Week 11 Booms and Busts: Fantasy football scoring takes a Sunday afternoon holiday

I like to say every batch of NFL results is weird in its own way. The chaos is the product. That’s what we as fantasy managers come to expect. We try to benefit from the entropy, if we can. We turn into the skid. And man, there were plenty of fantasy skids in the early window of Week 11. Several big-name stars put up brick performances on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Start in Detroit, where Josh Allen was erratic early and finished with just 197 yards, one touchdown and a piddly seven rushing yards. Did his recent interception problem spook him? Perhaps he was afraid of making a mistake. Buffalo still rolled to an easy victory — even if Cleveland stole the last-second push against the spread — but it was Allen’s worst fantasy game of the year by far. Those 12.58 points don’t buy much.

Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett thrived — some of it in garbage time — en route to 324 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper (8-113-2) finally smashed in a road game, and Donovan Peoples-Jones (5-61-1) finally broke the seal on his touchdown account. It’s a good thing Cleveland found some passing success, because Nick Chubb, like Allen, had a shockingly poor game (14 carries, 19 yards).

Maybe you had high hopes for the Ravens to lay the wood to the Panthers — Baltimore, after all, was a meaty 12-point favorite at home. But Lamar Jackson was limited to one touchdown (at least it was on the ground) and 240 yards of offense, good for 16.46 Yahoo fantasy points, and the Ravens tiptoed out with a boring 13-3 win. Jackson didn’t lose your fantasy game for you, but he sure didn’t win you anything.

He only focused on two main players when he threw downfield. Mark Andrews (6-63-0) was of course played in all fantasy leagues. Demarcus Robinson (9-128-0) was not. This is the seventh year of Robinson’s ordinary career; it’s just the second time he’s gone past 100 yards, and only the third time he eclipsed 70 yards. Score one for the genius of desperation.

Demarcus Robinson #10 of the Baltimore Ravens has little fantasy value
Demarcus Robinson delivered in fantasy — except very few fantasy managers were desperate enough to play him. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kenyan Drake didn’t go bananas in the absence of Gus Edwards. The Drake collected 10-46 rushing and two short receptions. No touchdowns. No fantasy glory.

I refuse to say much about the Panthers. D’Onta Foreman (11-24-0) had no running lanes. DJ Moore was submarined by Baker Mayfield. I never thought I’d be so desperate to watch Sam Darnold play again.

The Eagles had their lowest-scoring game of the year, though they somehow escaped with a 17-16 victory at Indianapolis. The Lions spanked the Giants, but Jared Goff threw for just 165 yards — with zero touchdowns. Jamaal Williams (three spikes) remains Detroit's spirit animal, and D’Andre Swift scored in garbage time, though the Lions continue to limit his work (eight touches, 32 yards).

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The Lions defense was dead-set on stopping Saquon Barkley and it worked — 15 carries, 22 yards. Barkley also had two catches for 13 yards. Daniel Jones was handy in catching up, throwing for 341 yards, running for 50 more and accounting for two touchdowns. If you needed Wan’Dale Robinson (9-100-0) or Darius Slayton (5-86-0) as desperation plays, you turned a mild profit.

Even some reliable kickers were taken down by the weather gods. Graham Gano shanked two extra points in the New Jersey wind tunnel. Nick Folk had a hellish time with the Foxboro wind, but fortunately for New England, Zach Wilson was even worse. The Patriots escaped with a win (and a gift cover) courtesy of a punt return touchdown in the final minute. No one needs to rewatch this 10-3 snooze fest.

Oh, we could set our watch by a few things, thankfully. Chris Olave (5-102-1) ran past Rams defenders all day. Jonathan Taylor had 94 total yards and a score, and Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell were both respectable. Cole Kmet didn’t go off at Atlanta (3-35-0), but Justin Fields (153 air, 85 ground, two scores), David Montgomery (121 total yards, one score) and Darnell Mooney (4-29-1) all showed up. Mooney was liberally held most of the day; he easily could have done more. Hopefully, Fields is healthy for Week 12 — he dinged his left shoulder late in the loss to Atlanta.

The Falcons did what they usually do — they kept the ball away from their best playmakers. Drake London had just one catch on three targets, but at least it was a two-yard touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson shared with two other runners (Tyler Allgeier, Marcus Mariota), not that 10-52-0 is a poor showing. Patterson’s fantasy day was bailed out by a 103-yard kickoff return. Kyle Pitts had five targets, three catches, 43 yards. Sometimes they're air yards, sometimes they're prayer yards.

You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. No matter how disappointing your 1 pm window might have been, there’s always the chance your opponent met more early potholes than you did.

I don’t know about you, but that was therapeutic for me. Now let’s get to the good stuff.

Speed Round

Kenny Pickett’s play didn’t take a major step forward, but he did look improved. And Pat Freiermuth has done what many expected, stepping into the target void left by Chase Claypool, en route to a market share we can get behind. Twelve looks and an 8-79-0 line, that’s a big day from any tight end not named Kelce or Andrews.

Samaje Perine is an ordinary talent, but he’s the clear understudy in Cincinnati and he’ll become instantly playable if Joe Mixon (concussion) has to miss extended time. Although the Bengals had odd players score their touchdowns Sunday, they’re normally loyal and dedicated to their core guys. If Perine starts, he enters that circle of trust.

Justin Herbert took too many sacks against the Chiefs but he looked healthier than he has in a while, and getting Keenan Allen back certainly helped. It’s a shame Mike Williams was reinjured almost immediately. The Chargers remain the Charlie Browns of the NFL, one of those teams that always looks like it’s going to the moon, but ultimately tumbles to the ground. But at least Herbert is back off the restricted list.

• Although Isiah Pacheco’s running was undeniably impressive Sunday night, the Chargers front seven can’t stop a nosebleed. The Chiefs still show zero interest in throwing Pacheco the ball. He’s not a must-sell by any means, but if your league still allows trades this late in the year, the timing might nbc right to quietly test the market.

• Barring an injury, Patrick Mahomes should cruise to the MVP. There’s no one close to him. And Travis Kelce could wind up being the fantasy MVP, the biggest difference-maker at his specific position. It’s almost comical that Kansas City has just one dynamic downfield threat on a weekly basis, and yet opponents are powerless to stop it. Kelce looks like the overzealous parent who tries too hard in the Father-Son game; he's so much freaking bigger than everyone else.

Tony Pollard can be a league winner even if the Cowboys are willing to give him a 50-50 share with Ezekiel Elliott, and it looks like the team has finally seen the light.

• The Jets had 103 yards of total offense at New England, and just two yards in the second half — it’s awfully hard to be that terrible. I give up with Zach Wilson. I doubt Joe Flacco or Mike White would be worse for this offense. I wish I could trade Gardner Minshew to any one of like 12 NFL teams.

• The Vikings never had the metrics to match their record, so their blowout loss wasn’t all that surprising. Kirk Cousins started the day with an indexed QB rating of 95 — that’s five points below league average. In short, this is by far his worst season as a starter, and that’s despite having sophomore year Justin Jefferson and reasonable support talent. The NFC is open for the taking, but Cousins’s limitations puts a tight ceiling on Minnesota.

• It might initially look good for Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier that Caleb Huntley was removed from the rotation, but remember all the carries that Marcus Mariota absorbed. Even when this looks like a two-man committee, it’s really a three-man gig. And Mariota always has goal-line equity, too. Just accept that Arthur Smith is going to frustrate us all season long. The backs are still playable here, but nobody has any floor. It's crowded.

Juwan Johnson is basically doing the Cole Kmet thing, only the Saints don’t have Chicago’s passionate Twitter steam so the story is partially obscured. Johnson’s spiked five times in five games, and that’s enough to offset common yardage totals. Goal-line opportunities are like saves in baseball — if you convert a few, the team goes back to you. They like pushing the big red easy button.

• It’s interesting that Philadelphia finished its game-winning drive with nine straight runs. There’s no reason to knock something that succeeds, but the Eagles offense can no longer threaten every level of the field now that Dallas Goedert is out. He was the team’s third most indispensable player, right after Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown. I might favor Dallas over Philadelphia on a neutral field, and a healthy San Francisco will be very difficult to beat, too.

Matt Ryan was mostly about between-the-number throws and tight-end usage in the early part of the year. It’s refreshing to see him pumping the ball to his receivers again. I’ve always liked Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell won me over this year, and Alec Pierce should be a strong player in time. The Colts are another formerly-slumping team that we happily take off the restricted list.

• It feels like weeks ago because it happened Thursday, but Treylon Burks looked like a legitimate first rounder Thursday night. The Titans seldom throw the ball even 30 times a game, but Burks has a fair chance to be fantasy reliable the rest of the year. At minimum, I’ll rank him proactively in Week 12.

And I'd follow Mike Vrabel into a burning building; he consistently beats the team's over/under total every year. Whatever the Titans are paying him, they should double it.