Fantasy Football: 10 Lessons Learned in Week 11

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Have you fallen short of your fantasy playoffs? Just miss winning that big matchup because you sat a stud when you knew you shouldn’t? To you discouraged fantasy owners internally berating yourself for poor roster moves, I have a message of solace: at least you’re not the Buffalo Bills. I mean … Nathan Peterman … wow. The guy threw five interceptions, fumbled a ball (that was luckily recovered), and had six completions — all in a single half — before getting yanked. So just know, you are not alone in your horrific lineup mistakes.

For the rest of you, who have wheeled and dealed your way into playoff contention, keep up the good work. We’re mere weeks away from doling out a fresh batch of #FootClanTitles and if you’ve been listening to and reading all the spectacular Ballers content, I’ll be rooting for you to bring it home! To help with that process, let’s dive into ten lessons learned from Week 11 (not counting the freebie that Nathan Peterman is not ready to start in the NFL).

1. Rishard Matthews Deserves More Fantasy Respect

Guess who made 14th on the list of top-scoring fantasy wide receivers in 2016 (non-PPR). Go ahead, you’ll never get it. Did you guess Rishard Matthews? Okay no fair, it’s in the headline, you cheated. But seriously, when is this guy going to get his due in fantasy circles? After zipping by the Steelers’ secondary for 113 yards and a touchdown on Thursday night, Matthews sits on the border of WR2 territory (ahead of Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant), and certainly well within FLEX range. Yet, he is owned in roughly 65% of leagues and started in around a third of those. Listen, Matthews is not a WR1 and likely never will be. But he should be owned across the board and started consistently over guys like Ted Ginn, Nelson Agholor, Marqise Lee, Sammy Watkins, and others.

2. Samaje Perine Will Thrive As Last Man Running

As we’ve learned in fantasy football, it’s often much more about opportunity than talent. And Samaje Perine has now become the poster boy for that maxim. With Rob Kelley already done (MCL) and Chris Thompson now headed to IR with a broken fibula, Perine is the only back left in Washington. That means touches, touches, and a few more touches. In Sunday’s nail-biter against the Saints, Perine carried the ball 23 times for 117 yards and even added a nine-yard catch on two targets. I expect the Redskins to win the majority of their remaining games, which means good game scripts for Perine. Based on volume alone, Perine will necessarily pop into the RB2 conversation rest of season.

3. Keenan Allen Is Still A Beast

Rejoice, all ye Keenan Allen owners! After a four-game stretch of less than 65 receiving yards and an eight-game stretch without a touchdown, Allen went berserk against the Bills. The Chargers’ lead receiver caught 12 of 13 targets for 159 yards and hit paydirt twice. The performance catapulted Allen into ninth in PPR scoring among receivers on the season and won many a week for patient fantasy players around the country. LA’s remaining schedule is an absolute dream for the passing game (DAL, CLE, WAS, KC, NYJ, OAK), so if Allen can carry this momentum forward, he could be an absolute force in the fantasy playoffs.

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4. Booker Has Best Chance To Unbust Bronco Backfield

Just last week, we learned that the Denver backfield as a whole was just about busted, thanks to an ineffective offense and a frustrating workload split. While the former remains true, the uptick in usage for Devontae Booker might offer a small window of hope for fantasy. Since the Broncos’ bye in Week 5, Booker has received 1, 2, 6, 6, 8, and now 14 carries on Sunday. He also added five catches in the game, bringing his yards from scrimmage to 98 total and flashing potential for a respectable PPR floor. I cautioned you to hold on to these guys just in case and — depending on what happens with the new offensive coordinator in Denver — Booker has the best chance to pay off on that patience.

5. Orleans Darkwa Is The Best of A Bad Crop

Darkwa’s best run of the game against Kansas City went for 14 yards, so he’s not busting defenses apart. That said he has become the best of an odd group of middling fantasy RBs with heavy workloads in bad offenses (Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Joe Mixon, etc). Over his last six games, Darkwa has averaged 15 carries and 73 rushing yards, and has scored twice. He’s not winning anyone weeks but the Giants are relying on him heavily in light of their depleted receiving corps. He helped slow down the game in a shocking upset of the Chiefs on Sunday and figures to continue seeing workhorse workloads rest of season. In this fantasy landscape, that makes him an RB2.

6. Who Needs Josh Gordon When Corey Coleman‘s Around?

Okay, if Gordon is close to what he was before missing multiple years of football, that may be an overstatement. But the reality is, first-round draft pick Corey Coleman is mighty fine in his own right. Finally back from a fractured hand this week, Coleman quickly re-established himself as the lead receiver in Cleveland. He snagged six catches for 80 yards on a team-high 11 targets. Against the Jaguars (a.k.a. the new and improved Legion of Boom), in horrific weather. Coleman had 53 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against Pittsburgh and was injured in Week 2, so the small sample size we have looks pretty darn good. Even if it’s only for another couple weeks pending Gordon’s return, Coleman can help you clinch a playoff berth or advance towards the title.

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7. Davante Adams Is Hundley’s Jordy

Here’s a headline I never thought I’d write. Sadly, Jordy Nelson is an afterthought in Brett Hundley‘s version of the Green Bay offense and Davante Adams has stepped up in his stead. With eight catches for 126 yards on Sunday, Adams closed any remaining case and cemented himself in the WR2 conversation moving forward. He has averaged 8.6 targets and 67 receiving yards and scored twice in Hundley’s five games under center. The Packer’s remaining schedule has ups and downs, but Adams’ role as Hundley’s go-to-guy makes him startable every week.

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8. Fournette Is Fine

Despite talks of lingering ankle issues and cold-weather qualms, Fournette bullied the Browns for 118 total yards on a whopping 30 touches. After four straight weeks of nothing (for various reasons), panicked Fournette fantasy owners can take a deep breath. The rookie is fifth in the league in rushing attempts and fourth in rushing TDs despite missing multiple games. He’s probably in the conversation with Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and the Saints’ duo for top five fantasy RBs. A mixed bag of matchups over the next five weeks means a little less to Fournette than to others, as his bell-cow workload will translate to fantasy goodness almost without fail.

9. The Eagles Backfield Is A Fantasy Roulette Wheel

Considering their impressive aggregate production, it’s tough to be down on this Philadelphia backfield. The problem is that, like with the Patriots, it’s nearly impossible to identify who can be trusted from a fantasy perspective on a week-to-week basis. LeGarrette Blount is getting the majority of carries (13 on Sunday night), but Jay Ajayi (7) and Corey Clement (6) aren’t far behind. No one is stepping up in the receiving game (Kenjon Barner and Ajayi each had one catch on one target), and the entire crew is splitting red zone work (Clement and Barner had the short TDs this week). Ajayi has been a yardage machine in two games with the team, but both weeks have seen almost the entirety of his production come on one huge play, making him a risky start. It feels like you have to start Blount, Ajayi, and maybe even Clement in deeper leagues, but any or all of the three could easily bust on a given weekend. May the odds be ever in your favor.

10. Russell Wilson Should Be The MVP

In the real NFL and in fantasy, Russell Wilson has been an absolute stud this season. Surrounded by a patchwork offensive line, a non-existent running game, and even a deteriorating defense, Wilson has put the Seahawks on his back and carried them to a 6-4 record. He has accounted for all but one of the teams’ offensive touchdowns either through the air (21) or on the ground (2) and is responsible for a monstrous 83% of their total yardage. In fantasy, he’s the No. 1 QB by a good amount, outperforming all the guys drafted ahead of him earlier this fall (including Brady, Brees, and Matt Ryan in most leagues). While his 258 yards and two TDs passing and 86 yards and one TD rushing were not enough to overcome the Falcons on Monday night, that was 0% on Wilson. He has my vote, and he should have yours as well.

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