What We Learned in Week 11 (Fantasy Football)
Off the top of my head, this is the first week that I can remember that didn’t have very many big performances from anyone. There were some great games played in Indianapolis and Baltimore, but the fantasy aspect of things was fairly well spread out. This was a true test of the teams with high floors, and less about the massive blow-up games that we have had recently. Dalvin Cook was “bottled up” for “only” 22 fantasy points, which is impressive given what he’s been doing. Let’s take a look at what we learned in a mediocre Week 11:
A Very Cruel 2020 Season Continues
The opportunity to still have football this year has come at a cost, and that cost has been an abundance of injuries. Thankfully Covid-19 hasn’t ravaged the league in a big way yet, but that doesn’t mean everyone has stayed healthy. We have seen some of the most prolific players in the league suffer very serious injuries at a much higher rate, and this past Sunday took another victim. Joe Burrow took a hit that instantly appeared to be a season-ender, and Burrow confirmed it right away on his Twitter account shortly after the game ended when he said he’d “See us next year”. Burrow is one of the three or four extremely impressive rookie quarterbacks this season, but his offensive line has not done him any favors. Unfortunately, all of the pass rush pressure finally broke through, and Burrow took a hit that will put him on the sidelines for a long time. The initial report was an ACL injury, but that has yet to be medically confirmed at the time I’m writing this. Hopefully, he recovers quickly, because his future in the league is very bright.
Diontae Johnson is STILL underrated
In the words of meme culture, “@ DraftKings, come get your man”. For some reason, they refuse to price up Diontae Johnson to reflect his performance and involvement in the Steelers offense. I wrote on Twitter last week that he trailed only Davante Adams in terms of targets per game, and this week only helped him close that gap. Johnson saw a whopping fifteen targets on his way to a 12-catch, 111-yard outing. Johnson is the undisputed WR1 in Pittsburgh and he saw ten more targets than any other Steelers receiver did this week. Juju is solidified as the odd man out in this passing attack, as both Johnson and Claypool are ascending towards alpha dog status in their respective roles. Smith-Schuster may thrive elsewhere if Pittsburgh lets him walk, but Johnson is here to stay. Stop keeping him on the bench if you are doing so, and stop ignoring him in DFS if he’s priced where he is right now.
Matt Ryan is Two Different Quarterbacks at Once
Those two quarterbacks are Matt Ryan with Julio, and Matt Ryan without Julio. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a quarterback typically performs better with an all-time great receiver in the lineup, but Ryan is dependent on him in a unique way. Throughout 2020, Ryan has twice as many interceptions per game, 25% as many touchdowns per game, and nearly 80 less pass yards per game when Julio isn’t on the field. This week he was battling a hamstring injury and missed most of the contest, and Ryan delivered on these trends, in an impressively terrible way. He only accumulated 3.5 fantasy points and probably cost a lot of teams playoff spots, but there was no way to know Julio would be sidelined. This is a great example of a fantasy quarterback being less of a talent and more of a situational performer. Ryan is a good quarterback, but he’s never been elite. You have to assume the risk of this type of thing happening when you play him, and sadly, this week it came back to bite us.
Taysom Hill Has Fantasy Upside (at the QB Position)
I won’t get into the ESPN debacle with Hill being TE eligible, because it’s over and done with and has been discussed at length. I will, however, urge you to consider Hill in your QB spot if you’re in a bind going forward. He threw the ball a lot better than I expected him to, and his ability to run the football is one of the massive advantages in fantasy football. The Konami code, as some refer to it, is when a quarterback has extreme rushing upside that helps them score a lot of points due to the imbalance of how many yards are needed for a point when compared to passing yardage. Hill has always excelled with his legs, and this week he found the end zone twice and vaulted himself into the top five at the position for the week. Granted the matchup was as good as it’s going to get, he still performed very well for our fantasy lineups and the Saints coaching staff. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues or in leagues that have thin waiver wire options at the position.
Winter is Coming, Or as I Like to Call it – Derrick Henry Szn
The window to trade for Derrick Henry was not wide open at any point this season, but the past two weeks presented potential opportunities for you if a manager was panicking and needed wins. Henry was coming off a game that was great from a yardage standpoint but left something to be desired in your fantasy lineups. This week he rumbled across the goal line for a walk-off touchdown against a stout defense, and he kicked off what is likely to be Derrick Henry league-winning season. Last year we saw his YPC increase every month starting in October, and there’s a good chance this year we will see something similar happen. Next week he faces off against a tough Colts defense, but then he gets Cleveland, Jacksonville, Detroit, Green Bay, and Houston. You can’t ask for a better schedule than that during the fantasy playoffs. Henry is going to win some people leagues once again in 2020, and I’m excited to see the Big Dawg eat.
The Antonio Gibson Roller Coaster is Ending on a High Note
I have said everything there is to say about Gibson, but I have to pivot once more from my last stance. I didn’t think he was going to produce enough to be in lineups each week, but the Football Team has figured some things out. He was racking up yardage and a decent target volume early on, but both JD McKissic and the lack of touchdown production was a major concern. McKissic is still a factor, but the team has improved offensively under Alex Smith which has given Gibson a chance to thrive near the goal line. He now has five touchdowns over the last four weeks, and he’s been a bona fide top ten running back during that time. If you play in a dynasty or keeper league then Gibson is a great candidate for a value hold going into next year, we just have to hope that they figure out the quarterback position in the NFL draft or free agency.
Mark Andrews is Climbing Back
The Tight End position is disgusting, but Andrews is finally producing well enough to have some confidence that he won’t completely blow it every week like he was through the middle part of the first half of this season. He caught five of his seven targets in Week 11, compiling 96 yards and a touchdown in total and providing a top-three tight end performance for the week. Andrews has been a flat out bust this year, but it’s nice to see him creep back into our good graces in the last two or three weeks. The biggest issue is his lack of end zone targets this year compared to 2019, but it’s obvious that Lamar Jackson is throwing his way much more often than he was earlier this year. It’s a good sign, but I’m not going to crown him a quality fantasy draft pick at his preseason ADP unless he goes absolutely bonkers to finish the year.
Carson Wentz is Broken (Or Just Not Very Good)
I tweeted out some concern regarding Carson’ Wentz‘s top ten ranking in some places this week, especially going up against an underrated Cleveland secondary. Wentz is coming off back-to-back single-digit performances, and this week he stunk it up for a third week in a row. He avoided a total disaster of a week with a second-half touchdown, but the point remains the same. Carson Wentz should not even be a consideration in your lineup at any point the rest of the year. He has been very bad this season, and he’s hardly done anything to warrant consideration for a roster spot, much less a start. I’m not sure what the Eagles plan to do going forward, but something isn’t right in Philly. If he is secretly injured, they’ve done a great job of hiding that information (and are probably subject to discipline by the league). The sad reality may be that Carson Wentz just isn’t a very good NFL quarterback, and that’s all there is to it. I’m rooting for him because he’s a tough player and has always said the right things, but his performances this year have taken away any excuses left.
Keenan Allen is League Winner
Allen has been one of the most consistent fantasy football performers of the past decade, but the departure of Phillip Rivers scared a lot of us off. In hindsight, that was completely stupid and we all deserve to eat crow for it. Allen is a dynamite route runner and one of the rare players that command the ball with his separation at every level. Obviously the prospect of Tyrod Taylor was the main motivation for his lower ADP, but he still fell too far in most places. Now that Justin Herbert has taken over, Allen has been completely dominant in every way. This week he caught a career-high 16 receptions and is making fantasy football look easy. He sits alongside Davante Adams right now as the true league winners at their position, and I don’t see why it will slow down anytime soon.
Derek Carr Deserves Respect
Carr has been the butt of many jokes over the years, but this season he’s been impressive to say the least. Going into his Sunday night game, he had the third-best TD:INT ratio in the league, right behind Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Carr lit it up on Sunday night, doing everything he could to secure a second win against the reigning champs, and looked good doing it. His last drive was a bit of a desperation play that shouldn’t take away from how impressive Carr has been. Patrick Mahomes makes those types of things look a lot easier than they really are. Any way you slice it, Carr has been very strong this season and he deserves some respect from both the fantasy and NFL community.