Fantasy Football Studs & Duds: Week 11
Here’s a look at the studs and duds of Week 11. We’ll look at one stud and one dud from each of the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to identify the best and worst at each position but to find players who had over- or underwhelming performances that warrant discussion.
Stud: Andrew Luck (IND)
23/29; 297 Yards; Three Touchdowns
Week 11 was a bad one for quarterbacks across the league, so why not take a moment to talk about Luck, who’s been the steadiest fantasy quarterback outside of the select few who are in the MVP conversation. As you may have heard on the broadcast if you watched the game, this marked Luck’s seventh (!) consecutive week in which he threw three or more touchdown passes. Not only has he returned from what at times appeared to be a career-ending shoulder injury, but he’s just as good as he was before his extended hiatus. The difference this time around is that the team has surrounded him not with weapons but rather a solid offensive line to protect him going forward as well as give him time to do his magic. If the Colts can add a playmaker or two for Luck in the offseason, he could be looking at a very high average draft position come the summer of ’19.
Dud: Carson Wentz (PHI)
19/33; 156 Yards; Three INTs
The Super Bowl hangover is real, but most of you already knew that. Eagles fans thought they were set up for a dynasty after GM Howie Roseman seemingly managed to improve the team on both sides of the ball and pile up draft picks, but instead the Eagles could miss out on making the playoffs entirely. The Saints defense has definitely tightened up these past couple of weeks, and they do a great job of bullying opposing offenses who are left reeling trying to keep up with Drew Brees, but that’s no excuse for this sort of utterly dreadful outing for last year’s would-be MVP. The Golden Tate acquisition is nice on paper, but it’s extremely difficult for receivers to make the jump to a new offense right in the middle of the season, and the Eagles are asking him to do a lot right out of the gate. Former No. 1 wideout Alshon Jeffery has completely disappeared in three consecutive games, and even steady Zach Ertz couldn’t make anything happen this time around. The Eagles are a good team with a good coach and a lot of talent, but we also need to recognize that they were on an unbelievable hot streak last year, and it’s difficult to replicate that kind of success.
Stud: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
23 Carries for 122 Yards; One Touchdown; Seven Receptions for 79 Yards
Nobody is surprised to see Zeke put up numbers like these on a fairly consistent basis, but we do tend to overlook the smaller things contributing to his success (as well as the things he’s thriving in spite of). To begin, the Cowboys defense is a top candidate for the league’s most improved from last year to this one, and they’ve quietly become a unit that fantasy players need to watch out for in matchups. This defense allows Dallas to be in positions where they can feed Elliot the volume he deserves. However, to his credit, Elliott has also become an excellent receiving back who’s almost on that same top tier as Melvin Gordon/David Johnson/Todd Gurley/etc. of elite all-purpose backs. He’s also managed to succeed without a healthy offensive line, which is a factor that has in the past mitigated just how much credit Zeke has been given for his success. This team is built perfectly for him.
Dud: James Conner (PIT)
Nine Carries for 25 Yards; Six Receptions for 24 Yards
Jacksonville has Pittsburgh’s number for whatever reason, but this time the Steelers were able to escape with the win. Conner was a big part of the offense’s struggles, and he had a few key dropped passes in the waning moments that nearly cost his team the game. Fortunately for him Le’Veon Bell’s return no longer looms, but you have to imagine that he had his coaches and teammates wishing for Bell for at least a little while there when it appeared as though he was choking away the comeback. Not to underestimate his abilities too badly, but it is worth noting that Conner has been the major benefactor of game flow and goal-line touchdowns through this breakout season, and he’s probably not as talented as his fantasy points would suggest. Regardless, situation plays a big part in any fantasy football production, and as a member of the Steelers, he’s in an exceptionally great circumstance.
Stud: D.J. Moore (CAR)
Seven Receptions for 157 Yards; One Touchdown
Let’s make one thing clear right off the bat: Moore is likely no better than a WR3/flex at any point for the rest of the season. Sure, he’s capable of busting open huge plays, but he still isn’t getting enough volume from an already inaccurate quarterback to be trusted consistently. The purpose of this breakdown is to look ahead to next season when the Panthers could potentially be letting go of both Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith. If Moore can get a chance to be the top wideout on this team with a year of experience under his belt, well look out. He could be the steal of next year’s draft. He’s flashed his talent on numerous occasions already this season, and at a position that’s very difficult to acclimate to at the pro level. Stash him in your dynasty leagues and highlight his name when it comes time for draft prep 2019.
Dud: John Brown (BAL)
One Reception for 23 Yards
Lamar Jackson’s acquisition of the starting role is bad news for Brown, who had been making a lot of people who’d picked him as a sleeper candidate for the season look very smart. Jackson had twice as many rushing attempts as he did completions, and that’s not the result of a small sample size: he completed 13 passes and ran the ball 27 times. When he did throw Jackson looked very unpolished, completely justifying that insane number of carries. Brown, who utilizes his speed and route running to make his hay, really needs a player like Flacco — who’s not afraid to chuck it deep and has decent accuracy — throwing him the ball. To Brown’s credit as a player he was still very involved in the game, and responsible for a few key blocks that resulted in touchdowns. He won’t complain about his role, but it’s okay if his owners do, because it will be justified.
Stud: Jordan Reed (WAS)
Seven Receptions for 71 Yards; One Touchdown
Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury, but from the cold, calculating, and cynical perspective of fantasy football, it might be a good thing for Jordan Reed. Many thought Reed and Smith would be a good tandem based on the former’s talent and the latter’s connection with Travis Kelce back in Kansas City, but alas it was not meant to be. In fact their distinct lack of chemistry popped up in this very game, when Reed stopped on a route in the end zone that caused Smith to throw a 100+ yard pick-six. Backup Colt McCoy is not nearly as good as Alex Smith, no matter how bad the vet had been performing up until the injury, but inexperienced/lackluster QBs tend to lean on their tight ends heavily, which means good things for Reed in the latter half of this season. If you can convince a Reed owner that you’re buying high on him without actually giving up too much, he’s a great option for the home stretch.
Dud: Zach Ertz (PHI)
Two Receptions for 15 Yards
Pretty much all of the Eagles stuff was covered in the Wentz entry, so go read that if you haven’t yet. As much legitimate concern as there is surrounding this Philly offense, Ertz is the one guy nobody should be too concerned about. He’s a really, really good player on a team with an aggressive coach, competent quarterback, and inconsistent wide receivers. This is quite literally his first bad game of the whole year, which is extremely impressive. The Eagles are fortunate to be in a division that’s wide open 11 weeks into the season, and if they do manage to steal the title it will be on the back of Ertz.