Week 11 Primer: Analyzing All 14 Games (Fantasy Football)
Welcome, everyone. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already witnessed 10 weeks of football with just six weeks left (for fantasy purposes, anyway), but that’s where we’re at in the 2017 season. We’ve been through injuries to the game’s best quarterback, arguably the best running back and wide receiver, and lost one of the game’s best tight ends for an extended period of time. We haven’t even got into the defensive side of the ball. We’ve been through multiple weeks where Case Keenum has finished as a top-three quarterback. We’ve been through about 2,063 Ezekiel Elliott suspensions.
But as they say – the show must go on.
I know that many of you are relying on me to advance and make the playoffs in your league. But don’t sell yourself short, because here’s the thing – you set your lineup. I’m just here to provide you with the information to help you make those decisions. You press submit every single week, so if you’re in the playoff hunt, give yourself a pat on the back.
If this is your first time here, The Primer was made so that you could have something to go along with rankings. Something that gave you reasoning as to why a player should be started or why he should be benched. There’s not much time for you to dive knee-deep into stats during the week when you have a full-time job and a family, I get it. That’s what I’m here for. So, while you’re sitting at your desk, staring at your screen with more focus than ever before, you’ll have me to thank when your boss gives you a raise. Let’s talk Week 11.
As always, if you’d like to see my rankings as a list, you can view them right here.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Line: JAX by 7.5
Blake Bortles: That game last week felt like a 2015 or 2016 Jaguars game and not like the team that we’ve come to know in 2017. Bortles threw the ball 51 times, where coming into the game he’d not thrown more than 38 times. It was puzzling to say the least, as Bortles did what he could to give the game away, though their defense prevailed in the end. Against the Browns, that’s what you might think about doing, as they’re just as bad as you remember. You guys already know my favorite tally: The Browns have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in 28 of their last 35 games. And outside of Marcus Mariota this season, they’ve allowed multiple touchdowns to the opposing quarterback in every game. This is interesting because Bortles has thrown multiple touchdowns just once all season (that damn London game). Let’s call it a split and say that Bortles is a mid-to-high-end QB2 this week who comes with a high floor.
DeShone Kizer: I didn’t know if it was just me, but after going back to look at Kizer’s game logs, I was right… he’s regressing. He’s now thrown just one passing touchdown in his last five games after throwing three of them through three games. You can blame it on the pass catchers if you want, but there are other quarterbacks in the league working with less than he has. Playing against the Jaguars isn’t going to help, either, as they just allowed their first top-18 performance to a quarterback and it was somewhat fluky, as Austin Ekeler scored two touchdowns on broken down plays with some bad tackling. Knowing that Kizer is also dealing with a rib injury, it takes away some of his floor. He’s not playable in fantasy leagues this week.
Leonard Fournette: Did Fournette’s punishment go into Week 10? It was the first game of Fournette’s career where he didn’t finish as a top-15 PPR running back, so shake it off as just a bad game. His snap count wasn’t far off what it typically is, so I wouldn’t put too much into it. The Browns have defended the run extremely well this year, but have faced a lot of volume. Opponents are averaging 28 carries per game against them, a number that Fournette could hit by himself in some weeks. After allowing just two rushing scores in the first seven games, they have now allowed a rushing score in each of the last two games to Ameer Abdullah and Latavius Murray. Knowing that T.J. Yeldon is now active on game days, it’s taking away some of Fournette’s floor in the passing game, but he’s still an RB1 each week. Start him as you normally would.
Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson: So, this is the Crowell that most thought they were getting when they took him in the 3rd/4th round of drafts. Who would’ve thought that you remove Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, and Crowell comes to life. Over the first seven games, Crowell totaled just 287 yards on 91 carries (3.15 YPC) and no touchdowns. But over his last two games, he’s amassed 154 yards on 27 carries (5.70 YPC) with two touchdowns. The odd part is that he posted those numbers against two solid run defenses in the Vikings and Lions. The Jaguars have shored up their run defense over the last two weeks, allowing just 99 yards on 40 carries to the combination of running backs from the Chargers and Bengals. With the way Crowell is running, it’s hard to say he’s not in the low-end RB2/high-end RB3 conversation this week. As for Johnson, he continues to play well and has now totaled at least 10 touches in three straight games, something that happened just once in the first six games. There have been six running backs to rack up at least 27 yards through the air against them, including 77 yards and two touchdowns to Austin Ekeler last week. Johnson is a safe RB3 every single week despite his low touch totals, as he’s now scored at least 8.0 standard fantasy points in six of his last eight games. In PPR, he’s in the low-end RB2 conversation.
Marqise Lee: He’s now totaled at least 55 yards and/or a touchdown in four straight games, and he’s done so the last two weeks against really good opponents. He also made a bonehead mistake that nearly cost his team the game with a taunting penalty. The Browns shut down Marvin Jones from a points perspective last week, but he saw just two targets, which makes it hard to do much. He’s averaged just under 10 targets per game over the last four games, so it’s hard not to trust him as a strong WR3 this week, even if Jones left us with a sour taste in our mouth.
Allen Hurns: This is hard to write as of this time, because we have no idea if Hurns will play after leaving last week’s game in a walking boot and on crutches, but it appears that he’ll miss this game. He’s now totaled at least 70 yards in two of the last three games and has a plus-matchup with the Browns who Golden Tate just dominated out of the slot (where Hurns plays) for 97 yards and a touchdown. Knowing that he is likely to be at less than 100 percent even if he does suit up, Hurns is a risky WR4.
Keelan Cole: Should Hurns miss this game due to his injury, Cole becomes an interesting play this week. He’s seen 16 targets over the last three weeks and has turned them into seven receptions for 172 yards, though he’s yet to score. The Browns have been beat by speed down the field, so if Hurns misses this game, Cole becomes an upside WR4/WR5 that you can use in a pinch.
Corey Coleman: He’s eligible to come back for this game, which is a positive, though you already know we try not to play guys coming off multi-week absences. The matchup against the Jaguars is kind of like the topper on the cake, so Coleman is best left on fantasy benches in his first game back.
Kenny Britt: When the Browns signed Britt this offseason, they likely expected more plays like the one he made in Week 10 when he juked a cornerback out of his shoes en route to his second touchdown of the season. Still, he’s seen just a handful of targets since Week 4 and has yet to catch more than three passes in any one game. Against the Jaguars, you want no part of him.
Ricardo Louis: He’s still seeing a decent target share, but with how inconsistent Kizer has ben, he’s failed to catch more than three passes or top 42 yards in any of the last four games, and has still yet to hit pay-dirt this season. Against the Jaguars that have allowed just two wide receiver touchdowns all year, don’t play him.
Marcedes Lewis: He’s now seen 11 targets the last two weeks, but that has to do with Bortles hitting season-highs in pass attempts in back-to-back games. Expect him to fall short of 30 attempts against the Browns, though if Lewis sees even four targets, it could be enough against the Browns. There have been just two tight ends to finish outside the top-12 against them this year and they were Ryan Griffin and Jack Doyle. Heck, even Griffin finished with 52 yards against them. Just last week, they allowed Eric Ebron to get into the endzone. Lewis is on the high-end TE2 radar and may see more targets if Hurns is forced to miss the game.
David Njoku and Seth DeValve: Outside of matchups with the Browns (they play for this team), Redskins, or Giants, you don’t need to attack timeshares at tight end, which is precisely what Njoku and DeValve are in. Both have seen exactly 38 targets this season, though Njoku has scored three touchdowns to one for DeValve. The Jaguars have allowed just one top-10 performance to a tight end and it was Delanie Walker way back in Week 2 when he scored a rushing touchdown to get there. This isn’t a matchup to target either of them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins
Line: MIA by 2.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick: So, wait? Fitzpatrick wasn’t an upgrade on what Jameis Winston? Hmm, odd. Now granted, he was missing Mike Evans, but you can’t spin anything saying that he was good in that game. He’ll have a great chance to make it up in Week 11, though, as the Dolphins are coming off a Monday night game where they were destroyed by the inaccurate Cam Newton for four touchdowns. They’ve allowed at least one touchdown pass in every game this season, while intercepting just three passes. Knowing that he gets Evans back is big, so Fitzpatrick is going to fall into the middle of the QB2 range who is relatively safe.
Jay Cutler: You’ve been warned plenty of times not to fully trust Cutler and if you watched Monday night football, you know why. I remember the last time Cutler played against Tampa Bay when he was considered the chalk in DFS and he threw for just 156 yards and one touchdown. The Bucs are a worse defense than they were last year, but they’ve suffered a lot of injuries throughout the season, especially on their defense. Because of that, no quarterback has scored fewer than 12 fantasy points against them and there’ve been 5-of-9 quarterbacks to hit the 18-point mark. Knowing that the Bucs have failed to generate any pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year, Cutler should have time to find his targets. He’s a solid QB2 this week.
Doug Martin and Charles Sims: It was good to see Martin return to his starting role because there was risk after he was benched in Week 9. The downside is that he had another sub-par performance where he totaled just 51 yards on 20 carries. His stat lines are looking a lot like those from 2016, though the Dolphins have been the remedy for a lot of struggling running backs. But when you look a bit closer, they’ve struggled due to receiving yardage and touchdowns, something Martin hasn’t been doing a whole lot of. He hasn’t scored since Week 6 and he hasn’t caught a pass the last two weeks. There have been seven different running backs to run the ball at least 14 times, so the volume will be there. Knowing that, Martin should be plugged in as a volume RB2, but this matchup doesn’t suit his strengths as much as initially thought. The Bucs have started to use Sims a bit more in the passing game which is where the Dolphins struggle, but it’s difficult to trust a player who has yet to total more than eight touches all year. He’s a desperation RB4 in PPR formats, though.
Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams: It seems that Williams was sick last week, forcing him to be limited in action. We didn’t have much information about it, seeing as it was a Monday night game, so there wasn’t much we could do about it. Drake was bottled up for most of the game, but broke off a 66-yard touchdown run saving his fantasy day. He looks extremely spry and that was the first rushing touchdown for the Dolphins this season. The Bucs haven’t been a bad run defense over the last few years and it’s likely that the injuries to the defense have hindered their ability to stop the run. They have allowed a rushing touchdown in four of their last five games, but haven’t been noticeably bad against running backs as of late. On the year, they’ve allowed just four running backs to finish inside the top 18 running backs in PPR, and they were all running backs with at least 23 carries, somewhere neither Drake or Williams will get. Consider Drake a low-end RB2 while Williams is in the RB3/RB4 conversation.
Mike Evans: Coming off his one-game suspension, Evans will return to a triple-A matchup against the Dolphins. The combination of Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley don’t have the skillset to stop someone like Evans, as they had difficulty stopping Devin Funchess last week, who was the only threat among Panthers wide receivers they had to worry about. Not only is Evans 10 times the player Funchess is, but DeSean Jackson is on the other side of the field. Howard is the one who will see Evans the most in coverage and he’s coming off a game where he allowed three touchdowns in his coverage. Evans is an elite WR1.
DeSean Jackson: The Dolphins got T.J. McDonald back last week and though it didn’t appear to help, he is an upgrade over Michael Thomas, who had been filling the free safety role while McDonald was suspended. Because of that, Jackson does receive a slight bump down in projections, and knowing how great Evans’ matchup is, it’s hard to say Jackson is any more than a WR3 this week.
Adam Humphries: In a dream spot last week, Humphries caught just two passes for 17 yards. He’s now been held to 26 yards or less in each of the last four games, so it’s difficult to play him with any confidence. He belongs on waiver wires.
DeVante Parker: It’s now been five games with Parker in for a full game and five games with at least 66 yards, though he’s failed to score since Week 3. He’s going to see a lot of Vernon Hargreaves in coverage this week, who has allowed a robust 442 yards in his coverage this year. He’s also just 5-foot-9 and will be asked to cover the 6-foot-3 Parker. Even when he goes to the other side of the field, he’ll matchup up with 5-foot-10 Brent Grimes who has battled through a lot of injuries this year. This is going to be the week Parker scores, so feel free to start him as a rock-solid WR2.
Jarvis Landry: He just continues to find the end zone this year, as his five touchdowns have already tied his career-high, though we know that will die down at some point. His matchup is supposed to be against Robert McClain this week and that’s solid for his projection, as he’s allowed a 77 percent catch rate in coverage this year. Should he miss the game, the Bucs will likely bump Hargreaves into the slot, which would be a massive upgrade for Landry. He is one of the players who has a high variance from standard and PPR, so consider him a high-floor WR3 in standard leagues, but a high-floor WR2 in PPR leagues if McClain plays, but looks even better if McClain sits.
Kenny Stills: He’s seen a solid 31 targets over the last four weeks, which is extremely solid, though two of those games were without Parker in the lineup. He’s still snagged at least four passes in five different games this year, which means he needs to remain on the WR4/WR5 radar, but he’ll draw Grimes, their best cornerback the most often in coverage, making him just a punt-play.
Cameron Brate: Ugh, in a great matchup without Evans in the lineup, Brate totaled just one catch for 10 yards on three targets. Even looking at Week 9 where Fitzpatrick played a majority of the snaps, Brate finished with one catch for nine yards. It appears that he’s headed towards the streaming conversation rather than the every-week starter we’d come to know. The Dolphins have been a matchup to target with streamers, as they’ve allowed five touchdowns to them, leading to six top-15 performances out of tight ends. Over the last two weeks, they have allowed 156 yards and a touchdown to the combination of Jared Cook and Ed Dickson. It’s a scary thought, but Brate is in the TE1 conversation.
Julius Thomas: He’s been getting more and more involved, and if he was more aware of where he’s at on the field, he would’ve had a much bigger game against the Panthers. He’s now scored in back-to-back games and has yardage totals of 58 and 84 over the last four weeks. Despite the injuries to the linebacking corps, the Bucs have allowed just two TE1 performances all year and both came to extremely athletic tight ends (Evan Engram and Austin Seferian-Jenkins). Thomas doesn’t really fit in that conversation at this point in his career. Knowing he’s seeing an average of almost five targets per game, he’s still on the TE2 radar.
Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers
Line: BAL by 2.5
Joe Flacco: Can you believe that a big-armed quarterback like Flacco has now averaged 5.0 yards per attempt or less in five of his last seven games? The Raiders and Dolphins were the only ones that allowed him to eclipse that mark and it’s not like he had massive games against them, either. This is by far the worst season of his NFL career, as well as fantasy career now that he’s failed to score more than 11 fantasy points in 7-of-9 games. It puts us in an awkward spot as fantasy players, because the Packers have allowed all but one quarterback at least one passing touchdown, including 7-of-9 quarterbacks to average at least 7.0 yards per attempt. Flacco and the Ravens had their bye week to prepare and should have a solid gameplan in place, though it’s hard to trust him as anything more than a middling QB2 with the way he’s played.
Brett Hundley: Have you heard that Hundley had a 158.3 QB Rating in the fourth quarter against the Bears? Did you also know that this makes him a bonafide QB1 the remainder of the season? He’s played one good quarter of football, so don’t go overboard. The Ravens defense is among the better pass defenses in the game, allowing just one top-15 performance to a quarterback this season and that was against Blake Bortles in that London game. In fact, that was the only game they’ve allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 218 yards (he threw for 244 yards). This should be a low-scoring affair and Hundley hasn’t given us a reason to trust him outside of a low-end QB2 because of his rushing ability.
Alex Collins, Danny Woodhead, and Javorius Allen: After returning to practice at the end of last month, it appears that Woodhead will make his return in Week 11, though he may be on somewhat of a snap count in his first game back. Some are concerned about Collins’ role after he totaled just 43 yards against the Titans, but that should’ve been expected against a team who’s stopped the run extremely well. The Packers haven’t been a stomping ground by any means, but they have allowed six rushing touchdowns on the year, which ranks as the ninth-most in the league. They have also allowed four of the last five teams they’ve played to rack up 31 or more carries as a team. Because of that, I’m comfortable playing Collins as a low-end RB2 this week. Woodhead and Allen are playing essentially the same role, so both of them are high-risk options this week, and ones that I wouldn’t want to trust outside of a pinch. It stinks, too, because the Packers have been a defense to target with pass-catching backs, as they’ve allowed three receiving touchdowns to them.
Jamaal Williams: As of this moment, we know that Aaron Jones is out for multiple weeks and it seems like Ty Montgomery will miss this game after re-injuring his ribs last week. Williams is a talent and one that I liked as a sleeper coming into the year, but things have changed quite a bit. The Packers are no longer the top-five scoring offense they were with Aaron Rodgers. The Ravens are also no joke, as they struggled over the middle of the season without defensive tackle Brandon Williams, but with him back, they’ve gone back to the defense we all remember against the run, allowing just 90 rushing yards on 36 carries over their last two games against DeMarco Murray and Jay Ajayi. But let’s be fair, Williams is likely to see at least 15 touches, making him a low-end RB2 by default, just don’t expect miracles against the Ravens.
Jeremy Maclin: Despite missing two and a half games, Maclin leads the Ravens pass-catchers in targets with 42 after 10 weeks, averaging six targets per game. The bye week should’ve helped his shoulder heal up, as he’s fought through the injury for a while. The Packers can be beat over the middle of the field, as they have been forced to slide Damarious Randall into the slot, a position he’s not used to playing. Since taking over in the slot, he’s allowed 7/116/1 on 13 targets in coverage. This is a matchup that Maclin can win, making him a strong WR3 play.
Mike Wallace: It seems we’ve reached the end of the line for Wallace, who has totaled more than 30 yards just twice this season. He’s not seeing consistent targets, which doesn’t help, but Flacco’s accuracy is just not what it’s supposed to be. The Packers perimeter cornerbacks Kevin King and Davon House can be beat, but knowing how good Maclin’s matchup is, it’s hard to see Wallace getting more than five targets, making him an iffy WR5. He’s only scored eight times in the last three years combined, so it’s bleak even outside the yardage.
Davante Adams: Most are giving credit to Hundley for the touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Bears, but what I saw was a great in-air adjustment by Adams who consistently won his one-on-one matchups. Since Hundley took over, here are the Packers wide receiver targets: Adams 33, Nelson 25, Cobb 16. He’s not only seeing the most targets, but he’s the one producing with what he’s given. The Ravens perimeter duo of Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr have allowed just 36 of 68 targets in their coverage to be completed, though Carr has allowed two touchdowns in the last five games. Nelson has the slightly better matchup because he lines up in the slot more often, but we have to say Adams is the better play at this point. He’s still just a high-end WR3, though.
Jordy Nelson: As mentioned above, Adams seems to be the favorite of Hundley, though Nelson has the better matchup this week because he’ll evade the Smith/Carr duo about 33 percent of the time and matchup with Marlon Humphrey or Ladarius Webb in the slot, who are a talent level below. Knowing that Nelson has failed to record more than 35 yards in each of the last three games is concerning, though, making him just a WR4 in fantasy leagues right now.
Randall Cobb: Seeing four or five targets a week from Hundley isn’t going to do it, though they are giving him a handful of carries as well. Knowing that Jones and most likely Montgomery are out for this week, he may see anywhere from 5-10 carries, putting him on the radar as a high-floor WR4 in fantasy leagues.
Ben Watson: Despite seeing six or more targets in four of his last eight games, Watson has topped 43 yards just one time this season, and that performance came against the Browns, which doesn’t count. The Packers have been the best in the NFL at defending the tight end, allowing just 38.1 yards per game and are the only team in the NFL to not allow a single touchdown to them. Watson isn’t worth a streaming spot.
Lance Kendricks: In the last two games without Martellus Bennett, Kendricks has seen five targets compared to three for Richard Rodgers. Neither of them are enticing with Hundley under center, even though the Ravens have quietly been one of the teams to target with tight ends. You can find some with better opportunities than them.