL-best 3.1 yards per carry. Managers had to sweat out his status, but the workload is rarely in question when active; he’s averaging 24.1 touches per game. Barring any further setbacks, he’s an elite rusher for upcoming bouts against the Cardinals and Colts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Miami Dolphins 20
- After throwing three of his dozen pass attempts to the wrong team, Jay Cutler left the game with a concussion. Matt Moore revitalized Miami’s offense with 282 yards and a 61-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, who finished with 180 yards. The backup has cosigned all three of his season’s scores to Stills – who scored in all three of Moore’s 2016 starts – in as many games, so another quarterback change yields a clear fantasy benefactor. Jarvis Landry caught his sixth touchdown from Cutler but secured a 49-yard strike from Moore. He should remain a steady PPR bedrock either way.
- While Kenyan Drake turned seven carries into four yards, Damien Williams inflicted nearly all of his damage on a 69-yard run. Drake still played more snaps even though the Dolphins needed to table the ineffective run game down 20-7 at halftime. Don’t worry just yet. They play two of their next three games against the Patriots, who allowed 5.0 yards per carry prior to surrendering 109 rushing yards against the Raiders. Drake remains the better option of the Miami backs, but Williams has narrowed the gap.
- Volume does not always yield results. The mascot for this mantra: Doug Martin. Given 21 touches in a 10-point win against a below-average defense, the Tampa Bay running back recorded 44 yards. He tallied 51 yards on 20 carries the previous week and has yet to top the 82 yards from his first 2017 game despite averaging 17 touches per bout. The role is good, but he isn’t. Downgrade Martin to flex territory under standard scoring.
Detroit Lions 27, Chicago Bears 24
- Facing a Bears defense that had relinquished the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in Yahoo leagues, Matthew Stafford went 21-of-31 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He has finished each of his last five games as a top-12 QB. As a result, managers without a high-caliber alternative can tentatively trust him in two more tough matchups against the Vikings and Ravens. Marvin Jones Jr. is a viable play after bouncing back for 85 yards and a score, and Golden Tate remains a starting staple despite matching a season low with three catches.
- Is Eric Ebron going to force everyone to pay attention to him again? After collecting 49 yards on seven targets, he has 181 yards and 20 targets in Detroit’s last four games. Before this steady stretch, he finished four of six games with single-digit yards, so don’t be the sap who gets fooled once again. He had 241 yards in three games before failing to snag a single catch in last Thanksgiving’s matchup against Minnesota, whom Detroit faces again this Thursday.
- Dontrelle Inman followed an impressive Bears debut (6-88) with 43 yards on three catches. He still led a lifeless Bears offense in receiving, as Jordan Howard (125), Mitchell Trubisky (53) and Tarik Cohen (44) kept them competitive on the ground. Inman at least looks poised to stick as the team’s No. 1 wideout, which could make him a No. 4 fantasy wideout to roster for depth. Philadelphia’s stout run defense could force the Bears to air it out more in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings 24, Los Angeles Rams 7
- After obliterating the Giants and Texans, the Rams stalled against a superior Vikings defense. Todd Gurley hammered down a firm floor by submitting 56 yards and a touchdown in a 17-point loss. Robert Woods maintained his hot streak with eight catches and 81 yards on a team-high 11 targets before suffering a shoulder injury. Jared Goff, meanwhile, showed he’s still a matchup play rather than a budding set-and-forget star. After registering 666 passing yards and seven touchdowns in the last two games, the regression gods saddled him to 225 yards and no scores. While Washington impaired New Orleans’s improved defense, the Saints are still not a team to exploit. His value especially takes a hit if Woods can’t play.
- Maybe it’s time to move Latavius Murray above Jerick McKinnon in the rankings. The former converted his 15 carries into 95 yards and two scores, giving him 315 rushing yards and four touchdowns over Minnesota’s last four games. After producing 60 yards on 19 touches, McKinnon is averaging 3.4 yards per carry in the same window. Murray deserves a Thanksgiving promotion to starting lineups against the Lions, who allowed 222 rushing yards in a win over the one-dimensional Bears. McKinnon can also stay in lineups as a flex play or lower-tier No. 2 RB.
- Another day, another 123 yards and touchdown for Adam Thielen. He has crossed the pylon in three straight games, and his 916 receiving yards ranks second behind Brown. That looks like a top-10 fantasy wideout. Stefon Diggs, however, displayed his volatility with 32 receiving yards. He still deserves a starting spot, but Thielen has instead taken his teammate’s expected leap to stardom.
New York Giants 12, Kansas City Chiefs 9 (OT)
- The Chiefs ruined countless survivor pools and DFS lineups by failing to score a touchdown against the Giants, who allowed 82 points in their last two games. Counting on Alex Smith to carve up the easiest opponent for a quarterback? He instead snapped a 12-game streak – including last season and postseason – of games with at least one passing score while surrendering two picks. He had one interception in nine previous games. Even if Kareem Hunt (21 touches, 77 yards) and Tyreek Hill (seven catches, 68 yards) weren’t necessarily bad, they both fell short of sky-high hopes. Even Travis Kelce‘s 109 yards can be construed as a letdown since the Giants had chauffeured a tight end into the end zone in every other game this season. (He also threw an interception on a failed trick play.) Mother Nature played a huge role in ruining a golden matchup, so keep that in mind when Kansas City returns to East Rutherford to face the Jets in two weeks.
- Reaping the spoils of a competitive game, Orleans Darkwa recorded 90 yards and scored his first touchdown of 2017. His 22 touches matched a season high set in New York’s only other victory. Since nobody can count on sustained team success, Darkwa remains a mid-to-low level No. 2 RB instead of the star option he could have become were the offense rolling with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr.
- Even with Sterling Shepard inactive, Evan Engram caught one of six targets for nine yards. Although the rookie tight end recorded a goose egg in Week 5, he had otherwise proven remarkably consistent with at least four catches and 30 yards in every contest. No other wideout made a dent until Roger Lewis cemented a Big Blue upset with a spectacular 34-yard grab in overtime. He still finished with 55 yards, so look for Engram to bounce back with a full plate on Thanksgiving. If Shepard isn’t ready for Thursday night, Lewis is at best a cost-saving DFS punt play.
New Orleans Saints 34, Washington Redskins 31 (OT)
- Sunday’s biggest shootout saw two rushers (Samaje Perine and Mark Ingram) clear 100 yards and seven receivers top 60 yards. Three others (Ryan Grant, Chris Thompson, and Jeremy Sprinkle) caught Kirk Cousins‘s three touchdown passes. The biggest story, however, is Washington losing Thompson for the season with a fractured fibula, per Rapoport. Leading all running backs with 510 receiving yards, he was especially a PPR dynamo. This should cement an extended opportunity for Perine, who produced a career outing with 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He goes from an unappealing stash to appetizing Thanksgiving matchup play against the Giants. Cousins, who got banged up on the same play that Thompson suffered his injury, tallied his fifth 300-yard and third three-touchdown performance of 2017. Doing so against the Saints now counts as an impressive feat, so he’s still a top-10 quarterback going forward (and top-five Week 12 choice) despite losing his backfield safety valve.
- A return to old-school (as in 2014-16) Saints football meant a season-high 385 passing yards for Drew Brees. Yet Ingram and Alvin Kamara again showed they’re stars by gaining 155 and 116 yards, respectively, and a touchdown each. Michael Thomas remained money with 91 yards, but Coby Fleener‘s matching tally stands out as the shootout’s unsustainable byproduct. Ted Ginn Jr. continued his uncharacteristically reliable season by securing all six targets for 87 yards, upping his season catch rate to 81.4 percent (34-of-43). Although not a must-start like Brees, Ingram, Kamara, and Thomas, Ginn is a solid No. 3 WR or flex option with improved reliability meshed with big-play upside.
Los Angeles Chargers 54, Buffalo Bills 24
- Tyrod Taylor has never thrown more than six interceptions in a season. His replacement, Nathan Peterman, got benched after tossing five picks in 14 throws. Taylor, who posted a 91.4 quarterback rating in nine starts before Buffalo’s baffling change, went 15-of-25 for 158 passing yards and a touchdown in relief. He also added 38 yards and a rushing score with the game already out of hand. Could the Bills be stupid enough to start anyone but Taylor after Sunday’s humiliation? As long as his own team doesn’t sabotage him, he should have a strong finish with the Chiefs, Patriots (twice), Dolphins (twice) and Colts rounding out the schedule.
- Kelvin Benjamin caught one 20-yard reception from Peterman before leaving with a knee injury. The recent acquisition, who missed all of 2015 after tearing his ACL during training camp, was carted off the field. Returning from an ankle injury that ended his Week 9 breakout early and cost him Week 10, Zay Jones amassed a team-high 68 receiving yards on seven targets. Perhaps the rookie can finally give Buffalo an interesting receiver if Benjamin misses time. He’s a worthwhile add given the favorable schedule.
- Oh yeah, about the team that scored 54 points. A week after suffering a concussion, Philip Rivers went 20-of-32 for 251 yards and two touchdowns before taking an early exit on account of the crooked score. Stymied to 16 catches and 195 yards over the last four games, Keenan Allen snapped out of his funk with 12 catches, 159 yards, and his first two touchdowns since Week 1. His output has fluctuated more than investors would like, but at least the wideout has stayed healthy all season. The Chargers’ passing duo should make big waves with a softer schedule starting with the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
- Austin Ekeler etched out 58 yards and a touchdown for an encore of Week 10’s breakout, but Melvin Gordon quelled any playing-time worries with 80 yards and his ninth touchdown of 2017 on nine touches. Most of Ekeler’s work came while Gordon sat out the lopsided fourth quarter. Perhaps there’s room for both backs to contribute, but Gordon is not ceding his spot as a top-tier option.
New England Patriots 33, Oakland Raiders 8
- Rob Gronkowski had his worst game (3-36) since Week 1, but Tom Brady dismantled Oakland for a highly economical 339 yards and three touchdowns with an 81.1 completion percentage (30-of-37). Brandin Cooks followed Week 10’s season-high 11 targets with the highest single-game yards tally (149) of his Patriots tenure. Seeing Brady hit him in perfect stride on a 64-yard touchdown helps fortify both as fantasy superstars. Gronkowski is just fine, too. Chris Hogan returning in Week 12 would be a bigger blow to Danny Amendola, who accrued 66 yards and a score on eight catches and nine targets.
- James White investors can officially worry. In an opportune matchup for a pass-catching back, all of his 13 yards came on five rushes. Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis instead corralled four receptions apiece, with the latter securing a touchdown as well as 60 rushing yards on 10 handoffs. With double-digit carries in each of the last five games, Lewis is a relatively safe start for a Bill Belichick running back. Burkhead is good for PPR depth, but White is fading into obscurity with 31 yards in the last two contests.
- Derek Carr finished with one touchdown for the sixth time in seven games, but compiling 237 yards on 47 passes is a far graver concern. Although New England’s defense deserves credit for fixing a disastrous start, the Raiders quarterback could not even salvage his fantasy line when given ample garbage time. He needs to take a seat in Week 12 against Denver, who limited him to 143 yards in Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals 20, Denver Broncos 17
- Andy Dalton enjoyed a surprisingly proficient performance against Denver. Yet he can thank his three-touchdown outing on Dre Kirkpatrick returning an interception from the end zone to the one. Another scoring drive started on Denver’s 44. Nobody should have played the Red Rifle in one-quarterback leagues, but at least A.J. Green and Tyler Kroft left with touchdowns. Expect more than 154 passing yards in Week 12 against the Browns, whom Dalton decimated for 286 yards and four touchdowns in Week 4.
- Let’s stop trying to make Joe Mixon happen. Afforded a season-high 20 handoffs, the rookie posted 49 yards. He’s averaging a dreadful 2.9 yards per rush with 135 yards over the last three games. Cleveland is far tougher on running games than passing attacks, as depicted by Mixon’s 48 yards in their earlier meeting. Showing little burst behind a dreadful Cincinnati offensive line, he’s a touchdown-dependent flex option or low-end No. 2 RB.
- Go ahead and press that panic button, C.J. Anderson investors. That may seem like an overreaction since he discovered the end zone for the first time since Week 2, but he also watched Devontae Booker seize a significant slice of the pie with 19 touches, including five receptions for 54 yards. While the second-year back went for a middling 44 yards on 14 carries, Anderson finished with an equally mediocre 37 yards on 13 rushes. He also lost a costly fourth-quarter fumble. Anderson recorded his last 100-yard game against the Raiders, but he can’t be fully trusted in their Week 12 rematch because of Booker’s emergence.
Philadelphia Eagles 37, Dallas Cowboys 9
- Facing the NFL’s top rushing defense without Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas only generated any semblance of success on the ground. Alfred Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries, so don’t blame the passing offense’s struggles on the star running back’s suspension. Instead of shining under the brighter spotlight, Dak Prescott went 18-of-31 for 145 yards, three interceptions, and a fumble. He has now submitted no touchdowns and fewer than 200 passing yards in three of Dallas’s last four games. He also had three picks in 12 career home bouts before Sunday night’s debacle. Don’t fall into the false “Prescott is nothing without Elliott” narrative, but his Week 12 merit relies drastically on left tackle Tyron Smith’s status. Averaging 6.2 yards per carry, Morris merely needs a better game script to feast on Thursday.
- In his first game since Week 8, Zach Ertz ended a sterling streak of fantasy gems by catching two passes for eight yards. He had scored a touchdown or procured over 80 yards in every other previous matchup when active. That will occasionally happen to a tight end when his team wins by 28 points with 14 completed passes. Don’t worry, Carson Wentz owners. He still tossed two touchdowns, extending his streak of multi-score games to six. As long as he’s healthy, Ertz deserves a mulligan.
- Imagine if the Eagles ever fully unleash Jay Ajayi. After breaking off a 71-yard run, the running back has 168 yards on 15 carries in both games with his new club. During those two contests, Corey Clement and LeGarrette Blount also produced 101 and 94 rushing yards, respectively. Fresh off a three-touchdown outburst, the rookie took one of Sunday night’s six touches to the house (and converted the ensuing two-point conversion) for his sixth touchdown in the past eight games. Fantasy managers may not like it, but the three-headed monster is working wonders for Philadelphia. Making Ajayi a bell cow back simply isn’t necessary. Still, playing more than 13 snaps would sure be nice. Since he’s producing so well in an extremely limited role, keep him in the starting lineup to avoid missing a seismic breakout when he eventually receives a larger workload.