Playoff races are heating up in not only the NFL but also for the millions who play fantasy football. Finding the little trends and details are what separate teams from continuing their season or sitting outside watching. If fantasy football has taught us anything this season through Week 11, it is that the game we love is tough to predict at times. Sometimes all the research in the world and correct process don’t equal the results we expect on the field. While I can’t sit here and promise championships, I can at least say I will help make you more informed, as to its hard to sit all day on a Sunday with 8 TVs going at once to observe all the action and take notes. If you can do that, can I come over? I’ll bring food if that helps. With all that said, let’s go over some of the significant takeaways in this Week 11 fantasy football recap.
Lamar Jackson strengthens his MVP case.
Every year I tell anyone who asks for fantasy advice the same thing. Wait on drafting a quarterback. Is having Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson on your roster tempting? Absolutely. No one is questioning that. However, if you play in a standard league (by standard, I mean not SuperFlex or 2QB), to a lot of analysts and myself, it doesn’t make sense to take one early on. Yes, this year has been arguably the worst I have ever seen in terms of QB injuries, but that’s not predictable and needs to be thrown out in arguments. Just look at what Lamar Jackson has done this year as an example. This year, Jackson has more games over 30 fantasy points in 4-point passing touchdown leagues (five) than he does games below 20 points (one). What makes him so unique is that anytime he steps on the field, he is the best athlete on it. Through Week 11 in fantasy, Jackson is 10th in the NFL in rushing with 788 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. Add that to the 2,258 yards passing and 19 touchdowns. Yeah, not too bad for a running back, right?
Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant stocks are on the rise.
I will be the first to admit I have an unhealthy love for Courtland Sutton. Between grinding film and watching games, it’s bordering on unhealthy. One of the questions, when the Denver Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders in Week 8 to San Francisco, was if Sutton could be a WR1 and take on opposing teams’ best cornerbacks. The answer is a resounding yes. Even with shaky quarterback play between Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen, Sutton has been feasting. Over the last three games, Sutton has 13 receptions on 23 targets for 241 yards and a touchdown. His ability to get separation and high-level route running make him a top-15 wide receiver in dynasty formats. Do what I am doing and try to get him everywhere you can. His Week 11 stat line of 5 catches for 113 yards is going to be close to the norm. Give him more redzone targets, and the sky is the limit for his ceiling.
Another player who benefited from the Sanders trade was Denver’s rookie tight end, Noah Fant. Week 11 saw his highest target count of the season at 11, catching 4 of those for 60 yards. Since the Sanders trade, Fant has 12 catches on 24 targets for 201 yards and a touchdown. We all have seen how bad the tight end position has been this year, arguably the worst it ever has between a lack of production (O.J. Howard) or injuries (Austin Hooper). If you need an upgrade at the position, check your waivers for Fant and see if he is available.
Deebo Samuel fills the void left by Sanders and Kittle.
While star tight end George Kittle sat out his second straight week due to injury and Sanders left once again due to a rib injury, Deebo Samuel was demonstrating he is more than capable of handling a higher workload. Samuel had a big day, hauling in 8 catches on 10 targets for 134 yards, setting a new season-high in Week 11. Heading into the week knowing Kittle wouldn’t play meant the 49ers staff had plenty of time to scheme ways to get Samuel involved and put him in advantageous matchups. The rookie receiver has now hauled in 16 of 21 targets for 246 yards over the last two games, and while he hasn’t caught a TD pass since Week 2, Samuel is putting together an impressive second-half breakout. After going down quickly 16-0 to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Kyle Shanahan had to more or less abandon the running game until they got back into the game. While this did hurt players like Telvin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, it helped to provide more opportunities for the 49ers receivers against a weak Cardinals passing defense.
Christian McCaffrey is QB proof.
Usually, I would say someone is matchup proof, not this time. Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen played one of the worst games possible, and McCaffrey still managed to get 30.10 points in PPR fantasy football formats in Week 11. At half time, I thought this was going to be a bad day for him honestly. McCaffrey “only” had 8 carries for 36 yards along with 5 catches on 6 targets for 37 yards. Am I spoiled for wanting more by halftime? Sure, I’ll accept that. But he has earned the right to be judged on a different level than any other running back in fantasy football right now. What came in the second half is nothing short of PPR gold. He finished the day with 14 carries for 70 yards (nothing special) and no touchdowns but had 11 receptions on 14 targets for 121 yards. No, that is not a mistype. He had 14 targets in Week 11! As I said before, he is QB-proof. It doesn’t matter where you give him the ball so long as you just give him the ball. Did this help the Panthers win? Heck no, they got blown out by the Atlanta Falcons, thanks in no small part to Allen throwing 4 interceptions. McCaffrey is, in my opinion, the most well rounded back in the NFL. Coming into the season, he was my #1 RB and also #1 overall player for the year in redraft and dynasty. So long as he finishes the season healthy (knock on wood if you’re with me), he will be the consensus first overall pick in 2020.
Derrius Guice flashes his potential in Week 11 return.
In Week 11, we finally got to see Derrius Guice in action, and he looked promising. Last week in our mock draft, I stated that I expected the backfield split to be Adrian Peterson getting the majority of rushing carries while Guice will be the central passing back. We pretty much saw precisely that in their game on Sunday. It was a slow reintroduction for Guice, as it should be and was expected while he still gets back into game speed. What is promising is the top end speed and elusiveness he possesses, taking a dump-off from Dwayne Haskins 45 yards down the sidelines for both players’ first touchdowns of their careers. I wonder who gets to keep the ball? Coming into Week 11, Guice was only owned in 45% of fantasy football leagues. I will be surprised if he isn’t one of the top waiver-wire claims this week as the team faces a bottom-10 rushing defense in Week 12 against the Detroit Lions. Hopefully, you got on the train early and added him before he got on everyone’s radars.
Quick Notes from Week 11:
- I really wonder how good Jameis Winston could be if he just cut his turnovers in half. Week 11 marked the 5th time this year Winston has thrown multiple interceptions in a game, and now has 18 on the year. Yet somehow, has two top-five scoring wide receivers. Mike Evans sits at #2 in PPR, and Chris Godwin is right behind him at #3. Take away half of those drive-killing mistakes, and we could have seen a record-setting duo in Tampa Bay this year.
- It’d be wrong of me if I didn’t touch on the comeback by the Minnesota Vikings today. Down at one point 20-0 to the Broncos and looking lost on the field, they found their composure and came back to pull off the best comeback win of the season. Week 11 serves as a reminder that this team has enough firepower on offense to put up points against just about anyone. Stefon Diggs hauled in all 5 of his targets for 121 yards, including a beautiful 54-yard bomb off play-action from Kirk Cousins. The lack of rushing yards by Dalvin Cook was the lone disappointment, but because they fell behind so quickly, the rushing game had to be put away. He did manage to salvage the day in PPR with 5 catches for 31 yards. No need to worry about him moving forward for obvious reasons.
- Another candidate for owners to spend their claim on is Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams. Williams took over duties as the primary ballcarrier early in the third quarter after Marlon Mack exited with a broken hand. Although his 31-yard reception came before Mack left the game, it was the split after he left that we need to take note of moving forward. Williams received 10 of the teams 15 carries totaling 116 yards on the day. The day could have been better if it wasn’t for a goal-line touchdown by Nyheim Hines. We know Mack is going to miss time with his injury. Rostered in <1% of leagues, Williams will be one of the top claims for this week.
- I don’t care if it was taken away because of review, but Quenton Nelson’s touchdown and group celebration was the best thing I saw all day. It might not be in a stat column, but that video and memory will live on forever.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.