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Week 11 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyler Murray (@ HOU)

Murray looked like himself in the first game back from a torn ACL suffered late last year, so there is no reason to hold back on viewing him as a QB1 option. While the “vulture” by Clayton Tune on a quarterback sneak was disappointing last week, Murray rushed six times for 33 yards and a score of his own, and the arm talent was on display with a couple of deep shots (including a near touchdown that went off the outstretched hands of Marquise Brown). He’s our overall QB7 versus a Houston defense that hasn’t been challenged by a ton of top quarterbacks this season.


Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (v CHI)

Chicago has played much better defense lately, but they’re another team that hasn’t exactly faced a slew of elite passers—with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert both dissecting them in three-touchdown performances. Goff is playing at that level for an excellent Detroit offense, so look for him to stay hot at home with the Bears still being at the bottom of the league in sacks (13). Fantasy owners will be hoping for a performance similar to last year’s game at Ford Field where Goff had 255 yards and three scores in a 41-10 victory.


Thumbs Up: Justin Fields (@ DET)

On the other side of Bears-Lions, Justin Fields (thumb) is set to finally return, and his success on the ground should not go overlooked with a combined 23 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit in 2022. Plus, Fields getting some time to watch from the sideline could have him playing more decisively as a passer, and at the same time, I don’t think he’ll be hesitating to run when a lane opens up. I’d consider him a top-ten play for Week 11.


Thumbs Up: Russell Wilson (v MIN)

Wilson is up to an 18:4 touchdown-interception ratio on the season as Denver has clawed their way into the playoff picture, and he’s also been very effective as a runner with 30+ rushing yards in four of the past five games. On Sunday night, I’d expect Wilson to have increased upside versus an aggressive Minnesota defense that will leave cornerbacks on an island and can be susceptible to quarterback runs. Joshua Dobbs is a strong streaming option as well, but Wilson is actually the preferred play for me in primetime.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Trevor Lawrence (v TEN)

Lawrence was listed here last week, but there was at least some hope that things would be figured out following the bye; that didn’t happen in a season-worst performance (2.1 fantasy points), and now he’ll take on a Tennessee defense that hasn’t allowed more than 18.22 fantasy points in a game since Week 3. Considering the low ceiling for Lawrence this year, he needs to be downgraded clearly into the QB2 ranks.


Thumbs Down: Sam Howell (v NYG)

The Giants have since fallen further down the standings while Howell has put up big numbers, but New York always plays Washington tough for whatever reason—including with a 14-7 victory in Week 7. The game was one of the worst of the season for Howell by completing 22-of-42 passes for 249 yards and one interception, so the Giants could be a bigger challenge than many are anticipating, and I’d rather roll with someone like Russell Wilson or Joshua Dobbs this weekend.


Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (@ SF)

San Francisco erased any questions about the defense underperforming with the win over Jacksonville, and now Mayfield could be in for a long day with limited success in two career matchups versus the Niners (0-2 record with zero touchdowns and three interceptions). In particular, Tampa Bay being unable to win up front is a major concern with Chase Young boosting the defensive line, and Mayfield could be cooled off after three consecutive games with multiple scores.


Thumbs Down: Josh Allen (v NYJ)

Allen is still a top-ten option at quarterback, and the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey could be a spark and/or wake-up call for the attack—which I expect to play faster under Joe Brady. That said, New York has been extremely stingy versus for top quarterbacks all season, and it might take Allen being unleashed as a runner for him to reach the usual high-end QB1 expectations in Week 11.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Javonte Williams (v MIN)

Williams has been fed with 30 touches and 25 touches for Denver in wins over the Chiefs and Bills, so he’s been a massive part of the season turnaround with the offensive line gelling in Sean Payton’s offense. Minnesota is a below-average matchup, but Williams—with zero rushing scores—is due to find the end zone on the ground, and his involvement as a receiver has been encouraging with Jaleel McLaughlin and Samaje Perine falling off. Consider him a borderline top-15 play.


Thumbs Up: Keaton Mitchell (v CIN)

The Ravens apparently want to get Mitchell more involved on Thursday night, and it’s easy to see why with three touches of 50+ yards already in his young career (fellow rookie De’Von Achane is the only other player to accomplish the same feat). Cincinnati is quietly allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (136.2) and the second-most yards per carry (5.0) in the league, so Mitchell should be viewed as a low-end RB2/FLEX option with upside.


Thumbs Up: Ty Chandler (@ DEN)

One of the teams allowing more rushing yards per game than the Bengals is Denver—ranking dead last in that category (158.3), along with yards per carry allowed (5.6) and fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs (29.8). Chandler is likely to draw the start in place of Alexander Mattison (concussion), which immediately puts him in starting territory after 15 carries for 45 yards and a score in Week 10.


Thumbs Up: AJ Dillon (v LAC)

The Chargers had an improved run defense entering last week, but Detroit went off with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs combining to rush 26 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns, and I would expect Green Bay to play through Aaron Jones and Dillon if possible. Fantasy owners probably need to rely on efficiency for Dillon to be a high-quality start, but he turned 11 touches into 81 yards against Pittsburgh, and he’s seen double-digit touches in all but one game this year.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Isiah Pacheco (v PHI)

Philadelphia has the NFL’s top defense in terms of rushing yards per game (66.3) and rushing touchdowns (three) allowed, and a lot of that is due to Jordan Davis—who should be healthier coming off the bye—plugging up running lanes. Pacheco has been great for Kansas City this year and had a standout performance in the Super Bowl with 76 yards and a score on 15 carries, but I think the Eagles will remain very stout versus the run to lower him outside the top 24 at the position for Week 11.


Thumbs Down: Chuba Hubbard (v DAL)

Hubbard remaining the starter has many still putting him in low-end RB2/FLEX range, but we have him as the overall RB37 for what is expected to be a complete mismatch for Carolina this week as the Cowboys come to town. Over the past three weeks, Hubbard has rushed 40 times for 109 yards (2.7 YPC), and he only has one touchdown on the year. Outside of Adam Thielen—who himself has seen his value decrease recently—it’s difficult to trust anyone for the Panthers at this point.


Thumbs Down: Darrell Henderson Jr. (v SEA)

Henderson is in a similar situation to Hubbard (though on a much better offense), but he’s averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in three games this season—including ten rushes for 19 scoreless yards in the loss to Green Bay prior to the bye. I think the struggles could lead to Royce Freeman (4.3 yards per carry) having the edge on the ground, so the main thing keeping Henderson boosted as a FLEX is hopeful receiving work or a short score.


Thumbs Down: D’Onta Foreman (@ DET)

The Bears are expected to have Khalil Herbert (ankle) back this week after he practiced fully ahead of Week 10, but wanting to play Foreman is understandable with 80+ rushing yards in three of the past four weeks. However, the floor would be what I’m worried about (nine carries for 34 yards in the other game), and Herbert will—at the very least—be a super change-of-pace option versus a Detroit defense allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to enemy backs.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Jaylen Waddle (v LV)

Waddle catching just three passes for 42 yards and dealing with injury issues in the loss to Kansas City was frustrating for fantasy owners, but the week off should do him good—and I wouldn’t consider him anything less than a borderline WR1/WR2 that should be locked into lineups. Before the disappointment in Germany, Waddle had a touchdown in three of the previous four games, and he could easily hit on a long score if Marcus Peters or someone else jumps at a double move.


Thumbs Up: Romeo Doubs (v LAC)

Green Bay has gone with more of a rotation at wide receiver recently, but Doubs hasn’t really been impacted with more than 80% of the snaps played in every game since Week 3 (so, since he’s been healthy), and the second-year wideout has found the end zone six times already this season. Facing a Los Angeles defense that’s vulnerable versus the pass and in a game that the Packers will need to score points in, Doubs is an upside WR2 with high touchdown potential.


Thumbs Up: Rashee Rice (v PHI)

Rookie wide receivers are typically brought along slowly under Andy Reid, but Rice has averaged 9.2 yards per target and scored four touchdowns on just 41 targets to begin his career, so there is a real chance he gets unleashed coming off the bye for an offense still looking for answers. In addition to his efficiency, it’s encouraging that Rice has seen a new high in playing time in each of his past three games (59% > 61% > 68%), and he can be started this week against a struggling Philadelphia secondary.


Thumbs Up: Jameson Williams (v CHI)

The floor for Williams is probably zero points, and he’s been held below 20 yards in all but one game this season (thanks to a 45-yard touchdown); but the playing time finally got above 50% last week, and his key hustle blocks to spring David Montgomery’s 75-yard touchdown could lead to Detroit rewarding Williams with a couple of schemed shots this weekend. If you want pure upside, the speedster can be a hit.


Others: Noah Brown (v ARI), Marvin Mims Jr. (v MIN)


Thumbs Down of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins (@ JAX)

Since a 4/128/3 line that was boosted by a couple of blown coverages in the first career start for Will Levis, we’ve seen Hopkins combine to catch seven-of-19 targets for 87 scoreless yards, and now he’ll draw coverage from Tyson Campbell (hamstring) if the lengthy cornerback is healthy. Either way, I wouldn’t view Hopkins as the high-end WR2 that some have him ranked as with Tennessee being limited to 16 or fewer points in all five road games this year (0-5 record).


Thumbs Down: Chris Godwin (@ SF)

The numbers for Godwin have been solid in 2023 with a season-long pace of 83 receptions and over 1,000 total yards, but it speaks to his consistency more than it does his fantasy value—with just one touchdown on the year and no huge performances to date. In three career matchups versus San Francisco, Godwin has gone for yardage totals of 42, 53, and 54, so fantasy owners will likely be counting on him to find the end zone in order to pay off as anything more than a stable FLEX.


Thumbs Down: Calvin Ridley (v TEN)

Ridley has been the opposite of consistent this year, but the problem is that his highs are far too sporadic (three games with 83+ yards; 40 or fewer yards in every other game). Sticky coverage by cornerback Roger McCreary could find Ridley on Sunday, and I would imagine things set up better for Travis Etienne Jr.—because he needs to be more involved—and Evan Engram after the latter killed Tennessee in 2022. We have Ridley outside the top 30 at wide receiver.


Thumbs Down: Gabe Davis (v NYJ)

Davis has settled in as a boom-or-bust WR/FLEX depending on the matchup this year, but since a four-game touchdown streak ended, he’s been held to below 2.0 fantasy points in three-of-five games—making him an option to avoid with the Jets coming to town. Basically, you might need a short touchdown or busted coverage for Davis to be worth a start, and the next two games (@ PHI, @ KC) set up better for him.


Others: George Pickens (@ CLE), Jerry Jeudy (v MIN)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: David Njoku (v PIT)

The Browns going with Dorian Thompson-Robinson over PJ Walker with Deshaun Watson (shoulder) done for the season gives me pause, but Njoku is a featured part of Kevin Stefanski’s offense, and he’s had success against Pittsburgh in the past—including a touchdown in both 2022 matchups. Look for the former first-rounder to be relied upon with short targets and screen passes to keep him in play as a TE1 option.


Thumbs Up: Trey McBride (@ HOU)

If we forget the shutout loss a couple of weeks ago, McBride has been on fire for Arizona with lines of 10/95/1 and 8/131 sandwiching the Clayton Tune start—and having Kyler Murray back increases the ceiling for him and the entire offense. Last week, Cincinnati tight ends—not really a featured part of their passing attack—combined to catch nine passes aginast the Texans, so McBride brings a nice combination of upside and floor in Week 11.


Thumbs Up: Luke Musgrave (v LAC)

Musgrave is another young option that has emerged recently, as his big-play potential has been on display by catching five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. For this week’s opponent, the Chargers have been torched by tight ends over the past four weeks (18.2 fantasy points per game allowed), and aside from Romeo Doubs, Musgrave has been perhaps the most reliable target for Jordan Love. The rookie is a tremendous streaming option.


Thumbs Down of the Week: None

Tight end is back to being weak enough that there aren’t any obvious options to avoid, and it’s a reminder to invest in any quality players that might be dropped—especially if you have someone like Dalton Kincaid who hasn’t yet had a bye week.