Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 11
A wonky Week 10 left many fantasy football managers wondering why they even bother.
Drew Brees didn’t throw a single touchdown at home against a cushy Falcons defense. Mitchell Trubisky tossed three. No. 1 pick Saquon Barkley offered one rushing yard on 13 carries. Cooper Kupp, fresh off a 220-yard outing, didn’t muster a single catch. Wasn’t it obvious that you should have benched him for Kendrick Bourne?
Of course, none of those disappointing stars or unlikely gems frequented last week’s Start/Sit column. Not even someone in a four-team league could have justified benching Brees, Barkley, or Kupp. Everyone has an off day. Before getting engulfed into nihilistic thoughts of futility, take a deep breath and remember that the NFL universe tends to unfold as it should. The big names should bounce back, and you’re (probably) not going to lose any more matchups because of Kyle Rudolph. All anyone can do is scour the numbers to make informed lineup decisions.
With a pivotal Week 11 looming, let’s examine the viability of some borderline options. As is the case every week, the accompanying Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) were taken from half-PPR scoring on Tuesday night.
Start: Derek Carr (OAK) vs. CIN: QB9 ECR
Permeating the Sit section last week, Carr was the QB20 with a humdrum 218 passing yards and one touchdown. A lackluster line with his typical 31 pass attempts — he’s finished each of the last six games in the 28-32 range — was the worry all long against the Chargers, who now rank sixth in passing defense. He played relatively well, however, in a 26-24 win. The Raiders are likely to run often against the Bengals’ last-place run defense, but Oakland’s signal-caller should make his chances count. Cincinnati is also last in yards allowed per pass attempt at 9.0. Only the Buccaneers and Cardinals have permitted more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, so look for Carr to deliver a box score closer to 285 yards and two touchdowns.
Sit: Kyler Murray (ARI) at SF: QB13 ECR
In the Start space last week, Murray unsurprisingly trounced Tampa Bay for 324 passing yards and three touchdowns. He goes from the best matchup for a quarterback (outside of his own defense) to the worst. Russell Wilson needed an entire overtime to tie Baker Mayfield as Week 10’s QB13 behind Jeff Driskel. And that was a bad day for the 49ers, who have ceded 8.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. The Patriots are second at 9.5, followed by the Broncos at 11.7.
The QB8 in terms of points per game, Murray went an economical 17-of-24 for 241 yards and two touchdowns against San Francisco two weeks ago. Before that, he combined for 324 passing yards and failed to find the end zone on the road against the Giants and Saints. He’s yet to throw a touchdown away from Arizona or Tampa Bay. Murray is going to need a big ground game to survive this NFC West rematch as a top-12 option. That potential makes him a better option than Kirk Cousins (vs. DEN), Jared Goff (vs. CHI), and Carson Wentz (vs. NE) in tough spots, but the rookie isn’t a must-start in this brutal setting.
Start: Austin Ekeler (LAC) vs. KC (at Mexico City): RB18 ECR
At first glance, the ECR for Ekeler seems too high now that Melvin Gordon has regained his bell-cow stronghold. Ekeler managed just 163 yards on 29 touches in the Chargers’ last three games, only saving face with two receiving touchdowns. Before shouting regression, the 5’10” has maintained a heavy red-zone status as a vital target for Philip Rivers. He’s caught all nine of his looks inside the 20 for 64 yards and four scores. That efficacy translates throughout the field, as noted by ESPN’s Field Yates.
The best passer rating when targeted this season (min. 40 targets):
1. Amari Cooper: 141.1
T-2. Austin Ekeler: 136.5
T-3. Tyler Lockett: 136.5
4. Adam Thielen: 136.3
5. Tyreek Hill: 125.8
6. Austin Hooper: 121.9
7. Aaron Jones: 121.7
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 12, 2019
While he hasn’t converted any of these opportunities, Ekeler has also received six red-zone carries since Gordon ended his holdout. There will be plenty of room for both to flourish against the Chiefs, who have ceded the most fantasy points and second-most receiving yards to running backs. Still fourth in scoring among running backs, Ekeler should make the most of some extra targets in a shootout on Monday night.
Sit: Adrian Peterson (WAS) and Derrius Guice (WAS) at NYJ: RB31 and 40 ECR
According to Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post, Guice “is fully preparing to play and is 100 good to go.” It’d mark his first action since gaining 18 yards on 10 carries before tearing his meniscus in Week 1. Maybe he and Peterson can share that whole one rushing yard Barkley amassed against the Jets, who rank second in DVOA against the run.
Given his long absence and longer injury history, Guice can’t be trusted to see enough opportunities right out of the gate. His presence, however, dings the rejuvenated Peterson. The 34-year-old stockpiled 383 yards on 75 carries in four games prior to Washington’s Week 10 bye, but this usage clearly wasn’t the team’s plan. Washington made Peterson a healthy scratch the last time it had a healthy Guice, so the odds are against the former MVP getting another 20 touches in a committee against a treacherous rushing defense. Steer clear of this icy situation altogether in order to get a better read on the backfield hierarchy.
Start: Jarvis Landry (CLE) vs. PIT: WR31 ECR
So much for Landry’s targets dwindling. Baker Mayfield has looked the receiver’s way at least 10 times in each of the last three games. He now trails Odell Beckham Jr. by just two at 77, and Landry has his star teammate narrowly beat in catches (45 to 44) and receiving yards (652 to 632). He even has double the touchdowns. OK, that’s jus two, but the 26-year-old produced both in the past two games while drawing five red-zone targets.
Expectations can drastically frame perception. While everyone who drafted Beckham is furious about his down year, Landry’s investors can celebrate snagging a stable WR3 at a bargain. That outlook doesn’t change much against a stingy Steelers secondary; Landry remains a high-floor option who has exceeded 60 yards in six of nine games. Given his enhanced volume against other tough defenses (NE, DEN, BUF), the experts might be undervaluing this year’s WR21.
Sit: Robby Anderson (NYJ) at WAS: WR40 ECR
Give it up. Stop trying to make Robby Anderson happen. A deep-threat receiver can’t ask for better matchups than the Dolphins and Giants, but Anderson managed a combined three catches for 44 yards against both cupcake opponents. His targets have dipped in each of the last three games. In five contests since Sam Darnold‘s return, Anderson trails Jamison Crowder (34) and Demaryius Thomas (30) with 29. The all-or-nothing playmaker is averaging 28.5 yards without a single score in eight games beyond Week 6’s 125-yard, one-touchdown outburst against Dallas. (And yes, I said to sit him for this bout, but these types of outings are becoming too scarce.) Without a single red-zone target all season, it’s beyond time to treat Anderson as no more than a high-risk, high-reward WR4.
Start: O.J. Howard (TB) vs. NO: TE12 ECR
Is Howard back, or did he merely capitalize on a Cardinals defense that hemorrhages points to tight ends? Anyone is forgiven for believing the latter option; he’s still averaging 31.9 yards on 3.6 targets per game this season. Those ugly stats aren’t much better than the guy in the next section. He certainly shouldn’t be played instead of Zach Ertz or Gerald Everett, but the upside remains tantalizing.
The Buccaneers are fifth in passing offense, which makes sense since their games have contained a combined 60.0 points per pop. It’s hard to ignore someone who was on the cusp of a breakout last year and played 84 of 85 snaps last weekend. An active Cameron Brate didn’t see a single target in 15 snaps, so Tampa Bay is at least committed to getting Howard back on track. Streamers who played him against Arizona should see if they have a long-term piece.
Sit: Kyle Rudolph (MIN) vs. DEN: TE13 ECR
After going six games without a score this season, Rudolph has registered four touchdowns (and a two-point conversion) in the last four. His 112 yards in those four contests is downright gargantuan compared to his 72 through Week 6. That still, however, leaves him with averages of three targets and 18.4 yards per game. Even with Adam Thielen sidelined, Rudolph is still a touchdown-or-bust matchup play. He’s a serviceable replacement for someone missing Evan Engram or Austin Hooper, but nobody should feel confident streaming Kirk Cousins‘ recent end-zone buddy.
The Broncos, who have faced division foes Travis Kelce and Darren Waller once apiece, have relinquished one touchdown to tight ends all season. Vegas doesn’t expect Brandon Allen to muster much offense against the Vikings, who are double-digit favorites in a game assigned Week 11’s lowest over-under line aside from a Washington-Jets slobberknocker. This thus has the makings for a run-heavy game script without much need for Rudolph.