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Week 11 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Cam Newton (v WAS)

Newton only needed nine snaps in his season debut to score twice (once on the ground and once through the air), and the role he plays in scoring territory will give him big-time upside as the starter. Washington—who declined to sign Newton when made available twice this year—is allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, so Cam is positioned for a huge day. I have him as a top-ten play at the position for Week 11.


Thumbs Up: Daniel Jones (@ TB)

Jones has fared well against the Buccaneers in each of his first two seasons (297.0 passing yards per game with a 4:2 touchdown-interception ratio), and now he’ll enter the matchup with a) an upgraded supporting cast, and b) facing a defense that has really struggled to cover in 2021. He might be getting overlooked coming off the bye, but Jones has a case to be a QB1 for what might finally be a spot where he gets extended action surrounded by his full supporting cast.


Thumbs Up: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ JAX)

San Francisco will want to again keep the ball on the ground as much as possible, but the success of their running game has only opened things up for Garoppolo, and he is coming off his best performance of the year in a win over the Rams. I’d expect Jacksonville’s increasingly competitive defense will do their best to make sure the 49ers don’t dominate on the ground, so look for Jimmy G to hit them with play-action throws to Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle.


Thumbs Up: Tua Tagovailoa (@ NYJ)

Tagovailoa threw for 158 yards on just 15 attempts last Thursday night, and the few extra days to rest up with his finger injury should have him playing sharper heading into an excellent matchup versus the spiraling Jets. Over the past four games, New York has allowed point totals of 54, 31, 45, and 45—plus at least 20.26 fantasy points to each of the past five quarterback they’ve faced. Tua should be viewed as an upside streaming option this week.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Carson Wentz (@ BUF)

Among the categories that Buffalo’s defense leads the NFL in are fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks (10.7), passing touchdowns allowed (six), interceptions (15), yards per attempt allowed (5.7), and completion percentage allowed (57.9%). The overall steady play of Wentz and his 17:3 touchdown-interception ratio through ten games isn’t enough to feel confident about him overcoming the matchup. View him as a low-end QB2 option on the road.


Thumbs Down: Justin Fields (v BAL)

Baltimore is still allowing the most passing yards per game (283.3) in the league, but they have too many good players to not become more stout following the mini bye, and it’s not like the group hasn’t shown promise with shutdown performances versus the Chargers and Bengals. Although Fields has appeared to turn a corner in his development, the Ravens probably aren’t as easy of a matchup as they might look on paper. I’d be skeptical about the rookie as a top-15 play.


Thumbs Down: Trevor Lawrence (v SF)

Lawrence has zero multi-touchdown games aside from the season opener, and there isn’t much reason to be encouraged about Jacksonville’s passing attack with 207.4 passing yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game for the No. 1 overall pick since then. I would think San Francisco will remain focused following a huge win on Monday night (at 4-5, they can’t afford to overlook an opponent), so Lawrence could again have a quiet game through the air, and it might take a rushing score to lift him from the bottom of the rankings.


Thumbs Down: Matt Ryan (v NE)

We have seen Ryan bounce back from a disappointing performance to thrive against a tough opponent as recent as two weeks ago, but the lack of weapons in Atlanta with Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) potentially out and Calvin Ridley (personal) still away from the team—on an offense that wasn’t deep to begin with—puts their quarterback in a difficult spot. The Patriots have recorded more interceptions (14) than they’ve allowed touchdown passes (13), and the unit could make it a long night for Matty Ice.


Running Back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Tony Pollard (@ KC)

Pollard hauled in six-of-seven targets for 56 yards last week, and in the seven wins for Dallas this season, their talented change-of-pace runner has averaged 13.4 touches per game. Shootout potential for Cowboys-Chiefs arguably makes Pollard a top-24 option at running back this week, and the reintegration of Michael Gallup isn’t a huge concern with the balance Mike McCarthy wants to have on offense. Pollard is a strong play considering all the concerns about injury and lesser committees throughout the league.


Thumbs Up: J.D. McKissic (@ CAR)

It’s looking like Logan Thomas (hamstring) might miss another game, so McKissic has a great opportunity to soak up underneath targets in a matchup where Taylor Heinicke might need to get the ball out of his hands quickly to avoid takedowns against Haason Reddick (9.5 sacks) and Brian Burns (6.0 sacks). For the season, McKissic is averaging 4.1 receptions, 40.8 receiving yards, and 8.0 yards per target. I like him as a low-end RB2/FLEX option.


Thumbs Up: Mike Davis (v NE)

Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) might actually have a shot to play on a short week considering he was listed as a participant in practice, but if not, Davis is positioned to lead the backfield for an offense that would prefer to not slant too much towards the passing attack. While there is some concern about Wayne Gallman taking a chunk of the work, Arthur Smith notably indicated that his increased usage last week (16 touches) had to do with the lopsided score.


Thumbs Up: Jeff Wilson Jr. (@ JAX)

Wilson Jr. is another player that could get boosted this week if Elijah Mitchell (finger) can’t go on Sunday, so he needs to be rostered in all leagues ahead of a potential spot start. The veteran was held in check with 28 yards on ten attempts in his first offensive action of 2021, but he played 32% of the team’s offensive snaps, and hopefully the rust is knocked off now. Last year, Wilson Jr. averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored ten total touchdowns in 12 games.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Miles Sanders (v NO)

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has said Sanders (ankle) will be the starter when he returns, but the former second-round pick coming back this weekend—in a matchup versus the NFL’s top-ranked run defense—might only lead to a headache with fantasy owners trying to balance the big-play value with the lowered floor alongside Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell. Even if someone is inactive (likely Gainwell), Philly will rotate their backs, and Sanders probably wouldn’t have a strong RB2 case in his return.


Thumbs Down: Devonta Freeman (@ CHI)

The usage of Freeman—with touch totals of 15 and 13 over the past two weeks—could lead to some wanting to stick with him, but I’d recommended against that with Latavius Murray (ankle) appearing set for a return. Baltimore has treated Murray as the clear lead back when healthy, and his fit in the offense could kick Freeman back to more of a change-of-pace role, which lowers both the ceiling and floor. I’d rather gamble on a backup like D’Onta Foreman in a better spot.


Thumbs Down: Nyheim Hines (@ BUF)

A career-long touchdown run in primetime two weeks ago might have Hines being viewed more favorably than he should be from a fantasy perspective—as Indy’s dynamic backup has been limited to 14 receptions for 85 scoreless yards over the past seven games (with 3.7 yards per target during that span). Frank Reich seems to have finally realized Jonathan Taylor should be featured heavily (84% snaps played in Week 10), but that could cause Hines (28% snaps played in Week 10) to lose value and be more dependent on breaking a big play in a difficult matchup.


Thumbs Down: Bills RBs (v IND)

Matt Breida being active and having a significant role in Buffalo’s backfield was a worst-case scenario for anyone hoping Devin Singletary or Zack Moss would takeover down the stretch—but now they all will be very touchdown dependent on a pass-heavy offense. Indy’s run defense plays hard, and they have allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league (four).


Wide Receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Brandin Cooks (@ TEN)

I know the circumstances were different as the part of a high-powered Houston offense, but Cooks absolutely torched the Titans last year—catching 20-of-25 targets for 234 yards and three touchdowns in two games. Although the last outing wasn’t one to be encouraged about, Tyrod Taylor remains a capable passer that can connect on the deep ball, and Tennessee had allowed the New Orleans wideouts to get behind them some in Week 10. Cooks is a high-upside option this weekend.


Thumbs Up: Kenny Golladay (@ TB)

The bye week should have Golladay looking more like himself on Monday night, and this isn’t to deny he’s been a disappointment to begin his New York career, but the early-season production wasn’t awful—with 64+ receiving yards in three-of-four games—before the knee injury hit in Week 5. Tampa Bay’s concerns on the backend could allow Golladay to breakout with a monster game and his first touchdown as a Giant, so I’d consider starting him as a high-ceiling, low-floor WR2.


Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (@ KC)

Similar to Tony Pollard at running back, Gallup is an undervalued option to get a piece of a hopeful shootout in Kansas City—and I could see Dallas giving him a couple of downfield opportunities like the Raiders did with Bryan Edwards in Week 10. The Chiefs rank in the bottom five of the league in terms of passing yards per attempt allowed (8.0) and touchdown passes allowed (18), so there is enough upside for Gallup to hit alongside CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper.


Thumbs Up: Tyler Lockett (v ARI)

People that counted on Seattle’s offense last week in Russell Wilson’s return might be a little wary about them on Sunday, but Lockett is close to must-start with an explosion set to happen soon. Remember, Lockett was white-hot in the first meeting versus the Cardinals in 2020 with 15 receptions, 200 yards, and three touchdowns, and that was followed up by another great game less than a month later (9/67/1 on nine targets). Lockett possesses week-winning upside.


Others: Kadarius Toney (@ TB), Nelson Agholor (@ ATL)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Diontae Johnson (@ LAC)

As we had hoped, Johnson was able to overcome a quarterback change and bad weather to put up seven receptions for 83 yards last week, but now it’s the matchup—against a Los Angeles defense allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game in the league (206.0)—that is reason to downgrade Pittsburgh’s top wideout. Diontae should still have a solid game and remains in the top-24 at the position, but Sunday night feels like a spot where the Steelers feed Najee Harris and even get some other runners involved whether it’s Ben Roethlisberger (COVID-19) or Mason Rudolph at quarterback.


Thumbs Down: Corey Davis (v MIA)

The Miami defense has flipped a switch to try to turn their season around, and their play over the past two weeks in particular makes the matchup for Davis more challenging than it appears against a bottom-five unit in terms of passing yards allowed. For the most part, Davis should see a lot of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones on the outside, and while Joe Flacco is capable of a big game out of nowhere, the former Super Bowl MVP is the fourth quarterback to play for New York this year. I have Davis outside the top 30 in Week 11.


Thumbs Down: Allen Robinson (v BAL)

Robinson is coming off a game in which he had a season-high 68 receiving yards, but the opportunities were again limited with just six targets, and he’s averaging 5.0 targets per game since Justin Fields took over as the starter. As previously stated, I believe Baltimore’s defense should step up down the stretch, and I feel like their cornerbacks might be more likely to struggle versus Darnell Mooney than Robinson on Sunday. Consider him a low-floor WR3.


Thumbs Down: Rondale Moore (@ SEA)

Combining for an 11/182/1 line over the first two games of the season had Moore looking like an immediate star for Arizona, but the production since then (at least in terms of receiving yards) hasn’t even surpassed the hot start with 180 yards over the past eight games. I’m still very high on the rookie’s talent, but he’s gone for yardage totals of 19, 17, 25, 25, and 11 over the past five weeks.


Others: James Washington (@ LAC), Russell Gage (v NE)


Tight End


Thumbs Up of the Week: Mike Gesicki (@ NYJ)

I don’t know if getting seven targets—including two in/near the end zone—makes Gesicki’s zero-catch outing better or worse, but fantasy owners shouldn’t hurt themselves now by dwelling on the past, so you need to stick with the athletic tight end in lineups this week. Robert Saleh’s defense has no answers for Kyle Pitts’ athleticism/versatility earlier this year (9/119/1), and I’m optimistic that Gesicki will remain a big part of the offense to rebound in Week 11.


Thumbs Up: Cole Kmet (v BAL)

Part of the reason Gesicki might not have been able to produce last week against a Baltimore defense allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends (they are now third-worst) is his usage in the slot often pitting him against Marlon Humphrey, but Kmet can maybe have better luck in a more traditional tight end role. In Chicago’s last game, Justin Fields connected with Kmet six times for 87 yards, and the talent is there for a second-half breakout.


Thumbs Up: Donald Parham Jr. (v PIT)

Pittsburgh potentially being without Minkah Fitzpatrick (COVID-19) on Sunday night would leave them vulnerable between the numbers, and I think we’ll see Los Angeles try to use Parham Jr. to take advantage of the loss by testing the seams. The same is true for Jared Cook, but as a cheaper option, Parham Jr. has been a weekly factor with at least 40% of the snaps played in every game this year.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Kyle Pitts (v NE)

The state of tight end should keep Pitts locked into all lineups, but who do you think Bill Belichick will want to eliminate for Matt Ryan with Calvin Ridley (and maybe Cordarrelle Patterson) inactive? Atlanta’s rookie tight end only had one touchdown this season, and I’d rather have Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, or even T.J. Hockenson as a Tier 2 option for Week 11.


Thumbs Down: Dallas Goedert (v NO)

Goedert (concussion) might not even be cleared to play on Sunday, but if he is, the matchup is one to be worried about versus a New Orleans defense that hadn’t allowed an opposing tight end to score before MyCole Pruitt on a two-yard touchdown last week. The low-volume passing attack for the Eagles—with Jalen Hurts averaging 13.2 completions per game over the past five weeks—is another concern for Goedert’s outlook.


Thumbs Down: Gerald Everett (v ARI)

Everett was a lone bright spot on Seattle’s offense last week by catching all eight of his targets for 63 yards, but the Cardinals—even though he was 7-0 against them in Los Angeles—haven’t been a great matchup by limiting him to 17.3 yards per game. This year, Arizona has allowed fewer than 5.0 fantasy points to the position in seven-of-11 games.


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