Fantasy Football Weekly Recap: Week 11 (2019)
There are two kinds of fantasy managers in this world. There are those who set their lineup on Sunday morning and then go about their day, maybe meet some friends for brunch, take the kids to swim class, do some laundry, hit up the grocery store. And then there are those of us who obsessively follow every player and play that affects our fantasy teams. Our Sundays are anything but a day of rest.
If you belong in that latter category with me, you surely were following along when the 49ers’ defense scored what has to be the most absurd touchdown on the 2019 season. In a half-hearted pursuit of a miracle on the final play, the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray threw a short pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who then lateraled the ball to no one. After a mad scramble, a Cardinals offensive lineman heaved the ball backward 15 yards, where it was collected by 49ers safety D.J. Reed and taken into the end zone for a touchdown.
The play has big implications for the gambling world, and it also surely swung a lot of fantasy matchups. It almost certainly cost me one, unless Hunter Henry goes absolutely bananas tonight in Mexico City. Hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones who owns the SF defense, not one of us poor saps who was facing them.
Top 5 Surprises
Jonathan Williams (RB – IND)
With 109 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries, Marlon Mack was on his way to a huge game against Jacksonville before suffering a fractured hand early in the third quarter. Mack will undergo additional tests to determine whether surgery is required, but he’ll miss at least one game and possibly quite a few more. Once Mack departed, Williams picked up right where he left off, gashing the Jaguars for 147 yards on his 14 touches, while Nyheim Hines’ role in the offense didn’t really change. With Mack joining Jordan Wilkins on the sideline, Williams is poised to inherit a very fantasy-friendly role in the Colts’ offense. He’d had a thoroughly unremarkable career prior to Sunday but suddenly looks like the number one waiver wire pickup of the week.
Bo Scarbrough (RB – DET)
The Lions signed Scarbrough off the street last week, promoted him to the active roster on Saturday, and immediately thrust him onto the field on Sunday. Scarbrough easily led Detroit RBs in snaps and handled five more touches than Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic combined. Scarbrough didn’t exactly have a huge day, but he did find the end zone and looks to be the current favorite for between-the-tackles carries in Detroit. Even if he holds onto that role, Scarbrough will likely top out at RB3/flex value, but he’s still a worthwhile waiver addition. All lead backs should be owned in most fantasy leagues.
Randall Cobb (WR – DAL)
Last week I advised against running to the waiver wire to pick up Cobb after his big Week 10 performance, so it’s fair to say I wasn’t expecting him to top 100 yards and score for a second straight week. I still have my doubts that the Cowboys’ offense can support three viable fantasy receivers, but then again Dak Prescott has thrown three TDs in three straight games and averaged 420 passing yards over the last two. Cobb would need an injury to Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup to become an every-week starter, but I suppose he could have some WR3 streaming appeal with Dak playing out of his mind right now. Unfortunately, the Cowboys face elite pass defenses over each of the next four weeks (NE, BUF, CHI, LAR), so at the end of the day, I’m still skeptical Cobb will be of much use to your fantasy squad.
Gus Edwards (RB – BAL)
I pegged Edwards as a sneaky bet to have a big game last week, but it turns out I was a week early. My expectation was that Edwards would see an uptick in work if/when the Ravens blow out an opponent, and while that didn’t happen in their lopsided victory over Cincinnati in Week 10, it’s exactly what happened when Baltimore surprisingly blew out the Texans on Sunday. Operating as the “closer” behind Mark Ingram against Houston, Edwards busted a 63-yard touchdown run late in the game, propelling him to 112 rushing yards on the day. With most teams’ bye weeks now in the rearview mirror, you may no longer need to resort to starting Edwards, but let this serve as a reminder that he remains one of the premier handcuffs/lottery tickets in all of fantasy football.
Ryan Griffin (TE – NYJ)
Chris Herndon was the subject of endless fantasy hype this season, but between a suspension and hamstring/rib injuries, he managed to catch a grand total of one ball for the Jets before landing on injured reserve. The 29-year old Griffin, meanwhile, has fallen completely under the radar, but appears to finally be achieving fantasy relevance following an unremarkable six-year stint in Houston. Sunday marked the first 100-yard performance of Griffin’s career, but it wasn’t his first good game for Gang Green — he has at least 50 receiving yards in three of his last four games and has scored four touchdowns over the last six weeks. With half of fantasy owners seemingly searching for a tight end each and every week, and matchups with the Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins on tap, Griffin should be firmly in the TE1 conversation going forward.
Top 5 Disappointments
Brian Hill (RB – ATL)
The top waiver wire darling of Week 10, Hill doesn’t seem too concerned about the fact that he let fantasy managers down in Week 11. Perhaps that’s understandable as a good teammate — the Falcons blew out the Panthers in the biggest upset of the week, and suddenly look like a pretty decent squad. But Hill might want to be concerned about the state of his NFL career, as opportunities to prove you can handle lead-back duties don’t grow on trees. He dominated snaps and touches over Qadree Ollison and Kenjon Barner, but averaged just 2.0 yards per carry, while Ollison vultured the backfield’s only rushing score. Devonta Freeman is still likely at least another week away from returning, but it’s now unclear if Hill will see a similar workload next week — or whether he’s good enough to have any success against the Buccaneers’ stout run D.
David Johnson (RB – ARI)
It’s hard to say whether DJ even qualifies as a disappointment at this point, as it’s almost become normal for him to completely disappear from the box score. He’s now scored negative fantasy points over his last three games. We were told prior to this week’s game that Kliff Kingsbury would employ a committee in the backfield, with Kenyan Drake as the starter. Well, that “committee” translated into Drake playing 58 snaps and handling 22 touches, while Johnson played just eight snaps and never touched the ball. Drake didn’t exactly excel in the tough matchup with the 49ers, averaging just 3.6 yards per touch, and Johnson will now get the Cardinals’ Week 12 bye to try to get healthier. It’s too early to say that DJ is washed, but he is certainly unplayable until further notice.
Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU)
In the most anticipated QB matchup of Week 11, Lamar Jackson bolstered his MVP credentials while Watson fell flat. With just 169 passing yards and an interception, Watson failed to account for a single touchdown for the first time all year. But this was the fourth time he has produced one or fewer TDs, as well as the fourth time he’s thrown for 201 yards or fewer. Watson is still one of the best QBs in fantasy football, but his season has certainly been filled with peaks and valleys, and his upcoming schedule (IND, NE, DEN, @TEN) is fairly daunting.
Amari Cooper (WR – DAL)
Even the best wide receivers will sometimes have a 3-38 day, but what makes Cooper’s so disappointing is that Dak Prescott threw for 444 yards, while both Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb topped the 100-yard mark. Cooper’s eight targets weren’t bad, but he was clearly hobbled by a multitude of lower-body injuries and played only 55 percent of the snaps. That’s not a recipe for success when you’re facing off with a shutdown corner like the Lions’ Darius Slay. Cooper is a must-start player whenever he takes the field, but we need to keep our expectations in check until his health improves, especially with challenging matchups against the Patriots, Bills, Bears, and Rams coming up.
Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN)
Entering Week 11, Boyd had at least five catches and 55 yards in seven of his nine games this season, establishing a strong floor that at least somewhat made up for the fact he’s only scored a single touchdown all year. But even Boyd’s floor is now developing earthquake-grade cracks with Ryan Finley under center. Andy Dalton wasn’t exactly a superstar, but Finley is still looking like a major downgrade for Boyd and the rest of Cincinnati’s pass-catchers through his first two starts. I don’t want to overreact to one bad game, but given the severe limitations of his offense, Boyd no longer looks like a must-hold player in 12-team leagues.
Phillip Lindsay played more than twice as many snaps (42) as Royce Freeman (20). NFL Network reported prior to Sunday’s game that the Broncos would begin to “ride” Lindsay, and that proved to be the case. It was a big change from the committee Denver had been employing, and marked the first time Lindsay out-snapped Freeman since Week 3. Lindsay’s Week 11 numbers don’t jump off the page, but he could be poised for a very strong finish with this kind of usage.
It took two quarters for Ross Dwelley to match George Kittle’s 2 touchdown catches in 2019. Yes, Kittle has had three TDs overturned, and yes, Dwelley was facing the notorious TE sieve that is the Cardinals defense. But this is still absurd, full stop.
Kalen Ballage’s 1.91 yards per carry is the worst in the post-merger era for an RB with 60+ carries. On Sunday, Ballage also became the third player to ever have less than 10 rushing yards on 5+ carries and less than 10 receiving yards on 5+ catches. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect stat to show that Ballage is bad at football, his latest inept performance creates a new one.
Jonathan Williams is the top pickup this week. Williams probably isn’t quite in Marlon Mack’s class as a runner, but he’s set up for success if given the opportunity. Jordan Wilkins could also be a sneaky stash in deeper leagues depending on the status of Mack’s (and Wilkins’) injury.
Jeff Driskel can at least keep the Lions competitive. Marvin Jones hauled in both of Driskell’s touchdown passes on Sunday, and hasn’t missed a beat with Matthew Stafford sidelined. Stafford’s six-week timeline is more concerning for Kenny Golladay, who has just four catches for 91 yards with Driskel. But it looks like Driskel will be competent enough to allow both Lions WRs to remain weekly fantasy starters.
Kyle Allen had another week to forget. Allen’s performance has really nosedived since the Panthers’ Week 7 bye, and Carolina has dropped three of four as a result. It looks like Cam Newton could be back in Panther blue after all.
D.J. Chark is a league-winning stud no matter who is at QB. Nick Foles replaced Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville, and Chark just picked up right where he left off in his breakthrough season. With two more touchdown catches, Chark now has 8 TDs and is currently the WR6 for the year. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even drafted in most leagues.