Stars of Week 11
QB: Aaron Rodgers, GB23-33, 385 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Jonathan Taylor, IND, 32 carries, 185 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs (Plus 1 receiving TD)
WR: Justin Jefferson, MIN: 8 catches, 169 yards, 2 TDs
TE: Zach Ertz, ARI: 8 catches, 88 yards, 2 TDs
Immunized QB Aaron Rodgers rebounded from a poor performance last week to toss 4 TD passes while approaching 400 passing yards. Unfortunately for Rodgers, the Packers couldn’t pull out the win against the Vikings despite his leading QB performance. Rodgers remains a weekly QB must-start.
If you don’t think Colts’ RB Jonathan Taylor is next year’s number one overall pick, you will by the time this season ends. Taylor has slayed defenses of all shapes and sizes, with the tough Bills’ D his latest victim. Taylor scored 5 total TDs, and lifted his fantasy managers to victory nearly by himself.
It’s Justin Jefferson szn, as the Vikings’ superstar WR hauled in 8 catches for 169 yards, including 2 TDs. The Vikings didn’t utilize Jefferson enough in the first half of the year, but have quickly rectified this over the last few weeks. With renewed focus on getting the ball in Jefferson’s hands, he’ll continue to perform as a top 5 WR.
No Kyler Murray, no problem! Arizona Cardinals’ backup QB Colt McCoy helped prepare the corpse of the Seahawks’ 2021 season, connecting with tight end Zach Ertz 8 times for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Ertz was a perfect mid-season addition by the Cardinals as they prepare for a Super Bowl run. From a fantasy perspective, Ertz should be considered a low end TE1.
Week 11 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
- Russell Wilson, QB – SEA: 14-26, 207 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: As alluded to above, there’s something rotten in Seahawks’ land. The team’s problems far exceed the scope of this article, but let’s tackle Russell Wilson’s disappearing act since his return from injury. In two games back, Wilson has yet to throw a TD while having tossing two interceptions and averaging under 200 yards per game. The Seahawks’ offense is broken, as the play calls (i.e. long developing passing routes) don’t match the offensive line’s skillset (struggling pass blockers), and the team constantly finds itself in third and long situations. Also watching Russell Wilson’s body language, it’s not clear if he’s thinking about his life post-Seahawks. While Russ remains an extremely talented QB and has elite weapons in WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, it’s a lost season for the team. While the schedule eases up defensively, wait until you see a vintage Russ-like performance before adding him back to your starting lineup. As for the talented WRs, DK Metcalf drops to high-level WR2 territory and Lockett is demoted to WR3/flex. I strongly expect Russell Wilson to be playing on a different team next season, and it’s unfortunate that this seems to be the end of the road for this Seahawks’ era. All is not well with Russ and the Seahawks, so plan accordingly.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB - KC: 12 carries, 63 yards, 1 TD
- Darrel Williams, RB – KC: 5 carries, 15 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: With CEH missing the last several games due to an MCL sprain, backup RB Darrel Williams stepped in without the team missing a beat at the RB spot. Upon CEH’s return, the obvious question was how the backfield carries would shake out between him and Darrel Williams. To this eye, Williams looked better in the Chiefs’ offense than CEH, which could have led to a reversal in the depth chart. We finally got our answer this past Sunday with CEH’s return, and alas…CEH was reinstated to his role as the lead rusher. CEH outrushed Williams 12 to 5, with Williams primarily seeing the field on passing downs. Per PFF, Williams outsnapped CEH 36 to 32, while significantly outpacing CEH in routes run (25 to 15). What this means is that Williams keeps his role as the primary RB on passing downs. With this information in hand, you should consider CEH a low end RB2, with Williams a low end flex in PPR leagues, and otherwise droppable in standard leagues. CEH avoided getting Wally Pipped while he was out.
- Deebo Samuel, WR – SF: 1 catch, 15 yards, 0 TDs (8 carries, 79 yards, 1 TD)
Analysis: If you heard a stat line of 1 catch for 15 yards for a WR, you’d understandably assume a dud performance. Now, add in 8 carries for just under 80 yards and a TD, and you’ve got a whole new conversation. Deebo Samuel has become one of the NFL’s top playmakers, and he’s expanding his arsenal yet a step further. While the 49ers often get the ball into Samuel’s hands in space, the team is now also utilizing him as a true rusher. That will only cause more heartburn for opponents, who already struggle to contain and tackle him in the passing game. Through 10 games, Samuel has been remarkably consistent from week to week, with no less than 52 yards from scrimmage in any game, while topping 90 yards a whopping 7 times. If you like TDs, well Samuel’s had 8 of them thus far. While you don’t need me to tell you that Samuel’s a good player, it’s important to recognize how special of a skillset he has, and how much room he has to still add to his game. Think Cordarrelle Patterson, but a better skillset. To the extent you start gathering thoughts about next year’s fantasy drafts, keep Samuel in mind as a potential top 5 WR pick.
- Dawson Knox, TE – BUF: 6 catches, 80 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The Buffalo Bills have had a shaky 2021 season, looking like Super Bowl contenders some weeks (i.e. beating the Chiefs with ease), while other times looking like pretenders (i.e. loss to the Jags, and this past week’s trouncing at the hands of the Colts). QB Josh Allen has regressed a bit from last year’s breakout season, but he still possesses traits that make other QBs drool, with stellar weapons in the passing game to boot. Among his arsenal includes a bust-out candidate that could still be available in your league - none other than tight end Dawson Knox. The Ole Miss product quickly got snapped up earlier this season, attracting fantasy managers when he scored TDs four straight games from weeks 2 through 5. Impatience seemed to follow once he suffered a broken bone in his hand, as many managers dropped Knox during his injury hiatus. Knox made his return the previous weekend against the Jets, catching only one pass. It turns out that Knox just needed a game to get reacclimated, as he caught 6 balls from Allen for 80 yards. Allen targeted Knox a team leading 10 times, with no other player getting more than 6 targets. While Knox is unlikely to lead the team in targets on a regular basis (hello Stefon Diggs!), this does show that Allen values his tight end, and will rely on him as a key component of his offense moving forward. Expect 5-6 targets on average for Knox with some red zone focus, which aligns with his earlier stretch of games. That usage level won’t make him a top 5 fantasy TE, but top 10 (i.e. low end TE1) fits the bill. For the 24% of leagues in which Knox remains available, make the Bills’ TE a priority add if you need help at the position. With no running game to speak of, the Bills can support the plethora of pass catchers for fantasy purposes, including their emerging TE.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues. [Note: Tough week for waivers!]
QB: Mac Jones, NE (vs TEN)
RB: Jamaal Williams, DET (vs CHI)
RB: Tevin Coleman / Ty Johnson, NYJ (@ HOU)
WR: Van Jefferson, LAR (@ GB)
WR: Tim Patrick, DEN (vs LAC)
TE: Dan Arnold, JAC (vs ATL)
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