Fantasy Football Week 11: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
The last thing fantasy managers need as the stretch run toward the playoffs gets underway is a bunch of looming questions that could have a massive impact on player scores in Week 11.
So, of course, that's what we have.
What will the Drew Brees injury (and the insertion of Jameis Winston under center) mean for the New Orleans Saints offense?
Can new faces at running back in places like Los Angeles and Miami keep producing?
Will the Minnesota Vikings offense keep its momentum going? Can the Baltimore Ravens offense ever get any momentum going?
All those questions leave fantasy managers with some of their own, chief among them, "Who the heck do I start this week?"
This article is here to help with that last one.
Every week, I peruse lineup questions on the Bleacher Report app and then offer up answers to help fantasy managers.
This time of year, that's more important than ever.
We All Have Issues
The easiest place to start with this question is by ruling out the wide receiver. Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers has had his moments in 2020, including a 6/116/1 stat line against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. But Johnson just isn't going to see the ball as much as the running backs listed here.
This is where things get tricky, though. The running backs all have fantastic Week 11 matchups.
D'Andre Swift of the Detroit Lions is coming off the best game of his young career—149 total yards and a touchdown on 21 touches against the Washington Football Team. Sunday, Swift and the Lions take on a Carolina Panthers defense that just allowed Ronald Jones II of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go off for 192 rushing yards, including a 98-yard score.
We're now left with one spot and two backs: Mike Davis of the Carolina Panthers and Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs. Both play against teams that rank inside the top five in PPR points surrendered to running backs this season. Both have also been cold lately. Davis hasn't topped 100 yards from scrimmage in a game since Week 5, and Edwards-Helaire hasn't had even 10 touches in a game since gashing the Buffalo Bills for 161 rushing yards in Week 6.
It's that lack of touches, and the fact that the Detroit Lions lead the league in fantasy points per game allowed to the position, that gives the edge to Davis for the second spot.
What Can Brown Do for You?
Just as with the last question, we'll kick off this question with a quick rule-out. Kenny Golladay of the Lions hasn't practiced (let alone played) since hurting his hip in Week 8. Golladay did practice Wednesday, but the 27-year-old is hard to trust in a must-win week for many fantasy managers if there are other viable options.
Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks is just such a viable option. In Seattle's first meeting with the Cardinals this year, Lockett went bananas, accruing 15 receptions, 200 yards and three scores.
Is that good? It sounds good.
Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals is another. Higgins doesn't draw a great matchup in Week 11 (@ WAS), but he's been remarkably consistent. Last week's 7/115/1 line against the Steelers was the rookie's fourth straight outing with at least 13 PPR fantasy points, and he has 10-plus in every game since Week 3.
That leaves one spot and three wideouts. Antonio Brown plays in a crowded Tampa passing attack and gets a Rams team that's dead last in PPR points allowed to wide receivers. Travis Fulgham of the Philadelphia Eagles had just one catch last week and has seen his target share dip the past two weeks.
That leaves A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans. The Baltimore pass defense is no joke, but Brown has six scores in seven games and a pair of 100-yard outings in his last four contests.
He gets the final spot.
The Overthink Trap
This is a classic case of overthinking it.
The Philadelphia Eagles are surrendering the fifth-fewest PPR points to running backs this season. But Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns is about as matchup-proof as running backs get. Last week's 126-yard effort against the Houston Texans was the third time in five games this season that Chubb eclipsed the century mark. In all three of those games, Chubb also found the end zone.
Duke Johnson of the Houston Texans is easy to rule out. This week's matchup with the New England Patriots is OK but not great, and Johnson doesn't have 75 total yards in any game this season. Pass.
That brings us to Damien Harris of the Patriots vs. Miles Sanders of the Philadelphia Eagles. Harris has been solid of late. He's had three straight games with at least 14 carries and two 100-yard games over that span. Sanders came back from injury last week to rack up 90 total yards on 17 touches against the New York Giants.
Harris has a better matchup, as the Texans rank inside the top five in fantasy points allowed to running backs this year. But with Cam Newton lurking to vulture goal-line opportunities, Sanders has better touchdown upside.
It's close, but Sanders is the play.
Two-QB and "Superflex" leagues can be fun. They bring the importance of the position in fantasy more in line with how vital signal-callers are in the NFL.
This motley crew of passers rather sucks some of that fun out, though.
There is less than no chance that rolling out a sixth-round rookie quarterback against a defense that leads the league in both sacks and takeaways is a good idea. So Jake Luton of the Jacksonville Jaguars is all kinds of out.
Cam Newton of the New England Patriots is in. It's not because of his passing prowess—Newton has all of two 200-yard games this season through the air. But he also averages 41.9 rushing yards and 1.1 touchdowns on the ground heading into a matchup with a laughably bad Texans run defense.
The second spot comes down to experience vs youth. Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins is undefeated as the starter in Miami, but his stats have been underwhelming. Last week against the Chargers, he passed for just 169 yards and two scores.
Washington's Alex Smith didn't have a touchdown pass in Week 10, but he did throw for 390 yards. He also gets a Cincinnati Bengals defense Sunday that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2020.
The veteran gets the nod for slot No. 2.
More 2 QB Troubles
There appear to be quite a few folks in two-QB leagues in a bind in Week 11.
Of these signal-callers, Burrow is the easiest "yes." The first overall pick in the 2020 draft struggled in the wind in Pittsburgh last week, but he has topped 300 passing yards in five of nine starts this year.
The other spot goes to Jameis Winston of the New Orleans Saints. There is admittedly some risk involved with that play, but Tua Tagovailaoa has topped 200 passing yards only once in three starts with the Dolphins. There just isn't much of a fantasy ceiling there.
Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings gets one of the wideout spots. He had 135 receiving yards last week against a stout Bears defense and faces a Cowboys team in Week 11 that couldn't cover a bed with a sheet.
Travis Fulgham of the Eagles has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers in 2020, but as the Philly wideout corps gets healthier, Fulgham's target share will more likely than not take a sizable hit. Last week, he had only one catch for eight yards against the Giants. No thanks.
That makes it a two-man race for the final spot between A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans and D.J. Moore of the Carolina Panthers. Moore posted a solid 4/96/1 line last week against Tampa, but he only had four total catches for 73 yards in the two games before that.
Brown draws a tough matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, but before last week's dud against the Colts, he scored in five straight games.
It isn't a landslide, but Brown gets the nod in the final spot.
We'll start off here with the tight end question, and it's a good one.
Like most of the Ravens offense, Mark Andrews has been something of a disappointment in 2020. While he's still a top-five fantasy option at his position, his numbers are off relative to last year. This week's matchup with the Tennessee Titans isn't a great one for tight ends, either.
With that said, though, Rob Gronkowski's matchup with the Los Angeles Rams isn't an especially good one, either. And while Gronk has had his moments catching passes from Tom Brady in 2020, he hasn't been as productive or consistent as Andrews.
Thus, Gronkowski is out of contention for both spots.
That leaves four players, most of whom we have already mentioned this week. Diontae Johnson has been decent for the Steelers, but he isn't going to see the touches the running backs will, and touches equal opportunity. Duke Johnson of the Texans just hasn't been productive enough to merit consideration over the other players listed here.
Nyheim Hines of the Indianapolis Colts may well lead the team in backfield touches this week after he was Indy's most effective back against the Titans in Week 10. But there's still Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins to contend with. He's a decent flex play in Week 11, but he isn't the play here.
That's Damien Harris. The Texans were just gashed for well over 200 rushing yards by the Cleveland Browns, and the 2020 Patriots are all about running the ball.
Another 100-yard rushing outing is a distinct possibility.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson just earned this week's cover photo.
He's also finally going to get the nod as a fantasy starter.
It's possible that Joe Mixon will be back for the Cincinnati Bengals this week. But even if he isn't and Giovani Bernard gets another shot as the No. 1 running back, he isn't a great fantasy play against a Washington defense allowing the ninth-fewest PPR points to running backs. He sits.
Kalen Ballage of the Chargers topped 100 total yards last week and draws a top-10 matchup for running backs this week in the Jets. But despite Anthony Lynn's confidence in Ballage, there's still ample room for skepticism that his last two games were not a mirage. His yards per carry dipped below four last week and sits at 3.3 for his career.
It's all receivers here.
Johnson is coming off a 100-yard effort against the Bengals and gets a soft Jaguars pass defense in Week 11. Tyler Boyd of the Bengals is essentially an every-week play who ranks inside the top 15 wideouts for the season. Washington's Terry McLaurin is definitely an every-week play who ranks inside the top 10 at his position. If Justin Jefferson of the Vikings can top 100 yards against a stout Bears defense, he can certainly have a good game against a woeful Cowboys secondary.
Jakobi Meyers vs. Ballage is a relatively close call. But over the past two weeks, Meyers has been targeted 21 times, hauling in 17 passes for 228 yards. He also threw for a score on a trick play last week in Baltimore.
The final spot is his.
The Call: Terry McLaurin (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,900) , Tyler Boyd (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,600), Diontae Johnson (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,900) , Justin Jefferson (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000), Jakobi Meyers (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,900)
Beware of the Yips
Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens was the first or second quarterback taken in most drafts after his MVP season in 2019. Ten weeks into the 2020 season, he barely ranks inside the top 10 in fantasy points at the position.
However, over the past three weeks as the starter for the Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa ranks outside the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks. There just isn't enough upside here to justify seriously considering a swap.
As the flex spots go, one belongs to Carolina's Mike Davis. Yes, he's been sluggish of late. But with Christian McCaffrey already ruled out, he should see 15-plus touches in the best fantasy matchup for running backs.
As was mentioned in the previous slide, I have my doubts about Kalen Ballage's viability even in a solid matchup with the New York Jets, especially with Joshua Kelley still lurking behind him. The battle between him and New England's Jakobi Meyers ends the same way here it did before: with the Pats wideout on top.
But both sit here.
Salvon Ahmed of the Miami Dolphins was given a full-time workload last week and responded with 22 touches for 90 yards and a score. The Denver Broncos aren't a great matchup for the position, but they also aren't a terrible one. Ahmed has a solid shot at building on last week's success.
However, he sits here as well.
Christian Kirk of the Cardinals has to be the play here for one reason: Seattle's pass defense leads the league in PPR points allowed to wideouts. Back in Week 7 against the Seahawks, Kirk caught five passes for 37 yards. That's a relatively modest stat line...until you tack on the two touchdowns he scored.
DraftKings DFS Question of the Week
All three of these wide receivers are capable of the kinds of huge stat lines that can win you some cabbage at DraftKings. All three also carry robust Week 11 salaries.
That Michael Thomas of the Saints is the least expensive of the bunch despite having the best matchup against an Atlanta defense allowing the third-most DraftKings points to wide receivers should serve as a major red flag. However, we don't know what the insertion of Jameis Winston at quarterback will mean for Thomas, and that's too much risk for over $7,000 in salary.
Conversely, Julio Jones of the Falcons is the priciest of the lot, but he also has the worst matchup. The Saints are giving up the 10th-fewest DK points to receivers. Add in the possibility that Calvin Ridley might return for the Falcons this week, and Jones is a pass as well.
That leaves Keenan Allen of the Chargers, who is the highest-scoring receiver of this bunch (ninth among wideouts in PPR points per game). Only Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills and Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears have been targeted more than Allen this season, and he's going against a Jets defense giving up the 10th-most DK points to wide receivers this year.
Allen is the guy in Week 11.
The Call: Keenan Allen (DraftKings DFS Value: $7,400)
As this week's column comes to a close, it's time to break out the uptempo attack, run the two-minute drill and fire off some answers rapid-fire style.
Have more Week 11 lineup questions? Leave them in the comments. I try to spend at least a few hours there every Friday and Saturday to assist readers in setting their lineups.
Rhettro has a wide receiver question. "Who should I start this week. Jarvis Landry, DJ Chark or Jamison Crowder?"
Jarvis Landry is the No. 1 receiver for the Cleveland Browns, but that doesn't mean a lot. He has topped 55 yards in a game only twice this season. Jamison Crowder of the Jets scored a touchdown in his last game, but his target share plummeted relative to earlier in the season. DJ Chark Jr. (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,700) of the Jaguars draws a tough matchup with the Steelers, but the Jags will likely be playing catch-up late. Gotta love garbage time.
dc48 is looking for a loophole. "Would you start Taysom Hill over Hayden Hurst this week at TE with his QB possibilities?"
In a word, no. Were we talking about a lower-end tight end, Hill's upside would be more interesting this week. But how much more he'll be used in New Orleans with Drew Brees out remains a mystery, and Hayden Hurst (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,400) of the Falcons has quietly posted four straight games with double-digit PPR points.
Steve550 needs running back help. "Half PPR…Chase Edmonds, Salvon Ahmed or Gio Bernard?"
The return of Kenyan Drake clouds Edmonds' carry share with the Cardinals and rules him out. Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard draws a tough matchup with Washington. Many didn't know who he was two weeks ago, but the play here is Salvon Ahmed (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,800) of the Dolphins against the Broncos after his Week 10 coming-out party.
dirtygerz720 needs a few wide receivers."Start 2 in PPR. Amari Cooper, Chase Claypool, Will Fuller."
Will Fuller V (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,200) of the Houston Texans is an easy "yes" after scoring a touchdown in six of his last seven games. Chase Claypool of the Steelers is tempting after a 4/56/2 line against the Bengals in Week 10. But the second slot goes to Amari Cooper (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400), who is the No. 1 wideout for a Dallas Cowboys team facing a Minnesota Vikings defense that has allowed the fourth-most PPR points to wideouts.
More yips from icmax. "Would you consider starting (Jameis) Winston over (Deshaun) Watson this week?"
No, no, no and double-no. Erase that thought from your head. Deshaun Watson (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,500) of the Houston Texans presently sits eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks this season. Jameis Winston has attempted 11 passes this season and has 75 passing yards. His matchup with Atlanta isn't that good.
griffvw needs two of three. "Damien Harris, Robby Anderson, or Duke Johnson?"
We have already discussed the production and plus matchup that makes Damien Harris (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,700) of the Patriots a good play in Week 11. And the lack of production that makes Duke Johnson a bad one. Robby Anderson (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000) has emerged as the No. 1 wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers this year, and he gets a Detroit defense Sunday that can be had through the air.
Finally, we have a defense question from ImTheMan414. "Cleveland Browns defense or Baltimore Ravens defense?"
From an NFL perspective, this isn't close to a question. The Ravens are one of the best defenses in the league. The Cleveland Browns (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,000) are not. But while the Ravens face a Tennessee Titans team allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to defenses, the Browns draw a turnover-prone Eagles team that leads the NFL in sacks allowed. Cleveland is a sneaky good Week 11 play.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year.
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