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The Primer: Week 11 Edition (2021 Fantasy Football)

Nov 18, 2021
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Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns

Date/Time: Sunday November 21, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Browns -11.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 43.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Browns 27.5, Lions 16

Quarterback

Jared Goff: Goff has thrown just one TD pass and four interceptions over his last five starts, averaging 201.8 passing yards a game over that stretch. He adds no rushing value either. The Browns aren’t an especially daunting matchup for opposing quarterbacks, but Goff is still unplayable in every format except perhaps superflex. Goff might not even play. He’s dealing with an oblique injury and missed practice Wednesday. If he can’t go, backup Tim Boyle would get the call and would also be unusable for fantasy purposes.

Tim Boyle: The struggling Jared Goff has been dealing with an oblique injury, so the Lions say they’ll start Boyle against the Browns in Week 11. A former Packers backup, Boyle will be making his first NFL start. He appeared in 11 games with Green Bay, mostly to hand off to running backs or kneel down in the waning moments of Packers victories. Boyle has attempted only four passes in his pro career, completing three of them for 15 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Boyle is unusable except perhaps in superflex leagues, and even there you might be better off throwing a running back or wide receiver into your supeflex slot.

Baker Mayfield: Mayfield is dealing with a knee injury but is expected to make the start this week against the Lions. Detroit’s injury-plagued defense has been leaky against the pass, yielding a league-worst 8.5 yards per pass attempt. But Detroit also has a run-funnel defense, largely because the Lions constantly find themselves in negative game scripts. Opponents are running against the Lions on 50% of their offensive snaps, the second-highest rate in the league. With Mayfield not 100% healthy and Nick Chubb expected back after landing on the COVID-19 list for Week 10, there’s a good chance the Browns will be extremely run-heavy this week. Mayfield lands at QB25 in this week’s rankings despite the Lions’ defensive issues.

Running Backs

D’Andre Swift: Entering Week 10, Swift’s season-high in rushing attempts was 14. With Jamaal Williams out with a hip injury, Swift logged 33 carries in a weird, rainy 16-16 tie with the Steelers in Pittsburgh last Sunday. Swift finished with 130 rushing yards against the Steelers, also a season-high. Conversely, he had a season-low three receptions for only five yards. It’s unclear whether Williams will be able to return for the Lions’ Week 11 date with the Browns. Third-stringer Jermar Jefferson sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Steelers and figures to be out, so little-known special-teamer Godwin Igwebuike may be Swift’s backup this week. That should mean another big workload for Swift, though probably a lot fewer than 33 carries, and hopefully greater usage in the passing game than we saw last week. Swift is the RB this week and a solid DraftKings investment at $7,000 considering the likelihood of at least 18-20 touches.

Nick Chubb, D’Ernest Johnson: Chubb landed on the COVID-19 list in Week 10, but he’s off the list and will be back to face a Lions defense that’s yielding 135.7 rushing yards per game and 23.2 fantasy points per game to running backs. This is a smash spot for Chubb, who’s the RB4 in this week’s rankings. Johnson has twice been asked to play a leading role for the Browns in games that Chubb and Kareem Hunt both missed, and he’s turned in big games both times. Johnson had 168 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Broncos in Week 7, and he piled up 157 yards from scrimmage with no touchdowns against the Patriots in Week 10. He now returns to more of a backup role. As the No. 2 behind Chubb in Weeks 8-9, Johnson had 12-38-1 rushing and 1-7-0 receiving. A matchup with the 0-8-1 Lions could yield some garbage-time opportunities for Johnson, but chasing garbage-time production is rarely a good strategy. Johnson checks in at RB39 this week.

Wide Receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown might be the Lions’ best receiver as a rookie, but that isn’t saying much. Detroit’s WR corps may be the worst in the league, and St. Brown is the WR77 in fantasy scoring. He’s not usable for fantasy this week and perhaps not even roster-worthy in most leagues.

Jarvis Landry: Landry is averaging 5.7 targets a game this season and had finished with 37 or fewer receiving yards in 4 of the 6 games he’s played. He’s still looking for his first TD catch of the season, though he did have a rushing touchdown in Week 1. As sparse as Landry’s production has been, fantasy managers might want to consider using him this week. Landry has an attractive individual matchup against Lions slot corner A.J. Parker, an undrafted rookie who’s allowed an 81% catch rate to opponents and is giving up 0.35 fantasy points per route run against him. Landry is a midrange WR3 this week.

Donovan Peoples-Jones: DPJ had 1-16-0 on five targets against the Patriots in Week 10 after producing 11-257-3 in his three previous outings. Peoples-Jones’ hot streak seemed a little fluky since he had drawn only 14 targets over that torrid three-game stretch. He hasn’t seen more than six targets in any game this season, and his average depth of target is 17.1 yards, giving Peoples-Jones a weekly boom-or-bust profile. He’s a low-end WR4 this week against the Lions. At $4,500 on DraftKings, DPJ is much more attractive in GPPs than in cash games, where his boom-or-bust profile is more tolerable.

Tight Ends

T.J. Hockenson: After racking up 24-211-0 in his three previous games, Hockenson saw just one target and was shut out in the Lions’ 16-16 tie with the Steelers in Week 10. Hockenson has also had a three-target game and a two-target game this season, so the sparse Week 10 usage wasn’t a complete anomaly. There’s also some built-in fragility with a tight end who has to rely on targets from Jared Goff. Still, Hockenson is a better pass catcher than any of the Lions’ receivers, and he’s a midrange TE1 this week against the Browns.

Austin Hooper, David Njoku: Hooper scored Cleveland’s lone touchdown last week in a 45-7 blowout loss to New England, finishing with 4-25-1 on five targets. Hooper is the TE24 in fantasy scoring this year, and his single-game high in yardage is only 42 yards. He’s just a back-end TE2. Njoku is more explosive than Hooper but is averaging a mere 3.1 targets per game. Njoku should have had a TD catch against the Patriots last Sunday but couldn’t hang on. He, too, is a low-end TE2.

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Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers

Date/Time: Sunday November 21, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Panthers -3.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 43 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Panthers 23.25, Washington 19.75

Quarterback

Taylor Heinicke: He’s had his ups and downs in eight games as the Football Team’s starting quarterback, but Heinicke is the QB13 in fantasy points per game since taking hold of the reins in Week 2. Heinicke wasn’t especially crisp in October, with three TD passes and six interceptions from Week 5 to Week 8. But he was sharp in his first November game, a 29-19 win over the Buccaneers in which he completed 26 of 32 passes for 256 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Heinicke is merely a low-end QB2 this week in a difficult road matchup against the Panthers. Carolina’s pass defense ranks second in DVOA and is allowing 6.4 yards per pass attempt.

Cam Newton: “I’m back!” There haven’t been many better moments in the NFL this season than Newton scoring his first touchdown in Charlotte since 2018 and letting Panthers fans know it felt good to be back home. What can we expect from Cam the rest of the way? Even at the height of his powers, Newton was never one of the NFL’s best pure passers. There were times last season with the Patriots when his arm simply didn’t look NFL-caliber. Cam has dealt with multiple injuries to his throwing shoulder, so the condition of his arm is a wild card. We do know that he can still run. He looked spry in last week’s win over the Cardinals and all of last season with the Patriots. It’s probably best to regard Cam as a midrange QB2 the rest of the way and to be pleased if he performs better than that. He checks in at QB14 this week against a Washington defense that’s giving up a league-high 26.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Running Backs

Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic: The stress fracture in Gibson’s shin wasn’t going to heal during Washington’s Week 9 bye. But after being used sparingly in Weeks 6-8, Gibson handled a season-high 24 carries against the tough Tampa Bay run defense in Week 10 and had 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns. A positive game script for Washington worked in Gibson’s favor, with the Football Team leading the Buccaneers for nearly the entire game. That’s been a bigger obstacle to Gibson’s fantasy success in 2021 than the shin injury – the vagaries of game script. Too often this season, a negative game script has limited Gibson’s snaps while working in favor of McKissic, the passing-down back. McKissic played 28 snaps against the Buccaneers and had 2-4-0 rushing and 4-35-0 receiving. Gibson is a midrange RB2 this week against a middle-of-the-road Carolina run defense. McKissic is a high-end RB4.

Christian McCaffrey: On one hand, it’s exciting that McCaffrey racked up 26.1 PPR points in Week 10 without even scoring a touchdown, finishing with 13-95-0 rushing and 10-66-0 receiving. On the other hand, it’s worrisome that CMC was seen trying to loosen up his troublesome right hamstring during the Panthers’ 34-10 win over the Cardinals. There were concerns that McCaffrey might have tweaked his hammy during the game, but Panthers head coach Matt Rhule clarified that a spotter in the booth buzzed down to have CMC checked for a head injury after a big hit. With the medical concerns apparently not all that concerning, McCaffrey is the RB1 this week vs. Washington. He’ll set you back $8,900 on DraftKings, but we know there have been times when it was almost impossible to set too high a price for a guy who has a 30- to 35-point ceiling.

Wide Receivers

Terry McLaurin: McLaurin’s 6-59-0 stat line against the Buccaneers in Week 10 wasn’t disastrous, but it was yet another instance of McLaurin failing to meet the expectations of his stakeholders. He’s had fewer than 60 receiving yards in four of his last five games, failing to score a touchdown in any of those four games. McLaurin is the WR21 in fantasy points per game this season, and he’s the WR21 in the rankings this week. He gets a tough draw this week against the Panthers, who may have the deepest group of cornerbacks in the league. Don’t bother with him at $7,000 on DraftKings.

DeAndre Carter: Carter has emerged as Washington’s No.2 receiver, playing 49 snaps in each of the Football Team’s last two games and posting 6-107-2 on 12 targets over that stretch. He’s only the WR72 this week, but he’s worth monitoring.

D.J. Moore: Can Cam Newton save Moore’s fantasy value? He can’t be any worse for Moore than Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker have been. Through the first four games of the season, Moore was the WR4 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring and was averaging 9.3 yards per target. In the six games since, Moore has averaged 5.8 yards per target. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4. Even in a juicy matchup against a Washington defense that’s giving up nearly 30 fantasy points per game, Moore is just a low-end WR2 this week. His DraftKings price is down to $5,900, and at that price, an investment might be warranted.

Robby Anderson: The 2021 season has been a nightmarish one for Anderson, who has been plagued by drops and inefficiency. After a four-game stretch in which he had just 7-27-1 on 24 targets, Anderson showed signs of life in Week 11, with 4-37-1 on six targets. It’s possible that Cam Newton‘s return to the Panthers’ lineup could further rejuvenate Robby, though I’m not sure how wise a bet that would be. Anderson is the WR62 this week even in a primo matchup against Washington.

Tight Ends

John Bates: Logan Thomas isn’t ready to come back from a hamstring injury yet, and Ricky Seals-Jones is expected to be out with a hip injury he sustained in Week 10. That leaves Bates as the Football Team’s primary tight end for Week 11. He’s a fourth-round rookie from Boise State who never had more than 273 receiving yards or one touchdown in any of his four college seasons. But hey, the tight end has been a prominent part of the Washington passing game this year, and it’s possible Bates will keep that going. He had 3-25-0 on three targets last week against the Buccaneers. He’s the TE28 this week.

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Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Date/Time: Sunday November 21, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Titans -10
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 44.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Titans 27.25, Texans 17.25

Quarterback

Tyrod Taylor: It would be hard to make the case that Taylor is a good NFL quarterback, but he’s been a good fantasy quarterback at times in his career, mostly because of his running ability. Taylor’s passing limitations were on display in his Week 9 return from a hamstring injury. He completed 24 of 43 throws for 240 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions, misfiring on a number of passes that really should have been completions. Taylor ran three times for 23 yards in that game. This week, Taylor faces a Titans defense that has given up 20.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The thing is, the Titans haven’t really allowed running quarterbacks to cut loose against them. Kyler Murray had 5-20-1 rushing against them in Week 1, and Josh Allen had 9-26-0 against them in Week 6. Taylor is a low-end QB2 this week.

Ryan Tannehill: A Week 11 matchup against Houston seems like a good setup for Tannehill. The Texans are allowing 20.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the fifth-highest total in the league, and opponents are averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt against them. The concern is limited passing volume. Since Week 5, Tannehill has averaged 27.5 pass attempts per game and has thrown more than 30 passes in a game only once. Tannehill has been the QB17 in fantasy points per game over that span, and he’d rank even lower if not for four TD runs. Tannehill checks in at QB16 this week, and I have no interest in him at $6,700 on DraftKings.

Running Backs

David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Rex Burkhead: It’s now a three-headed backfield instead of a four-headed backfield now that Scottie Phillips is on injured reserve, but there’s still nothing of interest here. Mark Ingram is still the only running back to have logged double-digit carries for the Texans in any game this season, and he’s been a member of the Saints for three weeks.

D’Onta Foreman, Adrian Peterson: The Titans’ backfield continues to evolve in the absence of Derrick Henry, who’s out for at least the next month with a foot injury. Foreman drew the start in Week 10 and led the Titans’ running backs in snaps (21) and carries (11). He only had 30 rushing yards but had two catches for 48 yards, including a 39-yard gain on a well-designed screen. Peterson had 8-21-0 rushing and one catch for a 1-yard loss. McNichols had 4-7-0 rushing and one catch for a 1-yard gain. McNichols has been ruled out for Week 11 with a concussion. Foreman, who’s looked quicker and more explosive than Peterson, is a midrange RB2 in a Week 11 matchup against a Texans defense that’s giving up 136.9 rushing yards and 1.7 TD runs a game. Peterson is a midrange RB3.

Wide Receivers

Brandin Cooks: The Clash were once branded “the only band that matters.” It’s not quite as lofty a title, but Cooks is the only Texans wide receiver who matters. He’s only scored one touchdown in his last seven games and hasn’t had a 100-yard day since Week 3. But Cooks is still the WR24 in fantasy points per game. With Tyrod Taylor back at quarterback in Week 9, Cooks had a season-high 14 targets. He only had 6-56-0 against the Dolphins in Week 9, but it was encouraging that Taylor was trying to force the ball to Cooks. He’s the WR23 this week in a favorable matchup against Tennessee. The Titans’ opponents have been directing 65.4% of their targets toward wide receivers, the highest rate in the league (hat tip to J.J. Zachariason of numberFire for that stat).

A.J. Brown: It’s been a tough two-week stretch for AJB, who had 5-42-0 against the Rams in Week 9 and 1-16-0 in Week 10. Brown ran up against Rams CB Jalen Ramsey and Saints CB Marshon Lattimore, two of the NFL’s best cover men. This week, he’ll be running most of his routes against either Terrance Mitchell or Tavierre Thomas, neither of whom is in the Ramsey/Lattimore class. Brown has made a habit of destroying the Texans since entering the league in 2019. In four career games against Houston, he’s had 27-447-5. This is a smash spot for AJB, who’s the WR5 this week. I’m happy to grab him at $7,700 on DraftKings.

PRISTINE MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Each week, we’ll pick a matchup of the week, presented by Pristine Auction. For Week 11, A.J. Brown is our Pristine Matchup of the Week.

Marcus Johnson: With Julio Jones out with a hamstring injury in Week 10, Johnson emerged as the No. 2 receiver behind A.J. Brown, catching 5-100-0 on six targets and playing 63% of the offensive snaps. Johnson also had 3-52-0 in Week 5, another game Jones missed. Johnson checks in as the WR59 against the Texans, but admittedly that feels like too low a ranking for him.

Tight Ends

Anthony Firkser: Firkser has mostly been a nonfactor this season, with 14-112-0 in eight games. But he’ll have a chance to play a larger role this week with Titans TE Geoff Swaim ruled out with a concussion. Firkser faces a Texans defense that’s giving up 10.7 fantasy points per game to tight ends.

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San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Date/Time: Sunday November 21, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Jaguars -6
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 45 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: 49ers 25.5, Falcons 19.5

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo: San Francisco’s former golden boy has certainly been serviceable this season, ranking 19th in completion percentage over expectation but fifth in EPA per play among qualified QBs. At minimum, he has done enough to hold off Trey Lance from usurping his starting job. Jacksonville’s defense grades out roughly how you would expect. PFF gives him the 22nd ranked rushing defense, the 19th graded pass rush, and the 22nd graded coverage unit. They have been frisky as of late, highlighted by a dominant performance against the Bills in Week 9. However, the 49ers’ offense functions far differently than the Bills’ does. Expect a heavy dose of run plays and favorable game script, which renders Garoppolo a low-end QB2 for fantasy purposes.

Trevor Lawrence: It’s hard to fully evaluate Lawrence’s rookie campaign when we know that Urban Meyer isn’t maximizing his strengths or the offense’s as a whole. However, he certainly hasn’t played well. For the season the Clemson product ranks 30th among 33 qualified QBs in EPA per play. His completion percentage over expectations ranks 32nd. Enter the 49ers’ defense, who rank 10th in PFF’s coverage grade and 22nd in pass rush. When it comes to EPA per play, the unit is much better at defending the run. Lawrence is also drawing San Francisco in a prime letdown spot after their upset over the Rams. The matchup isn’t a reason to fade Lawrence this weekend. His to-date play and questionable coaching are reasons to remain bearish, however.

Running Backs

Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon:Mitchell broke his finger Monday night against the Rams, leaving him doubtful to play on Sunday.  Wilson made his 2021 debut in Week 10 after spending the first half of the season recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Playing 22 offensive snaps, he had 10-28-0 rushing and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Wilson has been a solid committee back for the 49ers since entering the league in 2018. He’s a physical runner who has been used as a goal-line back at times, but he has soft hands and is capable of contributing as a pass catcher, too. The question is how much work the 49ers are willing to give him in only his second game of the season. He carried a heavy load for down the stretch last season, with 58-319-2 rushing and 4-33-2 receiving in the 49eers’ last three games. He lands at RB14 in the rankings this week and is a compelling DraftKings play at only $5,800. Sermon has been a colossal fantasy disappointment this season, with 31-135-1 rushing and 2-3-0 receiving in seven games. Expected to compete for a featured role, Sermon has mostly been an afterthought in the San Francisco offense. Could the Mitchell injury give him another shot at fantasy relevance? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be anything more than a change-of-pace back in Week 11. He’s just a midrange RB5.

James Robinson: J-Rob was questionable entering Week 10 and wound up playing on just 59% of the snaps. He salvaged his fantasy performance with a late touchdown, though, and one would figure that he’ll play more this time around. The 49ers rank ninth in EPA per rush and 27th in EPA per dropback, so this doesn’t set up as a strong matchup for Robinson. Nonetheless, he remains on the RB1/2 borderline as arguably Jacksonville’s best offensive playmaker.

Carlos Hyde: With Robinson back last Sunday, Hyde received just 10% of Jacksonville’s rushing attempts. This is a #revengegame for the veteran plodder, but he can mostly be left on fantasy waiver wires outside of deeper leagues.

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel: The 25-year-old has become a true superstar this year. Week 10 against the Rams was the first time all season that he saw fewer than eight games, so how did Samuel fare? He caught 5-of-5 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. Oh, and he rushed five times for 36 yards and another score. Samuel now leads the NFL in yards per route run (3.46). He’s a locked-in, matchup-proof WR1 in Week 11 as well as for the rest of the season. 

Brandon Aiyuk: The 23-year-old hasn’t fully broken out since seeing an increase in playing time, but things are still headed in the right direction. Aiyuk has 19 targets in his past three games. He had just four on Monday night against the Rams, but it’s worth noting that Garoppolo attempted just 19 passes in that one. Talent isn’t the issue with Aiyuk. Fantasy managers might be frustrated that he didn’t have a second straight big game. That makes him a recommended buy low entering this Sunday’s date with the Jaguars.

Marvin Jones: It’s borderline impossible to feel good about any Jacksonville receiver in a season-long fantasy lineup right now. Jones has run a route on 92% of the team’s dropbacks this year while posting a 20% target share and a 13.0 ADOT. It still isn’t enough to render him anything more than a WR4, even in a plus matchup.

Laviska Shenault: The second-year playmaker has shifted to outside receiver since D.J. Chark went down, but he is struggling. Shenault hasn’t topped 21 total yards in a game since Week 6.

Jamal Agnew: It’s technically true that Agnew has totaled 78 yards and/or scored a touchdown in three of his past four games. He’s just a gadget player, though. Agnew is only worth rostering as a desperation FLEX in the deepest of fantasy leagues.

Tight Ends

George Kittle: The run-heavy nature of San Francisco’s offense typically keeps Kittle’s volume in check. When healthy as of late, that hasn’t been an issue. Kittle is averaging 8.5 targets per game over his past four contests. He has found the end zone in both games since returning from IR. He remains one of the best playmakers at fantasy football’s thinnest position. Consider him a locked-in, top-four play at his position this weekend.

Dan Arnold: This is the only Jaguars’ pass-catcher to have confidence in from a fantasy perspective. Arnold went 5-67 in Week 10, his third straight game with at least 10 PPR points. Since Jacksonville’s Week 7 bye he has seen a strong 24 targets in three contests. Arnold is a legitimate, low-end TE1 this week and moving forward.

This season, the Primer is presented by Pristine Auction. They are going to be providing giveaways throughout the season. See below for how to win a signed Allen Robinson jersey!

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