The Primer: Week 11 Edition (2021 Fantasy Football)
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Tua Tagovailoa: Earlier this week coach Brian Flores confirmed that Tagovailoa would start in Week 11 against the Jets. Tua entered Thursday’s Week 10 game in relief of an injured Jacoby Brissett, completing 8-of-13 passes for 158 yards while also rushing for a score. The sophomore southpaw is helped by using play action at a league-high 40.6% rate. His offensive environment (PFF’s 32nd rated pass blocking team) and injury issues have made evaluating him tricky, but at minimum, we can expect strong results against the Jets. New York’s defense comes in at 32/32 according to PFF. Their average-ish pass rush might give Miami’s woeful offensive line some fits, but the coverage is unlikely to hold up. Consider Tagovailoa a high-end QB2 for this one.
Joe Flacco: Rich Cimini of ESPN reported on Wednesday that the Jets are planning to start the veteran Super Bowl champ in Week 11 against the Dolphins. Zach Wilson reportedly isn’t 100% yet, and New York feels that Flacco’s experience gives the offense a better chance against a blitz-happy Miami defense than Mike White does. Wilson has been objectively bad this season, ranking dead last in EPA per play and completion percentage over expectation among qualified QBs. Therefore, Flacco can’t do much worse. There still isn’t a fantasy format where he should be started in.
Myles Gaskin: It’s a shame that we can’t have more confidence in Gaskin’s Week 11 utilization. The matchup is just so strong, with the Jets’ D ranking dead last in EPA per rush. The Dolphins have been playing musical chairs with their RB usage all season long, though Gaskin is at least receiving the majority of rushing attempts as of late. The carries haven’t resulted in much production, though. Over his past two games, Gaskin has rushed 34 times for 65 yards. As we’ve discussed, Miami’s OL isn’t good. Gaskin is a TD-dependent FLEX option despite the plus matchup.
Michael Carter: Tevin Coleman returned in Week 10 and played on 22% of the snaps, but that still left a team-leading 52% share for Carter. The rookie totaled 19 or more touches for the third time in four games, but the limitations of the Jets’ offense kept his yardage numbers in check. Still, his six targets were nice to see with Johnson handling all of the two-minute offense and most of the long down and distance snaps (per PFF). Mike White has shown a strong willingness to dump it off to Carter, and that is supposedly something that Zach Wilson wants to work on. Unfortunately, Joe Flacco has now entered the mix and is expected to start this weekend. It’s entirely unclear if Flacco will check down as often as White was, but we should consider it unlikely. Miami has been the sixth-best defense in EPA per rush this year, so consider Carter a low-end RB2 with the role uncertainty.
Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman: Johnson handled just 8% of the Jets’ rushing attempts in Week 10 (less than Coleman), but his role within the offense has become clear. Johnson is the team’s go-to option in obvious passing situations. He handled 71% of the LDD snaps and 100% of the two-minute offense against the Bills this past Sunday. The usage isn’t enough to make him fantasy relevant on his own. Instead, he’s more of a thorn in the side of Carter. Coleman, meanwhile, can be left on waivers.
Jaylen Waddle: It’s unlikely that New York’s swiss-cheese secondary will be able to keep up with Waddle, who has become the de-facto WR1 in Miami. Will Fuller and DeVante Parker both remain sidelined, which has led to Waddle seeing 6+ targets in six straight games, including three contests with double-digit looks. The rookie should be considered on the WR2/3 borderline for Week 11. Neither Mack Hollins nor Albert Wilson see enough work to be worth considering for fantasy purposes.
Corey Davis: The former No. 5 overall pick returned in Week 10 and posted 93 yards on five receptions. New York’s passing offense has mostly been balanced this season, but Wilson showed some favoritism for Davis in the preseason and the start of the regular season. Flacco will likely target his best wideout at a similar rate, though we can’t be certain of that. He’s the most recommended Jets receiver to play against the Dolphins, but it’s still hard to like him as more than a FLEX option. Miami ranks 14th in EPA per dropback. They’re more vulnerable against the pass than they are the run, but it isn’t really a plus matchup.
Elijah Moore: There have been a lot of indications that the rookie is confirmed #good. Matt Harmon, famous for his Reception Perception work, sent a tweet last week hinting that Moore is grading out quite favorably. When he’s on the field, Moore is being looked at. The Ole Miss product has a 21% target per route run rate for the season, which ties Davis for highest on the team. The issue? Moore has run a route on just 53% of the Jets’ dropbacks this year. In Week 10 he was at 55%. Moore makes sense as an upside-bench stash in case New York plays him more down the stretch, but the lack of consistent playing time makes him hard to trust in Week 11.
Jamison Crowder: Perhaps having a veteran like Crowder around is good for the development of Wilson, but it sure would be nice if Moore could take some of his playing time down the stretch. Selfish greediness aside, Crowder’s TPRR% has been at 15% and 13% in his past two games. Flacco might look his way more often, but a short ADOT (5.2 for the year) limits his fantasy appeal. He’s a WR4 floor player in deeper PPR formats against the Dolphins.
Mike Gesicki: Thursday night games are always strange. The latest evidence we have of this phenomenon is Gesicki putting up a goose egg in Week 10. Miami’s “tight end” saw seven targets, failing to haul in any of them against Baltimore. As much as this performance might’ve stung fantasy managers, we would be best served to take a forward-looking approach from here. Particularly with Fuller and Parker still out, Gesicki’s usage is elite for a tight end. He’s a mid-range fantasy starter against the lowly Jets.
Ryan Griffin: He saw increased usage in Week 9 against the Colts, but then he reverted to a 5% target share in Week 10. Griffin isn’t a recommended fantasy option outside of serving as a DFS punt play.
New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Trevor Siemian: A career backup, Siemian has been surprisingly decent as a starter the last two weeks, completing 58.7% of his passes for 547 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. A solid performance against a bad Atlanta pass defense in Week 9 wasn’t a shocker, but his 298-yard, two-TD performance against the Titans in Week 10 was noteworthy. Still, I’m not eager to bet on Siemian this week in a road game against the Eagles. He’s the QB27 this week.
Jalen Hurts: Here’s another example of the power of a running quarterback. Hurts has attempted 54 passes over the last three weeks – an average of just 18 throws per game – yet he finished QB6 and QB12 in two of those weeks. The one clunker was in Week 8, when he attempted just 14 passes in a 44-6 blowout of the Lions and had 103 passing yards and no touchdowns. Even with 71 rushing yards in that game, Hurts was the QB25 for the week – his first time finishing outside QB1 range all season. The Eagles have been extremely run-heavy of late, but they might not be able to play that way this week against New Orleans. The Saints are yielding a league-low 72.9 rushing yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry, so Hurts might have to take to the air. He checks in as the QB7 this week.
Mark Ingram: Alvin Kamara will miss a second consecutive game with a sprained MCL, leaving Ingram in a lead role once again. Reacquired by the Saints in a trade on Oct. 29, Ingram had 14-47-1 rushing and 4-61-0 receiving last week in Kamara’s absence. With another full load of work ahead this week against the Eagles, Ingram is a high-end RB2 and a highly attractive DraftKings option at just $5,400.
Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott: Sanders has been designated to return from IR, and it now appears that he’ll play in Week 11after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. Howard and Scott have been splitting work fairly evenly in Sanders’ absence, with rookie Kenneth Gainwell playing a peripheral role. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said on Wednesday that Sanders would start upon his return, but it seems unlikely that Howard and Scott will disappear from the offense after sparking the Philadelphia offense in recent weeks. Howard has 41-211-3 rushing over his last three games, making him the RB14 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring over that span even though he hasn’t had a single catch. Scott has had 33-181-2 rushing and 2-24-0 receiving in the last three weeks, making him the RB22 over that stretch. With Sanders bck and the distribution of snaps and touches uncertain, none of the Philly backs will be trustworthy for fantasy purposes in Week 11.
Marquez Callaway: The Eagles have only allowed 22 completions of 20 or more yards this season, the third-lowest total in the league. A defense that’s focused on taking away the deep ball would seemingly be a tough matchup for Callaway, a vertical receiver with an average depth of target of 13.6 yards. After scoring a pair of touchdowns against the sieve-like Washington defense in Week 5, Callaway has had 11-124-2 in the four games since, averaging just 5.6 yards per target. It’s hard to trust a deep-ball artist whose deep-ball delivery mechanism is Trevor Siemian. Callaway is a low-end WR4 this week.
Deonte Harris: The 5-6, 170-pound Harris has been surprisingly productive, with 18-295-1 receiving and 2-28-0 rushing over his last three games. He’s a reasonable option for fantasy managers shorthanded at the WR position this week, checking in as the WR54.
DeVonta Smith: Smith is on a roll, with 9-182-3 over his last two games. The first of his two touchdowns last Sunday in the Eagles’ 30-13 win over the Broncos was a peach, with Smith going high in the air to win a contested-catch against rookie CB Patrick Surtain. For a rookie, Smith is a remarkably advanced route runner, and he’s showing that he can win at the catch point, too. The only concern here is target volume. The Eagles have gone extremely run-heavy of late, and Smith has been targeted only 15 times in his last three games. It’s possible that the Saints will shadow Smith with ace CB Marshon Lattimore this week, but it’s not a slam dunk that Lattimore would get the better that matchup. Smith is a midrange WR2 this week and a reasonable DraftKings value at $6,400.
Tre’Quan Smith: Smith drew a season-high seven targets against the Titans in Week 10 and had 4-44-1. Of Smith’s 17 targets in four games this season, five have come in the red zone. He’s the WR60 this week because of his uneven track record and because he’s paired with career backup QB Trevor Siemian.
Adam Trautman: Trautman’s usage continues to trend upward. He had a season-high five catches for 32 yards against the Titans in Week 10, and he’s seen at least six targets in each of his last three games. He’s not quite ready to come out of the oven yet, but something good is cooking here. Trautman lands at TE19 in the Week 11 rankings.
Dallas Goedert: Goedert remained in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday. If he’s cleared to play, he’ll be a mid-range TE1. In the four games since the Eagles traded away Zach Ertz, Goedert has had 14-213-0 on 20 targets.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Joe Burrow: The Raiders’ defense was a tonic for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who had thrown only two TD passes over a three-game stretch before shredding the Las Vegas defense for 406 yards and five TDs in Week 10. Burrow could use a get-well game. He had thrown 20 TD passes in his first eight games before being held without a TD in the Bengals’ 41-16 Week 9 loss to the Browns. With a Week 10 bye, Burrow has had extra time to stew on that performance. Consider him a low-end QB1 this week.
Derek Carr: Carr is averaging 314.0 yards a game, trailing only Tom Brady in that category. Although he doesn’t run and hasn’t thrown more than two TD passes in any game this season, he’s still the QB13 in fantasy points per game. In Week 11, he’ll face a slumping Bengals pass defense that let Baker Mayfield throw for 218 yards and two touchdowns on only 21 pass attempts in Week 9, and allowed Jets backup Mike White to throw for 405 yards and three TDs in Week 8. Carr is the QB12 this week.
Joe Mixon: Mixon has scored five touchdowns in his last three games, and his usage in the passing game has gotten a recent boost. Mixon had 8-31-0 receiving over his first five games. Over his last four, he’s had 14-163-2 on 16 targets. That’s an encouraging trend for Mixon, who already ranks seventh in rushing yards among running backs and is on pace to run for 1,201 yards. Mixon is the RB5 this week against a middling Raiders run defense.
Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake: After averaging 88.5 rushing yards per game as a rookie in 2019 and 71.0 rushing yards per game in 2020, Jacobs is averaging just 42.3 rushing yards per game this year. Jacobs is averaging a career-best 21.3 receiving yards per game, but he’s just barely clinging to RB2 value. He’s the RB19 this week vs. the Bengals.
Ja’Marr Chase: There’s certainly no reason to panic, but Chase has posted the two lowest yardage totals of his rookie season in his last two games, with 3-32-1 on nine targets against the Jets in Week 8, and 6-49-0 on 13 targets against the Browns in Week 9. It’s a little weird that after averaging an absurd 14.8 yards per target over his first seven games, Chase has averaged 3.7 yards per target over his last two. This seems like small-sample goofiness. Chase is the WR4 this week against the Raiders and an enticing DraftKings play at $7,200.
Tee Higgins: Fantasy managers were excited about Higgins last year, but the fervor seems to have cooled a bit, possibly because Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase has stolen much of Higgins’ thunder. But Higgins is actually averaging 4.8 more receiving yards per game than he averaged as a rookie, and he’s been targeted at a higher rate this year. Higgins has gone five straight games without a touchdown, but the usage profile is encouraging, and Higgins should continue to be in your lineup. Regard him as a midrange WR2 this week. Higgins is a steal on DraftKings this week at only $5,400.
Tyler Boyd: Boyd continues to be hurt by the presence of stud WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. The veteran slot receiver has topped 40 receiving yards only once in his last five games, and he’s scored just two touchdowns this year. Boyd is a mid-range WR4.
Hunter Renfrow: One of the most consistent performers at the WR position, Renfrow has had between five and nine targets in every game this season, between five and seven receptions in all but one game (in which he had three), and between 36 and 77 receiving yards in every game. It all adds up to WR28 status in half-point PPR scoring. He’s a midrange WR3 this week against the Bengals.
Bryan Edwards: The absence of Henry Ruggs, who faces felony DUI charges for a Las Vegas car crash that killed a woman and her dog, hasn’t really boosted Edwards’ target total. The second-year receiver from South Carolina was averaging 4.4 targets this season in games that Ruggs played, and he’s seen four targets in each of the two games since Ruggs was arrested. Edwards is coming off his best game of the season, having produced 3-88-1 against the Chiefs. He’s scored a touchdown in two of his last three games, but he was also held catch-less against the Giants in Week 9. There’s just not much here for fantasy managers to hang their hats on, even with Ruggs out of the picture. Edwards is the WR50 this week.
C.J. Uzomah: Uzomah currently sits as the TE10 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring even though he’s seen only 28 targets this season. He has touchdowns on 20% of his catches, and he’s averaging an unsustainable 11.2 yards per target. Uzomah is an obvious regression candidate, but he’s nevertheless an appealing play this week against a Raiders defense that’s giving up a league-high 12.6 fantasy points per game to tight ends. He’s a high-end TE2 this week.
Darren Waller: Waller had his least productive game of the season in Week 10, with 4-24-0 on seven targets in a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. Waller had a monstrous 10-105-1 performance in Week 1. But since Week 2, he’s only the TE9 in fantasy points per game. There’s little choice but to stick it out with a guy who’s coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons. Waller is the TE3 this week, though he’s a DraftKings fade at $6,100.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Dak Prescott: The Cowboys’ offense predictably bounced back against the Falcons’ nonexistent pass rush this past weekend. Prescott finished the week second among QBs in EPA per play. Now he draws a Chiefs defense that ranks 30th in EPA per drop back for the season. PFF has their pass rush grading out 31st. The only team worse? The Falcons. Expect Dallas to run the ball as able in this one, but the game environment and matchup set up perfectly for Prescott. He won’t be able to throw to WR Amari Cooper, who has been placed on the COVID-19 list. Still, Prescott a high-floor, high-ceiling QB1 in Week 11’s highest over/under game on the slate.
Patrick Mahomes: You can look at Mahomes’ five passing touchdowns from Week 10 and confidently conclude that “he’s back.” If you need further confirmation, however, note this tweet from Ben Baldwin. It highlights that the Chiefs are the third best offense since 1999 at turning first downs into a new set of downs. This makes sense when you consider that even while struggling, Kansas City’s issues were more about fluky turnovers than anything else. Dallas’ pass rush and coverage units aren’t to be taken lightly, but there isn’t a fantasy league around where it would be wise to sit Mahomes in this potential shootout. He finished fourth in EPA per play in Week 10.
Ezekiel Elliott: Zeke is what we refer to as a “chunk runner” at this stage of his career, ranking 15th in Next Gen Stats’ success rate. On the contrary, he ranks 31st in PFF’s breakaway % and 48th in their elusive rating metric. Still, he’s good at what the Cowboys ask him to do, which is pick up intermediate gains on early downs behind an elite offensive line. Entering Week 11 the Chiefs rank 29th in EPA per rush and 30th in PFF’s run defense grade. Dallas will seek to establish the run early and often. Zeke is an elite RB1 on the road in Kansas City.
Tony Pollard: Meanwhile, Pollard is the “scatback” to Elliott’s “chunk runner.” However, it isn’t as if Pollard is deficient in certain areas of the game like change-of-pace RBs typically are. He’s strong on outside runs, screens, and quick passing routes but could also handle the duties of an every-down back if needed. The Cowboys have the luxury of not needing either him or Zeke to fully carry the load, which will help keep them fresh into the playoffs. On a more micro Week 11 level, if there’s ever a matchup for Pollard to have standalone FLEX value, its this one against the Chiefs.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: CEH is expected to play in Week 11 against the Cowboys. Edwards-Helaire is suddenly in a much better spot to produce for fantasy purposes than it appeared he would be as of a week or two ago. Mahomes finally took what the defense was giving him in Week 10, which included nine targets for Darrel Williams. “The Mentor” filled in admirably for fantasy purposes while CEH was out, but the prospect of Edwards-Helaire being used in a role that best suits his skill set makes him a worthwhile “buy low” this week. The Chiefs might ease him back in this Sunday, but he shapes up as a rest-of-season RB2 if the offense plays as they did against the Raiders.
Darrel Williams: As mentioned above, Williams saw a whopping nine targets in Week 10 as Mahomes was more willing to check down to his running back than we had previously seen. While solid, The Mentor isn’t a special playmaker by any means. He ranked 33rd in yards per route run among running backs despite being considered a pass-catching back. He’ll once again be a plug-and-play RB2 if Edwards-Helaire remains sidelined. Upon CEH’s return, though, he’ll revert to handcuff status in all likelihood.
CeeDee Lamb: We should note that the sophomore wideout suffered a minor arm injury in Week 10’s beatdown over the Falcons. The good news is Lamb describes it as “more of a charlie horse” that kept nagging. It doesn’t sound like an issue that’ll sideline him. This is great because Cowboys-Chiefs has the highest over/under on the Week 11 slate. PFF gives KC the 15th best coverage grade, but the unit also ranks 30th in EPA per dropback. I expect Dallas to run as often as they can, but the targets that Lamb receives should be mighty efficient, and he could get a handful of extra targets with Amari Cooper on the COVID-19 list. Lamb is a midrange WR1 this week.
Amari Cooper: Cooper has been placed on the COVID-19 list and is out for Week 11.
Michael Gallup: Gallup played for the first time since Week 1 this past Sunday, running a route on 55% of Dallas’ dropbacks. He had 3-42-0 on five targets and 41 snaps. Gallup should be in for a substantial bump in usage this week with Amari Cooper placed on the COVID-19 list Friday. He’s a high-end WR3 and a steal on DraftKings at only $4,200.
Tyreek Hill: “Tyfreak” will likely be matched up against star corner Trevon Diggs in this one. However, we should never worry too much about matchups when discussing players as elite as Hill. This is especially the case in a matchup against Diggs, who thrives off big plays/turnovers but also gives up his share of chunk gains. While he likely won’t square off with Diggs on every route, Dallas’ coverage unit has the 14th best grade among defenses according to PFF. This isn’t the easiest matchup Tyreek has ever been given, but there’s no reason to shy away from him as a top-three wideout play in Week 11.
Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle: Neither of these players can be trusted in season-long fantasy lineups at their current utilization. Hardman has a 14% target share for the season with Pringle checking in at 7%. This offense flows through Hill, Kelce, and sometimes the running backs.
Daulton Schultz: As Dwain McFarland of PFF notes, Schultz’s Week 10 utilization was a mixed bag. His routes remained strong (80%) but his TPRR% fell with Gallup back (7%). Amari Cooper’s absence this week could give Schultz a target bump. Consider him a low-end TE1 for this great matchup.
Travis Kelce: Kelce’s ADOT remains down for the season, at 7.9 entering Week 11. For context, he was between 9.3 and 9.5 from 2017-2020. His yards per route run have also dipped below 2.0 for the first time since 2015 (currently at 1.84). It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Kelce might be losing a fraction of his athleticism in his age-32 campaign. It also shouldn’t be a shock that he remains the best tight end in fantasy football. His domination over his peers might be shrinking slightly, but as of now, there’s still nobody better than him. Kelce hauled in 8-of-10 targets for 119 yards against Las Vegas in Week 10. He’s the No. 1 TE for Week 11 and moving forward.