Week 11 has been full of great matchups and we still have one more game to play tonight between the Rams and the Buccaneers. There was so much action on Sunday that I could legitimately write a full article covering each game.
Instead, let’s take a quick look at some of the more intriguing storylines that emerged from Week 11, dive into the fantasy winners and examine which teams have a favorable matchup heading into the fantasy playoffs.
A Quick Snapshot
Let’s start with the bad and get that out of the way. Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow suffered an unfortunate ACL tear during his matchup against the Washington Football Team. He was carted off the field and later tweeted that his season was over. It’s sad on many levels and we all hope he can make a full recovery. He has been a joy to watch, giving new life to the Bengals and their surrounding weapons. Backup Ryan Finley, who started in Weeks 10 - 12 last year, should be the starter moving forward but this is not good news at all. WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins were having productive years so far and their numbers will take a hit with Finley at QB. The good news is that the Bengals have very favorable matchups coming up, but it’s hard to reproduce Burrow-like action with no Burrow.
Speaking of rookie QBs, Tua Tagovailoa was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter after struggling against the Broncos in Denver. He completed only 11 of his 20 attempts for 83 yards. While he did throw a touchdown, he was also sacked six times for a loss of 33 yards. Whether he was benched for his performance or for his own safety, HC Brian Flores is sticking with Tagovailoa as Miami’s starter. In less than one quarter, Fitzpatrick completed 12 of 18 attempts for 117 yards. He also threw an interception in their 13-20 loss.
A single touchdown could have the tied game for the Dolphins. In fact, that was the theme across the board during Sunday’s games. We even had two matchups go into overtime. The Titans-Ravens game was tied at the end of regulation at 24 apiece and the Colts-Packers went into OT tied at 31. The Titans Defense and RB Derrick Henry took care of business against the Ravens. Philip Rivers and the Colts managed a victory over Green Bay who entered their matchup with a ton of momentum.
Even the Jets made a game of it against the Chargers with a late-game push. QB Sam Darnold was sidelined with his lingering shoulder injury so Joe Flacco took the reins and ran with it in his absence. The Jets struggled early and trailed 6-24 at halftime. However, they turned on jets (see what I did there?) and scored three touchdowns on their next three drives. With 2:42 left in the game, the Jets had cut the Chargers’ lead to 26-34. In an interesting twist, instead of punting, the Chargers ran back to their own end zone and took a safety. The Jets then scored two points to make it 28-34 but there was only one second left on the clock. How long Darnold remains the starter or stays injured will be interesting to watch. Also, HC Adam Gase took over play-calling, which sparked the three touchdown drives. As a fantasy manager, disliking Gase is one of the easiest things to do. However, I have to hand it to him. He was aggressive and relied on Flacco’s experience and his arm to take deep shots down the field. And, hey, the Chargers finally won and didn’t find a way to lose this week.
Keeping with the Week 11 theme, the Chiefs-Raiders game was equally entertaining with back and forth scoring all night. Raiders QB Derek Carr was dropping dimes left and right and was dialed into the zone. Just look at this face.
The game came down to the wire with the Raiders trailing by four points 24-28 in the red zone at the two-minute warning. A reception by TE Darren Waller got the team to the one-yard line. There was a tricky battle to score but not leave enough time for Patrick Mahomes to drive back down the field and score. TE Jason Witten, of all people, caught the touchdown pass to give the Raiders a 31-28 lead. However, there was still 1:43 left on the clock and a timeout for the Chiefs. Honestly, that’s like an eternity for Mahomes. Sure enough, the Chiefs made it look easy, driving down the field and connecting with TE Travis Kelce. The Raiders had only 28 seconds and a timeout left to try and get back on top. Carr, however, threw an interception on the play and the Chiefs took the win and avoided a Raiders sweep.
By far the most interesting game to come out of Sunday’s matchups was the Falcons-Saints and QB/TE/RB Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill making his QB debut. Like most people, I fully expected the Hill-start to be part of a tricky game plan from HC Sean Peyton and backup QB Jameis Winston to be the one taking a majority of the snaps. Nope. Hill took 100% of the snaps at quarterback and emerged with a 24-9 victory. He completed 18 of his 23 attempts for 233 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown (or an interception) but he did rush in two by himself. That’s not at all surprising, given his skill-set. He did fumble once, but all-in-all, he had an excellent showing in his first outing as the starting quarterback for the Saints.
The Saints weren’t the only team to feature a new QB. Teddy Bridgewater was held out of Sunday’s game with a knee sprain so P.J. Walker, former XFL QB for the Houston Roughnecks, started for Carolina against the Lions. Detroit was missing key pieces Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and D’Andre Swift while Matthew Stafford was playing with a partially torn ligament in his thumb. They couldn’t generate anything on offense while Walker ran away with his. He got D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel heavily involved and came away with a shutout victory 20-0 without Christian McCaffrey on the field.
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Our top-five quarterbacks so far this week are Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, Taysom Hill, Kirk Cousins, and Ryan Tannehill. If you told me last week that those five players would be in the upper echelon of fantasy producers in Week 11, I would have laughed. Watson had his second-best game of the season with 31.36 points and is our only QB to pass the 30-mark so far this week. He has been struggling without his star WR DeAndre Hopkins but he got the job done today. This was Cousins’ best performance since facing Atlanta in Week 6 and Tannehill was facing the vaunted Baltimore defense. If you had to start any of these players because Josh Allen was on a bye, you were pretty happy.
Our top-five running backs aren’t as surprising, but it was delightful to see Ezekiel Elliott have a nice game. Dalvin Cook topped out with 25 points in PPR while Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrick Henry, Elliott, and J.K. Dobbins round out the top performers. The Baltimore backfield continues to be a conundrum. This week, Dobbins got 17 touches compared to Mark Ingram’s two and Gus Edward’s three even though Edwards was named the “starter”. If you have Dobbins, hold onto him in case this trend continues. I wouldn’t be surprised if Edwards gets all the touches next week just to mess with all of us.
Since Herbert finished in our top-five quarterbacks, it’s only natural to see Keenan Allen in our top-five wide receivers. He leads the class with a whopping 34.5 points. Vikings WR Adam Thielen exploded with 32.3 points in his matchup against Dallas that was surprisingly close and which Minnesota surprisingly lost. CeeDee Lamb had an incredibly acrobatic touchdown in that same game but did not make our top-five with less than 17 points. Tyreek Hill, Damiere Byrd, and Davante Adams finish off our leading WRs with 27, 26.3, and 23.6 respectively.
If you missed the Sunday night game then you missed TE Travis Kelce making winning look easy and scoring 26.86 like afternoon tea. Our top-five tight ends are rather predictable with Darren Waller at 21.8, Mark Andrews (finally) with 20.6, Dallas Goedert with 18.7, and Robert Tonyan with a healthy 15.4. I will say that tight ends had a very good week in fantasy with 14 players scoring in the double digits.
Under normal circumstances, I would write about our fantasy stinkers that disappointed us this week. However, 2020 has been a year full of bad news and I am choosing to be positive and focus on the good.
Weeks 12 - 16
QB - Giants, Buccaneers, Chargers
RB - Bears, Colts, Titans
WR - Eagles, Giants, Washington
TE - Vikings, Broncos, Packers
DST - Seahawks, Cowboys, Cardinals
Many of us are already past our trade deadline, but if you’re not, you may want to target some players with favorable matchups. As I mentioned in last week’s piece, these lists are not rankings but are a group of teams that have some nice matchups for the remainder of the season.
Our Strength of Schedule tool can be invaluable in evaluating trade targets, waiver wire pickups, and even who you should start and sit each week. Also, just because a team has a good matchup, does not mean that player is an auto-start and vice versa.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending ACL tear. RB Joe Mixon was placed on IR. … Falcons WR Julio Jones had a tight hamstring and left the game early. … Patriots RB Rex Burkhead suffered a gruesome knee injury that may be an ACL tear. … Jets RB Lamical Perine left the game early with an ankle injury.