In the funhouse mirror that is 2019, Ryan Tannehill is a mid-season savior. Chased out of Miami after six maddening seasons, Tannehill pulled up a seat behind even more disappointing Marcus Mariota and bided his time. He was ready when his name was called in Week 7 and has guided the Titans to four wins in five starts.
After excellent Weeks 7-9, Tannehill has been turning in statlines that would make Mike Zimmer blush, completing just 37 passes over the past two weeks but having four of them go for touchdowns as the Titans have posted point totals of 35 and 42. Sunday, the 31-year-old ex-slot receiver unveiled a new innovation: His first two-score day on the ground. Tannehill now has three rushing touchdowns over his past three appearances, which is more than Marcus Mariota has over the past two years.
Tannehill has cleared 30 yards rushing each of the past three weeks, something supposed dual-threat Mariota has never accomplished. The Titans remain a ground-and-pound offense — see Henry, Derrick — and against all odds, Tannehill fits it better than Mariota. Picking his spots as a runner, Tannehill is doing the same as a passer, averaging a ridiculous 9.2 yards per attempt. Amazing YAC work from his pass catchers has fueled the YPA, but that’s something that happens when you put people in position to make plays.
Although never quite to this extent, we have seen this movie before with Tannehill. A few weeks of false dawns before the bill comes due against an actually good defense. Tannehill faced one of those three weeks ago in the Panthers and threw two picks. But neither the Chiefs nor Jags are chopped liver vs. the pass, and Tanne has now had one of the best two-game stretches of his career. A string of unimposing matchups (@IND, @OAK, vs. HOU) awaits. Unless his volume increases, Tanne’s fantasy fortunes will probably begin to fade, especially with bye weeks over and all 32 teams playing on a weekly basis. Tannehill has nevertheless shown the ability to provide spiked weeks on limited attempts, making him an excellent streaming candidate with the bottom half of the quarterback board dominated by sub-NFL talents.
Five Week 12 Storylines
Carson Wentz fails to put his team on his back. With his supporting cast in shambles, it has fallen on Wentz to drag the Eagles into the postseason. He is so far failing. The would-be 2017 MVP has contributed just one score in five straight starts, taking at least three sacks each of the past five weeks. We know injuries have hollowed out Wentz’s weapons — No. 1 WR Jordan Matthews says hello — and created issues up front, but at some point, a franchise player needs to franchise. Every team has injuries, and in 2019, every team has issues up front. Miraculously, the Eagles are still in the hunt in the NFC East, and have three straight “get right” matchups in the Dolphins, Giants and Redskins. Anything less than 3-0 — or two weekly scores — will be unacceptable.
Zach Ertz remains Eagles’ only means of moving the ball. With his 12 grabs against the Seahawks, Ertz became the first tight end in league history to post nine-plus receptions in three straight games. Ertz is 30/288/2 over his past three contests, not only returning to where he was in 2018 but somehow exceeding it. With receiver corps reinforcements not on the way for the weapons-desperate Eagles, that figures to remain the Ertz state of play as the schedule takes a turn for the soft. @MIA, vs. NYG, @WAS is on deck. An obvious summer overdraft, Ertz is now a potential league winner for players who were kicking themselves in September and October.
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Aaron Rodgers’ slump deepens in San Francisco. Although he hasn’t thrown a pick in the process, Rodgers has been one of the league’s least effective quarterbacks in November, totaling two scores in three starts while completing just 61.8 percent of his passes and averaging a gross 5.13 yards per attempt. He has taken 10 sacks. Bizarrely, Rodgers’ collapse has coincided with Davante Adams’ return. Before Adams came back, Rodgers had one of the best two-game stretches of his career as he played point guard vs. the Chiefs and Raiders. Since, he seems to have forgotten he can target other players, looking Adams' way 33 times but generating only 202 yards. Considering the wideouts behind him, it is easy to see why Rodgers would lock onto Adams, but he must start spreading the ball around again, especially to Aaron Jones, who has one catch since Adams’ return. The Giants and Redskins are a two-game exhibition slate before critical matchups with the Bears and Vikings.
Steelers mercifully end Mason Rudolph era. One of the worst non-cameo quarterbacks in recent memory, Rudolph was finally pulled after completing just 8-of-16 passes for 85 yards and an interception in three-plus quarters vs. the Bengals’ league-worst defense. No. 3 Devlin Hodges immediately provided a 79-yard touchdown to James Washington, which was all the Steelers needed to secure the road victory. There’s unlikely to be any real difference between Ben Roethlisberger’s errand boys, but the Steelers will certainly find out against the Browns. Even if JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) returns, Hodges will not be on the QB2 radar in week where all 32 quarterbacks will be available in fantasy.
D.J. Moore stays cookin’ vs. Saints. With his season-best 6/126/2 effort, Moore went at least 6/95 for the fourth straight game. He’s up to fifth in raw receiving (905) and has 61 more yards than any other wideout over the past four weeks. Fifth in YAC on the year (309), Moore is staying true to both his calling cards, compiling and doing damage after the catch. That he is doing so as a 22-year-old with a backup quarterback speaks to a rare level of dynasty prospect. Now an every-week WR1 in re-draft, Moore has back-to-back potential eruption spots in the Redskins and Falcons.
Five More Week 11 Storylines
Chris Carson’s fumbling issues continue in Philadelphia. Carson put the ball on the ground on back-to-back plays in Philly, recovering the first but losing the second. Had the first not been credited to Russell Wilson on a technicality, Carson would now be up to eight fumbles on the year, which would already be the most by a non-quarterback since Adrian Peterson put the ball on the ground nine times in 2008 (thanks for the great stat, Anthony Staggs). The Sunday consequences were steep, as Carson’s miscues were finally punished with pine time. Rashaad Penny out-touched him 14-12, playing a season-high 49 percent of the snaps. Making matters much worse for Carson, Penny was also more effective on the ground, generating a pristine 129 yards on his 14 carries to Carson’s 8/26. With the Seahawks in the mix for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, it’s fair to wonder if Carson has finally lost coach Pete Carroll's confidence. The coach suggested as much as Monday. Carson should be considered a risky RB2 in the early Week 13 going.
Devin Singletary has first 100-yard game of career. Playing more than 70 percent of the Bills’ snaps for the second consecutive week, Singletary cleared the century mark even as Frank Gore took the rock 15 times for 66 yards of his own. Singletary has reached 15 carries in three of his past four games, giving himself RB2 appeal at a jumbled part of the rankings board. With bye weeks over, Singletary will find the RB18-24 competition tougher than it was in November, while the schedule also stiffens significantly for the Bills. Increased passing game usage would go a long way, but Singletary has just three total targets over the past two weeks. Singletary ultimately appears to be more of an option than full-blown solution to your RB2 woes.
Baker Mayfield continues to heat up vs. Dolphins. Facing an awful opponent, Mayfield did what he was supposed to do, ringing up touchdowns on three of the Browns’ first four drives. He sports a 7:1 TD:INT ratio over his past three starts and has the Browns firmly in the thick of the AFC’s muddled playoff race. Mayfield had zero multi-score passing efforts before Week 10. Now he has three of them. That includes non-cakewalk dates with the Steelers and Bills. The quarterback himself has credited his increased spreading around of the ball. That was one of Mayfield’s strengths in 2018, though the emergence of Kareem Hunt as a third weapon in the passing game has also helped. A tough Steelers rematch is on deck before mouthwatering spots with the Bengals and Cardinals.
Chris Godwin snaps slump in emphatic fashion. Godwin entered Week 12 20/225/1 over his past four games. He needed a big effort to re-establish himself as an every-week WR1. 7/184/2, uhh, did the trick. That it was barely even Godwin’s biggest game of the season speaks to how special his year has been. The Bucs’ No. 2 is now the WR1 by average points in standard and WR2 in PPR, behind only Michael Thomas. A little more consistency would be nice, but that is a lot to ask in a receiver corps that also includes Mike Evans. Fantasy players simply have to pray his explosions are well-timed. Week 13 opponent Jacksonville is tougher against the pass than run, while slot CB D.J. Hayden is having a quietly solid year.
Brandon Allen greases the skids for Drew Lock’s debut. The Broncos had already been laying the foundation for their latest quarterback switch, raving about Lock’s behind the scenes progress. Allen issued further permits in Buffalo, becoming the first quarterback since Charlie Whitehurst in 2014 to throw for 82-or-fewer yards on 25-plus attempts. Since his hot first half against the Vikings, Allen has looked like a quarterback who does not belong on an NFL roster. That, of course, was what Lock’s own coach said about him during the summer, but the second-rounder has evidently made the necessary strides. Cannon-armed, Lock should at least create big plays with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant down the field. Don’t be surprised if it is as early as Sunday’s game against the Chargers.
1. Surely that tripping call in New England won’t have wide-ranging effects on the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and the NFC East divisional battle, right?
2. Is there some reason the NFL can’t stop scheduling the Bears on Thanksgiving?
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Sam Darnold (@CIN), Ryan Tannehill (@IND), Daniel Jones (vs. GB), Nick Foles (vs. TB), Jeff Driskel (vs. CHI), Kyle Allen (vs. WAS)
RB: Bo Scarbrough, Rashaad Penny, Darrel Williams, Benny Snell
WR: Darius Slayton, A.J. Brown, Randall Cobb, James Washington, Chris Conley, N’Keal Harry, Russell Gage, Cole Beasley
TE: Ryan Griffin, Jack Doyle, Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith, David Njoku, Darren Fells
DEF: Panthers (vs. WAS), Jets (@CIN), Eagles (@MIA), Lions (vs. CHI), Chargers (@DEN), Cardinals (vs. LAR)
Stats of the Week
The Patriots have won at least 10 games every season since 2003.
Via CBS Sports: Joining the 1987 Giants and 2004 Chiefs, the Lions have become “just the third team all-time to hold a lead in each of its first 11 games, and win three or fewer.” #PatriciaBall
Eight. How many snaps Jay Ajayi played in his Eagles 2.0 debut. Next.
Tweet of the Week, from Johnny Touchdown summing up the Lions’ loss to the Redskins: The quarterback literally didn’t finish the game due to selfies with fans.
The Better Late Than Never … No, Wait, Still Actually Too Late Award: Robby Anderson going 4/86/1 vs. the Raiders.
The, Truly, Why Do I Expect Anything Different Award: Starting Tevin Coleman.
The Remember When? Award: A team making Nick Foles its franchise player.