(note-fantasy scoring ranks are according to ESPN Fantasy metrics, with 1st being the BEST defense among 32 teams, and 32nd being WORST defense among 32 teams)
In week 11 of Fantasy Football, much of our weekly lineup moves are already predetermined. We know mostly who’s got upside and who doesn’t, who is likely to boom and who is likely to bust. However, to say that the drama and intrigue is gone would be an unfortunate mistake.
The gears are grinding more than ever, and the moves you make now could make or break your season in a very real way. In the first article of this weekly piece, an introduction to the format, if you will. Each week I will attempt to condense fantasy-relevant info for each team into a concise blurb and provide rankings for each team in terms of points given up to each position.
I won’t dwell too much on the obvious starts, rather dig a little deeper for the subversive and long term takeaways as well as what I’ve actually seen from players on film.
1. ARIZONA CARDINALS- (@ SEA 15th Run, 32nd Rcv, 31st Pass)
Kenyan Drake returning from his high ankle sprain last week was something of an uncertainty, but he acquitted himself fairly well aside from the fumble in week 10, compiling 100 yards on 16 attempts. Those who thought that Chase Edmonds would be an every week start or even a league winner were premature, but the upside of Edmonds still keeps him at a weekly RB3/Flex level.
Not much intrigue when it comes to add-able players on this squad as the options are mostly set. Eno Benjamin (the team’s third-string) has yet to get enough playing time to make him fantasy relevant. Larry Fitzgerald will get a target or two but is only to be used in the deepest circumstances.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS- (@ NO 1st Run, 21st Rcv, 15th Pass)
You’re starting Todd Gurley regardless of the difficult matchup simply due to the team’s propensity to use him on the goal line. However, with the Saints top run defense presenting a problem the last few weeks for opposing RBs, the matchup shouldn’t be viewed favorably. Calvin Ridley looks like he has a chance to go this week, but make sure you have a backup plan in case his footholds him out yet another week.
No Ridley could mean more targets for the Falcons ancillary weapons like Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage, and in the deepest of leagues, Omalide Zaccheaus. Gurley seems to be the only startable RB for the pass-heavy Falcons this season, but Brian Hill can be used as a low upside dart throw in 14 team leagues if you’re desperate.
3. BALTIMORE RAVENS (vs TEN 27th Run, 28th Rcv, 27th Pass)
This certainly looks like a tasty matchup for all Ravens players based on the metrics, but the fireworks just haven’t been there for OC Greg Roman’s offense as they were last season. The running back situation is murky, with Mark Ingram now back in the mix for carries.
This pretty much leaves all the choices in the backfield as low flex options at this point, but you could certainly do worse than starting either of Ingram, Edwards, or Dobbins this week. Brown has the matchup to succeed against TEN’s generous secondary, but the passing attack has been shaky and the volume likely won’t be there. Many are going away from Mark Andrews as a TE1 but he still gets the targets and should be a great play this week.
4. BUFFALO BILLS (BYE)
5. CAROLINA PANTHERS (vs DET 32nd Run, 14th Rcv, 17th Pass)
The skidding Panthers are still without their star RB Christian McCaffery, which will likely open up opportunities for Mike Davis once again. It hasn’t been stellar for Davis the last few weeks, only putting together performances of 4.4, 7.7, and 3.6 in standard leagues the last three weeks he played without CMC. However, the upside remains fairly high in PPR with his involvement in the passing game.
DJ Moore seems to be on something of a resurgence after last week’s outburst, but with uncertainty at the QB position (Teddy Bridgewater is dealing with an MCL sprain) the passing game for CAR is cloaked in mystery. PJ Walker would be under center if Bridgewater is unable to go, but the CAR pass-catching options remain tempting based on talent and matchup alone.
It may be best to keep expectations low for the Panthers this week, regardless of who you end up starting. Curtis Samuel has continued to increase his involvement and is becoming a weekly flex option.
6. CHICAGO BEARS (BYE)
7. CINCINNATI BENGALS (@ WAS 14th Rush, 3rd Rcv, 14th Pass)
Just go ahead and drop AJ Green. I promise it’s ok…his apparent comeback has all but been dashed as he again gooses in week 10. Higgins has assumed his role as the number one WR in this offense and I don’t see him relinquishing that role.
Other options are hard to trust (what happened to Auden Tate anyway) and Joe Mixon still has an injured foot, so those who were lucky enough to pick up Gio Bernard on waivers can fire him up again this week (at least until we hear Mixon is active).
Burrow had a dismal start against PIT’s stout defense last week, but should be able to bounce back against a middle of the road WAS pass defense who gave up 244 passing yards to Carson Wentz in week 10. On the dynasty front, Tee Higgins is looking like one of the most consistent rookie WR in the NFL, and is a definite keeper for next year.
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (vs PHI 14th Rush, 13th Rcv, 11th Pass)
The Browns showed last week that they really prefer to run the ball, with Chubb and Hunt both amassing over 100 yards rushing. Chubb looks to be fully recovered from his previous knee injury and is back to being a mostly matchup-proof RB.
Hunt also maintains this status and CLE proves they boast the best tandem backfield in the whole NFL. Now, if only Baker Mayfield could raise his level of play to match them. Not that he’s been bad; he didn’t have to do much last week, and the conditions were awful.
Still, having only passed for over 200 yards three times this season, and not yet passing for 300, his upside is quite limited, and this Eagles D Line will bother him with their excellent pass rush. Deeper option Rashard Higgins at WR is a lottery ticket for 14 team leagues.
9. DALLAS COWBOYS (@ MIN 11th Rush, 29th Rcv, 16th Pass)
Andy Dalton should be back under center for the Cowboys this week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean good things for the pass catchers. Though MIN is a decent matchup in the secondary, and also banged up in the front, the inconsistency at QB has proven to limit the upside of all involved, including Zeke Elliott.
You would think that coming off the BYE week and having time to prepare, they should at least run a competent game plan against Zimmer and his boys. Mike McCarthy may be one and done as a head coach, but that typically isn’t Jerry’s style, and my bet would be on him getting one more chance, with Dak hopefully back next year.
For fantasy there’s not much to say, except get away from the passing options if you can. Dalton is a dart throw in superflex/2QB leagues.
10. DENVER BRONCOS (vs MIA 22nd Rush, 18th Rcv, 22nd Rush)
Sophomore QB Drew Lock absolutely fell apart last week against the Raiders, slinging no less than 4 interceptions in the contest. Hopefully, it was just a hiccup in what has mostly been a promising second-year campaign for the young QB.
Receivers with upside continue to be widely available in most fantasy leagues, such as KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, and in shallower leagues, perhaps Jerry Jeudy (though in dynasty leagues, Jeudy should definitely be a priority keeper in most situations).
There’s not much good to say about the running back tandem, who while being talented, can’t seem to get their usage or volume up to a desirable level for fantasy; though in most deeper leagues, managers won’t have much of a choice, and the matchup is good. Although, the Dolphins have been stepping it up in a major way on the defensive end.
11. DETROIT LIONS (@ CAR 29th Rush, 9th Rcv, 13th Pass)
The biggest news for the Lions is currently Matt Stafford’s thumb, in which he has a torn ligament suffered last week against WAS. According to recent news, he will try to tough it out this weekend in Charlotte, but nothing is guaranteed. On top of that, the Lions aren’t sure when they will get star receiver Kenny Golladay back from the hip injury that has yet to allow him to practice.
With Kenny G unlikely, look for Marvin Jones III as well as TJ Hockenson to be heavily involved in the passing game. Perhaps burying the lede, rookie RB Deandre Swift seems to have finally come into his own and is getting the trust we’ve been waiting for from his coach and teammates.
Look for him to feast again when he goes up against the Panthers poor run defense. Deeper fantasy options include Danny Amendola and Marvin Hall at WR, and of course Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson in a pinch at RB. If Stafford is forced to sit out, Chase Daniel will be under center.
12. GREEN BAY PACKERS (@ IND 6th Rush, 6th Rcv, 1st Pass)
A stiff test for the Packers offense awaits them this week on the road in Indianapolis. Rodgers notoriously struggles against formidable pass rush, and the top ranked IND defense has that in spades. Alan Lazard will return this weekend and take away opportunities for young wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but with Rodgers throwing the ball, a big play is on the table at all times.
Aaron Jones has slowed down a bit from his torrid early season pace, and the Packers are (intelligently) sharing his workload a bit more with Jamaal WIlliams, who is a great option in deeper leagues at flex. Tough sledding may await this offense though, as the Colts rank top 6 against all three scoring categories.
Robert Tonyan at TE is a play you could do worse than, although the floor is low as with almost every other player at the position.
13. HOUSTON TEXANS (vs NE 20th Rush, 16th Rcv, 6th Pass)
One of the simpler teams in the league to determine fantasy starts and sits for, should make this a brief blurb. The opponent, New England, did better against the Ravens than many thought they would last week, but this is a different animal altogether. Regardless of the Texans record, the passing game is potent and should be firing on all cylinders with Fuller and Cooks playing very well at WR; Duke Johnson will fill in for David Johnson this week at Running Back 1 as DJ has been put on short term IR due to a concussion.
Duke didn’t do great last week against Cleveland, but this matchup should prove a little more tantalizing, especially if Watson can get the air game going. CJ Prosise, a name many may remember from his flirtations with fantasy relevance in Seattle, would be on deck for change of pace duties at RB. Jordan Akins and Darren Fells, TEs who have both seen their usage gradually drop, are always dart throw possibilities to catch a TD if you’re hurting at the position.
14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs GB 30th Rush, 7th Rcv, 7th Pass)
The story in the fantasy realm with the Colts has been how absolutely annoying the backfield has been. With rookie Jonathan Taylor falling behind in usage and efficiency, as well as Nyheim Hines showing out in spurts as he is prone to do, but totally lacking consistency, we are back to square one when it comes to these RBs. Neither has huge upside, and it could come down to luck each and every week.
Another rookie, Michael Pittman Jr., is starting to show some flashes in the passing game and is widely available in most leagues (he deserves attention in dynasty, especially for teams who are unsure who to keep, or don’t have a WR in mind as a keeper). Doyle is still out at the TE position, so the multi-used Trey Burton would be the option here.
Rivers isn’t recommended except for as a QB2 or deep league BYE replacement. Colts fans need to hope that the defense is able to slow down Rodgers enough to keep them in this game, otherwise it could get ugly very quickly.
15. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (vs. PIT 4th Rush, 24th Rcv, 5th Pass)
You don’t like a lot of the fantasy news coming out of Jacksonville this week, as the player who holds by far the most fantasy value, James Robinson, gets a brutal matchup that held Giovanni Bernard to only 47 all purpose yards and no scores last week.
However, the one thing that bodes well is the fact that the Jags will likely get blown out of the water and be forced to throw the ball. A lot. Pretty much all the receiving options are on the table here, including Leviska Shenault (if he plays) and Keelan Cole, who showed promise in the punt return game last week that may translate to more in-game looks. Even deeper, check out Chris Conley or Dare Ogunbowale at RB, who may see a slight bump in touches after Chris Thompson was sent to injured reserve earlier this week.
16. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (@LV 28th Rush, 17th Rcv, 21st Pass)
Not much to say here regarding fantasy from the most potent offense in the league. Edwards-Helaire hasn’t been great but you’re starting him; Bell you’re probably sitting, although coming off a BYE week, perhaps the Reid/Beiniemy combo has figured out how to better get the veteran running back incorporated into the system.
One thing is for sure, the Raiders have their work cut out for them, especially on the ground. Look for the Chiefs to pound it often, and pepper LV with deep shots just when they think they have it figured out. Though the Raiders defense performed admirably last week with 4 interceptions, that was the Broncos and Drew Lock.
This is the Chiefs. Nuff said…
17. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (vs KC 19th Rush, 5th Rcv, 9th Pass)
Derek Carr and the Raiders were riding high after stomping the Broncos 37-12 last week. This was largely due to Josh Jacobs being a very good running back, and the inability of Drew Lock to put together a competent offense; but I digress.
The Raiders’ good times will likely stop rolling this week, as their sub-par defense has to contend with the machine that is Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs. Not much to say here fantasy-wise, as you know who you’re using for the most part.
Henry Ruggs would be a dart throw at WR, but the rookie shows much more promise in dynasty/keeper leagues, and would even be considered a hot trade chip depending on his keeper value.
Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard have been sneaking into the RB mix, and could be on the table in very deep leagues, as both players have the propensity to vulture TDs from star Josh Jacobs. If Richard is held out this week due to a recent chest injury, Booker could hold even more value.
18. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (vs NYJ 25th Rush, 29th Rcv, 28th Pass)
The LA Chargers have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league this season, with Justin Herbert looking like a Mahomes-level talent with a long, bright future in the league. Despite his remarkably few growing pains as a starter, he has still not been able to put many in the W column even with his dazzling play.
At RB, look for Kalen Ballage to continue his dominance of the backfield as LAC waits for Austin Ekeler to return. Ballage may very well be available in many shallower leagues, and you could certainly do worse against the Jets struggling rush defense.
Deeper options include Jalen Guyton at WR and Donald Parham Jr. at TE, though Hunter Henry is mostly the one you want here. Troymaine Pope could get some looks at carrying the mail behind Ballage. I am trying to get all the Chargers I can into my lineup, simply due to the appeal of the tanking Jets matchup.
19. LOS ANGELES RAMS (@ TB 5th Rush, 10th Rcv, 4th Pass)
Figuring out the offense for the Rams is no easy task. They use three running backs to a degree that devalues all of them, and the run/pass play splits can vary so widely from game to game that we barely know what’s going to happen from week to week. Last week against the dreamy Seahawks passing matchup, Goff was only able to muster 10.48 fantasy points in 4 pt/pass TD scoring, and barely broke 300 yards with no touchdowns.
What does that mean for his passing options? You’re starting them, but tempering expectations. The pass rush of the Bucs is vicious, and it’s almost proven that Goff will struggle when he’s pressured. Look for them to try to run a lot and execute some gadget plays that will throw this defense off.
Ancillary pass options that are deep dart throws for fantasy include WR Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett, who has been cutting into the opportunities that once seemed to belong exclusively to Tyler Higbee. (Although the one place the Bucs have been beatable is at the TE position, ranking 27th against the ones they’ve faced so far).
20. MIAMI DOLPHINS (@ DEN 17th Rush, 19th Rcv, 22nd Pass)
The Dolphins and their fans have a lot to be excited about; with their upstart young QB Tua Tagovailoa looking like a mini Russell Wilson after just a few starts, the sky is the limit.
Not only that, the defense has been absolutely crushing their opposition lately, scoring 3 defensive/special teams touchdowns in the same amount of weeks. Jakeem Grant has stepped up in the place of Preston Williams, out for the season and out of your lineups unless you’re in a DEEP dynasty league (you can probably get great value scooping him up in the draft next year).
Tua should continue to dominate and thus returns Mike Gesicki to weekly TE1 consideration. In the backfield, the way is clear for Salvon Ahmed to continue to dominate carries for at least another week until Myles Gaskin returns.
We will see what Matt Breida brings to the party, but if last week is any indication, it will likely be some red solo cups and napkins.
21. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs DAL 23rd Rush, 31st Rcv, 26th Pass)
Kirk Cousins should be licking his chops right now, coming off his first ever win on Monday Night Football against the lowly Bears. We saw that while they continued to lean on superstar Dalvin Cook, who is in the conversation for fantasy MVP, when Kirk Cousins throws the ball in a controlled manner, this team becomes doubly dangerous.
Adam Thielen reeled in 2 touchdowns for his first scores since week 6, and rookie standout Justin Jefferson caught 8 passes for 135 yards. TE Irv Smith Jr. who was starting to show some promise is limited in practice with a groin injury, so Kyle Rudolph could get some consideration in deeper leagues.
Fire up the MIN DST as well against a Cowboys team that has yet to show they can fully operate without Dak Prescott. Perhaps coming off the BYE week, DAL will have a new approach to return to their previous winning ways.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (@ HOU 31st Rush, 22nd Rcv, 20th Pass)
Cam Newton and the Pats are coming off an unexpected win against BAL last week in one of the rainiest games we have seen in some time. Although we are most
tempted to throw out most of what we saw, the rushing attack for NE looked formidable, with Burkhead and Damien Harris both looking like very serviceable options. Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd have seemingly supplanted young N’Keal Harry on the depth chart, with Cam developing his chemistry with these receivers over the last few weeks.
With HOU being nothing to fear in any dimension of the game, most Pats can be fired up this week without much second thought. The truly puzzling thing about this team is their apparent inability to use the TE position at all in the passing game, curious considering how long the Patriots spent hammering the position during the Gronk years.
23. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (vs ATL 2nd Rush, 30th Rcv, 32nd Pass)
With Brees out for a few weeks dealing with broken ribs and punctured lungs, we are assuming that Jameis Winston once again steps on to an NFL football field to eat W’s and take names.
His skill set is to throw the ball with reckless abandon, and that just happens to be what the Falcons are the worst in the entire league at defending. While we have yet to see Winston start a game in New Orleans, he kept the trains running on time last week after Brees left the game, peppering Michael Thomas with targets, which he has been sorely lacking lately.
Regardless of the temptation, I am looking for other options over Thomas if I can simply be based on the uncertainty of the game plan as well as how he has seemingly been phased back to just another pass option in the last few weeks, far from the target monster that Sean Payton’s offense turned MT into in 2019. Emmanuel Sanders is likely owned, but with Tre’Quan Smith uncertain to suit up this week, Deonte Harris enters consideration as a pass option, though a longshot at best.
24. NEW YORK GIANTS (BYE)
25. NEW YORK JETS (@ LAC 21st Rush, 8th Rcv, 25th Pass)
With Joe Flacco under center again, upside for all Jets fantasy options is extremely limited and I can’t advise starting any of them in good conscience. However, if truly desperate, La’mical Perine is almost universally available in all fantasy leagues and the matchup could be worse.
Rookie Denzel Mims has shown great promise as a long term asset, but he has almost no upside here and should be viewed as a bottom of the barrel dart throw play at best. Frank Gore will cut into Perine’s carries as well, further removing any appeal from most of these players.
If they can get Sam Darnold back, things may improve, but not much. This team is #tankingfortrevor in almost every sense of the word. Move along…
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (@ CLE 10th Rush, 27th Rcv, 19th Pass)
The Eagles, and pretty much their whole division, have been something of a mess for fantasy this season. The silver lining is that Miles Sanders looked great last week in his return to action, despite getting vultured by Boston Scott, who broke a big one, and Corey Clement, who has been unstartable the bulk of the season.
Dallas Goedert, theoretically one of the most talented and dangerous weapons at the TE position in the league, caught 4 passes for 33 yards, hardly devastating to any opponent. However, we hope with a full week under his belt, he can return to being the TE1 we all know he can be.
Jalen Reagor is continuing to show why he was one of the most coveted receivers in the draft, and against a CLE secondary that is beatable, he may get a chance to shine this week; he will have to compete with the recently returned Alshon Jeffery, Travis Fulghum, and Greg Ward for targets from the struggling Carson Wentz.
27. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (@ JAX 26th Rush, 26th Rcv, 30th Pass)
The last remaining undefeated team in the NFL are certainly not distressed over their week 11 matchup, which could be the exact recipe for a trap game…just kidding, not many people are expecting PIT to slow their torrid pace down here. The problem is, can you trust a single Steelers RB?
Many would say, not really. James Conner, who was supposed to be the team’s workhorse, just hasn’t really been getting the job done the last few weeks, having not eclipsed the 100 all purpose yards mark since week 7 against the generous Titans.
Chase Claypool is a star and one of the most desirable players in dynasty. Diontae Johnson, while having shown some inconsistency in the past, seems to be settling back into his WR1 role. Juju is acquitting himself well in what many thought maybe a season where he takes the backseat.
Keep an eye on Anthony McFarland Jr. and Benny Snell in the backfield, as well as Eric Ebron who has been increasing his role at the TE position.
28. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (BYE)
29. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (vs ARI 13th Rush, 23rd rcv, 23rd Pass)
Last week was one that most of the Seattle Seahawks would like to forget, especially Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf. Wilson has thrown 7 INTs in the last 4 weeks, with 3 being against these Cardinals 4 weeks ago. Both Carlos Hyde AND Chris Carson both sound like they have a chance to play this week, with Hyde being more likely.
Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer will still be in the mix, however, making this a backfield many may want to steer clear from unless it’s one of the top two options. The passing game, with Lockett possibly out again, should run through Metcalf and despite his poor showing last week, he’s always a must start.
The question is, can Wilson get his passing woes under control this week, and can the offensive line do its job to protect him. Seattle may lean on the run this week to try to keep the ball out of Kyler Murray’s hands and stop any bleeding that may result from their dismal pass and receiving defense.
30. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (vs LAR 4th Rush, 1st Rcv, 3rd Pass)
Tom Brady and the Bucs bounced back beautifully from their embarrassment in week 9 in New Orleans, routing the Panthers last week in Charlotte. Ronald Jones overcame a 1st quarter fumble to have an amazing rushing day, including a 104 yd rush for a TD. Jones is the one you want to use in this backfield, Fournette seems like a low RB3 or flex at best, especially against Aaron Donald and the stout Rams defense.
You’re firing up all your options here, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both blew doors last week and should continue to do so, regardless of the matchup ratings. The Rams will likely try to run a lot and keep the ball out of Brady’s hands, but an equally foreboding Bucs defense may ensure that this is a low scoring, defensive grudge match.
With the addition of Antonio Brown to the mix, Scotty Miller loses a lot of his deep league appeal, but he could still rear his ugly head (OK, I’m not actually calling him ugly) and vulture a TD from one of your more proven starters.
31. TENNESSEE TITANS (@ BAL 7th Rush, 4th Rcv, 10th Pass)
The Titans were on a collision course with a top spot in the AFC South, then life came at them fast. With Ryan Tannehill not scoring more than 20 fantasy points in 4pt pass TD leagues, the bloom has come off the rose a bit on this TEN offense.
However, with great options like AJ Brown, Derrick Henry, and Jonnu Smith, you aren’t really able to get away from many of the main guys, despite the tough matchup in all categories. With Baltimore coming off a loss last week against the floundering Patriots, look for them to have a little extra in the tank, and with the teams not having met since last year’s AFC Playoffs, you know it will be personal.
32. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (vs CIN 16th Rush, 25th Rcv, 24th Pass)
The good news is that this matchup shouldn’t be too difficult for any of the fantasy options on the WAS team. The bad news is that you likely have better options unless you have been relying on Antonio Gibson or Terry McLaurin.
Somehow, McLaurin is perpetually open despite being one of the best young WR in the league, and he is a certified target monster. Gibson has been doing well and has a nose for the end zone, scoring 4 TDs in his last 3 games. It certainly appears he may have some keeper value as well among this crop of rookie RBs, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Alex Smith looked serviceable last week, and for a team desperate to keep pace in the dismal NFC East, the Football Team will be motivated to take care of business at home against the beatable Bengals in week 11.