Stars of Week 11
QB: Deshaun Watson, HOU: 28-37, 344 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs (6 carries, 36 yards, 1 TD)
RB: Dalvin Cook, MIN: 27 carries, 115 yards, 1 TD (5 catches, 45 yards, 0 TDs)
WR: Adam Thielen, MIN: 8 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs
TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 8 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD
While surrounded by chaos in Houston, franchise QB Deshaun Watson has quietly had a terrific year. Watson took top honors this week at QB, carving up the now meek Patriots’ secondary. Watson crossed the 300 yard passing mark with ease, tossing 2 TDs while running for a third. He remains a high end QB1 and a must start every week.
This is now the third time in four weeks where Dalvin Cook has turned in the top RB performance. This week the Dallas Cowboys got the opportunity to be run over by Cook, as he pounded them for 115 yards and a TD, while also recepting 45 yards. Cook continues to make his case as the top RB in all of the land, as he has scored a TD in all but one game that he’s played in during the 2020 season. Cook’s consistency has made him the most valuable player this season, and I reckon we still haven’t seen the last of him in this space.
Cook’s teammate, star WR Adam Thielen, had a vintage performance as well, catching two TDs while also crossing the century mark in yardage. While Thielen’s yardage totals trail those of his top seasons by a substantial amount, he has made up for it with a league leading 11 receiving TDs. Thielen remains an elite WR and a weekly must start, with only the Covid list potentially stopping him. The Vikings placed Thielen on the Covid list on Monday, so keep an eye for news of his removal prior from the list prior to this coming Sunday’s game.
We end our scroll across the NFL’s honor roll with yet another nearly full-time resident, Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. This now makes Kelce’s fifth appearance on this list for 2020, requiring us to think hard about permanently etching his name into the template weekly writeup. Kelce caught the game winning TD against the Raiders, finishing with 127 receiving yards over 8 receptions. Just another ho-hum, league leading performance for Kelce.
Week 11 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we’ll take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
Taysom Hill, QB - NO:18-23, 233 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs (10 carries, 51 yards, 2 TDs)
Analysis: With most of us thinking the Saints would start Jameis Winston at QB while Drew Brees recovers from his rib injuries, coach Sean Payton had other thoughts in mind. Instead, word circulated that Taysom Hill would get the start against the Falcons. Without referring a negative connotation, Hill has been a gadget player for the Saints, playing tight end, running back and quarterback at times for the Saints. While handpicked by Payton as Brees’ long term successor, we got an initial glimpse as to what the 2021 Saints may look like. All in all, Hill played relatively well, with a stat line not too far off from what one would expect – 200 plus passing yards and adding a few rushing TDs, while mostly targeting star WR Michael Thomas when passing. Given Hill’s unconventional style at QB, it will likely take teams a few more weeks before they can build a strong game plan focused on taking away Hill’s strengths – and Brees may or may not be back by then. Hill’s got a strong arm, but he’s inconsistent on the accuracy of his throws. He’s also tough to tackle as a runner. How should you value Hill at QB over the next few weeks? He’ll be a low end QB1, largely due to his favorable upcoming matchups. The Saints play the Broncos, Falcons and Eagles over the next three weeks, all of which are matchups where Hill should post strong numbers. His rushing stats will provide you with a solid floor as well, putting him on the safer side as a starter. So if you need a QB, Hill’s definitely an add in case he’s still available in your league.
JK Dobbins, RB – BAL: 15 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: A few weeks back, we took a look at the Baltimore Ravens’ backfield as a group, and concluded that while JK Dobbins is the team’s best RB, he could only be trusted from a fantasy perspective in the event that Mark Ingram was inactive. Dobbins and fellow RB Gus Edwards each had solid games while Ingram sat for a few weeks, but upon Ingram’s return in Week 10, the Ravens RB group returned to its status as a fantasy mess. Fast forward just one week, and we need to examine whether there has been a breakthrough. I have been the president of the #FreeJKDobbins campaign since early in the season, as he’s clearly the team’s top RB. Now stay with me here, but in my view, playing your best player at a position more often will lead to a better offensive performance. Circling back to Week 11, coach John Harbaugh entrusted Dobbins to lead the backfield, with Dobbins receiving the lion’s share of carries with 15, while Ingram and Edwards combined for a mere 5 carries. Looking at the snap count, the trend mirrored the carry distribution, with Dobbins partaking in 41 snaps, compared to 6 for Ingram and 13 for Edwards (per PFF). Folks, that’s a convincing move in a backfield’s hierarchy, and not just a one week blip. For those of you who heeded my advice and snagged Dobbins in your leagues – and remained patient while Harbaugh played the wrong RBs – you are about to get rewarded. Dobbins will move to RB2 status, with an RB1 ceiling due to his ability in the passing game. Dobbins is here to stay, and you can safely drop both Ingram and Edwards. For those of you in deep leagues, Edwards is the next in line to own if you want to keep some ownership within the Ravens’ RB market.
POSTSCRIPT: Both Dobbins and Ingram have been placed on the Covid list, which means that Gus Edwards will lead the charge will his backfield companions are out. Edwards should be viewed as a low end RB2 in standard leagues and RB3/flex in PPR leagues, due to the tough upcoming matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Giovani Bernard, RB – CIN: 9 carries, 18 yards, 0 TDs
Samaje Perine, RB – CIN: 5 carries, 20 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The Cincinnati Bengals had an awful Sunday in Week 11, losing to the Washington Football Team 20-9. While the game loss was bad, the much worse loss came on the injury front, with franchise QB Joe Burrow suffering a torn ACL. With Burrow now out for the year, the entire Bengals’ offense will need to be downgraded from a fantasy perspective. Burrow’s injury may not be all that will impact the team, as rumors persist that top RB Joe Mixon may not play again this year. In any event, Mixon will continue to be out at least for the next few weeks. On that note, we take a closer look at the Bengals’ RB situation. Veteran RB Giovani Bernard has filled in during Mixon’s absence, but he has largely failed to make a significant impact. Could there be a shift in momentum to his backup, Samaje Perine? Well, it’s only a small sample size, but Perine averaged twice the yards per carry compared to Bernard this past weekend, as noted in the stats above. More tellingly, Perine has also made headway in the all-important snap count, with 31 snaps compared to Bernard’s 37. Looking back at week 10, Perine outperformed Bernard as well - Perine gained 48 yards over 7 carries, with Bernard gaining 30 over 8 carries. We’re heading into Week 12, and waiver wires are largely picked over in most leagues. But if you are desperate for help at RB, Perine has a chance to become a flex option in deeper leagues. Meanwhile, Bernard should only be deployed in PPR leagues moving forward, and his arrow’s pointing downward.
Quick note as well for those of you who own WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins – the dropoff from Burrow to Ryan Finley will be steep. At minimum, Boyd drops from WR2 to WR3/flex, while Higgins drops from higher end flex to the lower end range. The decline may end up steeper than that, but this is the starting point as we move forward. For anyone who owns AJ Green, don’t.
Denzel Mims, WR – NYJ: 3 catches, 71 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The New York Jets have only one job remaining ahead of them for the rest of the 2020 season…ensure they have the worst record in the league so that they can draft generational QB Trevor Lawrence. Yes, the suggestion here is to avoid winning any games, in order to block the Jaguars from sneaking into the top pick. I kid, sort of. Anyways, let’s get back to brass tacks. While the Jets remain winless at 0-10, that doesn’t mean the team has zero assets worthy of your fantasy consideration. Sure, there aren’t many, but take a look at promising rookie WR Denzel Mims. The Baylor product missed the team’s first six games due to injury, but since debuting four weeks ago, Mims has quietly made some noise. Mims has yet to find the end zone, but his yardage totals per game are 42, 42, 62 and 71. Mims has 13 receptions over this four game span, while importantly, having been targeted 25 times. Mims has big play ability and solid hands, and is bound to bust some big plays as the season goes forward. For those of you in deeper standard leagues (i.e. 12 plus teams, non-PPR), Mims can help you if you’re in a pinch at WR. For those of you in dynasty leagues, Mims will be of much greater help to you in subsequent seasons, once upgraded QB play arrives.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Derek Carr, LV (@ ATL)
RB: Gus Edwards, BAL (@ PIT)
RB: Devontae Booker, LV (@ ATL)
WR: Michael Pittman, Jr., IND (vs TEN)
WR: Sterling Shepard, NYG (@ CIN)
WR: Jalen Reagor, PHI (vs SEA)
WR: Nelson Agholor, LV (@ ATL)
TE: Trey Burton, IND (vs TEN)